Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Less than Ideal

This is a Real Life Post, written so that Emma, Faith, Jane (in 30 years) and anyone else, can read it and know, that,though I LOVE being a mother, there are hard phases and times when I didn't enjoy it. I'm hoping it will make them feel normal.

(in happier times)

Marjorie Pay Hinckley is one of the people I admire most. When I was relatively new to the mothering thing (Emma 3ish, Gabe 1ish), I read the book Glimpses, which is a series of memories and letters that give insight into her life and philosophies. It is uplifting and sweet and real. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, one of the things that stuck with me the most was this sentiment:

"When the kids went back to school at the end of the summer, she cried. She hoarded every minute she could with them."

I wanted to be that kind of mom. The kind of mom that enjoyed free time with her kids so much that she cried when it was over. And I was that kind of mom, really, during the summer of 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

And then the Summer of 2009 commenced.

It has not been fun. It has not been enjoyable. It has been stressful and hard and chaotic and out of control and depressing and looooong.

I really tried to keep this from happening:

I don't do well with the chaos of No Schedule, so we have charts that slightly minimize the crazy, but the charts then require Monitoring: "Have you checked off your chart? Let me check the jobs on your chart? Are you lying about reading the Book of Mormon for 10 minutes?"

I have a weekly schedule that includes planned activites we both enjoy (swimming, library time, lessons, art class), but those activities for the big kids, cause missed naps and irritation for the little kids.

There have been days where I had fun with the kids (mostly on vacation). There have been hours where I enjoyed having them near me (right before bed when I'm reading to them, Sundays in the kitchen while they cook with me). There have activities that have been stress relievers (swimming at the Taylors, outings to the parks, library activities).

But mostly, I have too many kids to worry about for too many hours all day, every day. There are SO MANY people at this house and they start at 5:30 (feeding Faith her extra feeding...the only one she does well) and don't end until 10:00 (when Ryan and I are in the basement watching TV, trying not to care that feet are stomping all over the bedrooms upstairs). "Quiet time" consists either of S and F sleeping while I feel guilty that E, J and G are vegging away watching more than the allowed hour of TV time or the big kid "playing outside", and slamming doors while they run in and out to go to the bathroom/get a drink/tell me something NOT that important. And don't even get me started on the omnipresent kitchen mess that results from 5 kids, 3 meals, 1 snack. Hideous.

And to make everything worse, I feel guilty and grouchy that I'm not liking it because I'm falling short of the Marjorie Hinckley ideal.

It's bad.

I realized about 2 weeks ago that the summer was unsalvagable. There's nothing to do but endure.

I just want to know, I guess, is this how it's going to be every summer, now that I have 5 million kids? Is there anyway to regain the Crying When They Go To School of past summers?


Katie said...

Thank you for this post.
I feel exactly the same way.
I love the same book and admire Sis. Hinckley.
Created all the same charts.
Everything fell apart by August.
I have no answers, and wonder what's wrong with me.

K8 said...

wow, you pretty much summed up my summer. -2 kids.
I have no idea how to do it all. Heck, I only have 3 kids and can hardly keep up.

kara jayne said...

I have often thought to myself that the Lord does reward us for just 'enduring' like you said. There are times we are on top of it and loving every minute. Other times even our best is just enduring. That's why we are counseled to 'endure to the end.' This time it applies to summer. Don't beat yourself up about it. I felt the same way you did the last couple of summers, but this summer was the best. I did cry yesterday as I took the kids to school...more for the 4th grader than the Kindergartner in fact. This too shall pass.

kara jayne said...

Oh, and I love reality checks. They make me feel so normal...I love normal.

Jessica said...

#1, I really love that book, too. Every now & then Marjorie pops into my mind and I think "ya know, I can do better at this." Anyway, I have 4 kids and the youngest is now 4. You are describing the feelings of overwhelm I always felt when the youngest was about the same age as your youngest. It's just a hard stage when you have that many kiddos and try to do your calling, entertain them, cook, etc. And if you're like me, it's not even the daily grind as much as it's the daily grind PLUS added stress of job hunting, etc. It's tiring. So don't feel guilty about those periods where you're enduring life more than you're enjoying life, we all do it sometimes, too. Better things are around the corner. :)

HILLARY said...

i think we need to cut our selves a little slack as women... MOMS... somedays the fact that my kids are alive, fed, clothed, somewhat presentalbe.... i feel as if i have done my job. (my oldest is 15 & youngest 6 - i don't even have babies anymore and someday it's still to much to bear)

my kids know i love them and they know it's hard to be a mom. i wouldn't want to give my kids any false expectations!!!

Lindsey said...

Sometimes you have to just push through. I have no doubt that the "other" factors in your life are what are contributing to your feeling. I know when I was going through all that stress last year all I could do each day was just wake up and feed my kids. . bath them and put them to bed. I didn't expect much of myself after that. I was pregnant after all. I think sometimes it is ok to cut yourself some slack. . you have other things looming over your head right now, and they are big deals! So, cut yourself some slack sister!

Ilene said...

I understand. Sometimes I cry because my kids are with me all of the time. I only have three. Don't know how you juggle the age ranges and the ensuing demands of each group.

I need a chart. My kids veg at home because I am too wimpy to take them out to anywhere but the neighborhood pool.

Annemarie said...

Jessica, there will be fabulous summers and there will be crappy summers. Just like any other day. And, they will happen whether you have 1 kid at home or 5 (less likely when there's only one...I'm just sayin')
There have been years where I have absolutely cheered at the end of the summer, and years when I have cried.
You are being way too hard on yourself. I love Marjorie, too, but do you really think there weren't times when she was happy to have her children away for a few?
And I totally get the chart thing. You feel so on top of things by executing a chart, but the upkeep is a complete pain in the bum.
You are an amazing mother and your kids know that. I bet they have had a fabulous Summer. Ask them.

jessica said...

It's crazy how hard we can be on ourselves. I look at you and wish I could be as self sacrificing when it comes to providing my kids activities and fun memories. I justify not going to the library because I collect children's books and have a library in my house...we don't go to the park because we have a swing set...I feel guilty and frustrated too. You are not alone. Only four more weeks!

Christie said...

Funny you should post this, and don't be surprised if a similar post shows up on my blog tomorrow. I just spent an hour crying on the phone to my husband about how hard my life is right now. I will be absolutely no help to you today. I'm overwhelmed, swamped, stressed, and sick of life. Were it not for school starting in six days, I'd probably run away. BLECH.

Jenna said...

I try to plan great things for my kids, but this year I overextended myself on a [stupid] slideshow for 5th grade day & collapsed into summer & all-star baseball. Too much on my plate left me feeling exhausted & worn out & not much fun. Hopefully the kids will remember the few meager trips to the pool & our two week trip out west.

I think that some years are just better than others. And although babies are cute & cuddly (especially yours), they are a lot of work. It will get better. I promise.

Shannan said...

I have three boys at home which - to me - is like having 7 kids at home. They are so loud and destructive and loud and never stop moving EVER.
I really thank you for opening up because I do the chart thing too and it works really well during the school year, but then when summer happens, I find that I become the EVIL CHART MONITOR and I get so sick of checking it off, checking it off - so I stopped too.

I never caught on to the whole NieNie thing, so this weekend I was reading and catching up and I instantly felt guilty that I can't enjoy my children day in and day out like she describes. But oh well, it's just my thing. I have moments where I enjoy them to no end. But I mostly have moments where I am drained.

But I can't wait for school to begin. To date - I have NEVER EVER cried when school started and my oldest is 10 years old. I always thought it was because I have always been a SAHM and they are always with me. If I was away from them or if I worked a lot then I think I would miss them. Or if they were a little less loud and crazy - but mostly - I am so grateful to lend them to the school for 8 hours a day.

gab said...

This is my thought on the Sis. Hinckley quote...I think she cried for a few minutes, til the schoolbus drove away and then cried a few happy tears before sitting on the couch with a Jane Austen novel.

Good for you for summing up REAL life! I love REAL moms who are honest!

Ashley said...

Everyone can relate to this post. I only have 2 kids so far so I have no business chiming in--but I can say that this is the first summer since 2006 when I have not had a baby under the age of one year and that fact has made my life so much more bearable and enjoyable. I remember reading your blog a long time ago (stalking) on a post where you wrote about how you like to read, and one reason you're able to read was that, at that time, you didn't have a newborn--that no one can do anything with one of those. (I may be remembering this wrong--go with it.) I thought that was so wise and now I tell you your own words of wisdom--endure the hot miserable August. Next summer all your kids will be walking and sleeping through the night and eating real food and life will be so much easier. My opinion that having a little baby is the best of times and the worst of times. I've always thought from your blog that you are an amazing mom!

brooke romney said...

ARizona is a beautiful state. Right when you think you can't do it anymore, they start school...August 10th to be exact and the 4th last year. It's just perfec...2 1/2 months of summer is just right. Too bad our economy is one of the worst in the nation. I'd love to have you move here!

the wrath of khandrea said...

it will get better, once they get older. you are like me in that we thrive on structure and order and obedience. little kids, while they need it, do not necessarily conform to it. this causes people like you and i to become highly frustrated and stressed out. the older the kids get, however, the more able they are to conform to our requirements. little ones are cute and we love them, but they are not compliant. we need compliance, you and i.

Lisa-Marie said...

Add me to the same list you and Andrea are on. I just told a friend nearly that exact comment from Andrea one hour ago at a soccer game. I can not stand the unstructured-ness of summer. I'm a basket case. Basket case. BASKET CASE! (See, I'm even yelling in my comment.)

Thanks for helping me feel normal again.

And yes, just endure. Sometimes it's the ONLY way.

Meridith said...

I need to read this book. I feel like this summer has been hectic and stressful for me and I'm trying my best to enjoy my children at the ages they are at now.

Brigitta said...

Thanks for the reality post. You are in good company, I don't cry when they go to school. I am gleeful and happy, and can't wait for them to go. They need structure, schedule and productive things to do. I am grateful for a short summer. You should move by us and then you too can enjoy a 7 week summer. I bear testimony of it, it's what keeps me from going crazy during the summer.

Brigitta said...

and by the way, can you come to my house and make charts for me and the kids?

Jenibelle said...

Jessica...sometimes I read your posts and feel nothing but inadequate. You are probably the most perfect person I have ever "known". I am totally intimidated by your ability to do everything right. Today, you became my sister, my friend. You are human and I, in my imperfectness, needed to know that. Stuff happens and some days we are great and others...not so much. On balance, this summer is a blip against the other summers of wonderful for your family. And believe it or not...they are young enough they won't remember or know that you weren't at your best this summer. And I think what Sister Hinckley didn't say was that some of those tears were of relief, even SHE must have had bad days.

Erika said...

So, I guess you won't be home schooling. One of my friends told me - "If you cry when your kids go back to school, you didn't have enough kids." She's the mom of 7 and grandmother of 16 and counting. I love that. Thanks for keeping it real. Also, if you move to Canada - summer vacation is only 8 weeks. You're bound to feel better about your mothering if you only had to deal with that for 8 weeks.

Meg said...

I love Marjorie dearly but here's the thing...she wrote that book in her later years! Not when she was in the middle of potentially the hardest summer of her "mom-hood". People forget how hard things are. They just do. Sure she may have been sad when the kids went back to school. But, maybe she is "remembering" her kids when they were older.

You know what I mean?

I think what you are feeling is perfectly normal. And, some days, and weeks (and months) have to be JUST ABOUT SURVIVAL. And that is just fine for this season of your life!

Someday you will look back at your kids and think the same thing. Just bank of memory loss. LOL.

You are a fabulous mom. I should have added that I don't cook with all the kids in the kitchen to my recent post about things I don't do. But I am amazed when others handle that so well. So bravo. Seriously.

Jules & Mike said...

My mom (who had 6 children, 4 under the age of 5 at one point) has told me that she remembers sitting on her front porch and thinking to herself "I am in prison, no, worse than prison because I don't even get a hot meal". I thought that was so funny, but now I get it! Some days/weeks/months are just better than others. Keep doing what you are doing, because it is paying off whether you see it or not. Sorry we missed you when you were here! Hopefully we'll catch you next time you're in town.

rubberbandgirl said...

You've just made me love year round school even more.
Thank you.

Lauren in GA said...

Jessica, thank you for this post. I love that you are putting it all out there in an effort to help your girls one day and the rest of us that are reading. Being open like this is truly, truly...I don't know how to explain it...truly service oriented.

I understand what you are saying. I cried to Mike earlier in the summer how I didn't want to wish the summer away, I wanted to be one of those moms that cherished time with their kids. I kept berating myself that I had a baby that I couldn't even bring home, why would I wish away time with my other three?

I made a comment to Paige on her blog recently something along the lines of, "Say what I will about my Dad, his brand of discipline was not without results." I said that to Mike and then jokingly quipped, "That is why I have decided to start beating the children." Then later, I tearfully went to Mike and told him how I was really struggling with rage and how I was envisioning in my mind really, really physically punishing the kids. I promised Heavenly Father, myself, Mike and made a mental promise to the kids that I would not go there (and I haven't) but it has been really hard to control my anger. Really hard.
I don't think Sister Hinkley ever wanted to backhand one of her children. I feel very ashamed.

So, I just wanted you to know how much I admire and appreciate your honesty and that I truly think you are amazing. I have never thought you were perfect, (because nobody is) but I really admire all of the sincere effort you make to do what Heavenly Father would have you do.

Uh...why can't I make a normal sized comment...like ever?

Adrianne said...

I'm laughing because Mario and I had a discussion the other night about how being a mom is really hard and not all that enjoyable sometimes and there are moments when I WANT to work fulltime and he said "well doesn't your friend Jessica love it??" I will make him read this post.

Carie said...

To everything there is a season. (You are just in the season of wanting your kids back in school is all.)

I am ready for mine to go back too.

Don't worry next year you will be bawling like a baby.

♥Shally said...

Oh Jessica.

I needed this this week.

As hard as we try, being a mom IS hard. There are so many ups and downs.

This is going to sound bad, but I am so happy Jax is returning. He needs the structure so much. He gets tired of me telling him what to do all the time.

My girls?

I get teary even thinking about them leaving.

Being a mom is so emotionally draining! I was looking up vacations in Cabo yesterday because I needed a break sooooo bad.

It was just wishful thinking...

Anonymous said...

really! I mean come on...you have 5 beautiful children and a wonderful husband. This is life- and you have a blessed one. A day will come when you will look back and wish for those quiet moments in the morning with Faith, or sadness at not hearing those feet stomping overhead. This is now your life-deal with it!

Megz said...

My kids have a sweet desire to spare me any back-to-school pains and therefore fight, whine and eat twice as much in the week before school starts so I don't feel like missing them too much. They are very considerate that way.
I mostly get sad that I didn't accomplish any of the big goals I had--sadly we are still uni-lingual and nobody can quote the constitution.

Lauren in GA said...

Anonymous, you are mean.

I'd tell you to shut-up, but I don't let my kids say, "shut-up" so I won't say it to you.

Oh, who cares...

Shut-up Anonymous. Jessica wasn't saying that she isn't grateful for all that she has. She gets it. She was just admitting that it is hard. Don't you ever think it is hard?

I guess we will never know because it is doubtful that you will reveal yourself.

I'd call you a chicken but I am too nice. I may have mothering issues but I'm a nice person.

Lauren in GA said...

Sorry, Jessica...I told you I was having rage problems.

Rochelleht said...

Wow. I am always amazed at the cowardace of 'anonymous' comments, having received a few myself. Whatever. SO lame. I think Lauren's response was just perfection, so I'll just say that even the best of summers need to come to an end. I'm bittersweet this week. I loved my summer, but I am ready for structure. Even my kids are ready. You have had a heck of a stinkin' hard summer. Just know that you are human and that it is TOTALLY ok to have 'apart' time from your kids. Otherwise the Lord wouldn't have created school.

He did create school, right?!

Mirien said...

Jessica--I don't usually comment, but I think you need to know something else Sister Hinckley said during a panel discussion at Women's Conference several years ago. Her son was reminiscing about his growing-up years and said, "Mom, we had such a great childhood!" And she quipped, "Well, I'm glad YOU enjoyed it!" Doesn't that just say it all? Even beloved Sister Hinckley had chaotic, frustrating days!

Tristan said...

Anonymous needs to own their comment. Don't hide behind anonymous. No one is perfect and honestly it bugs that people call other people perfect. Jessica is awesome! I admire her. But I do not think she is perfect. I think she is a normal Mom and all of us get overwhelmed. There is nothing wrong with expressing feelings on being overwhelmed.

Anonymous is just jealous Jessica. You tell us like it is anytime. And don't compare yourself to Marjorie Hinkley. I agree with Gab, she may have cried but she was jumping for joy at the quiet time she had to herself. I promise!!

Love you Jessica! Ignore the haters...they suck and apparently are cowards who hide behind anonymous comments.

Tristan said...

P.S. I appreciate this post. I take comfort in knowing I am not the only Mother who gets overwhelmed by her children.

AnnEE said...

Jessica, I feel this way sometimes, and I only have one kid! Thank you for posting a REAL post- I think your kids will appreciate these ones mixed in with the posts about how much you love them. ESPECIALLY when they have kids, themselves.

As for anonymous, You are a cow, and should shove it. I missed the memo when blogging was only allowed to include the sunshiney moments in life. You'd get a lot more respect if you would man up and admit to it being YOU on your comment, but until then, you're just an unknowing, condescending cow.

Paige said...

Just to stir the pot- I've honestly had the best summer with my kids because they are OLD. I can ignore them, they can mostly entertain themselves (if you come in the house again, I'm locking the door), go to friends houses, and I even love having friends over because then I NEVER see them except for snacks, which of course I organize and I know you do too. My point, which is not to brag is- my kids are old, so it's only hard for you right now b/c Faith is young and Seth is kind of hard right now. When Faith's 4 it will be great! Also, I scheduled back in Feb. one week on/1 week off of summer camps/school so I haven't missed a workout or nap, which we both know is key to a good day. OK now I'm bragging. But I just think Marjorie forgot what those days with a baby are like. So hard.

i can't keep track of library books so I quit going. I feel like a bad mom.

Personally, I love anonymous. She is so ridiculously jealous of you and unable to comprehend well-written words because she doesn't get that you do recognize your life is awesome, yet also hard.

Anonymous loves and and wants to be you and is probably in your ward.

Anonymous said...

Love it!

Tristan said...

What a sad sad life you must have Anonymous. Really.

♥Shally said...

I bet Anonymous doesn't realize that the blogging world is NEVER ANONYMOUS.

There is always a way to find out who is commenting.

Sad, sad woman that likes to comment just to be mean.

Jacki said...

Remember that 90-10 rule? I say you just make it the 50-50 rule during summer. I mean your average is still up during the majority of the year. Then by the time summer is over you will be crying because, it too, was a vacation for you. (Making a note to my future self here!)

Ilene said...

So, so funny.

I bet anonymous is the kind of lady who never yelled at her children either. Good for her.

However, she is one with whom I probably wouldn't want to be friends for fear of her constantly judging me...

Because sometimes I struggle with my three little blessings as they drive me batty as they bash in another wall. Something tells me that I won't miss that when I am older. Footsteps, yes. Damaged walls, no.

Brooke said...

Hey Jessica,
Atleast you can say you felt that way atleast 4 summers in a row. That's impressive! I'm still working on not being too excited that Carter will leave in 2 weeks everyday for 2.5 hours. I think you're supermom. I endure much of life. I just asked a friend today, "how do you entertain without having to actually do anything with your kids." I really wanted to get some things accomplished that I could see, if that makes sense.

Elizabeth Brooks said...

I'm a lurker (but I delurked on your Birthday )and I wanted to say I hope you don't worry about what some silly small anon person writes. I'm sure you don't .. I mean according to Anon you are too busy taking it all for granted! also how does Anon know your husband is wonderful? so silly. Thanks again for sharing.
Kind Regards

Penny said...

Every mother reading this can totally relate! And what on earth are we going to do now that the Hunter's left on vacation?!

As we all know, no one is perfect- but you really try to be. Not everyone can say that. Heavenly Father knows that you are doing the best you can and if it is good enough for Him, it needs to be good enough for you. Stop beating yourself up and feeling guilty, that is Satan's way of making us feel not good enough. I admire the wonderful mother and person you are- and your kids will survive, even if they are veging out in front of the tv. I can DEFINATELY attest to that! Keep up the good work! Love ya!

P.S. 25 days left... and counting! Wow- that still is quite awile isn't it?

D-dawg said...

You just described my summer. It was horrible. I think it was having the extra baby made everything seem so much harder. I hated the in and out of the back door, flies, messy kitchen, general loudness of EVERY DAY! Don't feel guilty. We're all the same and this post made me feel better that I hated summer so much this year. It can only get better!!

diane said...

The only tears I shed when school starts are tears of joy. Talk to me next year when the baby goes to college.
Maybe thats what Marjorie meant.

katie said...

I'm not going to read all 50 comments (can I say WOW to so many readers - an important subject to us other mothers)

Anyway, I remember you a year ago writing about how hard it was going to be to see Jane go to kindergarten. You ARE the same type of mother as Sister Hinckley. Sometimes we all just get a little overwhelmed with our life.

I've been reading your blog for at least a year (apparently) and you have done some amazingly fun things with your family and we all know where your heart lies.

Just take a day to spend with them and not worry about anything else. Build forts, make up stories, have a dance party. You will feel like yourself again :)

(I have one more year until Blake starts kindergarten and I can already feel sadness whenever I think about it)

Melvin said...

Pictures are looking beautiful...
Thanks for sharing..

Loans in a low rate and we make it easy to repay it too

Tammy said...

Wow, what a healthy does of comments?! I love that Jessica's blog get so many readers. The reason is that she is real, unafraid to admit her fears, her shortcomings and the things most people would never talk about. That is why she is so amazing and that is why she will endure and get through this time. Yes, she signed up for 5 beautiful children, so she willingly took on the chaos! And obviously she does not have the lifestyle a single, childless woman like me has, but there is no one cut out for that life more than Jessica. Despite her challenges right now, she is more selfless than anyone and in a couple of years will be sitting back on her porch enjoying her brood and re-reading these funny comments from those who care. I don't have kids, but I can comment objectively that managing that many people can be tough indeed. It will get easier, and more enjoyable. Thanks for your candor, and thanks to all the many wonderful comments, everyone was just being real and that is coool.

Anonymous said...

I'm a different anonymous. My 5 kids are grown and I remember eagerly anticipating the end of the school year. That meant no homework, no strict morning schedule, memorable vacations, sleeping late etc. I also remember being just as eager for school to start again. I've discovered that raising kids is alot like childbirth. With time you forget the pain and just focus on the good times. You forget the fights and fidgety kids driving to Disneyland and instead remember their adorable reactions to everything wonderful. Even these memories will be cherished. I only sorta cried when my oldest started kindergarten. The tears welled up and then dried up instantly when I saw how excited and how ready he was. I did always feel sad when Christmas break ended. Of course, that only lasted a couple of weeks!!!