Chaos is when the boys have taken all the cushions off all the couches, spread them with blankets (and clean - well, previously clean - laundry), and then abandoned them in favour of lego and jigsaw puzzles...
and then leapt around the room on top of everything roaring at each other!
Welcome to motherhood! You're going to love it!
Everyone has to make a giraffe and post it here: http://www.olahelland.net/giraffes
Something I read in a book yesterday by Joyce Huggett. She was quoting someone else, I've forgotten who, even forgotten the actual quote, and the title of the book, but the general gist of it stuck.
"It is not your love that sustains your marriage, but your marriage that sustains your love."
You see, marriage is bigger than love: that is, the particular relationship or feeling between two individuals. Marriage demonstrates Love (capital L), the Love that God is.
God gave us the everyday. God is in the boring, in the routine. God invented them. The sun comes up, every blimmin' day. The seasons turn, another spring after another winter after another autumn after another summer. But God also invented growth. Each year the trees that drop their leaves are bigger and more deeply rooted. Each year the stars are a bit further apart. The universe expands. Children grow and change (and find new ways to drive you crazy every month). Love grows and changes.
So the times when I think I've "fallen in love" with someone else while I'm married to my husband, it doesn't matter. What I have are those familiar feelings which I have had before and enjoyed throughout my teenage years. What is unfamiliar and therefore much harder, is the on-going, growing, boring, everyday, sustaining, re-defining love and oneness that only comes from faithful marriage.
I have never had what I have with Sam with anyone else and I never will have. No-one else will ever be to me what he is. Sometimes this is uncomfortable. Sometimes boring, sometimes hard. But nothing worth doing is easy. And what would I miss out on if I gave up?
Last night, a short while after I'd switched off the light, Sam rolled over and looked at the clock. Wow! he said, it's not even 11'o clock! We snuggled down and enjoyed the thought of a decent night's sleep for a change.
For about a minute.
Then Mr Chicken Pox started to cry. He cried about every half-hour for the next three hours, refusing Phenergan. I took the first shift sitting in the chair in their room, singing for half an hour then whispering "shhh, mummy's here" every time he cried after that. About 1.30 he woke more fully and I decided I didn't have the patience left to handle it well, so went and subbed in Sam.
I couldn't believe when I went in to our room he was lying there snoring. Bastard! I hit him on the head to wake him up.
Did you? he just said, reading over my shoulder...
I've got a lovely man. He spent the rest of the night on the chair in the kids' room. About 6.30, he woke, realised Mr Chicken Pox hadn't cried for a while and came through to get into bed. The alarm went off. He went and got in the shower instead.
Life sucks sometimes!
Discuss lack of carrots with wife.
Get onions browning. Put other ingredients in crockpot.
Put on gumboots, grab torch, make romantic trek to vege patch in the dark and rain with wife to pull up our very own carrots.
Chop carrots and add to crockpot.
Get wife to find bacon and stock in freezer, thaw and add bacon to crockpot.
Add onions, prunes, spices and other flavourings to crockpot.
Use defrosted home-made stock to stir onion-brownings from bottom of frypan into fragrant gravy. Add to crockpot.
Take full, heavy crockpot dish to fridge. Open fridge with one hand.
With other, drop crockpot on floor. Watch it smash.
With wife, attempt to rescue stew.
Discover numerous sharp fragments amongst the beef and carrots.
Try not to cry.
Tip stew into breadbag and throw in rubbish. Blot up sauce with several towels. Wrap up and throw out sharp bits of crockpot while wife mops floor.
Accept wife's kind offer to do the dishes. Make kids' lunches for tomorrow. Go to bed.
Sam had his glasses irreparably broken on Friday evening by Miss Almost-1. This has not been a good weekend.
Been a long day. Did lots. That's not what I wanted to write about.
I have been musing for some time on the tension between environment-friendliness and hygiene. Are the two mutually exclusive?
Take dishwater temperature for example. In order to be environmentally friendly and save power, we are recommended to keep our hot water cylinder no hotter than 55degC. According to the food safety course I took about four years ago, dishes should be washed in water at least 65degC.
Don't use vicious chemicals in your wash. But they kill germs. Because of those vicious chemicals, our waterways are polluted and our kids get allergies. But they also don't get diphtheria and other nasties nearly as often as they once did.
Don't use plastic food wrap. But it prevents cross-contamination in your fridge, from (for example) raw chicken juice getting into your milk and raw vegies. Ewww!!!
Don't use more toiletries than you need to. But soap and water and washing your hands often is the best way to prevent the spread of germs, and if you water down the soap, it's not going to kill as many. The strongest survive.
Don't do laundry more often than you need to, and certainly don't use hot water. Or iron unnecessarily. But considerable (gross, anyway) amounts of fecal matter remain on your clothes and towels. And teatowels, and therefore plates and cutlery, if you don't wash them separately. Ironing kills germs. Cold water washing with minimal detergent doesn't.
Sunlight does. I wonder how many?
Are environment-friendliness and hygiene mutually exclusive? No, but only if you're willing to work a whole lot harder than anyone who doesn't care.
I'm not. So I'll compromise and try not to feel guilty any time anyone does anything different from me.
Mr 3: I'm all full.
Grandad: You can get down from the table then. ...[to Mr 5] See, I didn't make the silly joke about being "awful" that time.
Mr 5: My daddy makes silly jokes too.
Grandad: Like what?
Mr 5: Like you. But not as well.
Daddy: What's brown and sticky?
Mr 5: Um, you?
Daddy: No more horsing around!
Mr 3: No, I was cowing around, and [Mr 5] was birding around.
Our neighbour S just gave us an enormous, very pink, plastic dolls' house with a large car, a large family, and a large amount of stuff to go with it.
Mr 5 (pushing pram in front of car) : [explosion noise].
Mr 3 : It goes in the boot! [puts baby in the boot of the car].
Mr 3 (pushing the grandad headfirst onto the chimney) : He is getting stuck.
Mr 5 : Is he being Santa?
Mr 3 crashes car down through various openings in the house, to the accompaniment of explosion noises by his big brother.
The house is now confiscated and in the shed for the boys' being too rough. They get it back on Monday.
By the way, I've got a job! Thanks to everyone who's been thinking of me etc. Starting in mid-January, I will be providing administrative and fundraising support to the hospital chaplaincy team, 22 hours a week. I'm quite excited, and not a little nervous, as it's not much like anything I've done before! I was very surprised to get the job. Must be a God thing.
And we had a lovely Christmas. I went to the midnight service at St Paul's. Lovely. Just as well, as I spent most of the Christmas day one at St Matt's in the creche watching the boys jousting on rocking horses, and didn't get much of a chance to enjoy the service. Which is fine! The rest of Christmas day was very relaxed and low-key, with the boys playing together with and fighting over a variety of wonderful presents and Maia rolling around in the middle of it all eating the paper.
The angry young woman has discovered that she is a bit spoiled - she didn't realise how lucky she was. There is no time to bewail a delay in pursuing one's ideal job when one has to get any job to ensure the survival of one's family.
Ok, it hasn't quite come to that yet. But it may.
Actually, the angry young woman has found a measure of peace in feeling necessary. Suddenly, her actions are important. Suddenly it matters whether or not she gets up in the morning.
Speaking of which, I'd better get going on some job applications. Anyone know of a job for me?
You know, secretly, I actually think I'm better than other people. I know I'm more intelligent than many, if not most. I'm more virtuous and self-controlled. I'm wise and caring.
So why is it that this "job" I have, this life I lead, does not reflect that? Why do I spend my time doing things that I am not the best at, no better at than anyone else? Since I'm more intelligent and capable, why does my job not require all that I have to offer?
You can say, I'm a good mother, and it's those very qualities that make me a good mother. BUT - you can be a very good mother without any outstanding intelligence. You can probably be a good mother without much virtue. (You can't be a good mother without self-control, wisdom and care.)
You could say I'm a good housekeeper, but you'd be lying! There are millions of women out there who are far, far better at keeping a pleasant, welcoming, organised home than I am. The angry young woman rails against the endless drudgery of dishes and laundry. I would be a better house-keeper if my angry young woman didn't keep sabotaging my efforts as a form of protest.
I am a good singer. There, as part of a good choir, I am now able to express my talents and myself, so that part of me is okay. But the rest is frustration.
You could say my life is one long holiday. Remember how bored you got towards the end of the school holidays?
I look at the people around me who are happy with their lot and my angry young woman screams "why not me?! is there something wrong with me?" I read blogs and columns and articles of mothers who are finding meaning within the walls of their home, who sense God's highest calling in the shaping and guiding of their children's souls, and my angry young woman says "excuse me? you're not listening to me! so you're happy, whatever. What about me!?"
She is angry at her husband for having made a wise choice of university study which means he earns more than she will be able to for years, meaning that him staying at home is not the sensible economic choice. That is to say, we could not survive on what I could earn right now!
She is angry at well-meaning friends who talk to the gentle woman on the outside so kindly and subtly tell the angry young woman that she doesn't really have any right to exist.
She is angry at God for making this be the way things are!
Would you sleep horizontally across the top of your bed, one foot jammed between the bedhead rails, a pair of pyjama pants draped over your tummy and a pillow over your face? No? But then, you're not 7 months old.
Me: did you fart?
Him: no, chickens don't fart. [Held hand-weights under chin so they dangled down like wattles:] Brk bork!
"I'm still dripping. There's bits of crying stuck on me." (I handed over a hanky.)
Told myself I wasn't going to come home and sit on the puter all afternoon... you know how it goes. Dad's picking the boys up from kindy and school today so think I'll go turn an old skirt into a dress for the girl. I took ages to get to sleep last night, planning exactly how I could do it so I could use the existing zip and not have to put a new one in... She weighs 6.4kg and is 64cm tall today, and turns 5 months on Thursday. And she looooves kumara.
Jb and Isaac have both learned to feed Maia her glup and she seems quite keen on the idea.
I've joined a choir: the Southern Consort of Voices, doesn't that sound spanky! - to borrow a word from homehandymum... Maia loves me doing my exercises and sings along in her near-ultrasonic range. Very cute.
We have a new dryer, thanks to Sam's endlessly generous mum, that vents outside instead of into the house. Hooray!
And, and, (not sure if I've mentioned this or not) Sam and I have finally joined the noughties and now have broadband. It's so cool!
Okay, I officially rock. Tea's in the oven ready to turn on at 4.30. Maia's asleep in bed. Boys are next door, instructed to come home at 5, having had a nutritious and totally home-made afternoon tea. I went over to see the house and get a feel for it and Isaac's friend's parents - well, mum anyway, and offered her big sister help and tutoring with writing and stuff, after she told me she wants to join the Navy and be a lawyer. So now I have an hour to myself, and am feeling a glow of self-satisfaction! :) I didn't get any washing done, though. National Radio or MetService or someone needs to get more accurate with their forecasts. Any time there's rain predicted I generally don't hang out the washing, but at least three times in the last month or so the predicted rain hasn't happened.
Perhaps I should just hang it out anyway. Probably.
I feel a little guilty for thinking this, but... Both J and M are fast asleep in bed, the fire's going nicely, I've jazz on the stereo and rain outside. M isn't sick, she's due for a feed in about 45 mins, and I don't know how long J will sleep for. But at the moment I'm happy.
Also, Sam has been hiding notes for me to find for the last few days. You've no idea how much this gives me a boost! He also did something to my computer so now when I switch it on a message telling me I'm gorgeous (in very big letters) pops up on my screen. You say cheesy. I say so what? You're just jealous. ;)
This was in the latest In Touch mag I get free and keep on top of the loo. By someone called Tonya Stoneman.
"How many of us really ever know our mothers? We see them standing at the kitchen sink, unloading the groceries, and mopping the floor. They're "mom," not Alexandra or Sophia or Juliette. They're the women who haggle over the price of yard sale items and nag their kids to clean their rooms, not people who contemplate Kierkegaard.
"Yet I know in my own life, the restless gale of desire is never quieted. After a long day of work, traffic, soccer practice, and dirty laundry, I fall into bed and hear the words of songs that once inspired me. I see the constellations of Andromeda and Orion. And I want more than I have. When morning comes, I go through my routine like Walter Mitty, thinking of things that aren't. I don't have the luxury of indulging these thoughts, though, so I harness myself to the proverbial plow and work...
"Children show us how to exalt in monotony - how to find God in the here and now. G. K. Chesterton observed, "It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again,' to the sun. And every evening, 'Do it again' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike. It may be that God makes all daisies separately, but has never gotten tired of making them." "
Yep. As those of you who know Dad will know, I did have to go back in to hospital for a few hours after yet more bleeding early Tuesday morning, but I'm fine. And so is my beautiful daughter! She has a pointier nose than the boys, her eyes are dark and she looks like she'll have hair like Sam's. Hooray!
The day of her birth, March 28th, was one of those classic examples of "be careful what you wish for..." My latest roommate, AS, was the first one I'd had who could have been in after I had left. She was in with high blood pressure and had had her first child ten weeks early, at 30 weeks. This one (number 2) had made it to 35 weeks so she was pretty happy about that, and about not facing the prospect of 10 weeks in NICU! But both of us had the feeling we were sitting waiting for disaster to strike - her blood pressure to skyrocket into pre-eclampsia, me to bleed catastrophically.
Heh heh. Stupid idea number one. We made a bet with each other that whoever had their baby first had to buy the other one chocolate.
So on Thursday night (well, early Friday morning), AS took a turn for the worse. I was already awake because of a noisy labour over on Delivery Suite. So when she called for the midwife and told her she was feeling the same as she did the night her first child had to be born and she thought the pre-eclampsia was starting to hit, I was able to be there for her. She was hooked up to a monitor and I sat with her until they took it off, about an hour. Baby was okay. AS was checked as well and sure enough, the blood pressure was going up. So come the morning, it was decided that she would be having her baby by caesarian at 12.30. By the time this was decided it was after breakfast time, and her husband was at least 3 1/2 hours drive away. She rang him but he (and their child and AS's mother) didn't make it onto the road until 9.30. AS started to fret.
Heh heh. Stupid idea number two. I have a witness to this one, too: Wendy Knauf, the hospital chaplain was paying me a visit at the time and remembered the conversation. I said to AS, I said, "What you need is for someone to have an emergency and be rushed into theatre ahead of you, and hold up your surgery enough so your husband can get here. How about," I said, "How about I have a bleed and am rushed off to have Maia, and hold things up for you?"
So about 12.00, Kate was visiting. I had just bought a hairbrush for Jb and trotted down the hall to catch up with the shop-trolley lady who hadn't realised I'd taken the brush. The other long-termer from the room next door had just been allowed to go home after 8 weeks so I said goodbye. I trotted back to my room and went to the loo...
Fuck! I said (yes, sorry Dad), and rang three bells. Bleeding. Midwives came running. I came out of the loo and there was Sam. "You got here fast," I said, "Did Kate text you?" "What? I came for lunch," he replied. "What's going on?"
Long story short. I sent Kate away. Mum arrived. It was decided that now was a better time to deliver Maia, though it was a week earlier than planned, than possibly some random time in the middle of the night in the coming week. I was rushed to surgery. AS's caesarian was held up. Her husband arrived in time.
And although the "making it through to the elective date" part of the prayer list from my last post wasn't answered, everything else was, pretty much. Maia spent a few days in NICU but we established feeding really quickly and easily. Nothing else went wrong - my surgery was over in an hour, there was none of the extra bleeding that they were all so afraid of, and we were out of hospital within a week.
Things have not all been completely smooth sailing, of course. But apart from the short trip back in to hospital and subsequent antibiotics, and a migraine the day after, most likely because I'd forgotten just how much extra I have to drink when I'm breastfeeding, things are going well. Maia has gained weight beautifully, and has quickly re-passed her birthweight of 6lb 11oz (not bad for 4 weeks early!) She's now past 7lb and starting to grow out of her tiniest prem clothing. Her long fingers are getting properly baby chubby and her complexion has normalised from blotchy red and yellow to a nice pink with occasional milk-spots. She's three weeks old today. Happy Birthday! That means three more weeks till I'm allowed to drive.
Thank you hugely to everyone who's kept up with me and prayed for us. I very much knew God's protection and comfort and still do. Everyone kept asking me, "How did you cope?" The true answer: Faith. I knew what was going to happen, having had a revelation of it earlier in the pregnancy. And I knew it was going to be all right, because I know the calling God has for Maia and for me.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way,
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day...
"Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."