Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summertimeout


A little over a month ago, after Matt had returned to work and the day after my parents left, I was having my first solo day as a mother of five.  It started off fine, but as the day wore on, I started feeling panicked.  Everyone wanted me to take them somewhere -- the beach, a certain pool that has a high dive and a water slide, shopping for shoes, Disneyland (you know, since it's not like it's 3,000 miles away or anything).  Basically, they wanted to be anywhere but in our house having a quiet day.  But me?  I still needed that quiet.  I was feeling pretty good, but bleeding a little more than seemed right at that point, so I'd been told by the midwives to be as calm and quiet as is possible.... With five kids... And their laundry... And empty tummies... And many requests.  

There is a community pool about fifty feet from my front door, but of course that was a Tuesday, and on Tuesdays it's closed for maintenance.  I finally said, "Look.  I can't take you to any of those places, but how about you get the slip'n'slide out?"

"The slip 'n' slide?!" my kids said in unison.  "I thought you said not to!"  

Unfortunately... This was true.  I personally don't quite understand the fun of running and then hurdling yourself into a belly-flop at full speed on a piece of wet plastic on the ground.  And they had done it for hours the week before then complained for days about their aching bodies and bruises, until I said, "Well, maybe you shouldn't go on it for a while." -- barely restraining a "Duh!" for added emphasis.

Oh, how I regretted those words now.  

"You guys..." I said weakly, then didn't know what to say after.  "Just figure it out, okay?  I'm not going anywhere."  I started to compose a slightly desperate-sounding email to Matt, asking if he would maybe be able to come home a little earlier (in other words have just an eight-hour day instead of the ten or more per usual).  The kids slinked out of the room.  I was in the middle of detailing some of the antics I'd put up with thus far, when I heard Lilly call from downstairs, "Mo-om! There's some lady here to see you!"

'Some lady' turned out to be my friend Jess, stopping by with a baby gift.  Her timing couldn't have been better.  The kids finally realized I really, truly wasn't going to go anywhere and started setting up the slip 'n' slide out in front of our house.  Our "front yard" is a huge common area, so as I sat there, kids started coming from their houses.  A couple moms came over too, asking if it was really okay for their kids to join, and I said, "Of course!" and asked them if they'd like to stay and chat awhile.

And can I just tell you?  It ended up being one of the most surprisingly pleasant afternoons I've had in a long time!  I sat and chatted with a neighbor I've barely spoken ten words to in the year that we've spent here.  I got to know other neighbors better.  It was fantastic.


That's what I've been up to lately, a big summer break.  This past spring, we were running around like crazy people.  We learned the hard way the cost of overcommitment.  I knew that we needed to call a timeout to keep our sanity.  

Having Annalee gave me an excuse to shut everything down for a while, but even if I hadn't had her, I hope I would have had the wisdom to say no to "the usual" so that we could rest and regroup.  Taking this rest has given me a chance to think about what went well last year and what needs to change for the coming year.  I don't have it all figured out yet, but I'm starting to get a clearer picture of what I want.  I even took about a month off of posting on this blog (after writing the birth story, etc.) and though I have still been writing a little, it's made me realize why I post here and what I'm expecting and hoping for.


I think the thought of rest scares most of us.  I remember fighting nap time tooth-and-nail when I was a little girl, and my own kids carry on the fight as well.  Similarly, as adults, we resist rest.  We wonder what other people will think -- fearing they will think we are lazy at best, and cautionary tales at worst.  

Rest doesn't make us weaker, though.  It revitalizes us, gives us renewed energy, and sharpens our focus.

I have loved this summer.  I've made friends with more people and deepened other friendships.  I've watched my kids having fun the old-fashioned, unplugged, dirty-and-desperately-needing-baths-at-the-end-of-the-day, skinned knees and scraped palms way.  They've made blanket tents and had picnics.  I've had time to think, to just stare at Annalee's sweet face and fall completely in love with her.

I'm still figuring out what we will and won't do this fall, but I'm stepping slowly and carefully into our decisions.  Can I just encourage you, if you're feeling frantic from your schedule right now, to stop and take a rest if you can?  A timeout?  Don't worry, I won't think any less of you!  I don't feel like I've lost anything.  Instead, I've gained friends and perspective, and felt my worry lines relax a little.  I bet the same would be true for you!