4 is the new 8

The sun was setting as I stepped out the door to go running. While I usually try to log 4-6 miles first thing in the morning, the baby had been up all night and for the majority of the day I hadn't mustered the will to do much more than supervise the children from the couch where I sat wrapped in a blanket, watching episode after episode of Downton Abbey. But guilt approached with dusk, and now I found myself shaking off my exhaustion and trying to force my legs into a rhythmic pace. 

As I breathed in the scents of damp earth and dry leaves, I mentally took stock all the things I felt that I should have accomplished that day. Aside from the lengthy list of neglected household chores, there were more personal things-- the canvases awaiting brush and paint; the scriptures growing dusty on my bedside; the quality time I wanted to spend with my husband; the trips I wish I could take and the friends I'd been meaning to send notes to...

With a sigh, I thought about how it's so easy to become overwhelmed and disappointed with the claustrophobic life of mothering small children. Easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what I think I'm missing out on. 

But just when the dark fingers of regret started to curl around my mind, I remembered hugging Little Miss C that afternoon after talking her through long division. One moment she'd been frustrated and weepy; the next, her face had lit up with understanding and she'd squeezed me in gratitude. 

I remembered E tracing his brother L with chalk on the patio, excited to show me the 'crime scene' he was creating, and his pride as he learned to sign both his first and last name in his wobbly handwriting.

I remembered L falling asleep sitting up, his fingers unconsciously rubbing the satin edging of his blanket the way he did when he was a tiny baby.

And I remembered Baby R's wide, toothless grin as he pushed himself into a sitting position after having been sprawled on the floor, delighted as he looked around at his brothers and sister clapping at his accomplishment. 

I thought about my relaxed day in pajamas, my children circling around me like satellites. 

There are so many things I wanted to have accomplished with my day. But with a sudden flash of insight, I realized that I only wanted those things in addition to my current circumstances, not instead of them. And when put that way, doesn't it sound exceedingly selfish?

J says that having children is like serving a Mission. For two years {pregnancy, plus a year with a needy newborn} you give up a lot {sleep, privacy, coupledom, your body}. It's long, hard and single-minded, but like a Mission, it's worth it. 

And I wouldn't give it up for the world.

PS  "4 is the new 8" is what J says every time we talk about how many kids we'll have. :)


The Dragonfly said...

I'd never thought of having children as serving a mission. But I can totally relate to that idea. This post really resonated with me. I often feel like I'm not accomplishing much, but when I look at those sleeping babies at night, I feel better.

ps. what did you think of Downton?

Apis Melliflora said...

There's a poem in the middle there somewhere. This was a beautifully written post, so thoughtful. You may not have painted with paint on canvass today, but you did it here with words.

LisAway said...

Beautiful, MS! I love it. Great writing and message.

I'm not exactly sure that it's so selfish to want both things but I know that it IS unrealistic most days. :)

Phoenix Peacock said...

I've been doing the same thing with instant netflix! it is an engrossing show that just makes sleep not seem that important - until its time to wake up!

I think it is only natural to feel trapped at certain stages of motherhood. I think it is wonderful that you can remind yourself how much you love it also. I also belive in having a reliable babysitter so that you can go out or have the kids go on a field trip just for a little bit of sanity!

Ps. I'd love it if you took a look at this:

The Wingnut's said...

Downton Abbey is an amazing series. Cannot wait for the second season. I think I would of sat curled up on the couch watching that all day too!

ilana said...

An inspiring and beautifully-written post. Just curious, where is the "Count your Blessings" graphic from?

MelancholySmile said...

Ooops, forgot to give credit. I found the print here: http://svpply.com/item/276191/Blessings_12x18_Gicle_Print_from

The Queen Vee said...

Beautifully written and well thought out. I think you used all your time wisely on this particular day, especially your run time....we have that to thank for this insightful post.

hukolb said...

Thanks for this post, too! We must be on the same wavelength with young children at home and a nursing infant! At least you went running today:). My husband will like the new analogy to children, I tend to agree for whatever reason, rearing children is somehow looked at as more complicated and demanding. We had a great talk about "stuffication" which can be anything that eats up your time like things, people, etc...I think its great to slow down and do the important sometimes (I need to take my own advice). And I love your mission analogy, too! Thanks!

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