I've been lying to you all.
My blog looks like all we do is home remodeling projects, but the reality is that with 4 kids the hours spent in minor construction really are MINOR compared to the hours we spend as parents. I'd love to report that all this hard work has been paying off as beautifully and steadily as the hard work has payed off on the bathroom, but it's just not that easy to measure. Sometimes it's not even easy to understand. I certainly can't take a picture of it (notice the lack of picture here?). Since it's harder to convey I find myself simply skipping over it, which really saves me time in the short run (yay!) but I think I will miss those introspective posts as I look back here, years from now, and think "Construction projects? Really? Where are the posts about kids and parenting and life as a couple?" So here's a quick remedy, to get me through 'til the next bathroom update.
I feel like I've been coming into my own. In Thornton I always felt behind... behind on our bills so I took on a part-time job... behind on the housework because I was drained from very small children and working 2 nights a week... behind on figuring out how to raise my kids right because I was too exhausted being pregnant... just always behind. There was a cloud that I looked forward to lifting, but didn't really know how to lift. Through the last nearly 2 years here in Pueblo I feel like it's finally lifting, and I am coming into my own!
Part of it has to do with not being pregnant, seriously. That just takes SO MUCH ENERGY, it is truly something special to have my body to myself, children who sleep through the night, and a light at the end of the tunnel.
Part of it has to do with being half of a whole in our marriage - in Thornton Joe and I both felt that we were living as single parents, we so rarely saw each other. We did the best we could and really tried to make the best of things, worked to enjoy the small moments, and I focused on the future - well, we have now reached the future! We DO see Joe! The kids DO get to play with their dad, go to the park and the zoo with him, have dinner (and often breakfast and lunch!) together as a family... we are WHOLE! Finally! The time has not only paid off for the kids, it has given us much more opportunity to enjoy each other. Sure, we totally drive each other craze sometimes, but for the most part it's over small things and over short periods. We get over it quickly and get back to enjoying each other, and our time together with the kids. I love being whole :)
Part of it involves me having time, energy, and access to things I love. I love playing the piano and I knew I had missed it over the years, but I didn't realize how MUCH I had missed it until I was given my beautiful piano and I am able to sit down every day, even if only for a minute or two, and play. I had a talent for it when I took lessons, and being able to create beautiful music was one of the things I loved about myself. But how can you love it when it's no longer there? I lost a lot of confidence as years slipped by and I no longer exercised my talents; my identity changed from "musicians who is fairly bad at housework" to "girl who does housework fairly badly and who no longer plays music." What a yucky identity! No wonder at the lack of confidence. Getting that piano brought me back to music, brought me back to myself, and it's a much bigger gift than Joe and my dad ever anticipated; it's no wonder it made me cry (even when the birth of my children did not).
Finally, part of it involves me accepting the identity of a mother. Yes, it's been 6 years now that I've been a mom, but it's different to be a mom to a baby, then to a toddler - first there's a lot of physical and not much mental effort. Now? WHOAH! It's really been different to have to MOTHER these kids! Ethan's my last physical mothering, and the rest are mental? Heaven help us! I've worked to not get completely run over, we do home preschool and read scriptures together and our guiding house rules are "show love and show respect"... but there's just SO MUCH. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I just want to work really hard all week, be an awesome parent, and be DONE... but the reality is year and years and years. How depressing. UNLESS... unless I accept that this could be awesome. Accept the challenge, look for opportunities to make it better, and CHOOSE this identity. Know that it's more important that cleaning the house (again) or staying up too late for fun (again); it is the most important job in the smallest ways. Joe has a job that has important aspects to it at work and is, of course, important to provide for us as a family, but it does not have eternal consequences. Accepting the role of a parent is accepting a job that has eternal consequences. And I finally get that! And I accept it! The small moments of clarity help provide strength for the longer stretches of tearing my hair out when the kids are driving me insane.
So all of this is GOOD, it really feels like I am coming along as a person. I feel like 30 is going to be a very good year :)