Lights are on but no one is home

I may have lost my spark.

I don’t know when it happened

but at some point, life took over.

Ordinary, hum drum, full of chores life.

And I don’t complain as much as I used to,

I just do the chores.

Change the babies.

Apply band-aids and wipe noses and wash the same dishes

over and over and over again…

Not sure if complaining and creating in a mess was better than this.

This tidier life without expression.

Spare time filled in the same way everyone else fills it.

Netflix and phone scrolling.

Coffee in the afternoon, binging sugar when I feel particularly down.

But I looked at myself today and realized I’m a shadow.

Nothing like I once was.

And maybe depression doesn’t always look like dark thoughts and attack.

Maybe sometimes it looks like hum drum and laundry.

Telling myself it’s for my family. Joy to serve. Proverbs 31 and all that.

I wish it was a joy to serve. I wish I was flooded with peace in the middle of monotony.

I wish I was the woman my husband married nearly thirteen years ago.

Truth is, I’m a bit of a bore.

And I’ve gotten old and lost something that I always had before.

Can’t put a name to it but oh, how I wish I could fix it.

But dishes and laundry and diapers and noses and fights and macaroni and cheese

keep me too busy to fix it.

Leave me just enough time to notice it now and then.

To cry a bit and feel the cracks in my heart aching.

And then go back to life and forget those moments until the next time I come up for air.

Gasping and reaching.

 

The Birth of Simon Felix

Time again for another birth story; my seventh. Simon was born on September 27th, fourteen minutes “late” as I was in labour on my due date the day before but he came after midnight instead. His birth was a mix of fast and slow, peaceful and chaotic. It was not as I expected and will take me time to process but he is a beautiful, healthy boy and we are both alive.

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I believe that I started early labour or at least pre-labour on the 25th. I had contractions enough through the night to make a solid sleep quite difficult. Nothing too intense or painful but steady. They tapered off by morning but I also became aware that baby’s head did not feel as though it was down anymore. Like my other boys, this one had moved in and out of head-down position many times during the end of pregnancy. I messaged a friend who is a maternity nurse (the one who was with me during Sam and Oliver’s births) and asked her for her advice on what we should do. She suggested calling the obstetrician’s office to see what he wanted me to do as he would be the one to turn the baby if it wasn’t head down. I called and waited less than an hour before hearing back from him that he wanted us to go get things checked out and that the staff in the birthing centre would call him if they needed him.

Lacey came over with her kids for a visit in the late morning but by then we knew things were happening so she came prepared to stay with them if we had to go in. Once we knew what the OB wanted, we gathered our things, ate some lunch and left the boys with her to go to the hospital with Jenny. Once were in a room, a nurse confirmed that the baby was not head down but she did not check for dilation because my contractions were so infrequent. The staff called the OB to let him know about baby’s position and he said he would come back at five. It was just after one o’clock at that point so the thought of waiting so long was a bit disheartening since it seemed I wasn’t anywhere near active labour yet. He also wanted us to wait at the hospital rather than going back home, just in case my water broke or things changed and an emergency response was needed.

We walked the hospital, walked around the outside of the hospital and rested in the exam room as much as possible before he came back. He was late – he finally got to us just before six, confirmed that baby was transverse and with the help of an ultrasound, moved him into a head down position in the exam room. It was very gentle and quick which didn’t surprise me considering how it was with Oliver and how much room I seemed to have. We were moved to a regular delivery room and my water was broken. Very quickly it was clear that this wouldn’t be a hands-off birth as there was heavy meconium in the fluid. I was put on monitors and tried to find good positions to labour in to get things moving. I started having regular contractions right away but they weren’t very strong.

Over the course of the evening, I moved from the bed to standing to rocking and in certain positions, Simon’s heart rate would drop a bit. The nurses figured that he probably had his cord tucked under his arm or something. So we’d move into a better position and give that some time. I was calm and things seemed mild at that point. Dad brought Mike and Jenny some supper around seven and I had a few crackers and hummus but otherwise just focused on labour. After a few hours, the doctor ordered pitocin which I had no argument with since it was used with Oliver and helped things move really fast. The nurses figured they would barely give me any and I’d be delivering. However, a few hours of pitocin gradually being turned up and I still had made very little progress. I felt like I was willing him to move down, willing myself to feel an urge to push but the last time they checked me, sometime after eleven, I was only six centimetres dilated. Through this whole time, certain positions were not just making his heart rate drop but plummet. I went from using the gas to get me through a contraction to hearing his heart rate slow way down and then being given oxygen and having nurses wiggling my hips to get the baby off of his cord. His regular heart rate was steady around 145 but during these drops would get down to the 50s. Trying to focus on my breathing while hearing that in the background was so hard. It was clear that the staff was becoming concerned as well.

The OB came back around 11:30 and immediately expressed concern over my slow progress and the monitor strip showing these drops in the baby’s heart rate. I agreed that the slow progress seemed strange. Oliver started out as an almost identical situation – not head down, needed to be moved externally, water broken once he was head down and then pitocin administered to get his head to move down with stronger contractions. And in his case, I was lying down with a spinal the entire time so gravity wasn’t there to help. It had taken about an hour and a half after my water was broken with Oliver and we were going on six hours at this point. The doctor quickly said, “We need to get your baby delivered.” I knew what this meant and rather than focusing on how upsetting it could be to consider a second c-section, I understood quite deeply that this baby was genuinely in danger. Something was not right and I think I knew it for awhile.

Just like my experience with Sam, that was the point that everything started moving quickly. The bright lights came on so to speak, extra tubes were put here and there, I signed consent forms and extra nurses came rushing in. It was a blur but in the middle of it, Jenny was visibly upset and I knew it was important to address it. I was incredibly calm and I will forever be thankful that with God’s help, I was able to keep my peace through the entire experience. Jenny was tired and confused and scared but I told her that I would be okay, that the baby would be okay, that all of this had to happen to make sure our baby was safe. I told her to pray and sleep if she could while she waited for us and then they whisked us away. Various nurses checked on her throughout the surgery until Mike was able to go back to the room with Simon. Thankfully she doesn’t seem affected by it now and she told me that she was able to identify a fear of losing one of us as what was most upsetting to her.

For the third time, I had a spinal administered while in labour. I didn’t have a comforting and familiar nurse with me this time and felt a little out of sorts through the process. I wanted Mike to be with me so badly the whole time I was being prepped. Finally I was lying down and numb, the curtain was up and there he was, capped and gowned and by my side. I was amazed at that point how quickly things moved. We had been warned numerous times that our baby might not cry when he was born because of the meconium in the fluid and then the decelerations in his heart rate made this seem even more likely. We experienced what felt like a miracle when we heard him cry immediately after he was pulled out. He was taken to the side to be looked over and it was a minute before someone said, “Time of birth?” and then, “Baby..?” and we heard, “Boy!” as a response. I laughed again, just like I did with Oliver. If you can have three or four boys in a row, you can certainly have five or six of them in a row.

We waited quite some time, during which I groggily asked over and over where my baby was, until finally a nurse walked over with him and handed him to Mike. I asked for my oxygen mask to be removed and Mike to move Simon closer to me so I could kiss his head. His eyes were wide open and he was moving his tongue around. I remember him catching fuzz from the blanket on his tongue and that I wanted to take it off but my arms were strapped down. My face started itching at some point during that time and while I can’t remember if it was before Simon was brought over or not, I remember asking Mike to scratch my face and it was never good enough. I also felt sick to my stomach a few times and had to throw up, once while Mike was there and once after he and Simon left. It was the strangest thing to feel like vomiting but be unable to use any stomach muscles to bring it up. I don’t remember feeling any of that in surgery with Sam so it was frustrating and made me feel very unsettled.

After Mike left with Simon, I waited for surgery to be done. This part felt so long and I had no idea why. When the actual surgery was over, the OB said that he had used dissolvable stitches, told me that the baby’s cord had been wrapped around his neck and whole body and I heard someone say that I had a lot of blood loss but everything else was quite blurry. I started shaking badly once I was closed up and just wanted to go to sleep. They didn’t move me to a recovery room but left me in the OR to recover, listening to the sounds of instruments being counted and cleaned up and people leaving one by one. I have no idea how long I was there before a few familiar nurses came and moved me off of the table onto a stretcher. They took me back to my room where Mike and Jenny waited with Simon. It was close to two in the morning at this point and everyone was exhausted. Jenny was bubbly with excitement still but I knew they needed to get home to bed soon.

Simon weighed 7lb 10oz and was 21 inches long – kind of a skinny little thing. I expected a big baby because of how quickly I expanded and how much weight I gained but in the end he feels so tiny. He’s right in the middle of all the other birth weights – three brothers were smaller than him at birth and the other two and Jenny were bigger. He nursed well right away and thankfully my milk came in at a reasonable time before he had time to get impatient. We came home from the hospital a bit earlier than we should have but I couldn’t stand the thought of more time in those beds. Because of the blood loss, I was very weak and on Tuesday was falling asleep in the middle of conversations or texting strange things to people because my fingers would fall on the screen in the middle of writing. I didn’t need a transfusion but will need extra iron for awhile and I am very limited in what I can do at home. Mike will be off for awhile, probably the whole month. Very unexpected but totally needed for me to be able to recover well from both the blood loss and the c-section.

This birth experience was so drastically different than any of the others. I knew very quickly that this was one of those c-sections that no one could ever say was unnecessary. I have acknowledged that Sam’s probably was as I had given birth to four babies before him and so a breech presentation shouldn’t have meant an immediate c-section. But this time, I knew my baby wouldn’t have been born safely without surgery. The day I left the hospital, I also found out that the cause of my blood loss – placenta accreta – would have made a vaginal birth end very differently as well. The placenta did not detach when the OB went to remove it and instead opened up blood vessels underneath it and caused a great deal of blood loss. Because it happened in surgery, it was able to be immediately dealt with. Had I given birth vaginally, I would have likely hemorrhaged and then been sent for emergency surgery anyway. I was also told that my uterus was paper thin at the bottom so I was fortunate to have not ruptured – another blessing of never making it into really active or intense labour.

I have been on a roller coaster of emotions this week. A second c-section first felt like a loss of future VBACs, even though I had been told a week before that there was no reason to consider myself a VBAC after this birth. Then I started thinking that I could find someone to let me have a VBA2C. When the OB did his discharge exam, mixed into the “your incision looks great,” was the news about the accreta and the thin uterus. I asked him what that meant for future pregnancies and he said, “I would tell you not to have anymore but I can’t make you do that.” As someone who imagined having babies right up until menopause, this was like a dagger. He didn’t tell me that it would kill me but I know that I just moved into a much higher risk category.

We have prayed and talked and I have cried an awful lot. I don’t feel the same despair as I did but I have come to the conclusion that it is highly likely that if we have another baby, we will have to expect the high possibility of a hysterectomy after a planned c-section. It feels like a better option than being done suddenly without any warning and a hysterectomy would actually be easier for me to be okay with than any form of birth control or sterilization because of our personal convictions on the subject. In the meantime, we will pray hard for full restoration of my body, for thickening of my uterus where it has thinned out, for a full miracle of a new uterus if that is what is required. My heart longs to birth more babies but I also know that I don’t need to have all the answers right now. The last thing I want to do is to get so lost in this grief that I miss Simon’s infancy. He is so precious and beautiful and I don’t want to let this time go by in a fog.

Our other kids are in love with their little brother. Elias has easily shown more interest than everyone else (possibly combined) and practically begs to hold him every day. Jenny hasn’t expressed any disappointment in another brother and neither has anyone else. When I was still in surgery waiting to see Simon, I turned to Mike and said, “Six sons, what a legacy,” and I keep thinking it. It really does feel incredible.

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Humble Pie..

This pregnancy has been humbling. That’s a gentle word for it, anyway. When I got pregnant, I was in the best shape I had been in since before having kids, even though I didn’t weigh much less than before I got pregnant with Oliver. The month of January was spent working out of a daily planner in order to keep on top of meal planning, decluttering and general housework. I wasn’t working out every day but had a good routine to maintain my level of fitness. And then I got pregnant. It was not unexpected and I was very excited.

The first few months of pregnancy were exhausting. I couldn’t work out, couldn’t clean the house, stopped using my planner and only barely got meals on the table half of the time. I was so sick and the medication I was on to make me feel better made me even more tired. Finally, about halfway through, I stopped taking it and started to feel a bit better. For a few weeks. The typical second trimester energy just never kicked in for me and then suddenly I was in the third trimester. My weight gain by around halfway was over twenty pounds and as of right now – 35 weeks – I’ve gained nearly forty-five pounds. I have felt heavy and slow and tired and incapable of many things that are usually just part of normal life for me.

The latest development is a return of a pinched nerve or compression in my shoulder that sends numbness and pain down my arm every time I sleep. I’ve tried sleeping sitting up, somewhat reclined on the couch and on my back (which has only been possible for an hour or so a few nights ago). I even went so far as to bring my zero gravity lawn chair inside the house last night and slept in for a few hours but even a reclined position didn’t prevent it from happening. I went back to bed sometime after seven and cried – sobbed – about the whole thing. Big, messy crying from pain and frustration and total exhaustion. Mike prayed for me but I know he’s having a hard time with all of this, too. Kind of tough to go from having a wife who is on top of everything and keeps you and your kids fed and happy to having a wife who is in pain all the time, crying at the drop of a hat and waking you up with all her tossing and turning.

A few weeks ago, I decided the best way to get through these last weeks was to stay busy – have some sort of project for each day. Now I’m faced with produce I bought to can and a whole load of unfinished projects around the house. I watch as other women, just as pregnant as me, tend their gardens (I never had one), can their produce, take daily walks and make creative meals nearly every day. I can barely stay awake today and really have no idea how I’ll make it through another five weeks like this. I warned Jenny and Elias today that if things don’t improve, they will have to pitch in a lot more around here. Honestly, I’m tempted to hire help but then I feel that people will wonder why my husband and oldest kids aren’t doing more around the house to help me.

Needless to say, there are a lot of mind games going on here. It’s hard to stay focused on what is important and while I’m looking forward to holding this baby, it’s not easy to wait and endure the physical and mental trials that this pregnancy has brought me. I have learned my limitations and while I would love to rest when someone close to me tells me to rest, I just don’t know how to do it without everything completely going to pot around me.

Fixing Things

Two weeks ago, we had a “something’s gotta give,” moment. Wednesday is cleanup day and Thursday is computer day but it took the kids until Thursday afternoon to finish cleaning up which means they did not get their two hour turns on the computer that day. I realized (yet again) that they had a staggering amount of toys/books/clothes/etc and very little organization. So I woke up last Monday morning with what was almost an epiphany – we would do one hour a day of cleanup, using a timer, and with five weekdays and five kids who use the computer, each kid in order of age could have two hours a day to play games, watch Netflix, etc. once we got the cleanup done for the day.

There were tears from a few kids who clearly do not like change and were struggling to see how one hour a day was better than morning until evening on Wednesdays. I told them that we would try this through the summer and that I would be with them for that hour so they wouldn’t be doing it on their own. I knew this was necessary because a) they get distracted easily (um, they’re kids!) and one hour on their own would be far less productive than one hour with mama’s help, and b) being there means I get to be sneaky and throw out/donate things that they never use but would undoubtedly keep if I wasn’t there.

Last week, we put in one hour a day of cleaning – sometimes a bit more if I felt the need to add a few minutes due to total lack of cooperation –  and we finished their playroom, which is also where Elias and Erik sleep. I spent nearly $60 on under bed storage so that most of the sets of toys could be stored out of the way. It’s not perfect and I’m confident that we could get rid of a lot more, but it’s way better.

This week we’re working on the “big room” which is our large downstairs family room and is a second play area as well as where all our books are stored, where I workout (when I’m up to it), where they watch movies and play Nintendo. It needs a TON of work. We started yesterday and it looks worse than it did before but that seems to be the name of the game in big decluttering/organization projects like this.

My goal is to make the entire house functional and easy to move out of at any point. Not that we are planning to move but I’ve lived through two moves that were totally dysfunctional – throwing things in random boxes and sometimes not even unpacking them for years. Last night I opened a sealed box to find a bunch of candles I’ll never use, knick knacks I don’t need or want anymore, empty frames that I was apparently saving to use again and various other small things. 90% went into donation boxes. This is proof that those haphazardly packed boxes are not something I want to do again.

The most daunting thing about this job is that I’m slightly more than halfway through pregnancy right now. My energy levels are better than they were six weeks ago but not as good as they have been in earlier pregnancies. This one has been tough on me. I would love to see everything done before this baby comes but I know that it’s not that likely. So we’ll keep trucking away with one hour a day and I’ll try to fit in a few hours a week decluttering my own stuff (hello, craft/laundry room) and hope to be half done by the fall. I’m trying to be optimistic that this is a reasonable expectation and that if I have a few days with extra help at home or the kids out of the house, I might get a little bit further.

It is very clear that the old system was broken. I just hope that this one will get us to a better place and make it easier for the kids to clean up their own messes in an organized fashion. And for that matter, help me clean up mine as well.

Chaos

We have moments of calm, hours of quiet at night, half an hour at a time when all the kids are occupied and at peace. But we have a lot of chaos. We also have a lot of stuff. I have been seeing the connection between the two more and more recently.

Last week, two large wildfires threatened rural areas outside of town, well enough away from us that we were not really threatened but still felt the need to be prepared. It occurred to me during that time that we have way too much stuff. When I considered what I would want to save if our house were on fire or we needed to quickly evacuate, it was only important documents, two heirloom quilts from my grandparents, our wedding photos, our backup hard drive which has photos and documents from 2006 and on and Jenny’s baby album since we didn’t have a digital camera when she was born. These things would fit in a large Rubbermaid bin and the rest could be destroyed and I wouldn’t care all that much.

When you start thinking like this, it makes you wonder why you bother keeping all of it if you don’t really care. I always have reasons – we need lots of books because I want my kids to love reading and have plenty accessible to them at all times. We need all the toys because there are so many kids and they might all want to do different things at the same time. These two are so easily refuted – the books barely get touched because they aren’t organized at all and there are so many that choosing becomes overwhelming. The abundance of toys means that six different things (or more, actually) get dumped out at once and fighting is a constant thing because sharing and cooperation don’t actually come naturally when there is so much stuff.

I know people who have downsized and simplified and found that it brought a big change to their homes and families. Most of these people had two young children or no children at the time of starting the process. The more kids I have and the older my oldest children get, the more daunting the process seems. It is also difficult to imagine doing it without Mike being 100% on board and enthusiastic. He doesn’t mind having less stuff – he welcomes it – but he’s not the type to dive in next to me throwing stuff out. I’m the sorter, the seller, the decision maker on stuff in this house. With everything we have, it feels like too heavy a burden to continue bearing.

Transparency and pain

I’ve had a teary couple of days. Triggered by some changes around me that were not totally unpredictable but still felt sudden and leave me feeling stranded and lonely. Also triggered by the strangest thing – spending an evening talking to a bunch of other homeschool moms after a meeting. I came home happy and optimistic until I took a moment to think about these people I had just been talking to. They are all slightly more than acquaintances. They are “fringe friends.” Friends on Facebook, people I would happily talk to in a grocery store when I run into them every six months, some who I have had long and meaningful conversations with that left me wanting more time, more opportunity to get to know them, to continue discovering the string of things we’ve just found we had in common.

Just writing that last run on sentence made me gasp and sob. I am so painfully lonely sometimes. But because I’m friendly and people seem to want to spend time around me at events, I probably don’t come off that way. All these fringe people have a best friend or a small clique of sorts. Someone I often see them with, who they carpool with to homeschool or church gatherings, who they potluck with as families. They like to talk to me – I won’t deny that – but they don’t have time for someone like me in their real lives. Someone who has many mouths to feed and many boys to try to keep under control.

We had friends who understood that and loved us and embraced the craziness. They had us over when we lived in our tiny house because they knew it made more sense to gather in a larger space. We still have these friends but they live across the country from us and have now for nearly two years. There is still a hole left behind.

There is also an assumption that I hear often, that we spend most of our free time with our family. That isn’t true, either. The bigger our family gets, the less we do together because we are just so overwhelming as a group. And when it is your heart conviction to leave your womb open, the future just holds less and less acceptance from those around us. Our families love our children but we don’t hang out all the time. I don’t invite people over often – family or otherwise – because the work involved in cleaning up and cooking and serving my own family plus extras is overwhelming to me. When I do have people over, I spend most of the time feeling like a terrible hostess.

I have become a fairly accomplished homebody. I can stay busy with things at home and not think about the loneliness. I get some amount of connection on Facebook – a place that I will acknowledge is not “real” but gets me by. I talk to moms in the nursery at church. Most are women just starting out with their first babies. In their eyes, I am “crazy”, “brave” or a “super mom” for having so many kids. I’m old, seasoned and established and I am darn good at keeping a smile on my face. I have no desire to be vulnerable with fringe people because I know it just looks like self-pity. And it probably is. I have no desire to be vulnerable with my family because they will call me out on it and skim over the very real pain I am in. Even writing this is only possible because I know there are only one or two people who read what I write (hi, Carol). If I thought those who I see on a weekly basis were reading it, I wouldn’t allow myself to be so transparent.

I’d love to chalk this up to hormones. I’ve just entered my second trimester, I’m still sick and tired but not quite as sick and tired as I was a month ago. I have gained too much weight and feel clunky and unattractive. I am constantly behind on everything around my house because I just don’t have the energy for it all. All of that is reason enough to shed a few tears and I know I’m not the only pregnant woman to do it. But this hurt just came bubbling up yesterday. A hole left much longer than I anticipated after the departure of my dearest friend and a realization of the distance I put between myself and other people in an attempt to hide all of this from them. I know the looks I’d get, the comments people would make if they knew. And I just don’t feel safe so I keep hiding it and burying it under being a “crazy” pregnant mother of six children.

The significance of Seven

Mike and the kids call it “Simy” – a combination of the names Simon and Amy, but I have just been thinking of it as “Seven.” The last two months have been challenging, tiring, exciting and surprising. I realized now that my last blog post was made more than a week after I knew I was pregnant again but obviously was still keeping it quiet. And those first few weeks weren’t very different than normal for me. I was still decluttering, working out, eating somewhat decently. And then it all hit at once and keeping it a secret wasn’t an option and continuing along as I had been wasn’t either. I traded workout clothes for pajamas and decluttering for puking and sleeping.

I have told myself that this is a season. This will pass in time – hopefully relatively soon. I have felt a bit better in the last week but I have already gained an astonishing amount of weight because I feel hungry all the time and way worse if I let myself stay hungry. I also had a scare this week and so I’ve been resting even more than normal, just when I was getting to the point where I thought I might be able to start doing small workouts again.

This pregnancy feels particularly significant – there was a long time in our marriage where our plan was, “At least four; no more than six.” Our hearts and minds were changed along the way and so when I found out about this one, there was a different kind of excitement for us. The kids were all predictably thrilled (I’ll post our announcement video at the bottom) and while no one else was really surprised, I have really only had positive encouragement from friends and family.

This last Monday, I got to see this little person on a quick ultrasound to make sure everything was okay after I had some cramping and bleeding. It jumped and waved its arms and legs and seemed to even do a somersault. Reassuring and beautiful. I wish I had video of it but in the moment, I was just transfixed watching that screen. I’ve never had an ultrasound this early (it was at eleven weeks) so it was a new experience, knowing that that tiny little thing – so clearly a baby already – was only the size of a Brussels sprout but so active.

I already feel like I’ve been pregnant for a long time – in another week, it will have been two months since I found out. I’ll be glad to get into the second trimester and hopefully have a lot more energy and a lot less morning (all-day) sickness.

Here’s the video of how we told the kids. I especially love that it was Elias that figured it out after we kept giving them clues.🙂

Pressing on

As I pressed the “compose” button to write this, I had a thought. I know one or two people still read my blog but otherwise, why do it anymore? Why continue when there isn’t much of an audience? I suppose just because I need the outlet way more than I need the audience. An audience is nice. It’s great knowing someone is reading (like the person who has liked my posts frequently this month – thank you!) but it’s not a necessity. The truth is that I like the idea of journaling on a regular basis but I hate writing by hand. I can handle a page or two now and then but it’s just not my favourite thing to do. Anyway, that’s why I do it. This is a reminder for myself just as much as it is a statement to whatever readers I might have. Thank you for reading but if I ever get annoying and you need to stop, no sweat. I don’t even care about stats anymore – I just need to write.

So, “pressing on” isn’t even about all of that. This is back to my current gargantuan task of decluttering my entire home. I have so far finished my kitchen and have essentially finished my bedroom although there are some boxes of things that need to be relocated once I’ve organized other parts of the house a bit more. But this week I have been tired and it has been tempting to take a nice long break from the work. The fact that I’ve only been at it for a few weeks is reason enough to not allow myself a break just yet. We have had a busy week (hence the tiredness…someone please remind me not to book three morning appointments in the same week) and I do need to give myself slightly less to do when there is a lot going on outside of the house. I am also being reminded to show myself grace. If something isn’t done at the end of the day, it will just have to be moved to another day. I get a bit stuck in past perfectionism not seeing a task checked off at the end of the day so I am trying to be more intentional about giving myself a break when I don’t get it all done.

Delegating is also something I hadn’t even considered, aside from the responsibilities that the kids already have here. I had two big bags of baby girls’ clothes that I was hoping to pass on to a few people but one wanted the small things and the other wanted the bigger things. The sizes were completely mixed together so I had planned to sit down and sort them according to size. Then it occurred to me that the friend who wanted the larger sizes had only one child and does not work outside of her home. So I sent her message, asked if she wouldn’t mind sorting through them and passing what she didn’t want to the mutual friend who wanted the smaller sizes. And it worked! She didn’t mind at all and came to pick them up within hours of my original message. More proof that sometimes I just need to ask for help instead of assuming that no one will want or be able to help me.

This is not my most brilliant writing but again, it’s good for me to put it all out there to process what is happening right now. I will keep at this job and hopefully be done in six months or less at the rate I’m going now (I think four months is actually a possibility). Now to avoid burnout, show myself grace, allow myself rest throughout the week when I need it, and delegate when necessary.🙂

Explaining the two book goal

I haven’t mentioned it here but one of my micro-goals for 2016 is to read one non-fiction book per month and one fiction. I have a lot of back reading to catch up on in the non-fiction area so if I feel like finishing two a month, I’ll let myself. But I’m determined to hold to the one novel a month rule.

On Sunday, I mentioned this to the church librarian, a woman in her fifties with grown kids and a work from home job. “Two books a month?! I could read that many in a day!”

“So could I,” I answered.

This isn’t about me not being much of a reader and forcing myself to read two books a month. This is because if I allow myself to read fiction, I use it as a form of escapism and disappear into it until it’s finished. And if there is a sequel, look out, because I’ll do the same thing with that as well. When I came back from Georgia in 2011, I decided to limit my reading to Christian fiction or classics as the amount of gratuitous sex in most modern secular fiction was totally unpredictable and seemed to show up in even unexpected places. My brain and heart don’t need that so I made the commitment to avoid it. But I also avoided fiction in general for two years or so. I went from reading stacks of books a month to nothing, mostly because I recognized my tendency to escape into fiction and how my real life suffered from it.

In December, possibly when we were sick, I read a Francine Rivers book that I had gotten for free on Kindle quite some time ago. It felt good to read for a day or two but I knew then how easy it would be to get back into old habits and watch my home and family suffer for it. But I don’t feel that reading fiction is wrong – don’t read this the wrong way, please – I just think it should be limited. Personally, I know that I can work on a non-fiction throughout the month and gain from it (non-fiction has never been a form of escapism for me..it’s just not the same) and use novels as a means of rest once a month. I’m not very good at stretching a novel out very long so it does mean that a day or two each month, I’ll be immersed in something and then not read any fiction the rest of the month.

In January, I read the sequel to December’s book and in February, I plan to read a friend’s second novel which I have already bought for my Kindle. I am using my planner/organizer daily and with Sundays being set aside for rest, I can imagine starting a book on Saturday night and finishing it on Sunday. Other Sundays I can nap, use my colouring book, play the Sims (guilty pleasure, I admit) or just hang out with my family.

I have a lot of friends that have very lofty reading goals for the year. Good for them! If they can continue to live in the real world effectively and read that many books, I’m in awe. I just know that personally, my real life is just too full and real to allow myself to escape more than once a month into a fictional world.

Reflections on work and rest

Eventually I’m sure this whole planning thing will become old news and I’ll move on to other topics but it has become a normal – if somewhat novel – part of my life so it’s on my mind a lot. As I was writing out my tasks for this week, I came to Sunday and left it blank. In the past, Sunday has often been a day when I would catch up on laundry or some other job around the house, just because Mike was home and I felt bad sitting around. I have often intended to use it for rest but when the week prior to it is full of mostly laziness and procrastination, it’s hard to feel okay about resting on Sunday.

Yesterday I had completed most of my list for the day and sat down to check Facebook. It occurred to me that I felt just fine about taking a break. I was struck by the feeling that this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. I know many people think I must be busy all the time, that my “hands are full” with all my kids but in reality, they do their own thing most of the day and I do mine. I make meals, sure, and I generally have been able to keep on top of laundry and dishes and workout on a regular basis but beyond that, I feel as though I had fallen into a very lazy lifestyle.

I read a quote at the beginning of the year, encouraging moms to “do hard things,” this year. I have avoided this big job of decluttering or even giving myself set daily tasks because they seemed hard. I’ve long admitted to being a hater of housework and while my work ethic in a job outside the home is great, for some reason, I have a pretty crappy work ethic here. I’ve wallowed in self-pity around the mess my home has become and seldom make any effort to get rid of the self-pity or the mess.

I know this isn’t a new thought but it genuinely is one to me. I’ve watched my husband work a long day and then come home and rest without feeling the need to do a bunch at home. He helps if I need him to but he doesn’t feel guilty about sitting down and putting his feet up. And here I’ve been, barely doing anything but feeling guilty about sitting around because most of my time has been spent doing nothing! I am excited to see what this year will look like; what a year of balanced work and rest will do for our family and our home. And I look forward to Sundays – naps and eating out and putting my feet up.