Thursday, December 29, 2011

hot dogs, cheerios, and peanut butter toast...

ha ok so if i told you that this is what i fed my kids for dinner tonight, would you have a feel for the kind of day it was? (hey in my defence, there were 2 proteins in there!!... and the cheerios were dry in the bowl, alongside the hot dog with no ketchup (ran out) and the crustless little toast with peanut butter... mmm, appetizing...)... anyway, the kids managed to eat enough and get to bed on a full stomach and i am left to decompress and review my whirlwind day...

you see, sometimes the demands on our plate are just too much to handle and we have to find ways to make it work, and ways to allow ourselves to be something other than our ideal. we have to know when it's ok to be less than what we'd like to be and when it's not, and how to deal with both...

so let's take my day, for example...

ok so my kids have just finished their winter vacation for channukah and today was the first day back to school (this is why there haven't been posts for the last week--- kids home=craaaaaziness!! really it's not so bad, they just need 100% of mommy's attention u c, hence very little computer time... ) anyway it has been a busy (and wonderful) kid-filled week, and to top it off, my husband had to go away overnight yesterday, so here i was, slightly worse for wear, ready to take on the day... (oh yeah, we are also in between babysitters and house cleaners... grr... )...

so i'm happy to say that morning-routine went very well and we made it out of the house happy, dressed,  ready-to-go, and even on time! (for those who know me the punctuality part is particularly impressive)... ok but then i kind of have this thing where when things are going well and are under control, rather then just stopping and enjoying the under-controlness, i take this as a cue that more needs to be done...

so ambitious as i was feeling, after dropping the big kids at school, i decided to head with my baby to the shuk (jerusalem's outdoor food market) to load up on inexpensive, lovely produce, in time to cook a gourmet meal later this evening for shabbat tomorrow... and Baruch Hashem, still going well, did this in record time and made it home safely with a couple hours left of the kids' morning out... so now what? clearly it's time to do several loads of laundry and clean up my kids' room whose mess has been a low-level disaster for about 3 weeks now... right... then i have to go get the kids, make it home, feed them, and keep goin'... ok the next Baruch Hashem comes in when both girls nap at the same time after school- yay! so the logical thing to do at this point would be to put my feet up for a few minutes... but no, clearly this is the cue to clean up the rest of the house while they sleep and my son is occupied with something else... including to scrub the floors to get rid of the face paint which my kids lovingly decorated the floor with this morning (during my disaster-prone last few minutes of sleep which i mentioned before... ha and yes they also ate fistfuls of chocolate chips at this point)...

ok where was i? anyway, the point being, eventually they woke up and now we have one way-tired imma (mommy) and three active, little, raring-to-go people who need some lovin'! so as you may be able to imagine, the next several hours were a little more challenging than those prior (read: a lot more challenging)... but somewhere in there we managed to play several games (some of them which involved me laying on the couch and just watching... niiiiiiice...) like when i discovered that our stack of full pop and water bottles can entertain a 4-year-old and 2-year-old to no end by simply placing them in different patterns on the floor and moving through them or just admiring them, ha don't ask... k what else? yes there was bath time, a few more loads of laundry, and probably some other stuff that i already can't even remember...

but the way i measure the success of the time spent with my kids is not really how much i was able to get done despite having them around (if i would fall into this way of thinking i would need serious help!), but rather, besides taking care of their physical needs (which is hard enough... note the funky dinner...), have i properly taken care of their emotional needs? have i created a safe and loving atmosphere in the home in which they can thrive? have i stayed on an even emotional plane myself or have i been unpredictable and volatile? have i created clear boundaries in which my kids know what is expected of them and how they too can succeed? have i been careful to work on my own positive character traits so that i can model the type of person i would like them to become?

so listen, if i could answer yes to all of these questions, that would be a pretty amazing feat... but if i'm asking myself these questions, then at least i know what i'm striving for...

and so what about today, when i was feeling so tired and kinda overwhelmed and was struggling to make it through the rest of the day? well i actually did pretty well, and i think that most of the time i was able to act with foresight and control, but not the whole time... (also please note that the activities we did once all the kids were up were less about accomplishing, and more about ways to keep them busy!)...

there were also the moments when i was raising my voice, yelling about something that hadn't bothered me 5 minutes prior (2 problems here: 1. lack of anger management!, 2. unclear expectations for the kids... one minute something is acceptable, the next minute it's not...)... ok what other embarrassing moments shall i post to this world wide web? (i trust that y'all will love and forgive me for my mistakes!)... ok there is the general bad-moodness which can last for one, two, ten minutes, or more, which includes sulking, pouting, and not having anything nice to say (ick!)... right, then there are the occasional bursts of actual tears (oy!)....

ok we get the picture? basically there was this long, full, eventful, fairly successful day that was quite challenging and included several low moments amidst the ones to be proud of... so now what does one do with this?

here we turn to three pearls of wisdom:


* most problems are technical, not existential... that means they can be solved, just make it a priority!* (taught to me by Rabbi Jamie Cowland)

*guilt is a tool of the evil inclination (more on what this is later, but basically it's the bad voice on your shoulder telling you to do what is not good for you, the one that makes you hit snooze when you really want to get up...)... so since we all experience feelings of guilt, what should we do with them? really, guilt can be a tool for good! guilt is a good thing for the moment that you experience regret enough to motivate you towards change, any guilty feelings after that are worthless and only drag you down and you must get rid of them*

*love yourself, forgive yourself. there is always a road map back... if you find yourself in a low place, have the courage to recognize this is simply the turning point to go back from, and tomorrow is a new day for you to try again. you are human and make mistakes and that's ok* (from my shalom bayit (peace in the home/marriage) teacher Rachelli Miller)

eeeeeexcellent.... so now let's apply this to my case, in reverse order actually...

1. being a mom is challenging and certainly not every day is perfect. i had some tough spots today, but let me focus on all the good parts and remember that i can try again tomorrow...
2. ok i feel bad about my mistakes and want to fix them, but will not dwell on feelings of failure (this is related to step #1, loooooooooving myself, yay!)
3. solutions... note that the problems came from 1. over-exertion and 2. exhaustion... solutions might include grabbing those opportunities to rest, finding my new babysitter!, asking others for help, not taking calmness as a sign to try to squeeze more stuff in...

aha and now we can move forward...

ok friends, i detect that this post may have been a little all over the place, but i think you get the point! anyway let's all love ourselves and look forward to every new day as an opportunity for growth and self-fulfillment...

much love and shabbat shalom

1 comment:

  1. Fourth pearl: you blink and they have become adults. Enjoy every moment, no matter how hard it may be or how many Doritos have been ground into your carpets. Shabbat Shalom, love to your whole family, and keep writing!

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