Taking It In Stride

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A few years ago, a dear friend and I decided to take our boys out to lunch. We loaded up everyone in my oversized vehicle and headed down the highway to our favorite place, the one with the well-lit, heavily-fortified playground. Here our small, rambunctious males could run wild while my friend and I carried on a luxurious conversation featuring complete sentences and free drink refills.

We had such a good time that we stayed maybe a little too long. That’s why the day stands out to me. This was not the first time I had taken the boys on such an outing, but that particular day stands out because I learned a valuable lesson in the midst of the chaos.

On the way home that afternoon, as we dealt with a carload of very tired boys, I grew increasingly agitated with my boys, with myself, and with my current situation.

The thing was, at that point in my life, none of my friends were dealing with quite the same challenges. That day, my friend had with her just one boy, while her older daughter was at school. So she had one boy, and I had four. Clearly, the tired momma feeling overwhelmed by her wild young children would more likely be me.

Later that night, I was explaining to Paul how upset I was, mostly with myself. Because the boys were all so little (and so outnumbered me) I didn’t always feel like I could be the kind of mother I thought I should be. That day on the car ride home, I watched my friend patiently deal with her toddler as he threw waffle fries across the cars. My boys were doing the same, but I had nowhere near the loving tolerance for it. My inclination was to snap at everybody to just stop it already!

“The thing is,” I sniffed to Paul, “I don’t think I can afford to be that patient because I have so many people in my care.”

What my husband told me that evening was a good lesson, one that I continually remind myself to this day. His advice: chill out. He said it in the most loving way he could.

His suggestion was not meant to diminish my concern or mock my frustration – it was just a healthy reminder. There are times when a person should assess her approach to parenting; the end of a very long day full of babies and toddlers is most definitely not that time.

I’m no longer in that same, intense season. Even though we are back to dealing with a toddler, there is only one of him and even on his most trying days Henry cannot gang up on me in the same way his older brothers once did.

But the lesson is still one I need to remind myself – chill out. Take stock of things, yes, but do it when you are in a good place.

One recent, very early morning, I was starting down that same path of frustrating self-analysis. I got up early to get on top of some household chores and several of the boys got up right along side me. I hit the ground running, just like old times, and a mere two hours into the day I found myself exhausted and unrighteously annoyed.

And then, I made that fatal mistake – I started assessing the state of things in that negative frame of mind. I thought about finances and prayer life, communication in my marriage, some unfinished school projects. The list went on and then took a steep nosedive when I walked into my bedroom and began to share my thoughts with my dear, sweet unsuspecting husband.

Fast-forward, three hours and one apology later and once again here I am learning that valuable lesson to chill out. Life is wonderful. It is not always perfect. When things aren’t feeling perfect, wait a few hours before you try to figure out why. 1766″>

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    My husband handles me in that mood by shushing me like you might a crying baby. It's maddening. But it does make the point – that I happen to be having a bit of a fit, and need to calm down.
    It's nice to be reminded that other people have these, too.

  2. You are such an inspiration! I'm trying to make it day by day with just one, I can't even imagine what it's like with four! It's hard to be patient in any situation involving kids, and just like you were looking at your friend and admiring her patience in caring for her toddler, know that many others (even those with FAR fewer children) look at you and marvel. The grass is always greener on the other side, and maybe that's what those few moments of "chill out" time allow you (and the rest of us) to see.

    Thank God for husbands!
    M 🙂
    http://Mandthe2Henrys.blogspot.com
    http://HomemakerPhD.blogspot.com

  3. My husband has to remind me of the same thing – sometimes by being sweet, other times by asking me if I'd like to worry fruitlessly about World Hunger while I'm at it. Both approaches work, and at least I know he's listening.

  4. Spesamor Academy says:

    I have an award on my blog for you!

  5. As a mom of kids 5, 3, and 6 months, who has just spent the better part of 4 days solo with the kiddos, I really appreciate this advice. I seem to hit a wall around the dinner/bedtime part of the day and it's not always pretty. Thanks for the reminder to just step back and chill!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Susie, it's called the Arsenic Hour for a reason. Giving everyone a healthy snack with some protein as well as some concentrated quiet time together (maybe read a book or do a massage with each other–even little ones get into it) helped some in our house. And give yourself permission to tell your kids that you are feeling tired/stressed/cranky. Learn coping mechanisms together. And of course, pray it all out! It's not easy when Dad's on the road and it's okay to cut a few corners. None of us is perfect. Blessings to all the young mothers out there in the trenches.

  7. kerisullivan says:

    Rachel- in our short 5 weeks of marriage, your last line has probably been our most pronounced lesson. I am an emotional, passionate, "feely" social worker. I am very guilty of making one bad day, one bad interaction with my husband, one bad day in prayer define my whole life. Thankfully, Ross has learned exactly what you just said. It is truly amazing what time can do to an overactive mind and a frustrated heart! Thanks for making me feel less like a bad, cookoo new wife 🙂

  8. kerisullivan says:

    Rachel- in our short 5 weeks of marriage, your last line has probably been our most pronounced lesson. I am an emotional, passionate, "feely" social worker. I am very guilty of making one bad day, one bad interaction with my husband, one bad day in prayer define my whole life. Thankfully, Ross has learned exactly what you just said. It is truly amazing what time can do to an overactive mind and a frustrated heart! Thanks for making me feel less like a bad, cookoo new wife 🙂

  9. Anonymous says:

    As I'm in the final days of my husband preparing for a year-long deployment to the Middle East, this is such a timely post for me! I know I will have those moments (a lot!) while he is gone, but it's important for me not to burden him with the day-to-day messiness when he needs to know that we're doing okay.

  10. Thank you Rachel! Thank you for reminding me that I'm not the only one who ends up having these self-critiquing monologues with myself. And, thank you for reminding me that we really don't have to be so hard on ourselves. My boys are 6,4, and 2 and Boy #4 will arrive sometime the end of December. There are days that I wonder if I'm crazy, how I can ever give each of my children all that they need…never mind completing household tasks & carving out some time for my husband! And, in my moments of frustration, I start to tell myself all the ways in which I'm not doing a 'good enough job'. In the end, I know in my heart that God's grace is sufficient & He has put me (He has put each of us) exactly where he wants me to be. Thank you again for expressing the things I feel & think so eloquently!

  11. One day soon, I plan to hang a plaque on my kitchen wall that says CHILLAX…because I often find myself needing to!

  12. Anonymous says:

    my 3 kids were all 13 months apart at one time I had a 1,2, and3 yr old. I had days where I felt I could not breathe or handle the repsonsibiltiy of such a young family. I learned to relax,find time for others and most of all for myself. I called my best friend everyday just to have 5 mins of adult conversation, that didnt involve the words, no, what do you have, and give me that. it was a way to relax and deal with the pressures of raising a family.

  13. Rachel I so relate to the feeling of not being the Mom I want to be because I have so many people in my care. I have four boys, 6,4, 2 1/2 and 1 1/2.

    Thank you for your reassuring insight! It is so nice to know I am not alone!