Anger and Zipping Duffles
Cosmas is eating solids now, a full two months later than I expected. The kid loves his "milkies" as Bruno has lovingly named Cosmo's food of preference. Watching him eat is one of the cutest things I've ever seen. He is entirely skeptical of spoon feeding. He scrunches up his face and backs away with a clenched jaw, because naturally if I'm trying to put something in his mouth it must be full of prickles and paste. Never mind that he'll eat literally any speck of twig, tape, LEGO, or even bugs he can round up. Eight months old is the beginning of all the everything. It's all the sweetness and the stubbornness and the opinions and the personality and the cuddles and the knowing who's who and what's what. And so, doing some simple math here: solids + feisty baby = lots of baths.
But bathing him happens to be the one area that has been really challenging for me lately. He's too huge for any baby tubs at this point (not that they would contain him, anyway). He turns into I-don't-even-know-what in the tub. Last night I noticed that his arm I was holding was actually turning purple because I had to grip it that tight in order to keep him from flinging his body and cracking his head against something. He has no sense of self-preservation. The bathtub has always sparked a certain energy in him, and now that he's stronger I can barely contain him from his desperate lunges toward.... water! toy! soap! cup! toy! I think baths might have to turn into a two-man job. I have actually been getting angry bathing him because it's so hard, ha! This has definitely never happened to me before.
But I've been more angry than usual anyway. When you become a parent, it reveals a lot of things that you never really wanted to know. For me, it was anger. I used to have such outbursts even at baby Seb. Those days, months and even years grieve me so much. But by the grace of God, my anger has been worked out of me significantly after 7 years of parenting (Seb turns SEVEN on Monday!). This week I've been struggling a bit more with this sin, and I've learned that it's an important reminder to look at what I can change to set myself up for more self-control. I get very easily overwhelmed and overstimulated and lose the ability to cope with even small interruptions. Prayer is an essential element of this, always, but it's also a good reminder to look at how I'm living, and what could be pushing me in unhealthy ways. Creating physical space is essential to my emotional and mental well-being, it's self-care really. Kids asking for a glass of water or simply demanding my time? Healthy distraction. Piles of clutter and tripping over boxes? Unhealthy distraction.
Cody is at a conference this week and when he gets back it's Seb's birthday and then time for us to hit the trail again for a week. I really want to use these days that he's gone to be intentional about getting our home in order. After the unfettered ways of living in the wild(ish) setting of a campground, I've been more than ever feeling overwhelmed by our apartment. We are so grateful for a generous income, generous family members and friends, which and whom have made our apartment bursting with blessings, but at the end of the day, we only have so much square-footage in which we can place our things, and currently it's like a duffle bag that just won't zip.
As our camping gear comes in, I'm committing to filling the bigger sized boxes with items to pass on. Genius! We ordered a queen sleeping bag before our first camping trip, which came in 2 enormous boxes nestled one inside the other. Yesterday I took those boxes, both full, to Caritas in Waco.
I've found what I'm calling this phase two of decluttering. Phase one is all the visible areas. The things you touch every day. Phase two, the deep and ugly phase, is taking a good hard look at the things you keep in storage just in case. They are the things you keep out of fear.
Both Sebastian and Bruno are 100% loving LEGO, which means our collection is growing. It's still very small because we were intentional about not collecting masses of it as soon as they showed interest. Minimalist parent lesson #1: Just because your kids loves it doesn't mean you have to have ALL OF IT. For the last 2 years they might get a set for birthdays and one for Christmas. But both of them have birthdays coming up and Seb's at least will be delightfully LEGO-heavy. I have no problem with this, but it has become very clear in the last couple weeks that we need a storage solution. Google "LEGO storage" and you will quickly see that literally every parent ever has wrestled the LEGO explosion in their homes. Cody and I had a quick chat yesterday about possible systems and what would work for us. We agreed that for now a bin for each boy and a joint bin made the most sense and would allow for the easiest cleanup with still some room for keeping their own sets separate.
I started to think about when we could get to a store to buy some new containers as all of ours were in use. And then a lightbulb went off. I have a 3-drawer bin in our room full of craft supplies. I pared down my craft things and scrap fabric last summer, but I had already been feeling that it was time to do another vigorous down-sizing. I knew it would be personally challenging for me, but if I am frustrated with the state of our home, I should immediately assume that my stuff is the problem. I can't expect my kids to part with toys, or my husband to part with books if I'm not willing to part with my things. I think it was a really good opportunity for the boys to see that I am also making space so that we can live more peacefully in our home. In a swift dump, those drawers were empty and newly filled with LEGO.
Late into the night I watched New Girl episodes, ate too much ice cream, and sorted through the contents. It's really helpful to know your space and fit your possessions to that space. Why do we typically try to fit our space to our possessions? Just one... more... thing... like a duffle that won't zip.
Here's to letting go and creating valuable brain space and floor space for breath and creativity.