Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trying Again

I mentioned that I've had a tricky time transitioning into the lifestyle brought on by having kids in school. It's plain stressful and I guess I thought I'd have a handle on it by now. It's funny - these time frames we thrust on ourselves - what we consider a reasonable amount of time to struggle. I expected to feel like a duck out of water for six weeks and my inner timer started ticking the first day of school. 

Well, time's up and I haven't got it together yet. This is initially discouraging and frustrating. A quote from Jeff Goins' new book, The In-between speaks to this. 

"It’s not the waiting we dislike; we understand some things take time. What we loathe is the time after what we deem to be an appropriate amount of waiting…Our problem then, is not one of impatience, but entitlement."

So I'm shaking my fist at the powers that be and saying I'm tired of struggling already! I want to be proficient now! As if it was my decision, and as if it would be good for me if I chose for myself. Jeff goes on to say this:

"We don’t slow down when we should, so we must be stopped. Diverted. Stalled. And these moments-these huge inconveniences, if we dare call them that anymore-set us aright, reminding us not only of how far we’ve come but also of the fact that we are not done. Yet."

What he means by "not done" is that we're on a journey of personal growth. We haven't arrived at being our best selves. So I'm going to attempt to look at my life right now through this wisdom.

My days aren't efficient at all. I get up at six a.m. and get less done it seems than when the kids were home. I have lots of responsibilities that come home with the kids (spelling words, stories to read) and different activities for which I try to send the kids prepared each day. One day there's swimming, one day show and tell, then library day when the books they've borrowed need to be returned. It's complicated. There are field trips and tests to take if you want drive, notes to turn in and proof of insurance. There's the occasional fundraiser to help with, school pictures to order, and on. And on.

While this has been added, the kids' physical presence has been taken away for a portion of the day, which made me believe I could accomplish more than before. I willingly took on a couple new projects and kept the old ones, confident it would all fit in. Silly me. But I also get tired of saying "no." It feels like the number of things that are asked of me now is at least twice as many as before the kids went to school. Brian suggested I just say no, and I told him, "That's what I hate! The saying no exhausts me and I feel like I'm doing it constantly." No to birthday parties, no to volunteering, no to get-togethers. 

So in my whirlwind, when I can hardly tell what to do next, how do I let it be okay that I'm still struggling? Could my mental state be better if I wasn't fighting the struggle? Should I give myself permission to be confused and unfocused and treading water? 

I've gotten so tired of the state of things, I started blaming my spouse. It was a desperate move, but if it was his fault and he changed, then it would get better. It was hope and I grabbed on. It's mortifying now that I see what I was doing, but it did not help things. I started to feel like my husband, who's a willing helper in our family life, was unreliable. I couldn't count on him or anyone else. When I told myself that last lie, I realized how dysfunctional my thinking had gotten.

So I'm resetting my timer. This whole first school year might be a struggle. Saying no is hard right now, but maybe I'll learn to be better at it. I have three important tasks to focus on right now and if I do those things, I should consider that success. All three are big things and it will take all I have to do them, so I need to give myself a break in other areas. Like letting it go when Cadence arrives to school without her hair being brushed. That was this morning. 

I've noticed something as I've stared at the last sentence for fifteen minutes. Where can I give myself a break? Winterizing? Home repairs? Car repairs? Food prep? I feel fully vested in each one and that tells me I've gone into a my typical coping mode. I pull it out when external things are so hazardous (to my way of thinking) that I lock down on what I consider "controllables" or factors my choices affect. I get rigid and inflexible - refusing to roll with the punches. I'm putting my foot down and saying, "The crazy stops here." But it doesn't work, because when I'm throwing a tantrum about how things are, the crazy's inside me. 

So while I have no idea how to implement this in real life, I'm going to try to loosen up. I'm not in control, never was, and I will learn in this whirlwind. I will let myself off the hook a little bit, because life happens and things I'm making myself pay the price for (with my lock-down approach) were not my doing. Time to try again. 

Yesterday, the kids were twenty minutes late to school because I set my Saturday alarm instead of my weekday one. In the rush to get out the door, I failed to grab coats even though it was the first day they probably needed them. As I walked them up to the school, I pictured them cold at recess and when I picked them up from school, the other kids were all wearing coats. When Cadence climbed in, I asked her, "Were you warm enough or should we have brought you a coat today?" When she said she could've used one, I said, "I'm sorry I forgot in the rush this morning. We'll bring one tomorrow." 

"Okay!" she said, in a carefree voice. Thanks to grace, we have Forever Tries.

P.S. Here's the book I mentioned above. This is an affiliate link, so I get a small commission if you buy it.


  1. Oh, Kendra! I feel your every word here. I have to give myself grace and do overs all the time. There are areas of my life right now that I really feel I should be proficient in by now, but am not. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even making progress. I think you and I have talked about this book before, but The Untethered Soul is helping me so much. I am learning to sit back and look out and see things from a neutral place. That's when I can see how things really are and am able to recognize my progress. Hang in there. Message me if you want to talk!

    1. I'm glad you mentioned it again though - I don't think it ever made it to my To Read list!

  2. I know this feeling of "I really should be able to handle this better by now" to well. But as it's me who puts most of the pressure on myself, it's also upon me to stop doing that. Take your time, just as you allow others to take their time when adjusting to a new situation or learning something new.

    1. Yes, this is the patience I'm determined to grow. It's kind of a new dimension of faith - believing in growth that's too slow to see sometimes.

  3. Ohh this brings back memories. School related stuff always seemed to take up so much time in our house. The amount of paperwork involved was mind boggling! Still you will eventually settle into a routine. Your children will slowly take on more responsibility. I suspect that your daughter will probably remember to get her coat before she leaves the house. Try not to be too hard on yourself mama, you are doing a great job.

    1. I'm glad to hear it from your side of things. This is new for all of us and I'm growing with the kids, but I am tempted to think that their sense of security is based on me being proficient. When I think about it, they will probably be more secure if they see me being patient with myself through my mistakes because that's the reality they also face.