Tweet I’m likely to write:
“Battling with the Kel over the scrabble board again, there’s a 95% chance he’ll win, but I’m scrappy and I have ice cream on my side. #lovepjdates!”
Tweet I’m less likely to write:
“Laying on the couch watching TV, @kelpenny is on the love seat playing computer games too tired to talk or care! #thisisterribleforourmarriage”
However, the ugly truth is that the second status is a better definition of what happens most evenings after our kids finally doze off. We get the house put back to rights and pass out in front 5 screens (2 laptops, 2 iPhones, 1 TV) And that hash tag ^ is so accurate. This pattern stops communication, romance and even laughter. We don’t share our days or our hearts, instead we just check out.
This isn’t what I thought marriage post kids would be like. This isn’t what either of us really want, we’re just too worn out to figure out a better way.
As I was sweeping up mini wheat crumbs (a very messy kid snack choice BTW) I started to wonder why we had so little left at the end of the day. Are we doing it wrong? Nearly everyone tells me that we’re in one of life’s hardest seasons, parenting preschoolers. I know it’s hard and I believe that it gets easier, but that doesn’t mean I’m at peace with our current routine. I know every night won’t be steeped in intimacy and connection, but surely we can do better?
It’s a pretty Christian-eese answer but I think our problem is that we are connecting to the wrong source. We are relying on ourselves and not on God to get us by. We’re trying to create within ourselves the energy we need to live out our respective calls: Kel at his college ministry and me at home with our kids playing, cooking, laundering and writing when space allows.
I’m currently living with the belief that I am in possession of everything I need to live life well. The fact is that I’m not, I have to live relying on God for the strength to get by. If I don’t find a way to incorporate this rhythm into the way I do things, I will always be stressed out and worn thin like I am now.
I’m not good at relying, I really enjoy the facade of self sufficiency that I’ve been living in…except for the fact that it’s not working.
I guess I need to examine where I draw my energy and what keeps me going. Sadly a lot of days it’s just the thought of having time to myself to write, read in the tub or devour that cupcake I’ve been saving. Time to do what I want to do and not be ruled by the needs of other people.
Are these bad motivators? No, they’re great, but when one child is screaming and the other one is flinging milk all over the breakfast table that 8:00PM cupcake isn’t really going to get me through the day. So… what will sustain more than a cupcake?
I’m trying to comprise a list of things that will:
1) Prayer– Dear God, help me get over this stress, this frustration and find my way into a place where I’m just a vessel of what you’re trying to say to the world today. Sometimes I just shoot up please for patience or sing song lyrics as a prayer, whatever my brain allows.
2) Foundation– How am I starting each day? Well, I wake up to someone crying and pass out in front of the TV, somewhere in there people get fed and we manage. If I can find a way to sneak off to lay a better, deeper foundation to my day, I find that it’s really a game changer. If I give God my first and best he will provide the rest… as they say.
3) Scale back to see the big picture: Today is just a dot, a speck in my life and my life is just a blip in the grand scheme. This keeps me humble and grounded when fatigue tries to burry me in a mountain of baby socks and dishes. This is just a day in a life that will make a difference, I believe it.
4) Reminders– Remember why it is you’re doing what you’re doing. If you truly believe that you are called to your specific life than God is just around the corner with a fuel that will sustain you to do amazing things… like be able to enjoy a conversation after 8PM.
And I am going to start keeping track of how much TV we’re watching in my planner. That’s right, I use an old school paper planner, cuz I’m cool like that.
This is a journey that I’m on, clearly I’m not “there” yet. I want to live with more joy and grace, but so many days I find myself contemplating hiding in the closest with a box of cookies hoping for sanctuary.
Maybe you’re trying to stay this course as well, to plug into a source that will charge your batteries to 100% and not leave you feeling like you’re running low all the time.
There is a life giving rhythm to be found, I know it’s in God and I know that they world won’t make it easy, yet I believe it will be worth all our seeking.