This post was originally written in March 2014. Now that I am actively blogging, I have decided to post it. My children are now five in number and 9-1 in ages, and I have indeed continued in the lesson from that week without my husband.
This post is likely not what you think when you read the title, and I hope that will be a refreshing revelation to you.
For a whole week my husband had to be away from us right at the beginning of our Spring planting. All of the chores and other areas of teamwork that were normally carried out by my husband had befallen me, and it was a great, eye-opening experience for me. I learned quickly, in the first couple of days, that I had slowly grown to put off a lot of things until my husband would come home in the evenings or be available on the weekends.
Now that it was down to me, I couldn’t depend on anyone else to do it. And really, there is no one else to do any of the work around here even when my husband is home. He has his own list without me making one for him, and putting things off until he clocks out of his professional career at the end of the day only adds more work and stress to the whole family, not more rest for anyone.
I learned I was catering to the children too much in certain areas and not being consistent with boundaries. While my husband was away, I had to do things I normally made excuse for because “how am I going to do it with the kids?” and “it’s easier to do while someone watches the kids”. My husband and I believe in the whole family working together, but somehow my firmness in that belief had slowly eroded like the riverbanks. That week, though I missed my husband dearly, was a refreshing wake-up call for me that renewed my passion for our homesteading endeavor and family life.
Although we live on a couple of acres, the only fenced-in space is an acre of pasture for our goats. So when we are out and about, doing chores, planting seeds, fixing fencing or otherwise tending to the physical needs of our home and life, the children cannot just run amok the safe-pen while mom does what mom needs to do. I have constantly tried to train my ducklings to fall in line behind mama duck and even help when possible.
Or, perhaps I wasn’t as “constant” or consistent as I had hoped. Over time, a chore here and a chore there got pushed later until ultimately becoming my husband’s nightly routine, which he then, after helping me put the children to bed, wouldn’t be able to do until darkness had fallen.
Yes, yes, what a terrible wife. How about this: you can pray for God to change me into a better wife.
You would think that more work would make more exhaustion, but oh, contraire! Work is a fact of life, so why not sign up for that work which is rewarding and enjoyable? I am going to get dealt work, God says so (just read in Genesis what God told Adam and Eve after they disobeyed). Spending that week digging in and getting things done made rest all the more deep and rejuvenating—for everyone.
The week my husband was gone, I planted 100 six-packs of seeds, reinforced the dog kennel with chicken wire so our lab would stop escaping, cared for the chickens, dogs, goats, and baby chicks morning and evening, cooked, cleaned, and cared for three children 5 and under. You other homesteading moms more experienced than I better not guffaw at me! I applaud your skills; I’m working on it…
How did I do it all, when I couldn’t (wouldn’t) do it before? I just did. It just had to happen. If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.
I set aside feeling sorry for my children not playing every day with mom when “work now, play later” meant later was post-bedtime and thus another day. When the children were bored and wanted to venture where I would be distracted by constantly looking up to check on them, I would make them help mom or “be bored” and sit right next to me until the work was done. Some days, a child had to sit buckled into the stroller with a water bottle and a snack while I worked.
The children caught on quickly: they had to be next to me or in the place I told them to “stay” simply by the will of their hearts, because I currently don’t have a way to “fence them in”.
This took diligence, patience, and a firm resolve on my part, and as I required my children to stay, I saw where I had lacked all three just enough in the past to push off all of these to-dos for a (false) easier solution: someone else will do it!
Now, we do it together. The children are learning the art of “being bored” (waiting patiently) and helping when it doesn’t feel like fun. And my resolve is renewed, because we have a lot to do and we must work together to get it all done.
What we don’t do: we do not sign up for extra activities and every opportunity is bathed in prayer before I say no to something else in lieu of the new opportunity’s addition into my life. Every activity must allow for the whole family, or we just don’t do it. We don’t even pack up our kids to taxi one to preschool several days a week; we homeschool. We live together, work together, and pray together.
What is “it all”? For me, it all is what is necessary each day to serve well my God, my husband, and then my children. Doing it all includes caring for myself because I do have a temporal body which needs care and maintenance, but I do not serve myself. Some days are more productive in the eyes of others (I get to check more fantastic things off of a list), and other days I believe I’ve done well by keeping everyone alive, clean, and shepherded. Doing it all is working heartily the work God gives us as if we are working for HIM. Doing it all means doing what work I have, faithfully.
What is “it all” in your home? What don’t you do so that you can do “it all”?