Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Win some, Lose some.

Well whadda-ya-know? I actually have a minute to post. Lily is at a friend's house, I have miraculously managed to get London and Ellie to take a nap, and Emerson is here with me nursing. My ability to breastfeed while simultaneously blogging is both an excellent testament to a mother's ability to multi-task and the perfect representation of everything that is wrong with modernity. Oh well, let's run with this, shall we?

I've been thinking a lot lately. In fact, the majority of my day is spent in deep thought as I motion through the adjustments and find solutions to this crazy existence called life. Which as a side note, whoever came up with the lame gender generalization that women aren't interested in solutions is full of bullhunkydory CRAP AND A HALF. Have you ever heard that one from a man giving advice to fellow men? I've read this line of thinking in quite a few books. Actual books written by real professionals who are supposed to be giving good advice. It goes something like this: Women don't want solutions, they just want you to listen. So instead of giving her answers to her problems as she discusses them, stay silent and nod and give her the empathy and understanding she is really looking for.

Uh, not me. 

Why would I be telling you my problems unless I wanted solutions? What kind of a moron does that? Do you think I'm just talking to talk?!?! That I like to just hear the annoying sound of my own whine?!! Solve my problems and I'll gladly shut. up.

I'm a woman AND a solution finder. No apologies for that.

{Sometimes I like to spend a warm afternoon on the front porch with my half-clothed children and think about how weird we must look to the neighbors.)

Anyhoo, solutions to the new complexities that have arisen of late have been on the forefront of my mind. I would be lying if I said that these last five weeks haven't been an exhausting whirlwind. To a certain extent it was expected. But there have been other realities of raising these little ones that have arisen that I didn't anticipate, and learning to deal and move through has me re-assessing what I think of as important.

My newly adopted strategy to move forward is that of Win some/Lose some. I simply can't do it all. Isn't it so insanely stupid that you can know that in theory and yet still adamantly try to maneuver your way around the cold hard mathematics of it all? One person equals one person equals one person. Period. And yet I'm just sure some days I can tackle a list only physically plausible if eight people each devoted all twenty-fours hours to accomplishing.

I think the pressure gets stacked higher the more children you have. Which isn't to say that those with less than four children are in a less stressful situation. We all have our battles, no matter the circumstances. It has just been my experience coming from a family of eight children and now having four myself (and by the age of 28) that the microscope is applied a little more. I think it is probably the case with pretty much any endeavor that is outside of any typical societal norms. And when people start noticing, you feel a need to go into hyperdrive to prove that you're not the total whackkadoodle that you look like. If Lily attends school one day with her hair not brushed and her outfit mismatched, I am plagued with worry that her teacher is going to think I am neglecting her. If I cry over the difficulty I feel from a frustrating day people might think I made a mistake to have so many children. If I go to the store in my sweatpants and run into so-and-so from my previous job who I haven't seen in years they are going to think I let myself go.

My Mom just mentioned the other day how long it would take her to primp all of my younger siblings before bringing them to my eldest brother's high-school football games. My Dad never wanted to miss kick-off so she would send him ahead and be a little late because she would work extra hard to make sure everyone was perfectly cleaned and polished before coming. She wouldn't ever want my brother to feel embarrassed about our large family or heaven forbid have somebody think we were a big bunch of freakshows.
I had to laugh remembering, but now I do sense a bit of the pressure myself. And I don't know where it comes from, because I honestly don't think people care all that much. But when you take even the smallest bits collectively multiplied over time, it really can feel like people are watching and waiting for your next fantastically validating screw-up. Yep, always knew she was a nut-job.

And I haven't even mentioned the most intimidating spectator of all, the most relentless, ruthless tyrant who never forgives failure or let's any un-done deed go unpunished...
This she-devil can be the toughest of all. This is the person who cares the most, who insists on the best, and who never forgets.

So it is no surprise I felt a huge surge of relief last week when I heard a gentle whisper to my heart:

You have to let some things go. 

I must let some things go.

Win some. Lose some.
It's okay.

This week's victories thus far:
Made the girls their favorite strawberry pancakes for breakfast (and on a school morning), stayed in bed an extra thirty minutes playing with Emerson who kept smiling and cooing, all poopy diapers were changed, swam 1/2 mile at the gym, enjoyed awesome and long overdue makeout session with Tyler over the weekend, family's new conversion to all paper plates and bowls, read another chapter of Mouse and The Motorcycle to the older girls, attended sister's baby shower and made flower arrangements which turned out lovely, sang lullabies to Ellie for a good 15 minutes before bed and almost DIED over her cuteness, worked on budget, ate a killer sweet potato kale red onion homemade pizza, prayed, made a concerted effort to notice and compliment Lily and London on their good listening skills, attended church for the first time in weeks and didn't yell at anyone while getting out the door, listened to two great podcasts while cleaning, taught Lily 7 new sight-words, scratched London's back (her favorite) before her naptime, built blocks with Ellie on the floor, didn't freak out during this morning's school run, washed car.

And alas, a few casualties:

Late to school two mornings this week (and we're only to Wednesday), Emerson screaming in the car, freaked out at Tyler for running the Vitamixer at 5:30 am, Ellie's ratty hair, my hair in a wet bun for three solid days, family's new conversion to all paper plates and bowls, still haven't brushed teeth as of 2pm today, bed not made, still haven't apologized to Tyler for freak-out regarding the Vitamixer at 5:30am, girls have watched too much television, migraine/neck pains, utter public humiliation in the check-out line when Emerson was crying and we were stuck and that nice lady asked if I needed help, had to cancel my personal dental appointment which I've had for over six months and still can't seem to manage getting to, overspent on budget (as always), lost my temper with London.

So summing up my progress as a woman and a wife and a mother each day may involve this tally of sorts. I intend on celebrating my victories while forgiving the casualties. And that is that.


Alexis said...

Amen and Amen. Carry on. You are doing great. All these things WILL give you experience - in so many ways you can't see now.
Love Mom

Joan said...

Gasp! Rachel isn't perfect?! She loses her temper? She yells at her husband?? :)
I know you well enough to know that your strengths faaarrrrrr out weigh you weaknesses. You are a good woman, Rae. Don't be hard on yourself. Remember you are in the eye of the storm. I give myself at least 3 months to feel semi sane and 6-9 before I feel like I've reclaimed my life to some extent.
I am in awe of you. Really, truly.

PS: warms my heart to think of your sweet mother primping all you kids before Daniels games.

Emily said...

Thank you for blogging about exactly what I needed to hear! You are such a good writer. I was just telling Alex today on how overwhelmed I am with just two and not knowing what to do! I can't believe having 4!

The Andersens said...

You are amazing.

amo said...

I needed to read this post today. No kids or real obligations other than myself and I still feel this way. Don't know how you do it. The win some/lose some philosophy is great and necessary!
Plus, actually envision what it would be like if you didn't have the "casualty" list and EVERYTHING was perfect and went smoothly. Your children, perfectly dressed and not watching TV; yourself, smiling and getting up to take on the day as Tyler runs the Vitamixer, etc. etc. etc.
It would be Pleasantville, and it would be gross.
We just had my cousin and her 3 sons stay with us and now the house is way too quiet.
As much as I get how stressful it can be and how we all wish we had it more together, chaos can sometimes be lovely.

The Mrs. said...

Usually i feel back to real life when my babies are about 9 months (like I can breath a sigh of relief by then) but #4 was hard for me-BUT BUT BUT I have learned the best lessons of simplifying, realizing that I CAN'T and WON'T to it by myself, prioritizing things like: scripture study must come daily.

Love you Rae. Thanks for writing.