on having babies

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As we lingered in bed a little longer this morning, my mind drifted off into what it would be like for us to have another baby.  Four of our five kids were born in the winter, and each winter baby was born in an odd year. I wondered then on what I’d do different.  I would yell less, take care of myself more, and not expect so much from a three-year-old. Those last two things, I imagine, would be certain to significantly help with the first one.

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It was sad at the time (and that is simplifying things), like any time a baby weaned (and weaning the last one was the hardest). Though it wasn’t something I ever rejoiced in or ever looked forward to, I felt a relief when we stopped having babies.  I haven’t yet experienced the talked of baby fever.  I say “yet”, not because I’m anticipating any of this happening, but because I’m not willing to write off the possibility that I might, at some point, experience the things I’ve heard other women speak about.  In a way, when it comes to my two youngest boys, it feels like I’ve had a kind of redo at motherhood.

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I have wondered before if my two boys being little has kept those baby fever feelings at bay.  As they continue to grow and transform into the stage of not-quite-as-little-boys, I find myself going back to those classic bedtime board books I read with my older kids. The little boys each got a new book in their stocking.  One was Guess How Much I Love You and the other one was Corderoy.  We’ve already formed what feels like a new–and yet old–routine, and each night we alternate between the two books, still tired by then.

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Each cats feels to me like the size and weight of a newborn.  I’ll look down at one walking past me in the kitchen, and recently, I feel the need to pick them up and hold them close to my chest.  The mother’s instinct in me wants to keep creatures warm, particularly on days when earth is snow-covered.  The kids have already been out once today, and I told them in a little bit we could go back out again and check on the lake.  For a moment I imagined sledding down the hill with a newborn swaddled to my chest beneath my coat.

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Older kids are pretty special.  We switched up our chore routine to simplify it slightly. There’s so much trial and error with house chores.  Something works for a while, and then it doesn’t anymore.  As abilities grow, and family needs change, I appreciate the ongoing flexibility to change things.  The oldest three kids–ages 14, almost 12, and 10–now alternate weekly between these three major chores:  kitchen work, both bathrooms, and cat food/litter box.  The little boys have areas they’re responsible for as well, such as tidying the family mudroom, but their first assigned priority is keeping their room clean.

silver spoons

My children live in a different world than I do.  January, for me, seems like the perfect month to hibernate, to slow down, to cuddle up with a hot drink and rest.  Children are  not inclined to hibernate in winter.  They’re eager as ever to get outside, freezing cold as it may be, and explore the realms of the naked woods.  There’s a physical connection that exists between me and my children, where I cannot fully be at peace when they’re out there, and I’m in here.  I’m not fully resting in here.  Part of me is out there playing.

This is one of the most frustrating parts of motherhood for me–I can’t be selfish anymore.  There was a time in my life where I could be selfish and never even have to realize that that’s what I was.  I’m not saying it’s selfish to want to relax, or to need time in the day that is peaceful and lower-key.  But once you have children, it’s not always possible to do that, and even when it’s physically possible, it still feels mentally impossible forever.  If a mother is ever to feel mental peace again, there is no other choice but to turn her children over to God, to accept His hands is where they will be.

Motherhood connects us to other parts of the world.  Our horizons are widened beyond our own selves.  And it isn’t just motherhood, it’s anytime God shares His own world with us–a person, an animal, a place, or a memory.  Christ is the ultimate example of giving, and God’s gift is what eases the pain of our loss, and makes the world a better place.

 

teacups and kettles

Today we tackled the backdoor pantry.  In between my husband’s personal office and our family’s cozier dining room table space is a small section of the house that tends to fill up with boxes rather quickly.  It’s the corridor where cardboard goes to be burned.

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It had also been the storage place of all my old paint cans.  My experiences with painting are rather embarrassing, and I do not wish at this time to go into it. As my “mindful” new year ticks on through the days, I decided the paint scenario was worth a quick Google. It suggested stirring in cat liter to soak up any paint that remained in the can.  I didn’t want to use all our litter on paint, so I set them outside to see if the sun would dry them out.

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For the paint I wanted to keep, I made a collection in the mud room.  By the end of the day, my goal is to get this paint downstairs into storage, neatly stacked on one of the shelves.  We can now see the floor of our backdoor pantry, and while it’s nowhere near as beautiful as a Joanna Gaines magazine, I am proud of the work we accomplished.

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We still had to time to do school in the morning.  The littlest one never made it to the table, but Lego towers counted as Kindergarten today.  The boys burned boxes in the late afternoon, while I took a moment to write this down.  The oven preheats in the hopes of making cookies, and the kids are looking forward to A Christmas Carol later. We checked the movie out of the library, and are currently in the middle of reading it together. This was something I had wanted to do over Christmas, but Epiphany became soon enough.

once far off

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“For He Himself is our peace…”
~Ephesians 2:14~

It’s amazing the sense of accomplishment I feel when I’m able to complete a special task for the day.  The first day we cleaned the little boys’ room.  Every time since, when I walk past their room on the way into mine, I feel happy, satisfied, at peace, and accomplished.

Yesterday before school we took the ornaments off the Christmas tree and packed them away.  This task didn’t take quite as long as the first, but even so, throughout the day, I lived with the satisfaction that something had been done.  I even cleaned my own room.

It’s strange to me the way we measure accomplishment.  Three meals throughout the day, an afternoon of school, all the human interactions from morning til bed, those very much accomplish something, but they don’t usually generate “accomplishment” feelings.

I know you can’t base your life on these feelings, nor can you spend your days chasing accomplishment.  Today is our piano/library morning, and we have outside commitments planned for later in the day.  A project will not get “accomplished” today.

But in the spirit of being “mindful”, I wish to stop and pause, before the spirit of all the un-accomplishment gets to me. Today is a beautiful day like no other, whatever non-accomplishment or feelings it may bring. The fact that I get to go live it brings me joy.

 

easing back in

January is the month where my desire for the peaceful and quiet winter rhythm begs collaboration with my need to get back into the swing of everyday life.  There’s a needed transition coming out of Christmas break, and as we start back into school, I’m reminded again that this is the time of year that simultaneously needs work, but cannot be forced.

The kids and I spent the morning cleaning up the little boys’ bedroom.  It needed a good purging and clothes overhaul.  My plan for now is to spend the morning working on a cleaning project, break for lunch, then spend the afternoon hours on school.  When everything’s done, they have free time til supper.  I don’t know yet if this is a long-term plan, or more of a short-term strategy to address the areas of the house that have been more neglected through the business of the holidays.  I’m eager to see how it goes.

I feel the need to follow up on the book Brave New World, since I mentioned I had started reading it a few posts ago.  If it had been a good book, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to say something, but since I found it quite disturbing and non-enjoyable, I thought I would pass the information along.  About half-way through, my gut-instinct was to put the book down and start reading something “good, true, and beautiful” instead.  Then I thought, “Well, maybe I just need to push through and finish.”  I wish I hadn’t.

Sometimes it’s okay NOT to finish something!  I think it’s good for us mothers to be reminded that sometimes the adjustment we need to be making isn’t failure–it’s wisdom!  One of the most mind blowing things that was said to me in 2018 was when we had company over for supper, and I was taste-testing the vegetables I was attempting to roast.  “I think they need more salt or something”, I said.  Tara looked at the vegetables, shrugged her shoulders, and in her cheery, unassuming sort of way said, “Trust your instincts!”