My husband is good about giving me breaks. While he is in training he has insisted that I hire a sitter to watch my boys at least twice a week so I get a little free time. He has also been known to give me weekends to myself. I come home refreshed, rested, in a happier mood and better able to serve my family. Mike's foresight in this area is probably the reason I am not sitting on the floor in the corner of my room rocking back and forth.
The last two or three weeks have been hard around here. I think we are all getting tired of having dad gone. Spring has arrived and with it lots of yard work. I've had to work double time to keep up with the weeds and garden in addition to the house. More work for mom means less time paying attention to the children.
"Go outside and play boys."
"I can't help you right now, I'm busy."
"Watch your little brother."
How many times have I said those things in the last few weeks? Lots.
The boys have gotten the leftovers. I've given them what little was left after the work was done.
Maybe it was the lack of mothering that's been taking place, or maybe they were rebelling against my busyness, but whatever the cause there has been a pretty significant disregard for one another going on here.
The boys weren't doing a good job listening to instructions and didn't really care. They'd half-heartedly obey (or not) till I got so fed up that I'd yell at them and threaten them with an unpleasant consequence.
They were tired of obeying. I was tired of making them. We all went to bed, not with full content hearts but tired ones. Glad the day was finally over and we were one step closer to Mike coming home.
Not a fun existence.
Tuesday morning. 54 degrees. I put on my warm socks, pants, fleece and scarf (and was still chilly) before I went outside to my lounge chair for the first outdoor quiet time of the season. I had coffee with the Lord while my ipod blasted people singing songs of praise to Him. This is sometimes how I spend the harder days. Just sitting there with my coffee, usually I'm not in the mood to read the Bible, and often I don't want to talk to God about what's going on. I just want to sit.
"I'm here Lord. I know I've been lacking in patience and love with my children. I know I could be doing this better. But I'm not. And I don't feel like talking about it."
So I just sit.
He sits with me.
My mind fires off constantly. I've trained it to handle (handle haha! if you read my last post) all the irons in the fire, so times of sitting still and focusing on the music are a battle for my mind. The focus takes work. It's work to relax. By definition I don't think that's possible, but by experience I'll tell you it is.
As I sit there with the Lord, among all the other things that come and go into my brain I have the thought: "We should go camping."
Hahahahahha!! No really. That's a good one. I laugh at myself for coming up with something like that. I may have some crazy ideas, but this one takes the cake.
I dismiss it and move on. But the thought keeps creeping back into my head.
Well. Why? "Why Becca would you want to take 4 wild boys camping?" I ask myself. (I always ask myself questions in third person, I've found I take myself more seriously that way and usually end up with a more professional response.)
I talk through my answer in my head:
Because I want to give my poor children a break from me. Except I can't give them a break from me. I have to be with them. But maybe I can be with them in a place where I will have the freedom to be more like a friend and less like an evil dictator.
Because sometimes we all need a break --even little boys.
Because Mike gives me retreats when I'm tired and frustrated and wanting to run away.
Because boys need to be boys sometimes. They need to run and hoot and jump and tackle and do dangerous awesome things.
Because I'm tired of saying: "Don't talk with your mouth full of food." "Sit up straight." "Take off your shoes AND put them away before coming in the house." "Go clean that up." "Stop being so rough."
Because... we need it.
As I thought about the idea throughout the day, I prayed and ask God if the camping idea was from him. "If this is a bad idea, don't let me do it."
I asked a few of my friends who are in the thick of kid-raising what they thought of my idea. I told them why I felt it would be beneficial. They listened and agreed that maybe I could pull it off. If I followed my plan which was to find a pre-made camp site and show up with food prepared and ready to heat and eat. Or just eat. They told me they thought it could help the boys relax and maybe we would remember how much we like each other and that we DO like to have fun.
First thing the next morning, as I sat in my chair drinking my coffee, I looked up and said: "God, I know this is asking a lot... but please help everyone obey well on this trip. Please help everyone be nice and please, let this be fun."
We needed some fun. Laughter. Smiles. Joy.
Next morning we headed out at 10 o'clock. We arrived at our camp excited and with hope already being restored.
The yurt we rented had three sets of bunk beds, came with an ice chest, gas grill and a canoe!
It was perfect.
Top bunks for everyone!
Yes, I brought the high chair --smartest move of the whole trip. It was worth the space it took up in the van.
This trip was perfect. It was just what we needed. We ran. We jumped off of big rocks. We played hide 'n seek behind trees. We flew a kite. We hiked to a waterfall. We roasted marshmallows. We found awesome sticks. We hung precariously over the railing on a pier. We canoed. We drank Shastas. We talked to the retired folks (only other people camping during the school year in the middle of the week.) We went inside a cave. We played TONS of "Go Fish". We learned how to play War and Crazy 8's. We jumped over creeks. We missed. Ok, so that was me. I missed the stepping stone while crossing the creek, but in my defense I was pushing a giant stroller and couldn't see exactly where it was. We ate so much junk food.
I wanted to be able to say, "Sure!" when the boys asked me for things, so as much as possible I did. I said "Yes" to cokes, whole candy bars that were intended for the s'mores. Yes to crackers, apples, cheese sticks, hikes, capri suns, boat rides and glow sticks and staying up late.
Austin did so well. He listened AND obeyed. whoa. He followed the rules and kept his underwear clean. The rest of the kids did well too, but Austin was the one I noticed the most improvment in.
God did help those boys be good. Sure as the sun rose that day. He blessed our trip. Just look at these photos and tell me our gracious Lord didn't have something to do with this:
We made it the whole trip and got twenty minutes from home before someone threw up. haha! Welcome back to reality! Back we are, but we've returned renewed and ready to take on whatever comes next. --which will, I'm sure be washing the carseat cover.