Thursday, July 14, 2011

I am Taking Back My Family

I am taking back my family.  It has been lost to kid’s activities, husband’s work, social and volunteer obligations, organized sports, and more.
I am not following a particular plan -- I am not sure there is one out there, but then again, I’m sure there is -- do I want to make it harder on myself?  or do I just want to do it my way?  I like so many ideas, want to use several, but want to make sure it is specific enough to my family, and simple enough to work. 
Why this fall? Why now? What was the last straw? Perfect storm, I guess. I learned several years ago that May is awful.  Awfully busy.  Finishing school projects, lots of end of the year celebrations - skating show, dance recital, but also the beginning of summer activities - baseball, soccer, and with the entry into country club land last year,  swim team and June brings golf, and this year, tennis three afternoons a week.  So a couple of years ago, I just added June to the crazy mix.  Oh, and my husband travels most weeks.
I hate all the bitching and complaining, no matter how valid it is.  So, I decided to be thankful for all we have, and all the opportunities, and to jump on, hold my breath, and be happy (dammit) for these two months.  I gave up trying to fix them healthy meals, and succumbed to the fast food draw.  I let all three of my children play both baseball and soccer....and continue to add other things. This worked for a couple of years. 
I knew this year it would be harder than ever for different reasons so I hired a girl to help a couple of evenings a week starting in late April/May.  And to work 2 or 3 days in the summer.  Her purpose was to help me get kids to events.  Period.  I simply could not be in two places (or three or four) at one time. 

My husband got a serious sinus infection this spring that shut him down for about six weeks.  He struggled through work, but weekends he laid on the couch in pain, couldn’t help me or our kids, or himself; and he couldn’t shake the infection.  I spiraled down, not realizing that I was holding on for the weekends. I had my own mini-crises, went on a retreat, and starting my personal journey back to health. 
I also started getting some feedback about one of my kids - she sort of , well, has an edge.  At first, I let it sit, but then I began hearing it more and more - from others as well as seeing it.  She began acting out, and, at six years old, was surprisingly not able to keep our family’s stress hidden under our roof. Her edge, the way she talked, the way her eyes darted, the way her body tensed -- finally broke me.  I had to do something.  
I chewed on this a couple of weeks.  I was beginning my journey, taking what I needed, and starting to heal.  Yes, very important work that was benefitting them.  But, shit, I am doing it on a wing and a prayer and minute to minute.  How in the world are my 10, 8, and 6 years old supposed to do it? 
Reading about the great summer life, beaches, walks, down time, lemonade stands did not make me nostalgic - it made my stomach sick.  We were (are still as I write this) rushing to tutors, violin lessons, swim team, tennis, social events, soccer. 

A few weeks ago, I looked out my back window at an old green wagon that somehow appeared in my yard. I hadn’t seen it in a couple of years. One of the kids had found the time to drag it out and use it.  Well, I didn’t actually see this.  For all I know, God himself dragged it out and put it in the center of my view.  A searing pain went through me.  For years, from May until October, we ate most meals on our back deck.  Then the kids would play in the yard until bedtime.  Our deck now has bird seed spread all over, and leaves and sticks have been placed there by the wind.  There is no longer a lego box at the ready for after dinner play. 
I silently longed for those days for a few minutes.  Remembering their angelic faces being smeared with bar be que sauce and a big smile, children thinking they are too big for booster seats but eating the entire meal on their knees, baby bouncy chairs on the table, and stories about fairies in our woods.  And, then, as if I was a motivational speaker speaking to thousands (I hope my neighbors didn’t hear), I exclaimed out loud, “NOT YET. NOT MY FAMILY.”   They are not grown and gone, they are 10, 8, and 6.  
Thus began my quest to Take Back My Family.  We are doing this somewhat methodically, and somewhat by the seat of our pants.  We are hashing out the details of what we want it to look like.  Right now, it is a vision.  I am working on a balance of setting goals and making big changes, yet keeping it attainable.  I am excited and scared. 
I’ll keep you posted. 


  1. OK. This is huge. And hugely wonderful. And, I hope, inspiring to many.

    Given that my one child is only home for one more year and drives herself (it happens, I promise), I can't join you in this exact quest. I did, however, make a concerted effort not to overschedule her when she was younger, which went way against the norm in our suburb, at the time. I have never regretted it and I don't think she has either...

    What I will do, though, and your timing is perfect, is take back my life from all the way-too-many-even-if-they-are-great-causes things I have myself scheduled to do. It's time. Clearly, we are on the same wavelength.

    Bless you - this is such a good thing! Thank you!!!

  2. Good for you! What an inspiring post and a comforting one as well. Although I am trying to let myself off the hook, I am still totally convinced I am the only one who screws up, gets snappy with her kids, tries to do too much ...

    I have to say (from experience - CONSTANT experience) that noticing what can be improved upon is the hardest step and you have done that with such grace. The rest is easy. Just follow your very wise intuition. And keep us posted!!!

  3. Hi M.K. - Christa just sent me over here after she read my post today on a very similar topic.

    I so admire your words here and your realization that things needed to change. I'm also a mom of three - almost 4, 2, and 5 months - and I have been living in a state of chaos this summer, having over-scheduled us and dealing with the repercussions (short tempers abound).

    Isn't it remarkable how we let ourselves get pulled away from the vision we want for our families?

    Thanks so much for this post. I'm so grateful to know I am not alone on this journey.