Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday morning Christopher Robin's class went up front to sing a song for all of us during the church service. They did this once before near Christmas, but when they announced to the class what they were planning, Christopher Robin immediately decided he would not participate. He resists new ideas. I bought him new shoes, and he told me he wouldn't wear them. Three days later my mom asked me how his new shoes fit him, and I told her he hadn't put them on. Later that day he decided he wanted to wear them, and he has loved them ever since. I think something new has to sit for a little while, become familiar first, and then he can accept it. So while the rest of his class of 3-5 year olds filed onto the stage to sing their Christmas song, Christopher Robin sat and watched from the front row. I let him. I was a little worried we were setting a life-long pattern by allowing him to refuse to cooperate. I understood the feeling of not wanting to be in the spotlight, but I had visions of a strange, stubborn 10 year old boy who had never been willing to set his foot on the stage or participate in anything that had to do with public performance. My biggest worry was that my response, just accepting without argument that he didn't want to do it and not forcing him or trying to persuade him otherwise, would contribute to a life of refusing to stretch himself or emerge from his cocoon of comfort. My Hero assured me just letting him be was the right thing, and my mom confirmed it when I brought it up with her, so that's what we did.
A couple of weeks ago, I learned that his class had a new song they would be singing in church, and Christopher Robin's teacher told me he had been eagerly participating during practice. I got my hopes up that he would make it onto the stage this time (though My Hero warned me not to), and I refrained from mentioning it to Christopher Robin at all, for fear of jeopardizing the possibility by making him think about it.
Sunday morning during their pre-service practice, Christopher Robin was first in line leading the way onto the stage, and during the actual performance it was the same. He walked confidently across the stage and positioned himself in front of one of the microphones. As they were singing, he leaned down to sing right into the microphone, and his soft little voice melted me into a puddle. I was laughing the whole time, because I was so thrilled, and the kids were so funny, all of them with their different quirky behaviors on stage, and a couple of times Christopher Robin with his big round eyes looked right at me sitting in the front row laughing, and just stared at me as if he was trying to figure out what I was laughing at. I had to force myself to stop and smile encouragingly at him, because I didn't want him to think I was laughing at him.
What a kid. I guess sitting and watching his class do it once turned a new idea into an old, comfortable one, and he was willing to participate the next time. He's leery of new ideas because he doesn't know what will happen and he may not like it. But I still can't believe the difference between the last experience and this one.

I've been thinking about the euphoria I felt as a mom seeing my little boy up front singing for the first time, and it made me think about God, as my Father...what makes Him feel that way about me? Some days, often on Sundays in church, when we're all singing His praises together and my mind is full of all He's done, I'm bursting with happiness and everything has a rosy hue. Later, when life looks more gloomy, and I've let selfishness ruin my day, I'll look back on that and think how God must despise my earlier happiness. As if I deserve it. Sometimes I think even in the midst of the euphoria that I'm not worthy to feel that happy. So I thought of how I feel about Christopher Robin. Yes, he has a lot of bad moments, and he lets me down over and over, but I still really love his happy times, and nothing thrills me more than when he spontaneously tells me he loves me and wraps his skinny arms around my neck and presses close for a hug with an endearing look in his eyes. I think that's the kind of thing God is looking for, too. I keep telling myself if I could behave in life the way I would like to see Christopher Robin behave, I have a good chance of making God feel pleased. I'm most pleased and proud of Christopher Robin when he acts with kindness, helps his little brother, makes his baby sister smile, helps me with my tasks, learns something new, does something well, has a humble attitude with the desire to please. "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble." I Peter 5:5 Those are the kinds of things God is looking for, especially the humble part, the absense of cocky self-assurance pursuing my own whims, but the happy humility to keep coming back to Him to find out what I could do for Him next, working alongside Him in his projects, willing to learn His way of doing things, treating His other children with kindness.
I don't dwell on Christopher Robin's bad moments or his mistakes. I move on and try to teach him better. I have a constant hope and vision of the man he could become, and its his successes that really stick with me, the good things he proves he can do, the times his quick learning surprises me and his helpfulness truly helps me. It encourages me to think God my Father looks at me that way, too. Yes, He's always willing me to do better, but He's not constantly disappointed that I haven't arrived. My failures don't make Him begrudge me happiness, and even though I'm not perfect, he still drinks in my humble praises like a daddy wraps his arms around a child.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mr. Putter and Tabby books are some of my favorite library books to read aloud to Christopher Robin. In Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea we learn how Mr. Putter and Tabby (his old orange cat) got together in the first place. He lived alone in a big house, with no one to share his English muffins with in the morning, or his tea in the afternoon, no one to keep him company while he tended his tulips or trimmed his roses, no one to listen to his stories in the evenings. He decided he wanted a cat to ease his loneliness, so he went to the pet store. The pet store lady only had kittens for sale ("'No one wants cats. They're not cute. They're not peppy.' Mr. Putter hadn't been cute or peppy for a very long time.") so he went to the shelter, where they had three cats to choose from. The orange one was old, her bones creaked, her hair was thinning, and she appeared to be a little deaf. Mr. Putter was old, his bones creaked, his hair was thinning, and he was a little deaf. He took her home, and the rest of the book is about their life together.

I like the Mr. Putter and Tabby books because they're so calm. They lead a quiet life together of simple, silly adventures. There is a part of me that envies Mr. Putter his quiet, lonely life. If I were in his position, I think, imagine all the books I could read...all the projects I could throw myself into with abandon. It would take me a long time to start feeling lonely, I think to myself.

If I were really in Mr. Putter's position, all alone in a big old house day after day, I think I would dream about the days I'm in right now, in the management position of a happy household full of energy and life and problems and endless tasks... I would probably fill my time reading books about bustling households full of happy activity and endless adventures, and fill my thoughts with memories of these crazy days full of funny moments that crack me up and hard moments that make me cry. I would sit in my chair as Mr. Putter does, and look through my photo albums, and tell stories about these days, these intense, difficult days that will so soon be gone and only relived in memory, and shed tears of longing.

I hope I remember this, if I ever am alone...this twinge of envy I feel as a young mother whose life is full of people who need me, when I visit a nursing home and see neat little rooms of people who have lived full lives and now have the gift of time, time for crossword puzzles and books and projects. The pang of jealousy I feel when I talk with a single friend from college days, planning yet another trip to a different part of the world, sharing an apartment in the city with her cat. I know, because I know myself (and I remember) that if that was me I would long for the life I'm leading now. God fashioned me for the life I lead. But I think there's more. Some day when these days are held in a photo album on my lap, I think I'll discover He has also fashioned me for other, as yet undreamed of, days.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Penguin Epiphany

One of my favorite high school teachers used to say that some of the most profound truths can be found in children's books. This is also true of kid's Saturday morning cartoons.

Christopher Robin knows that on Saturday mornings there is a kids' show he's allowed to watch. I don't think he realizes that kids' shows are on the whole morning long, across almost every channel... he just knows there is one, and that we've been missing it for the past few Saturdays, because I can't seem to get the time right. I let them watch Veggie Tales for half an hour on Saturday mornings, on the days we're home at the right time, but the network has moved the time around, and I keep missing it. Last Saturday Christopher Robin asked me at 9:30 if it was time for the kids' show, so I checked online to find out what time Veggie Tales came on, and saw that it had run at 9:00. Frustrated that I had failed AGAIN, I decided to let him watch 3-2-1 Penguins, which was just coming on.

The topic was compassion, and it showed the penguins throw a surprise birthday party 2 months late for the twins, a boy and a girl. The boy was happy and excited, but the little girl moped around dejectedly. Something was bothering her. Her brother explained that she'd been like that all day, and he didn't know what was wrong.

It's funny, because this is an issue that comes up repeatedly in my relationship with My Hero. I never quite know how to deal with him when he gets in a funk. Most of the time I notice he's in a bad mood, and I make up my mind that no matter what he does, I'll do my utmost to stay positive and not let him get me down. Sometimes I feel like booting him out the door, since that feels like the only way I won't be poisoned by his bad mood.
I saw the little girl moping at her surprise birthday party, and I felt the same response to her. What's her problem? Why doesn't she snap out of it and appreciate what her friends just did for her? I think my response would be, "Leave her alone, and she'll come out of it eventually."

Suddenly I was riveted, because from the show's approach, I could tell it wasn't the girl who needed to change her behavior, it was the brothers and the penguins who were about to learn something. To act happy and cheery when someone is feeling sad is not a compassionate approach. Huh. My determination to maintain my cheeriness might actually be the problem? Suddenly, I realize that this lines up with scripture.

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. Proverbs 25:20 (NIV)
The little boy stopped and heard his grandmother's words from earlier in the day echoing in his head. "To show a little compassion, you might start by listening to her."

Of course, he doesn't actually get around to listening to what his sister has to say until near the end of the program, but that is the solution that begins to help her feel better.

I have been blaming My Hero for being intent on dragging me down with him in the dirt, that he won't change his mood until he's brought me down to his level of misery. Hmm. Have I been a little lacking in compassion?

He has been facing stress and frustrations these past few days, so I've had a couple of opportunities to try out my new found wisdom. Instead of walling myself off from him, I have listened with compassion to what he's going through. It doesn't drag me down or ruin my day, but it does help lift him up. When I intentionally stop my chipper remarks and happy tunes to listen to his problems and offer any support I can, we continue through life together, in harmony, side by side. Now I see that most of the tension caused by our mismatched moods is dissipated not when I determine to remain unaffected, but when I willingly temper my cheerfulness in respect for his problems and focus my energy on listening and doing what I can to help.

It's obvious, isn't it? How could I have been so blind? I don't mean to point fingers, but I think God might have had something to do with my inability to pin down the time for Veggie Tales. He had a little something he wanted to show me about me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Let go.

Just what I needed...

I battle to fill each day with good things, to achieve the things I've given myself to do.

Monday was cleaning day, and while I did three loads of laundry and got it all put away, and made beds and cleaned rooms and accomplished a lot of tasks, my to do list still stretched into the distance at the end of the day, and worse, I felt dissatisfied, empty. Everything I had tackled with a focused determination, blocking out as much as I could all the other things, the more important things... reading to my kids, noticing something funny or beautiful, thanking God for something was all a blur, and there was no satisfaction at the end of the day, just a long list of more things to do.

Tuesday I determined to slow down, to enjoy my kids and the rest of life. It was better, but Christopher Robin's attitude was difficult, and Peanut Butter woke up from his nap grumpy and needy... a leisurely time of reading to them all together, stretched out on the floor with Raindrop happily climbing and crawling over my back and my arms wrapped around Peanut Butter and holding the book because he "needed" me to hold him, wasn't enough. It was time to make supper and he still "needed" me to hold him more, and I felt that familiar frustration of trying to fill his needs and him never satiated, never done needing.

Wednesday I had no agenda. I try not to have one on My Hero's days off. Just two things on the schedule... coffee and breakfast with a friend in the morning while My Hero watched our kids, then later in the afternoon staying with my grandfather while my grandmother kept an appointment with her doctor.

Let life fly. Who are we take words and color and hold time tight? Hands open in worship is the apex of art. Wisdom.
The breakfast outing with my new friend was a drink of pure, cold water, refreshing, strengthening, filling me with love for life and making me feel more alive. The rest of the morning with My Hero and our kids was family life in harmony, joy brimming and sloshing out of me with every movement.

I arrived at my grandparents' house in the afternoon to find my grandfather in his wheelchair near the bathroom and my grandmother facing the long, difficult task of helping him with the business. She called her doctor's office to let them know she would be late. Then she offered to let me help, and I entered a little into the care of this man to whom I owe so much of my heritage, and the joy of assisting them, lending my strength to his weak limbs, dipping into the process of their daily life, new to caring for the elderly, and marveling at how familiar it feels, how similar, really, it is to caring for the tiny helpless new lives that have entered my own new young family these past 5 years. Again I spoke to my grandmother about setting a regular, weekly time to come help, maybe on Mondays? And she lit up as though she was ready, now, to set a time to make it happen. I long to be a part of their lives, to lend some of my strength and energy to their days, to give a little freedom to my grandmother, to know and be known to them, for my kids to know them and be known.

Sometimes I wonder how it will be to add something else to my days when already I can't get it all done, and yesterday was my answer.
Lord, why is it that when I pry open my hand to let go of life, more of life can fill my palm stretched-out?

I came home and we had an hour or two more of afternoon to fill before it was time to go to our Wednesday evening small group, so I suggested we go to the basement and clear off our deck table of all the yard sale items we had sorted out a month or two ago so we could bring the table out to our deck. "Box the yard sale items," My Hero suggested. Yes, box them and keep them separate, so next time a friend hosts a yard sale we'll be ready to join. We all worked together, Christopher Robin enthusiastically putting himself in charge of wrapping glass items in newspaper. Table was cleared, items boxed and stacked, table brought out to deck for summer use, basement was tidied and swept, three large boxes filled with outdoor wood scraps for next winter's kindling, then a quick easy supper, most of yesterday's casserole, a bowl of homemade baked beans, and thick slices of honey oatmeal bread with butter. This morning I go down to the basement to witness the miracle of yesterday. Our basement, the one that clutters my mind with new tasks to finish each time I pass through, swept clean, neatly organized, peaceful. Miracle. I could never have done it myself if I spent a week of stressful, focused, task-oriented days.

Lord, why is it that when I pry open my hand to let go of life, more of life can fill my palm stretched-out?
Funny, how I forget that.

What could I let go of today?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

This morning my soul is weak and hurting. A friend, not a close friend, but a friend, has filed for divorce, and I feel powerless, and I ache for her son, and for her husband, and for her... I have known for over a week now, and it still tears at me every day. How could it get to this point and I didn't have a clue?? It feels like the suicide of a family, and I wonder if I had realized it was coming if there would have been anything I could have done. If there's anything I could do now...
And I realize how weak and vulnerable we all are, and how small choices we make in how to relate to each other and how to see our partner lead us gradually closer together or further and further apart.
I know what it's like to stop feeling like we're on the same team. To stop giving him the benefit of the doubt when he forgets to put his dishes away or leaves something undone for me to do. To mutter bitterly to myself about what I wish was different, how he clearly doesn't love me because if he did he'd pay attention to what was important to me. Always, though, when I confronted him for some way he had offended me, I would be ashamed. The look of surprise and hurt, and then his words, "You have no idea how much I want to make you happy," would turn my self-righteous haughtiness to petty complaining. Yes, there are things he could do better, ways of living that would be nicer for me...and he could certainly say the same things about me. Nothing is easy about making a life together, forming a happy home made up of 2, now 5, imperfect, selfish people.
But I want to say that all the blood and sweat and tears are worth it. The daily dying to self not only brings two humans closer together, but adds strength to God's kingdom here on earth. I want to say that there's no better path out there. No other relationship will be different enough to's ALL hard.
Some people decide life is not worth living, so they end it, take their own lives. Other people reach the end and decide, "You know, if it's so bad than I'm going to just end it, why can't I just make hard, dramatic changes to my life and see if it could get better?" If I had a friend contemplating suicide, that's the path I would urge them to take. What needs to change? Even the most painful, scariest changes can't be too much harder than ending your life, and at least they offer a glimmer of hope, a flicker of daylight far in the distance.
I think of this suicide of a family the same way. There's nothing easy about divorce. It's ugly and messy and sticks around for the rest of your life. If things are bad enough to endure the pain and ugliness of divorce, what about another path, one probably equally or maybe even more difficult, but that offers a glimmer of hope at the end, a redemption of 12 years of memories, a chance of offering renewed stability to the little boy in the picture?
I'm not in the marriage, and I don't know all that's happened to reach this place. I can't say how I'd react if I were in that relationship, because I don't know and haven't been there. I can't say my own marriage struggles in any way compare to those ones. But if I had a friend contemplating suicide, I would offer her these words. And I have a friend heading determinedly down the path of divorce, and I wish, I wish...I could offer her these words in a way that she would hear, and consider.

The Power of a Mom

All power implies a corresponding responsibility; and the greater the power the greater the responsibility because the greater the danger... One of the fearful things about power is that we connot measure the effect of the abuse of it: if we wantonly hurt other human beings we know that evil will come of it but we cannot foretell the extent of the evil... Because He has told us clearly that to sin against His creatures is to sin against Himself we must see all abuse of power in this light...
Yet the power is given us; we cannot be rid of it. Authority has to be exercised; personal gifts have to be used: how can we make sure that our use of power will not in fact be an abuse of it? Only by making ourselves powerless before God, as the dead body of Christ was powerless; only by becoming "stripped and poor and naked" within our own souls, so that the Spirit can invest us with his divine power and transform our impulses and cure our pride.
I read this last night, a quote from Gerald Vann's The Son's Course, in The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot. It's inside a chapter about the authority of the father in the home, but a mother also has authority, and consequently, great power in her kids' lives. The only way I have found to live right consistently as a mother, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, is to live "stripped and poor and naked" in my soul. Only when I have a true sense of my own weakness and inadequacy and consequently keep my eyes fixed desperately on Him for help do I live in a way that honors Him. Always, always when I'm feeling pretty good about myself and how I'm doing, I fail miserably.
It's sobering to realise that every time I fail, every time I'm impatient or unkind to my kids I'm spreading evil and won't fully know the extent of the damage I have done. I know it's inevitable to fail again and again, and that Christ can redeem our worst mistakes, but I tend to dismiss my failures too flippantly, unwilling to recognize the seriousness of living life driven by selfishness and pride and my own desires.
Today I begin with nothing but a desperate plea to the Source of All That's Good to make something good of today, to bear in me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control. I say "begin" because so quickly a self-assurance creeps like a shell over my soul in my first unguarded moment, and I take control and do things my way, in a way that feels right to me at the moment, and then the day is gone and I realise it was wasted, because without Him I can do nothing worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


What do I do with the roughly 2 hours to myself when all the kids are in their bedroom having an afternoon rest?

For the month of March, I would be out checking the sap, hauling buckets of faintly sweet clear liquid to pour into the simmering pots on my wood stove, and then on the days I gathered more than 5 gallons, all the surplus into two big plastic storage tubs in the back of the minivan to drive to my parents' house, where their large outdoor stove built of cinder blocks would handle the largest quantities of sap we hauled in.

I loved having the project of making maple syrup to fill the gray March days. Beginning by wading through thigh-deep snow or walking on top when the weather was cold enough to freeze it solid. Finding new obstacles to climb over as the snow melted day by day to reveal fallen trees and pot holes. Tapping trees kept me a daily observer of spring's transformation of our back yard and woods, and the daily compulsion to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine for at least a few minutes had a noticeably cheering affect on my mood. Usually March is a long slow month to suffer through.

I'm glad, though, now, that the time for maple syrup is over for the year, and my nap times once again offer freedom of choice for how to fill them. I still go outside to bring in more firewood, since these rainy April days are chilly and the wood stove keeps us cozy. But now I can choose other things to do as well.

I'm still working on recording In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan onto audio files so I can burn it onto CD for My Hero and my dad and mom to listen to. I have already changed so much of how I shop for food and what I choose to cook because of that book, and I can't wait to have My Hero have the first-hand information for himself.

Sometimes I order pictures for our family photo albums, or read a book for myself, or, once in a while, clean something. Sometimes I organize a closet or cupboard that's much easier to do myself without curious hands fingering each item I pull out.

Yesterday, I took the four white picture frames I bought over a year ago and printed out four pictures of pink cherry blossoms, beautiful, and hung them in a line over our bed. Why did it take me a year to figure out what I wanted to do? I don't know, but I love the result.

I try not to feel disappointed when Christopher Robin trudges sleepily from the bedroom and asks me if I want to color with him, or will I read him a book. It requires an attitude check to switch from a happy solitude project to focusing on the kids again, but the hour after nap time, when there's nothing pressing to get to, is one of the best times of our day...reading, or coloring, or doing some fun, quiet project. So I heard the bedroom door nob turn, and I forced myself to throw away the resentful feelings that leapt up to my throat, and agreed to read him some books, and a couple of minutes later Peanut Butter came out with 3 books of his own, and we sat on the couch and read 6 books together, and then Christopher Robin jumped down from the couch, climbed a stool and got his box of Bob books down from the top of the fridge, and read seven of them to us. I confess I was falling asleep, snuggled warm on the couch being read aloud to, but Christopher Robin didn't notice, since I managed to rouse myself when he had a question or struggled with a word. He probably enjoyed reading uninterrupted by my corrections.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What do YOU crave?

I love love L-O-V-E my new way of life. It's still a lot of work to stay on top of all the little messes that happen every 10 seconds with the kids, but yesterday morning I saw my grandparents walking up our driveway, and I was really disappointed they didn't come inside...they were just coming to borrow the wheelbarrow under our deck. I would've loved to have my clean, orderly grandmother catch me unexpectedly with a clean, orderly living space. Wednesdays are usually my worst housekeeping days, because My Hero is home. I usually slip into vacation mode when he has a day off, though I've been working on retraining myself not to think that way. My job is much the same on his days off...the kids are still here, after all. So yesterday I kept up with the discipline of cleaning up after myself constantly, and kept the kids doing the same, and My Hero reinforced it and helped follow through with it, and we didn't have a crisis in the evening getting ready to hold group at our place.
Then we talked about discipline at our small group last night. Nowadays the word is more inspiring to me than's like Dave Ramsey explained on his radio show once, when someone asked him how he was able to make himself be disciplined. He answered that first you get to the place where enough is enough, you get "sick and tired of being sick and tired." You have to get mad enough about your circumstances to change them. Then once you're there, and you start seeing the benefits, it's easier to keep going. Then once you've tasted the success of discipline in one or two areas of life, you start to believe in it. I remember when I was trying to get myself to cut back on sugar, I felt like giving up my habit of sitting down with a stack of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk for dipping in the evenings as I watched a movie or read a book was too cruel. Months later, after giving it up and seeing the weight drop it doesn't feel like much of a sacrifice, but until you let feels like unnecessary deprivation (how much difference does one little stack of cookies make, anyway? My wii fit lets me know how much each little indulgence matters (2 lbs?? really?? for one bowl of ice cream?))
We usually start our small group discussions with a couple of fun "ice breaker" questions, and one of the ones My Hero came up with for last night was, "What kind of addiction do you have?" He meant funny things, not intervention-type confessions, and most of them were... Mt. Dew, coffee, yardsaling for antiques to sell on e-bay, mine was sugar... Then he went from there to the chapter we read for the week, I Peter 2, and pointed us to verse 2, "You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation." The discussion led us to the conclusion that we crave God's Word when we form the habit of being in it consistently and depending on it's hard to establish, but once the habit is formed, we realize what a difference it makes in our lives and there's no going back. Like any good habit, we get addicted to the good results.
Here's to another day of striving for the good result of a clean house all day long.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Two mornings ago I introduced the chore chart. Our very first, so the concept was brand new to both boys. Christopher Robin listened with rapt attention and Peanut Butter with a quizzical expression as I explained that as each chore was completed, they could draw an X in the appropriate box, and at the end of the day if all their boxes were X-ed, they would receive a nickel. "So, today is Monday. If you run and make your bed, you can come back and put an X in this box here." It bothered Christopher Robin to leave Sunday's boxes blank, but we were starting on Monday, and I wanted something I could print out each week, so it couldn't be helped. He's so type C. Just like his mom.
Christopher Robin squealed with excitement and ran to make his bed. I took Peanut Butter with me and "together" we made his bed. I was right, he loved doing something that involved me helping him one-on-one. Then Christopher Robin raced back to the chore chart on the fridge and wrote an X in his first box. Then he decided he would save his second chore, emptying the dishwasher, for later. I think his idea was to savor the experience, and not use it all up at once. That, however, doesn't work for me; I need the dishwasher emptied first thing in the morning, so I can spend the rest of the day filling it with the dirty dishes we make. He willingly complied when I explained that the first two chores were for the beginning of the day, and the last one we would do at the end. Peanut Butter wanted to help empty the dishwasher, so he did the silverware, and I wondered if I should have made that part his chore. But on further reflection, I'm glad I didn't, because there will be many mornings when he decides he doesn't want to put away the silverware, especially when he figures out it's something I require, so I'm content to let him help Christopher Robin with his chore when he decides he wants to without getting any credit for it. When he's three or four, and control isn't at quite the same level of importance to him, then I'll think about adding to his chore list.
Along with the chore list is the "new" mentality of cleaning up after ourselves each time we're finished with something. To Christopher Robin, putting the toys away as soon as we're finished is directly linked with the last chore, all toys and books put away before bed. The truth is, as long as they're all put away before bed, they'll get the credit, but doing it promptly as soon as we're done with something is a much better way of living. I keep telling myself. Practically, it's pretty overwhelming trying to stay on top of each item they use and tell them to put it back when they're done. There's a pair of damp socks on the floor that Peanut Butter took off after he went out on the still-wet deck. Okay, "Peanut Butter, stop what you're doing and run and put your socks in the laundry, please." There's a pile of coloring books scattered beside the coloring book tub, and Christopher Robin is diligently working on a new color-by-number with crayons at the table. "Christopher Robin, stop what you're doing please and put the other coloring books away." There's a tractor and wagon hauling a flashlight and ball, left untended because Peanut Butter has moved on to coloring with Christopher Robin. "Peanut Butter, please put the tractor and wagon back in the toy closet." "Me not done, Mom." All day long, trying to stay on top of when one pair of hands or the other leaves items on the floor or table or island, all the while trying to stay on top of my own clutter, not allowing myself to leave any unfinished project undone while I move on to the next... it's overwhelming. I wonder if it's even possible. And yet, I know if I can do it, train myself and them to put things away when we're done, it will make things easier for the rest of our lives. Several times during the day yesterday the mess caught up with us and passed us, but we would stop, reconquer it, and move on with restored order. It helps a lot the Christopher Robin is 100% on board. I think giving him boxes to X is the best gift I've given him in a long time. Neatness and order match his nature, so he's working on training himself about as hard as I'm working on training him. Letting him use a pen to write an X is so much better than putting a sticker in the box. I debated, and decided on the pen, and it was definitely the right call. Peanut Butter is not as enthusiastic, because this new way of living involves me telling him what to do more often, which he resents. I wish I could think of a way to get his two year old heart involved so we were on the same team. Communication is still such a do I keep it simple, yet help him want to put his things away? How do I make putting his things away his own decision??
As you can see on the picture of the chore chart, Peanut Butter decided writing in the boxes was great fun, so when I was out of the room he marked up most of his boxes on his own. I didn't say anything, but when it was time to put an X in his box last night, I explained that he didn't get to do it because he had already written in his box earlier, and that if he wrote in his boxes without Mommy's permission again, he would get a spank.
I know all this training will be worth it. I know it. But I find myself at the end of the day absolutely exhausted. Wiped out. My Hero has worked late both evenings so far this week, which plays into it. By supper time my energy level is nearing empty, so when he's not home, I'm running on fumes as I put them to bed , and stumble around finishing up whatever I had left undone, and try to get to bed early, which ends up being 10 PM or later anyway, somehow. And yesterday Raindrop was cranky all day for an unknown reason (her second bottom tooth just popped through, so it's not that, but maybe =sigh= she has a new one coming in up top), and then she woke up a lot of times during the night, which almost never happens anymore. Just when I feel like a good, full night sleep is what I need to face the day. Truthfully, what I need is a humble attitude, a repentant heart, and fear of the Lord. Those days are always by far my best days.
So, the kids are awake and cheerfully ready to begin this beautiful Wednesday, and I humbly ask the high king of heaven for His Spirit's help in another day of training in self discipline.