Get up before your kids.
I know this. I have read posts by people who consider 5:30 am a morally superior time to get up and set old-school alarm clocks outside their kids’ bedrooms so that if Mom doesn’t get up to disable that alarm clock, it wakes the house. (This mom has more commitment than I do.)
I LOVE starting my day with some time to sit and hang with Jesus and plan out my day and do a couple things (exciting things like switching laundry from washer to dryer and emptying the drain rack) that make a huge difference in the way I feel about my house.
But I am so tired.
“I haven’t slept in seven years.” I said this to a friend not very long ago. It’s a slight exaggeration- I’ve had seasons where the small people slept and allowed me to rest for several nights in a row, but this is not that season. And it’s fine. I’ve been momming just long enough to know all the seasons pass and I’ll sleep again… eventually.
Lisa Grace Byrne talks about “partial solutions” in her (very worthwhile) book, Replenish. We see the ideal (getting up early) and the limitations (broken sleep) and find ways to make steps toward the ideal without the pressure of having to do it perfectly or completely.
So my partial solution is this: I [try to] get up a little before the kids. Think 15 minutes. This is just enough time to be fully awake before they come out. Then (the theory goes) the big girls play quietly while I do about 20 minutes of chores and a devotional reading and planning. It’s not as extensive as I’d prefer, but it’s not nothing.
This morning, I got up with plenty of time to spare before their designated “get up time.” But Lilly was STARVING, so instead of getting other things done, I nursed her. She was done about the same time I saw the big two. (“Get-up time” is regulated by color changing clocks in the girls’ rooms. They’re reasonably good about it… now. The little two aren’t a problem as they both sleep in closets they can’t leave without help. It sounds terrible, but I prefer to think of them as fun little sleeping forts. The babies don’t seem to mind.)
Okay, carrying on, I did about half of the morning work I needed to do, grabbed a bowl of cottage cheese, and tried to read my little devotional. Except the girls kept bugging the baby and each other. At one point, I said, loudly and sternly, “GIRLS. BE QUIET FOR A SECOND SO I CAN READ THREE PARAGRAPHS.” My oldest paused a beat, then said, “That was a second! BLAAAAAAAAAAH!” At this point, I crossed the fine line between “loud and stern” and flat-out yelling. “GO. TO. YOUR. ROOM.” As she argued with me on the way, I grouched internally about how annoying it is to have kids being intentionally obnoxious when ALL I WANT IS A FEW MINUTES TO READ ABOUT JESUS.
I read my devotional. I spent a minute talking to Jesus. It’s not as much as I’d like, but He shifted my heart back, slightly away from selfishness and toward kindness. We muddled through breakfast and back to some independent playing time, and things seem sort of better.
It annoys me that I manage to screw up even my much-abbreviated morning time. I hate how prone to anger I am when the kids are being kids in my presence before the coffee has been had. I’m irritated that I still haven’t emptied the drain rack. (But I’ve written most of a blog post, so there’s that.) Still, I’m reminded that my day with my kids doesn’t hinge on me having an ideal (or even decent) morning. So in a second, they’ll be bored and fighting again, I’ll close my laptop, and we’ll keep doing the thing. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more “loud and stern” and deep breathing from me, but we’ll make it.
Thankful, as always, for grace and restarts.
This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.