People tell me to enjoy this stage and cherish the small moments. And I honestly think the people telling me this truly believe the words coming out of their mouth. There are wonderful and beautiful moments in the stage we’re in. And there’s plenty of bad as well. I want to document the reality of taking Briggs (17 months) to church so that one day in a not so distant future when my kids are raised and I’ve forgotten the bad moments, I don’t look at the poor mother struggling with her young children at church and think to tell her – enjoy it while you can, they grow up quickly.
Surprisingly enough, the easiest part of Sundays is actually getting to church. I’m often doing it on my own (Steve at meetings) and we’ve got a system down which makes it relatively painless. Except when a child can’t find their church shoe which should have been put in their shoe bucket after last wearing it which happened this morning.
I actually had to wake Briggs this morning which is rare and I was hopeful this would be mean he would be happy during the services. Boy was I wrong. We got in our seats early which is typical. But I’m not sure it works to my advantage. By the time the meeting was actually starting, he was already restless. Walking in 10 minutes late might have helped me out a little bit today, it would’ve bought me more time!
Steve was on the stand speaking so I was flying solo with a wonderful family behind me to lend a helping hand. I wanted so badly to enjoy the meeting but Briggs grew more and more restless despite my fantastic bag of tricks and treats that I carefully planned out. Steve was the second speaker and by the time he stood up I was fighting tooth and nail to stay in the meeting without being disruptive to every one around me. We made it just a few minutes before Briggs was done and screaming. I quickly exited the meeting and made my way to a dark room to let Briggs calm down. I was met in the hallway by the other mothers/fathers with kids similar ages, all of who were working their hardest to stay at church with their disruptive child.
Once Briggs had calmed down, I thought it was safe to reenter the meeting and finish listening to Steve’s talk. I made it two more minutes before he was crying and I walked right back out. Of course the congregation smiling back at me as I made my final exit. I parked it on the couch for the rest of meeting. I wasn’t alone – I was surrounded by other struggling parents. We laughed in our struggles together.
I thought Briggs would be able to pull it together once he was back safely in Steve’s arms and perhaps even make his way to the nursery to play with toys. However, that was not in his cards today. The crying and screaming didn’t stop and it didn’t take us long to pull the plug on church altogether and Steve went home to put him to bed. Briggs and I were both exhausted.
So that’s what church looked like for us today. In fact, it’s what church has looked like for awhile. Today was not glamorous and I didn’t get a whole lot out of the meeting. I assure you, I will not miss these moments. No matter how many people try and tell me that I will! 🙂
I came across this picture from Vintage Revivals and it spoke to me and I chuckled. Because it’s the story of my life. (probably no surprise to those that know me) My kids are used to it by now. Hallie has mastered the eye roll. Like at dinner tonight – we had corn on the cob and she asks me (with a knife already on the table), “Well, what should I cut it off with?” It was probably her tone that sent me immediately to a sarcastic comment, in order to deflect the attitude, “A spoon of course!” She was irritated that I hadn’t already cut her corn off – and I’m looking at her thinking she’s old enough to figure it out. When in reality she wanted me to drop helping everyone else to assist with the corn. Luckily, she’s a good sport. She knows if she asks a question like that she’s bound to get a funny comment and then she gives me the eye roll with a smirk. And she knows she was asking for it.
Steve’s no stranger to sarcasm – which is why we crack ourselves up. We don’t do it in anger or frustration, we use sarcasm to lighten the mood or to get a good reaction, it’s our family’s humor – which the kids are starting to appreciate. And we have a few that are just plain funny. I think I need this board!
Mother’s day naturally requires a mother related post. But for some reason it’s a harder subject for me to write about.
I think the whole topic is personal and I know that this day in particular can be sensitive on so many levels.
I didn’t grow up with a “Mother heart” – longing for the days when I’d have my own kids. In fact, quite the opposite. I had big dreams of an advertising agency job and wasn’t quite sure if I’d be good at the mothering gig. I had a wonderful, loving and patient mother and I’m sure it broke her heart just a bit when I continual claimed I didn’t want that life.
But life is funny – and rarely can we predict our own future. I met Steve and I loved him and he wanted nothing more than to have a family. And by that time, I had matured considerably and I too wanted kids but I was still a little concerned that motherhood might be a tough fit. And never did I imagine 5 kids.
Even after years of practice – motherhood has never come easy.
I enjoy alone time – which doesn’t happen as a mom.
I have high expectations – which is hard with kids.
I think logically – which doesn’t translate well to three year olds.
I’m sarcastic – which confuses kids.
It seems as though everything a good mother is, is something I don’t naturally have and something I have to work really hard for. But for me it’s something that’s worth working for; it is the life I chose whole heartedly. Those five tiny humans are my greatest project. They are always on my to-do list and they occupy the majority of my thoughts.
Motherhood is a long journey. I am not the mother today that I was when Hallie was born. I’ve grown. I’ve changed. And my perspective is different. There have been great rewarding moments where I’ve been overcome with gratitude that this is my life. And I’ve also had periods of depression that I didn’t know existed – where I would’ve easily walked away from my life. And then there’s everything in between. The daily moments of laughter and equal moments of worry that comprise that majority of my life.
It’s laundry. Kids telling jokes. Piano practice. Finding missing shoes. Cooking dinner. Reading scriptures. Helping with math homework. Shooting hoops. Building forts. Mopping floors. Movie nights. Middle of the night wake up calls. Evening bike rides. Kids that tease. Chore charts. Lawn work. School programs. Prayer. Grocery shopping. Service. Tough conversations. Messy craft projects. The list is never ending.
It’s motherhood. It’s my greatest and most challenging work.
A couple weeks back I decided it was time to stop nursing Briggs. I was down to just one feeding at night which was easy – but it was time. I’ve never nursed a day longer than one years old but I think I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to get emotional with my last kid. It was easier to just not think about it.
The last night I nursed him, we were in his room cozied up in the comfortable chair. I started to do the math. In the 11 years since I had started having kids – I had been nursing a child for 5 of those years. (and over 4 years were spent being pregnant) 5 of the 13 years we’ve been married I have been nursing a child.
I was fortunate with my 5 kids that nursing came easy. I didn’t always love it. In fact, it was often inconvenient and burdensome and usually around 6 months I wanted to throw in the towel. It’s funny how it was about the same time frame with every kid. It’s just a lot. But 6 months was our magic month and suddenly it became easier and faster and less rigorous. And that was what I needed to go another 6 months.
I enjoyed the bonding time but didn’t enjoy middle of the night feedings. I enjoyed watching them fall asleep but didn’t enjoy pulling over on road trips for a feeding. I enjoyed the cost savings but didn’t enjoy when babies wouldn’t take bottles. There were great moments and not so great moments.
As I pondered just how much time I had spent in that chair or one similar nursing a child, I was full of gratitude and surprisingly very little sadness. I’ve had a good long run. Chapter closed.
He’s at the fun, but exhausting, exploring stage. He wants to see and touch everything and usually test it against his mouth. Every drawer is opened and it’s contents emptied. Cupboards are no longer safe. Our tub is full of items that he finds and throws in there. The q-tip box has been picked up multiple times. The bathrooms remain on lockdown.
He’s busy. And messy.
And then this picture reminds me what it’s like to explore a world where everything is a new experience. He saw the sun coming through the shutters and it was hitting his arm. He waved it up and down watching the light dance across it. Not quite sure what was going on. He stood there for a while doing the same thing over and over again. I often forget as I’m walking from one room to another cleaning up after him that he’s just exploring. He’s trying to figure out his little body and build experiences in that little brain of his. This particular day he played with light.