September 22, 2009

A Million Tornadoes

I've been in a rut, letting myself throw too many Table for 1 pity parties the past few days.

Seriously, I feel awful for complaining. But there's just so much stuff.

Stuff to be done, to be un-done. Planned, put away, washed, bought, we're out of toilet paper again, Mom oh I could go on. And on.

The high pitched voice of a certain three-almost-four-year-old that I just wasn't sure I could take ONEMORESECONDOF today and then the instant guilt and regret for thinking that, because some Moms would give anything for ONEMORESECONDOF that voice.
I'm just exhausted. This isn't anything new.

Hubby works late. I make dinner, direct homework, and try to wash dishes as I go (and, um no, we still don't have a working dishwasher) while sweeping what falls to the floor and monitoring the baby covered in food in her highchair.

This takes us directly to the bath and showers, for all four. And once they are all clean and jammied, I dish up ice cream and sorbet and we watch Leave It To Beaver together (they
thought it was a show about beavers and I had to clue them in.)

I fold and stuff diapers, chase Ivy, snuggle Gray. The boys learn that they should try their Brussels sprouts because after all, they might like them. The Beave did.

We head upstairs and pick up things along the way. Bedtime. I lie in bed to get Ivy to sleep. For a long time.

And as I am lying there I feel like I didn't really get a thing done, that when I go downstairs it will look like a million tornadoes came right through my living room and kitchen. There will be a pile of dishes still in the sink.

But I know that my children love me. And I know that they know I love them

This feels good, because the other nights when I do get some things done for myself or the house is cleaner but I had to raise my voice a time or two, I lie in bed and feel like I am the worst Mom ever. And wonder if my kids really know how very much I love them.

Clean house = I'm happier for the moment but at the end of the day = guilt and regret

Messy house = kids know I love them at the end of the day = I feel like a good Mom (but overwhelmed by stuff)

I know there has to be a reasonable balance for this all. Maybe it won't come until Ivy's a bit older and I'm out of the baby years. Maybe I need to be easier on myself and just go with it for now, and stop letting myself feel so much.

I set our DVR to record Leave It To Beaver every day. I think there is something I can learn there, too.

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  1. I've got news for you-- I felt that way when my three kids were toddlers and now they're teens-- and I still feel the same way. Now, my time is sucked up with work and driving them to and fro and the house is still an unbalanced mess.

    Oh well. I figure I can clean when they move out.

  2. So true! On the days when I feel like I was on time, the house is clean, work is done, nice dinner on the table, etc. I think that I am actually a meaner mommy than the days when everything is a disaster but I just sit on the floor with the kids any way. Can't win for trying, I tell you.

  3. You could have been talking about me. Seriously. *hugs* You are not alone. We're struggling with balance, too. Trying to get everyone to pick up after themselves, but with a lot of children it takes eleventy billion pairs of eyes we don't have, we are just two parents with four eyes and we don't see or catch it all, and finally when the house is quiet and the kids are asleep, we pick up the slack with enough time to plop down at night and fall asleep in the middle of our first show together, if we even get that far, sometimes we just go to bed we are that tired.

    One day, soon, we will figure it out. Until then, I just keep hugging the kids and asking for them to help and be patient with me, as I am trying to be with myself, in figuring it all out sooner rather than later.

  4. I think you live inside my head.

  5. Lol You still watch that show? Man I haven't seen it in years. I think I've only seen it once or twice. It was never my kind of show. I liked Bonanza though, at the time.

  6. I think we all have to struggle to find that happy balance. And it never comes easily either.

    You are a great mom! Hang in there, enjoy the beav, and have a fabulous time of things.

    After all, they won't be little forever. :-)

  7. Sometimes I think that those tornadoes are following me. At least it seems like it.

    Today it's a category 5 and I'm trying to take cover somewhere. Ugh.

    Feel. your. pain.

  8. Ivy looks like she's ready for pre-school. There is never an end to messes when it comes to kids. I'm so glad you guys are watching my favorite show Leave it to Beaver. Look how simple their life was. No computers, iphones...Mrs. Cleaver wore pearls while vacuuming. I wish I had the answer. A child is never too young to give chores to and make it fun for them to help out, which you already know that. I feel you!

  9. My guy is four today and this summer, I had these exact feelings. My three kids are similar ages to yours - 1 1/2, 4, and 8. And I LOVE being home, but my almost 4yo wasn't like his big sister. He had gotten frustrated, whiny, getting into trouble for the sake of it.

    I enrolled him in a Mommy's Morning Out and I swear it is like a new child has come home. He's happy, he sings much as *I* wanted him here, he needed time away. It's just who he is.

    Maybe you could look into similar programs for Gray? Even 2 days a week might be refreshing for both of you.

  10. So glad to hear I'm not alone in these feelings...

  11. June Cleaver never had to clean her house because it was a set and there were prop guys for that. Remember that ;)

    You're doing good. I completely understand this post though. On days when I have given my children what they need, my attention, I can not give it to the housework. I think someday it will change...but for now it is what it is.

    And while I would give ANYTHING to have Emma here and hear her whine, I too lose my patience with the whining of my living children. So, don't feel bad for wanting the whining to stop, we all do.


  12. {HUGS}
    No one thinks that your life is easy. No one thinks you are doing a bad job, including your kids. Having 4 under 10 is really tough Steph, and I think you are doing exactly what it takes. Gutting it out one day at a time, always questioning if you are getting it right. These are the thoughts and actions of good parents. It doesn't make it easier, but I think feeling overwhelmed is part of the process.
    And if it helps? You're loved and admired here on the 'net, whether the dishes are done or not. :)

  13. We have all been there...heck, today I sure lost the Mother of the Year award as I thought my son was over his virus and sent him to school and low and behold, 45 minutes later, I get a call from the school that he just got sick and I need to come and get him.

    Hang in there...we are all hanging there with you!

  14. Wow! You summed up a stay at home mom's day. Gosh golly... I feel it all with you. I still don't know how you do it all with 4 and I'm struggling with 3 and trying to how I'm suppose to function outside of the house with these 3!

    Hang in there Mama... praying today is better.... and 3's are SO rough. Hang in there- 4s have been better for us.

  15. You aren't the only one who battles with this stuff...and battles with wanting to complain :) I am still struggling to find balance too...and "mommy-guilt" comes with the territory.
    Ugh. Today is one of *those* days for me too!!

  16. I feel the same way most days. What I've started doing is giving myself ONE thing to get done so at the end of the day I can reflect on that one thing, and feel good. One thing doesn't seem like much, but when it means putting away a week's worth of laundry . . . Well, one thing is a huge thing.

  17. I needed this post! I've been feeling the same way lately, trying to find balance, be happy and take care of the kids. Sometimes, I'm thankful to only have two kids to care for. I feel like I'm being pulled and stretched in every direction and that I'm failing everyone and at everything. At least we're not alone.

  18. Sometimes I feel like that and I only have one! I admire you for pushing through!

  19. How is it that you can put into words how I feel so very often?

    A hug to you!

  20. I only have one and you have captured how I often feel at the end of a day too. It's funny how some days you just want. them. to. go. to. bed. but when they do, ya kinda miss them a little.

  21. Ground hog day. That's what my life feels like. I venture to guess yours does, too. I have had your day many, many times. Most days, actually. So many of us can relate.


  22. Oh chickie i think every mother feels this way. there is never enough time do everything we put on ourselves to get done. I agree when you say just go with the flow... your kids (and mine) wont really care that the house was clean when they were growing up, they will care that mama took the time to bathe them, feed them, snuggle them. im sure they know they are loved. be gentle with you. you are a good mom, and you are human.. its gonna be ok :)

    ann voscamp at wrote a post about this
    it is beautiful and speaks to my heart every time.

    be encouraged. rest in the Lord. His grace is sufficient for us :)

  23. Balance, I think, is the most difficult AP principle to handle. In all aspects of life it's hard to figure it all out, to feel good about all the things you are doing.
    I try to do it all one step at a time... what else CAN you do?
    Sometimes the floors just have to go unswept for sanity's sake!

  24. I'm just refreshing all day to read the comments.

    I'm there too. I was thinking today that my life feels like it's in slow-mo, totally focused on the next task only, while the rest of the world whoooshes past me, too fast for me to even grasp. Not a good feeling. I'm SO FREAKING BEHIND in everything.

    We had planned on 4 kids. We have 3 kids now and DH is really pushing to try for #4. Reading your posts since Ivy really worries me. Should we stop while we're ahead?


  25. I needed to read this today. My husband is working Mon-Thur full time during the day at a golf course and working almost every night as a DJ/Karaoke Jock. It doesn't work to tell him that I'm on a constant 24 hour shift taking care of our 8 month old. So we're a house full of crankies and I'm facing the brunt of it, because the house just is never clean enough. After all I am home all day...what do I do with all my time?

  26. Thank you for writing this post. I often feel overwhelmed with my two children (2 1/2yo and 10mo) and wonder how all those other moms do it. I have been wanting to start a blog for some time and have a great idea, but just don't have the time to work on it. I want to open my own photography studio, but alas, no time. And I want to have crunch-free floors, but again... you know.

    I CONSTANTLY have to think from the perspective of my children, and to remind myself that my love and attention are worth so much more than clean countertops. And I am CONSTANTLY thinking of women like you, who have two more children on their plate, yet seem to have things together quite well. (Remember that in bloggy land we can't see your dirty dishes. :)

    Thank you for your post. Your honesty. Your entertainment. Your photography. Your model.

  27. I'm with you all the way. And I've only got two kids! Plus a helper and a dishwasher! I'm glad this isn't a competition because you would SKUNK me. :)

  28. Just don't go using June as your example. She had a whole crew cleaning that set every day, and did you notice that Ward gets home in time for dinner every night?
    I hear you on this push/pull of the togetherness vs. the to-do-list. I don't know the answer either, other than to keep taking one day and dish at a time.

  29. Okay, good, so I'm not the only one feeling this way. Today has most definitely been one of those days for me.

  30. Sometimes I think that elusive balance is just impossible. So I've been working on accepting the mess. I'm better about not working on it all the time, but I just can't stop feeling overwhelmed by it when it's not done.

    Every mother (especially one with FOUR small kiddos) should have a cleaning lady. If only we could all win the lottery.

    Peace to you...

  31. ((HUGS)) We all feel like that A LOT! (I know I sure do...) You seem to hit the nail on the head a lot with what it feels like to be a SAHM. (Or a mom, period!) You can put it all into wonderful, meaningful words...

  32. I know EXACTLY what you're talking about, and I only have one little boy! Yikes! :)

  33. This hits home more than you know.

  34. First off, that is a cute pic of Ivy! The look on her face cracks me up!

    Secondly, oh honey. If what my mother says is true, it never changes. She's got me (25) and three brothers (23,18, and 15) and she's as busy as ever. In fact, between you and me, the house was a hell of a lot cleaner when I was little! As we got older and got involved in more activities she wanted to be there with us, cheering us on, helping fundraise, and so she was always busy, the house got messy, but I have great memories of my mother all throughout my life.

    So yes, your house will get messy. Yes, no one will tell you that the house is low on some supply until the last of it is used up. And yes, there are going to be a lot of weeks where you feel overwhelmed and ready to cry. That's okay. Because you are a fantastic mother, and those children are so lucky. They're going to be able to look back and tell stories about time you shared with them that even you don't remember. But it will have mattered to them. Even when they are teens and just wish you'd go away. Ten years down the road they're going to love you even more for being there even when they didn't think they needed you to be.

  35. Totally understand how you feel!!!!

    I get easily overwhelm with how much needs to be done, how little time that i have to do it and how much energy it would take to do it and how much energy I don't have!!!!

    Like you at the end of the day I feel like noting got accomplish, but dishes/laundry/meals/diapers changes/nursing/picking stuff up... Got done but still feels like the house is messy, I'm a mess and I have nothing to show for all the worked that was done :-(



  36. you are so not alone on your feelings of messy house = happy kids and clean house = guilty feelings. Hope you are able to find the balance!

  37. Oh, do I know that's right. I feel so guilty when I clean, but I feel so guilty when I don't clean. I want to spend more time with my kids, but I need some time for myself. I want to cook a healthy dinner, but I have children pulling and crying and getting into trouble. Oh, it's hard...but oh, it's going to be over too soon too!

  38. I know this feeling all too well.

    Let's keep holding our babies, Steph, cuz babies don't keep.


  39. There's a La Leche League mantra that says, "People before things." It means that you need to meet your own needs and the needs of your children first. I love it, because it makes me feel better about my own million tornadoes. They are a sign that I have my priorities in check.

  40. First off, that picture of Miss Ivy is the perfect shot for this post. I can hear her through the screen, LOL!

    I've only got 2 kids and I am constantly questioning which way the scales are tipping...housework vs. kids.

    I just keep telling myself that things will be better someday. Because they will be.

  41. I've only got one (#2 is still on the inside), but I feel the same. Most days, the house is a disaster because I've spent all day focused on my 9 mo. old son, then napping when he naps, due to pregnancy. Then my husband who works 12-14 hour days comes home and picks up the slack. I go to bed filled with guilt. Then there are days like today, where I actually processed a bunch of summer squash, made jam, did 2 days worth of dishes by hand and swept the floors. I know my husband will be thrilled, but guess what? I'm filled with guilt because I left the baby on the floor playing with tupperware for a good part of the day.

  42. Love your thoughts! I can SO relate! I don't know if you remember me but I am Lovelyn's friend from college and small group now. I wrote to you awhile back asking about slings and told you about my son Isaac who has leukemia. Anyway...would you mind shooting me an email so I have your email address...I need to tell you some things in a less public forum! :) Curious? :) Thanks! Liz Yost

  43. I relate to this post. So much.

    This crazy season is just so...busy, crazy, exhausting...but wonderful too.

    I'm amazed that you do the dinner, bath, bedtime routine "solo." My husband does at least 50% of that stuff - and I need that "break" at the end of the day.

    You really do have a lot on your plate, Steph. And you're doing it. You're really doing it. You inspire us all.

  44. Thank you for putting my feelings into words. If I ever strike it remotely rich (as in I start getting a paycheck for something - anything), how about I send you a maid and get a maid for me? That's my pipe dream for today when the hard earned naptime leaves me only wanting to eat some late lunch and decompress on the computer instead of the billion chores that await me in every room of our little apartment.

  45. You are just writing what we all feel at some point in the day or week. And we thank you.

  46. I can so identify with what you're feeling! I feel like that so often...

  47. Oh Steph... you've brought tears to my eyes and such a knowing to my heart. Maybe words to a feeling I had but didn't know how to say. I'm there.... I'm so there with you. I hate the guilt, but I hate the thought of my kids not knowing how very much they are loved, and they so are.

    I was shopping tonight with my two oldest and my middle girl (4yr) came up and slipped her hand and mind and told me she loved me the mostest. Those need to be the moments that drive me, not the clean house, the folded laundry or how 'cute' the kids look that day for school... you know? It's the time I took out our evening to browse around Kohl's and look at the new Halloween decorations, play in the dressing rooms and find stuff that papa might need for christmas. But why aren't they?


  48. So should I repeat everything that everyone is saying? To be honest I never thought being a mother would be like this. I mean, I love it, but it's a lot of work emotionally that I had never thought about.

    I think you should title that photo of Ivy... "Ready, Ready, Ready, Ready... Ready to Run" ~Dixie Chicks

  49. I hear what you mean. Striking that balance is tough. I guess mine is somewhere in the middle too. I clean the best I can as I go, play with the boys a bunch, and then pick up again after they go to bed. It's crazy! I wouldn't have it any other way though.

  50. Oh lordy...I could have written this post. I only have one but I have school which sucks up every free second. The demands are neverending. I can so relate to lying in bed a long time, otherwise Jude won't sleep and I always think of what else I should be doing...but what could be more improtant than what I am doing right that moment?

  51. If it makes you feel any better my house is a mess plenty of the time too. And it drives me bonkers. And I yell about every now and then - and then I feel guilty and it is a vicious cycle. But the kids know you love them - even when you yell. Most likely because you stop and give extra hugs after but even if you stick to your guns they still know.

  52. Oh the joys of being a mom, huh? It is never ending!

  53. The emotions you describe - my feelings exactly. Yell to get my chores done, or calm down and have a dirty house. I can't even find balance on the weekends most of the time. If you figure out the state of content, please share.

    I think about June Cleaver now and then... how she dressed up every day and looked like a million bucks just to say good-bye and hello to her family.

  54. This is something I constantly struggle with as well. There are some days where I feel like I have spent all day just feeding and cleaning the boy, and nothing else gets done. I look around and think, "Seriously? It's 5 and I haven't showered and the laundry's not done and he needs changed. Again. And dinner and then it's time to start the bedtime routine and oh my god am I *ever* going to get the house clean?" And I only have one.

    A friend of mine told me that it's not so much a balance (although it is) as learning to accept that you simply cannot get everything accomplished, all the time. The kids are clean and fed? The laundry's everywhere. The real trick is not learning how to do it all, but learning how to go easier on yourself.

    Your kids know you love them, you got to spend time with them. That's what's important. They're not going to remember that the house was clean (or not), or that you ran out of toilet paper (although that should probably be avoided), but they *will* remember watching Leave it to Beaver (hilarious that they thought it was about beavers) and bedtime stories and love.

    Here's a little love for you. Some days are more frustrating than others.

  55. Steph, you do a great job with your kids and I guarantee, they know you love them, regardless of what kind of day you have had!
    yes, go easier on yourself!
    I battle the same thing and I think it is one of those battles worth fighting, balance in everything!
    Picture one of those scales with the hanging plates on each side, give a lil here=get a lil here! It never balances perfectly, just almost evenly!

  56. I so relate to your example of the clean house versus messy house. When I take the time to read and snuggle and play, the housework falls behind and I feel like a cleaning failure, but when I let the housework rule and everything is clean and shiny but the children are whiny and I've hushed them one too many times, I feel like a bad mommy. Where is the balance? Tell me if you find it!

  57. I feel the same way.
    Finding the balance of is so hard.

    And I would like to ask the powers that be where my fairy wand is?

    Magic-ing away those dishes in the sink would be AWFULLY nice:)

    Through prayer and faith that God sees the little things--we know we'll make it through the busy-busy to the other side
    of peaceful-valley.

    I suppose we just hold the little hands, and brush the little teeth and tie the tiny shoes till then.

    <3 Sara Sophia


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