Tuesday, September 7, 2010

things which matter

i haven't posted much in these past few weeks, but i assure you there is a steady stream of paragraphs always forming in my cluttered head.  i am not short on ideas. i am rarely short on words. and with five children, i am clearly not short on inspiration (i.e., subject material).  but friends, i must admit, i am unbelievably short on time.  maybe time is not quite the right word.  perhaps a better word is energy.  i am short on energy.  please keep in mind, that phrase is hard to even form, let alone type.  i don't readily acknowledge these kinds of shortages.  i don't really like shortages of any kind. but, regardless of my pride, it is true.  i am short. way short.

bella is a beautiful fit for our family.  but, she is two.  oh, is she ever.  two. two. two. i've successfully (okay, adequately) shepherded four other children through the Year of Two.   i should be almost a pro...at least an expert on two year olds. yeah, almost.   but i had forgotten there is no such thing as an expert when it comes to two year olds.  each one is different. they are always changing.  they are smarter than their size. they are faster than their mommies. they are busier than i care to ever be.  they are delightful and funny and captivating and curious and adventurous... and they are, most definitely, exhausting.  bella is two and i am in my forties.  the year my oldest turned two i was still in my twenties.  it does make a difference.

i wrote a few weeks ago about how our older children were literally fighting over bella after we returned home from china. they each wanted her all to themselves. but those greedy, little children all went back to school in the past few weeks and things have changed.  when they do come home they are thrilled to scoop bella into their arms and hug her tightly for a few moments.  but they often come home with backpacks full of homework or friends to call or  projects to complete or practices to attend.  they are all busy school-aged children and though it is wonderful that all the bickering over the new baby sister has ceased,  i can tell you they are missed by bella and me both.  i recently joked with our headmaster about the possibility of keeping one mcnatt child home per week.  i could homeschool them on a rotational basis.   we could count spilled cheerios for our math lesson. lunchtime and diaper changing could easily replace science class.  chasing bella around our home could transfer into PE credit and reading rhyming books to bella could round out the literature portion for the day.  perhaps then i could actually finish a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher  - All At One Time - that is if i choose to be a total slackard about the homeschooling thing.  

i wake up each morning with a long "to do" list.  some mornings, i even take the time to write out my grand lists.  i have projects and plans and all sorts of directions in which to run.   that is me.  i have always been a get-it-done kind of girl. in fact,  i love getting it done.  i adore finishing up a project whether it be painting an old armoire or organizing my craft closet.  i take great, great, magnificent pride in my task.  i love the Start to Finish thing.  i enjoy checking it off my list and actually glory in its completion.  seriously!  my children and husband have often caught me just staring at something i've recently finished.  i may ask them to tell me again how much they like it or how good it looks or how nice it is.  i crave their pats of affirmation.  a little obnoxious, i know.  i am sorry. i am a get-it-done girl and i like everyone to notice.  so, you can imagine how my earlier energy-shortage-confession is not sitting well with me. AND you can imagine with my two year old toddler in tow i am failing miserably as a get it done girl.  i can't seem to get anything done.  i begin to unload the dishwasher and at about the halfway point i have bella behind the island juggling knives.  i begin to sort the laundry only to find bella climbing inside the dryer or fingerpainting with the stain remover.  you get the picture.  most of you mothers know this routine.  many years ago when we had a slew of small people in our home (family planning), rick would come home and ask me the innocent, but dreaded, question, "so...what did you do today?"  uuugggghhh.   "oh, nothing sweetheart.  i sat on the sofa and shared a box of bon-bons with our toddlers.(imagine my tone)."  oh my!  he learned quickly to avoid asking that particular question.   

now it wasn't my intention to write in a tone of complaint or grumbling.  i only wanted to set for you the stage of our home in these weeks of transition. but...what i really want you to know is how on some days nothing gets done and projects don't get finished because i have things like caterpillars to study.  i have raindrops to watch.   i have board books to read. i have bubbles to blow.  bella and i might spend 30 minutes laying in the grass or cuddling on the couch.  i could water our flowers with the mega superspray setting on our hose or we could use her tiny, purple fish watering can.  (the purple fish  holds about 2 cups of water total).  somedays we walk down the driveway to get the mail.  if i go alone i can be there and back within minutes.  walking down with bella could take 20 minutes by the time we stop and study the ants crossing our path.  though little is quick and easy with a two year old, it is, very often, more enjoyable.  i can tell you with certainty i would have missed those raindrops and never have noticed the ants.  i have not stared at a caterpillar with such scrutiny for quite some time.   i think birds and butterflies are amazing, but i haven't stopped cooking dinner to watch them in i don't know how many years.  

having a two year old around our home again has been demanding and even exhausting....but it has been mostly exhilirating and definitely, at times, awe-inspiring.  i love how bella notices everything.  i love how the texture of peanut butter and the sizzle of bacon and the sound of the icemaker are things which cause bella to say, "ooh!"  she gives me these little tiny gifts of wonder every day...sometimes all day long.  i haven't thought about the challenge of putting on socks or the heaviness of a book or the height of a door handle in a very long time.  i haven't stood still and watched my shadow..i haven't kissed the tail of our cat...i haven't danced before bedtime or marveled at the moon in many years.  it is good, so very good, to have the tiny perspective again for these things which matter so much.  the only painting projects i might be working on for a while will be those involving fingerpaint ...the only organizing i might be doing is...well...RE-organizing things touched by busy little hands.  but i know what i do matters. and i know what i don't do...what i can't quite get to... won't matter in the grand scheme of things.  and so at the end of the day when there is little energy left to write or blog or post or create...it is okay...i am busy dreaming of things which matter.

"only that day dawns to which we are awake."
~henry david thoreau


Shea Gilbert said...

thanks for this bit of insight in your day(s). I have to say it's good to hear someone remind me that this IS exhausting. I've not been without at least one toddler for 9 years now and if we adopt another one it will be another few more!!! It's not JUST me....I'm not the only one unable to finish a load of laundry or clean up the breakfast dishes or whatever. But I love love love scooting around town on my bike with Eli on the back. He loves the wind and the smell of a coffee shop when we pass by. (a boy after my own heart) Ah but homework. I hate it. Somehow the homework piled on top of dinner and the toddler and the rest of the house makes me almost cry every day. Well some days I actually do cry right into my black beans on the stove like today.
Keep writing Jody! BTW, when did you have time to write this?

jodymcnatt said...

oh shea...i KNOW girl. we aren't honest if we pretend it is all easy. i am splitting into a million directions lately with one in high school, three at pcs and one at my ankles...lovely, but tiring. did you see my comment on this on my fb page? go and read it (IF you get a chance)...it explains how this was written...funny you should ask!

myfourgems said...

ahh, lovely. i loved seeing you standing outside pushing bella in her swing when i dropped connor off today. I thought, there she is, outside pushing her baby girl. just what she should be doing. how wonderful. :)

The Deavours Family said...

hmmmm....and just when I was going to send out an "emergency" email to you, Michele Bragg, Carol Pope and the rest of the "survivors" of large families {in the making}...you write this. Is it sad to say that with 4 weeks left in this pregnancy even these sweet words don't motivate me?!? My emergency email was seriously asking the question: "WHEN....will I have energy again?" It surely won't be when they start school, huh?! Would L-O-V-E to meet Bella...and perhaps let her play with my 3 and 2 year old girls. I mean, has she been introduced to princess dresses and dress up shoes, right?...we have our fair share around here and would love to play! I'm serious! OH...but the wisdom of each 2 year old being their own. So there. This newest two year old of mine---Wow.

Aus said...

That post was simply OUTSTANDING!! First off - I love your writing style! Next - Oh yeah - you could get more done, but at what cost? The quality of life counts way more than any task that you could accomplish! Finally - try it at 51 - but I wouldn't trade that for anything! Marie has a little cross stitch thing she made some years ago - it reads something like this...."Cooking and cleaning will wait for tomorrow - for children grow up we've learned to our sorrow - so quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep - I'm rocking my baby and babies won't keep" - true words - now let's go find a bug or butterfly before it's too late!

hugs - aus and co.

Tiffany said...

Love this Jody...in the midst of it now...trying to manage a house while "loving" little ones all day...and then homework and driving and big kid activities in the afternoon. It is an entirely new level of exhaustion. It is also precious...to be home with this second round of two little ones - because I have seen how quickly the first two grew up. Difficult and wonderful...

wan har said...

I just started reading your blog. What can I say, you're both godsend to Bella.

Depending on how the chinese character zhu is written, zhu has multiple meanings. Based on character traits a Chinese parent wishes for the child, commonly, zhu for boys would logically mean bamboo which represents resilience, and for girls it is pearl, which of course suggests precious.

On the lighter side, zhu can also mean pig, a symbol of abundance, fulfilment and sufficiency in needs. This is usually used for boys, though.

Bella for all she's been through would seem to be both resilient and precious!