When I wake up on a Saturday morning, I’m optimistic as to what I’d like to do to get my day started: a nice cup of strong coffee, a relaxing breakfast, and lounging on the couch in my pajamas as I read the latest Maclean’s magazine. Unfortunately, my vision of how I’d like to spend my Saturday morning is very different from reality. This is how I USED to spend my Saturday mornings, but not anymore (at least not without many interruptions). Mind you, I do try to tiptoe to the kitchen quietly before anyone sees me, but I’m usually unsuccessful. Once a child spots me, I hear a “Mommy!” and they all come running toward me like they haven’t seen me for years.
After hugs, I encourage them to find something to do while I eat my breakfast. But of course, once I sit down with some cereal or toast, Cor and Mia come right up to my lap for a bite of whatever it is I’m eating. They do make the cutest sounds indicating they’d like to try what I’m having. But hey, it’s my food and I’d like to eat it all myself.
Once I make my way to the couch, I settle in with my legs curled under me, coffee next to me in my travel mug (a necessity if I want any warm coffee at all) and Maclean’s in hand. Within seconds, Janelle comes over and crawls on my lap for a snuggle. Ok. This is nice. Then Willem settles in next to me with his Star Wars book and begins showing me things and asking me questions about the size of certain starships. At the same time, Cor decides this is a good opportunity for him to give me gifts of small puzzle boxes. He proudly hands me one and returns to the closet for more. I smell a hint of poop as he turns toward the closet and I realize I’m going to have to take care of that in the very near future. By this time, I’m pretty annoyed. I mean, I just want a quiet moment to “wake up” and enjoy a “relaxing” morning. The kids, of course, don’t allow Mom to rest on the couch uninterrupted.
Last Saturday morning began a week of me taking note of how little time I have to myself. I mean, sitting down with a snack and finishing it is laughable. Wishing to go to the bathroom without someone calling for me or running away from a sibling who is angry with them is futile. Sitting down on the couch for a moment to “rest” is impossible because the kids see this as an opportunity for me to read to them (which it usually is).
Taking time for me to do what I want to do is pretty much non-existent in my day. There is always dishes to do, laundry to fold, toys to clean up, meals to prepare, noses to wipe, bums to clean, windows/mirrors to wash, floors to vacuum, paper to clear, grocery lists to create, emails to write, appointments to make, babies to keep track of, kids to console, fights to break up, stories to read, juice to pour, bottles to warm up, blankies to find, clothes to order, crafts to prepare, kids to play with and relationships to maintain. There isn’t much room there for me. For me to do what I want.
What do I want to do? I want to nap. I always want to nap. I want to read my book on the couch. I want to watch TV. I want to go shopping. I want to visit my friends. I want to go out for dinner with my husband. I want. I want…
This is where parenthood becomes beautiful. Parenthood shapes and refines me. Some days I go through fire and it hurts. I feel selfishness burning away, but not without a fight.
There is not a lot of room for me to be selfish as wife and mom of five. Today I tried to be and I was miserable. I was having a pity party in my mind all day about how tired I was and how I just wanted to be by myself for once. But once those thoughts enter my mind, I become a pretty terrible parent. I steal opportunities away from my kids to be with me, so I can sit by myself and look at Facebook. I give up an opportunity to read with them so I can read my own book. I get angry at them if I can’t leave the room without someone calling to find out where I am. I become ungrateful for the gifts God has given me and think only of what I’ve lost.
Since becoming a mom, a lot of things in my life have changed. I’ve had to give up a lot of things. But this is not a loss. I have been given a loving husband and five beautiful children all of whom I love so much my heart could burst. I’d never in a million years give up what I have so I could do what I want. It makes me cringe just thinking about it.
Some days are harder than others, but it is mostly what is going on in my head that makes it hard. Focusing on the gifts and the giver keeps things in perspective. I realize there’s plenty of room for me to grow in my character, in my love for God and in my love for others.
Once I prayed for forgiveness and for strength this afternoon, I snapped out of my slump and got to work. I felt God recharging me to accomplish what he set out for me to do. Yes, I was still tired and still a bit short-tempered, but I got my jobs done.
I even had some fun with the kids while vacuuming. Did you know chasing kids with a noisy vacuum cleaner and then having them jump over the moving cord could be a source of laughter and joy?
I didn’t either until I put my magazine away and got off the couch.