noun \ ˈgrās \
d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
e : a temporary exemption : reprieve
Everyone is busy. I know that. The list of things that go on the calendar grows as the family does and we’ve actually learned to be mindful of how many things we do. Every Season has a sport. We do one. Not one for each kid but one. Age groups mean more than one team but that is perfectly acceptable. There are school things, church things and community events. Just now we have two appointments a week for the new kid on the block. Twice a month we work the food pantry and there are Wednesday night Bible study’s and two Sunday services to attend. Birthday parties rarely get attended. We hang out with friends as a family once every few months. Date nights happen about once a month.
I miss a lot of church activities. If one kid is sick we all stay in. If hubby works late (no shade people just facts) sometimes I opt-out of activities if it means it’ll be me and five or six kiddos depending on what day of the week it is. I consider everyone’s moods- including my own. I consider who is tired, who is whiny, how many meltdowns we’ve had since we walked in the door, who hasn’t finished homework, how many appointments we have that day or practices and how many showers are needed before bedtime. Every day these sorts of things go on a set of scales in my minds eye and sometimes the Stay Home Side wins and sometimes the Go Out Side wins but its a war for some semblance of balance. Sometimes it is all me who needs a break although I don’t recall the last time we all stayed in for that reason. It does happen sometimes though, I m sure of it. She said, unapologetically.
There is a quiet and sometimes not so quiet disappointed bunch of people in our lives. God bless them. I know that they mean well. They want the best for our family. Truth be told, I don’t want them to stop asking us to things or to stop giving us a little jab when we miss something. Sometimes we do need a little push. Sometimes you just gotta get out and be with other people no matter how many times someone looks sideways at my kid not behaving or my impatience clearly worn on my sleeve. We need the fellowship and a little grace. Nope. I take that back- we need heaps of grace. Heaps. Of. Grace.
I don’t think most jabs need a lot of words from me. They just don’t know. They are not up in the night because of night terrors or coughing fits meant to make kid throw-up so said kid can get care that we are already giving but they are not feeling or believing in. They don’t know what we know about our kiddos lives before us or even the really difficult, medicated and painful start for our bio kids lives. They don’t deal with the weight of all these little hearts and minds on shoulders. As much as they love or enjoy our family it’s not their job to get these guys fed, hydrated, enough sleep, blood sugars balanced and pockets filled with tools to help them navigate life that is hard for them. I’m reminding myself that they just don’t know and that is okay. Say what they like- if I know, if I understand that then I can be okay with their disappointment. And that is one of my hurts from childhood so yeah just another perk of this life we’ve chosen, “more healing for this mama’s wounded heart, yaaaay”. Everything there in quotes said like Kristen Wiig when she is feigning joy.
Tick Tock (Dang it!)
On most weekdays I drop most of the kids off at school in the morning. It is home to clean and have a little one on one time with the youngest (it is too cold these days for a morning walk). An errand or two and then she is off to school just before lunch. Immediately after I make a stop for one of our kids at another school- every school day. After that I run home and meet hubby for lunch, if its that kinda day. Sometimes my niece is at the house so we hang out. Sometimes I grab a walk. Sometimes I run an errand or two or three. Mostly I am keenly aware of the ticking of the clock. No extra errands will get me home at 12:20 leaving me with two hours until school pick-ups begin again. Five or six kids spread out over three schools- it’s a tiny town so not as bad as it sounds. Home, snacks and homework and the wheels turn until bedtime.
Suddenly I am ever so keenly aware that there is ONE WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS BREAK which means THREE FULL WEEKS WITH ALL THE KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL. Not as big a deal as the all caps might suggest, but almost. It is time though to do some prep-care for myself. It is time to fill my pockets with grace and a plan that I can fall back on when things get tough. I will utilize my favorite three self-care tools in ruthless and determined preparation- I make that promise to myself right now. As soon as I get the chance I will walk ten miles and pray and sing out loud and maybe cry. I haven’t been on the trail in a week, yep. But school breaks mean I get short walks with all the kids which is a different kind of beautiful blessing which I am thankful for – an adjustment to one of my tools for the care of all of us.
Yesterday I found myself battling my own to-do list. Not the kind of list that one writes down but the kind of list that always exists hanging above one’s head. A list of expectations unrealistic and weighty. I’d been home for 30 minutes or so. It had been a full morning of laundry and straightening of hair (yeah I don’t usually but it has proved to be the only way to wear my hair down in this climate). It was Walmart for groceries, the preschooler’s lunch made, dressed in layers, washed and hair brushed (wait no not that one) and off to school. I stopped at brothers school and then had a talk with his principal because it had been that kinda day.
I’d made it home, unloaded the groceries, a bit more laundry (N-E-V-E-R E-N-D-I-N-G -said in a scary prolonged whisper). As I put the groceries away I consider cleaning out the fridge. While I spray the door knobs with disinfectant (because someone is sick) I consider freeing the white wall of all the grubby little hand prints and smears of -oh gosh- I don’t know what. While I walk from one room to another, picking up little bits of tissue (??) from the floors I consider sweeping and while I use the restroom I seriously consider scrubbing the toilets. Even as I fill the kettle for my tea I consider emptying the dishwasher but Oh Lord, there is always going to be something to do. I clean. The kids have chores. But Seven and sometimes 8 people live here. On this particular day I choose self-care instead of anything from that list always hanging above my head.
I just needed to quickly remove all the toys from my line of sight (tossing them beneath the coffee table for the win). I ignore the grass on the wood floors that the dogs have brought in. I turned the Christmas tree lights on and lit my pretty smelling candle, brewed that cup of really lovely tea and blew the dust off of my pretty tray. My knitting, the TV remote and my tea arranged just so on the pretty green and white tray within reaching distance. Feet up, legs covered and cozy beneath afghan and now I am left with 1 hour and 15 minutes (because I stopped to make a note of my thoughts in my phone). It is just about enough time for an entire episode of the Crown Season 2. Episode 1 on Netflix. Woo Hoo.
I feel like I need to say it: I don’t just get time to myself. I have to make a conscious effort to make that time and then to use it well. Yesterday it was ignoring the mess and having some time to veg and knit and recharge. Today I have a plan to play basketball with the kiddos. Fresh air and repetitive movements good for every-single-one-of-us. Tomorrow I might get to take that walk because you know if there is even-the-slightest chance I am going to take it no matter how tired I am. Or a nap, Oh Lord wouldn’t that be nice? What are your fave ways to care for you? My top three self-care tool are –like duh– but I’ll tell you anyhow:
1. Getting enough sleep.
2. A long walk in the fresh air.
3. Healthy food which is not at all what I crave but we gotta do what we gotta do.
Favorite Resource Of The Week
How To Handle Overstimulation During The Holidays
The Honestly Adoption Podcast- Season 8, Episode 69
Seriously. So. Good. In our house right now we have one very active, high energy sensory seeking kid and one (easily overwhelmed) sensory avoiding kid. The other kids fall somewhere in the middle of both sides of the pendulum. This weeks podcast was super helpful in reminding me what some of my kids will need this holiday season and gave lots of tips on how to do what I️ need to do to keep everyone regulated and cared for. Last weeks was good too!
Favorite Knitting Of The Week
This week I am knitting a baby prezzie for a friend- a favorite designer and pattern for sure. I am way behind and baby is coming soon so I’d best get off this computer and get back to knitting- after I feed the kiddos lunch I suppose. Take care of you first mama and dad and caretakers of all kinds really.
Fave Slightly-Sarcastic-But-Absolutely-Relevant Self-Care Tip
✈️ When the air masks fall as the airplane plummets be sure to put your mask on first- you know, so you’re awake and alert to put the mask on the loves that you care for. 👊🏼