Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Failure, Then Recovery

Wednesday's are usually an easy blogging day for many of us daily bloggers. We participate in something called "Wordless Wednesday", a day in which we simply post a meaningful photo, then say where we are pleased to list our photo. That was my original plan for this evening, until the following occurred...

(Disclaimer: This is a real life post, one filled with feelings of failure and guilt. This is for you, Trish!)

Today was a day that didn't stop...ever. It started with two trips to the local schools before 8:30, then trying to get some housework done while corraling the 3 three and under, then making lunch to take to the school, hauling it along with the 3 three and under into the school playground, keeping the 3 three and under from disappearing around the center school buildings, bringing the 3 three and under home...(okay time for a deep breath)...changing their clothes into something clean they could nap in, putting them to bed by tandem nursing the twins and reading to the 3-year-old, changing into something presentable for my temporary piano accompanist gig at the local high school, picking up the kids after an hour and a half at the school, bringing the 12-year-old boy home for his football pads, taking the 7-year-old girl to dance class.....(time for another deep breath)...picking up the 7-year-old girl from dance class while simultaneously dropping off the 14-year-old girl at a church activity and picking up the boys from football, then coming home to roll up some burritos for dinner, give the twins a bath, dress them appropriately, have the other kids change into something decent, then take all of the kids to the 12-year-old's court of honor, in which he and many, many other scouts were awarded the many merit badges they earned over the summer. I didn't mention that I didn't dress the 3-year-old appropriately because I didn't. He choose to wear his swim bodysuit with embedded life vest and I didn't have the where-with-all to argue with him about it. (Had Dad been in town, I am most certain this would not have occurred, but alas, he was away.)

I tried diligently to arrive on time, and did, but the meeting didn't start until twenty minutes later. For most people, this would only be a minor inconvenience, but for me, with the 3 three and under, it was almost a tragedy. By the time the meeting actually began, they were fussy and ready to leave. As I tried my best to keep their tiny tennis-shoed feet quiet on the hardwood gym floor, the 9-year-old boy quietly whispered to me that as he was taking the 3-year-old to the bathroom, he had had an accident (number 2) all over his swim bodysuit life vest. I had not remembered to bring the diaper bag, so had to take the 7-year-old and the twins home while the 3-year-old remained naked, covered in poo, in the bathroom with the 9-year-old, as there was nothing with which he could be wiped or changed into.

Upon my return, I remembered that the 17-year-old boy had been sitting two seats down from me all along, and that I could have sent him home for the wet wipes and change of clothes, but I had completely forgotten he existed apparently. For the next 45 minutes, I sat near the refreshment table trying to keep the twins from grabbing stray pieces of Saran Wrap and using those as handles to pull complete trays of cookies to the edge of the table. I also made many intense gestures with my hands and face to try to keep the 9-, 7- and 3-year-olds from running around the gym and rearranging the folding chairs lined up against all four walls.

As I sat there, during the moments of contemplation I did have, I looked at all of the other boys in their pressed uniforms with all of their merit badges neatly sewn on their sashes. I looked at the 14- and 15- year-old boys, most of whom had earned their eagles, then I looked at my 17-year-old, in his t-shirt and jeans, with his complete lack of desire to work toward his eagle. I then looked at my 12-year-old boy, who had earned many merit badges at camp this past summer, but who didn't have a mom who could keep track of his sash, much less sew all of his earned merit badges on it. I looked at the mothers, who all proudly displayed striped ribbons around their necks where their sons had pinned each award for the mom as a symbol of recognition. I remember receiving one of those when I first moved here two years ago, but that was two houses ago, and during the two moves, I have permanently lost the colorful neck ribbon. Many mothers had theirs so full of metals from all of their previous sons' accomplishments that one had to wonder how it didn't weigh them down.

I wondered why all of these other mothers seemed to be so on the ball. How did they keep track of their colorful ribbon necklaces? How did they find time to sew on each merit badge? And how did they motivate their sons to earn their eagles? Yes, I truly felt like a failure, as I do every time I attend a court of honor, and I wanted to cry, not only because I feel I've failed my boys in scouts, but because I was having to deal with the 5 other kids when I wanted to be at home getting them ready for bed.

When the 12-year-old boy received his merit badges, it was brought up again, in front of the audience, what a forgetful boy he is. I wondered if that embarrassed him or if he took it in good humor, as it was meant, I'm sure. Again, I felt like mother-of-the-year, because I have not been able to figure out how to help my son remember all of his responsibilities.

So, after the closing flag ceremony and closing prayer, I continued to sit in my chair by the snack table as boy scouts swarmed. I did want some of the homemade ice cream, but I didn't feel like fighting 20 12- through 18-year-olds for it, so I sat. It was then that a dear friend came to sit by me. She had tried to help me with the twins earlier, but they had only wanted me. You can't imagine how much I appreciated her effort, though. When she sat beside me, I hoped that she wouldn't ask me what was wrong, because that would have opened the flood gates. Instead, she just acted like she was pleased to be in my company. As I write this, I have tears streaming down my face (pregnancy hormones?) because of her sensitivity. She complimented me on various things, of which I can't remember now, and it made me feel immensely better.

After she left another good friend came up and hugged me and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was beginning to feel much better, that the nausea and fatigue were abating, and she smiled her beautiful smile and said she was happy to hear that. Then she said this...

"You know. I have to tell you something. I totally LOVE reading your blog! I just enjoy it so much! There was one day when I was having a really bad day and I just wanted to run away, if you know what I mean," I nodded understandingly, "and I came across your post about laundry. (That's HERE.) That just put everything into perspective and I felt so much better! I think your blog is so relaxing and I don't read it everyday, but maybe two or three times a week and it just helps me wind down at the end of a hard day."

Let me tell you. You can't IMAGINE how good this made me feel. I was and still am puzzled as to why my blog would relax her, what with all the bright colors and stories of crazy children, but to each his own, I guess. I'm just glad I was able to hold it together, because that nearly made the flood gates burst as well.

I'm so grateful to Heavenly Father for his tender mercies in sending friends like these to me during a difficult moment. Not a tragic moment, as I exaggerated above, but an overwhelming and depressing evening that would have continued that way, I'm sure, had these wonderful women not taken the time to lift me up. Thank you, Girls! You know who you are and I love you for it!

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alessandra said...

I know well what you mean, in fact I tend to avoid all such situations with my 3 year old boy, next time could you leave the three with someone? MIL?

Renee said...

I've determined that though those other Mom's may look like they've got it all together, they don't and, your home is filled with love and support, which is more important than making sure you have your colorful ribbon to get the medals pinned to.

You are a great Mom!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

That is one long day, but aren't women friends so awesome. They always know how to perk us up!

April said...

My oldest is 12 and wants nothing to do with scouts. I have 3 others in scouts who seem to be enjoying it for now. I know it's so hard to want them to love it and earn those eagles but I don't have any words of wisdom on how to do just that. I think you are a great mom!

Keeley said...

Awwwww. God bless you! He sees you, He knows how hard you work. He knows your heart and He loves you so so so much.

It's so easy to feel a failure, because we're not perfect. On the other hand, we DO keep trying to do our best, and that's what the Lord sees.

Don't worry about your 17 year old not being interested in his Eagle. I sometimes think it's absolutely detrimental that the church emphasizes Scouting so much because for some boys, it's just not them. And it's ok that it's not them!! It's a *scouting* programme, not a priesthood programme.

My husband didn't get his eagle - wasn't interested in the slightest. And he's a good man and a great father.

My son is only interested in getting his Eagle because we won't let him have a cell phone until he gets it...so really, he's not interested in the Eagle at all, he's interested in the cell phone. And he's a good boy too.

So don't worry about the Eagle. Is your son a good man? Does he smile? Is he kind to children? Then you done good. =)

You're tandem nursing while you're pregnant, for goodness sakes. Wowsers!!!! There may be no outward ribbons with medals on, but there IS a halo for you just for that act alone. =)

*Massive hugs* You're fabulous. So there.

Elder Romney's mission said...

The funny thing is Your day looked exactly like mine minus 4 kids Jen I dont know how you do it when I feel like I cant! Those same feelings of inadequacy were felt by me during the whole meeting if younoticed my son had a blank shirt also! You made me cry this morning when I thought I got it all out last night!!! Thank you for all you do! I need to cut and paste your post to my blog because you said what I wanted too!

Amy said...

I hate the days I feel like that. I think it's hardest when we go to church functions because it is so easy to compare myself to all the other mothers who seem to be doing so much better than I. Their houses are always clean, their kids are all on the genius level... and then I remember (rather my hubby reminds me) that it isn't a contest and I just have to do my best and Heavenly Father will make up the difference. I think you are amazing for having so many kids, running a smooth household, and making everything from scratch. AMAZING.

The Farmer's Wife said...

Jen....I am always amazed and awed by you! Thanks for the post...and being so honest. You said out loud things we all think and feel. You have got alot on your plate and you manage it all so well! Love you!

stitchin' girl said...

I only have 5 and have many days like you had. I read your blog daily because it makes me smile and laugh and in the case of this post, it makes me remember that we are all only human - not perfect - just human. In specific cases like this I try to remember something that a total stranger told me one day when I was leaving the park (back when I only had 2 children) and both my kids were screaming their heads off. This woman's children were perfect little angels - she told me, "It's just your day today - tomorrow will be better and then it will be my day." I think that all the time when I am having a challenging day with the kids....It's just my day today, tomorrow will be better. Have a good one :o) Connie

Lydia said...

I had a great conversation with my hubby yesterday about the fact that we have many(6) kids and what we THINK others think of us and how we need to just live the gosple and only worry about what the lord thinks of us and how we are doing.

You missed my son at his first pack meeting still in soccer cleats and black and orange knee socks, along with being 5 minutes late.

I am amazed at what you do thanks for the inspiration.

BarbaraJo said...

You will always be Wonderwomen to me!

Unknown said...

Yes, I think those angels that take the time to lift you up with a smile or kind word will have a palace in heaven. What would we do w/o them??!

Heidi said...

Sometimes words are better than wordless.

I'm just visiting from the My Charming Kids community, I became a follower and am very interested to read more about your family life. We have an assortment of allergies at our house and am excited to see many vegan recipes. We are not vegan, but often eat that way to accommodate everyone!

Anonymous said...

Aww Jen I am sorry you were feeling down! Please know you are one of the best moms that I know. DOnt compare yourselves to those other moms. They may seem complete but I guarantee they are lacking in another area! GUARANTEE!! You just keep doing the best you can and love those kids like you do.

By the way My 15 year old didn't like scouting from the get go. We did initially say that he couldn't get his license unless he got his eagle. But this is one of the battles I chose not to fight and gave in. Why force him? Doing his Duty to God is enough for me. And I feel comfortable with that decision.

Good Luck with everything Jen. You are the best!

laurice. said...

Oh Jen your a great mom and we all see it even when you don't. Trust me I don't know what women were at the court of honor but I can promise you that they don't have it as together as you think. Nobody does. And as for their pressed shirts they probably all have maids that do it for them. You know it's true. We all have those days when we think we are failing but I promise you your not. I only have one and struggle when Derricks gone. I often find myself thinking how does Jen do it?

Karen said...

Those moms only look like they have everything in place. At home is where they scream at their kids and don't give their kids support. What wonderful friends you have!

Cheryl B. said...

Jen, the further along I got in reading this particular posting, the more my heart ached for you!!! Man can I sympathise / understand / associate with those feelings!! To be honest, I wish I couldn't say that!!
~I have a "line" that fits here - "I was going to be a perfect mom, then the boys came along ..." ;-p
~ I absolutely love the advice from a stranger that "stichin girl" shared :-D!!!
~ Several of the previous commenters talked about how others might look like they have it all together, but in reality - they don't. It brought to mind a piece of advice I was offered at one point in time. One Sunday when I was in my late twenty's, I had asked a lady at church if I could talk to her privately for a minute. She had been one of my mom's close friends. I told her that I just wanted her to know how much I had always looked up to her and appreciated her. I talked about how when I had been a teen and had babysat for her kids, and watched her at church, etc. I'd gotten the impression that she / they had "their act together". Then I questioned if that was a class in high school or college - but where ever it had been, I knew it was one I had missed!!!!!!
She had started laughing so-o-o hard, and grabbed me into the hugest hug, and finally had tears streaming down her face. According to her, she deserved an academy award for appearing to 'have it all together', when in reality, that was anything but the truth. She then gave me this piece of advice, that she said she had learned the hard way. "Cheryl, what's important is what you do WITH your children, not what you do FOR them. There will always be the things that you need to do 'for' them, like cooking meals, etc.. But what makes the biggest impact in a kids life, is what you do WITH them. 'With them' means doing it side by side, something where you are more than just a behind the scenes worker." I strove hard to both keep her advice in mind, and to adhere to it.
~ Another piece of advice I have strove to remember, is that while children might remember whether the house was kept perfectly clean or not, what they really remember, is whether you ever speant time doing things with them. Another way of putting it is, they remember whether the house work or them was your top priority.
cont. ...

Cheryl B. said...

~ There is just something about young boys which usually does not combine well with long periods of sitting still and being quiet. ("Long periods" being any amount of time over eight minutes in length) My mom had dubbed my second son "pertpetual motion". When I had wearily commented that he was "being good" she had said, "yes, he's sitting in one spot and staying quiet. BUT, he never stops moving. There is always at least one part of his body in some type of motion". She had then smiled broadly. That was a rare, wonderful compliment from my mom.
Most boys are just inwardly wired for activity. And when you have more than two of them together, even in silence, that inner wireing seems to send messages to the others near them ... I stated when there are more than two of them together, because when you only have two, you can place yourself between them thus sometimes effectivly defusing at least the majority of the signals being sent.
~ Jen, I too appreciate the realness of your blog. You write/share about real life, and you don't try to sugar coat everything. That is where the encouragement to others comes from. When they read your postings, they can relate. They can feel that they aren't "the only one(s)" who can't seem to ...{what ever situation it is this time}.
~ If your sons aren't interested in Scouts, then even though it's important in the church, perhaps it shouldn't be 'pushed' in your home. The principles behind the badges earned can be taught through the home, in many various ways. And I bet they are being!!
When son #1 was R-E-A-L-L-Y bad with his O.D.D. we had spent (to us) big money to send him to this particular camp, where they stressed positive thinking, Biblical principles, etc.. What we had not been clued into, was that their forum for doing so, involved sports. In-fact, it was part of over 60% of their day. Son #1 is NOT an athlete!!! Not at all!!! He's a techie, an artist, a "geek" (;-p)but here he was spending a full week at a camp based around athletic activities. 8-/ We did not enroll him for the following year. But we did buy the camp's book and used it as a help in teaching certain life outlooks.
~ Aren't friends a seriously true form of blessing from the Lord?!!! Without them, well in my case, the "pinkbunnies" would win!!!
~ Here is a hug for your day today ;-}!!! Remember, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and keep determining to love both the Lord and your in-house family ... and lives "details" may or may not run smoothly, but in the long run, they aren't what really matters. {yea I know, easier written than remembered}
:-} ;-) :-D 8-b :=>

It wouldn't let me post this as one piece - It said, " Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters" o:-p

Amanda B. said...

Wow! I spend many moments feeling like a failure as a mother- I feel like I am always coming up short an denying my children of things. I wonder how wonderful people like you- with more children then me- always seem to have it together. Thanks for the reminder it is something we all struggle with. I think you are awesome!! :)