A few weeks ago I packed the kids up and drove 5 hours to meet up with two of my best friends from college.
I was nervous. I debated dropping out at the last minute. I have a 4 year-old, almost 3 year-old, and a 4 month old, and while the older two are great car travelers, I was a little scared to be trapped in a car with all 3 of them for 3.5 "Frozens."
The trip went well, and as always, it was so meaningful to spend time with my friend's kids, and to celebrate the coming of my other friend's first baby in a few months.
One night after my friend had put her 4 year-old down once and I'd put mine down about 15 times, we started talking about some of the drama. The wailing, flopping-to-the-floor, zero-to-sixty drama. As always, it was good to remember that I'm not the only one dealing with that kind of thing. At one point we talked about proactive parenting versus reactive, and about how things seem to be easier when we think ahead.
I've thought about that more as both of my older girls have gone through normal waves of drama since our return. I think adding our third baby has almost made me better about being proactive, because I know that if I wait until I have to react, things are too far gone. So since having Piper, I've started meal planning again, cleaning my house more often (or at all), and I think I've been better about self-care, too.
It's kind of funny to me that it took feeling like I was in over my head a bit with 3 girls, 4 and under, to start doing that.
On that 5 hour drive a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I could drive 3 more hours and visit my parents after leaving my friend's house. My husband was actually gone for the weekend anyway, so my options were drive 5 hours home to an empty house, or drive 3 and hang out with my parents and sister. Seems like an easy choice but I just kept thinking what shape will I be in at the end of this?
Because I've realized that even something that seems as no-brainer as a weekend with family versus a weekend alone can backfire if I can't handle it. Seventy-two hours of fun isn't worth it if I'm a jerk to my kids on the way home because I'm too tired, too poured out, too anything.
So I made my decision that way, and decided to go. And it ended up being an incredibly life-giving weekend. The whole trip was one where I feel like God put exactly who I needed in my path to remind me how much he sees me, how much he loves me. It was exactly what I needed.
My decision was a good one. Our trip home wasn't perfect, but I'd been intentional about making sure I was resting, physically and emotionally, as the weekend went on.
I think those kinds of decisions look different for each mom and each family but the question "what shape will I be in on the other side of this" can be a helpful one when you're thinking through parenting with intention. We all rest differently but we all have to take rest seriously. I think that's a big part of mothering intentionally - making sure that we have something to offer our kids. My kids don't necessarily need a super fun, adrenaline pumping, always thrilling cool mom, they need a consistent, playful, safe place. They need a mom who's doing her best to imitate Christ as a dearly loved child (Ephesians 5:1). And they need a mom who's got enough gas in the tank to see them and love them well more than any 5 hour road trip.
Connect with Kristi on her blog, And Babies Don't Keep.