So here are some links that seemed related, to me, in a sequential sort of way.
Melanie Bettanelli makes a little observation the other day that gave me great pause, not so much because it was a revelation as because I utterly sympathized. I am in the middle of this tension, and it's heightening:
And then because Dom and I had been talking about the ancient Romans and military tactics over breakfast, suddenly I recalled the famous words of the Roman historian Tacitus: "they make a desert and call it peace."
Oh yes, that speaks so perfectly to the great tension in my life: if the house is very clean, I've probably been ignoring the kids and their needs.
I tend to fall on the other side of the spectrum from "desert," but I've been fighting through to the other side, not so peaceably. With nine kids, it's tough to restore order to kid-inflicted chaos all by myself, as Simcha Fisher points out. She also points out the conundrum this creates.
A priest once counseled me to make my children help me more. There are so many of them, he said, and it’s generally their messes I’m cleaning up. What a simple solution to my irritability, my exhaustion, my frustration with my duties!
I’ll forgive that priest some day.
In the meantime, let me explain, Father. When your kids help, it doesn’t help. At least, not for the first 46,923 times you get them to help. They need to be trained, and it would be faster to train an olive tree to grow in the shape of an ampersand. It would be faster to train a cocker spaniel to type in Mandarin.
It would be faster just to do the job myself.
I've been working on the training thing. And frequently I realize I need training more than my kids do. In anger management, for instance. I saw this link and clicked on it, knowing from the title that I should just print it out and memorize it: 8 Ways to Take Anger Out of Mothering
Here are a few things that help take me out of AngryMom mode.
1. Have a list of Bible Verses ready.
They can pertain to anger. Or they can just be verses that help you remember you’re loved by God. Or verses that you know you need to read at this time in your life.
I can't decide if this is my favorite tip, or #5: Pretend there's a nanny cam.
So there we are. Part reflection, part entertainment, part how-to.