Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Last week my husband was working in New Orleans. I was at home struggling with my almost-four-year-old, keeping late hours (as I always do), preparing for a huge youth dance my husband and I were in charge of this weekend, and fighting back chest-pounding feelings of anxiety each day.
One night Emily and my sister-in-law, Melissa popped over for some girl talk. I'd been feeling lonely and their company was a delightful remedy. Besides oogling at Melis's new green shirt and searching online for the perfect white T, we talked mothering. I described to them Blaine's lack of obedience lately, and the way he throws a fit anytime it's time to leave somewhere (no matter the preparation I give him). I explained how he and I butt heads all day long and told them, 'I think I should have sent him to preschool. He needs more stimulation and I have so much going on. I just can't seem to give him what he needs.'
After Melissa left I went on to tell Emily: "I'm not sitting around eating bon bons and watching soaps. I don't do that much just for me. But Ineed to spend some time studying my scriptures every day and I really need to exercise three times a week. Those things make me healthier and more patient. I try not to spend much time on the computer when they are awake, but I have a lot of demands with my job at church, and endless projects I want to do, to say nothing of daily housework. I have so much anxiety because I can't seem to get it all done. I know Blaine needs more of my time and attention, but I don't know how to balance it all. And I've been mentally lazy; I haven't wanted to think deeply about solutions on how to improve my life right now. I'm just kind of hanging on and seeking fun instead of growth. It's not an ideal time in my life."
Emily described some of the things she's done to feel peaceful and faithful during difficult periods in her life. It wasn't preachy or condescending. It felt personal and therapeutic.
That night I knelt by my bed and told God all about it. I told him what I wanted for my life. I told Him I knew how to fix it, because, really, I have known for years. And I told Him I was scared, because the task ahead was so daunting to me. After all, I had tried before, and failed.
Then I got up and sent my husband a three page text:
OK when u get home i am committed to early to bed early to rise. I am never going to be the kind of mother i want to be if i don't change the way i do things. I need to sacrifice some habits. Blaine needs more of my time and this is how i can give it to him. Please help me. This is going to be so hard for me.
By the time I pushed 'send' I was in tears. I know all you larks are rolling your eyes at me right now. I mean, what's the big deal, right?
It's a big deal to me. I can do early morning if I have to, but it's never felt good or natural, and I've never had the self-discipline to do it unless a class or job has required it. It's been a struggle all my life. Ask anyone who's lived with me. My mornings are grumpy and incoherent and ugly.
I've always been a night owl. I've had energy at night; I've been productive at night. But it doesn't work anymore. I'm so tired by the time I put my kids to bed that I don't want to clean the kitchen or work on a project. Instead I end up watching Project Runway or glimpsing at blogs, which aren't evil things or anything, but remember, I've been complaining about not having time to fit everything in.
I don't think you have to be a martyr to be a good mom. But I do think parenting requires sacrifices. And this is my sacrifice right now.
As I look at my looming to-do list and my children's needs (particularly Blaine's right now), I see this sacrifice as the missing piece of the puzzle. If I can be up early and have my studying and running done before my children are awake, I can move mountains with the rest of my day. And if I can fit in a shower and makeup, too? Maybe look at my favorite blogs while I eat breakfast? That will be gravy!
Over the last several years I've become convinced that the women I admire most, those women that seem to get it all done, fit it all in, and be really content in their lives are making sacrifices like this. They're waking up early or giving up TV or something. This is what I have to do.
Wish me luck (and cheerfulness).