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. 

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