Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hard Times A-Comin'

Just so I don't look back at these recent posts after a year or two have passed and think that I had it all together by the time Shav was 5 weeks old, let me be honest and admit that today was a rough day. Actually, to be perfectly honest, the day was great. While my mother-in-law supervised and entertained the oldest three boys this morning, I was able to finish a project that I had begun a very long time ago: organizing Josiah and David's room, sorting through all their clothes, packing away what doesn't fit, getting rid of some stuff, cleaning everything. Seeing that through to completion gave me a great sense of accomplishment. This afternoon was pleasant, too, especially because I got to take a nap while the older two boys were having quiet time and the younger two were sleeping. But somewhere around 4:30 or so, things started falling apart; and we entered the worst "piranha hour" that we have had in recent memory. To be completely forthright, it wasn't a piranha hour, but hours, lasting all the way until all four boys were in bed asleep.

If things could be this difficult while my mother-in-law is still here (and available to cut up watermelon for supper, hold Shav when he fusses, help to clean up the kitchen after supper, etc.), what will they be like after she leaves? I was reminded tonight of the feeling I had in those first few weeks of Shav's life--the feeling of being the only adult around, unable to effectively shepherd my four little lambs through the hours until Daddy's return from work or until bedtime. I can't do it all. I can't get out the paints because Josiah is suddenly having an attitude if he doesn't paint this very minute...while simultaneously dealing with David's incredible propensity for distraction when asked to do any simple task (is it just distraction, or is it subtle rebellion?)...while simultaneously teaching Tobin that it's not OK to scream, and if you do it, I'll have to take you to your crib for a minute until you learn...while simultaneously nursing/burping/changing Shav who is now fussier than he's been all day, and I really don't know if it's because he's hungry or tired or has gas. It's too much.

In Hebrew, there is a phrase which, roughly transliterated, is this: Ani lo maspiqah. It means, "I am not enough" or "I am not sufficient." That is exactly how I feel. I can't do it all. I just can't do it. That overwhelming sense of inadequacy is what made this blog post by Polly at The Trinity Chronicles seem profound and comforting to me when I read it recently. Towards the end of the entry, she writes: How many times have I heard the platitude that "God does not give us more than we can handle?" I have said that before, too! But not long ago I read a book where the author said that's not true. God DOES give us more than we can handle, and He does it so we learn to rely fully on Him.

Amen. I needed to hear that, and I need to remember it in the days to come...especially after next Wednesday when my incredibly helpful mother-in-law has to return to California and I'll have these times of being the only adult with all four boys and having to--somehow--hold things together.

In thinking back over the times of adjustment I've had after each of the boys were born, it seems to me that the easiest one was after David's birth; and then, as now, I had live-in help. My mother came to Israel and stayed with us for four weeks, long enough to get me over the hump of the initial transition. I can't even express how grateful I am now for her (and my dad's) presence just down the hill from me. Knowing that they are available and SO willing to help sustains my spirit as I contemplate the future; I know they would do anything for me. But I also know that it's different now than it was when she was staying with us in Israel since now she is still responsible for maintaining her home with all that that entails (and I'm not just referring to the physical home, of course, but the totality of her and Dad's lifestyle). It's vastly different leaving all that behind to fly to California (like she did when Josiah was born) or to Israel, focusing solely on welcoming the grandchild and helping the daughter, and I recognize that. If only my parents could move into our guest room so that she would be around all the time... ;)

When I think about new mothers who go through these times of adding to the family without much of a support system in place, I really think, "How do they do it??" It makes my task look like a piece of cake! How blessed our family is to be so cared for by both sides of the family. How grateful I am for both my mother and my mother-in-law, two women whom I love and respect deeply--two women who, by sharing their lives and experiences with me and offering helping hands across the bumps, make this journey an easier, more joyful one.


Theresa @ Heavenly Glimpses said...

I know what you mean when you can have a perfect day and then somewhere along the line,it completely falls apart! How does that happen?

I absolutely agree that God gives us more than we can handle so that we will rely completely on him. That is so true!

Hang in there! His mercies are new every morning. You're doing a great job!

Sally said...

Oh, I know the feeling with just two little ones. Sometimes, someone has to wail their lungs out because Mommy can't get her a drink of milk THIS MINUTE! I figure they're learning patience, and I'm trying not to go deaf.

I hope things go wonderful, but I know there will be trying times. I'll be praying for you!

Cherishing Young Biblical Womanhood said...

I too know the feeling. My favorite book during these times is "Passionate Housewives Desperate for God". There is a chapter in the book entitled Weary Women. That one chapter brings me so much hope, when I feel hopeless. I too have piranha hour! Maybe your kids would enjoy if they haven't seen it already. Be blessed and I pray that your strength is renewed soon!

Polly said...

Davene, I know the feeling too and I've only got ONE CHILD! I think that bit was from a Barbara Curtis book (Lord, Meet Me in the Laundry Room--or something like that?). Mothering is hard work! Once when I was feeling esp inadequate in the realm of housekeeping, my grandmother--an immaculate housekeeper--reassured me that "if you've got small children and a spotless house, you're probably not doing your job!" Mothers of littles just cannot do it all. And it's okay. I'll pray for you during this transitional time. I think you're a superstar!!!

Patti said...

This is, again, so encouraging. What I most love about your recollections of your days is that you never, even in the midst of feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, seem to lose sight of the ultimate joy in your vocation. It's such an important reminder to me--that as I sometimes get overcome in the trudge of "doing the next thing"--to remember the joy of it all.

Margie said...

I read this earlier this week, unable to comment because I was called away to something else, but remembered the quote and have been thinking of it ever since. It is how God brings us to him - forcing our dependence. I have wanted to tell others, a friend in a difficult situation, but haven't found the right moment to share the thought. I always enjoy your posts because even in the midst of chaos, you count your blessings.