November is a full month for our family...so is December. Really, it all starts in August and then continues to build until it is two months so full of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Still, these two months are two of my favorite months of the year.
There has been so much focus on thankfulness during November, and that is good, but my real focus lately has been contentment. I can't say I'm always content. I have four boys. I'm content in that. I have four rowdy, messy, clingy, wonderful boys - a few of those traits (and some others not mentioned) certainly leave me less content sometimes. We have a house. There are times when I'm more aware of how small it is, and it gets cluttered easily, and I'm not always (usually) great at keeping it clean, and those sometimes chip away at my willingness to be content, but I'm working on it.
This past year was especially difficult. There were some big schedule changes with H starting first grade, and then joining the after school program. There have been several (the first day of school included) days where H has brought home reports of less than exemplary behavior (don't take this to mean I think he should be perfect, I'm well aware he's a 6-year-old boy). We are struggling with the same issues at home...times three because if H is doing it you better believe G and J are going to follow suit. W is the sweetest cuddler, and he wants to do that always. Forget cleaning or eating or cuddling other children, he has turned into a rather opinionated and stubborn toddler who doesn't like to share his mama. More things to work on, more things that make life a little more difficult. Lots of whining and needing help. Lots of toys to pick up and dishes to do. Lots and lots of repetitive things that make it feel as if NOTHING is ever getting done.
I can honestly say there were several months where I was just worn. Kids are hard. Being a stay at home mom is hard. Keeping house is hard. Not getting enough sleep is hard. I didn't have a very content attitude...or even a good attitude.
This past week Husband and I went on a little anniversary getaway to celebrate 10 years. A few weeks before this getaway I had gone to my parents for a quick weekend trip with all the boys but without him. When I got home he asked me this question, "Do I make you happy?" What kind of question is that? In my mind it causes panic, what have I done, what do I need to do, etc. The answer was, of course, yes (don't get me wrong, he drives me crazy sometimes, but he makes me happy regardless). It was a eye opener. My attitude has been so wrong lately that he didn't see me smile much, and I wasn't acting happy. On our little getaway he asked me question #2, "Do you like what you do?" Do I like being a stay at home mom? He wasn't asking to be unkind, and I'm so glad he asked. We had some good talking that getaway while we drove the various places he had planned. He was sweet enough to say he'd never say I have a bad attitude...I would. I love being a stay at home mom. I love getting to be with my boys, but it isn't easy. There are so many times where I don't get enough sleep (both because of me or my children), so many times where everything doesn't work out like I want or it feels like a never ending cycle of dishes, laundry, and homework. But when I really think about each day, when I really look at what I'm doing, when I really take the time to see how my children are behaving, I know so much of it boils down to my attitude. Add to these questions some things that have been discussed in MOPS, and some extra time just for me and Husband because of preschool one day a week and a date night one night a week, and then some times where Husband has given me a break just for me and the sky is looking a little bluer because I'm paying attention. A few nights ago I failed, I was sick (litereally) and tired and just needed to sleep. Husband didn't criticize, and he accepted my appology when I gave it, and he even listened when I told him how wonderful our children had been (though they were struggling with bed time routine when he got home). He helped get them to bed and then I took some medicine and went to sleep myself.
Now my goal is to tell him how wonderful the kids have done throughout the day - to brag on what awesome little boys they are. So, I'm learning and striving towards contentment. Thankfulness is awesome, and I do my best to help my boys be thankful and realize how blessed we are, but for me I'm going to take this month (and next month and so on) to focus more on contentment. Maybe I'll get it more right sooner rather than later. It doesn't matter as long as I am doing better more often than not.