Saturday, March 24, 2012

{Blessing of Friendship}

Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed. Very overwhelmed. By laundry, dishes, cleaning, children, places to be, homeschooling, I could go on. I was having such a difficult time getting into a routine because I have also been plagued by fatigue.

I, like the majority of people, wake up each day with a "list" of things to accomplish for the day. Mine is not really very interesting and includes items such as picking up toys, vacuuming, dishes, preparing meals, etc. The problem came when lunch time hit. Whatever wasn't completed by lunch was added to the list for tomorrow because my energy was gone. Every day around the same time (1-2pm) I found myself having difficulty thinking clearly and feeling kind of dizzy. The only thing that would help was to rest for a few minutes (as long as the children would allow- the most was 20 minutes!).

I have been to two separate doctors who practice in separate offices hoping to find an answer as to why I have been feeling this way. I received both good and bad news. The good news: health wise everything is fine. My thyroid levels are normal (thanks to the medication I take every day), along with all my numbers for cholesterol, diabetes, and white blood cell counts. The bad news: no medical reason for me to be feeling so tired.

The diagnosis actually contributed to feelings of depression. It seems like I am barely able to keep up with everything that entails being a wife/mom, and was just never able to catch up. Looking around my house, I found piles of laundry needing to be folded, dishes that needed to be either washed or put away, papers to file, rooms to clean, and on and on. It seemed like my list was growing instead of depleting, and it was totally out of my control. Add to it feelings of isolation due to being home with my children all day and it seems like a recipe for disaster.

Then the icing on the cake: TJ hurt his back a couple of weeks ago and he's not been able to help me with the kids much. Our old evening/bedtime routine is now obsolete and contributes to more feelings of exhaustion and depression. When I shared with TJ how I was struggling and how tired I've been, he suggested I go back to the doctor. I was hesitant because I know as soon as I mention I am feeling alone, depressed, and overwhelmed, I would immediately be given a script for an anti-depressant. Although I have no doubt the medicine would make me feel better, it's not really solving the problem or helping me establish a new routine. I simply told TJ I didn't think that was a good idea and I would just try harder. He then suggested I find someone to serve (either in my neighborhood or in the church). I quickly bucked that idea because I'm having trouble getting food on our table let alone someone else's!

But then I remembered something: every Wednesday for the past couple of months we host a family from our church for the afternoon. The kids play and the moms supervise. The family stays for supper and then we all leave for church together. I am serving, and it's been wonderful, because I can guarantee that on Wednesday my bathrooms will be clean, the carpets vacuumed, the dishes done, and dinner prepared. In a way, this family is forcing me to keep my focus despite how I feel; they are ministering to my needs as I minister to them. Win, win for us!!

However, my emotions and exhaustion got the best of me this past Monday. Everything sort of came to a head when I called a friend to ask a favor. At the sound of her voice, I crumbled and began to cry. The tears flowed as I shared everything that's been happening and how out-of-control my household has become.

She, in her wisdom and kindness, shared some bible verses with me to reassure me that I am NOT alone. She also suggested I call and speak with my pastor's wife to see if she could give me any suggestions. Let me back up and say that managing a household for 8 is way different than a household of 4, 5, or even 6. Simply put, there is more of everything yet the hours in a day remain the same (time is the only thing we were all given equally. It is up to each of us how we spend it.) It truly is a challenge for me to find time to do anything!!

I called my pastor's wife and she gave me some practical suggestions to try (like doing laundry every day instead of trying to do it twice a week. I hate laundry so I would devote an entire day to try to wash, dry, fold, and put away 8 loads of laundry in the midst of difusing battles, preparing lunch, and helping with homework. Didn't work so well). She also suggested I give my kids more chores. I will admit I have a hard time delegating so this will be a challenge. I think part of it is that my kids do have a lot of chores already (everyone from Teagan up) and I don't want to overburden them. But, like everything, it's a balance that I need to find.

The best part, though, is that she thinks the reason I am tired all the time is because I'm not sleeping through the night and I have 6 kids. I know it may sound pretty simple but I think for me I was just expecting to be able to adapt to adding a baby just like when I had the others. Since Taryn, however, it's been more difficult for me to get back into a routine.

After much prayer and thinking, I realized I do remember being in this stage before a few years ago and feeling so isolated. It's not fun, but knowing it will soon be over is more of a reason for me to cherish my kids being the ages they are. =)

The Lord has blessed me with great, caring friends who minister to others in their time of need. Because of their Christ-like attitude, I was able to go to the grocery store without kids (that's a rare occurrence!) and had a couple of meals prepared for us this week. My heart was lifted in gratitude at their kindness and I look forward to a future opportunity to minister to them should the need arise.

*My goal this week: do laundry every other day. I accomplished this goal and, although I'm not where I want to be with the laundry, it's so much better than before. I am only behind on 1 load instead of several!

*My goal for next week (starting 3/25): make up a current chore chart and teach it to the children.

Pray for me as I continue to battle exhaustion, my emotions, and managing my household in a way that honors the Lord. Although it's not perfectly executed, it is my desire.