We are working on potty training Lamb 3 this week so I don't have any time to blog without many interruptions. I also have "mommy brain" as it's all I can do to potty train and attempt to homeschool too this week. So when Loopers started to discuss being home with your kids all the time, I thought that was a good thing to post about today while I'm discussing being a mom with young children as a rural pastor's wife.
Ram's parents live a 3 day drive away (and with kids it is really pushing it to do it in 3 days) and my parents live a 2 day drive away. I have been blessed that after the birth of all of my Lambs, either my mom or Ram's mom came to be with us for a few weeks. I am extra blessed that my mom came to be with Lamb 1 and 2 when Lamb 2 and 3 were born-and especially that she was here before they were born. I don't know what we would have done if they would have been born before she would have made it here. I delivered Lamb 2 and 3 45 minutes away (and this was closer than Lamb 1 1 1/2 hours away!). I had my last miscarriage when Ram was out of town and it was really difficult to find people to watch the Lambs while I went to a few doctor appointments. I know that finding someone to watch your children when you go to the hospital to have a baby is a big concern for many rural pastor wives.
I see local moms here that take their kids to Grandma's so they can have a night out occasionally. Some of the grandmas are the daycare-either every day or at least once a week. One Grandma took her grandson to cooking class when I took Lamb 2 last week. We did have a dilemma even for cooking class because one adult was required for each kid. Someone had to stay home and watch Lamb 3 because he was too little to attend. So I took Lamb 2 last week and I'm hoping they don't cancel cooking class for lack of attendance so I can take Lamb 1 this week. It would have been so much easier if Grandma could have taken one and I took one and Ram stayed home with one. I couldn't imagine the mom that sent one with Grandma and didn't even go herself to cooking class.
I have never been away overnight without at least one Lamb since Lamb 1 was born. I hear moms talk about how they need their short breaks away-either a cup of coffee with friends or an overnight weekend away. Living in this rural place neither one of those is possible. It is 1 1/2 hours to Starbucks or Caribou Coffee so I'm not going for a quick cup of coffee. Neither do I have any local friends to go for a cup of coffee. I need to use the babysitters that are difficult to find for when I really need them, not for a night out with my friends.
Once I went to IA (with Lamb 3) for one overnight with Loopers. I probably spent as much time driving there as I spent there. Before I went I didn't do any of the preparation before a trip that moms would usually do. I didn't cook anything ahead of time and leave it for Ram to warm up. I didn't even clean up the kitchen before I left. But what I did have to do, was line up a back up to babysit Lamb 1 and 2 in case Ram would have to go visit someone in an emergency (and especially if it was a middle of the night emergency). That was no easy task to find someone that planned to be home most of the two days I would be gone and also wouldn't mind a middle of the night phone call. Thankfully there was no emergency and Ram didn't have to call her, but I had to have some one lined up. I also had to come back on Saturday, I couldn't stay overnight on Saturday because someone had to watch the Lambs while Ram did 3 services on Sunday. I was jealous of the moms that were able to stay for the whole weekend. Then last year when the Loopers got together, Ram had a meeting out of town so I wasn't able to stay overnight at all. I didn't think it was wise to leave the little Lambs with a babysitter when both Ram and I were out of town. I drove 4 hours round trip to spend about 4 hours with them, not spend the night.
Here's a few ways that I cope with being with my children all the time:
1. I continually remind myself that the pregnant/breastfeeding/toddler time really will end. Currently I've had the last 1 1/2 years without nursing any one. There really will be a time when I can go away and Lamb 1 could watch the other Lambs if Ram had an emergency. There really will be a time when I can go to the bathroom without every boy leaving their toys to come check and see what I'm doing. There really will be a time when all 3 can sit in the pew at church with someone else watching them besides me while Ram is the pastor. I bet that time will come faster than I think it will.
2. I know that every mom is different and her needs may be different than mine. I would rather stay home than go out. So my "need" is time at home without watching the Lambs. This is almost impossible when we live rural-where is Ram going to take the Lambs? It's not completely impossible though. For a few years we had a babysitter-a homeschooled girl that came once a week to our home. She watched the Lambs while I mainly did stuff at home, once and awhile I would run to the town 7 miles away and run errands. I loved this time-sometimes I took a nap, sometimes I cleaned without helpers, sometimes I tried to catch up on correspondence without interruptions, etc. She moved away and I miss this. I'm am trying to line up another homeschooler to do this again, but I haven't been successful yet. I preferred the one afternoon a week babysitter to having a cleaning lady!
Sometimes there will be an event in the community (library or dad's reading night, etc.) and now that all the Lambs are old enough Ram will take all three and give me one evening home alone. This has only been recently-before I had one Lamb while he took the others. Sometimes Ram will run an errand with all the Lambs and give me a few minutes home alone. Sometimes Ram will take everyone to the post office and then take them to the town park to play afterwards to give me a little more time. I really appreciate these chances even if they are not often or for long.
3. A few times a year, I have two friends that live far away that I call and we talk for hours. Even if I can't get out for a cup of coffee, I can still talk to them. We usually talk way too late and I regret it the next day when I'm tired, but I really need this time. I think sometimes with e-mail and Facebook etc. we don't make the phone calls any more.
4. After the Lambs go to bed, Ram and I do our own things for a couple of hours and then we try to have together time (devotions and talk). If I can get the Lambs to bed on time (which doesn't always happen), it is comforting for me to know that I can have about 2 hours alone. Sometimes I'm interrupted with a request from the Lambs before they fall asleep, but I have most of that time.
5. I haven't done it recently, but last year in homeschooling, I expected the Lambs to leave me alone the first 1/2 hour after I got up so I could read my Bible and read something else. They played, got dressed, and Lamb 1 helped them get cereal while I read. I need to get back to that again. Of course they were boys playing loudly (even though they were trying to be quiet) while I was reading. It didn't take them long to learn Mama was serious about reading and not getting up and getting them anything during her reading time and I would help them immediately after the half hour was up.
6. Each day there is one hour rest time for everyone in the house. Lamb 3 always takes a nap. Sometimes I take a nap. Ram usually reads if he is home. Lamb 1 and 2 sometimes have quiet rest time-where they are in a bed and might fall asleep, but at least look at books, play with toys quietly-and other times they watch a movie-their only screen time allowed since we don't have TV. I don't know what I would do without this rest time-everyone in the house needs a break.
7. I would encourage you to talk to your husband about what your need is for a break from your children. Perhaps you can come up with a creative solution to give you short breaks even if it is not the ideal situation.
8. I also think some times about what my Grandmas and the farm wives would think about this "need". I'm sure they didn't get away overnight with friends. They were too busy doing all the housework and taking care of the kids to have a "girls night out". What did they do? Had the neighbor over for coffee, got involved in activities at church, etc. I know my Grandma had it a lot harder as a pastor's wife in TX when her family was in NE and she had 4 children in less than 5 years. What can I do like my Grandma? I could be better about inviting people over to our house for tea or coffee. I could go to quilting at church and make friends with those women even though they are all old enough to be my mom or grandma. One of the ladies at church was just telling me that the only time her husband ever changed a diaper was when she went to Ladies Aid at church once a month when her youngest child was still in diapers.
9. I would also encourage you to pray about this need. Perhaps God will provide that friend in your area that you didn't even know is there. Or He will help you come up with a solution to help you cope better.
I love my Lambs and I love being a SAHM, but sometimes I do need a break and that seems almost impossible when I live rural. I want to remind you that it is not impossible, you just need to be more creative than the moms that live in bigger cities. So how do you cope with being with your children all the time when you live in a rural place?
Check back tomorrow for more discussion about being a mom with young kids and living in a rural place.