September 15, 2017

mothering, mornings and me time...

Earlier this week, I had a day that was just rough. It seemed that all my eldest wanted to do was whine, complain and be generally sassy in her response to basically everything that was happening in life. Age six is mostly delightful, but this part is difficult. She's old enough to generally control her responses in a way that doesn't make me want to lash out irrationally, but still young enough that human nature often gets in the way. I ended up cancelling our big plans for the day, which she had been eagerly anticipating. Consequences are tough business, but at a certain point I'm left with nothing else to do. I can't tiptoe around a dreadful attitude for hours upon end, then drive off to the beach all afternoon for what will most likely feel like a reward to her.

She was definitely upset, as was I, and I was sure to give her plenty of time to level herself out while I sobbed quietly into a pile of laundry, cursing my pregnancy hormones and the moments in life when I envy parents who have time away from their kids during the week.

When people discover we homeschool, often one of the first things they will say is how they could never do it because they aren't patient enough. Well, folks: I am not perfectly patient. I am not Mary Poppins, nor do I bear any resemblance to an eerily calm and cheerful elementary school teacher with a musical voice, constant smile and brightly colored cardigans. I do not get along perfectly with my first-grader. She and I are both extremely similar and markedly different—depending on what we are dealing with at any given moment. And although I do feel that having so much time with my children—focusing on relationships, family culture and such—is one of the reasons I can't imagine not homeschooling at this time, it doesn't mean that it's easy. There are times it is definitely difficult to never have a break. My husband travels a fair amount for work, and neither my parents nor Jay's are local. There isn't much I ever do that doesn't involve one or both children.

I don't resent my role, and I take my vocation as mom and teacher very seriously. I see it as a calling and a huge blessing to me. But does that make it easy? No. No, it does not. And sometimes it just feels good to admit that.

One thing I've been doing lately is waking up ridiculously early. It's like some form of pregnancy insomnia, but if anything wakes me up after 5AM, I'm unable to go back to sleep. I've decided to just embrace it, and typically lay there in bed for a few minutes, feeling baby kicks and praying a bit for the day ahead. And once I actually have my feet on the floor (and tiptoe like a borderline criminal down the staircase, in an effort to not make any noise that would wake my early-risers) I've found that I'm actually quite content to be awake before the sun.

Typically, I get myself a cup of coffee, then set about preparing a few things for the day. I look over our plans for school and organize everything for Morning Time (books we will be reading, mark off passages for Eisley to read aloud, gather printables she will be completing, etc.). I review her math and language arts lessons for the day, which we do online. I actually love the feeling of having all this ready before Eisley wanders downstairs and gives me her daily breakfast request. (Lately, it has been an egg on toast cut into bites, please and thank you.)

When I'm done preparing for the day, then any time left becomes me time. Ah, yes, the elusive me time. I will sit down at the kitchen table with my coffee, listening intently for the tiny footsteps upstairs that almost always become noticeable within ten minutes of my opening the laptop. But sometimes, like this morning, I get lucky. I'm able to take a look at my email, try a few surveys online (yes, I still do this to bring in a bit of extra money), browse Pinterest to pin projects and worksheets for my daughter to complete for school, and work on posts for the blog.

The only way I'm able to write consistently again is thanks to these mornings. I feel like I wake up with so much more inspiration than I have any other time of day. Even while the girls are resting in the afternoon and I have 1-2 hours to myself, that is almost never me time. I take care of phone calls and cleaning and other less appealing activities (mostly ones that are difficult to accomplish with kids running around or begging for another cup of goldfish crackers). I can't even talk to you about evenings, because even on the best night I'm basically a zombie on the couch after the kids are in bed at 8PM. I've completely given up on accomplishing anything after that point, except for reading a book or scrolling on my phone.

So, mornings it is. I enjoy a bit of silence, a bit of coffee, a bit of writing. I have never considered myself a morning person—and honestly, I still wouldn't consider myself one. But out of necessity, here I am, awake and kind of liking it. Appreciating it, because even when it is just twenty minutes of coffee and email, it helps me feel a bit more prepared and a bit more centered before the "real" day begins.

Further reading: crazy and peaceful

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