Sunday, September 15, 2013

Parenting: Kicking It Deployment Style

Saying good morning to Daddy.
I started writing this post last night in my head, about all the things I've been learning while parenting the boys solo since the Man left. I'm not saying it was a pat on the back post, but it was a "this is not the easiest thing I've ever done, but I feel decent about the progress we're making as a family" post (and this is an awkward sentence). Thankfully, I had other things to write about yesterday so you didn't have to hear me go on and on about how well I'm doing. Because today, well, let's just say it was survival of the fittest, and Tiny won.

In my defense, he does not have a gigantic, kicking watermelon strapped to his front.

Anyway, so today, I was not at my best, for a multitude of reasons, and I definitely lost it more than a few times, which was making me reconsider writing about the parenting lessons I truthfully thought I'd learned because, to a certain extent, today I felt like a failure as a mom. But the truth is that the lessons God has been teaching me over the last week are no less true just because I had a rough day. On the contrary, they might be more applicable than ever before. And possibly more accessible because I don't already have them down.

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that on Friday night I had a couple of wonderful high school girls over to watch Beauty and the Beast and make brownies (so I can get back in touch with my girly side before the Little Girl Baby arrives--bloggy nickname debate coming soon). We got to the part of the movie where Belle's curiousity gets the best of her and she explores the forbidden wing of the castle, only to be caught by the Beast. He roars at her, "Why did you come here? I warned you NEVER to come here! Do you realize what you could've done? Get out! GET OUT!" And guys, I just died laughing. I mean, laughing til I cried. And those two poor girls sat there and lovingly looked at me like I had gone crazy, but seriously: that is exactly how I feel every single morning Tiny and Littles come running into my room saying, "Mama! Mama!" in their happy little voices.

Because I am a mean mommy to little people. And because I am sleep deprived.

These sleep issues have constituted a good portion of what I've been learning. Mostly because bed time since the Man left has been extremely long, drawn out, and full of tears. With that has come a severe decrease in the amount of alone time and rest I have been getting. I love my kids. I truly do. But my time without them is precious to me. And necessary for what remains of my sanity. So when, all of a sudden, it takes them an hour and a half to fall asleep every night because Littles won't stop crying for Daddy, I start to get more than a little ragged around the edges.

Yesterday at nap time I had just sat down to read my Bible, all finally quiet on the western front, when Littles popped his head back out of their door, crying (yet again) for the Man. Frustrated to not get the time I felt I needed with Jesus, I went and laid down with him until he fell asleep. Yes, incredibly, I still fit in the twin bed with him. It's a small miracle, I know.

As I was lying there, trying to pretend that I was asleep so he would take a hint and do the same, I privately bemoaned the fact that I wasn't spending serious time with Christ, which, as all good Christians know, can only be done with a Bible, a pen, and a really swanky looking journal. Except back in the day, you know, when the apostles were still helping establish the early church, they didn't have Bibles, pens, or really swanky journals. All they had were the commandments of Christ and his Holy Spirit to enable them to be obedient. And what does Christ ask of us? To love others. And also to let the little children come to him.

So perhaps I was even more truly spending time with Jesus by sacrificing my own time to love on Littles than I would've been if I had, yet again, sent the Little Man back to bed with a stern warning to not get up again and then basked in a spiritual glow while reading a chapter of the Bible.

Then again: perhaps this is backfiring on me since he crawled in bed with me at nap time today, and I've spent the last two nights sitting on an old crib mattress between his bed and Tiny's holding hands and reading on my phone for a solid hour while they fell asleep. May I just say, it's very uncomfortable to sit on the floor while the Little Boy Baby jabs his bony back into my rib cage and the Little Girl Baby squashes herself down as far as she can so that my legs go numb.

Moving on...

The other big thing that I've been learning, which is related, perhaps, is just to slow down. Naturally, this means we were late to Sunday School this morning. Regardless, I'm forcing myself to slow, to clear my schedule, to pay attention, to cuddle more. These boys, they need their cuddles and hugs and hand holding all. day. long. And as I've done so, as I've taken more time to put down whatever "work" I'm doing and talk to them and listen to them, I've fallen in love with them all over again. Especially Tiny, my little wild child who pushes my buttons and drives me up the wall and gives me daily heart attacks.

And for the most part, I've seen the time and energy invested return to me in less whining and swifter obedience and a decreased need for punishment. Not today of course. Today everything went catawampus, especially with Tiny who grinned cheerfully at me every time I asked him to do anything and then promptly pitched a full blown tantrum, who used me as a jungle gym during church, and who refused to utilize his extensive vocabulary to tell me any of his wants, instead relying on grunts and screams.

Somehow, though, that's okay. Tomorrow is a new day, but in the meantime, I made it through today and Tiny fell asleep holding my hand while I sat on a junky old crib mattress and got internally pummeled by his younger siblings. And Littles was out by 845 instead of 930 tonight. It is progress, however small,  and so here I am, sharing about it with you, mostly so that tomorrow I will remember that serving my children is being with Christ and slowing down is worth it in the long run.

And if you think I'm in danger of forgetting, maybe I need yet another reminder, but maybe I also just need a pot of coffee and another book to read on my kindle in a dark bedroom while I hold small hands indefinitely and my entire body stops circulating its blood. Who knows?


  1. Love you. Yes, I think raising small children is the best way to learn how to serve like Christ. I too have frequently had "the Beast" response when woken up by my children or when the nap doesn't happen. I appreciate your perspective.

  2. I thought I just wasn't a morning person at 6 AM. But now I know. I AM the Beast! hahaha

  3. What a good read. My husband isn't deployed, but has had much travel with his work lately. It was hard, and I could identify with so much of what you said. And, I must say that often while my husband is away, I think and pray for deployed wives on the home fort and for God to lavish you in His grace and be your ever present help. Thanks for sharing your heart. I'm sure it's great for a lot of mamas...especially deployed wives.