Acknowledging Limits

There wasn’t an alarm or a thick, red line to demarcate the limit. There were simply tears.

How many days can a person remain at home, managing a house with an ingratitude of children swarming? Now, let me clarify, my horde are not terribly ungrateful, they are just simply children, and children need. A lot.

I actually can’t count how many days it’s been since the fateful March 13th, but I know it’s been more than 6 months. And that is how many tears poured out of my eyes a couple days ago as I walked aimlessly through the house trying to figure out exactly what went wrong.

This week we added remote testing to the list of new tasks to undertake. And I say that as a parent, not a teacher. I FEEL for the teachers who spent hours this week remotely logging students on iPads and Chromebooks onto the NWEA tests. I can’t speak to how stressful that was.

I can barely paint a picture of what it was like from my house.

In lieu of actually describing the chaos that ensued over the last two days (and will wrap up today), I will leave it at me falling to shambles.

It began with me making lunch, peanut butter and jelly on Cheesecake Factory black bread…so Mmmmmm. I punched a circle out of each sandwich and stared at the crusts, very much heavy with peanut buttery smoothness. My stomach and mind united and I began to eat those crusts as if I hadn’t had a meal in hours, at which point I realized I actually hadn’t.

You might think that five sets of peanut butter and jelly crusts would satisfy. Maybe they did physically but they didn’t mentally. I needed the fluffy center of the sandwich too! So I made myself my own whole sandwich.

Somehow that “binge” set my entire day on fire.

After finishing the last sublime bite, I began a bitter mess. Does peanut butter actually cause mental break downs? Maybe. Instantly I felt 10lbs heavier and 10 months further away from my hopes of shedding my pandemic weight gain.

NWEA testing meant that some of my kids were “done” with school early or weren’t starting school until later, and that meant that children were roaming aimlessly through the house saying things like, “I’m bored,” and “What do I do now?”

These phrases are not unusual, nor are they difficult to referee, but this week they were unbearable to me.

I dug deep for something inspiring to challenge my second grader to do.

“Find something for us to cook for dinner,” I suggested. He loves to cook so I tossed both volumes of Joanna Gaines’ cookbooks his way.

He found the longest recipe in her book, a recipe for cinnamon squares that would rip my waistline goals from the book of hope completely. I couldn’t bear to tell him no again. I’d already asked him to stop tapping, snapping, and snipping all morning.

The 5-pound lump of flour, sugar, and yeast that we made never rose.

When I lifted the towel off the disaster, I realized I was a mess. This is what my kids were going to remember of our family life in 2020.

The giant ball of dough thudded into the trash.

I then took turns face-planting and tear-jerking into my pillow the rest of the afternoon, re-seeing my kids’ disappointed faces as I told them no or showed them the dead flour ball I’d made or asked them not to do such-and-such again.

Was I failing? Was I a bad mom? Was I an unfit facilitator?

I tried to explain the stress and my face to my 10-year old when he told me that he thought I needed a nap and asked me why I didn’t just go take one. I texted my hubby dramatically that I felt like I was a waste of a person.

What I did not do was acknowledge that I was stressed. What I did not do was say that I simply had reached a limit and that I needed help. Just saying I was having a hard day was the first step.

So why is it hard to admit that things are hard?

Pride probably.

Anyway, today is a new day. The oven just released 12 perfectly seasoned egg cups, and a four-day weekend lies ahead.

I’m praying for you. If you think of it, pray for us.

2 thoughts on “Acknowledging Limits

  1. Girl, hang in there. I see you, I hear you. You and your family are constantly in my thoughts and truly wish you better days ahead. I am writing all of this while having a terrible day myself, and mind you, I only have 2 kids. Reading all of your saga reminded me that we all have bad days and we need a break from time to time. I Can’t imagine having 5 and doing all of what you do. You are great, you do a terrific job as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, as a human being. Remember to be more kind and gracious to yourself because you do deserve (and need) all kindness you can get.

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