September 15, 2008

Confessions of an introvert

I spent all day with my kids. All day! As in, I was with my children

Not that it should surprise you, I've stayed home with them for the past 8.5 years. But every day of that past 8.5 years, I find some way of escape. I am surprisingly introverted and find myself frazzled and overrun by the 4:1 ratio in my home during the day. I'm tired, overwhelmed, frustrated. My kids are messy, destructive, lively little creatures that zap every amount of energy. So instead of facing their eagerness armed with constructive activities, I retreat.

They need me NOW and I can't seem to get anything done. Recently, I've come to accept that this is the season for unfinished projects in my life. My children show me no mercy in their needs and requests for my undivided attention. So I have fabric for curtains that is still in the Hobby Lobby bag. I can't even put the sewing machine on the table unless I let each girl sew something significant to her.

I have a long list of phone calls to make, people to email and check up on. But just looking at the phone is an automatic sound enhancer as my children go from calmly quiet to roaring loud.

Honestly a lot of what I want to accomplish around the house will simply have to wait until another time. My children need me now.

It used to be, when they were all babies, I'd throw them into the safety of their crib and go sit in my car and read a book for 10 minutes. During that season of my life, a hot stuffy car was well worth the moments silence.

Shortly after they outgrew the crib, I'd shut all the doors to the living room and let the 3 hour version of Mary Poppins babysit them while I quietly read or checked email. My quiet time never lasted 3 hours, but I'd normally get a solid 8 minutes of alone time.

As they grew, I'd send them outside to play so that I could work on a graphic design or sewing project. Though they loved being outdoors, I'd only net 3 minutes of concentrated time before they were back inside for more water, another potty break, searching for a lost doll, or just being nosy about who I was talking to or what I was doing.

Then recently, I started retreating to my bedroom and locking my door. Because my room has glass french doors that open to the back porch, they'd stand there tapping of the glass begging for me to take pity on them. So I'd unlock my door and endure the every.five.minute interruptions.

So today, after much prayer requesting patience and determination to perservere, I stayed by their side all day. Since they demand my attention, I gave it to them. I had well-established boudaries, as in they had to do their school work, but I let them take the lead for the most part. Being in constant motion, physically and emotionally drains me; I truly need some down time to recharge. I knew I needed a plan. So I woke this morning with a list to things to accomplish (the 3Rs and a few chores) and another list of things to do when we need something else to do (some more chores and a science experiment).

And I purposed to have my downtime after every one was in bed.

And you know what, with some prayer to prepare me and a heart to serve my children and a plan in hand, we had a great day!

I think I was afraid that they'd start manipulating my time, but instead they sensed my desire to help them answer some of their nagging questions. Cayli was reading about quicksand in her spelling book, and since I wasn't quick to delay answering her question, we looked it up right then. Kenna desperately needs some extra reading practice, and my patience is usually depleted by the time I really can give her some of my time but I sat with her as she rattle off a few paragraphs in a story about a girl from Scotland. This then spurred her interest in kilts and bagpipes, and we found ourselves on Google.

I don't know if I can do this every day, but I know God will grant me the endurance to be sensitive to the need after need after need of my exhuberant children. I'm sure I can come up with a creative way to finish my home projects in 10 minute increments, and even respond to phone calls and emails. I have already reserved the evening when Matthew is home for graphic design work. Designing ads and websites is actually therapeutic for me, so I have a refreshing yet productive time. So I have that time to look forward to.

During the day, though, I will embrace their inquisitiveness and constant urge for activity. I do need time to revive my spirit, and I trust that God will provide that rejuvenation on a minute by minute basis.

By the way, I typed and edited this entire post uninterrupted and in one sitting. Bedtime can be such a blessing. And I would have been totally alone, except the cat constantly begged for my attention. Oh, well. At least I was able to accomplish something tonight.


Mrs. Darling said...

Good for you. This sounds like a good plan. Blessings and great success! We all need a break now and again and it looks like youve found a good way to insure that.

Shonda said...

Wow! We sound amazingly alike! Good for you and you have inspired me!