About Me

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New South Wales, Australia
I write to make people smile about the craziness of life with small people - because it IS crazy, no doubt. It is also wonderful.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mother Guilt

I'm wrestling tonight with some massive loads of guilt, and in an effort to work through it, I thought I'd write some things down, and just throw it out there into the night, somewhere between the stars and sky, where God can sort it out because I'm just too, too tired. 

My oldest was in hospital last week. Bilateral pneumonia, as a complication of this blasted flu we've all had. Now. I didn't cause the flu, and I didn't cause the pneumonia. In fact, the latter was caused by her not coughing up the stuff in her lungs. So I know that I didn't cause all the fuss. What I don't know, or what I've been trying rather hard to compensate for, is whether I did everything in my power to make her well. I had rather a rough week as well, having also had the flu. Trying to care for four children, all in varying stages of sickness, while being so sick myself- it kind of addled my brains. I kept looking at her, and thinking "she needs to go to the doctor". But then I'd think - "but it's just a virus, keep pushing fluids, rest. She'll turn the corner soon". And honestly, even the day I took her to the doctor, I thought she'd turned the corner in the night. But I was wrong. 

Cue Guilt. Lots of it. Guilt because I was wrong, because I doubted myself in the first place, because I let her get so darn sick at all, because I had to divide myself between home and hospital, because my other children needed me too and I couldn't be there for them. Guilt because my husband had to hold the fort and he was sick. Because I couldn't do it all. And I know, I know. I've written about not doing it all, and I do believe that. But caring for my family, it's my job. And in the last week, I've felt like I've failed at my job. And no matter how much I tell myself that I've done the best I can do, a tiny part of me still throws out the "why didn't I..." question. 

We brought school holidays forward by a week, because I didn't want to risk our fragile immune systems with anything else from school or preschool. Plus, it's really only been today that everyone's appetite has returned. The adrenaline of last week has worn off, and I'm drained. I actually need a nap by lunchtime, not that one is forthcoming. 

I got a message from a very dear friend of mine, reminding me that this was not my fault. And I know that. It's not really that I blame myself for causing the illness. It's more that I didn't protect them from it, or I didn't cure it. Silly, I know. 

I'm not really looking for sympathy, or encouragement. So many of you have been so very encouraging already - and it is deeply appreciated. I have to let go of all the doubt, and the guilt. Somehow, writing this out has helped begin that process. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. 

xo, Sarah 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seize the Day!

People always tell me "Enjoy it while it lasts". Referring to the fleeting childhood of my offspring, presumably - but in a bigger, carpe diem interpretation, I take it to mean that life is too precious, and we need to LIVE it. 

I read an article last night, which was shared on Facebook, "it's their day, too", and it was superbly written. Plucked at my mother-heart so intensely, I think every parent/carer needs to read it. It needs to go viral, in all honesty. 

I promise I'm about to join those two thoughts- bear with me? 

This morning, my son and daughter began busily unpacking my cabinets, and giving me a concert with the saucepans and containers. I was tripping over them, trying to make lunches, fielding what seemed to be a zillion questions. You know, just normal stuff. And then, before we left the house, one daughter cleaned up the blocks, including the Very Special Mega Blocks Computer Construction my other daughter had made. We were a bit pressed for time, and she needed to build it again right then, right there. It absolutely could not wait until after school, no matter how I phrased the suggestion. 

In retrospect, and considering that article - building that VSMBCC, it was part of her day. Both times. I could have simply begun putting the others into the car, giving her a couple extra minutes to finish rebuilding. What would it have cost me? I was so fixated on my own agenda, that I forgot about hers. The very thing I get annoyed most about, I was doing to her. 

This morning, my son was busy composing a symphony. My daughter was busy building. They were doing their job, and doing it well. Just because it's play to me doesn't make it unimportant. 

Why don't we encourage children to "seize the day"? 

When do we stop taking play seriously? I watch my children in their play - whether they're singing, drawing, building, digging, swinging, jumping - and they are working hard at it. They take as much pride in learning how to swing independently as I do in a sink with nothing in it (this is in fact an urban legend; it's never happened for me). Why does that have to change? Is it just becoming an adult which makes us a slave to the "to-do"? For that matter, why does the "to-do" never contain things like "make sandcastles with son" or "blow bubbles with daughter"? Why does our Achieve-o-meter require tasks to be done, like "clean shower" or "scrub toilet". I'm not saying that those things aren't important, but I think my point is that I don't want them to be ALL-important. I want to more often seize the day - their day - by loosening my grip on my own. Life IS precious, and fleeting. Too much so to waste on a to-do list which, let's face it - will NEVER be over. I've got four children, and there will always be dishes to wash, laundry to do, weird smells to seek and eliminate. There will not ever again be another today. A day in which they learned how to make music on saucepans, a day in which they built this computer (twice). 

Here's to seizing the day, friends. Theirs too. 

xo, Sarah

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Self-Care vs. Self-Love

I hadn't intended to write anything today, but at church this morning I was challenged by the message, and I wanted to share my thoughts. 
We've been learning about love, from 1 Corinthians 13. Today, Love is Not Selfish. 

As a mother to four young children, supporting a husband through a law degree while trying to be a good friend, a good daughter, a good stepmother, a good everything - I get depleted rapidly. I struggle with self-care, and today's message challenged me in this area. The difference between self-care and self-love for me is that self-care is really about caring for others. I can't give endlessly of myself without refilling my own tank. Self-love however, declares - "I am doing this because I deserve it. Because I am worth it." It has nothing to do with others. 

I came to the conclusion that self-care isn't selfish. It is making sure I am fit to care for my family, by doing things that restore me. Taking my daughter to creche (church nursery for my American friends), and leaving her there in spite of her repeated pleas to come to church with me - it wasn't selfish. I required time alone (without my children) in worship, so that I can be a more effective and loving mother. I require their absence, in order to cheerfully welcome them back into my presence. Still with me? 
God doesn't require that I be Him. He knows that I am human, with finite patience, energy. My body cannot sustain endless giving, and so I don't think it selfish to take time apart from the demands of raising a small family to recharge and rest. I think the line is drawn between saying "I need this" and "I deserve this", and being honest about what we need is important. This mama absolutely needs time apart from the chaos and noise, spent in prayer and contemplation, in order to calm the chaos and noise in her own head and heart. Without it, I am resentful, irritable, and downright unpleasant. I love my family enough to give them the gift of a wife and mother who is whole, healthy, and (mostly!) sane. 

xo, Sarah