This afternoon, the kids and I baked pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I have literally been wanting to do this since about September and not found the energy or motivation. I confess, I do not enjoy baking and cooking with my kids. I love to bake and cook, and I love the idea of including them but in all honesty it really stresses me out to actually have their "help". I feel like I need to be ten steps ahead of my kiddos always, but having them in the kitchen around things that are sharp, hot or messy means that just intensifies!
The flip side is that they LOVE to help and are so excited by what we make. They are growing up and I want to embrace the opportunity to share my love of the kitchen with them.
This felt like much more than making muffins.
I am still under the cloud of (self diagnosed) postpartum depression left from Nora. Some days are easier than others in that department, but once I admitted to myself that this had been a problem for a long time and that I faced the fact I was depressed and that it seemed to be surrounding caring for my kids since my daughter's birth, I can give myself more grace. I felt lazy. I felt like a dead beat mum, going through the motions with a smile on my face - sometimes - but feeling nothing but overwhelmed at every step. Even today, I am overwhelmed and anxious more than I am not. Small tasks with the kids can cause me to become frozen in fear, and weighed down by the darkness in my head. At which point I turn on a TV show for them and just feel guilty about my parenting ability.
Baking the muffins is one example of something I wanted to do, really wanted to do because I enjoy creating in the kitchen and wanted to try again with my kids, but I just couldn't muster the energy to do it.
And fitting it in to today of all days, three days into a four day stretch of solo parenting while J travels for work and I am so exhausted felt like even more of a win.
Physically I am spent. Carrying the worry and "on the clock 24/7" feeling is crazy. Not to mention the kids are not sleeping great at night and I don't have anyone to share that load with so I am getting so little sleep. The baby likes to party at night too so even she has been keeping me up!
During this solo week, I also had a dentist appointment for Levi to navigate - that went great, he was a rock star. On the way out, I told him how proud of him I was and he said, "I think I am getting the hang of this" ha ha - And this morning, I had Nora's 2 year well child visit. -She screamed the entire time. I hate that she gets so very upset about doctor visits but I can't seem to calm her. - at least they are both over now but they take a toll on me emotionally for sure. You never want to see your kids anxious and my own anxiety issues just go crazy when I am carrying some for them too.
With all of that going on, and another long night ahead, not to mention another day and another bedtime before J gets home, it's even more exciting to me that the muffins were made.
I still lose my temper more than I want to. I get overwhelmed by the toddler emotions and the preschooler disobedience. I feel like I am failing. Losing control. Failing to discipline effectively. Failing to be kind. Raising my voice too much. Not communicating well. The list of parenting shortcomings is anything but short. Still, my kids went to bed clean, well fed, prayed over and told they were loved.
We all snuggled in my bed after their bath, and read books before snuggling down under the covers where they both fell asleep in my arms. Levi fell asleep first. his breathing becoming softer, and Nora followed a few minutes after, her head falling gently from my arm to the pillow beneath as she let sleep embrace her.
I am one blessed mother.
I fail every day but every day I vow to not let it beat me, because every day I have success too. I bake muffins with both my kids; letting them break eggs into the bowl, measure and pour in ingredients, and even mix. Their delight at helping and excitement to eat what they made was balm to my over tired heart. I did that. I was the mum that bakes with her kids.
I do have days when we read books more than we watch TV, and days when I feel as though I have loved my kids well through my words, actions and reactions more than I have fallen short.
Motherhood is hard and beautiful. Rewarding and exhausting. SO. WORTH. THE. EFFORT.
Today's success was about so much more than baking muffins, but it was also, certainly about baking those muffins. We will be having them for a special breakfast treat in the morning and I am already looking forward to the conversations I know it will spark as they remember how we made them together.
Hang in their mama's of little ones. Notice the goodness in the craziness and know we are all on this journey together. I hope you have a community supporting you that is as fabulous as the one I have been blessed with, and I encourage you to ask for help when you need it. Letting people know our needs is the way that we let people in and start to build relationships and community. It also open opportunities for us to serve others, even in our weakness and be God's hands and feet to one another.