I've learned several things the hard way over the last few days/weeks.  We all make mistakes, we all do things we regret, and we all fail now and then.  The important thing is that we do learn.  Here are some of the things I've taught myself recently:

1) Never (ever ever ever) attempt to go to the grocery store with 3 kids under 4.  I will turn into a nagging screaming mess, and the kids will turn into whining screaming messes and sometimes the groceries will be abandoned as I flee to the car before someone else decides to discipline my kids.  I don't care if we're out of milk, or bread, or formula, or even if our cupboards are bare.  I CAN wait until Daddy gets home or until I find a sitter or until someone invents drive-through groceries.  Ooooof.
2) Planning is everything.  It is totally worth my time to plan out a week of meals, a detailed grocery list, a precise schedule of activities and how I'm going to stick to my weekly budget.  Even better if I have a back-up plan in case church runs over and I can't get to the grocery when I intend to, etc.  Making lunch the night before saves me from the "I'm exhausted and the kids are screaming let's just get Panda Express" lunchtime budget-blowers.  Keeping a frozen home-made meal in the freezer saves me from "I'm too tired to cook so we'll have cereal for dinner" nights.  And having some coloring books and crayons on hand saves me from, well, just about everything! ('Cause, hey, coloring can be therapeutic for everyone).
3) Besides taking the time to plan plan plan, just about everything else non-kid-related is an unessential time-sucker.  I don't need to do that craft project.  I don't need to read that blog.  I don't need  to get caught up on my Mt. Everest of magazines.  I don't even need to scrub the kitchen floor (we're just going to drop spaghetti on it again tonight anyway, right?)  But I do need  to cuddle my babies.  I need to read them stories, to sit in their pretend train caboose, to take them outside to run, to give them some extra time to chat at bedtime.  I need to help them learn to paint, to build elaborate railroad tracks, to let them stir the cookie dough even if all the chips end up in one place.  And I absolutely need to spend my quiet hour doing just that - being quiet.  In my bed.  Asleep.  So that I am recharged and ready to be sweet to my precious babies for the rest of the afternoon. 

Slowly, too slowly, I'm learning where my priorities need to be.  Not every mother is so blessed to be able to stay home with her children and I cannot take it for granted.  I need to remember that behind God and my husband, my kids are my top priority and I need to do whatever it takes to treasure them and make them feel treasured.   I have this little poem taped to my fridge - it's a wonderful reminder for me on the days that I'm too tempted to say "Not now, honey, mommy's busy cleaning (or blogging or reading or cooking or...)."

Song for a Fifth Child
Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat- a- cake, darling and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard and there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look!  Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.  Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby.  Babies don’t keep.

1958   Ruth Hulburt Hamilton



09/26/2011 13:11

Lovely! It's one of my favorite poems. I need to be reminded of it more often.

09/26/2011 14:19

I love that poem. It certainly explains why it takes me a week to fold one load of laundry. ;)

Carol Ann
09/27/2011 22:13

This is lovely--and wise. Regarding the grocery store, perhaps you can find one of those that will put together your phoned in order, so all you need to do is go pay for it and pick it up at your convenience once it is ready. It seems to work well for many busy families with lots of children.

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