Undone

So I took a few tiny steps towards rearranging today.  I was feeling hesitant to record them here.   At the same time that I was worried about tooting my own horn, I also worried that the steps would seem too small and insignificant.  How is it even possible to worry about those things at the same time?  Yet here I am, hoping that my moments may resonate with someone else in the same big ocean liner.  (Thanks, Hope.)

This morning Bubba woke up at 4:30 a.m., and Chica wasn’t far behind.   Needless to say, we were ready to go way before I could actually drop Bubba off at school.  Chica was busy giving some kind of animal a bath in a Frisbee, and Bubba was doing what nine month olds do best—dumping every single toy out of the nearest basket.  With three minutes remaining before the time to head out the door, I sat down to read something…anything.  I landed on this.  I prayed for my day to be calmed in the same way.  (Since I’m letting it all hang out, though, I must add that Chica interrupted my attempted moment of calming at least five times.  “Moooooom.  I need…..”  Argh.  There was an awful lot of huffing and puffing and head buried in my hands for a supposedly calm moment.)

I left school today at 4:45.  See, when you write a blog and then share it with your friends, you can’t hide anymore.   About 4:15 a school friend lets on that she read my early morning thoughts.  “I read your post.  Go home and be with your family.”  Thanks for the reminder, friend.  I managed to leave a clean room at a reasonable time….30 minutes before I am usually rushing out the door.  The most interesting part is that I don’t think I accomplished any less after school than the days that I stay until 5:15.  How does that work?

I’m realizing in this new arrangement that I’m going to have to accept a greater degree of undone in my days.  I want to learn to be okay with that.  Why not start now?  I’m going to leave this post undone…without a perfect ending… in exchange for a few minutes to hang out with Jay.  Night.

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Rearrange

This is the order of my life:  Job, Kids, House, Jay, God.

This is the order in which I spend my time and brain power.  My best goes to school each day, and what’s left over is spread out over the rest of the list.

I’m thinking this should be the order of my life:  God, Jay, Kids, Job & House.

My stomach is turning just writing this.  I’ve known I’ve needed to write this (and do this) for a while now, but I keep putting it off out of fear.  Fear of how life might look different if I actually make a change.  Or fear that I might write it and still fail big time for everyone to see.

I know I can’t flip something upside down in a day or a week that took seven or eight years (or more) to arrange.  But I decided this morning that I can make just one change today.  I can find one moment where my brain fools me about what is important and spend my time on something more towards the top of the list.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Things I’m Really Good At

A friend of mine joked today that she should add moving to her list of skills on her résumé.  I’ve lost count of how many times she’s had to move her classroom since I’ve been at the school.  This got me wondering what other special abilities I could add to my résumé, should I ever need it.  I’m staring a list here…

Things I’m Really Good At
Pity parties—Another day I wrote about bribing myself with ice cream to finish the dishes.  Tonight I was feeling so pouty about this most despised job, I had to have the ice cream first.
Sleeping—If there was some sort of competition, I could so go pro.
Procrastination—What do you think I’m doing right now?
Thinking on my feet—That’s what I get for being so good at procrastinating.
Delegating—Don’t tell anyone, but perfecting your delegation skills can also lead to high proficiencies in laziness.
Coming up with original ideas—Jay said I should add this one.
Making other people feel like excellent housekeepers—You know those houses you walk into and can let out a big sigh because they’re even worse at keeping house than you?  Yeah, that’s mine.
Lists—I’m especially good at making lists of:
1.  Things that need to be done at home
2.  Things that need to be done at school
Humility—This is truly one of my best traits.
Ending sentences with prepositions—Yeah, that was just the only other thing I could think of.

A Tiny Bit Skinnier

I’m just going to hit publish at 11:00.  Be prepared for more mistakes and less of a main idea…kind of like fourth graders.

I had a kid say today, “Well, I don’t think Mrs. Proffitt is fat.”  Why, thank you, friend.  I guess I should offer the back story, huh?  I was enjoying my key lime yogurt at lunch and a student plops down next to me and says she’s going to offer me a fact.  She continues to tell me that eating yogurt every day will help me to lose weight.  I, jokingly of course, ask her if she is trying to imply something about her teacher.  She has stopped paying attention by then…on to the next thing….but the boys sitting across from us are now listening.  One boy declines to comment in the conversation.  Wise man…his mamma taught him well.  The other says I’m not fat.  I’ll take it.

It’s amazing how far the bribe of one cookie can get me with Chica.  Some supernatural willpower descended on me today, and I managed to save the last chocolate chip cookie for Chica as an afterschool snack.  You’ve never seen an attitude turn around so fast as when I mentioned what was waiting for her on my desk.  She then told me that she has a little mouse named Gus that goes to find her good attitude when it goes missing.  Like in Cinderella.  Thanks, Gus.

Tomorrow I’m actually going to use a lesson plan out of a book, pretty much as it is written.  I’ve decided to join the rest of the world and stop trying to reinvent the wheel.  My teammates (lovingly…I think) told me that I was trying to be the overachiever last year.  I’m passing that torch on to our newest teacher if she wants it.

Tonight driving home from dinner out I started to feel that suffocating feeling that happens when I think about all that is undone.  Papers to read, phone calls to make, laundry, plans to write…uh…it’s happening again just typing this.  I so wanted to just crawl into bed at 8:30 and sleep it all away.  I read somewhere that when this happens, the best thing you can do it to just do the next thing, whatever that may be.  So I loaded the dishwasher.  And made two lunches.  And planned for tomorrow.  And now I can go to bed and not panic in the morning.  Every single night when 8:30 rolls around I have to pep talk myself into the next thing.

And finally, tonight Chica prayed something like this, “Dear God, thank you for my papa and for making him so big so that I can sit in his lap and get warm and snuggly when I’m chilly.  And thank you for my daddy who is a tiny bit skinnier.”

She Knows No Fear

One good thing about school starting back is that Chica and Bubba get worn out during the day.  Both are in bed sleeping soundly, and it’s not even 9:30.  Life is good.

I would love to give you all of the details and funny stories about our first two days back at school for our family, but for now I just have time for a picture and a few highlights.

If you had peeked into my room at 3:45 today, you would have seen my fourth graders lounging on my rug observing our frogs.  They were happily discussing what to name them.  The best idea by far was Sweet Frog and Sour Frog, but I’m still going to let them vote tomorrow.

But look again.  There’s Chica squeezed in at the bottom, thinking she’s nine years old too.  Two of my delightful students have graciously offered to fetch her from her Pre-K class downstairs at the end of the day.  Today when we tried this arrangement for the first time without any real warning, she didn’t skip a beat.  She saw everyone crowded on the floor, and she shimmied her way right on in.  She knows no fear, and I think I love that about her.

On the first day when I dropped her off at the breakfast table, she didn’t look back, didn’t even hear me say goodbye.  It was me who stood there for an extra second, trying to convince myself there was no need for the tears.  I wish I was as brave as her when it comes to new people and new places.

One girl brought me a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies today.  Her mom wrote a note thanking me for helping her daughter feel welcomed to a new school.  A note or cookies by themselves would have been sweet.  Both?  Just awesome.

We have been asked to eat lunch with our kids this year.  As much as I miss sitting with my own friends during that time, I am choosing to view this as time I can use to build relationships with my students.  School friends, please just remind me of this when you see me at 11:24 ready to pull my hair out each day, k?

Want to know the most time saving ten minutes I spent this week?  Monday morning we were all ready to go but couldn’t leave yet because Bubba couldn’t be at school before 7:30.  I used that time to fold Chica’s laundry and match up shorts with coordinating shirts.  I’m sure this is what all organized moms in the world do, but I have just come to the full realization of just how fantastic this strategy can be.  I tell her, “Go get dressed,” and about five minutes later, she emerges finished from head to toe.  She’s allowed to add her creative touch with the socks, but at least the top and bottom will match.  Now we can avoid the question she got frequently in preschool:  “Ohhh….did Daddy dress you today?”   : )

I’m not sure how to end this rambling post, other than to say that the randomness of these thoughts is indicative of the craziness going on inside my head right now.  I actually love going back to school, and I’ve been blessed with a few moments this week already that help to confirm that I’m where I am called to be.  But the pace is quite a shock to my system after the months off.  I’m looking forward to the days when it feels more like a marathon than a sprint.

On Sleep

I have now stopped and started this post about ten different ways.  I have all kinds of ideas about sleep swirling in my head, and I’m trying to determine my bigger point.  I’m not interested in backing one parenting philosophy over another.  I think my point is that parenting is hard, but not so hard that you can’t win once in a while.

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When Chica was a baby, I received a book about infant sleep.  I admit I was really green and didn’t have any idea that a huge debate about sleep methods existed out there.   I read it, followed it, loved it.  The whole book, from what I remember, boiled down to creating an eat-play-sleep routine.  Feed the baby, play with the baby, then put the baby down for a nap when she shows signs of sleepiness.  The baby will cry, and it will be hard for you, but eventually she’ll learn to put herself to sleep.  Let me just say…Chica was a rock star at all of this.

As I’ve written before, Bubba just didn’t fit that mold.  Right from the beginning he wanted to be held much more than she ever did.  I tried half-heartedly letting him cry it out a few times, but I always caved before he did.  I think one of the main reasons I didn’t let him keep going is that I was worried it would upset or wake Chica.

So fast forward about eight months.  Summer vacation is coming to a close and I literally can’t remember the last time Bubba took a nap in his own bed.  All of his naps were had either in the car while running errands or in my arms in our ugly brown armchair.  Our routine was play, eat, sleep.  I would nurse him when he seemed tired, and then we’d just stay there.  If I tried to put him in his bed, even if he was fast asleep in my arms, he would jolt awake about one half second before his body hit the crib mattress.  He would scream his shrill cry of desperation, and I didn’t know what else to do besides pick him back up and lull him back to sleep…in the ugly brown armchair.

Things started off well last week when I went back to work.  He actually slept through the night on the first two nights…maybe 10 p.m. until 4:30 or 5:00.  Not bad for him.  But things began to deteriorate as the week wore on.  One evening (things are so fuzzy I can’t remember which one) I was going on two hours of trying to get him to sleep in the bed.  I hate to admit this, but I started thinking, “It’s no surprise that some people end up truly hurting their kids.”  I thankfully realized those are not very safe thoughts to have in my hazy, sleep deprived state.  I left him wailing in his bed and came downstairs to tell Jay I was tagging out.  Bubba should be thankful he has such a good daddy.

In retelling this story to some friends and experienced moms at work, they insisted that I needed to just let him cry it out on his own.  I recalled for them at least one occasion where I had let him go for ninety minutes with no signs of slowing, but they rebutted with stories of babies who had taken just as long.

It’s been said that insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting different results.  You can call it what you want….determination, desperation, insanity…but I gave it another shot.  Friday night I left him wailing in his crib and went downstairs to hang out with my dad and Jay.  We had the TV on to drown out the screaming.  About 30 minutes later a sound startled us…silence.  Thirty minutes, people!  My stubborn, needy, determined child had fallen asleep on his own.  Miracle.

Saturday at nap time it took 20 minutes of crying for him to give up.  And get this…I got TWO HOURS of uninterrupted time to work while he napped.  I was able to uncover parts of my dining room that I hadn’t seen all summer.  We now have a homework/schoolwork center and a place to work.  Yippeeee!  Last night it was less than five minutes until he was asleep.  This morning, after his early morning meal, it took less than one minute.  God is good.

So I’m thinking that unless you have kids this age of your own, or you’re related to me, or you’re my friend Ruth, you’ve probably stopped reading by now.  And that’s fine.  I do realize that my baby’s crying and sleeping habits are not the most interesting material for a blog post.  But here’s what I’ve learned for those who’ve stuck with me…

  • Trying the same thing over and over is not always insanity.  People change and the context changes.  At six, seven, and eight months it didn’t work.  At nine months it did.  This has reminded me, especially in the context of school, to not write off any ideas.  New year, new kids, new perspective on my part…it just might work.
  • I’m rolling around feelings that I can best describe as regret and guilt from the last few months.  At the same time that I say, “People change,” I wonder if I could have gotten to this point a whole lot sooner if I had been more committed to helping him learn to put himself to sleep.  I’m tempted to think that I wasted many, many hours in the armchair, but I know that I did learn something about slowing down in the process too.
  • I can’t take credit for this one.  While talking about this with Jay’s mom, she challenged me to see Bubba’s stubbornness in falling to sleep as the makings of determination instead.  I like that idea.
  • Finally, I am not naïve enough to think that we have solved all sleeping issues in our house.  But for right now, we have four well rested people, and that is a beautiful thing.

Innately Mundane

It’s a bit challenging to maintain a blog about being a mom when you spend only four waking hours with your kids.  We’re in that back to school for teachers week that’s full of sorting through the mess you were too tired to fool with last year and meetings that leave you feeling a bit panicky.   I’ve seen a whole lot more of school than Chica and Bubba these last three days.

I want so badly to continue this blogging thing through the school year, but I know I’ll have to be a bit more creative in order to find both material and time.  Thanks for sticking with me as I figure it out.

So tonight I have no great words of wisdom ready, nor any super funny stories from our adventures.  I’ve challenged myself, however, to see if I have ten moments worth remembering and recording today.   Not the most original idea, but maybe in this case, something is better than nothing.

  1.  I had to be at a different building other than my own this morning at 8 a.m., so there was none of the normal pressure that I put on myself to get to school early to get working.  This afforded me just a few extra slow moments with Bubba on my bed after he was fed and happy.  Today was one of those days where he looks different from the night before.  How does that happen?
  2. I love the look on Chica’s face when she emerges from her dark, sleepy cave.  We don’t do night lights, so the bright light of the kitchen nearly blinds her when she comes to find us.   This was a happy morning…no mention of watching any movies before breakfast.  I don’t know why that blasted box has become such an attraction and a battle lately.
  3. On our drive this morning, Chica asked me if she had beautiful eyelids.  Except she didn’t know the word for eyelids.  Her attempt at describing this body part was quite amusing.
  4. Nana made zucchini bread, and I got to have a piece when I dropped off the kids this morning at her house.  This was exactly the pick-me-up my up since 4:45 a.m. body needed.
  5.  A school friend invited me to go out to lunch.  Nine times out of ten my task oriented self insists on working through lunch on days like this.  Today I took her up on the offer, and we were joined by two new teachers.  I truly have to work hard at building relationships with new people, but I’m always glad when I do.
  6.  I’m thinking I may have a bit of a hoarding problem when it comes to office supplies at school.  This has only been made harder to overcome by taking over classrooms of two teachers in a row who have left.  School friends, if you ever need sticky notes, chalk, or …well….anything…I probably have it.
  7. Bubba is really getting into eating these days, but he hasn’t learned the beauty of a bib yet.  When I got to Nana’s house, she had convinced him to wear a dish towel like a cape instead.
  8. I’ll never understand why Chica protests baths so much and then protests again when it’s time to get out.  I just don’t get it.
  9. You know that clean baby smell you look forward to after a bath?  When you accidentally use a sour washcloth, you don’t get the same smell, no matter how many times you sniff their head afterwards.
  10. Tonight I had to bribe myself with ice cream to get the day’s bottles in the dishwasher.  I’m as bad as the kids.

A fellow blogger commented on one of my recent posts about the “focus on the innately mundane of your everyday life.”  I’m not sure why, but I just love that description.  There’s something about recording those innately mundane moments and seeing them all together that all of a sudden makes this day go from good to better.  Funny how that works.