Friday, July 31, 2009

gym time, and empty nests

Anna is consumed by her new pulling-up skills, and by her even-newer cruising skills. She deems them SO worthy of her time, in fact, that she's decided sleep is vastly overrated.

Anna Grace: "I haven't got time for SLEEP anymore, Mommy. I don't exactly know when the Infant Olympics start, but by golly, I want to be ready. You won't stand in my way now--will you, Mommy? You go ahead and sleep, Mommy, if you can, while I rise at 5:00 a.m. and happily squeal my way through a good ninety minutes of gym time. Don't you and Daddy pay me any mind. I can manage this on my own. I'll give you a holler when morning gym time is over."


That's me, primal screaming after three days of 5:00 a.m. risings, and naps that don't occur unless I hold a crying, frustrated, overtired, 7.5-month-old gym fanatic down long enough for her to realize she is exhausted. Then, because she is SO exhausted, I am forced to hold her for her entire nap, without moving a muscle, because otherwise her jumpy, overtired body wakes up over the slightest sound or movement.

A month ago we achieved a very good nap routine that was working for me, finally. I would nurse her, kiss her, put her in her crib, and within ten minutes, she was out.

Yes, I know. This too shall pass. Trouble is, every time something passes, some other trying thing is right on its heels. Constant. That's what life is like when your hyper-active children outnumber your couch-potato children. My ratio is three to one. This life is blessed, charmed, yes. But constant most of all.

Around dinnertime my nerves were so shot, and my ADHD son so intent on doing me in, that I looked at my poor husband and said, "I'm leaving now. Trust me, it's necessary."

At first, I got in the van by myself. Anna was asleep--finally. Don would only have the three of them. Then I thought better of this, and went back in and grabbed Emily Rose, who is as hyper as can be and could make Daddy crazy without help. I figured I could handle her in her carseat, even in my agitated, overly-fatigued state. Thank God for carseats!

The two of us got McDonald's chocolate chip cookies to calm our (my) nerves, and then we drove all around the farmlands surrounding our housing track.

On our sanity-saving trip we saw a beautiful doe, about 20 grazing horses, a blue heron, two lakes, acres and acres of corn and alfalfa, and many beautiful, well-tended flower gardens--all within a thirty-minute time frame. It was just what I needed. Scenes of nature speak such volumes to me. They remind me that God has a plan--that nothing is accidental. There is order, beauty, perfection--so unlike my parenting, or my home, where new problems keep throwing my efforts--and my nerves--asunder.

I don't quite know why God blessed a nervous-leaning mother with so many hyper-active children. Makes more sense for a very relaxed mother to have such a brood--doesn't it?

It's not misbehavior I'm talking about, exactly. It's high-volume exuberance. A penchant for movement, rather than tabletop activities, or quiet-like pursuits. A penchant for speed, rather than leisure. A penchant for over-excitability, rather than for calm.

I can only trust that He knows what I need--what my children need. It need not make sense to me.

My husband is not perfect, but for all intents and purposes, to me, he's a saint. Just the saint I need. Is he out of full-time work because God knew I needed help with these full-of-life children, in this season? We are basically on our own here. There's no reliable "village" on which to lean. My father and my aunts have their own problems--their own pursuits.

It is what it is. And my personality is what it is. I didn't choose nervousness--it was chosen for me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, as are my exuberant children.

God, help me learn to celebrate exuberance--rather than run from it. Twenty years from now, I'll be 63 years old, and I'll long for the noise and chaos of my "youth". I know this; I can see the very day, in my mind's eye. The first day of my empty nest. My Anna will be 20 years old.

Don't let me look back with regret, Lord, for what I DIDN'T do, to make the most of every day with these precious children. Take the reins back from ME--the stubborn one--when I so foolishly grab them. Order our days, our hours. And bless us with your Mercy and your Grace, Lord, as always.


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