Saturday, November 11, 2017

Purging Payne

It's that time of year...

It starts with digging through all the too-small items bloating the dress up boxes to find the pirate hook and the other hulk hand {possibly for the same costume}...

It grows when a search through the board game shelf fails to yield the Monopoly Jr money card {which the cash machine will NOT work without}, but does uncover 7 varying "Go Fish" games... all partial...

It is furthered by the seasonal "hand-me-down" clothing swap where i sort through dozens of pairs of shoes to realize we don't actually have the needed 1/2 size in winter foot wear for two fourths of our children and we have 17 pairs of boots that fit the other half of them...

It spirals beyond containment when the little consumers would rather spend time looking at Amazon or catalogues making wish-lists than use that time to actually play with the toys they already own...

If the thought of four children's {even scaled way back} Christmas booty doesn't spring me into purging mode... then what will?!? [Definitely NOT Spring! That season is for open windows and long runs as you smell lilacs and hear birds!] But, since i somehow inherited my mom's hate of pointless storage clutter AND my father's fear of "needing it someday," motivation is not enough to really convince me to part with the excess.  So i'm digging deep and leaning hard into some strategies that i hope will help me feel less tied to the things that need to be gone.

i AM presently writing a blog post that approximately 17 people will read and chuckle at instead of ACTUALLY cleaning out toy boxes, book shelves, and drawers... But at the same time, i hope that taking a minute to mentally process and enjoy the form of thought organization that most restores me will bring the benefit of a clearer thought process and less anxious tone to the sorting.

Visiting Ms. C:
My neighbor could be described as elderly. She has a gorgeous house, a failing memory and cancer {which she sometimes forgets to take her meds for}. She enjoys sitting on her porch, my children, and telling stories. A walker assists her slow and limited wanderings. Ms. C doesn't wish she had more stuff. Her memories that come as they will aren't found in boxes of treasures from the past. Her full cupboards, closets and drawers are ignored by her simple and still life. Few of her "things" better her days the way minimilism does. This is good to see now. There is no need to store up for a possible future when stuff is just more burdensome at the far side of a full life.

Counting the Hours:
Since i have graduated to a Stay-at-Home mom of grade schoolers, our house is empty more hours of the day than it is occupied. There is very little playing in the mornings as we prepare to catch the bus. We are home from the bus by 3:30. Our death grip on the belief that early bedtimes save lives means that the littles are in bed by 7 and the bigs by 8 on school nights. This leaves a maximum of 4.5 hours in which homework and chores and dance classes {and parties} and sports and AWANA and dinner and friends all must happen. At this rate, it would take an {estimated} 9.7 years for every toy, book, video game, craft supply, etc to be utilized by a minimum of 3/4 of the Payne kids... I’m certain that's mathematically accurate {made up}. Keeping this in mind makes it much easier to minimize and accentuate the best, most favorite toys and let the excess be removed.

Imaginary Bugs:
i was holding out on another board game shelf story... while searching fruitlessly for the lost 2.1 millimeter sized Monopoly Jr. money card {without which the game does not work} , i pulled out another game only to find it covered in stink bugs {tis the season}! i no longer want any of those games. This {traumatic} experience has inspired an idea in me though... what if i told myself that each bin of toys had centipedes in it? If there's nothing worth attempting to rescue from those spawns of satan in those bins, maybe i should just donate the whole shebang and move on. What if the toy box had spider eggs in it which are just about to hatch? How many of the toys it holds merit reaching my hand through the imaginary webs and chancing spider eggs? Only those toys should make the cut.

Could Someone Else Enjoy It?
Maybe it used to be one of the little Payne's favorites... Maybe we have sweet memories of when they were mini enough to wear it... Maybe we really thought they'd be interested in something yet in reality we never got into it... Maybe it is worth actual money {if i actually had bought it full-price at a store instead of inheriting or thrifting it}... But what if someone else could currently and effectively USE it? What if that name brand piece of clothing fulfilled a need in a sparse closet? What if another baby could enjoy drooling on it? What if another kitchen would actually use the gadget that my cupboard only stores? Could a school prize box benefit from the Happy Meal toys i totally despise? What if a story could be discovered by new eyes and ears instead of adding to the Tetris-like experience of putting books away? Opening myself up to the possibility that there is still use in the things i want to "cherish" in storage makes it much easier to release. After all, in the times we ended up "needing it later," we've seen stuff come back around.

They Don’t Need It:
The other day Maverick literally asked me “Mom, can you hand me one of those empty water bottles so I can play?” {yes... my van does look like you’re imagining from that statement} There are toys and books in the van within his reach, but what kept him entertained for the 17 minutes we were in transit {and the next hour we were home}? Trash. Trash kept him occupied. He imagined and innovated and created and played with literal garbage. May I  not fear robbing my children from some kind of experience because I lessen the amount of stuff. Only boring people are bored, and these growing Paynes are far from boring.

Watch Hoarders:
Is that really where i want to be? Invest an hour in that show and then get to clearing out ALL the stuff! When i hear the exact excuses i've been using to hold onto things come out of that show... it's time to clean house {literally}.

Alas my list has come to an end... now the rubber hits the road and we shall see if these strategies prove useful. Happy clearing, my lovely friends. Feel free to share your strategies and stories as you manage the many things we have all been blessed with.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Graduation Payne

It looks like the first day of school, but in reality it's graduation day at the house of Payne!!! See, I just unintentionally spent the last eleven years mothering preschoolers. So basically I earned my bachelor degree, took 3 years to get a masters degree, then earned my mommy doctorate in four years. {Does it take 4 years to get a doctorate? I don't know, because that fact has been completely irrelevant to me raising little humans...} And on this 16th day of the Month of August 2k17, I put all four miniature Paynes on school buses!

It's a whole new world for me! {pause reading to belt out "A whole new world" in dramatic Aladdin style} I have survived eleven years of infant, toddler and preschool constant connection and I'm feeling a bunch of feels...

Full-time parenting, like ALL worthwhile endeavors, is stinking hard! It is a constant balancing act and that tight rope is exhausting. The mental capacity to teach tiny beings human ways and then answer their never-ceasing barrage of questions is intense. The physical stamina to keep up with them is demanding. The emotional intentionality of disciplining and guiding and loving and growing and limiting and all the things is depleting. The search for babysitters who don't grow up and increase their own responsibility of their busy lives who are cool with getting paid in pizza and good conversation is a nightmare. So I'm thrilled to have HOURS during the days when I'm kid-free!!! Besides, i recognize the specific breathing pattern one of the littles uses when he poops, so it's safe to say we could use a bit of space.

I feel SAD...
I like my kids. They're so weird and cool. They make me laugh daily and their hugs warm my heart. I like observing them being who God made them and dreaming about who He is making them... Their imagination spurs my mind. Their playing motivates me to enjoy life. Their singing makes me bold. Their dance moves slay. Watching them figure things out and grow in understanding is amazing, and I'm passing them onto others for HOURS during the days. It may be a touch of Stockholm syndrome as I mourn being tortured for hours everyday with questions about smells {what their source is, how it works, the molecules involved, the person doing said stinking and/or smelling...}, but my heart is sad at their absence.

This is my 3rd round of "first day of kindergarten" milestones, and yet the first time I was tempted to send in a "good luck" gift to kindergarten teachers. One is not going to stop talking. Also, he's not paying attention to you... not even a little. He doesn't mean to be ignoring you, his ears are just somehow connected to his imagination {which is always running}. Also the littlest one understands how to work you and the system you serve. Watch your back or you'll be grunting more and he'll be talking less at the end of this nine weeks... Also, the first baby to ever grow {huge} inside of me got on a school bus at the butt crack of dawn with HiGhScHoOLeRs!!! I imagine these monsters have been spending the entirety of their summer scheming how they can devestate the innocence of sixth graders in 23 minute increments! It'll be a miracle if she escapes the first day without a contact buzz! And the sensitive Payne got a teacher who may be a yeller... The whole public school thing reminds me in many ways that "my control" is a mirage and calls me to a deeper trust of the All Powerful One.

It's obvious I didn't successfully double the amount of Payne children twice over (1 to 2, 2 to 4) and then nurture them to school age by myself! So Jimmy Fallon style thank you's happening here... Thank you Baby-Daddy, for working hard at your job so I could stay home and complain about staying home. You brought sexy back to fathering. Thank you babysitters, for allowing me to ask you the most and pay you the least for sitting on my babies. You saved my sanity. Thank you Church, for showing up for the long haul. You showered our family with baby gear and diapers and hand-me-downs and meals. You held us and taught us and loved us. We are deeply thrilled to be a part of the family of Christ. Thank you Moms, for being my teammates. Your advice and examples and comradery showed me the way. Thank You Jesus, for giving me these years of forced selflessness to spend on four of Your awesome little ones. You alone know the depths of my pride and selfishness that need rooted out, and the way You chose to use parenting to continue that work blesses my heart. Thank you early bedtimes, for saving the lives of the Payne children. I look forward to continuing our close relationship.

My "future" plans are not yet clear as I presently can't see past the excitement of possibly getting some housework done without little ones undoing it simultaneously... but today I celebrate with a run, some coffee, the river, and writing. And look forward to hearing how Jesus showed Himself with them at school today.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Running Away

Dear Mom,

I'm running away.

You probably feel shocked and confused at this news {mostly because I haven't lived at home for 18 years}, but you need to know WHY my sleeping bag and knapsack are missing. Hence this note. And while the timing of this note's arrival may be out of the ordinary, the reasons are standard:

I want my own room.
There's no space here! No where that my physical and emotional clutter aren't looming. Sure, my housemates are adorable and my roommate is a stud, but turns out I'm no good at sharing. My selfishness apparently has no bounds... my time, my body, my schedule, my bathroom, my energy, my money {jk I don't have any money}, my space, my sleep, my thoughts, my food, my words, my bed... I'm so weary of sharing and I wasn't even aware that I had been attempting it in my own strength. And sometimes marriage is just weird. We have a really great marriage. We love each other deeply and enjoy each other usually. But some seasons are just awkward and I don't even know why or how to proceed.

The rules are too burdensome.
Stay in bed until the light turns green. Don't feed the dog from the table. You can jump off, but not on, the couch. No screaming! Toothbrushes aren't to be suctioned to the toilet. No questions during nap times or when mom is having a meltdown. Ask before leaving the house (especially if you're nonverbal and stealthy). Don't use your brother's frustration to make yourself feel powerful. A shower only counts if your hair is wet at the end of it. Poop goes in the potty. Do not touch the coffee nut M&M's. Don't pull the dog's tail! Keep your hands to yourself during meals. "Asked and answered" means you're not allowed to keep asking. A mumbled apology is unacceptable. You don't have to enjoy a chore to do it well. Come when I call (do not yell "what" from behind a closed door across the house). Yackety yak don't talk back... on and on it goes and literally none of these can be enforced whilst sitting on the couch!!! There's really only two rules: "Love God, and love others" with a healthy dose of "honor your parents" sprinkled in the mix. But practically guiding four little lives at various stages every day has me waving the white flag...

It's not fair.
There is no cotton candy here. Ferris wheels abide somewhere else. Here i can work hard all day and no one can spot a difference. I can lead my best, but they really are miniature humans with their own choices to be made. I can over think and clearly communicate and still be misunderstood. Here I can 100% desire to understand what our littlest one is trying to communicate and it still is just an angry sounding grunt at varying decibel levels that I cannot translate. Here I'm not allowed to scream at them regardless of how much they are screaming {and how natural it comes out}. I have to ask for forgiveness even though I still feel really really really justified in my sin. Also I have to forgive when being wronged is the closest thing I feel to power... It's just not fair.

No one cares about me.
I recognize that this is a straight up lie, but my emotions continue to disregard that memo. My mind can see that there are five extremely caring people surrounding me day in and day out. But my feelings love to interpret the scenario as they only care that i can meet their needs. For if it wasn't for me, who would load the dishwasher or microwave their supper or wipe the butts or launder their clothes or buy the groceries from the store? It's not so much that no body likes me or that everybody hates me... there's no call for worm eating... it's just that maybe that's how I'm seeing myself and blaming those closest to me for my misperceptions...

But running away is easier than figuring that out...

Yet I find strength... even if it's simply strength to stay. Even if there's only strength for this moment. Even if it's simply the realization that God has made some really awesome tiny humans and my job is to just not screw them up. And caving to my deepest selfish desire to do solely what I want through running away would definitely screw them up... so I stay.

And I look around at all the other brave warriors who are also choosing to stay in their battle. And I cry. And I apologize. And I confess my unforgiveness. And I acknowledge the prick of Holy Spirit hope that whispers "struggling here is winning"...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Baptizing Paynes

The church picnic at the river means baptisms. This year a Payne had responded to the call and decided to publicly state that he wants to follow Jesus with his whole life. The day is gorgeous...

As a mom, I wrestle with knowing if he really understands. Does he grasp the idea of giving his young life away to the One who can save him from his own destructive desires? Does he realize he's acknowledging the right of God to put His lovingly firm finger on any place in his heart at any time? Does he see that he can trust this God fully, because He is a good, faithful and true God? As a child, the peace of Jesus guards my mind with the reminder that I don't have to know. I can simply watch and see what God is doing in his life.

Then we have a Sunday morning...

I prepared the night previous. We had adequate time. They were ready and relaxing. Until the one who desires deeply to have the power to control others once again tried it out on the one who just refuses to be controlled. I warned. I followed through. I repeated. I clarified. I redirected... then I. Lost. It. Regardless of my initial best attempts, I was screaming at the literal top of my lungs in pure anger. Fuming over the fact that the one who was preparing to stand up and declare his life in Christ was intent on feeling power from controlling his brother into frustration and was willing to disobey me to my face in order to do so, I broke.

My scream hurt more than my throat and the neighborhood's tranquility....

With all Paynes in time out {including myself}I poured it all out to the God {whose idea it was for me to have this many kids anyway}... 
"i'm so furious." I know.
"i tried!!! i did all that i knew to do!" I saw. 
"We're not going to the picnic! He's not getting baptized! I am the One who makes that call. 
"He clearly doesn't want to follow You! He can't even follow simple directions that will avoid getting him in trouble with me!!!" I see you struggle too. 
"i'm so sorry for yelling! i hate that i yelled. i hate that i let my anger control me!" I forgive you. 
"But i'm still mad!"  I am not.
"What if i can't teach him to follow You the right way? i can't do it." I can. You can trust Me. 
"i do."

My feelings weren't caught up to the Truth that Jesus spoke to my heart. I still felt angry at him and {even more so} myself, and I knew the onslaught of sweet intentioned "how are you?"s that awaited our church arrival... but I went forward. And I attempted to answer honestly without drama or gossip to all the friendly inquiries. Then we praised and my words matched the Truth and somehow the Holy Spirit aligned my heart as well. 

For truly all who stand in the water of baptism, stand as sinners who have been cleansed! And the amazing thing is NOT how long we can go before needing forgiveness again, but in the generous God who does not grow weary of cleansing us over and over and over and over... again. Screaming at the little Payne who was making a public statement about his faith today reminded me so very tangibly that baptism doesn't make us good people... it declares the goodness of our God to love and accept us even though we fall so short. And that is more than enough. 

So I close my eyes and remember my dad baptizing me when I only knew that Jesus loves and saves me and I wanted to tell others. And I thank Him deeply that my son will now also have that to remember.

"So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11