Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Time Away

This parenting thing is hard work.  It gets even harder when you try to blend a family like we have.  It gets me thinking about the Brady Bunch. 
Anyway, when I only had three kiddos, I poured myself into them and there I found my joy, my purpose.  I was good.  I know a lot of people who get overwhelmed being a mom and need time away to get refreshed.  That had never been me.  I'm not trying to come across as superior or better, it's just that's the way I am.  Have you ever heard the saying, "Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life."  Yeah, that's how I was being a mom.  I rarely needed refreshed because what I was doing was what refreshed me.  I loved my job.
I still love my job.  And I love my kids.  But sometimes, it's overwhelming.
Really.  Really.  Overwhelming.
Ken has been going away for work 3-4 days a week for the past several weeks and I find that I'm pretty well toasted by the time the weekend rolls around.  And then we found out that Rylan drew the Sunday afternoon slot for his gymnastics meet for Valentine's Day weekend.  Oh, that makes things difficult.  Ever since Rylan went competitive, we've been faced with the issue of dealing with Sunday meets.  It's hard.  We really, really want to convey that God comes first, that worshipping is more important than a gym meet.  On the other hand, he's really good.  This isn't something that he dabbles in.  This could be his 'thing,' if you know what I mean.  So a long time ago, we decided that it was ok for him to go to Sunday meets, and that one parent would take him but that the rest of the family would go to church. 
However, as it turns out, he had drawn the afternoon slot.  The meet was in VA Beach and we've done this before.  In the past, we drove down on Saturday, spent the night, got up and visited with a local congregation, grabbed lunch, gone to the meet, and drove home that same day.  We thought about doing that again.  However, as Ken and I talked about it, we both knew that the new kiddos weren't ready for this kind of trip.  The decision was made that one parent would take Rylan and the other would stay with the other five.
I hate to admit it.  I knew in my head, the easiest, most logical choice was for me to stay home.  I was used to handling all the kids alone.  It would be difficult for Ken to stay with them since he wasn't used to doing it solo.  Also, the girls seem to relate better to me.  The have come to realize that I'm the parent, whereas they are still testing Ken's authority.  In my heart, I was heartbroken.  I would like to say that I was only heartbroken that I wasn't going to see Rylan compete.  That was part of it.  The other part was that I was screaming on the inside.  I didn't see how I was going to do the weekend without Ken sandwiched between two weeks of him being away for work.  I needed a break. 
The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to be the one to go.  Rylan has always been the one that needed a little more mommy time and he's been surviving on the bare minimum since we got home.  I wanted a break and I wanted time with him, and not just him.  I wanted to shower my affections and my attentions on Rylan and Connor.  I have had to ask so much more of my two big boys than I ever imagined that I would have to ask of them.  I have had to ask so much more of them than I ever wanted to ask.  The have grown up so much in the past 4 1/2 months, they've had to.  And they've had to do with much less help from mommy, much less attention from me.  That's the part I hate.  I knew I was going to be putting a lot of attention and time into the new kids.  I knew that my 'old' kids would take a hit on their attention and time, but I didn't realize just how much.  And I had no idea that I would need them so much.  I had no idea that I would have to call on them for help as often as I've needed to.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how much all three of us needed this.
I pleaded my case with Ken.  As it turns out, my husband it amazing.  He never batted an eye.  He said, "OK.  I'll stay with the kids."  And that was it, it was decided. 
It ended up that Cody joined us, too.  It was really, really great.  I was able to have whole conversations with them.  They didn't have to wait for my attention.  We talked almost the whole way down.  Even when they were playing video games, they would stop and talk to me.  Rylan told me about the Trojan pig he was making in Minecraft.  Cody was full of all of his questions, the kind he's always had but I haven't had time to answer lately.  They aren't the usual kid questions and his mind comes up with all kinds of things.  Connor picked out the CD's and we all sang along. 
When we got to the hotel, we went to the pool.  It was very cold and we didn't stay long.  We went back to the room and ordered pizza and watched the Olympics until bedtime.  We weren't able to find a church service that would allow us to get to the gym in time.  I really agonized over that as my boys lay there sleeping.  Truth be told, if I had known that we weren't going to church, I would've left Connor and Cody at home to go to church with Ken.  I knew then that we wouldn't be going and that we'd have a little time to sleep in.  The next morning, Rylan woke about 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off.  He snuggled in next to me.  He's not too big to cuddle, you know.  When I told him that it was time for me to go shower, he held on.  This was a moment that I will remember.  I don't know how many more we'll have now that our family is bigger and he's getting older.  I will try to make them happen as much as I can.
We got ready, went to breakfast, checked out of the hotel, stopped at the 7-11 for a power bar and got to the gym early.  We sat in the van and talked before going in.  Even then, we were a little early and the boys' section was surprisingly quiet.  We found seats and waited for Rylan's coach to appear.  I was really hesitant to talk to Rylan about his gymnastics.  I try hard to be a mom and let the coach do the coaching.  But he hasn't been doing as well lately with his gymnastics.  I don't mind when he scores low or places low, but I could tell that he has not had his head in the game.  Against my better judgement, I went around to the other end of the seats to talk to him.  I told him how much I believed in him.  I told him that I knew he is gifted in this sport.  I told him a lot of things.  I don't know if he listened to me or if it was the embarrassing mistake that he made at the last meet, but we saw a good bit of the old Rylan yesterday.  He was focused.  He wanted to win.  He made a few mistakes, a step here, a hop there, an extra circle on the mushroom, but there was no denying that the Rylan that made me fall in love with the sport all over again was back.  And the whole time that I was watching him, Connor was by my side.  He signed up to be the videographer so I could take pictures.  He and I shared some really good conversation.  He's turning into quite the amazing young man.  I really enjoy being with him and talking to him.
For the first time ever, Rylan placed in both Pommel and Vault.  For the first time ever, he placed in all six events.  He tied for third in the All Around. We cheered him on through the awards ceremony.  We beat it out of the gym and off to the van.  We had exactly an hour to make it to the church in Williamsburg.  It takes an hour to get there.  We got there and as I sat and listened to the lesson, two boys on one side and one on the other, I was struck by just how blessed I am, how much this weekend meant to me (and hopefully to them), and how I felt like it was just what we needed. 
After church, we ate at Friendly's and I didn't even make Rylan eat all his dinner before he moved on to ice cream.  I was sufficiently sugared up having had two sodas and a whole lot of ice cream, that I made the drive home easily despite the hour and long day.  I don't know if it was the sugar or the company, but I felt like I was flying.

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