This weekend has been a time of change, small yet significant changes, in a very good way.
Friday didn't go so well. I ended up canceling a playdate, which meant trapping the children inside the house for the entire day. That's not good. But. I didn't feel so hot. And it's a good thing I acknowledged this because by about 3:30 I had wasted away into uselessness. In other words, I had a big flare-up of the Dread Disease. Had I been out of the house, it would have been bad. I would have been unable to drive, get home, do anything, and I wouldn't have had access to my medication. I probably would have really flipped out my friend, too. Sometimes, this really, really sucks. The worst bit was the pain and the general weakness. I also had one of the numbness flares. That stinks too.
No, the worst bit was the kids.
The kids who were Way Too Good and I Don't Deserve It and OMFG my kids are so used to me being so sick they have learned to recognize it and have figured out what to do to help. I know, I ought to be So Happy---I am raising amazing and fabulous girls. Girls who are compassionate, and know when mom is down. Girls who are supportive, and know how to occupy themselves (without trouble) while mom is down. I am half teary-eyed warm fuzzy proud and half sick to my stomach because this is not the childhood I wanted for them.
Patience and I cuddled on the bed while Persistence played mommy to her babies. Her mommy and baby game is telling: she is very, very sweet to them, but sometimes they are "sassy" or "no hitta me" and get a time out. Patience wanted to fix things and felt impotent to do so, thus needed reassurance. We distracted ourselves with the show "How it's made," and I thanked God above for television. Of course, the science channel has commercials, largely diet and workout equipment. As Slouching Mom has attested, five year olds are very susceptible to advertising.
Patience watched a lengthy commercial for Bow Flex and said, very conversationally, "Maybe we should get that for you, Mom. It says it makes you stronger. Maybe if you were stronger you wouldn't be sick any more."
Yeah, that's about how I felt too.
My husband picked up the ball as soon as he got home and handled everything.
But I wasn't able to get up and go tell the kids goodnight in their beds; they had to tell me goodnight in mine. I didn't trade dreams with Patience, or do the lullaby with Persistence. They kissed me quietly and gently and went to their rooms.
On Saturday I read a post by whymommy that affected me deeply:
“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” Robert Browning
The words above are from a poem that have echoed in my head the past few weeks as baby Little Bear reaches, and grasps, and reaches again. That I knew. What I didn’t know? The title of the poem: Less is More.
Less is more.
Right now, fighting the cancer is what I need to do. Loving my babies is what I need to do. Appreciating my family is what I need to do. Everything else can wait.
She's a wise woman, that whymommy. I don't have cancer, but the words resonate nonetheless.
I needed to figure out how to find my own less is more.
Then, later, I read something Stefania at Citymama wrote: Why did I think working all summer with minimal childcare was a good idea?
She could have been writing about me.
I was so ready to be inspired.
Our Kindness Campaign part 1 wrapped up Friday, as you can imagine. The Forfeit cup was quickly and easily emptied. The reward? A local fair.
Instead of working, doing chores, running errands, etc. on Saturday we just went to the fair and had fun. Oh did we have fun.
When we got home, later, after we put the children to bed, my husband and I talked. I admitted I had pushed myself too hard last week, had done too much, even while fretting about how much was left undone. I confessed I felt I had brought on the episode Friday by not listening to my body and taking better care. Then I said I felt trapped between obligations and self-care. Mommies don't get sick days or time off.
He asked me, "If money wasn't an issue, what would you do? What would you let go of?"
I asked a question back, "Do you mean if money wasn't an issue or if money wasn't an object?"
Without waiting for his answer, I pressed on, "You know what? I'd hire a cleaner for the house. Hands down the biggest source of conflict in this house is cleaning. It's easily one of my biggest areas of frustration and resentment. I'd be a lot less stressed if tidying and maintaining was all I had to do. I'd be a lot less annoyed if I didn't constantly walk through the house seeing chores I needed to do."
I paused to think, run through what I thought must be a hugely long list of things I wanted to offload. Instead, I only found one more thing.
"And subcontract some of the work. I want a subcontractor."
We talked in more detail and I think he was a little amazed, as was I, that a house cleaner and a subcontractor were what---all---I needed.
It isn't that these things haven't occurred to us, but we have a very tight budget. I don't have childcare because there really isn't enough income to provide that. I haven't a house cleaner because there really isn't income to provide that.
Lack of income can certainly narrow your choices.
But sometimes, re-budgeting and finding a way to pay for something that seems like a luxury costs less than the other cost of not doing it.
And so, we've decided to invest in a better lifestyle for the family...I think that's a very good use of our money.
I'll be trying to find a cleaner we can afford. I'll be interviewing subcontractors for some of the work. I'll be taking weekends off. Mostly.
And best of all, school will be starting soon. Just a few more weeks.
This morning I woke up happy for the first time in a while. Instead of feeling too heavy and oppressed by the weight of responsibility within the day, I felt good, welcomed the day. My husband and I had a plan for how the day would run, and I knew help and relief was on the way.
So tell me, what's your 'more' that you wish was 'less?' What do you need, what would take that 50lb weight off your chest and shoulders?
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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