The Math of Parenthood

A lot of people think having 5 kids is exponentially harder than having 1 or 2 kids.

 In case you forgot your high school math, this is my explanation. (remember, I teach English!) 2x5=10 but 2^5, or 2 to the exponent of 5 = 32. People think that adding kids makes life exponentially harder. It really doesn't. The kids help. They play together. The act of adding one more chicken breast, or, let's be honest, one more box of macaroni and cheese, is not that much more difficult than what I was doing before. It does get harder, but not exponentially harder, the way most people think when they see us at the grocery store, with 2 full carts, 10 hands grabbing things, 4 sticky chins, and 7 voices saying or singing different things (2 of those voices are saying things like "Stop," "No," "In a minute," and "Please put your pants back on.")

Now, it might be exponentially louder. That has to be true.

There might be one time, though, that it is true, when having 5 kids is exponentially harder, not just 5 times harder - when a stomach flu hits the family. Unless you have 5 kids (or more), you can't fathom the amount of dread that runs through me when someone starts throwing up. It means at least one week of trash cans by beds, scrubbing floors, washing blankets, taking temperatures, making soup and buying gatorade. Unless it happens during the summer (which is obviously rare) or Christmas Break, it also means taking turns off of work. Of course, the days that you do work are exponentially more difficult themselves.

And, then, of course, there are the other kids, running and playing and not understanding why one of them gets to sit on the couch and pick TV shows all day. They want the smelliest food for lunch, prompting the sick one to vomit more. The younger ones will bump into, or even REACH INTO the barf bucket. Don't forget the vain attempt to keep the other kids from touching, eating after, or generally breathing near the sickie.

And all hell breaks loose if mom and dad get sick, especially {crossing fingers} at the same time. For some families, this is just if mom gets sick. Thankfully, Pastor Hubby is amazing and is great at doing the chores listed above. In fact, last night, my oldest came into my room (and turned on my light! what was she thinking?!) and said, "I threw up." A groan, not unlike those in early childbirth, escaped my body before I could stop it. That lovely man said, "You stay here and take care of her {the nursing baby} and I'll take care of that." I don't think I've ever loved him more. Seriously, I could hear him dry heave (he explained in the morning that it involved scooping) at times while he cleaned the top bunk, the wall, the lower bunk, and the floor, as well as tossing linens into the washer.

There comes a point in marriage that voluntarily scooping vomit is better than any amount of flowers.

There are a few other times that it might also be exponentially harder - going to theme parks, or if you're stupid ambitious enough to try to take them all to a doctor's office. The thing is, you can avoid those things. Or enlist family members to help. Nobody wants your sick and germy kids at their house. If the flu comes, you're just stuck. Stuck in a vomit-filled version of hell that you can't escape until it's made its rounds through the whole clan.

So, there you go. Having 5 kids is not exponentially harder unless you're vomiting or at Disneyland. Or, God forbid, both.

A Run with One Sock

On the level of circumstances and events, today really sucked. I had a running late, stressful morning - I'm going to invent breastpump pieces that are not clear so that I don't keep "losing" them! Then, my sub didn't show up on time, so I had to deal with students who knew a sub was coming, and I didn't get to my meeting on time. The meeting had a few rude uptight strong personalities and required some deep breaths and tongue-biting on my part. The second part of the meeting was a bit discouraging; it was hard to remember that feeling of I-could-change-the-world that every teacher starts out with. After work, dinner took a long time to get started, and the sun was down, but I hadn't been able to get out for my run yet. I couldn't find my ipod or socks, couldn't make any music app work on my phone, so I put on my son's socks, resigned myself to silence and went out. The kids didn't like dinner, and now I have a baby with a fever.

However, I am learning something that my mother will be so glad to know. My day is not based on what happens to me. My day is not based on how others treat me. My day is based on my reactions to those things. When I take a deep breath and realize that a co-worker's problem is not my problem, that she may be saying the things she's saying out of insecurity... or maybe ignorance, but either way, I can choose to move past the comments and get my job done. No matter what NCLB requires of me, I can choose to focus my efforts on reaching kids. Even though I had to stop running halfway through, take off the stupid, too-small sock, and run with one sockless foot, I finished my run (and faster than normal!). The kids may not have enjoyed dinner, but hubby and I loved it. And, the baby has a fever, but I have advil, and will take her to the chiropractor tomorrow, the pediatrician if necessary. Even better, as part of our budget changes this year, we have money set aside each month for unexpected co-pays.

Yet, with all that happened, I am sitting down at my computer, feeling relatively content. Things have not been well today. Several things have gone wrong, in fact. But, I'm doing fine. This may seem ordinary to you. For me, it's somewhat extraordinary. I have been a slave to my emotions for far too long. Not too long ago, a day like today would have me ditching my run, yelling at the kids, and running to McDonald's for ice cream and cookies after bedtime. What's changed? Really only one thing: my thoughts. I realized at the end of my last pregnancy, and especially during my last birth, the power of my thoughts. It seems to be the lesson God has for me of late. At first, it was incredibly difficult. I would struggle to change my thoughts, fight to stay positive. It's become easier with practice, just like my runs. The more I run, the easier it is to breathe while doing it. The more I work at changing my thoughts, the longer I can do it before melting down.

Now that I've written this, the baby will be up all night, and my students will be off the wall tomorrow. I'll appreciate your prayers. :)

What do you think? Have you realized the power of your thoughts? How are you harnessing that power?

The Joy Dare Week 1

Go see this post to see what I'm doing. I started late, so some of these are what I remember this week, other days, I just substituted other gifts to be thankful for from the week. Next week, I'll write them down as I go, or more likely, use the app, so they'll be better, I'm sure. :)

January 1: 3 things about yourself that you are grateful for
January 2: A gift outside, inside, on a plate
January 3: 3 lines you overheard that were graces
January 4: one gift old, new, and blue
January 5: something you're reading, you're making, you're seeing
January 6: one thing in your bag, your fridge, your heart
January 7: 3 graces from people you love

  1. Sight - I am so grateful that I can see all the amazing colors and sights, my children's smiles, their eyes lit up with joy.
  2. Legs - I have always hated the way my legs look, but I am so grateful that they are legs that can run, bounce a child, chase a kid, kick a ball, pump a swing next to one of my children.
  3. A newfound belief in the power of my thoughts - I'm still learning just how powerful the meditation of my brain is on my life.
  4. Outside - watching my kids enjoy playing with their new Christmas toys
  5. Inside - my whole family, hanging out for what may be the last time before my sister moves away
  6. On a plate - ham and dumplins, it's my brother's favorite, I think just about every adult in the family helped with it a little, as we all gathered in my parents' kitchen. 
  7. 1 - the 5yo to the 3yo: Oh, let me help you!
  8. 2 - the 3yo to the 1yo: I'm in here! I'm in here! (they are best friends)
  9. *not according to the list* my parents' living room full of people celebrating my sister's birthday
  10. *not according to the list* a van-full of kids eating chocolate chip cookies
  11. *not according to the list* a rent check, shelter, provision from God
  12. *not according to the list* my daughter's resolution: to help at least one person feel better every day (she came up with that all on her own, and made my heart melt in awe and humility) 
  13. Reading - this blog - which came perfectly on a day that I was wondering why on earth I felt so old! it's because I'm {go look at blog to figure out calculation, brain laughs that some other part of brain thought I could attempt such a thing, decide not to figure out actual number}... infinitely older than what my birth certificate says
  14. Making - pizza with my kids, super easy, but they loved spreading the ingredients on the dough!
  15. *I decided to do reading again. Hey, I'm an English teacher, reading is important to me!* Little House in the Big Woods - all 3 biguns (and, "big" at my house equals 3, 6, and 8, for what it's worth) will snuggle with me onto the loveseat and *actually listen* while I read. all... ok, almost all of their questions are good questions about the book, and I'm just so happy to be reading something to them that I loved as a kid, and have them enjoy it too. 
  16. In my bag - 3 candy kisses, from a shy student who occasionally just walks up and hands me little gifts, no words, just a small token
  17. In my fridge - half-made batter, tried to make mocha brownies with my sister, only to find we were out of eggs
  18. In my heart - one last family gathering, playing Sour Apples to Apples, lots of laughs
  19. From my hubby - a night of sleep - he got up with the baby!
  20. From some friends - dinner at their house
  21. From the same friend - an offer to take all 5 kids so we could both rest tonight
What about you? Are you taking the Joy Dare? What were you thankful for this past week? Comment here or on the FaceBook page!

How to Expect Failure, and How Not To

New Year's Resolutions. I do 'em. But I'm not afraid to change something in the middle of the year either. In March-ish, I started counting 1000 Gifts. In October, I started running again. But, the New Year is a great time for starting fresh, so I've made a few resolutions. And I'm sharing them with you for 2 reasons: 1. To encourage you and 2. So you will encourage me. Brilliant, isn't it?

So, here goes:
  1. Kiss all my family members good morning and good night each day (or as many of us who are sleeping in the same house). 
  2. Run in a 5k, then decide if I want to run in a half-marathon. 
  3. Become healthier. The goal is to lose 75 lbs, but that may not be completed this year, as I'm breastfeeding, and want to make real change in my life. So, any weight loss will count, as will being able to run farther, play longer, eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. 
  4. Count one thousand gifts that God has given me. Like I said, I started this in March, while reading the book, but this year, there's a whole community of people doing it with me. Read this post for more details. Will you join us? 
  5. Be realistic.  
That last one requires a lot more thought; let me try to explain:
Hello, my name is Kristi and I'm a perfectionist. It has been 10 days since my last Imperfection Meltdown. 

Two explanations: Imperfection Meltdown (n): the emotional fall of a cliff that often results from something minor, say a lost shoe (or a box of Christmas presents that your mother-in-law shipped and now only the box can be found. notice the date of 10 days ago - Christmas Day. yep, we straight-up lost several Christmas presents before they could be given.). Nearly always accompanied by a tirade of hateful thoughts directed at oneself, often on repeat, e.g "I am a terrible mother. I can't even find socks for my own children. Why can't we keep this place clean? Why do we have so many socks? I am a terrible mother. There are people in this world who would love socks, and I have so many and I can't even find a pair. There are people who would love even an unmatching pair of socks, and I'm getting upset about it." (Notice how there is an ability to take something that could make you become rational, the idea that any socks are fine, or to be grateful that we have socks, and spin it so that it makes you feel worse) Sometimes includes a slight awareness that it makes no sense - it's just a shoe! (or a box of presents...) - but with the seeming inability to accept that it makes no sense and get out of the repeat cycle. 

That explanation will require the second explanation, because I just told you I'm a perfectionist, and then told you I don't have my kids' socks neatly folded in their drawers. You may be thinking, "Whaaahuh?" See, here's the thing: If you are a perfectionist, you will always fail. That's it. No way around it. You can't be perfect. So, perfectionists spend their life in this cycle of try, fail, try harder, do better, still not perfect, meltdown, try, fail, try harder... It doesn't matter what area of life we're talking about, 

If you are a perfectionist, 
you will inevitably always be a failure. 

Young moms in particular, listen to me. If you are expecting perfect, also expect failure. From you and from your children. It's not just young moms, but we tend to be the worst at this. So, I learned years ago from Martha Cilley, FLYlady, that the odd reason that my house is a mess is because I am a perfectionist. It's counterintuitive, I know, but it's absolutely true. I get overwhelmed, see that perfection is not possible, and give up. Another sick cycle.

So, basically, my resolution is to step out of these cycles when they start. To not allow the cycle to cycle. I will make my expectations realistic. I will not expect perfection. I will expect progress. I will expect good enough. I will expect being human. I will expect bad days and good days. I will expect setbacks. Setbacks, not failure! I will expect to work through those setbacks.

What about you? Are you a perfectionist? What will you resolve to expect this year, instead of perfection? 


My New Year's Eve:
6-9 goof off with friends, eat dinner and rice krispies, play Pastor Hubby's birthday present - Xbox Kinect, watch the ball drop in real time, even though we're on the West Coast
9:09 begin playing Sorry Spin! other couple husband says, "This is going to be a short game with such a small board!"
10:10 I win game!
10:30 friends leave, everyone's smiling
10:35 begin pilling clothes for tomorrow - church and sister's birthday party afterwards
11:00 daughter brings in relatively new doll with severed head, tears in eyes

11:00 - 11:10 Hubby and I attempt to reconnect head, using tweezers, to no avail
11:15 find out it's more expensive to ship doll to doll hospital for repair than to buy new expensive doll

11:25 finish assembling clothes
11:30 leave baby asleep where she's at, rather than risk her waking, but not before taking picture of how adorable she is holding her little head on her hand
11:35 climb into bed,
11:55 drift off to sleep
11:58 baby wakes up to nurse
12:10 move different, more upright baby bed next to my bed for congested baby
12:15 - 12:30 attempt to get baby to sleep in bed
12:30 pull baby in bed with me, nurse again
1:20  almost-2-year old wakes up, go in, find her 1 baby doll, 1 stuffed animal, and binky, tuck her in, say goodnight, say I love you, stumble back to my room, manage to transfer baby to baby bed
3:16 baby wakes up, nurse in bed with me
4:04 - 4:09 baby's snorting and congestion wakes me up, do dreaded nose-sucker, causing baby to scream
4:10 try to calm baby to sleep, bounce, jiggle, cuddle facing in, cuddle facing out, etc, etc
4:30 try nursing to get baby to sleep
4:46 lay baby in baby bed, know it won't work, but maybe it will buy me 10 minutes of sleep, consider giving baby to Pastor Hubby, but I have agreed not to do this on Saturday nights, curse Saturday night
5:10 bring baby back in bed with me, nurse again, hear Pastor Hubby wake, roll over and go back to sleep, consider whether this would be considered justifiable homicide, decided it depends on the jury, decided not to risk it
5:25 hear washing machine turn on, know that means I intended to be up in 1 hour
5:45 finally sleep
8:00ish eyes closed, shush boys and ask them to play quietly in their room, because mommy is very very tired
8:45 able to open eyes and see that I only have 30 minutes to feed and dress all 6 of us for church... give up and eat a rice krispie treat.

{9:00-9:30 write blog post and polish off the rest of the riee krispie treats! Happy New Year!}