Thursday, March 11, 2010

In a rut?

First of all, yes, I am alive. Busy, but alive.

I think this is my longest blogging break ever. I have SO missed my blog friends (and the outlet of writing about life) so I thought I'd say hello with a little post here.

A friend recently (okay so it was weeks ago, but hey, I'm trying!) emailed and asked me this question:
Did you ever, in all your years of being an at home mom, just get tired of the same thing day in and day out? If so, what did you do to overcome that feeling?
In a word, YES.

There were The Dark Years.

Followed (quite quickly, I might add) by The Veteran Mom Years.

Right now I find myself somewhere between The Carpool Years and The Constantly Trying Not to Worry Praying for Teens Years; between kindergarten parties and high school dances.

The child-rearing years are just a very busy time of life, especially when you are in the thick of the diapers and laundry and meals and playdoh and clutter, when it is easy to think there will never, ever be an end to them. (Yes, I still remember!). Obviously (looking at my pitiful blog), there is not always time or energy for doing things the way you "think" they should be done, or even for getting a good night's sleep, for that matter. The needs are incessant, and the cries for "Mommy" are relentless.

It's easy to find yourself going through the motions, streamlining constantly for efficiency of time, space, and even words. There have been days - weeks! months! - where I've felt like a machine ("No, go back out of the room. Come back when you can say that without whining," is the current repetitive phrase coming from my lips.).

It's easy to lose perspective.

There are a few things I do when I feel myself slipping into machine-gun-style parenting, rat-a-tat-tatting out orders and sensing that the kids God has given me have become more of a bother than a blessing, and that these years something to be gotten through rather than enjoyed:

1. Look at pictures and read journals. There is nothing that gets me to realize how fleeting childhood is than when I see pictures of my kids when they were little. I smile when I think of this moment in time, which seems like yesterday because it was around the time I first started blogging (tell me where almost four years went?): Write down your thoughts about this stage of life so you can remember and be thankful years down the road.

2. Do something unrelated to children and housekeeping. Gardening and updating our fixer-upper house are two outlets that give me satisfaction apart from having the dishes done and the laundry put away, since they never are, anyway. Here is what Ruthie-6 has to say about it:(Translation: My mom works in the garden. She works and works and works.)

But then the next page says this:
(Translation: My mom's flowers are pretty and blooming.)

Maybe your thing is scrapbooking (bless you) or coordinating the Ladies' Luncheon at church. Projects that have a beginning and an end give me something to look forward to, and make me appreciate a little monotony when things settle back down.

3. Talk to people farther down the path. Or even on another one. My observation is that most of us moms tend to find other moms with kids the same ages (usually the age of the oldest, anyway), and we never venture much out of this comfort zone. Why is this? Regardless of the life stage of our friends, some regular, social, adult interaction is important. Kids are watching our friendships - are we cultivating ours as we tell them to cultivate theirs?

Anyway, I digress. I will never forget a conversation I had with my mom once.
I was an exhausted young mother, drowning in the incessance of the job, (is that a word, even?). Somewhere in the middle of my dronings about the difficulty I was facing, she got quiet and said, "When I think about the years with you kids at home [there were four of us], it's almost like it was all a dream."

Now that I am but two years away from my first child leaving home I am beginning to understand what she meant.

These years are frustrating, tiring, monotonous, tedious. I have never been so angry, so bewildered, so entirely consumed with discouragement, fear, or doubt.

And yet...they are filled with a kind of wonder and happiness and hope and the breathtaking exhilaration of looking up one day and realizing that that amorphous blip on the sonogram suddenly resembles a mature young man or woman (or, depending on where you are, maybe they are just getting, say, potty trained). And that the circle of life is about to come around and give you whiplash.

It all defies logic, of course. But then again I suppose logic never raised a baby or got me out of any rut.

Faith did.
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5
So now it's your turn: What do you do to get out of the "mom" rut?


Joyfulness said...

Moving? It's just what came to mind since we move so much as a military family. :) Great thoughts here. Thanks for taking the time to write it down for us!

Fay said...

First of all...I was just thinking about you this morning! So glad to see a post from you!
Hmmm, the mom rut, I'm in one now and I think it may be my first big one. I'm finding myself bored and spacing out a lot. Almost like a mom-ADHD. I'm finding it so hard to concentrate and any "kid-stuff". I'm going to try looking back through photos, lots of prayer and maybe start journaling too. Great and timely post!

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

Always love your wisdom and encouragement.:)..thanks.

I try to have a novel I'm reading and either go our for myself and let Daddy watch our girls, or I get in the bath once they are all in bed and read:).

goofdad said...

Best advice I can give is to change something, and change it hard ... no matter what it is, it will cause each and every one of your kids to react in new and interesting ways.

In the past, we've moved 600 miles, we've opened, and subsequently closed a shop. We're now fostering, and looking at doing it again. My mother used to re-arrange the whole house! It doesn't matter what, exactly, the change is as long as it's significant. I find that watching my kids react and adapt provides me with tremendous energy. It reminds me of what I got into this game for!

the funky mom said...

Oh Katherine....I am so happy to "see" you again. Things are so crazy at my house right now...4 kids 12 to 3...there's so much going on that next week I'm closing down for spring break. Literally, no one is doing anything. We are going to pretend like we're on vacation and just spend time together alone. I honestly never knew you could run in so many different directions at the same time. So we're breaking.....from the phone, practices, church, friends, etc. We'll see if we break the rut! So glad to read your post...have missed you unbelievably! Thanks so the encouragement!

mholgate said...

Thank you so much for this, Katherine. You know I needed it! :)

Karen@Candid Diversions said...

I check in here from time to time and I'm so happy you had a chance to post!

As for what I do when I'm in a rut... (I have 3 ages 8, 5, & 3 and we're expecting #4) reading a book in my bedroom with the door shut is how I manage to recharge. Right now life seems pretty much settled into a massive rut but that's OK. It's only for a season.

Sara at Miller Moments: said...

ah, you're back! I love love LOVE your posts...and I agree, it does fly by. My eldest is nearly 9, and I'm trying hard to take every opportunity she gives to hold and be tender with her - I know these days are fleeting.

My recharging moments are a bit few and far between, but on those rare weekend nights that the house is totally clean and the kiddos (all 4) are asleep - I take a bath, paint my nails, read a book. This may happen only once a month, but that stillness is pricelsss!

Cassandra said...

YAY!!! YOu're back!!!!

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for this blog post. I felt I was the only one. I really find my release lately in blogging and most days I feel very discouraged. Its good to be reminded to slow down and enjoy these innocent sweet days of discovery and molding of the two precious gifts God has entrusted me to take care of on earth.

Trena said...

So glad to see you posted again. I don't comment much but I sure do enjoy your words of wisdom. They are always timely and relevant. Thank you for sharing! Definitely have found myself in a mom rut before. I do many of the things you journals (and add to them), find something interesting outside of laundry and dishes (online scrapbooking class?), and pray. I don't want to look back and wish I would've _______ (fill in the blank). I want God's perspective and purpose...reading Ecclessiates is helpful too. A season for everything and to enjoy one's life is the greatest gift...good truths. Thanks've been missed.

bass family said...

I'm glad you're back to blogging! I've been jumping around, reading all sorts of your posts and I needed it! I had three within 15 months (and an older one!) - they're 1, 2, 2, and 7 right now, but I would definitely call the past couple of years "the dark years". Thanks for the encouragement... even the encouragement that actually came a year or so ago. Also, I was quite interested in your potty-training tips, so thank you for sharing. :)

marlagm said...

Ruttness is no fun,neither is being Rutterless.
Being an 'old' first-time mom w/very active preschooler, I find really need my quiet time with God!
A time to ask for 'fresh eyes' to see what is truly important and my child's precious character is being formed.
With Christ I can do all things, no matter how 'hard'.
Sometimes I am reminded of old hymns i.e. It Is Well With My Soul, When I Survey the Wonderous Cross,, THOSE bring perspective!
Even though some days leave me feeling sure that I am closer to being totally bald, i.e. pulling out my hair in frustration, I am reminded....
Our life here is but a teeny tiny blip on the timeline of Eternity, and it reminds me that my child is a Gift from God. Our time together is so very short, so very precious. Never to be repeated.

Debbie said...

As usual Katherine you leave me teary-eyed. I needed the reminder of how fast the years go. Right now w/ the kids ages 12, 11, 8, 6 and 2 I sometimes feel overworked, overwhelmed and under-appreciated. Life is just flying by and I don't want to just "get through" each day. Our pastor reminded us of what it means to be a servant yesterday. I pray to be more of a servant.

To get out of a rut (of which I can get into verrrry easily)...hmmm. I'd say, journaling, taking a walk, change up the routine w/ something fun for everyone, or do something to help someone outside of our own family.

Great to "see" you back. I have really missed you.

Crazy Lady Cheryl said...

I recently read somewhere, "What will it (any given situation) matter in 10 seconds? 10 minutes? 10 years?" I'm on the back side of parenting and only have a few more years of kids living in the home. I want to address the issues that will have importance in 10 years and quit stressing over the 10 second/minute issues. This has given me a new perspective for the home stretch.

Ginger said...

Oh....So good to "catch up" with you. I've missed your posts, they feel a bit like we've just sat down at the clutter-covered kitchen table for a visit over coffee. :) Thanks for your encoragement and honesty.

Best way for me to get out of that rut, it's hard, but to do something unexpected and kind for somebody else. Once I get going, I get excited and the joy rewards are so filling.

Hugs to you Katherine! Glad you're back. You've been missed. :)