Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Piece of Peace

Last weekend I had a really great weekend for no particular reason (well, other than the fact that we had a decent turnout at choir, my house was unpacked from my mom being here and Dave watched Jackson during most of Relief Society). I felt extraordinarily calm and peaceful throughout last week and the weekend despite typical daily pressures and stress. I attributed this to the fact that I had recently read not one, but TWO books on finding peace and I must just be better than the average person at applying these newfound principles to my life (yes, the fact that my mom was here helping me unpack and decorate all week was purely incidental and i am sure had NOTHING to do with it). I was finally starting to really figure life out: it's just a choice that you have to make to be happy and peaceful, to find calm amid the turmoil of daily pressures. Yes, that's definitely it.

My peaceful weekend didn't involve a whole lot of dish-doing, so my zen-like state on Monday morning was greeted with a huge sink-and-counter-full of dirty dishes. The house was a mess, but between getting Jared off to school, making Camryn oatmeal, feeding Jackson breakfast, showering, getting dressed (myself and Jackson), changing diapers and putting Jackson down for his morning nap, not much progress was made to counteract the mess. I started to feel stress creeping back in as I realized that I had to feed Camryn lunch, comb her hair and get her on the school bus, feed myself and Jackson lunch-- and my visiting teachers were going to be arriving in 45 minutes. Needless to say, the house did not get cleaned and because they brought their kids with them we went past my deceivingly picked-up living room and into my pit of a family room where the toys were.

We had a nice chat and lesson. They asked how I was doing and I told them that while usually I was stressed out by having a messy house, today it wasn't really bothering me. I was just learning to take things in my stride. Usually I let myself be unhappy until my house is clean, but since I know my house is going to get cleaned later today, why not just start being happy now and enjoy the whole day? Yes, I really was starting to get this peace thing. If you think about it, they say that God views everything as an eternal now... so if you think of it that way, even though it is messy at the moment, my house is already clean in a certain sense (although if you use that logic, then you could say that even when my house is clean it is really already messy-- unfortunately, that is probably closer to the truth).

After my visiting teachers left I did clean my kitchen and no longer had to pretend to enjoy sparkling countertops and clean dishes. I made a yummy Thai curry chicken for dinner and we had a lovely family night with a fun activity of making scripture cookies. See? All you have to do is have the right outlook and find peace in whatever may be happening. I knew I was good at this peace thing.

Unfortunately, by the time we made the cookie dough it was past the kids' bedtimes, so we rushed them off to bed, leaving cookie dishes in the sink. Jackson was fussy and didn't go to bed until really late so the dishes got left in the sink. Early on Tuesday Dave left for Korea. Jackson woke up bright and early and went with me to take Jared to the bus stop. But that just gave me a good early start to get the kitchen cleaned again. Yes, I can still hang on to peace and calm and order, even in the face of adversity. I'm so proud of myself. While Camryn was at school, I rushed to the mall to make some returns and ran to Trader Joe's. I made it home just as the bus was pulling up. I ran to put away the groceries and then took the kids to run errands.

We started by going to the library, where the kids returned their old books, selected picture books to read and I chose some music CDs and cookbooks. Then we went to Albertson's. Last week we had an Enrichment class on saving money on your grocery bill, so I was newly inspired to strive for frugality. There was an amazing sale on granola bars, cereal and oatmeal ($1 or $1.50 a box) that ended that day, so I was going to go and stock up for food storage. I should have known that calmness, peace and "3 kids in Albertson's" don't go together, but frugality was calling me.... Seventy-five minutes later I was still in Albertson's, with Camryn hanging on a cart piled with 8 boxes of oatmeal, 15 boxes of cold cereal and 3 boxes of granola bars (they ran out...), and Jackson among other things. As I tried to steer our three ring circus toward the checkout, we saw Camryn's primary teacher (whose youngest child is 12). I said hello, but wanted to hide in a hole. "Yes, hi!! I'm the crazy lady whose cart is overflowing with 15 boxes of cereal, 8 tubs of oatmeal, 86 diapers, 2 gallons of milk and a partridge in a pear tree. No, we don't eat anything else but cold cereal and oatmeal, it's a special diet."

We did eventually make it home, but my week went downhill from there. Jackson did not go to sleep until 10:30 pm. I tried putting him down earlier and just going out and only going in to comfort him, but whenever I went back in there was a look of relief on his tear-stained cheeks like he was saying, "Mommy!! I knew you would come! I knew you would come and save me." I finally just gave up and rocked him to sleep. When I woke up on Wednesday I was exhausted. I got Jared out the door for the bus (I watched from the door this time) and then decided to go back to bed. I put on a movie for Camryn and slept (or at least tried to) until 10:15 am. Unfortunately, it is very tricky to actually sleep with a half-awake baby who can crawl in your bed. I finally roused myself enough to get up and showered and then realized it was almost time for Camryn to go on the bus. "Camryn," I said, "we need to feed you lunch." "But mommy," she answered, "I haven't even had breakfast." [Note to self: Add to my list of 101 statements that make you feel like a loser mom.] I fed Camryn, got her on the bus and Jackson took a lengthy 15-minute nap.

We spent the afternoon doing piano class for Jared and his friends. It was really stressful for me and brought back a whole flood of bad memories from when I taught in California: I was frustrated and overly emotionally-involved with the outcome of the class. After the class I retired to the office to nurse Jackson and get some online word game therapy and the doorbell rang. I had forgotten that someone was coming over to practice for a musical number. By the time we were finished it was 7 and the kids hadn't eaten. When I finally got the kids in bed, I was exhausted, emotionally spent and at the end of my rope. "I can't deal with life or even keep up with a subsistence level of existence. I am stressed and tired and emotionally empty and I don't even have anything to show for my efforts." Hmmm, this is unexpected from the new reigning world expert on peace.

And so my week went.... Today went a little bit better. J and C went to the zoo with a friend this afternoon and I spent the full two hours while they were gone wasting time on the computer. It's so much easier to feel fulfilled if you just have low expectations for yourself. But about finding peace... the books are nice and all, but when push comes to shove, if you want peace, get your mom to come and help you for a week.


rlmquest said...

I so know how you feel! As I was reading about your day it was so was like I was reading about myself from someone else's perspective minus the talented pianist part. I especially love the grocery shopping trip...I did the same thing....I was dissappointed about the granola bars being out too! Oh, and many times my children have said "But I haven't even eaten breakfast"! I too am working on choosing joy amidst the chaos and a messy kitchen!

mike, cynth, jonathan, jen, jeremy, and jessie said...

Ah, yes!

Greek Goddess said...

Thank you for making me laugh. I love the 15 boxes of cereal thing because that is exactly what happens to me at the grocery store, too. We're all in this together, believe me. And as far as messes go, read my very opening blog at my yellow balloon days site and you'll get my view on messes!

Larisa said...

I started reading your blog and could not stop. It was fansinating. It remainded me of those books I read on motherhood and parenting.
As for seeking peace and order, I am there, everyday, trying, hoping...but rarely succeding(thought I have to say you hung on there for quite a while. Impressive).
On grociery store situation, I almost already decided to abandon daytime shopping with children, though I have only two. By the time I am at checkout, I am so flustered and in need of getting out of there, that I sometimes forget stuff like my grocieries.

I wanted to come see you this summer, Karen, and I am sad to say I won't be able to now. We came down to Portland a lot less than we thought we would and they were almost always 1.5 day trips with a lot of commotion. I hope I get to see you some other time when we are in town.

K kid said...

I wish that we had been able to see you this summer also, Larisa. For us it seemed to fly by between trips to Utah and such. Give me a call if you are ever in town with some free time... we'd love to see you!