Pages

Friday, November 22, 2013

Blub. Blub. Blub. or I Used to Be a Dreamer

I used to be a dreamer. My childhood was filled to overflowing with ideas and lists. About the future, mostly. A few things were random or unrealistic (such as the pages and pages of notes I wrote about what I’d pack if I could only have one suitcase in addition to the clothes on my back and I was about to be dropped off to live on an uninhabited island, described in detail). Quite a few things were crazy plans for summer adventures, such as my “Sunshine Singers” concert (happened, with matching outfits and a costume change) or hosting my own Olympics (didn’t happen, but you should have seen my killer balance beam routine on the picnic bench). But most dreams were ideas for my life ahead.

I loved checking the mail, running down the gravel driveway in bare feet as soon as I caught a glimpse of the mailman. The mailbox was symbolic of mystery and possibility. The day the Sears catalog appeared was Christmas. I’d pour over it, cover to cover. When the new one arrived each year, I’d start the process of cutting up the old one. A toaster here. A maternity dress there. A coffee table. A wrench set. All the things my life would need. The paper baby toys found their way pasted into a notebook. Pages for each room of the house, each of my children (by name), my wardrobe, holiday decorations.

Later, I began a home design notebook in earnest. When all the other seventh grade girls had subscriptions to Seventeen and YM, I paid for my own subscriptions to HOME and Architectural Digest. By the early years of my marriage, the notebook had been purged, edited, updated, expanded, and improved. House plans drawn. Rooms designed in painstaking detail. Gardens, no, a veritable estate imagined in all its splendor. And, oh, the quiet days and glorious events that home would witness.

And, my, what a perfect mother I would be to my eight children. They had fantastic names, and even more fantastic hobbies and interests—each one quite unique. Who would need television, when adventures were calling? Just think of the road trips and museums. Backpacking across Europe. Visiting nursing homes. Serving in the soup kitchen. Performing in a family band called Blue Skies. (Our first song was going to be called “Open Road,” and the promotional poster featured a white ‘66 Mustang, a picturesque country road, blue skies, white cotton-ball clouds, an upright base, and the most stylish, fun-loving family you’ve ever seen.)

You are starting to be concerned about my mental state, I can sense it.

Early marriage, my plans and dreams included an interior design business. Then I started Poet’s Garden with my sisters and mom. Mostly for the fun of it, I drew detailed plans for a Poet’s Garden “complex.” A baby store. A coffee and tea shop. The garden shop. The interior design shop. (I even had plans for a restaurant, the B-24 CafĂ© with WWII memorabilia and menu items named after vintage aircraft.) My kids would have their own room for homeschooling, of course. A few highlights did occur during the Poet’s Garden years, including being featured in Victoria magazine—a lifetime dream. But my sister Shannon and my mom did the lion’s share of the work, particularly once I had Levi and completely once I had Luke.

About the time I started having kids, my planning took on a slightly different hue, with a “closer to home” tinge. I kept a notebook full of birthday party themes and ideas, complete with a schedule. Homeschooling ideas. Trips with kids ideas. “If I survive toddlerhood with the boys, we’ll do all these things when they are older” ideas. Healthy eating and exercising sprees. Organized home management and meal planning.

We moved into our “forever” home, and the home design notebook shuffled off to a top shelf where it forlornly gathers dust. But the property held possibility. Wouldn’t it be fun to create a walking/bike trail around the perimeter? And a veggie garden here? A magical children’s garden there? A bunkhouse over yonder?

Okay, so yard work isn’t our forte. Levi’s 1st-4th birthday parties, Luke’s 1st-2nd, and Leif’s 1st were pretty amazing. Since then? I’m doing well to plan a day ahead and bake a cake. Trips? These days, our sanity and financial reserves can’t handle a night away from home. Activities? Swim team, barely. Archery, prognosis—not good, and they’ve been to one class.

But blogging? And homeschooling? And imaginative, stylized photo sessions? I’ve got this. Oops, there goes photography.

We’ll talk about blogging and homeschooling in a minute, but here’s one point I was leading up to:

Dreaming was a tremendous source of joy for me. I didn’t really think I’d do many of those things, but they were possibilities. And I was full of passion for the creating and imagining process.

But I’ve full-on lost it. Every idea, every plan, every dream is a dreaded to-do list fraught with self-loathing. Reality has set in, and I understand that these things are not within the realm of possibility. Not even the simplest of plans. They all cost something, and I have no reserves.

I used to be able to convince myself that this time it will be different. I’ll be self-disciplined. I’ll follow through. I’ll find the time and energy. My kids will be different. I’ll be different. I just need to find a workable plan. Better inspiration.

I’ll get up earlier in the mornings. I’ll stick to the routine. I’ll fix better meals. I’ll exercise. I’ll get more accomplished during the day…

But it never happens.

So, I’m living life in the moment as it comes without expectations.

For the past few months, my family has been on and off (more on than off) sick. I feel like I’ve had a cold for 10 weeks straight, but this week I’ve felt awful, Lola is quite sick, and Leif is sick (after being on antibiotics last week). I always feel as if I’m about three days behind on the basics (laundry, basic house upkeep, current homeschool assignments, meals, paperwork) and about 20 big projects (each needing two childless weeks to accomplish) away from sanity. The extras (birthday parties, vacations, photo sessions, blogging ideas) seem completely out of grasp. Weeks like this? Ugh.

Parenting Lola is a 24-7 job. Homeschooling Levi is a 24-7 job. Luke, Leif, and basic housekeeping/meals take up another one or two full-time positions. (Just in case you’re wondering, Russ has about 3 full-time jobs, as well.)

Something’s gotta give. So the power button is pushed on the tv and ipad waaaay too often. Lola makes 3 days’ worth of mess in 15 unattended minutes. Pizza is dinner, over and over. Leif slips through the cracks. Russ and I have no time together. I look around the house and cringe at the piles and dishes and dirt. Every *fix* is time and energy that I don’t have, or another spoon-full of guilt (have the kids help? it’s harder to train them than to do it myself. that meal plan? it’ll last a week. morning quiet time? wouldn’t it be awesome if I could get myself out of bed.). Really, how hard can this be? I should be perfectly capable of pulling it together.

Blub. Blub. Blub. That’s the sound of me, in over my head.

A few months ago, I was smitten with a burst of inspiration. I had a theme for the coming year. Something that incorporated and integrated all the little elements of my practical day, my creative/dreamer side, my “reasonable” personal improvement goals, a couple big Heidi-stretching adventures, homeschooling, my passion for books and ideas, my faith, my family and friends, my health, and my blog. I have pages and pages of notes.

I don’t know how to make it happen. Not one bite at a time. Not nothin’.

One day at a time. That’s all I’ve got.

So I’m going to go snuggle with my kids, call it an early night. And do the best I can tomorrow. Next week will have to worry about itself.

P.S. I started this as a not-so-falling-apart sort-of post (believe it or not, it was going to be funny and inspiring), but in the interest of honesty, I’ll leave it as it stands. Maybe we’ll all be feeling better next week and I’ll recant.

P.P.S. On a positive note, after spending 11 of the past almost 12 years changing diapers, sometimes on more than one child, I am done. For.eh.vah. (Less positive, it looks like we’re done with naps, as well. #(%$#)

P.P.P.S. Homeschooling, while never easy or perfect, is not on the “gotta give” list.

14 comments:

Lora @ my blessed life said...

Oh, Heidi,

I truly do understand how you feel. I know what it's like to feel completely overwhelmed. And sometimes I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything or making any headway and letting my house fall apart and just surviving each and every day. But it does get better. Those days pass--even though it can take longer than you would like sometimes. I will say a prayer for you!

And now I'm going to go look through all of my Victoria magazines to find your feature!! That's my all-time fave magazine and I have all of them since July 1992. Wanna make it easy and tell me which issue? :)

Heidi said...

Thanks, Lora. I appreciate it!

May 2003, page 30. The very last issue of the original magazine.

Bella Art Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bella Art Girl said...

Hey you fellow journeywoman in these crazy adventures of our age - my response is gratitude that you are real in your struggles but not, and truly in my opinion, never have been, a complainer. Your workload is big and you inspire me as you do many others in your mundane and ordinary commitment to pursuing a path less travelled. So, thank you my friend. I pray you and all your lovely people will get well soon. I pray that you will have rest and feel reinvigorated. One of my best recollections of advice given by a fellow homeschool mama is that we don't just commit at the beginning of a school year to this journey. We commit each day, each week to the work of juggling all these hats. This has helped me as I have felt overwhelmed in this and needing a breath above the fray of the everyday ; ) - peace to you my friend - xoxo

Karen@Candid Diversions said...

I'm a long time reader who lurks most of the time (that sounds ridiculously ominous) but I must "de-lurk" to tell you that you are not alone in this.

I have notebooks full of dreams. Novels unfinished. Scrapbooks of "Dream House" ideas. To do lists and homeschool planning pages. Fabulous intentions to be the best mom / wife /friend / daughter / sister / whatever else I am EVER.

And yet life is lived day to day (moment to moment?). I'm in over my head too.

I'll be praying for grace for the moment for both of us! Thanks for having the guts to blog about this. I feel like the only inadequate mom (nay, person) out there sometimes.

jeana said...

I truly appreciate your honesty. I was a dreamer as well. You and I would've made fantastic friends! I put on a Noah's Ark play in my front yard with all the neighbors invited. Served them the finest assortment of nuts on a small silver platter at intermission. :) I also had books of pages I'd torn out of magazines of what my future house would look like as well as going through the target ad every Sunday, circling what I'd buy for my family when I grew up. Now, I struggle to wake up early enough to be ready for 3 wild boys. I wonder how I can get more done and enjoy more. Why is it so darn hard sometimes?. I struggle with feeling guilty for feeling sorry for myself when my husband has worked 5 out of the last 5 weekends and I have to do everything in my power to just get through the terribly lonely weekends with enough energy to go through the week of homeschooling and cleaning and errands. This week I've accomplished nothing as we have all been sick and my husband has been out of town. I'm so behind ahh! You're right, one day at a time. Looking far head overwhelms me to no end! Sorry so whiny..ugh. A better day will come haha. Thank you again for your honesty. Really.

Tracie said...

Heidi,
Thank you. Thank you for your open heart. You write about your struggles in such an organized way! You are a true and lovely writer no matter what, and that is just one reason I adore your blog. LOVE that you were in Victoria! Just looked through the Christmas issue today at the store! Just to throw it in there, my floors are dirty, the bathrooms pretty trashed, and I am in desperate need of some huge doses of patience as of late! Have been meditating on Romans 8:11...puts those dreams in an awesome framework. I am very curious and excited for your burst of inspiration and theme you mentioned! Thanks again Heidi:)

About Laura said...

Thank you Heidi. I so relate. I continue to read everything, praying for a 2nd chance at homeschooling. Common Core is doing us in. That's the straw that broke the camels back, but as one feels strongly about many things, priorities take over eventually. As I've said before, I never stopped reading. Referring folks to your reading lists, curriculum. I love this post. It's so true. I just thought today about completely erasing the extraneous house pages I have on Pinterest. lol... what on earth will I ever use them for. lol... I was so afraid when I got to the bottom of your post, that you were going to say about homeschooling 'its gotta give'. Really. I had to skip to the end before I read the entire thing!! Have a beautiful day~

Anonymous said...

I read all your blog posts, but I never comment... I just wanted to let you know that your honesty is always an encouragement to me!

Amy said...

I am a regular reader for a number of years but I don't think I have commented much. I have three boys and two girls who I homeschool and it is hard for me to do it all every week. When I say all I mean the very basics like school, meals, laundry, and keeping the house somewhat clean. My five are all adopted and have a variety of special needs. It is always good to know I am not alone feeling overwhelmed at times. Glad you aren't giving up the homeschooling. I will give up just about anything before the homeschooling! I love the photos on your blog and the book lists. You have a beautiful family.

Julie said...

We are soul mates!

Anonymous said...

I read your blog often as I homeschool three of my own. You have great ideas and information. All I want to say is thank you for this post. I think we all have grandiosity we aim towards, and when we don't feel we are cutting it, we feel badly. After all, the menial day to day stuff doesn't get much glory, and to be honest it can at times be absolutely dreadful, (like the sick times). When my youngest was diagnosed with an illness this last year and we lost my mother in law, I realized that the only way to get through is what you said, taking it one day at a time. Living in the moment more, and trying to savor those easier moments, like being able to finish a good book, or being able to go somewhere fun with the kids and having the experience be mostly fight free. I am trying to have gratitude for the smaller things, because frankly the grander things are going to have to wait, its just too much. Maybe not for some but I know my limits. I remind myself when I start to feel down about not getting things done, that some day all of this will be a grand picture I can't see right now in the trenches of mothering and homeschooling. I hope that your family has a speedy recovery and you feel much better, in the meantime hang in there, know your honest words bring comfort to those of us who are feeling the same and have very similar weeks and days. Some of the best stories are these, the real ones. The ones I relate best to in books. Thank goodness we are not alone in it.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog often as I homeschool three of my own. You have great ideas and information. All I want to say is thank you for this post. I think we all have grandiosity we aim towards, and when we don't feel we are cutting it, we feel badly. After all, the menial day to day stuff doesn't get much glory, and to be honest it can at times be absolutely dreadful, (like the sick times). When my youngest was diagnosed with an illness this last year and we lost my mother in law, I realized that the only way to get through is what you said, taking it one day at a time. Living in the moment more, and trying to savor those easier moments, like being able to finish a good book, or being able to go somewhere fun with the kids and having the experience be mostly fight free. I am trying to have gratitude for the smaller things, because frankly the grander things are going to have to wait, its just too much. Maybe not for some but I know my limits. I remind myself when I start to feel down about not getting things done, that some day all of this will be a grand picture I can't see right now in the trenches of mothering and homeschooling. I hope that your family has a speedy recovery and you feel much better, in the meantime hang in there, know your honest words bring comfort to those of us who are feeling the same and have very similar weeks and days. Some of the best stories are these, the real ones. The ones I relate best to in books. Thank goodness we are not alone in it.

Erin said...

I meant to comment on this when you posted it and forgot; just found it again in my feed. I want to say- YES. To all of this. Exactly. You are narrating my reality. Thank you for writing so honestly - your blog is always on my must-read list!