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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Struggle

Whoever invented Spring Break only named it for all the teachers out there. #truth

DISCLAIMER: If you're reading this while sipping a Mojito on the beach in Sandestin while you watch your kids frolic in the ocean, you might just wanna stop right here. Seriously. 

Spring Break starts like all other school breaks in the Watts house. It's anticipated with the greatest of expectations. The idealist mommy in me starts by dreaming of sleeping in, no alarms set for an entire week! I plan fun breakfasts to make that take too much time to prepare on school days when everything is coming unraveled hurried. I plan playdates with friends and craft projects to do with the kids. I picture evenings spent watching movies and eating popcorn and staying up late while I cuddle with the kids on the sofa.

Those of you who know me can stop laughing now.

The idealist in me doesn't come out to play very often, and when she does it's short lived, mainly because reality sucker-punches me in the face. Let's take the art of breastfeeding, for example.

I was the mom who was sure I'd have breastfeeding in the bag. Since I'm not lacking in the breast department, I figured it'd be a success, naturally. This was idealism at its finest. After my first child was born, it only took three weeks for reality to come and do a total number on me. It was a TKO, really. Two rounds of thrush for the baby AND for me (google it, then gag) and a round of double mastitis later, and it was formula for baby and antidepressants for me.

There was also the time I was sure it would be fun to take the kids bowling. Idealist Mommy whispered deep into the recesses of my mind that it would be a "Fun Family Saturday," and that once the glow of Cosmic Bowling fell upon my children, it would be an hour of utopia. In reality, we arrived, spent 20 minutes trying to get shoes that fit my kids, and then walked toward the bowling lanes, passing the laser-tag arena on our way. My middle child decided then and there that he wasn't interested in the bowling we had yet to do and that all he wanted to do was play laser tag, so he spent the remainder of our time together crying on the bowling alley sofa. My youngest threw a fit because his shoes were ugly, and my daughter dropped her bowling ball on her foot.

Needless to say, an hour felt like eternity to my husband and me.

Back to Spring Break. I had great plans, truly I did. And after the first day of Spring Break, my idealistic plans were out the window.

Let's start with the plan to sleep in. Nothing wakes a mom up faster at 6:03am than the sound of glass magnets being throw at the refrigerator by a three-year-old. I mean, who doesn't wake up at the butt-crack of dawn and think it's a good idea to take all the magnets off the fridge and use them one by one to assault the faux stainless patina?

The argument that followed between my two sons was a nice follow up to the magnet episode. It was loud enough to wake my daughter, and I understand, really. Whether to watch Transformers or Inspector Gadget is cause for a heated debate when it's 6:05am.

After I commandeered the remote control and chose a show that was neither Transformers nor Inspector Gadget, I went to work in the kitchen. I had a plan, a real treat for the kids. Homemade french toast, made with brioche and a yummy vanilla-bean sauce. It's not the kind of breakfast you make when you have 10 minutes to get the kids out of the door to school, so I was excited to make it for the kids. It smelled heavenly. It looked amazing. It tasted delicious. I dusted their plates with powdered sugar and drizzled warm syrup overtop their toast, then I called the kids to the table.
"What IS this?" 
"I don't wike this for breakwust," said the three-year-old before even tasting a bite.
Oh, they'd like it. Yes, they would.

After they gagged down their disgusting breakfast, I realized it was 7:17am and we still had the entire day in front of us. Lord, help me.

The rest of the day was full of activities. Activities like scrubbing toothpaste off the bathroom mirrors after little Mr. Trouble decided to "paint" the glass from top to bottom. Like setting the kitchen timer for ten minutes increments as each of my kids inevitably rotated through the time-out circuit. Like trying to stay a step behind the kids to clean up their crumbs because our house is on the market and has to be ready for a showing at any time.

There was no crafting. No playdates. No family-movie-cuddletime-lovefest to end the night. Heck, I put them to bed at 6:15pm and set their clocks ahead two hours so they wouldn't argue with me about it. #MomWin

The thing is, this parenting gig is hard. And family togetherness ain't always picturesque. I lose my patience and, as they so eloquently put it, "speak loudly"to my kids. They still hit and pinch each other. They call each other awful names like "baby chunkin" and "doo-doo head." I make them do awful things like read books and clean up their rooms. I don't keep every craft my kids make and I throw away most of their papers from school, which sometimes results in tears. But seriously, I don't want your page of addition and subtraction problems from yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that...

When you're a parent, the idea of a break is nothing but an illusion. Spring Break. Summer Break. Christmas Break. I personally think all school holidays should be renamed.

Spring Struggle. Christmas Confinement. Summer Servitude.

You may think I'm a bad mom for writing what you're secretly thinking. That's ok. You see, I know the truth. The truth is that I love my kids. I adore them. And I wouldn't trade the time with them for anything.

But that does NOT mean it's usually always fun.

It's work. Hard work. And when everyone's home, together, all the time, it's harder and more work.  A vacation it is not.

And that. is. ok.

My kids are worth the hard work, and so are yours. Scripture tells us that "children are a blessing from the Lord (Ps. 127)." That they are not mistakes, that God knitted them each together in our wombs, and that they are "fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139)." They are awesome, funny, sinful little creatures who are entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father to love to Jesus. I need these reminders from the Word sometimes when it seems like God missed a stitch or two.

Every time instructions are given to parents in Scripture, I've noticed that there's always a verb involved. A "do this" instruction. A call to action. Parenting is a constant state of doing, and doing is working. Therefore, parenting is hard work. And when everyone's home on "break" and there's togetherness and no personal space happening, the workload is increased.

Bring it on. More time means more influence in my kids' lives. And even when I want to bail, I have to dig my feet in and love my kids to Jesus. And so do you. It's all that matters.
"A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them." (Proverbs 13:24)
"Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline." (Proverbs 22:15)
"Discipline your children; you'll be glad you did. They'll turn out to be delightful to live with!" (Proverbs 29:17) 
"Point your kids in the right directions; when they're old they won't be lost." (Proverbs 22:6)
"Take your children by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master." (Ephesians 6:4)
I'm in it to win it during the Spring Struggle. Are you with me? Let's do this!

Also, I'm keeping it in the back of my mind that in four weeks from tomorrow I get to go on a cruise in the Caribbean alone. Literally, alone. As in ALL BY MYSELF. Might sound like torture to some of you. To me, it sounds like four days of heaven. So yeah, there's that. #Don'tBeHatin #It'sOkayYouCanHateALittle

And next week, when the final stretch of school-dom starts back before we get smacked in the face with Summer Servitude, you better believe this is gonna be me:

Feel free to laugh!