Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Handling Rest.

I felt it this past weekend.  

That slow, icky, can't quite put my finger on it, not feeling too well but I'm still kicking so let's keep going--feeling.

I was suddenly cold and achy, and slightly nauseous.  I was exhausted but had a million things I wanted and needed to do.  The last thing I had time for was time to sit down on the couch under a blanket, but that's exactly what my husband told me to do.

And I stayed there for most of the afternoon.  

I do not do well with rest.  Unoccupied time makes me nervous and sweaty--like I'm missing out on an opportunity to be productive.  I live and breathe in a self-made world of efficiency.  I like things to be scheduled and routine.  I like it when I have tackled my to-do list.  I like feeling like I've knocked it out of the park again.

Challenge?  Accepted. 

And I'll beat it into smithereens.  

Unfortunately, I'm not good when the challenges are bigger than one person.  Too many years of group assignments and activities taught me that a team is often as strong as its weakest member--and being a good kid in school meant I was always teamed up with the laziest and most mischievous children in the class.  I learned quickly that I didn't want my reputation tarnished by their apathy towards school and life, therefore, I handled it all.  

I like to handle most everything.  I hate asking for help.  I hate admitting that I'm not good enough to handle it all on my own.  It's embarrassing when I'm not able to take care of things.  I'm humiliated by the state of affairs in my home because if you opened our closets and cabinets you would see how I've failed my family.  If I'm running late my face flames bright red because I mismanaged my time somehow and I've let you believe that I wasn't dependable that one time. I check things two, three, or five times to make sure that I've completed them, turned them off, and that I read the information correctly.  

Don't worry, I beat myself up internally more than your punishments or disappointments ever will.  

I read this post earlier last week by the delightful FPFG, and I nodded my head in such agreement.  I've been that person recently.  I have felt beat down by the madness of the holidays and the new and improved January, my husband being injured in December by those mean ol' porch steps, work, exercise and extracurriculars, life responsibilities, a tween and a toddler and their sister, and you may have not heard, but we're moving to a new house (because our sweet little camp is expanding her territory).  I have carried a lot of mental responsibilities and have worked myself into a frenzy trying to maximize a lot of stuff in one human body.  I'm tired and spent and I don't have enough time to do anything well, so I feel like I'm skating by most days by the skin of my teeth.  Only to brush my teeth, go to bed, and do it all again the next day.  

It's become a vicious cycle.  
And one that has become very dangerous to my well-being. 

At the gym this week, my trainer asked me what I was going after.  Sometimes he likes to get in my head when I'm working out and when your poor chicken arms are dying under the pressure of heavy weights, you can only answer honestly.  I told him that I just wanted to be done with the move because it's currently the biggest source of my exhaustion, but inside I was actually screaming I'm tired and I JUST WANT TO BE IN CONTROL OF MY TIME!  

But, you never, ever tell your trainer you're tired because then they beat the tired out of you.      

My husband gave me the incredible gift of rest this past weekend.  He took care of the kids, he told me to step away from the laundry basket, he made dinner, and he told me to lay down on the couch.  I didn't do one productive thing with my time and I felt I had wasted the entire day.  I went to bed at a decent hour and woke up feeling much better about the state of affairs the next morning.

I know the Lord commands us to rest, but I often find myself refusing to make time for it.  I work hard to make everything around me right, and I often sacrifice my well-being and personal rest for those around me.  And, I see a lot of other people around me doing the same thing.  It's almost like life has gotten away from all of us and we are stuck in panic mode.  

I can't continue to live this way.  I can't continue to feel like I'm running late, running towards the completion of next thing, and/or dreaming about running away from it all.    

O-yetta has got it figured out. 
To be continued. . .

Saturday, January 9, 2016


December was beyond insane.  Between the concerts and parties and food and fun and stuff, our norms went out the window and we entered basic survival mode.

Can you warm it up in a microwave?  Do those pants stink or can you wear them one more time without being washed because it's already 9pm and I don't have time to do the laundry?  Will you please turn on the tv so I can get a few minutes of peace and quiet with no one talking to me?  Can we get to bed before midnight?    

It was a sad, sad, sad state of affairs.

But January is back, and we are reaping the fruits of our December.  January has been making things crystal clear that we have been a little too lax in certain areas (i.e. I'm still crying when I walk post-workout with my trainer this week).  We have seen attitudes that are less than stellar and it's been a rough adjustment this week heading back to school and rules and routines.  

One day this week I hit my LIMIT with some particular little people who live in my house.  It was several days in a row that children had been asked by their loving mother if they were ready for school the next morning.  But, alas, when it was go-time, we discovered that lunches had not been packed, folders had not been signed, dirty clothes baskets were overflowing (after mama had cleaned all the clothes in the house two days prior), lunch money had not been acquired, rooms were exploded, and there was a lot of griping and complaining that we only had strawberry Pop-tarts in the house for breakfast.  

And then someone had the nerve to turn up her cute little nose to my dinner preparation.

Mama was DONE.  

So, like any good mother, I had a good cry, went on an internal rampage, and chose to not speak to my children at that moment because anything that came out of my mouth would have been offensive and cruel. 

And I'm always trying to get right with Jesus.  

I wanted to get myself in check before I said and did things I would regret later (such as taking all of the toys in the house and dumping them in the river and giving my kids only rice and beans to eat for a week like the starving children in other parts of the world).  

Instead, I decided to take my feelings to a safer location and developed a list of family rules: 

Avery Family Rules
1.  We do not have a maid, cook, nor laundry fairy at this house.  
2.  "Are you ready for school tomorrow?" includes clothes picked out, lunches packed, forms and folders signed, and any necessary money acquired.
3.  If you take it out, put it back. 
4.  Be aware of other people, their feelings, and their belongings.  
5.  Be kind and always use your manners. 
6.  Life is not fair.  We don't always get what we want--but Mom and Dad do their best to get you what you need.
7.  Take initiative. 
8.  Be responsible. 
9.  Stop and think before you say or do something you will regret. 
10.  You are not the most important person in the house. 

I'm sure there are people who have time to make cute little signs on their Cricuts or on reclaimed wood, but this mama wrote the list quickly on a piece of paper and left it in a prominent location where it was sure to be read by the offenders.  I noticed that life was a lot quieter that evening and suddenly the girls were doing things like packing lunches and were quick to be kind and helpful.  Maybe some people view this as passive aggressive parenting, but for once I didn't have to yell or fuss or cry. 

I'm going to call this one a small victory for the mama.   

Parenthood is a full time job.  And just like any other thing, if you fail to properly maintain it, it will quickly escalate into a disaster.  I can't speak for any other mama, but I'm exhausted most evenings after dealing with other people's children all day long.  I am often completely depleted after giving those children, many of whom are only truly loved on between the hours of 8am-3pm when they are at school, every bit of love and attention they need and deserve.  My classroom is a noisy and communicative location, and my highly-sensitive meter is pegged out after being over-stimulated all day long.  I love my job, but there are many days I just want to come home and crawl into a dark cave to recover.   

However, my personal children are just as important and I have to remember that I want them to be decent human beings and contributing members of society one day.  It's not an easy job, and no one else is going to do it for me.  Therefore, I have to make myself dig deeper and remember that they are just as important.  I have to make myself step away from the screens and inboxes and lists and to-dos to listen to their stories and invest in their well-being--and it's not easy.  I have to check my tone and make sure that I'm not responding to them in exasperation because I'm tired.  

And I have to remember that rule number 10 corresponds to me as well.  

It's not easy, and I want to encourage all of you good parents (and teachers) out there--keep going.  I know you're tired, I know you're exhausted, I know that there aren't enough paychecks and chocolates in the world to compensate for all that you do every single day.  I know you are often second-guessing and flying by the seat of your pants, but keep going.  You're making a difference and what you're doing matters.  

Hang in there, parental units.  It's all gonna be ok. 

Friday, January 1, 2016


No big resolutions for 2016. 

And honestly, there's no need, because I spend my entire life with self-inflicted, minute-by-minute resolutions and expectations breathing down my neck and into my soul:

I am going to do that better next time. 

I better workout at the gym with more intensity next time.

I'll never make that mistake again. 

I can't let everyone down. 

I'll be a better mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend.  

I can teach that lesson much better next time. 

I'll streamline those systems. 

I better get this household under control.

I need to make things more efficient. 

I'll do, I'll be, I'll plan, I'll execute. 

And then I find myself in agony and shame when I let myself (and others) down again and again and again with my imperfections.  I devote a lot of time and energy to making the world around me better like it's my job.  Especially when it comes to these sweet babies: 

Christmas 2015.  Molly (11), Lily (8), and Olivia (2).
Enough is enough. 

No resolutions for me this year except to wipe the slate clean each day. 

Each day is a fresh start, a new beginning, a new chance to pick it up and try it again.  It's time to clean up my expectations and I'm quietly stepping away from those demanding too much from me.  I can't live at that pace and function like a balanced individual, so I'm letting it go.  I'm choosing to accept my smallness, shortcomings, and failures.  I'm choosing to extend a little more grace to myself and others because we are all in this sinking boat of perfection.   

We only have so much to give the world each day, and I don't know about you, but I am tired of living on spent time from the past, and borrowed time from the future.        


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