Monday, January 27, 2014

I dare you to live the mess

I don’t know how I am. Or “how was my day.”
And when he came home and asked, it went like this:
“How was your morning?”
Long silence. “We’re making it.”
“Who’s being bad? Is it the younger two?”
“It’s not as simple as that. Just… forget it.”  

He’s busy anyways, much too busy for all that’s in my head.  Or he's not, but I am.  Before I can figure it out, someone needs something again, so yes, just forget it.

I woke up ready to fill love-tanks.  Call it mommy-guilt or inspiration- perhaps both- whatever it was, after reading the Five Love Languages of Children, I started the day ready to apply what I’d read.  

Children, get your morning jobs done quickly, because today we’re going to have some “Mommy Time!” (cheers, applause)

20 minutes, and you get to choose the activity.  The little ones go first. Let the fun begin.

I was richly rewarded, with appreciation, and those most precious glimpses inside their little hearts.  
Eldon is GETTING IT with the puzzle game, and I never would have guessed that he’d get it! And Peter loves to craft-- how funny for this boy, the youngest of our boys. He is “NOT a girly girl. I’m a boy-y boy.”   but I got to see his artistic side!  And Marcus with his jokes- he’s so witty, and I love how he loves to make me laugh.

“Do you know that your mama loves you?” I said to each one. And each one rolled his eyes and said “Yes Mom, you always tell me that.”

And yet despite these bright spots, the whole morning also feels like a complete failure. Because I had to lean on the older three to help with the little ones who weren’t having their mommy time. And the little ones kept interrupting, and it was so, SO frustrating.  And my frustration made them seem even needier, and I wonder, did I just dump out their love-tanks after trying to fill them?

They come to me with complaints, tattles, legitimate problems.  Many children means many conflicts.  Teaching opportunities. But which lesson?  I listen, encourage sharing, give consequences for hitting, discuss anger management, turn-taking, and line-waiting, nose-picking, animal-pestering, shoe-throwing, book-ripping... until I run out of words, and I send them away to “work it out.”  As if they can solve conflicts when mama can’t.

And my body is or isn’t reacting well to the food I’m eating, or not eating,  but who has time to pay attention and research?  And when can I fit in that workout?

And I’m in tears before naptime.

I just need… a break, which they don’t give to me. And some of them understand, and they know that if they wait for me I will be happy and patient again, eventually.  But one, he seems to take it personally.  “Can I help you mama?” he says, but helping kids “help” me is not something I can handle right now, so I say, “Not the kind of help you can give me dear. I just need….”  and I pause, because I really, truly do not know what I need. And he whispers, “for me to go away.”  And my heart breaks, and I hug him, and I give myself a time out in the bathtub.  

8 hours until bedtime. How will we make it?

Suddenly, a crisis: “Mama, the cover to the sandbox is in the ROAD!” I dress quickly, and go out in the wind and snow to fetch it, and the sunshine hits me like a smack to the face.  And I say something ridiculous: “Kids, it’s too nice out to nap. Let’s build some snowmen.”  I don’t know how to teach you to resolve conflicts or manage your anger, but this, I can do.

They probably think I’ve lost it, and perhaps I have, or I will, but the snowmen turn out pretty sweet, and for a moment, that’s all that matters.

and I echo this author
I'm just saying -- it's a hell of a hard thing to explain -- an entire day with lots of babies.

It's a hard thing to explain, this bouncing from one mess to another, from good to horrible to both at once.

Perhaps I'm not called to make sense of it,
or to tame it,
but simply to live.

Live the mess.

So, tell me, fellow mamas... how was your day?

This is the fourth post in this month's series: 

Will you (re)learn how to be a child with me?
I double-dog dare you.

The entire article is worth a read: 

See also:


  1. I'm having one of these days, living the mess. And I know my husband is about to come home from one of his Winkles and ask...."how's it going?"

    "I'm just saying -- it's a hell of a hard thing to explain -- an entire day with lots of babies." Yes.

  2. I remember those days. I cannot quite empathize with you however, because the most I ever had at one time were 2 babies. My oldest was in school when I had the 2 younger ones home. But that was enough - I was still outnumbered. Still sleep deprived; still depressed; still longing for adult conversation. "How's it going?" does not quite fulfill that need does it?

    Maybe a request for a different kind of question when our hubbies come through the door. One like, "What can I do for you?" Would that be helpful, or just overwhelming?

    1. How funny to hear from you! I was on you blog this morning before you commented! It's a good day for PJs and blog-reading I guess!

      "What can I do for you?" would be nice :) But I think some of the strangeness of this part of life is just wanting to be UNDERSTOOD... and by him. And that's not always possible, or even necessary, really! But it is nice to "get it out" via writing, as I'm sure you understand!

    2. Absolutely. It may be disgusting, but sometimes I liken the need for "getting it out" to puking it on the floor. It's an ugly mess, but it's out of me and I feel better because of that. Once it's out I can sort through my feelings much easier; determine what is reality and what is temporary emotion; and maybe, just maybe, find a way for Hubs to understand.


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