I've discovered that the reason I feel rushed all the time is because I am. There is always something to do. But I'm always behind.
I'm recovering from the holidays and have been battling a head cold. Unfortunately, the cold medicine I've been taking hasn't helped with my ability to do much of anything - except go through a 1/2 box of Kleenex a day, as opposed to two.
For instance, last night, Charlie and I were preparing to go to sleep and I started to tell him about a story that my sister, Beth, had relayed to me. I dozed off three times, just in telling my husband that my father's downstairs toilet overflowed and my sister used a wet vac to suck up 20 gallons of water. Charlie had to keep waking me up.
"Jen. You said that the toilet overflowed and there was water everywhere. Was that the end of the story?"
"Oh good gracious no! Beth had to use a wet vac and she sucked up.... zzzzzzzz."
Yesterday, I took a day off. It wasn't really a day "off" because I still dressed and fed our four children and ran the dishwasher. But, I didn't do anything else. Why, I didn't even get out of my own pajamas until late afternoon.
All day yesterday, I laid on the floor, in front of a roaring fire, playing with the new blocks Santa brought our children for Christmas. I was busy creating small block structures - that I desperately tried to keep our kids from knocking down or 'messing up' and then, when I was finished, I organized every last block, cylinder and wedge in to tidy rows in the crate which they arrived.
I love being organized. I love having a neat environment. I love knowing where things are. Seeing the blocks arranged so neatly in their crate satisfied me to my very core.
But they didn't stay that way for long.
Because children, by their very nature, are the epitome of disorder.
Seafloor spreading moves continents. Wind and water erode rock. Roots and insects breakdown soil.
Children move whatever they can, erode their parent's patience and breakdown anything that they encounter.
Today, I'm paying the price for not doing anything other than feed the kids yesterday. There are loads of laundry scattered around the house and piles of stuff that need to be put away. Stuff that I first need to find a space to put away, because we outgrew this house the moment we brought three children home from the hospital.
It is an understatement to say that it is a constant struggle to have any sort of order in a small house that is filled to absolute capacity with two adults, four children and a dog.
Charlie was out of the house and off to work early, and I woke up to disorder. Because it is nearly impossible to get anything done when the children are awake, I instantly started to feel flustered and began to beat myself up over my lack of discipline.
Maybe if I got up earlier, or went to bed later - I could get everything done while the children sleep and then I could be with them every second that they are awake and not busy with things like trying to fold a load of laundry. Or, wash some random dishes. Or, eat. Or go to the bathroom. Because I was serious when I recently told Charlie that I honestly don't have time to visit the restroom during the day and adult diapers might be extremely useful for a busy parent, like myself.
While I was feeling like I was still at the starting gate and my children were almost completely around the track and on their way back to the barn, my mother called.
As I'm on the phone talking to my mom, Henry has a blowout poop. It is soaked through his shirt and up his back. Of course I need to change him. But as I'm taking off his clothes, the poop smears all over his arms, chest and head. It is behind his ears. I only have a few wipes left. And do I really want to use cold wipes all over my baby's body on a chilly January morn?
Mom is telling me "throw him in the sink!" so I do.
But only after he is in the sink and completely covered in soap do I realize I don't have a towel. So, I wrap my baby in a dishrag and bring him to the nursery.
In the two and a half minutes it takes me to get the baby dressed, the triplets flip over the trash can and empty it of it's contents. There are coffee grinds, melon rinds and the contents of a dirty diaper on the floor that I just painstakingly mopped.
Mom tells me that I should load them up and get out. Normally, this is something that I do everyday, but it's close to lunch and nap time.
Mom tells me that I should open the back door and let them run in the yard. But, Molly has had free rein of the backyard for the past week and I don't want our kids traipsing through dog poop, or a pup lawn hors d'oeuvre, as my cousin Kathy calls it.
I tell my mother that I've been reading the Bible a lot lately and am looking for guidance. I also tell her that I really wish Jesus had had children. More specifically, I wish that He had triplets and a baby. I would really love to know how the Son of God would handle parenthood. Would He yell out "Father, please help me!!"? Or would He send his kids off to Montessori - or - hire a helper?
Mom laughed and said, "Jen, so what? So what if the house is a mess? So what if there is dog poop in the yard? So what if everything isn't perfect? Aren't these the children that you always wanted and prayed for? They won't always be little. They won't always be in to everything and making a mess every where they go. One day, you will have a clean house again. But for now, go out in the yard and let them help you pick up the dog poop. They'd love it. Just let go."
This is something that I already knew, but needed to be reminded of. With my mother's advice, I handed one child a pooper scooper and plastic bags to the other two.
Much to my surprise, when chaos causing agents are in mixed company, peace reigns. At least until the kids get in to a fight over who's turn it is to scoop poop.
But because the battlefield of bedlam can be a messy environment, it's a good idea to wear washable shoes.