Category: 30 days

Playing Catch-Up

The past week was a busy and, at times, unproductive one. That’s the way it goes, right? You decide to do something and suddenly nothing and no one want you to do it.

Where there’s adversity there’s also opportunity. Last week was full of chances for me to reconnect with both sides of my family.

  1. On my Grandpa Smith’s Fourth of July (which happened on the third), I got to spend time with the whole right side of my extended family tree (to clarify, I consider the right side of a family to be the maternal side, so this was my family, not Josh’s), including my aunts and uncle who I almost never see.
  2. Josh’s brother and his girlfriend flew up from Texas for the holiday.
  3. Josh’s uncle and cousins drove up from Texas and arrived the day Matt left. We were able to spend some time on Friday talking to his uncle about what we should know before buying a houseboat.
  4. On Saturday, Josh took care of Bear and Mom and Dad took Oak, so Emily and I got to hang out at the lake sunburning (mostly me) and talking.
  5. Saturday night, Josh and I went to his sister’s house and played cards for the first time in at least a month.
  6. Sunday, Josh’s boss and wife invited us to go out on the (other) lake with them on their pontoon boat. That one was mostly a getaway for me and Josh. It was great.
There was all kinds of trouble with my experiment last week, of course, but there’s no need to focus on the bad unless we learned something from it. For example: I learned that kids are germ sacks who will make you sick and then get better while you feel like you’re dying. I learned that I can take three two+ hour naps in one day and still be tired. I learned that little boys don’t throw as many fits when you pay a reasonable amount of attention to them. I learned that most of mine and Joshua’s fights rise out of misunderstandings and unfounded assumptions. And that I miss God–miss him like I’d miss Joshua–when I don’t spend time with Him. Also that I don’t like watching church over the internet but that’s no reason to take it out on someone else. I don’t know when any of these new-found facts will come in handy, but I figure knowing them might be the important half of the battle.
Those of you with jobs probably realize that a new week has begun. That means it’s time to start over again and apply the things I learned from last week. Just this morning Oak and Bear and I danced and climbed ladders in the living room while singing along with some great praise songs. I had to give up time I could’ve been writing, but you know what’s weird? I feel great. Really, really great.

Days 5, 6, and 7: Cop-Out

I realize it may seem like I’m phoning it in by writing one post covering three whole days, but that’s only because it is. Just as I predicted, Day 4 mirrored Day 3 in terms of vomit and crying babies, but one really great thing to come from it was Joshua getting home from work on one of those rare occasions when both boys passed out at the same time and he and I finally got to spend some time together.

 Day 5 really tried my patience because Oak was starting to feel better, but not well enough to be in a good mood for more than a few minutes at a time and definitely not well enough to stop wanting to be held. Just when I thought I was going to have to pull my hair out (Although, what good would that do? Then I would be frustrated and bald.), I remembered the point of this 30 Day exercise is to focus on them, not on me. Oak wasn’t crying and whining because he was trying to make me mad, he just needed someone to take his mind off of feeling sick. So I laid down on the floor and we wrestled and played until both of us were laughing so hard we couldn’t remember who had been screaming or why. I count it as another victory that I got Josh to go to bed at six-thirty that night, even though I missed spending time with him and he felt bad about leaving me holding the babies alone again. As hard as they’ve been working at the shop this week, he really needed the extra sleep. I was really dying to write, so I stayed up after Bear’s three a.m. feeding and got some work done, foolishly thinking I didn’t need sleep.

On Day 6, yesterday, Josh treated me to writing–meaning I paid my sister to watch the boys while I went to Pickler’s Famous to work on my comic book script. I think that did us all some good. Oak got to play with his Aunt Emmy and I got to feel like maybe God isn’t asking me to give up writing. And later that evening, while Josh was playing with Oak, Bear and I had a nice, long conversation. I worry sometimes that Bear will grow up missing out on some of the things Oak got–for example, my undivided attention–just because Oak is the squeakiest wheel in the house, but I’m starting to realize that all it takes is making the time to give Little Bear those things. And it doesn’t hurt to have a husband who will play with your older child. Thank God for Josh! I honestly don’t know how single parents of multiple children survive. (Or, maybe, how multiple children of single parents survive?)

Today, Day 7, my mom came up and we went to the farmer’s market, grocery shopping, and got some lunch. I don’t remember if I mentioned that reconnecting with my extended family was part of this Rebuilding Jerusalem exercise, but it is. My mom is central to that phase for this reason: when I was a tween-teen I went all awry and stopped being my mom’s daughter. What does that mean? It means I not only made things awkward between us, but I made it hard for Mom to talk to me or even be around me. My dad used to yell at me because I never told Mom anything and it was hurting her, but as a non-parent I couldn’t grasp just how painful that might be. Imagine putting so much time and emotion into raising this little thing that thinks the sun rises and sets because you tell it to and one day that little thing won’t even talk to you. No reason, no explanation, just–poof!–full embargo. (Kids are dicks.) I’ve known for some time that I needed to get back together with Mom, but today was the first time I made an effort to not be awkward or stand-offish. Honestly, it’s not easy undoing something you started work on in your tweens. It’s going to take more than one farmer’s market and lunch, but it can be done as long as I don’t give up. Luckily for me, Mom never gave up, so I don’t have to start over completely.

Bear just peed on me, so I’ve got to go. Day 8 is my Grandpa Smith’s Fourth of July celebration, so I’ll have a  whole group of extended family to reconnect with.

Day 3: Ratings Hike

Day 3 of this experiment presented me with a plot twist no one could have seen coming: Oak vomitted everywhere and started running a temperature of over 100.

My first thought: What if his fever reaches 104? I’ve got to take him to the ER!

Luckily, Joshua was there to derail that train of thought before it went too far. We have a doctor’s appointment this morning.

My second thought: This is good. I started this 30 Days thing to better take care of my family, now God’s giving me an opportunity to do just that.

But here’s a dilemma I’m finding myself in now: How to balance out comforting a sick toddler who just wants to be held with feeding, holding and caring for an infant who also wants to be held? And now that I think of it, how do I balance that with giving attention to my husband who has been working major overtime this week and needs some extra TLC?

Physically, I’m on my own here. When Josh gets done working mind-boggling shifts, he’s too tired to change diapers and make bottles. I definitely don’t want him to have to make his own supper. This means one of two things–1) someone will have to cry because they’re not being held at some point, and 2) better planning will have to go into meals, i.e. prepping while Oak is napping, feeding Bear more at a time so he’ll eat fewer meals a day, and so on.

Emotionally, however, I’ve got all the help I need. The Holy Spirit totally stepped up on this one. I’m tired, but not irritable. I’m doing everything around the house (including new things like double-washing clothes because I didn’t realize washing machines don’t make vomit disappear, they just distribute it evenly), but I don’t feel overworked. Even hearing Oak whine while Bear screams doesn’t faze me. And I really thank God for that, because–as any mom can tell you–listening to two babies feed off each other’s cries can really eat away at you.

So that’s Day 3, and my guess is probably Day 4, too. Tune in tomorrow to see if the producers can capitalize on this exciting twist!