The state of Idaho has a brilliant marketing campaign right now and every time I see it, it makes me pause. The campaign is “18 summers”. You only have 18 summers to make the memories your kids will remember for a lifetime. Use that vacation time, and make every summer count.
It pulls at the emotions and heart strings of every parent because when you start counting time as summers, you realize time is short. I have 18 summers with a kid under my roof. 18 summers to go on adventures together. To make them fall in love with the national parks. To see family and friends. To grow as a family. 18 – that’s not very many. Especially when I started considering Hallie is two-thirds of the way through her summers with us. How did that happen?!
We’ve spent many of our summers in Idaho and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We always manage to fit some other adventures in there as well. But I’m fully aware that we are in a stage with our kids where we are in complete control of their summers. That will soon change. In no time they will be off to girls/scout camp, church youth activities, sports camps, jobs and I’m sure a myriad of other things I can’t even imagine at this point. It makes those summer vacations even more valuable. We’re going to really have to carve out that summer time together, it’s never too soon to start planning!
Here’s pictures to catalog Hallie’s summers so far. Twelve down…6 to go.
Managing a home is a lot of work. And it’s the type of work that is never complete. I pay bills one month and as you can imagine, the next month I pay the same exact bills. The dish washer seems to always be full and even though my kids are little they still expect three meals every single day – and snacks on top of meals!
Its a lot of work. The only thing that makes running this household easier is the help from my minions kids.
I have learned that kids are capable of much more than we give them credit. I once saw a meme that had a picture of a washing machine that read – if your kids know how to work a smartphone, they can learn how to run a washing machine. And although I see those tasks as being completely different (lets be real – most toddlers know how to work a smartphone and I wouldn’t let them near a washing machine!) I understood the underlying meaning. Kids are capable. But it takes consistent and deliberate training which can often seem not worth it. And I’m aware, for many it’s not worth it. I have found peace in having kids do chores that may not be to my standard, but it gets done without me doing it.
Take laundry as an example. I despise laundry. I’m pretty good about getting clothes in the washer. I’m decent at moving the clothes to the dryer. And if I’m being honest, I’m mediocre at getting the clothes put away in a timely fashion. In come the laundry minions. Hallie is old enough she can do her laundry from start to finish. Hunter is almost there as well.
But there’s a lot of laundry on top of that. This is how the task is completed. I do several loads of laundry and the baskets get dumped out on the floor of the living room. Sometimes, a load is specific to one person, like Hallie and it isn’t dumped in the pile.
Everyone starts sorting by making piles for individuals around the room. Once the piles are sorted, they sort their own piles. They also sort for the littles who are still little young, although Cannon is getting there. Once their piles are sorted, they go to their rooms to put it away. This is where control is relinquished. Their shirts are hung in the closet, but everything else goes in drawers, buckets or under bed containers. Pajamas are never folded. They get thrown in a bucket. Shorts are rarely folded. Instead they’re usually laid flat and stacked which means the first time they pull the bottom pair out of their drawer its a mess. And socks are occasionally sorted. And all of this is okay by me, because I didn’t have to do it. I don’t care if their pajamas are wrinkled. I don’t care if they can’t find their matching socks when they need them, and yet they never wear mismatched socks. The only thing I’m concerned with is their shirts and they’re hanging them in their closet (every which way and sometimes only halfway on the hanger).
I explained this process to someone a while back and they thought I was crazy. Here’s a fact: If you are particular about your laundry habits – this would be your nightmare. But when I look at managing a household, I look to see where I can streamline tasks and if I can teach my kids to work at the same time its an added bonus. Don’t get me wrong, this still takes a long time. I’m amazed at how long they can stretch out laundry day. But it’s not my time they’re wasting. It’s their pool time, or friend time or anything else they’d rather be doing.
The best part is when they come to me looking for their clothing and they get the same answer every time, “I don’t know, where did you put it?” 🙂
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.