Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Monthly Mental Health Check In: August 2017

- Every year, I watch as countless teacher friends go back to school. Some years, it's actually really broken my heart a bit and some years I feel little if any conflicting emotions about it. Gratefully, my internal reactions seem largely unrelated to how I'm actually feeling in my mothering or how my relationship with any of the children is or even if my feelings toward the upcoming year at the Schoolhouse in the Suburbs are more excited anticipation or my nervous fear. I can't really pin down what provokes it some years (and- duh- I've tried) but the obvious reason it happens from time to time is simply that I never got to do it, this other thing I cared about so much- being a classroom teacher. And of course I could...any time I wanted to. Peyton would wholeheartedly support me going "back" and even pushes me to consider it from time to time. But, I can't do this and that. At least not the way I want to. And right now I'm choosing this. And it feels right and stings a lot all at the same time.

- I was initially sort of (unfairly) irritated at Peyton being sick. I had this ugly attitude and kept thinking about how he's literally never taken care of all three kids by himself for more than like six hours (I mean duh, that's kinda how it's going to be until Sallie stops nursing- no fault of his). And I got downright pissed thinking about how he was sort of critical of my helplessness (that drove me up the wall) when I was pregnant this last time. Which is something we've been over countless times. I realized I was being unfair and when I looked at it objectively, even the actual misery of the flu notwithstanding, I would *hate* being holed up in one room of the house having to cede control of the laundry and the kids and the day and my agenda.

- I love it when people are super chill and nonchalant when I tell them something huge (and negative, huge and positive I want the other reaction). This is tricky because, yeah, sometimes you need to be validated in the fact that some is really, REALLY hard. But sometimes it's also nice to hear "that's really not that big of a deal".

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Easiest By Myself

Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

I cried several times today for no real reason. I think mostly, I'm just tired. I probably sound like a broken record because I feel like two out of three of these things is me just being like "geez, I'm weary". But I am.

Peyton was off and able to come to church with us today. In some ways, I love it those infrequent times when it happens. But in some ways, it's harder. So many conversations about the different things we think and believe. Which at this point, (mostly) isn't like a knife turning in my heart, but it does sometimes make me tired and sad. They are necessary and we can often have them without me getting fretful or fearful, but it just stung today for some reason.

And then just the way the day falls out. Graves reminded P that they don't do chores or schoolwork on Sunday and he gave me a little look when Graves said "Momma does our chores for us on church days". I told him that church takes just about everything out of me and I suspect it does of them to so yes, they eat treats for breakfast and yes they have extra screen time and no they don't do chores or school. I spend Sundays mostly introverting, often napping, and catching up on things, planning the week, (hopefully) getting the house straight and functional and ready for the deeper cleaning Peyton does early in the week.

We had a good day. We visited with friends. We took care of ourselves and our children and each other. I'm sure some people would think this is wrong, but I still wouldn't pick anyone else over him. Sometimes I think about what I would have done if Peyton hadn't identified as a Christian when I fell in love with him and I'm honestly very grateful I wasn't faced with that. I love him so much. More every day. And I can't imagine life without him.

But- and I have hope it isn't always this way- Sundays are easiest by myself. Very, very few things are easier without him, but I think this is.

[Also, Momma looks as tired as she feels because this photo was taken pre makeup.]

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: A Safe Place for the Babies

There's a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

I say often that when I was looking for a church, it was deeply important to me to find a safe place for the children and for Peyton, if he wanted to go again. Recently, I tried to articulate what that meant to a friend and I've been thinking about it a lot since then:

1. Annie's been asking some HARD questions lately (why were the first born Egyptians killed if God loves everyone? Why were all the NT letters written by me? Why couldn't the Hebrews just have driven the Canaanites out of the land instead of aneliating them?). Frankly, it's a bit terrifying because these are *exactly* the type questions P couldn't reconcile and because often, I don't have a clear answer myself. But it means the world to me that Annie has teachers who would never just brush over these things and dismiss her, who are humble enough to admit if they don't have the answers, and who would never shame her for questioning.

2. I just don't want them to grow up feeling like Peyton needs to be their project. I follow this well known atheist on FB and it's obvious that his girls really feel a lot of pressure to "reconvert" him. Obviously, I want my kids to have a real understanding of the Gospel and there's going to be a tension there but I don't want them fixating on him going to Hell. I spent so much of my teenage years so anxious about my own parents (and honestly didn't lay that fear down until we started going to Calvary in New York). And I also don't want them to be surrounded by people who feel sorry them.

3. I didn't think about this until last Sunday at church, but I've really grown to appreciate being part of an older congregation. I'd have a really hard time if there weren't a handful of young families that I adore, but there's something priceless that comes with age (at least here): perspective. Anytime I mention the children's behavior, the most common response is "we've all been there". I hope when I find myself in a pretty in twenty years, I pay that kindness forward.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Letter to (Six Year Old) Graves

Dear Graves,

Per our tradition, Papa writes your letter on your birthday month. It's a little (three months) late and coming but don't assume that's a measure of anything but how busy you- and your sisters- are keeping us. Without further ado:

In the past year we've experienced so many changes together. You've grown a bit in height, but changed much more in other ways. Focus has been quite a challenge for you in the past, and it still is, but I feel like you've changed in this area more than any other. You love to be read to and you can sit through reading of entire books.

In doing schoolwork together, you and I experienced both joys and frustrations. Towards the end there were probably more frustrations, but overall we had a great run in reading and math (which Momma now teaches you).

You're still the little joker that you've been since you were two. You can read underlying verbal communication better than your sister (sarcasm, play-on-words, ect.) and have gained a confidence to tell her when you'd rather she not be included in a conversations. In the past your overly heavy dependence upon her prevented this. At times, when riding in the car you'll loudly declare "Just don't worry about it ANNIE! You don't need to know, Annie." Even when your tone sounds a bit rude, it makes me pleased that you're standing up for yourself a bit.

You still haven't reached the place I'd like to see, but lately you've acted in a much more independent manner than ever before. You've gained a security in who you are that was missing before this point. I'd like to see that continue to develop.

You're also quite insightful when you put your mind to it- and even when you don't try too hard. We'll be starting more formal science training soon and I can't wait to see the wheels of your mind problem solve.

I look forward to seeing our fun little trickster who finds absolute joy in playing with babies continue to grow up. We love you for who you are, Bud.

Papa (and Momma)

P.S. Your Mouse on the Motorcycle tee is a 6 and your pants are 5t's.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: It Was Nothing I Did to Deserve These Gifts


All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

These three were such little angels this week while their papa was sick with the flu. I'm so proud of my big two, especially. They had been having more sibling conflict than they have since they were tiny, but lastweek was amazing. And nobody said one cross word about how we weren't going and doing much when I chose to just buckle down with school and things around the house. They came up with so many creative things to do on their own (and let's be fair, made some huge messes). 

 Sometimes I see people say "I don't know what I did to deserve them". And I think "yeah, but that's not how that works". Of course, like so many things, they are a gift and they are a gift precisely because I did nothing to deserve them. I'm glad, because there's nothing I could do to earn the blessings that are these three souls.

Letter to (Eight Year Old) Annie


     I fell in love with you the moment I saw you and it's been the same ever since. You're an inquisitive, thoughtful girl with a determination that can take you quite far if you make the right choices. Over the past year, you've become more of your own person. You certainly still rely on us quite a lot to help you make choices, but you've started to understand things about yourself. You know that you need alone time and space at times. You can reflect back about disagreements and explain why you felt the need to act in a certain manner and where you perhaps made bad choices concerning how you acted. Flexibility still isn't really too much of your thing, but I feel like you try to be more flexible at times.

     You're at a stage where you're floating towards independence more each day. You often do so in a surprisingly mature manner. And I don't mean to paint everything with the same broad brush, because at times it's certainly with a screaming fit that you push for more space, or being the "one who makes the choices". But often you're able to calmly express to us through a frustrated voice that Graves is bothering you and you'd like him to stop and give you space. It's a joy (and at times an annoyance) to watch the interactions between you, your brother, and your sister change as you get older.

     Speaking of your sister- Sallie and you have really fallen in love with one another lately. Part of it is your desire to be helpful towards us, but I think much of it has to do with your deep care for Sallie as you've seen her personality emerge. This is true with me as well and I think we both began to enjoy Sal more once we felt that we were connecting with her. After she began to interact with us it was easier to see how she valued and loved us...which allowed reciprocation a bit more.

     Annie I look forward to seeing you continue to grow and mature into the person you'll one day become. It excites me that you latch on to some things with a passion and love that not everyone can keep lit within. I'm not certain where this life will lead you or to what cause you'll dedicate yourself, but I'm glad I get to ride along and watch as you develop.

I Love You,
Papa (and Momma)

P.S. Your dress is like a size eight that I (Momma) bought at T.J. Maxx to wear myself when I was like seventeen. Of course you loved the matching headband.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Letter to (One Year Old) Sallie


     This year has brought many changes as the first year of life tends to for each small person. You've gifted us with your little personality and the joys that go along with it. I'll have to admit that I wasn't planning on being a big playmate of yours until you were 2 or 3, but it's hard to hold out when you're such a fun baby. The first three or four months of your life were pretty typical- sleep, poop, and eat with a bit of crying thrown in for a healthy mix. Then around month four we were able to see a bit of your playful personality. By the time you turned six you and your brother were thick as thieves, and by 7 or 8 months you won Annie and me over as well. There's really little reason to mention that you had mamma wrapped around your finger from the start.

     You may be the most social child we've had. You get terribly upset whenever you're left in a room alone and though he annoys you, the constant showers of attention that your brother gives you are pure gold to you it seems. Whenever you're in a cranky mood we can take you for a walk and everything in your world is right again- especially if it's a walk on a busy NYC sidewalk or a crowded Target!

     You don't have the longest attention span...except for that daily time when AP reads to you. She seems to be the only one you'll sit still for any amount of time and pay attention to. Your sister has grown to love and appreciate you, which makes Momma and me so very pleased. We look forward to seeing your relationships with both your sister and brother continue to blossom.

      And I look forward to enjoying your joyous and busy personality more as the years go by. Just tonight you walked more than you wanted to because you figured out that I'd clap and praise you for doing so. It's clear you're quite bright and deeply desire my affection - a charge I take seriously. I love you and look forward to seeing you grow more each day (and maybe sleep more each night).

We love you Little Sallie Sunshine,
Love, Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your dress is a 9 mo.