Frenzy, Grace, Repeat

Last week really whooped me.

It was probably more than this pregnant lady should have attempted, for each day was taken at a frenetic pace and each involved enough steps to make me regret no longer wearing my Fitbit. (Do you have any idea how much more accomplished I would feel to have had a device beeping surpassed goals at me all week?)

Fitbit or no, I’m confident that I burned enough calories to more than justify my three heaping bowlfuls of ice cream doused with crumbled-up Butterfinger.

Between rushing around the house to fit in all the cooking/baking/cleaning/laundering that had to be done before the deadlines of we need to leave and they’re almost here, and lugging my boys to and through four (count ‘em: FOUR) fall events o’ fun, I was nearly reduced to tears on Friday night. I drove home through a beautiful fall landscape, yet could barely keep it together.

I am so tired. My feet and hips ache. I think this is my breaking point. Brennan is working late, I’m on my own with three filthy, dirty little boys who still need to be fed, bathed, and put to bed – and I still need to change their sheets. How in the world am I supposed to manage it all?

I was thisclose to tears. Big ones. Great, heaving sobs of exhaustion and surrender. But then something occurred to me:

“Who do you think is the most tired, Boys?” (Waving my hand in the air) “Me! Me! Me! I win!”

“No you don’t! I’m more tired! I am! I win!”

“Nope! I’m the most tired! I think you boys had better carry me inside the house, feed me dinner, and put me to bed!”

“We can’t do that! You’re too big!”

“Sure you could! Two of you take my arms and one of you take my legs. We’ll be all set!”

Laughter, laughter, laughter.

Thank you, Lord, for that moment of grace.

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Thank you, too, for the grace-filled moments that filled our weekend.

Saturday morning, without guilt or hesitation (though I knew he had plans for a home repair project), I told Brennan that I needed some time – just a little time – to myself. He didn’t hesitate either.

I eased myself into the day, then I went out. I hit the library and the town museum. I walked around downtown. On my own, I enjoyed the blustery weather about a hundred times more than I would have if I’d been carrying a 30-pound toddler in one arm and shepherding two small boys with the other.

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That afternoon, instead of putting a stop to the toddler-climbing-on-top-of-me-and-my-reading-material behavior that usually drives me nuts, I caught my little guy smiling mischievously and I smiled back. We touched our foreheads together and rocked them back and forth – our little signal of love. He cooed and growled and we laughed. I pressed my face against his and held him tight.

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I heard my four-year-old say, “I wuv you, Mommy. I wuv you more den you wuv me!”

“That’s not possible!” I said as I snuggled and tickled him.

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I prepared dinner in the (rare) quiet. Brennan was busily, happily working outside, perched on scaffolding just beyond the kitchen window. He’d grinned at me through the glass when he got the first level up.

The bigger boys were watching a movie and (after I’d fed him a second lunch/first dinner) their little brother was happily toddling in and out of the kitchen. I stopped and stood and felt my gratitude for my family and our home and our ability to put a good meal on the table.

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Sunday morning, two little boys ended up in bed with us. They wiggled and whispered and one bonked his daddy on the face. But when I came out of the bathroom, Brennan held one captive in his lap, tickling him. The other was settled in his baby brother’s room, perched on a chair just beyond the crib, “reading” aloud to the no-longer-crying little one.

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We went downstairs and they played so nicely. They played something having to do with animals and serving food – I’m not sure, but I think I heard mention of a Lion Café. “I’m so glad they have each other,” I said to Brennan.

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We went to Mass and the toddler was pretty difficult – he screeched and threw his bottle into the aisle (twice) and had to be removed. But the four-year-old stuck his head out of the pew so he could watch the consecration.

Without the toddler grabbing for it, I could hold my hymnal and sing in peace. Afterwards, the five-year-old regaled us with the Alleluia he’d learned in the Children’s Liturgy.

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That afternoon and evening, Brennan took charge of the boys so I could work my way through stacks of paperwork and reminders. I did some of that, then I wrote the bulk of this post. The tasks were mundane, but somehow more refreshing than just about anything else I could have done with that time.

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Honestly, I’m astounded when I look back on the weekend to count just how many small graces I received after a week that, while it looked good on the surface, really, thoroughly wore me down. “I can’t remember when I have ever been so tired,” I might have said to my mother-in-law Friday night, wearing an exceptionally pathetic look on my face.

I don’t know why I find it so surprising – it’s not like I forget that paces change. It’s just that the difference seemed so stark to me: One day I was suffering under the abundance of good things in my family’s life, the next they were building me up.

The key difference was… me.

Yes, physical exhaustion had a great deal to do with it. A good night’s sleep, when you can get it, does wonders. But I was still tired over the weekend. I still had (most of) my usual responsibilities. Yet somehow I also had the graces of perspective, of taking my time, of stopping to notice the little joys bound up in and between my responsibilities.

I’m so thankful.

This week is another busy one. I’m sure I’ll find myself again running at a frenzied pace, again exhausted, again stretched thin. C’est la vie. But I’m sure more graces will follow – and indeed be found within the frenzy, if I take the time to notice them.

These Walls - Frenzy, Grace, Repeat