Friday, April 29, 2016

When I Figure Out What Works

I know myself well, but I don't always do much with that knowing.  For instance, my habit forever now has been to identify a problem, find a solution that works, then when the solution is effective and I no longer feel like I have the problem, abandon the solution because, well, obviously I no longer have a problem.

You may see where this is going.

Lately the problem has been that my children, who I really do like and love and take joy in and all that jazz, do not give me one minute of time in this house to do anything not related to their needs.  I have tried to find solutions to this, and here's how that has gone:

Early mornings before they wake up:  They wake up the minute my feet hit the floor, which means they wake up too early and then start whining by nine a.m., and I have had no alone time and they are exhausted tyrants.

Twins' nap/older kids' TV time: The twins now require a moving vehicle to nap.  I know, they freaking own this joint.  But if I don't offer them the car ride, they roam around like zombies, except much more aggressive, until bedtime at which point they refuse to go to bed because they are too tired.  Toddlers are complicated.

I was squeezing in some time while the twins napped and Wren and Sam played at a park, but now Sammy is refusing to get out of the van and play.  D has recommended I boot him out by force, but it only took one day of him staying in the van for me to see what was going on:  he has identified the girls' nap as Sammy time.  Wren's playing, I'm available, it's perfect.  And it is, I guess, because no one in our house is every lacking in their desire to be focused on one-on-one.  Sammy figured out how to make it happen, so he's a genius that way because I have yet to figure out how to shower without at least one two year-old using the shower curtain to play peek-a-boo with my butt.

For a short time, a beautiful time, I basically required D to kick me out of our home when he walked in the door so I could recover from what could best be described as parenting trauma.  It worked.  I had those moments of reprieve to look forward to all day, and I was rejuvenated enough to deal with bedtime, which with the twins includes 15 bedtime stories with a side of appetizers after which they scream for 20 minutes because, well, being a toddler is so VERY hard.

After about a month of these planned alone times, I felt so good that I figured I didn't need them anymore.  I mean, the days seemed to be going by without many issues.  I was holding my temper, using my kind words, for the most part refraining from losing my crap.  It wasn't perfect, but I felt so much better.

So I quit what worked.  D tried to talk me out of it, but I was like, "you're not the boss of me and I know what's best" and then I had to eat every one of those words when I approached him last week and told him I thought my sanity was actually at stake and I might need to start doing that thing where I abandon the small ones.  He was very understanding because he is the nice, consistently stable one in our relationship.

Oddly, this whole problem has to do with an issue I have not yet successfully addressed:  self-love.  In the book of Mark, we're instructed to love others as we love ourselves, and this has always been one of the wonkiest commands I've ever received.  Yes, I am a selfish being, truly involved in my own little universe way too much of the time, but this, I have come to realize, is not actually proof of self-love.  In fact, I think some of the most selfish people on the planet are actually huge self-haters.

When I look at the evidence, it's obvious I have had a hard time figuring out how to put others before myself while loving my neighbor as myself and not exasperating my children.  When I can't make all of this happen, I binge eat sugar, which is really only a short-term solution.

I read an article here recently about how self-love is the beginning of most love stories, and it made sense to me.  It goes along with what Donald Miller said in Searching For God Know What about us being completed by God and not needing to run around with insecurities trying to one up people.  If we could see how God loves us, we would naturally love him first, then we would have no problem taking care of ourselves because we would know we weren't doing it out of selfishness or conceit or some worldly view of self-involvement.  We'd love ourselves to make sure we could love each other properly.

So I'm committing to having dinner with my family and then leaving every night for the next seven days.  I've done this for the last four days and I feel SO much better, which means we're back at that place where I quit.  I am such a logical creature.

I will probably only be gone about an hour, but hopefully it will be an hour of restoration that will keep me from licking icing out of a container, staying up until two in the morning trying to do everything, and playing a reel of worst parenting moments in my head on repeat.  None of that is self-love, and if I am supposed to love others as I love myself, I seriously need to get it together.

My people and a random guy walking to his car

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