It’s very easy for me to get wrapped up and overwhelmed and pulled down by grief and sadness in this world. It’s always a fine balance for me to let myself feel sadness, but not to take on everyone’s misery. Daily I make a conscious effort to listen and and stay informed, but to also allow myself joy.
I’ve been keeping a daily gratitude journal where I list five things each day that I am “hanging my hope on” for the day. It’s been a really good, conscious way to look for the joy that is in my life each day.
It’s also not a secret that I struggle with being home with my kids. Cortney worked the budget so that all three kids can go to daycare twice a week, which has helped immensely. I feel like I can run all our errands without the anxiety of taking all the children, I can do household cleaning without anyone getting in my way or messing up what I just cleaned, and–best of all–I can read and write in a quiet house (or blare inappropriate music and have a dance party all by myself…whatever).
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are my days home with the kids and because I get Tuesday and Thursdays “off”, I find that I am a much better mom to them. My patience has a chance to renew on the “off days” and I find that it’s easier to find the wondrous in the every day happenings of our lives.
Eddie’s love of Legos.
Alice’s love of books…all books–board books, my books, picture books.
Charlie’s ability to make up stories. Very wild crazy stories that almost always involve his stuffed kitty.
Eddie’s endless patience for his little sister AND how much he loves to play with her.
Alice’s tiny pig tail.
Charlie’s hilarious facial expressions.
Eddie’s willingness to “ride around the block” with his little brother, even though Charlie rarely stays with him like he is supposed to.
Alice’s willingness to give hugs and kisses and tickles.
Charlie’s desire to be a “good helper boy”.
Eddie’s thoughtful questions.
Alice’s babble talk.
Charlie’s thoughtful silence.
Eddie’s quickness to read his sister and brother books.
Alice’s way of cuddling her blankie to her face when she is sleepy.
Charlie’s drawings of water towers.
Eddie’s sense of humor that is so much like my own.
Alice’s way of shadowing every single thing I do.
Charlie’s imagination and ability to play happily by himself.
Eddie’s interest in reading nonfiction.
Alice’s way with dolls.
Charlie’s bond with Alice.
Eddie’s detailed drawings of Star Wars.
Charlie’s big blue eyes.
Eddie’s willingness to try anything once.
Alice’s dancing and booty-shaking.
Eddie’s love of all people.
Charlie’s engineer-like brain.
These are only just a handful of things I have written down.
Each of these little goobers is so crazy different from each other. Lately my monthly therapy appointments are more focused on me talking about how to parent each kid to their own personalities than talking about myself.
Eddie is a zero or a hundred type of kid. If he’s not 100% successful, happy, winning, etc, he uses failure talk. He uses extreme talk like “everything is horrible” or “nobody loves him”. It’s all about absolutes with that kid. He is so much like me in this way. He needs lots of encouragement and lessons about how 80% is still really good. Just because he’s not best, does not mean he’s worst. He is my rule-follower, yet he questions why people would break rules or want to do mean things. He is so kind and has such a loving heart.
Charlie is explosive. He has big feelings he doesn’t know what to do with. He is quiet and thoughtful and loving and then BAM! Throwing things, hitting people (usually Eddie), and screaming hateful words. He needs positive reinforcement more than punishments. He cannot process once his brain floods with frustration. We need to teach him it’s Ok to walk away, cool down, and come back. He wants to be helpful and loving. He wants hugs and snuggles. He doesn’t care much about rules, but he wants to be of service to those he loves.
Alice is my little shadow. She is proof that sometimes nature does trump nurture. She was born into a house of trucks and blocks and action figures and she gravitated to the stuffed animals and one baby doll in the house. In a room full of “boy toys” she picks the pink tea pot. Not only is she shaping up to be a rule follower, but she is observant. She knows where her dirty laundry and diapers go. She already wants to do things herself. She follows directions and can find things when we ask, “where is your….?” She is starting to test our consistency and boundaries by throwing things and hitting, but responds when we say, “no”. She is loved on by all of us, and it’s evident that her brothers and her parents have more patience when it comes to her than we have for each other.
This summer, while I still find myself yelling too much and wishing the hours away sometimes, I have been enjoying my children in a way I haven’t been able to in the past. I’ve been allowing myself to pause and watch them and talk to them and play with them and ask them questions. I’ve given more of an effort to learning their personalities and letting them know I see them.
Don’t get me wrong. There have been meltdowns by ALL four of us. There have been booties that have been swatted. There has been more screen time than should probably be allowed.
This summer has been far FAR from a perfect picture. However I am doing a much, much better job recognizing the privilege of being home with them while also getting enough “off time” to do work. I am only too aware that we will never have 7, 4, and 1 ever again. This summer will be the only one like it, and our last with a baby-toddler.
So I am choosing, even on the hard days, to find five things to hang my hope on. To focus my joy on.
What have you found joy in today?