Thursday, October 7, 2010

How and choices

There is rarely a day that goes by that I am not asked how I do it all and seem so calm.  As I mentioned in the schedules post, the calmness isn't in my head.  I am a consummate planner.  This is what makes my execution seem not so stressed.  I plan and plan in my head.  Ask my kids, I even yell.  I wish I didn't, but I do.

Recently I joined a conversation.  Rather, when I walked up and the conversation stopped.  The ladies were speaking about how frazzled they are with 2 kids and all there is to do.  They felt that they couldn't complain with me near because I have FOUR kids.  I say, that that isn't fair.  Everyone has the right to their perspective.  I will not judge anyone based on how many or few kids they have and what they have scheduled.  Well, I'll try not to, so continue on in your conversation.  I want to know how others get it done too.  I also am always looking for ways to help and be helped.

Not until a new friend invited my whole family over for dinner did I realize that other than family and family-like friends, no one has us over.  People don't usually ask us for play-dates either.  I think people are afraid of what it would look like if we reciprocated.  Really I think people are afraid to ask us to help them because they think we are burdened with 4 kids.  Well, here's the deal.  One more kid, or four more for that matter, don't make that much of a difference.  It actually helps sometimes because the kids have choices on who they can play with.  I just keep the freezer stocked with popsicles and redirect when necessary.  So, ask away.  Also, ask us for help in carpooling or food or shopping or whatever you might think of.  It's really our pleasure and helps us feel connected to our friends when we can help, plus I'm going there anyways.

Maybe someone can take my kid to a practice and I can take yours to a birthday party.  There are so many ways to help and be helped.  Yes, "it takes a village".  There is no way I could do half of what I do if I didn't group together with like-parents.  I rely on safety in numbers to get 2 of my kids to practices 3 times a week.  I rely on carpooling to get my littlest one to her soccer.  I pay for preschool to take my child so I can help in my other kids' classes.  I rely on t.v. to entertain #4 when she is home and I have to get stuff done.  I rely on her good nature in being the "schlepp-baby" running errands with me.

I know families that have two working parents and kids in school.  I can't even imagine how that works.  I worked up until I had 3 kids.  None of them were in school yet and there were NO outside activities on the calendar.  How does homework get done?  What about dinner?  What time does everyone go to bed?  How do you get yourself together in the morning?  I get to drop the kids off and come home and eat or do what needs to get done.  When does the laundry happen?  This all seems tougher to accomplish if you are not home.  Yes, I'm home, and busy, but stuff gets done.

I know families that are being faced with childhood illnesses that I wish did not exist.  I know they are asked "how do you do it?"  "how do you be a parent and fight bureaucracy and stay fit for public consumption?"  The answer is that they just do.  What are their other options?  Not have hope?  Not go to doctor appointments?  NO.  Obviously that is ridiculous.  I am sure there are days and times that they want Calgon to take them away.  We all do, but they deserve it more than I do.  Does this stop me from living my life?  No.  Does it make me feel guilty?  No.  It makes me take perspective and remember to give extra love and hugs to my kids.  It makes me remember to love my choices that I have the opportunity to make.

Each one of us has a life that we have chosen or been given the opportunity to live and execute to the best of our ability.  At the end of the day, we all do what we need to do to get by.  What?  My child needs therapy and tutoring?  What?  It is going to cost $300 a week that I already don't have?  Well, guess what, we made it happen.  There are usually choices.  We may not like the choices, but they are there.  Do I want to clean my own house?  No, but I cut my cleaners back to every other week to help cover other expenses.  Some people I know don't even have cleaners.  "Gasp!" It's a luxury item they cannot afford at this time.  I also cut out things that were helping me keep my sanity such as massages and acupuncture and shopping.  Overall, my health may not benefit, but I am usually more stressed about money than stress itself.  Again, it's a choice.

So, yes, sometimes we do not have a choice.  But, there usually is a choice within that.  Make it a good one and do the best you can.  It's what I do.  Oh yeah.  Don't forget, I couldn't do it without help and help comes in all different colors, shapes and sizes.

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