November 10, 2011

The Hardest Part of the Day

For those who pray for us, I thought I'd share an almost daily struggle so that when you think of us, particularly during this time of the day, you can pray more specifically.

First of all, let me say that there is no way on God's green earth that we would be coping as well as we are if it weren't for God's grace and the power of prayer!  I can really tell that people are lifting us up.  Things are never perfect, but amazingly, my attitude has mostly stayed positive, and I'd like to think I've grown up a little since our last deployment!  I have fewer pity parties, for example, but then again...that could be because I don't have time to even think, let alone throw a party that no one else is invited to, LOL!

That said, there are predictable times when I just want to turn in my military spouse badge and call it quits.  This is the after-dinner-before-bedtime Crappy Snappy Hour (I'll try to keep it as positive as I can while still being real, how about that?!).  This fun time happens on evenings when we don't have any other activities away from the house such as AWANA.  Dinner time is usually a reasonably pleasant affair.  We've been doing "Joy, Junk, Jesus" around the table, taking turns telling about a joy or highlight from the day, a "junk" (or low point) from the day, and a moment during the day that pointed us to Jesus.  I got this brilliant idea from my friend Megan, who maybe does it with her kids at bedtime--I couldn't remember.  But I was tired of having the kids eat and literally run away from the table.  Darn it, if I spend upwards of an hour preparing the food that you mow through without even tasting, you'll at LEAST sit at the table and talk to me while I enjoy what I've made!

Ahem.  Anyway.  After dinner is over, the "fun" begins.  It's definitely worse on evenings when the weather doesn't permit me to send the boys outside.  At any given moment, any or all of the following could be happening in this house:
  • I am on the couch, nursing Zaden.
  • Lucan is heaven knows where, dumping who knows what onto the floor.  When he finally passes close enough to the place where I am nursing Zaden, I catch a whiff of a different type of dumping.
  • Kenna is running around in her 26th outfit of the day, singing at the top of her lungs a song that only she knows.
  • Tobin and Arden are running cartoon-like throughout the house, i.e. in a puff ball of smoke, from which can only be seen various appendages and exclamation points.  As they tumble through the house, the decibel level rises with their grunts, shouts, guffaws, and/or cries of alarm or rage.
  • Charis, my dinner-cleaner-upper-helper, has disappeared to read or craft without doing her job.  Since she helps me in SO many ways, I try not to begrudge her alone time, but it IS frustrating that the one reliable offspring is nowhere to be seen in the midst of utter chaos.
  • The remains of dinner still need to be put away, and dirty dishes are pretty much on every horizontal surface of the kitchen.
  • The floor is covered with crumbs stuck to random spots of goo.  And we just mopped yesterday!
  • The phone rings.
  • Someone knocks at the door.
And when I said earlier that any or all of the following could be happening, I am NOT kidding--quite often ALL of those bullet points are happening AT THE EXACT SAME TIME!!

So you get the picture of the frustrating level of chaos going on.  Now add to that the fact that I most likely am functioning on sleep that happened from 10:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., with no nap in the afternoon.  Because I physically cannot do a whole lot during this time period--I'm either nursing/caring for Zaden or trying to reduce the kitchen's level of chaos--my tolerance for shenanigans and noise has increased.  A little.  Why add to the chaos by yelling?!  Oh, but I do.  Just not (so much) for noise.  Mostly for trying to stop an argument or to prevent something bad from happening.


It gets remotely close to someone's bedtime.  Then, the chaos MUST STOP.  I can't handle it anymore.  I am tired of stepping over random toys and books.  I am tired of walking into a different room and having my shoulders automatically slump because I'm so overwhelmed by the mess and disorganization.  I am tired of the bickering, the complaining, the tattling.  I am just tired of NOISE and MESS, and I want it to go away RIGHT NOW.

"Right now" to a grown-up = at least 45 minutes to a kid.  Multiply that by 5 mobile children, and that is approximately how long it seems to take us to get the house and kids clean and ready for bed.  I start this process at 7 or 7:30, hoping (in vain) that THIS will be the night that EVERYONE is in bed early so that I can enjoy some quiet alone time.

However, by the time everyone is in bed, it's time for Zaden to nurse again, and I'm so tired I can't even think straight, not that I've been able to do that all day.  And of course once Zaden has finished nursing, I HAVE to get to bed immediately so I can have some hope of getting a decent stretch of sleep.

This part of the day is often challenging enough when Ted is home to help.  We're both tired, and there are times we just look at each other and ask, "Do you think the kids will put themselves to bed?!"  But it's infinitely more exhausting when I can't tag team with anyone.  I do pray a lot during these hours...and while Jesus is a wonderful comfort and friend...well, His presence hasn't yet manifested in such a way as to clean the kitchen or change the diapers for me!  But at least I know He IS with me!

I'm not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me.  Probably 99% of the time I don't even feel sorry for me.  This is just the way it is, and we get through it.  And we'll continue to get through it.  But I recognize this is a consistent challenge for me, and I could use all the prayers I can get!  For patience, nay, "longsuffering;" for endurance; for joy and contentment despite circumstances that, humanly speaking, would typically drain anything of the like from one's heart.

And with that, it's time to nurse Zaden again and get to bed!


Penni Litwiller said...

Oh, my, you described most of my nights, minus the baby, toddler, and responsible older child but plus fibro and chronic fatigue (which may well balance things out.) Having a second shift husband means I get up with the kids and put them to bed and you are right on the money about that time after supper/before bedtime. We're going to try to solve part of the problem by having one child's schooling at that time...usually if I remove one boy from the mix, things go smoother. We'll see how it goes! But just know that you are NOT alone...and it totally explains why people send their kids to school :)

Sarah said...

Oh my sweet sister! I can *feel* your pain! I'm glad you post this because it's helpful to process everything. I'm like you...It's not complaining, but just saying, "This is making me crazy!! There...I feel better."

If God ever DOES manifest Himself and cleans your kitchen, email me your prayer, okay? Until then, you do know He's there. Next time I'm in the middle of chaos, I'll think of you. That's another way we can both know we're not alone. :)