Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Clarity (Warning--it's a long one!)

Don't you just live for those moments of clarity in your life?  When all of a sudden you catch a glimpse of how things are supposed to be?  And the world just feels right?  Yesterday was such a great day.  It was like that rare moment lasted all day. 

Lately I've been feeling sort of overwhelmed in my responsibilities.  Lately as in the past few months.  Confession: for whatever reason (laziness maybe?  a feeling of entitlement to "me time" perhaps?) I am really not so great at running a tight ship around here.  Nothing terrible--I'm responsible enough to manage the basics.  Lets just say an average lunch time begins with me clearing off the breakfast dishes from the table around noon.  I usually don't sweep the floor until after the kids go to bed (and Sophie is a very messy eater, mind you), so we all step on our fair share of banana pieces and pbj pieces throughout the day, although I do pick the pieces up once I step on them, I'll have you know.  I usually save the laundry until it really really needs to be done (this is determined in one of two ways: 1) the walkway in my room between the laundry basket and the bed is just really getting impassible 2) my favorite pair of jeans or favorite article of Sophie's clothing has been eluding me for too long) and then feel like the job is done when there is no longer dirty laundry in the basket, meaning it is clean but stays in the basket or in the dryer and--yes--occasionally in the washer until I realize that I've really fallen down on the job and motivate myself to fold it and put it away, by which time there is usually another decent sized dirty laundry mountain waiting for me. 

This sort of thing really bothers me.  I feel like I am a pretty responsible, reasonable person, and yet when I finally get my first few moments of time to myself during the day (once Sophie is down for her morning nap and the boys are playing together somewhere) the LAST thing I want to do is put the dishes in the sink and sweep the floor.  I would so much rather check my email for an hour and then scramble to get dressed for the day when I hear Sophie beginning to stir. 

Here's where that moment of clarity comes in.  Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to get on top of things in my life.  How to get over that constant battle between the "whiny/selfish mommy who just wants things the way she wants them for crying out loud!" and the mature, capable, loving mom I know is in there deep down.  Our church recently had its general conference (a semi-annual meeting broadcast worldwide from the Prophet and other church leadership--by the way, did you know there is a living prophet on the earth today?  Find out more here and here.) and we watched and listened to most of it (kids make it hard to listen 100%...ok, even 50% is hard) and I've been listening to some of the talks again online since then (find them here). 

As I've been thinking about what I learned and how it applies to me, it's been amazing to see how simple the solutions are to some of these problems really are.  It's about love.  It's about selflessness.  It's about genuinely, honestly forgetting about yourself and doing what you know is good and right.  It's about facing your responsibilities with courage, no matter how average or boring those responsibilities might sometimes seem.  It really and truly just about trying to be more like our Savior, Jesus Christ, in each aspect of our lives. 

So, I have been trying harder, and do you know what?  It's been working.  It's funny when the answer to a question is something you've really known all along, isn't it?  So instead of waking up grumpy because I didn't get to sleep as long as I wanted to, I've been trying to be nice.  I've been trying to be excited about the day and share that feeling of excitement with the kids.  They are naturals at being excited for the day.  They generally wake up happy and smiling ear to ear.  Instead of trying to keep them busy doing something else and making them stay outside or downstairs while I finally get some housework done, we do it together.  Guess what?  They LOVE it!  I made a chore chart with a list for each boy.  Ryan is pretty autonomous, but Calvin pretty much needs me to do everything with him.  But I don't mind, because it's actually fun to do it together.  And Sophie toddles around after us as we go from room to room.  By the time we get the chores done, Sophie is ready for a nap and the boys are ready to go play.  And it's magical, because the house is already tidied up, we're all happy, I spent quality time with the kids that they and I actually enjoyed, and instead of feeling grumpy and entitled to a large chunk of "sitting on the computer wasting time just because I can" time, I actually feel like doing something productive or fun, like getting some deeper cleaning done, or getting to a project I'd been meaning to get to, or doing something special with the kids. 

This is what Monday was like.  It was such a great day.  I feel like I'm just now figuring out something wonderful that I should have known all along.  That it doesn't have to be me vs. the kids.  I love them so much, and of course I always have, but they deserve so much more than I have been giving them, in terms of a happy atmosphere and quality time with me (and probably a good number of other things that I have yet to figure out).  I actually already knew that part.  But what I didn't know was that it was so easy and rewarding to give them what they deserve.  It made me genuinely 100% happy. 

So there it is. My moment of clarity.  I know not every day will be like yesterday.  Take today for example.  1.5 of my kids were about the grumpiest I've seen them for a while for most of the day.  But I could handle it, because I was different inside while I dealt with it (does that even make any sense?).  We had some frustrating moments, but a lot of really great happy ones, too.  Like most days.  But since my little shift in perspective, I've been able to remember the happy ones and let the frustrating ones go.  So this is my goal.  To try to make every day a Monday (metaphorically speaking). 

Now, if you made it this far, you certainly deserve some good pictures.  And my kids certainly don't disappoint in that department!

Sophie was the lucky recipient of some absolutely adorable outfits for her birthday from Grandma and Grandpa Walton.  I loved this sweet little shirt:

Big blue eyes:

Sophie figured out the lens cap:

And she grew exactly 1 curl.  Can you see it?  Maybe with a magnifying glass?

Calvin giving me one of his "half enlightened, half skeptical" looks when we told him we were going to make syrup from our tree:

 Ryan was a fully invested believer, though, and was very excited with the results:

Does it look like Sophie LOVES playing with her brothers?  Because she does:

Calvin doing a little bird watching in his spare time:

 Ryan just being Ryan:

The boys helping me make tortillas:

Calvin loves his new froggy rain boots:

Ryan trying his luck as a mailman at the children's museum on Saturday:

Happy with their cousin Katie (and a friendly tortoise) at the zoo today:

 All the Moore cousins running free at the zoo:

Me and my girl:

How cute is this outfit (disregard the water dribbles and the graham cracker smeared all over)?  A hand-me-down from cousin Lily. 

And a self-portrait of Ryan at bedtime today:


Stephanie said...

Oh, Caroline! Thank you for posting this! As I read this I thought to myself, "is she writing about me? This is definitely a post about me, not Caroline!" It gives me courage to also take the council received from our leaders and be a little more selfless and a little more patient, and just plain happy on this crazy, wonderful journey of motherhood. Thanks for giving me courage! Here's to happy Mondays!! :)

Derek, Rachel and Cadence said...

Wow! I read your post and thought this could be about me! And then I read Stephanie's comment and thought this could have been written by me! I guess it's a sign that I need to get on top of my responsibilities!

I hear ya on the laundry and dishes. I currently have two clean baskets just waiting to be folded (waiting for a week and a half) and two sinks full of dirty dishes! Sometimes I wish that I could just hire somebody to come and wipe my slate clean, but then I wouldn't learn anything that way would I? :)

Ben and Anna said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only lazy mom out there....although feeling like it's normal just gives me an excuse to continue!! Actually, I wrote a post about this a couple of months ago, and have been doing better (but still have LOTS of room for improvement....like right now while Jay is watching Sesame Street and I am reading blogs :))

AnnaMarie said...

I love the clarity that General Conference gives us. Motherhood is always better when we have the big picture before us. I like your confessions. We all do it, really. What's hard is the continual...uh, monotony of being at home all day every day with our kids. It's harder to stay motivated to keep our home clean, and our kids happy. That's why these times of clarity mean so much; they're just what we need to get us back on course. And that's why it's so crucial to read the scriptures and the words of the prophets regularly, so that we have a better chance of being selfless and staying on course. :) Overcoming the natural woman. I'm glad for you to have your moment of clarity!

And I'm loving these pictures! My favorites are the one of Sophie laughing her head off, Ryan being Ryan, and Calvin giving his confused look about the syrup. I sure love that kid. Well, all of them, but you know I have a special place in my heart for Calvin.

Emily said...

You are a great mom! I'm glad your kids are excited about helping. :) I really like the third picture of Sophie too!

Caity said...

Yup, I totally understand. Thanks for the reminder!