[We were down south for the weekend. We went with our besties to St. George to hike and swim and enjoy great weather! But the great weather decided not to show up until the day we left. Le sigh! It was okay, though. We still went swimming (indoors) and hiking (it was cold!) and the kids watched a lot of movies and we enjoyed cooking and hanging out in the house we rented. So much easier than camping, eh? I'll post pictures later (I uploaded a bunch to Facebook already).]
I'm busy overcoming hormonal breakdowns and shifting moods due to a VERY long year of postpartum hormonal moodiness. It's working, too. Not necessarily that I've learned it all, but mostly because I'm starting to figure it out without guilt, shame, or crazy expectations. I want to find more joy in my mothering, more happiness. (Yes, I'm aware it's linked to my mental illness, but more than that, I think it's linked to changing how I react to my mental illness and applying all I've learned thus far. With me?)
I asked this question on my large families FB forum today:
Questions: best ways you've found to combat selfishness in the face of serving your large family? And how to fix the attitude of *wanting* to be selfish? I know I need "me" time and "marriage" time (I take it willingly); this is mostly about the daily grind, when the amazing prophetic and scriptural quotes won't keep my attention. Help?
And many of the answers were gold:
Changing my thoughts to positive. Whenever something negative creeps in I think of anything positive, it doesn't even have to be related. Instead of thinking about the laundry I think wow I can see the sun outside my window and that is nice. We all know that negative thoughts snowball, but so do the positive. A second thing that helps is taking the word "should" out of my vocabulary- it has such a guilty connotation, as if If I don't do something then I am sinning.... that is not true. I use the word "Could" instead. I could do the laundry if I wanted to, I could hold a baby, I could do the dishes, I could schedule a night out. The word Could takes out so much guilt.
I think part of it for me was just Grace. Like one day I just went, "Huh? I need to stop waiting. Waiting for this hard thing to end or waiting for things to get easier. Because they are just NOT going to. It's just always going to be hard. I need to find a way to be happy with the hard." And then my husband is always complimenting me on what a hard worker I am, so that makes me WANT to be one. Want to be someone who does all this menial dirty work, you know? And then I have other stuff I do that is for me. I make sure that I get all the cleaning and the homework and the practicing and the other stuff done and quickly so that I can still do things that feed my soul withOUT feeling like I am neglecting my family.
And then, I plug my ears and say "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA" when I hear people talking about going out to lunch or how easy it is to keep their house clean now or how nice it is that all the kids are self-sufficient or that going to the beach is relaxing and not a warm, tropical, non-stop heart attack as I am trying to make sure no one is drowning or wandering off.
One thing I realized when I was changing yet another diaper or getting someone yet another drink is that it is not menial to them-- right then that is the important thing to that little person in their life. That helped a lot-- for housework-- I just dread the mess so that's what keeps me going there, plus with all the commuting we did last year and really not being home enough to clean, it made me appreciate the ability to do it-- right now I'm struggling with having time to do everything I need to.
I only just in the last few months had the realization that no one is coming to rescue me. No one is going to come and magically do my dishes. No one is going to get my kids to learn their times tables. No one is going to come throw out the junk that I can't seem to part with. I am not a princess in a tower just waiting, or at least I better not be, because there is no prince on his way.
I think the change in attitude can sometimes be as easy as flipping a switch but sometimes as difficult as praying hard for a different outlook and faking it until you feel it. the plan is for us to have these large families and to raise them up but the plan is also to have joy in it! that is so hard when it is so relentless and monotonous so much of the time. one thing I was inspired to do was to get some of my moms journals. journals from when she was a young mom of a huge family. It is gold. some of the stuff I read makes me feel like I'm not alone and like she was just like me...having hard days where you get almost nothing done or just generally feel like a failure. some of the things I read inspire me because I think how amazing she was and all that she was getting done during her day. there is so much to learn from those who have come before us. Sister Hinckley's books also inspire me when I am feeling the way you are. Hugs. tomorrow is a new day.
This was exactly what I needed to hear! Ways to put into practice the things my heart already knows. I know what I do is important. I know what I miss out on is not a big deal. I know my ATTITUDE and my HEART are the most important elements in how my family can either thrive or falter.
A blogging friend (who doesn't really know who I am) who is also a part of our forum is struggling with some major health issues (I think I've blogged about her before?). Today, I read and realized (finally?) that what she's going through is worse than the fact that she will never have any more children (ever --they have to take her uterus right after the baby is born), but she really might die. They are taking her baby (their 8th) at 34 weeks in the hopes that she'll survive the surgery (her, not the baby) because her placenta is attached to all the wrong places. Go read this post for her most recent update about what's going on.
She is my hero in every sense of the word. She has such strength, faith, and hope. She loves her family fiercely and she is a ray of sunshine in a society clouded by things that are not important.
I want to be like her --not necessarily be her --but to have her joy in mothering. That's what it is! She's joyful in her mothering.
But hey, so are a lot of you. You (and me) do not necessarily face the same fear or trial (possibly dying and leaving behind 8 children when the world told you to abort your baby), but we all love our children fiercely. We find joy in our mothering. We search for ways to be better at it. We try to be the best we can be because we know --we KNOW --deep in our souls that what we are doing is of God, of eternal consequences, and we sacrifice for it. If we didn't know these things, than why would we do it? Why would we keep having children when it is HARD? Why would we struggle day in and day out to make meals, clean floors, sew up pants, repair bicycles, heal wounds, dry tears, change diapers, wipe noses, run errands, wash clothes if it wasn't because we had such amazing love in our hearts?
Today is a good day for me, dear reader. Because despite the fact that I've yet to decide what to make for dinner, despite the looming bills, the tantrums I've endured, the 8 loads of laundry I've been pounding through (although they are not folded!), the baby having just messed his diaper (seriously, I need to go change it), and that I'm still in my pajamas at 5:20PM --I'm doing just fine. My kids are fed, they are happy, they are loved. I'm feeling some joy.
I hope you are, too.