These days, living with 5 kids is sort of like living in a frat house, or what I would imagine living in a frat house to be, based on my time in college visiting quite a few of them. It’s loud, there is a lot of yelling and mayhem and mess and everyone is always up for some fun. Back in the day, always being up for some fun was my persona. FUN was my middle name.
Proof of my ultra fun days shown above for your enjoyment.
Now that those crazies pictured above have kids, the fun looks different. We have created very loud, very energetic, very fun children. I wouldn’t have it any other way (most days). Our fun now takes the form of crafts, art projects, lots of toad collecting and frog home creating, wild games of Spot it, cards and Lego Star Wars on the Wii. The kids in my house are performers, there is usually a show going on, or rehearsal for a show or someone ready to show off their new skills on the trumpet. Or we are running around town exploring life, or at least driving someone to something that I would consider exploration. We, as a family, are most often a bundle of good times.
But, unlike my sorority days, I am now sometimes old and tired and out of energy. There is inexplicably suddenly that moment when I just cannot take it another second. Fun mom has taken a hike and I just cannot find her. Instead, I find myself struggling. While I am super flattered my kids want me to play with them seemingly all the time, I have reached my limit of interactive fun and am now hiding in my room with my cup of coffee frantically writing and hoping they don’t find me for at least 10 minutes.
There is so much said bout the need to be present for our kids and our families and I wholeheartedly agree with most of it. I don’t want to miss out on my kids’ childhood because we are staring at a screen. I want to create great memories and listen attentively and meet their needs and all those things a mom is supposed to do to encourage them to reach adulthood with intact self esteem and kindness toward others. But for the love of all that is good and holy, I find myself thinking might there indeed be such a thing as too much fun and togetherness and connectedness? Today I’m going with yes. And that “too much” is found in the form of not being able to take even one more round of Spot it (I do however recommend this game, super fun during rounds 1-100). I need a break.
The message everywhere is to be constantly on your momming game and yet sometimes I dig as deep as I can and I find nothing. I try and focus on one child then the other. Smile. But really, I just want to read a little bit of my book. I picture myself sneaking upstairs and hiding in my closet with just my cup of coffee and a game of Hay Day on my iPhone. These fantasies are the signs people.
Hay Day Farm level 89, don’t be jealous.
And looking at these signs I have realized that there is a reason that sometimes there is nothing. It is because I am on empty. I have to sit and recharge so that I can bring these kids something. And it is OK to decide, yup I’m empty, gotta fix this kiddos, hang loose, mom is on the run. It is OK to go upstairs and sit by myself in a room and spend some time unplugged from the people. I have (seriously) worked hard at creating joy and fulfilling dreams and even darn it at playing games. I have earned the sit.
And while there should not be any guilt attached to this very human need to recharge with a bit of sitting and staring or writing or reading or running or whatever brings you back to feeling human and loving and giving again, I can’t help but feel bad for wanting to ESCAPE for a bit. I have to remind myself that we cannot spend every waking moment appreciating and present and interactive. My children will not be permanently damaged or feel any less loved by my removing myself from the fun for a bit. They may even play with each other. Or not, I really don’t care. I just want to sit and be still and to have no humans touching me.
There are even some things we might teach our kiddos by showing them that we need a break. That we are all human…even the moms. And because we are human we don’t have to be perfect or even pretend to be. If we are always trying to show them the perfect, happy, tireless side of ourselves, what do they learn but that they have to be perfect, happy and tireless?? Humans get grumpy and tired and even frustrated sometimes and we need to go ahead and make our peace with that because it’s not going to change. I think my struggle here is that so often I do expect not only me but them to be perfect and happy and tireless. So many times I say, “Cheer up!” or “Be nice and appreciate your sister!” or “You have so much just be happy!”. Maybe what I need to say instead is, “I hear you kiddo. Sometimes it’s hard. Want to sit and just daydream?” or “Try listening to some music/building something/writing out your feelings/drawing a picture/laying in the hammock all on your own and see if that helps.”. And then I need to do the same for me. I need to actually explain that I am tired and grumpy and it’s not their fault but if I can just sit on my bed alone for 15 minutes I will feel much better. And then do it. Guilt free.
(photo from Discover the Forest, Facebook)
So today, you have may be at a point where you have earned the sit just like me. Actually, I am now listening from my bedroom sanctuary to the 3 kids that not too long ago were looking at me disappointedly when I said I just needed a break. They are doing a “remodel” on Sam’s cardboard house. I know this because Kate is narrating their every move on her new microphone (I caution you against this purchase, there is no longer a quiet spot in my house). They are undamaged and having fun and I am already feeling more at peace and like myself. Find a place to take it if you need it sister. Do whatever you need to do to not go crazy and to find a good round of Spot It to be fun again.