Some of you may know ( and some of you may not know because I didn’t have as much time to share these things) that recently I had the opportunity and responsibility to look after two teenagers and two children for a week. Normally, you have one child at one time and ease your way into it perhaps (if ease is the word to use?). I have to say that although busy, it went breezier than anticipated but here are some thoughts that I have taken away from that time. So for this short post, I want to share just a few things from the week, however, in another post I would like to share the point of view of a woman who does not yet have children. This subject is especially close to my heart right now so might take a little longer to ruminate. And I think it is something that every woman from every stage should take the time to read. But for now…
My intial thought before entering the week was: I’m a teacher and I’m use to 30 teens in one room and all of the responsibility, organisation and discipline that goes with that. So I think I will survive with four and like to think that I would have the patience and the adaptability to not become easily perplexed or frustrated in certain situations. However, at the end of the day I have ‘my time’ to relax and wind down. Instead my week with four additions was replaced with making sure all were fed and clean, as well as ticking off the other essentails on the list. Let’s just say it now too, Moms are also a taxi service as well as a juggler of time, places and events. Lack of sleep and perhaps lack of time to yourself or conversing with other adults should never be taken for granted. I guess Moms have to find the moments in between to read a book or have a cup of coffee, as we all need a little r&r.
When you have kids, you simply don’t get to do all the things that you want to do and when you want to do them! I remember my brother once saying that marriage is a great way to show you your selfishness and then children are another way to show you it too! Did I really want to spend three hours of my Saturday morning watching soccer? Saturday mornings usually involve coffees with friends, writing my blog, reading my book, going for walks… Not watching highly energetic kids run after a ball. With a family, you have others to consider more than yourself. I just booked a flight to the north island for a weekend. I looked at my schedule and once I chose a date that was free of youth events, then I went ahead with my plans. I have that freedom now and also have opportunities that might not have been possible in another stage of life. I’ve been able to walk where not many have walked, experience other cultures with endless cups of coffees getting to know new people from those cultures. And to iterate what I spoke about in my last post, it has made me appreciate the things that I do have now and not what I don’t have.Last week also made me think about being a single parent and how hard or lonely it could be. That the support from outside is vital too and that we should all look to ways to support one another-despite the various stages we are at.
I can imagine that there can often be overwhelming times when taking care of a family, and it brings a smile to my face when I think of cooking with one of the children one of the nights. I thought it would be fun to have breakfast for dinner so the plan was to make pancakes and bacon. The family owns a thermomix (any chance Amanda gets, she is bound to bring her fifth baby into conversation, thermomix). I thought that this amazing robot could fix all problems in the kitchen, not cause them. Although the thermomix works wonders, it can only do so when it is put together correctly. Luke discovered, after about five seconds, that this wasn’t the case as milk began to escape and send a white waterfall over the counter top. Already covered in flour and as the saying goes “there’s no point crying over spilt milk.”, Luke and myself included felt like giving up. It can be funny (afterwards) how little things can tip us over the edge and it all seems hopeless. But even amongst the overwhelming, parents are to be recognised as leaders in such situations. They might not be void of the stress or emotions, but they lead the others through it, giving reassurance of hope. And that is what happened in the Acheson kitchen that night where we found ourselves soon laughing with the mixure browning in the pan.
This isn’t a post for describing all the things that inconvenience us in our responsibilities in caring for younger teens or children. As well as hormones and buggers, they each bring laughter and imagination to the home. It’s messy and it can be unpredictable. It’s not as neat or planned as the home of the single or the couple who knows who put what where. We can usully expect that dinner will get on the table whenever we make it happen without interruptions of sorts. Isn’t that a type of adventure too-the unexpected? It shakes people like I, who like routine, and it’s a really good thing! Who wants to remain the same and not be challenged or stretched? It might be the easy way, but it can be boring and lazy to remain in that state. So whatever can challenge you today( doesn’t have to be kids) Go for it! And remember that adventure can either happen in the home or outside the home, again, I am learning more and more about the importance of perspective.
Also, having children and teens around brings creativity and it’s fun to remove the adult jacket, so to speak, for a few moments and make a mess building a fort in the living room-getting lost in a part of your own childhood as well as the activity itself. How awesome is that. I won’t lie, I have buildt more forts as an adult than as a child. Teens and children have an insightful perspective to life too and I love it when I am surprised by the profound statement of a toddler or the kind gesture of a teenager. Little people bring an excitement and sense of wonder -like anything is possible! How encouraging is it to be around that, and to encourage it in them also!
Then comes the hugs at the end of the day, or the end of the week. Wow. I can’t imagine having a child of my own and being embraced in such a way. I’m so thankful for the family I have here, that are not blood related but have embraced me as one of their own. I was priveleged to be a part of this for a week.
And well done to all you hardworking and loving parents out there!
On a side note to some young moms that I know: you have a beautiful role to play and I can appreciate it. But I would like to write in another post about the temptation to be consumed with this role and exclusion to those outside of it. How sometimes the church ,in particular, confuses womanhood with motherhood and how destructive this can become in our view of women in the church and in society. I want to wrap that in as much compassion and understanding as I can for both types of women but also want my voice to be heard, as I (and others like me) have felt ignored or bypassed in conversations with women in Christian circles. So before I end up writing another post here…. stay tuned 🙂