As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday - A Better Mother

Reading this week's throwback post was funny to me, because as I started delving into these things I realized what a luxury it was back then to have a babysitter I could drop older kids off to once a week.  It just seemed like a normal thing at the time (so much so that I wrote about it in every post!) and yet, not something that would last.  Finding a babysitter was such a heartwrenching experience, but the Lord provided someone right within our parish who was a Godsend, and continues to be a good friend, many years since we've stopped needing her babysitting services.

I was so torn about going back to work because I didn't want someone else "raising my kids".  One of my coworkers offered me the best encouragement when she told me that nobody else is raising your kids, you are.  You find the babysitter who, God willing, will work with you and your family, to uphold your family values.  You take them to her, pack their lunches, call at noon to say "hello" if you want.  You're the one who wakes them in the morning, the one who tucks them in at night.  I wished more than anything not to have to go back to work, but at the time it was something I needed to do for my family.  I begged and begged the Lord to provide another way, and there was none.  And this dear angel of a babysitter made a very difficult time so much easier.

She did end up being our full-time babysitter one more time, when I returned to work for five months after the birth of my fourth child, and on an as-needed basis after I was home full time, but I've grown up a lot since I wrote these posts.  Back then, I thought I needed a babysitter.  I thought that in order to get stuff done, I had to drop my kids off somewhere once a week (at least), and in fact then, I think it was true.  I had no older kids to depend on, everyone was at such demanding ages.  This exact post documents a turning point for me - the rubber hitting the road, so to speak.  No longer could I hide behind the fact that I needed to find a way to make family life work 100% on my own.  Back then, I rarely ventured out with all the kids in tow on my own, it was just too hard.  Now with twice as many children, we are on the go all the time.  Once the nice weather hits we'll do things I never thought I could do in those days - go to the park, the mall, visiting, to Mass.  It's not easy, but being forced to do without caused me to step it up a notch and realize that I can live a meaningful life with my children on my own.  That God gives me everything I need, and all the time I need, to be a good, loving, generous mother, who also has a clean-ish house, well-prepared meals, and a happy husband and children.  This moment was so scary for me, but has ended up being the greatest blessing, because it caused me to see what had always been there all along.  It caused me to make the most of the days I have with my children.

In grateful appreciation of the world's best babysitter, here is today's throwback post:

A Better Mother
First published February 20, 2008

Since my first return to work after a maternity leave when Joseph was one, I have been amazingly blessed to have the best babysitter in the world watch my boys. When I returned to maternity leave after Timothy was born, I continued to bring Joseph two days a week, and now on my third leave with Stephen, my two older boys went twice a week. Of course, when I was working they both went to her full time, had lots of fun, and made many good friends. This week, I got the horrible news that she was downsizing due to government regulations restricting the number of kids she is allowed to take in at the same time, and of course since my kids are part-timers, it makes sense that they were the first to go. It is such a loss for them, because it was a great spot and they really miss it.

What that means is that now I have my three kids all day every day. I no longer have the luxury of dropping them off at the sitter's so I can get the groceries, or have some one-on-one time with the baby, or generally get any errands done without having kids underfoot. It's caused me to rethink alot of things, because at first this idea was a bit scary to me. Since I'm in the market for a new sitter, it got me thinking about the kind of things I'd want a sitter to do with my kids, like spend time with them and not just let them hang out while they do housework. And then I got thinking "why can't I do that with my kids?" I decided I was going to make the best of what's left of my maternity leave and schedule time each day to do things with them, like making crafts or baking cookies. And I also started some preschool activities with Joseph while Timothy naps, and am blown away by how smart he is. I've also left some time in the day that is for me to do housework, but the difference is there's not so much pressure. I can walk away from a load of laundry to play with the boys, because I know that later in the day there will be more time for it. It's totally changed the way I spend time with my kids, because I've finally put them ahead of everything else.

I once heard someone say that spending time away from her kids made her a better mother, because it meant she returned to her children more patient, loving, and focused on them. To an extent I think that's true - when I'm working full time and don't have much time with the kids, I make sure that I don't do any housework until they go to bed, so I can devote my evenings to them. My time with them is scarce, and therefore precious. But I think I hid behind that idea a little too much. When I'd be trying to do all my housework, constantly interrupted by either a preschooler, a toddler or an infant, and I'd loose my patience, I figured it was just because I didn't have that break from them. I thought I'd be a better mother once I returned to work, because then I'd truly appreciate my time with them.

Every bit of time I spend with my boys is precious, and I am blessed right now to spend most of my day with them. It took a crisis like loosing our babysitter to show me just how precious it really is, and how it doesn't make sense to let so much time slip away just because you have more of it. Things are still getting done around the house even though I don't spend every waking moment thinking about it. God has called me to be a wife and mother, and when I put my family first and devote the greatest amount of effort towards them, He never fails to provide opportunities for the rest of that stuff to get done. I go to bed at night so much more fulfilled knowing the house is clean, the laundry is done, and most of all, the boys are happy. How blessed am I to hold these precious souls, for what will one day seem like such a small amount of time. They truly are the greatest joy in my life!

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