notes from the overwhelm

Y’all, I’m over it.

OVER. IT.

Not my little people- they’re fabulous, if maddening. I’m over everything else, though. July has been a hell of a month for me, and I’m whooped. My husband left for a ministry thing for a week and a half, which is more than I’m accustomed to handling with four littles. (Side note: single moms? Military wives? You’re amazing.) My dear friend showed up to be extra hands (hooray!) then the smallest turned one, then I had to put down the dear, sweet doggie who’s welcomed all four of my babies home, then my husband got home (hooray!) and my friend left after a week instead of a month because Jesus redirected her, and by the way, the husband is home but has a bunch of evening commitments, so, though I spent a week and a half being awesome and being the mom through all the crappy and family-dog-putting-down, I (impossibly) had to slog through another couple days of pseudo-solo-parenting.

Then today.

At one point, I had dishes from the last 36 hours on the counter, laundry from the last… several days on the futon to fold, cheerios on the floor (because my dog is dead as of last week), my one-year-old eating a piece of leftover dog food to console herself because she rolled down a flight of stairs because the toddler boy left the gate open when he dragged his bike up that flight of stairs, and two big girls with two huge pots apiece with two sunflowers per pot, shoving a collection of eight sunflowers in my face, demanding that I must LOOK AT THEM RIGHT NOW, but for the love of all things green, DON’T TOUCH THEM, MAMA, BECAUSE YOU KILL THINGS.

My oldest, the wisest of them at age six, tells me I need coffee and some food.

I tell her I need a week of silence.

I’ve been counting down for more than two weeks now: until my friend came, until my husband came back, until the weekend, until my process night. I kept imagining that if I could make it to the next thing (whatever that thing was), I could finally relax and find some margin.

It’s slowly dawning on me that the “next thing” never fixes it. It’s taken weeks (well, perhaps years, depending on how you’re counting) for me to get to this overloaded place, and no three-hour chunk of quiet (nice as it may be) can fix that kind of weary. It’s a little like the realization that I will never “catch up” on sleep. There’s not enough time ever to make up all the hours of sleep I’ve lost over the years of babies and college and miscellaneous late nights.

So now what?

Well, when I’m especially behind on sleep, I try to adjust my habits to get more sleep, but I stop worrying about “catching up.” I let “more” be enough.

I wonder if, in this current state of weariness and this current deficit of quiet, I need to just let more be enough. I can’t get a week of silence to compensate for the two weeks without.

I hope I’m right, because a week of solitude is not an option right now. (Darn it all.) My game plan now is to find quiet wherever it can be found (bathroom, anyone?) and hope that eventually it’s enough again.

Until then, I’m just praying (again and still) for enough grace to make it through today. It’s always there.

If you have any tricks for finding margin again after a season of relentless overwhelm, I want to hear them.

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Author: robininalaska

Just another mom trying to follow Jesus and do a good job and enjoy it.

19 thoughts on “notes from the overwhelm”

  1. Hey! Maybe that’s why you’re tired! You time traveled! Your comment above says 5:12 am 8/1/17! I want to know your secret on how you do that!!! I have 1/2 the kids but feel the feels! Working full time and trying to balance everything else makes one crazy crazy!!

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      1. LOL that was SUPPOSED to say “oh LOOK.” Oh man! Forget time traveling it’s too hard to text-talk in the future and apparently for me it doesn’t improve!!

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      2. 😂 yay for time traveling texters! (Also hooray for a blog platform that bases everything on GMT. It makes me tired on the rare occasion I want to schedule a post for a certain time.)

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  2. “It’s slowly dawning on me that the “next thing” never fixes it.”

    Oh yes, I so relate to this!
    We are in a season of the littles all being sick at the moment, and it is SO wearying, especially with the one-year-old. Because when he’s feeling off, he just wants me to hold him all the time (but NOT in the baby carrier, because don’t slack off, Mum).
    The other day I was thinking, “I just need to get through this stage, get everyone back to full health, then I’ll get back into my groove and back to being productive…”
    I realised I was kind of mentally skipping over this time, trying to will time to go faster.
    But there are important lessons to be learned and memories to be made and love to be poured out, even in these horrid times when everyone needs me so much and they all seem miserable.
    So I’m trying to stop thinking “when is this over?” and be present with the kids, even though it’s not pleasant for me.

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    1. Yes! Skipping over the time! I have an awful habit of kind of zoning out to kind of pass the time (hello, facebook!) which I know makes it all worse and more miserable for everyone. (When they don’t have my attention, they just get LOUDER.) It’s so difficult and so necessary and, honestly, so much more pleasant to just do the next thing and be present.

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    2. Great reminders! Thanks! We’re in the whining/crying whenever it doesn’t go her way, she doesn’t like the answer, doesn’t like the weather, doesn’t like what her brother is wearing… yeah you both get it!

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  3. Four kids is no joke. I frequently find myself hiding in the bathroom, too: lingering after a shower, or sometimes sneaking in there just to read a few pages of a book or get two minutes to be alone, blessedly alone. Are you able to book a sitter for some time to yourself? It did wonders for me in my SAHM days: an hour or two away was a bridge back to sanity.

    It will get easier in the physically overwhelming, cuckoo-bananas noise all the time sense. The problems will be different, and require a different kind of presence (especially since your presence isn’t always wanted), and believe it or not, sometimes you might even wish you were back here. Growing humans is HARD WORK: sending you solidarity and virtual hugs from my noisy, untidy corner of the world.

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    1. THANK YOU. I don’t think I’m necessarily well-equipped to deal with the problems that come in the next phase, but I DO know my senses are ready for less constant assault. I have a sitter for about three hours a week. (Lol, actually, I have two. Because it takes TWO 15-year-old girls to do the childcare portion of my job, which is validating. Also, they’re amazing and lovely people, which encourages me because eventually I will have teenagers and I need to remember that those can be lovely. Anyway. Rambling.) I have historically stayed in my room. But I may change that, just based on things you and Beth have said… perhaps a little more distance would be more useful.

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  4. My three kids are a little older (9, 8 and 7), but that doesn’t mean they are easier than they were when they were littles. The difficulties just change shape. For example, my girls wanted to go swimming this afternoon, but my son doesn’t, and Grandpa and Grandma aren’t home to watch him, so that means no pool. And everyone is grumpy as a result.
    I don’t have much advice for you other than keep praying. And thanks for being honest. I think that counts for a lot. I’d rather read a blog from someone who is honestly struggling with life than a blog that relates how wonderful that person is getting along with her summer.

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  5. I too share your sentiments for a July that kicked my tail, mostly because I came down with a cough and fever on the 13th that turned in to double pneumonia on the 20th and spent the 20-22nd in the hospital and am just now feeling myself again. So July is reeking havoc everywhere, so be encouraged that you are not alone. It will get better!

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  6. “I need to just let more be enough.” I love that, friend. My newest strategy is to give myself permission for even 10-20 minute “soul care” breaks. It may mean letting kids watch a video or setting them up with a coloring project. For me, it means turning on my Morning Worship playlist and closing my eyes to just breathe. I try not to put too many expectations on this time except to just tell my soul to rest. I usually emerge with an attitude shift. 😉

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  7. I so get it. I have realized I’m also hitching my hopes on the “next thing”. This afternoon I sat in a coffee shop for 90 minutes to try to finish something I’ve been working on writing, and felt this simultaneous mixture of guilt (because not all the moms I know even get 90 minutes alone), angst (because the clock seems to hit warp speed when I’m sans kids), and longing. Longing for a week, like you said, to straight up try to recover. My kids are INTENSE right now (boys 8,6, and a girl 2), and the behavior and fights and mental strain leave me feeling like I’ve been negotiating a hostage situation all day long. I feel drained with no hope of recovering in the foreseeable future. Maybe it’s not ironic at all that the song “Fill me Up” by jesus culture is playing on my pandora station right now. Yeah, that’s probably actually the answer. I’m struggling again to find that vulnerable scary place where I trust that Jesus really IS enough.

    Keep writing, I feel like we are soul-sisters…even though I’ve only read three of your posts 🙂

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    1. YES. Trying to figure out what to do with that sacred alone time that flies by like NOTHING is ridiculously stressful, and I feel ungrateful just experiencing the stress!

      My sister replied to this post on facebook with a long comment about outsourcing, which I agree is excellent, but as I considered it, I outsourced EVERYTHING for a huge chunk of this time- my bestie was living in my house and handled everything she could. As I processed that- that outsourcing “should” be a cure for the overwhelm, if it’s feasible, but it DOESN’T WORK as a cure, I was sort of comforted- it really *is* just Jesus. He created us and our lives with our intense littles (mine are 1, 2, 5, and 6- all girls except the 2) and no amount of outsourcing can actually fix the crazy. It’s a mirage. (And how gracious that he gave me that information this month! Otherwise, I’d probably be frustrated because I don’t really have the ability to outsource it all and pining for it would only breed resentment…) We really *do* have to run to Him for filling. I want to get better at that. (I’m not so good just now.)

      Thank you so much. ❤

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