Thursday, November 10, 2016

Small-scale gratitude.

This morning, I found myself standing stark naked in the bathroom, fixing a Lego fire truck. How did I get here?

I'm frazzled these days. My kids seem to need more than usual -- Cal shouts for me if I'm not in the room, and Nolan is either clamoring to be held or systematically destroying everything in his path. I keep hearing the message to "fill my bucket," but there are only so many things that I can do while the kids are asleep, and so few that seem to be working while they are awake. And then I while away the time by checking Facebook incessantly and obsessing about the Presidential election, which further frazzles me and accomplishes nothing.

This is meant to be the month of gratitude, and I am grateful on the large scale. I'm grateful to have a husband who works so I can stay home with my kids, to have healthy kids, to be able to have kids at all. I'm grateful to live in a nice house in a nice town in a country that, despite its flaws, is pretty safe and offers much more freedom than most. I'm grateful that I can go to the grocery store and buy food without counting every penny I spend, that my body is essentially healthy. I'm grateful to have faith in God and a belief that everything will be okay in the end.

But I'm struggling with gratitude on the small scale. I struggle to remind myself of these great, grand blessings when I'm standing dripping wet, trying to get impossibly small Lego bricks to go in the right spot. I struggle when I tell Cal no and it turns into the third all out scream fest of the day. I struggle with this niggling cold that has been peripherally taking up residence in my veins for the last few weeks, never developing into something that could excuse me from daily life for a few hours, but never going away, either.

I've been studying gratitude in the mornings, and I'm hoping it comes. I want to be a stay at home mom and have these moments with my kids. Yesterday, I was listening to the Coffee + Crumbs podcast, where they interviewed Christian writer Ann Voskamp (who I've never read but intend to some day). She said that she thinks of these drudging tasks of cleaning and changing diapers and preparing meals only to wipe them off the floor as her way of loving her family, and says she tries to have gratitude for being able to love her family that way.

I would like to feel that way, but right now I'm faking it til I make it.

I think my auto-pilot answer when my bucket is empty is to fill it. Go to bed early, read a book, take a bubble bath, exercise. Makes sense, right? But sometimes my bucket is draining faster than I can refill, and doing all of those self-care activities just feels like another chore, a Sisyphean task of trying to do everything I have to do in a day and be enlightened and self-actualized on top of it.

I think my task today, right now, is to just try and be happy in those moments. To laugh at the spectacle of trying to get ready while two babies literally pull my skin (Did I mention that while I was fixing the Lego, Nolan pinched my inner thigh with his little razor talons!?). To be grateful I have a big house to clean instead of bemoaning the fact that there's alway something else to do. To remember my friends who have hoped and prayed and cried for babies when I would rather hide from mine.

It's cliche to say that I will miss this some day, and it's also cliche to say that I hate when people say I will miss this some day. But I know I will. I look at the way my mom craves holding my babies and misses her kids scattered across the United States. Even though the newborn stage is usually horrible for me at the time, riddled with postpartum depression and unsuccessful breastfeeding and the kind of exhaustion that will truly make you insane, when I see someone cuddling a velvety newborn into their chest, or watch those sweet, new mouths moving in their sleep, I want to be there again.

So I am going to try again to recognize the small blessings in the madness. I will try again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

NaNoWriMo Dropout

You guys, I have a confession.

I can't finish my novel by the end of November.

It's so easy to get caught up in the fun of NaNoWriMo, to vow to myself that I will finish a novel in just thirty days, that my house and my children and my sanity can wait.

But guess what? They can't.

I am not happy in a messy house. I'm not happy when I don't sleep or exercise. My children are not happy when I tell them, "Just a few more words!" And I am SO not happy when I'm not reading for fun.

Not to mention, I have a birthday party to plan, a trip out of state for Thanksgiving, and tons of other responsibilities that I don't want to ignore .

But here's the thing. I am going to finish my novel. It's just going to take longer than thirty days.

The whole principle of NaNoWriMo is that you need a deadline to really get into something. And I don't deny that. I have never finished a novel, and writing is always what gets pushed to the back of the line for me. I mean, hello, it's been two months since I've written on this blog.

But I am going to finish this rough draft. I have my own deadline imposed -- at least 500 words a day on the novel. That gives me time to work on other writing projects, read a book, exercise, pay attention to my family, and not live in a dirt heap.

Those of you continuing on, I am so impressed! I am sure you are doing great things! I'm okay with not being just like you.

It's going to take me a little longer, but one of these days I am going to have a novel under my belt.
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