Thursday, June 17, 2010

On wanting it all.

In an effort to maintain my own sanity and preserve happy memories for my children this summer, I have been scaling back and simplifying our social life. I often feel alone in this endeavor. When I try to explain it (which I rarely do), a lot of what I get back is a half nod or forced smile.

And I feel misunderstood.

The absolute only reason I write this is to encourage anyone else who might be reading that feels this same way. (I know you are out there!)

The most important thing to me is to follow Christ whole heartedly. Second is to honor Rob as my husband, and third is to invest in my children and create a home that honors God. Everything else falls below those priorities. And if you really take a second to think about what it physically takes to live out these priorities, it's sort of exhausting. In a good way, of course.

I am so blessed to have a husband that understands this, supporting and encouraging me to remain true to the priorities we feel we are called to by God.

So lately I have been embracing the blessing of quality family time. I have been given the gift of slow mornings with the kids. Playing in their bedrooms together upon waking, and savoring those first moments of the day when they are genuinely happy to see one another and haven't been pushed to the brink of frustration by the other's company. I feel a sense of relief as we make our way down to the kitchen for breakfast, and check the calendar on our refrigerator to find that the square representing the day is blank.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy our friends. The opposite is true! It's also not to say that I'm antisocial. Again... quite the opposite. I love being in the middle of the action and fun. I enjoy CREATING action and fun! I love introducing Robbie and Ellie to as many sweet new friends as we possibly can. It's just that lately it's gotten to be a bit much... for all of us. (The tantrums, inconsistent sleep patterns and bags beneath the eyes (mine) are all telltale signs.)

The most valuable thing I have learned to do this year is constantly reevaluate where my children are developmentally, and then adjust my expectations accordingly. This also inevitably means that our schedule gets adjusted, as well as the kinds of activities that work for us as a party of 3 throughout the day. We are an ever-changing package deal.

At first I was exasperated by the nature of this - just when I would find our routine, someone or something would change. I wouldn't know what to do or what to say to others about it. I was worried about offending others by declining offers, not seeing them as frequently as they see their other friends, etc. I feared that I was becoming the fickle, high maintenance friend.

Now? I simply don't care. The way my children move through different stages and the pace at which they move is out of my control. The way others view my/our parenting style is out of my control. And I have decidedly let go of the desire to be perceived in a certain way by those around us.

Only I know what it is like to mother Robbie and Ellie. Individually, and together. And I have no idea what it takes to mother anyone else's kids. I have greater empathy and less judgement for other moms whose parenting styles, schedules, and chosen activities look different than mine. It's not personal, and no one is better or worse. We are all just doing what is best for our children, and families.

So with that, I leave you with a few of my favorite pictures from our Wednesday morning trip to the Arboretum. Just the 3 of us. (It was lovely.)

I am so thankful for these little moments, and the space we have created for them to exist.


Cheri Mahoney said...

Very well said!

Alexandrea Davis said...

This is amazing. Your words are a blessing. You could not have said anything differently. I too struggle with a few things you noted. I just wish I had the opportunity to stay home with my little boy. Unfortunately I have to work full time. God Bless you and your family Ashley.

mrs. bland said...

Love this post. So true. I find that since I'm home with the kids during the summers I try to squeeze too much in... and it almost always ends in disaster. What a great reminder. PS...a great friend of mine is up in Chicago visiting and went to the Arboretum yesterday. I wonder if you crossed paths?!!

Dave, Ninny and Isla said...

I think saying NO is one of the hardest things. Especially when it comes to going out or doing something that could potentially be fun. But it does seems like when you constantly compromise naps or bedtime, inevitably someone ends up miserable (but sometimes its totally worth it!) It seems like you're doing a great job trying to find the balance. The moments are fleeting, so keep soakin' em up :)

Josh and Sarah Luff said...

I love what you wrote Ashley. I, too, have been learning to treasure the "blank" days on the calender and am trying to create more of them by scheduling less. I love days at home with just my kiddos where I can follow their lead and really focus on them. They are growing up so quickly and I value this precious time with them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! And I love your beautiful pictures!

vanrossum said...

Well said, Ashley. Between my three kids in three years... believe me. You are a great mom and are to be commended for doing what is best for your kids each and every day. I have no doubt they will grow up fully socially adjusted with or without endless toddler playdates (and in fact might just be better adjusted :)). Balance is the hardest part of parenting for me (this applies to many areas). I find that when I have reached utter exhaustion and are short with everyone, my kids probably need a break too. So take it! You know your kids better than anyone and God chose YOU to be their mom. Thanks for sharing! You are right that we are out there! :)