I learned to breathe again this summer.
Now that the oldest is 13 and the youngest is 6, no one takes a nap, everyone stays up late, the oldest two can ride all the rides at Six Flags, they can all fix their own breakfasts and lunches, THEY CAN STAY HOME BY THEMSELVES, and one of them can even cook and bake like nobody’s business.
Are you seeing a common thread here? It’s called independence. And I’m here to tell you that it will come. One day you will be able to exhale a huge gigantic sigh of relief.
I remember the days when I managed everything–all meals, all snacks, all poopy bottoms, all bedtimes, all entertainment, all chores, all supervision.
I may not manage every bit of those things anymore, but our wild home is just as wild, in different ways.
What We’ve Got Now
Currently, we’ve got noise and fights and a messy house. There are two tv’s playing simultaneously across the house (rolling my eyes right now), an echo-y upstairs, a stinky dog, legos everywhere, soccer gear spread out all over the counter (!!!), and Andy Grammar singing me around the kitchen.
My home is bursting with noise and chaos.
The kids talk back and fight all the live long day.
I forget to orchestrate Bible memory.
One kid thrives in a messy room, one regularly makes lists of the pros (mostly) and cons of social media, one leaves shoes and socks in the car every.single.day.
They love pop music and groan when I turn on Christian music. They push the limits of short shorts and can’t stand whole grain pasta.
Our life is plain old normal, no bells and whistles, no ultra holiness. Not much has changed in that regards.
But this summer. This summer has brought me back. I’ve enjoyed my kids more than ever, laughed till it hurt, ridden roller coasters I’d sworn off, read Harry Potter which I never thought I’d do (AND I LIKE IT!!!).
In general, I’m a happier person.
I’m breathing again, and I’ve been waiting along time for that feeling. I didn’t even know I was holding my breath until sometime this summer when the exhale came.
Why in the world was this summer so different? I can think of three basic things:
- Age of Independence–Kids that can pretty much survive on their own just makes life easier. The reality is, certain things get easier as your kids get older (please don’t let this depress you!)
- Pursuit of a Personal Interest–I traveled to a writing conference all by myself this summer, and it refreshed me. It was the first time I did something for me that had nothing to do with the kids. Looking forward to it and evaluating it afterwords gave me something to think about besides Stay at Home Mom Stuff.
- Non-Existent Me Time–Even though I pursued something for myself, most of the summer was spent completely and wholeheartedly embracing time with my kids. I didn’t put expectations on myself that I needed to have alone time. I just embraced the noise and the pool and the tv and the amusement park and friends and the beach and Chic Fil A like I was a kid all over again. I felt way less annoyed about not having time for myself because I didn’t expect it. So when I got it, it was just a special little treat.
Can You Exhale Again?
Ok, so clearly there’s no formula for this. But I thought of a few things that might help you exhale as well.
- Hands Off–Experiment with being hands off in certain areas of your kid’s life. Let them cook by themselves with minimal help. See if they can work out their own fights with little intervention (it won’t work the majority of the time, but some of the time is progress, right?). Let them enjoy their growing independence.
- Overlook the Mess–Force yourself to leave the piles and the messes and the toys lying around for a bit. Breathe. Make yourself relax with your children, even if the house is not in tip-top shape.
- Resist Nagging–Super hard. Period. I know I’m getting better at this. But it’s a struggle all the time. I definitely avoided many an opportunity to nag about toys on the floor and legos all over the counter. Zip up your lips, mama. I have no idea if my kids have noticed less nagging from me, but all I can say is if they only knew how much I wanted to say and didn’t, they’d be impressed.
- Pursue a Personal Interest–If something ignites a little fire inside of you, see if there’s a way to take some time to pursue it. Don’t let your gifts and passions fall by the wayside for too long. See if you can brush off the dust of a personal interest and make some time for it. It will revive your soul and refresh you for your mom-work. (for a wonderful read on this topic, check out Emily P. Freeman’s A Million Little Ways)
Do you feel like you’re holding your breath and you’re waiting for a deep exhale? I wonder if any of these things will resonate with you? (don’t hesitate to let me know!)