I swear, it takes me longer and longer after each baby to recover and find any new sense of normal. I remember going out to eat at a Mexican restaurant three days after having baby #2. After babies #4 and #5, I literally barely left the house for four weeks, and when I did, I cried.
|Enjoying the early morning air|
When the children ask about doing certain activities, apparently I've been answering that "Mama isn't recovered yet from having Thomas, so I'm not strong enough to do XYZ."
Nonetheless, given that it has been eight months, Chris and I burst out laughing one day when John brought up a topic, perhaps at the dinner table, and said completely sincerely, "Mama, when you are recovered from having the baby and you're strong enough, could we do such-and-such?"
This week, I felt strong enough to start taking exercise walks in the mornings. Also, I have a new arrangement of ages and personalities of children, making this possible. I've been taking the baby and three-year-old with me in order to keep them safe (under my supervision). I've been leaving home the almost-5-year-old, and 7- and 9-year-olds, who are completely fine pouring their own cereal and starting their school work, even if Daddy is still asleep. The kids know: no turning on the stove, no turning on the TV.
I was thinking about personalities and how I know some exuberant, curious children even a whole year older than my almost-five-year-old whom I wouldn't leave home with a sleeping Daddy, nor even really want to be wandering around in a different part of the house without me! Margaret is really placid and doesn't get into terrible mischief. The other day she spilled some glue on accident, didn't know how to clean it up, and tried to cover it up with some paper: when I found it, I realized how I can't even remember when she's last done something truly naughty in a mischievous way.
|Girls in blue at Mass|
'T' is for Thomas and for Trouble when I'm trying to cook! This boy who turns eight months old tomorrow climbs all the way into the dishwasher, and he speedily crawls toward the cupboards to pull out the dishes anytime one of us leaves them open for so much as a second. He unfurls half the toilet paper roll before I can catch him.
|Eating a "soy-sage"|
New foods this week: fried eggs, fig newton, homemade oatmeal pancakes, mashed potatoes, soy sausage, and various vegetable purees in the form of jarred baby food.
This week I carved out the time to get rid of or save Joseph's birthday cards (two months old), our anniversary cards (six weeks old), and my birthday cards (six weeks old). No longer is our dining room absolutely festooned with a riot of colorful papered greetings.
Also, I also emptied out one of our utensil drawers in order to vacuum out the quarter of a jar of chocolate Ovaltine powder which a child had dumped into it, oh, several weeks ago . . .
I'm no Super Homemaker, that's for sure. Considering that I try my best and work pretty much nonstop, I don't know what it takes to be a Super Homemaker, and all I know is that I don't have it.
Now, next to tackle the Christmas cards still on display, lo these four months later, before Easter next week.
Bonus reading: This article almost got its own highlighted post on my blog this week. To every parent: I hope you'll read it, if you haven't already!
"The Little Lepers in my Living Room" by Deirdre Mundy
"Once upon a time I was a single woman. . . . Now, my prayer life is a litany of “Please, Lord, help me through the next 10 minutes.” . . . .
I was young, stupid and totally blind to reality. And then I grew up and got married and somehow had six (soon to be seven) kids even though my friends who’d be better moms and who desperately wanted more somehow ended up with one or two. . . .
This is my leper colony. This is where I work out the demands of the Year of Mercy, feeding the hungry almost constantly, clothing the naked amidst howls of protest, instructing the ignorant even when they whine about it, and praying for the living constantly, because otherwise none of us will survive until the child still in utero reaches adulthood."
Also, this was a good one I read this week: "Simplifying Childhood May Protect Against Mental Health Issues" by Tracy Gillett.
John and Mary give a presentation for CCE every other week, on alternating weeks, so I'm always working with one child on a presentation. As we get into the modern century, the topics have been so 'heavy,' which is challenging in terms of distilling a massive topic into just a few index cards for the level of a first grade or third grade class, and, it turns out, overwhelming for my emotions, which I can't blame on pregnancy or postpartum hormones right now.
Last week, John chose to present on World War I, and this week, Mary chose to present on World War II. It is very hard to present those topics in two to three minutes! I've wondered why they haven't picked a topic like the first airplane flight.
We work on the presentations four days each week, so we had many opportunities for conversations. I'd find the children start joking around and guffawing about certain subjects and that just crossed the line for me. I know the kids are innocent and ignorant, and it is their very innocence from their blessedly protected lives that causes them to joke because they have no idea of the seriousness of the subject matter. Still, some things aren't negotiable and joking about things like an atomic bomb is one of them for me.
I'd be reading from the children's encyclopedia about these wars and find myself choking up and crying yet again.
I've been on the beaches of Normandy where the soldiers walked ashore in a sea of blood on D-Day.
I've toured through three concentration camps, where to this day, the air around and soil beneath is hallowed, causing a profound silence among all the visitors because the evil is simply incomprehensible to one's mind.
I've talked with the old German woman who described being a child who lived in a city adjacent to Dresden, how she watched the sky glowing at night from the fire bombing, and then how she watched for days as men, women, and children trudged out of the city on foot with stinking, charred burning flesh, how some women wouldn't let go of their dead children.
I listened as that woman described the joy her village felt as they knew the Americans were advancing and would take control of her town--because they knew the Americans were decent--and then the terror when they realized with only hours to spare that the Russians would arrive first and take over the town . . . and what those Russian soldiers did to her family, to the children, things I won't write on this blog.
I've walked through many of the massive, manicured cemeteries in Europe whose thousands upon thousands of little white crosses still can't begin to encompass in our minds sixty million souls killed during World War II alone.
I told the children that each one of those sixty million was a sweet baby Thomas whose mommy would die many times over to take his place rather than let him die. Each was a rambunctious three-year-old Joseph who runs away from his mom all day long, then won't sleep anywhere but next to her all night long. Each was a precious Margaret learning how to read. Each was a spunky Mary playing her piano. Each was a budding young man John, learning how to play tackle football with the guys. Each one of those souls was so precious.
And then I'd start crying again.
I can only imagine the pain felt by God when his children are fighting, are warring, are so much as yelling and out of sorts with each other.
The young are so blessedly ignorant and omnipotent.
I'm feeling old these days--old and watery of eyes.
John informed me cheerfully that next week, he's chosen the topic of the Cold War for his presentation. Not again!
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