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The five stages of exhaustion

THE FIVE STAGES OF EXHAUSTION

Stage 1: You wake up feeling tired.

You stumble around the house all day, misplace your keys, and go to bed early.

Stage 2: You wake up feeling lousy.

You stumble around, maybe drop a few things, and find it hard to finish sentences. You go to bed early.

Stage 3: You wake up feeling dead.

You fall asleep on the baby while you’re changing her. You give the kids cereal for supper because you’re too weak to lift a pound of chop meat. You go to bed late, because if you don’t get caught up on the housework, someone is going to arrest you.

Stage 4: You don’t wake up.

You walk around the house, make meals, drive to the library, and answer the phone, but you’re not really awake. But you dream that you are, and in your dream, you’re very tired. You go to bed, probably. Whatever.

Stage 5: You wake up feeling great!

Some of your noses are a little numb, and you keep forgetting where your feet feet, but you seem to have outlasted the need for sleep! You’re a champion! There are only a few problems:

~You make a tuna noodle casserole (ingredients: tuna, noodles) and forget to put in the noodles. Your only clue that something is awry is a nagging feeling that supper looks awfully low today.

~You ask your husband to pick up some cereal bowls, and carefully explain that they are to be not ceramic, and not glass, but a particular sort of smooth, non-porous material that is rigid like unto glass, and yet not so breakable. And he says, “yeah, I’m familiar with plastic.”

~You wander around the house searching for AA batteries. You spot a book of matches, and think, “That’ll work!”

~Your husband comments that your new yard has enough space to keep a horse, and you reply, “What we really need is one of those horses with horns. That gives milk.”

~You ask your mother, “Can the kids sleep at your house, or are the rooms too full of cheese?”

Everything in this post is true.

Being tired may not kill me, but no one else is safe.

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Perfectly normal.

If I could go back in time, I’d tell new-mother self that this
is perfectly normal.  The mirror-writing stuff, I mean (and actually it makes perfect sense in this context, since the two guys are clearly zapping in opposite directions).  So, young mothers, don’t freak out — it doesn’t mean your child is dyslexic, autistic, schizophrenic, or has his heart on the wrong side of his body.  All of my kids did mirror-writing when they first started writing, and now they all . . . well, that is to say, some of them still write like non-hominids recovering from recent thumb surgery, but they do all write forwards.
This, on the other hand, is not normal:

Yes, that is a gun-wielding butt you see before you.

Or if it is, I wish I knew how to make it stop.

 

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Burn baby burn

(image source)

Hey, I have a post up on the blog of TODAYMoms!  They’re doing a series about home school, and asked me to write a short piece on . . . burrrrrrrrrn ouuuuuut.  It starts like this:

What does it take to be a great home-schooler? Passion, energy, creativity, high ideals and whole-hearted devotion to your kids.

What does it take to spoil home-schooling? Passion, energy, creativity, high ideals and whole-hearted devotion to your kids.

OK, not always. But many home-schooling moms find themselves burned out after a few years, exhausted by the very things that made the whole enterprise possible.

Welcome, TODAYMom moms — and to my regular readers, all four of you, please come and take a look.  I can’t tell you how pleased I am that my path to fortune and glory will be paved with tales of excruciating personal failure.  Stay tuned for the rest in the series,  which will explain why I am also okay with losing the battle against carpet stains, the size of my hips, the amount of hair on my upper lip, and that funky smell coming from under the couch.

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Morning Prayer

Good bye, guys, good bye! Have a good day — have  a good hike!  It’s gonna feel so good to get to the top of that mountain!  I got you those peanut packs, did you– okay, okay.  Good bye, I love you!

Okay, little ones, now back home.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Give me patience, give me supernatural patience, not like yesterday.  Blessed art thou among women, help L. know I love her, yesterday was so awful, but you know I love her . . .

Yes, I saw that doggie!  What a big tail he had.  Did you see his big tail?

Hail Mary, full of grace, intercede for D., and don’t let the other girls draw her into anything foolish, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou

I told you to put your feet down.  Down means down, not on the baby.

Blessed art thou among women

I said down!  Thank you.

Now and at the hour of our death.  Hail Mary, C. is so little, she’s trying so hard.  Be a mother to her when I’m not there.  Blessed art thou among women

The zoo?  That would be nice.  Do you remember last time we went, with the flamingos and the giraffes?  Yes, E., we all remember what the gorilla did.  Yes, yes.  No, that’s disgusting!  All he did was — hee hee — he scratched his bottom, and then he smelled his finger.  No!  You stop that, E.

What was I — oh, for M.  Okay,  holy Mary, mother of God, he’s such a good boy, let him always be this happy, keep that biting kid away from him today, where are his parents, pray for us sinners–

 

Listen, she’s just a baby, so let her say what she wants to say, okay?  You know what town we’re in, right?  So be a big boy and let her say what she wants to say — it doesn’t matter.  Oh, look, horses!  That side, that side, look where I’m pointing!

That’s okay, you’ll see them next time.  Blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Please stop doing that.  You know it makes her scream.  I swear, I’m gonna–

Okay, so now E.  Hail Mary, full of grace, what do you think?  Is he going to be okay?  The Lord is with thee . . .

Hang on baby, we’re almost home.  I know, “Me out, me out.”  You want to get out, we’re allllmost there . . .

. . and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary–

Yes, that tree is all red!  Isn’t it pretty?  What other colors do you–  HEY, nice driving, JERK!  Why don’t you kiss my– okay, okay, we’re fine.  Okay.

Mother of God, sorry, pray for us sinners, now and don’t forget forget little S., I don’t know what’s bothering her these days.  Help me not to forget her when she’s quiet.

We’re almost there, guys.  Who wants eggs when we get home?  You want eggs!  Yes, eggs, eggs!  You are such a smart baby, oh you sweet baby girl!

Blessed art thou among women.  Did you see little L. sleeping with her bottom up in the air?  Thank you for this little one.  Those beautiful eyes.  Protect her.  Now and at the hour of

 

Can you hold it until we get home?  Good boy.  Girls, when we get home, you let E. go first, okay?  I’m serious, let him go first.

E., feet down.

Sweet baby, so many little ones hurt and no one to take care of them.  That little one in the news . . . Holy Mary, mother of God, take care of my baby and all the poor babies Pray for us sinners, pray for I., give me patience, let them know I love them, help me remember I love them, especially when I’m making supper…

Yay, we’re home!  Hey, who brought library books in the car?  You know you’re not supposed to.  All right, all right, let’s just get inside.

Now, who wants eggs?

Amen.

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7 quick takes: “Cutting Corners” Edition

A few years ago, I declared that my new motto was “Praise God and cut corners.”  Pretty good, eh?  Although these days I’m only managing about a 50% success rate (guess which half).

My poor husband has been working long, long hours as he covers a murder trial, and we have four kids at home, three in one school, and one in another, and I somehow scheduled four doctor’s visits, two dentist and one orthodontist visit, and two parent-teacher meetings this week.   And I scored a writing gig from a -gasp- secular website!

Whine, whine, whine.  Don’t hate me, mothers who hold down full-time jobs, or military wives.  I am just not used to being this busy!  I’m spending three hours or more in the car every day, and the other things that I Absolutely Have To Do just get crammed in during the brief visits we  make to our actual house.

So it’s either make a lifestyle change involving a plane ticket to the Yucatan Peninsula and a forged death certificate . . . or cut corners.  Here’s how:

1.  Gotta read to the kids? Children’s books are horribly repetitious.  Yeah, yeah, it’s good for their brain development, it makes them feel secure, whatever.  Just cut out all that dead wood, and you get to the end a lot faster.  Try this:

“Would you eat them

in a box?

Would you eat them

with a fox?”

“No.”

“Say!

In the dark?

Here in the dark!

Would you, could you, in the dark?”

“No.”

2.  Gotta feed them? Try making all the meals at once.  At lunch time, try to be also cooking supper, baking a treat for the classroom, toasting some granola for the upcoming hike, and packing tomorrow’s lunches, while making a shopping list of high-protein breakfast foods to alleviate that “Your child weeps her way through math every day” problem.  By the time you’re ready to dish up, the kids will be so disoriented, they won’t even realize that you’ve weaned them down to two meals a day.

3.  Gotta teach some school? Take a leaf from the educational fad of my childhood:  it’s called “spiral education” and it means you only actually have to teach them something every three years or so.  The rest of it is “enrichment through incremental exposure,” which is educatorese for “endless reveiw.”   Like this:  “Look, everyone, a cloud!  You remember clouds!  Who can tell me about clouds?”  They’re certainly not learning anything, but this type of conversation will give them that same nervous, alert feeling that signals True Education.

4.  Gotta get some time alone with your husband? Try the “surprise reward” strategy:  “You know, I’ve been watching you, and you guys did SUCH A GOOD JOB with that, that thing you were doing today that Daddy and I think you deserve a movie.  A nice, lo-o-o-ong movie.”

5.  Gotta write? Try this handy phrase:  “Several of my readers have requested [or would, if I asked them to] a re-run of a very popular post from a few years ago, so here it is.”

6.  Gotta pray? Remember that God is very, very smart, and can figure out what you mean by, “Hello!  The thing!  And all.  Would You?  I need!  Amen.”

7.  Gotta finish seven quick takes? New rule:  six is the new seven.

Conversion Diary!  Linky! List!  Skip pic!  Done.

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My nice kids

I usually try and have a point,  a theme, or at least a joke when I sit down to write.  Today, though, I think I just want to talk about my kids.  They are so nice and good, and I know I don’t say that enough.  I can be a regular old mommy blogger from time to time, can’t I?

Yesterday, we had one of those mornings where you fall out of bed and just start running.  Up!  Up!  Eat, eat, wash your face, find your shoes, grab your lunch and go! Get the birthday brownies into the car!  Stuff your history costume in a bag!  Run in to beg the teacher for leniency for kid #1, who just got braces and thinks she is a monster now!  Run, run–zip back home, wash and brush and feed the rest of the kids, and then leap back into the car for everyone’s doctor appointment.  No you cannot have toast, go go go!

For three hours this morning, I did very little besides buckle and unbuckle carseats, and drive.  I also did some singing (“Hear the lively song of the frogs in yonder pond”), which miraculously still calms my 3-year-old when she gets in a hysterical rage over not having a long enough turn looking at the insert that came with the plastic owl her brother got from Burger King.

You may think that a hysterical rage would sort of quash my enthusiasm about how good my kids are, but she’s not actually really like that.  She’s a very happy person, but is going through one of those brain growth spurts, which makes her kind of unpredictably horrible from time to time.  I know she doesn’t want to be that way, because when she’s being awful, I say, “Do you want to be a good girl or a bad girl?” and she always chooses good — and actually does the thing that I tell her good girls do.  She just needs a little help remembering that she has a choice!

They were really being good.  It is no damn fun to be driven back and forth, back and forth, when none of it is about you, and there’s really nothing to look forward to but a possible Rugrats sticker after your shots.  Maybe we’ll see a turtle on the rock in yonder pond by the highway, but probably not. Maybe the crane on the construction site will be doing something cool, but probably not.  Red light means stop, green light means go.  No turtle today.

Then we got to the doctor.  My six-year-old watched the baby and the 3-year-old as I took the 4-year-old to the bathroom.  They ate some chalk and played with the bead maze toys, and waited some more.  Then, when we got to the doctor, everyone else had to go to the bathroom.  “Wow,” says the three-year-old, “That is a STRONNNNNG toiyet!”  I don’t know what that means, but she seemed impressed.

And then finally it was our turn.  The three oldest kids were the ones with appointments, but of course it was the baby (almost 18 months) who ran the show.  She stripped off her clothes and picked out a johnny gown from the drawer, since that’s what everyone else was doing.  (For the first time in my life, I wished I had a phone with a camera on it.)  She weighed herself.  She got a sticker, and even a picture book — and not just any picture book!  The doctor first showed her a board book, and she gave it a look of such withering disdain that the doctor laughed herself silly.  Then she found another, more mature book for the baby, who said, “Day,” (thanks) and trotted back to the exam room with her loot.

Then the three-year-old had to go to the bathroom again.

I had a moment’s consternation when my six-year-old son said he didn’t know the letters on the eye chart — but it turned out he thought they were supposed to spell something, and his phonics didn’t take him as far as sounding out “ROXCSTKNDT.”  Sort of reminds me of my sister’s story about her son, who claimed not to know the color of a crayon the nurse was holding up — oh, never mind, I’ll let her tell it in the comments.

Well, isn’t that cute?  That’s all I wanted to say.  I like having my kids around.

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“You have nothing else but God.”

Today’s post was written by “Pansy” for her blog, Pansy and Peony — and she graciously allowed me to re-post it here today.  Pansy is a young and lovely mother of seven, who discovered a year ago that her husband was having an affair.  She wrote to readers for prayers, and has this grateful update.
I was going to edit it for length, but it’s a fairly quick read, and I think you will appreciate her candor and her expressive language.  I found this essay moving and, frankly, fascinating.
Please note:  this essay was written by a real person who has clearly been through enough.  Comments criticizing her actions will be deleted immediately.
UPDATE:  A link to this post also went up on Mark Shea’s blog.
————————-
It’s been nearly one year since I posted this. I was thinking of waiting for the one year mark, mostly because I just didn’t know what to say or how to say it. I also wasn’t sure in my heart until pretty recently that it’s all going to be alright, so I didn’t want to jinx anything. Also, something about the whole St. Blog’s Pantsapalooza Event of 2010 made me think here I am actually in possession of some knowledge I should perhaps pass on. In many of the comboxes, in between the yays and nays for pants, there would be talk here and there of not one, but of few couples someone might know, Catholics with large families, breaking up. I stumbled the other day on a statistic that only 1/3 of couples survive infidelity. I cannot even begin to understand why us. I have no idea, except God allowed, chose, helped…He did it. So I guess it was time to write…something. I hope it’s not lame.

As of now, we are surviving, we are building a new marriage and our old marriage is dead and gone. It’s is withered and decayed and the new one is bright and filled with hope. As of right now, I love my husband more than I ever have. We are not merely “riding it out”. Everything is new again. I place the “blame” on you, Dear People. When this broke, my husband was very lost. He will tell you he was in the darkest place he has ever been. He was evil or surrounded by evil, not sure. He was depressed, he obviously wasn’t thinking straight and the more he made bad choices, the worse he felt, and in turn would make more bad choices. He was just piling more “spiritual muck” onto himself. As Mark Shea says “sin makes you stupid”. So many men I see who take the route my husband have become literally unreachable under all that muck. When you all reached out and prayed, my husband will tell you it was around that time he started to wake up and come out the fog. This wasn’t an immediate process and at first, he fought it, but it was a way for God to grab him and take hold and slowly start clearing that muck away.

I cannot underestimate the practical help as well, the donations, the words of encouragement. I was…hysterical. I was scared, confused. At the time, the kind words I read and the support kept me going. I desperately needed it because while I was receiving support here, I was hearing equally…um, “non-supportive” words from some of the icky people my husband allowed to influence him. One of his family members told me it was my fault because I had so many kids. Seven is ridiculous, I should have stopped at three and my husband clearly didn’t want any more but I refused to listen. I must have had those kids to keep him around. She, other family, the girlfriend all told me it was because I “was a bad wife”. So yes, hearing encouraging words was necessary at that point because I didn’t know what was right, what was happening, what was real and my self-esteem struck a huge blow so it was easy to believe I deserved it all for doing things like having children, and being a boring housewife.

The donations helped in more ways than the obvious as well. My husband left and came home in February. Yes, he did support us, but in his very “rational” state, he did not think about what it costs to support a family of 8 in one spot and the cost of supporting himself in the New York City area 3 hours away prior to leaving. The donations helped with practical matters, but it also gave me a great deal of confidence that some how, some way, if things go badly, I’ll make it. I think it also sent a signal to him that despite surrounding himself with nitwits like the family members I described who had his ear, most people looked down on his actions to the point they were willing to donate money! (Incidentally, when this happened, I became adept at finding email accounts, decoding passwords and an ex girlfriend came out the woodwork who had been lurking on this blog to congratulate him on finally getting rid of the “old ball and chain”, to tell him to contact her and to let him know “do you know she’s asking for donations?” I deleted it.)

There has been talk that maybe people should not say bad things about Bud McFarlane Jr for leaving his wife in the comboxes lately. No. He should know that the general population looks down on such actions. Admonish the sinner. It’s not simply for the sake of “siding” with Bai, but for the sake of his own soul. My husband, on his own accord went to confession, and spent an half hour bringing the priest up to speed. Mass that day, ended up starting late because of it. I’m not sure if that would have happened if things did not play out the way they did. Every piece of this had it’s purpose.

So what happened? I cannot even begin to start, it would take a book. It was the hardest year of my life. I now have grey hair, crows feet. I have these permanent bags under my eyes from crying everyday (great product: ).

I can say that this was a spiritual battle for sure. At first our progress was teeny tiny baby steps and a lot of uncertainty. It wasn’t until late June that I decided I would stay married to him. Before that, I don’t think he was certain about staying married to me until February-when he decided he wanted the marriage, I was sick, fed up, done with him. Since June, the progress was slow and then started snowballing. Spiritually, each time we made a large step at progress, Satan was right there with a rebuttal. Every stinking time. This is still the case. It’s almost immediate. We actually can see it for what it is and more and more it gives me the confidence that we are “meant to be”. The only way things will continue to work from here on out is relying on prayer and the sacraments. Satan has a foothold in our lives. No way around that.

I want to share some things I learned for anyone going through this:

1. Pray, pray, pray. You have nothing else but God. I made the Novena to the 13 Blessed Souls a few times, the St. Rita I don’t know how many times. Our Lady Undoer of Knots, St. Jude, St. Joseph the Flying Novena to the Infant of Prague in addtion to tons of rosaries, Chaplets of Divine Mercy, the Angelus everyday for months. I said a Magnificat every time it popped into my head. I don’t even know how many novenas I made. I begged for prayers. I debated a lot between telling people and asking for prayers and keeping my dirty laundry to myself. It’s a tough call because people who love you and see you suffer will not want you to reconcile with your spouse, which is 150% completely understandable. Still, I think the reason my husband turned around was the prayers.

There will be times when you will doubt if God even exists. Pray harder then.

2. Read Love Must Be Tough by James Dobson. And/or implement the “180″ as soon as possible. This will keep your head on straight when you think you are loosing it, and may help get your marriage back-if that is what you wish.

On a side note: we Catholics do a good job in having a preliminary outline how to keep a marriage Godly. We do not have a lot of resources to turn to when things go bad. we have Retrouvaille, but that works only after both parties decide to work it out. There is nothing to stop a man (or woman) in stuck in “the fog” dead in his tracks and let him know what he’s doing. We need something. Now. Maybe Greg can help us with that?

3. Take care of yourself. I did a little, but only after everyone else was tended to. I would only work-out as reward if I finished all my chores, which of course, were never finished. I figured once the kids were gown and out, I’d have “me” time again. Through all this I was tired, defeated, depressed. I started drinking. By most people’s standards, not heavily, but I know I wasn’t doing it “for the right reasons”. So instead, I knew I needed an outlet and it would either be negative (drinking) or positive. I hit the gym, I started getting pedicure, I actually bought clothes for myself, I decided to try once a week and get to a restaurant if I could. Being cheated on is a huge self-esteem killer. People stopping you constantly and telling you how good you look, and then finding out you had seven kids, and in front of your husband…priceless!

4. Sacramentals. I said before this is a spiritual battles. Holy water, blessed oil, blessed salt. I mixed all three up and made crosses with it over every window, every doorway. I spiked my husband’s food…

5. Get support from people who have been through this. People who have been through this have a very unique perspective. It all seems very black and white, cut and dry until it happens to you.

7. Outside professional help. Get counseling/therapy. Find a priest or a few and talk to them. Appraise your medical doctors, midwives, pediatricians what’s going on. My family practitioner knows everything. I have found myself in the emergency room a number of times this year and since my doctor knows what is happening in my life, diagnosing the problems was easy. Did anyone know that you could have panic attacks in your stomach? I didn’t.

6. Some good books:

Love Must Be Tough by James Dobson

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

The Love Dare

Here’s one I haven’t read, but I want to read desperately:

Transcending Post-infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD): The Six Stages of Healing by Dennic C. Ortman

The Bible!!!! This is nothing new and it’s nothing the good book didn’t warn about. Read Proverbs 5

Websites:

Marriage Builders

Surviving Infidelity

Four Stages of Grief (apparently, I’m at “anger” right now).

Lastly, I’m talking mostly about me here. I’m talking a lot about what my husband did wrong. I give a lot of credit for the prayers and help people gave me, but I have to also give credit to my husband. It takes a lot to totally admit you are wrong and to allow God to break you down and build you back up again into a new person. I have notmade it easy. Yes I prayed, yes I tried to stay “right”, but I haven’t been a saint on this journey. I’ve been downright evil and wretched at times. The fact that he stayed when he was unsure if he should to begin with, when he was not raised with a background where people are married is simply amazing. The fact that not only did he decide to stay, but change, that he recognized his bad choices were not the key to happiness…many people can’t or do not even know how to not exist in their lies.

7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance.~Luke 15:7

Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you.