Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tranquilizers Please?

One of the unfortunate side effects of only posting twice in a month is that nobody reads your blog anymore. Sigh. That would be more disappointing if I were actively writing posts.

Tonight was one of those nights when I wished it was legal to give your kids tranquilizers. Long day, even longer evening. I was awakened this morning just before six by a certain three-year-old who had wet his bed-- soaking completely through the night-time diaper that he had on to drench everything. After stripping the bed, replacing the sheets, showering him off, re-making the bed, and getting him clean pajamas, I went back to bed. Dave got the older kids off to school and let me sleep in.

I woke up after nine and realized that Addy was supposed to be at playgroup at nine. So I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and raced her over to playgroup, getting there a half hour late. When I dropped her off I was really impressed with the mom doing playgroup that day. I had never been to this friend's house for playgroup before and she totally went all-out. She had set up some play tents, had dress-ups out for the girls to play in and even had a few extra kids there. Hmmmm, maybe I should consider stepping it up a bit when it's my turn. It wasn't until I returned to pick Addy up at 11:30 and she had a party bag and foam crown that I connected that it was a birthday party. We had received an invitation to a birthday party (that was planned to coincide with playgroup so all of the playgroup girls could come) and I had totally spaced it. No RSVP, no gift. Yikes. Good thing I got *so much* work done on the computer while Addy was gone (while Jackson sat on my lap sticking his hand in front of the computer screen, pushing buttons or pulling on my arms). The party was a rousing success, as evidenced by the ginormous fit that Addy threw when she had to take off her princess dress to leave.

The afternoon was punctuated by Jackson screeching and ended up with me giving in to pleas from Jared to zone out to Plants vs. Zombies (which the other children watched, entranced, for some time). I succumbed to Camryn's request for me to buy eggs so she could make cookies, which resulted in a trip to Target with four kids to buy said eggs and the forgotten birthday present. Trips to Target with four kids are always exciting, so we tried to keep it short.

The minutes leading up to dinner ended with mass pandemonium as Camryn mixed cookies, I made frozen Ravioli, Jackson incessantly whined for milk (which will lead to him not eating his dinner), Dave madly tried to finish something on the computer for work and Jared argued with Addy (yes, the two year old) about where to put the plates on the table. We had dinner and a short family night/calendering session. Did I ever mention that it is really hard to write neatly on a calender when two different kids are climbing on and off your lap? We frosted cookies and had only two of them bite the dust and end up frosting-side down on the floor. Eventually I retreated to my computer, hoping the kids would eventually fall off to sleep by themselves-- which they didn't. I finally gathered enough courage to face putting them to bed whilst Dave still worked on his presentation for tomorrow.

I have been working on a series of house projects over the past week or so and they are starting to build up in varying degrees of incompleteness. I have ten things that need to be returned, five things to buy, a car that is six weeks late for an oil change and an overdue library video. The Cantico concert is in less than a month and things are piling up for that as well. How do you fit a 7-foot piano, 20 singers, a harp and an oboist on a 25x12 foot stage in an aesthetically pleasing and artistically functional way? Unfortunately, they didn't cover topics like that in my music major classes.  

I have been trying to work recently on counting my blessings, but something about that phrase really rubs me the wrong way. (Am I allowed to say that during November? Will lightning strike me dead?) I'm not saying that I'm not thankful or don't think I need to be thankful. It's just that that particular phrase "Count your blessings" seems to come with a whole subtext for me. Something along the lines of: "Count your blessings. It could always be worse-- and probably will be soon if you don't start showing some gratitude. Don't you realize how easy you have it? Poor you, to have to struggle with central heating, plentiful food, automatic washing machines and four beautiful children that you chose to bring into this world. Tough cookies."

I guess my trouble is not so much with counting my blessings. I am grateful. It's that I feel like in order to truly "count my blessings" I can't-- or don't have the right to-- to acknowledge that I struggle and things are hard, even though I am very blessed. I feel like "counting my blessings" is equated with me saying, "My life is easy and everything is smooth sailing. Any difficulties I have are so minor compared with my blessings that they hardly even count." Which may be true, but isn't what I need to hear-- or have it in me to say-- after an exhausting day caring for four children.

Last week I was thinking a lot about God and how he shows his love for us. I get irritated by children's books and such that say things like, "I know God loves me because I have a nice home and good parents." Does that mean that God loves the children less who are born into poverty or have abusive parents? I don't think God is like that. I have a good friend who is going through a lot of major difficulties in her life right now, yet more than probably anyone else I know right now, she knows that God loves her. It got me to thinking that frequently we equate God's love for us with the level of ease or comfort in our lives when actually those things are completely decoupled. Did God love Job? Then why did he let terrible things happen to him? Did he approve of King Herod more than Jesus (as evidenced by Herod's wealth, power and ease)? No. Negative things are part of being human and mortal. Pain is a way for us to learn and grow (and not one that I particularly like, I might say). But pain is not evidence of my--or God's-- failure.

It is much easier for me to accept difficult things when I don't start thinking, "What did I do wrong to deserve this?" and instead think, "This is temporary. With God's help, I will learn from this and become stronger."

So back to being thankful.... If I can decouple God's love for me with things being easy, then maybe it is okay for me to decouple being thankful from having to feel like things are easy. Maybe it is okay to say, "Today was a really hard day-- and I'm thankful my kids are asleep. I'm thankful for the opportunities I had to grow-- but I'm even more thankful that they have temporarily subsided." :) And maybe it is okay to say, "I am abundantly blessed and tremendously thankful-- and my life is difficult and hard (at least for me) and challenges me to my very core." Being thankful doesn't mean having to ignore the painful and the ugly and pretend they aren't there-- they still are, no matter how grateful you are. For me being thankful is not letting the painful and ugly crowd out the beautiful and sweet. Letting the pain overshadow and drive out the joy is just as untrue as pretending that the pain isn't there in the first place. So maybe I need to add to my goals-- along with peacefuly coexisting with pee-pee-- to learn to peacefully, thankfully coexist with discomfort, but to see it and acknowledge it just the same. 

Enough pontificating. Off to bed.