Making a Home

Post-Pardum Blues

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I held my newborn son in my arms and watched as he puckered out his lips and stretched.  I have always loved that face.  “Duck-lips” we call it.  Each of our six babies have done it, and I swear that someday I’ll actually record it happening to memorialize it for all time to come, but I’ve never been able to swerve my gaze from them long enough to find the camera.  As I stared into this baby’s sweet little face, I knew I should embrace this moment.  He was to be my last little one, and he wouldn’t stay little long.

But, instead, I found myself frustrated.  All I wanted was to find a show to binge-watch.  It didn’t matter what- just anything mildly entertaining to take my mind off of the reality I was now living.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to run out of the house, hop in the van, and take off for Florida, all by myself.

I came downstairs with baby in tow and faced a crowd around our table.  Five little faces sat with their grandmothers and father, all having started supper.  They loudly, happily greeted their momma, who had been hibernating all to often in her room.  Instead of running to kiss their heads and beam smiles, I wanted to just STOP THE NOISE!!!  I handed the baby off to the first set of open adult arms and sat, angrily pushing around the food on my plate and asking them to please just be quiet.

The baby had had a pretty scary case of jaundice.  He had to be readmitted to the hospital on day three.  Once we were finally released, we had to return every single day for almost two weeks to continue to monitor his jaundice levels.  It was a lot.  I worried for my baby and I ached to see his poor teeny feet covered in too-large band-aids.  My breasts ached from newborn baby feedings.  My body ached all over from giving birth and lack of sleep.  My head pounded.  And all I felt was a severe desire to be alone and not be touched.  I could tell from the looks at the table that I was hurting feelings. Mommy was not being very nice.

When I went for my first post-pardum visit, the doctor took one look at me and pronounced me DEPRESSED.  “What?” I almost shouted at her.  “I’m not depressed!  I’m worn out!  I’m sad!  But I’m not….” I couldn’t get the words out.  I just burst into tears and sobbed all over her.  I’m pretty sure she was thinking of committing me somewhere had I not persuaded her that it was due to the many, many trips to the hospital for the baby.

“Have you ever felt like this before?” she asked.  “No!” I answered.  “But I’ve never had six kids before either!”

After dwelling in the Land of Denial for a few days, I finally did a google search for “Signs of Post-Pardum Depression”. It was totally all about me.  Except for wanting to harm myself or others, I fit the bill to a tee.  But how could this be me?  Depression was for people that didn’t want to be mommies!  Or weren’t prepared for it!  Or were under a great deal of stress- like in the middle of a war or had just had their arm ripped off or something else really horrible!  It definitely wasn’t for me!  I had done this “mommy gig” five times before!  I kind of/sort of felt like I knew what I was doing.  (We don’t ever really- but I had survived this before!)  I had a loving husband, a supportive family.  We were financially stable.  No impending doom loomed over my head.  So why the depression?

To admit I was depressed felt like I was weak.  Like I was not appreciative of all the good things and people in my life.  But to not admit it meant I was not going to get any better.  So face it I did.

I talked about it with my husband and my mom.  I was told, “I know, Dear.”  I prayed daily and asked God to remove it from me and make me happy again.  I told my closest friends and asked them to bear with me for the time being.  It was not a quick thing to be fixed.  It took many months.  For some people, I hear it can take years.  I am grateful it didn’t for me.  I let myself rest as much as I could.  I delayed starting back school with the kids.  I read my Bible more.  I let others help me.  I let myself binge-watch those teenage shows without guilt.  I ate whatever I wanted and enjoyed it.  I wore fuzzy socks and stretchy pants and took long, hot showers.  I held my baby and let myself just be content to feel bad for the short term, knowing that I loved him, even though I was hurting.  I fake-smiled for the other kids, hugged and kissed them and stuck it out, loudness and all.  And tried desperately to keep my mouth closed.

And slowly, ever so slowly, I came out of the dark storm clouds and back to myself. Those days were full of sadness and pain, tears, and an overwhelming sense that nothing would ever be fun or happy again until I got to heaven.  Living was HARD.  But I’ve come out of that, hopefully a little wiser for the experience and a little more empathetic.

And I’m grateful.

 

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Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

Teaching From Home, Earning $$$ with VIPKid

Over the last few months, I’ve been teaching ESL classes online to children in China through VIPkid!  It is a one-on-one program for children ages 4-12.  I’m able to earn a little money to help out my family, all while my little ones are still asleep.  This job is PERFECT for homeschool mommies (or daddies) that want to earn a little more on the side ($14-22/hour) and still maintain their family’s normal work and school schedules.  If you have a bachelor’s degree and one year of teaching experience, you qualify!  Check out the video below!

 

If you’re interested in this super-cool, fun job (It really is!), just know that there’s a bit of up-front work before the $$$$$ starts rolling in.  But by month two, I had a bunch of cutesy kids all lined up, ready to learn new English words and have fun.

It took me all of month #1 to complete the training for the job and jump through the hoops.  It doesn’t have to take this long, but it did for me…just because…well…Come on!  6 kids, People!  This included reading over their material and learning what to do, gathering a few supplies (an orange t-shirt, some pole lamps, a puppet, and some alphabet cards), and setting up a teaching area in my home- as far from my family as I could get!  (It started out as an area in my bedroom and quickly became our basement with an entire floor between me and “them”.)  After completing a couple of mock classes with an adult, I was told I passed.  Don’t be scared!  Those classes super helped me prepare for the actual classroom!  I’m so glad I had the practice.  I then had to take a short and sweet video of myself and set up a small profile page.  Later, I had to give proof of my education and provide a bit of info.

Soooo….maybe you could complete this stuff in far less time than I did.  Again, I really drug my feet to get it done.  But it was so worth it!  Tough it out, and you, too, can be setting your own schedule and getting paid to do what you’re already good at, all while staying in your jammy-pants!

If you’re interested, please show the love and use me as a reference!  I will be bursting with happiness to help you learn the ropes and guide you along in any way I can!!

Sign up for VIPKid! 

My Referral Code= 04VFGA

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

Get Your Mess Together Day

We had just completed our third kid birthday weekend in one month.  Balloons were scattered about the floor.  Dishes piled all over the counter-tops.  An embarrassingly humongous pile of clean laundry was eating our loveseat.  Days had been packed full of soccer games, music and dance lessons, and the normal grind of school work.  Then there was also a smattering of doctor appointments, planned and not-so-much.  And Momma was sick again and again.  Needless to say, our house was in a chaotic disorder.

I totally understand the phrase that sometimes a house with kids living there can show “the proof of life”.  And perfectionist though I used to be (come on- there are SIX kids.  Perfection got thrown out a long time ago.), I can usually ignore a little bit of mess here and there and still feel pretty okay about myself.  But not this.  This was a hostile takeover of my sanity.  I could not, would not be able to think or function in this environment one.  more.  day.

We needed a break.  Badly.  Just a day to stop the constant overload of Too Much To Do. So we took it- because we could.  Because we homeschool.  We called it our “Get Your Mess Together Day”, and it was heavenly.  I wrote up a list of everything that was wrong with our house the night before, and read it aloud to the children.  I promised them zero school work if only we would all pitch in together and tackle it.  They wrote their little names beside each chore they chose to handle.  In the afternoon, I promised that there would be game time with Mommy to celebrate (also much needed).

No, not everything on my list was accomplished.  Nor was anything done quite the way I would have done it myself.  But it was oh, so much better than it was before.  And just seeing my little kiddos, big to small, helping with all their might, did my overworked Mommy heart a lot of good.  Spending time together that was not school or a planned event of some sort was also good.  We laughed, we hugged.  We ate popcorn & sipped coke floats.  We passed around the baby.

Get Your Mess Together Day.  I think it’s going to be a new family tradition.  Right up there with Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Only, maybe a little better even.

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

When Momma’s Sick

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Our school year, so far, has been not the hottest thing going.  I just went through a month and a half of a doozy of an illness.  I watched weepy-eyed as all of my carefully laid plans shattered one by one.  Play dates, field trips, and even our family vacation got the shaft.  The kids stopped asking “how many days till…” because the answer was repeatedly, “Sorry.  Mommy just can’t,”.  Thankfully, it’s done now, and life can (hopefully) go on.  It’s rough when your little people need you to take care of them, and you can’t even take care of yourself!  And when you’re also their teacher, life can get really crunchy.

So- what did school look like for us while I was in and out of fevers, popping antibiotics like they were going out of style, and laying on the couch in severe pain?  We did the best we could.  Every sane moment, I would assign work for the older children, read to the little ones, and grade papers.  I taught what I could from the couch.  We listened to audio books together, the children read the science lesson aloud, and the older ones helped the younger.  It wasn’t stellar, it wasn’t our best, but we kept going.

And you know what?  I found that in the midst of those imperfect school days, a lot of real life learning happened.  Not just book stuff, which is, of course, important.  But how to put others first, how to lovingly take care of the ones you love.  How to have a bit more patience.   My older children learned to make lunch for us all.  They had set aside their own desire to have some free time to go get their mom a piece of dry crusty toast or a glass of water, rock the baby, or help a little sibling with their writing.  I would never have chosen to start out this school year with this kind of a bang, but I think we’ve been made the better for it.

*****I feel for you mommas out there with chronic illnesses.  I know of many homeschool moms in that situation that are taking one step at a time, doing their very best for their children.  With every struggle, with every day, they are pushing on and accomplishing all that they can, despite pain and hardship.  I have heard one woman say that she did not know exactly how long she could keep going before she would be confined to a wheelchair, but she was fitting in as many field trips as she could until that day came.  What love and sacrifice.  I am in awe of you.  Your little ones are watching you.  And they are learning a lot.

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

A Weighty Kind of Wonderful

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We had our first day of school today, and I asked my children to write about or draw pictures showing what they would like to be when they grow up.  My ten-year-old drew this.  She wants to be a mommy like me.  Like ME.  It’s so sweet and super scary at the same time.  Just what kind of mommy am I?  Am I talking/behaving/acting like I want her to towards my grandchildren some day?  What a gentle reminder to me to be in prayer daily for right attitudes and behaviors.  May I be the kind of mommy that would bring glory and honor to my Lord and set a good example for my child.  And may I be quick to apologize when I am not!!  I am totally not perfect.  Admitting it and reminding her that I am not is also good for her.  I do not want her beating herself up someday for not meeting that unattainable standard this side of Heaven.

On a side note, two of the children are (accurately) yelling at each other and the baby is screaming his head off.  Yes, I asked.  And yet, the mommy and daddy are still smiling!  That’s not so accurate.  Ha!  Also cute, her husband looks like her daddy.

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

Welcoming A Second Author!

I’m excited to announce that this blog site will now have two authors!  My sweet friend, Valerie, has graciously agreed to contribute her thoughts and advice.  She has been a wonderful, godly influence in my life and has been my go-to for homeschooling advice.  While my experience lies in teaching eighth grade and below, Valerie has also navigated high school and beyond.  I look forward to reading her posts!

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

The Problem of Loneliness

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“But are your children being socialized?” It’s the absolute #1 question I am asked when strangers find out we homeschool.  Of course, of course.  They’ve got neighborhood friends, church friends, friends from co-op/ music lessons.  They’re so socialized, they can’t get over themselves.  But what about their mommy?  What about that adult that is running around ragged, trying to cram them full of knowledge and fun and lots of love?  Is SHE being socialized?

If someone were to ask me what the hardest part of homeschooling is for me, it would definitely be this.  Loneliness.  It’s something that can be experienced by any person in any walk of life from anywhere in the world.  And if you think that being a stay-at-home mommy, surrounded by tiny persons can’t possibly feel it, think again.  There is a huge difference between being with like-minded mommy friends and being with my babies.  I love them to pieces & wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world, but they cannot possibly meet every need for human interaction I could possibly have.  And they shouldn’t!  What a burden to have to bear for them.  They need me to have friends about as much as I do.

Our personal situation is compacted even more when you throw in that we have moved a TON.  New neighborhoods, churches, co-ops, etc.  Starting over and over again can be so hard.  Children somehow bond immediately with other children, but it’s not always so with adults.  So what’s a mommy to do?

Here are some great ideas.

  1.  Pray.  Pray that your relationship to God meets the deepest desire of your heart.  No human relationship will ever fill the void in you like God can.  He created you to love him, and He will bring the joy you long for.  Pray also that He will send people into your life to be friends.
  2. Go out there and meet people!  Attend the “Mommy’s Night Out” programs, talk to people at church, co-op, the park, wherever!  Exchange names and numbers with your kids’ new bestest friend ever that she JUST met five minutes ago and plan (and follow through!) with meeting up again.  Sign your kids up for an activity where you know you can also hang out- baseball, gymnastics, cheerleading, soccer
  3. Invite people to do things with you!  Have them over at your home, meet at a park, catch a movie together, whatever- all with or without kiddos.
  4. Call up an old friend.  Don’t just text.  That’s too impersonal when you’re feeling blue and want actual human contact.
  5. Do stuff- attend a MOPS group (mothers of preschoolers), join a book club, volunteer at your child’s coop, take an art or cooking class.
  6. Get a part-time job.

These are just a few ideas.  Whatever you do, make sure you don’t stay home and wallow in the loneliness.  We mommies tend to sacrifice a lot for our little ones in order to meet their needs.  This shouldn’t be one of those things we neglect.  Life is hard.  We need each other.

What are some ways that you combat loneliness?