Your life gets cuh-razy, doesn’t it? I mean, it can’t just be me.
Married or single, paid work or stay at home, in town or in the country, and no matter how many children you have or the ages that they are, life can get nuts.
This isn’t “Husband got fired the day wife broke her leg” nuts (for that, see Managing Survival Mode).
This is “Cooking three meals a day, homeschooling the children, why does the dog smell like putrid meat, the baby threw up where, and oh, no, please don’t tell me the chickens are in the garden again?”
Every day, normal, craziness.
In the interest of keeping it real, just before I wrote this we were living in our cabin in the woods, and I had had an insane week.
- Our free range chickens dug up – and ate – fifty pounds of freshly planted potatoes,
- one of our dogs started chasing chickens,
- a bear completely decimated our “fresh” compost pile,
- my brand new Android tablet was stolen, and
- the neighbour was furious enough to call the police because we were doing yardwork on our own property.
The crazy happens.
Embrace Your Humanity
When I told my son I was writing this, that someone asked me how I stay calm in the midst of the craziness, he said, “You don’t. Tell them you don’t.”
Thanks for the vote of confidence, kid. Please remember that this is the same child who complains he hasn’t eaten for hours … while I’m washing up the dinner dishes.
However, all jokes aside, you do need to cut yourself some slack every once in a while. Beating yourself up when everything is crazy around you? It’s not helping the situation and it sure isn’t helping you.
Of course that doesn’t mean giving up. It means recognizing that you’ll be overwhelmed sometimes and that’s okay. You’re not a bad person if you need to go whimper in the corner and play with your hair occasionally. God still loves you when you lose your temper.
Stay In The Moment
Today I spent some time with a sweet young lady and her toddler son. He is two years old, rambunctious as you would expect for his age, and an absolute little darling. His mother, though, worries because he plays rough, runs around and generally behaves … well, like a two year old.
It will seem like a blink of an eye when she’ll suddenly wonder how her little baby could possibly be packing for college.
One moment that I will never forget is when my father and I brought my first son to see my grandmother. At 88, she had had a full life – six children, eighteen grandchildren and quite a few great-grandchildren.
She held my six week old child, looked up at her 48 year old son, then looked at me and then down at the baby. With tears spilling out of her eyes, she whispered “Where did the years go?”
Treasure each moment, even the ones that feel crazy, because you cannot get them back.
Is This Helping?
There are times and places when freaking out might actually be a good and useful response. But one of the things I tell my children frequently is “Will this reaction of yours make the situation better?”
Or, depending on the age, “Is this helping?”
Recently, our younger son had his first nosebleed. He tends to be a drama llama and the waterworks were on full force. Crying really doesn’t help a nosebleed at all, and I had to repeat that a lot – Crying is making this worse – before he calmed down.
Yes, I’ll ask myself the same question. Is this helping?
The bag of diatomaceous earth is spilled all over the kitchen table and on the floor, too. (Hey, this is a very real scenario.) A horrified child is also covered in the white powder. “But I knew you were going out to the barn and thought you needed it and I wanted to help.”
The immediate reaction is to yell. At the very least, throw up your hands and cry “What were you THINKING?” That stuff isn’t cheap and what a mess to clean up here on the homestead without a vacuum cleaner.
Will yelling make the situation better?
Honestly, it will just make a bad situation worse, and I know it. Bite my tongue, grab face masks from the med kit and we’ll get this cleaned up.
The more you keep your focus on Christ, the less it is all going to bother you. Often we feel like we need to be doing something – and our inability to do something, to change the situation, is what gets us frustrated.
Pray for the situation, for the people involved and for your own peace and patience.
It Gets Easier
The people who look at me wide-eyed and comment on my patience with the children are usually young parents of one child. Parents of large families are more likely to share a knowing smile with me.
I think there is probably nothing more difficult than making the adjustment from not-a-parent to parent. Certainly, I’ve never found any transition as difficult so far. Parenting your first child is very difficult since you’re learning along with them at every single step.
By the time you have your fourth, fifth or sixth child, tantrums and diaper blowouts feel far less earth-shattering.
That doesn’t mean I never lose my cool, or that I can handle all of the things all of the time, of course!
This isn’t just for parenting.
The first six months of pressure canning meat – I never thought I’d master it. Now I can put up a batch without much thought.
Gardening – it seems that there is so much to learn and then eventually it all clicks. Remember when you learned to drive a stick shift? (Okay, if you never did, how about riding a bicycle, learning to crochet/knit or even learning how to write cursive?) At first it seems insane and you wonder if you will ever figure it out.
Last summer when our son got his first bicycle, we heard a lot of yelling and “I’ll NEVER learn this!” Now he’s slipping out the door before anyone is awake so that he can zoom around the property.
It really does get easier.0