There is a big push out there to move from surviving to thriving. I get the sentiment, I really do.
However, there are times in life when thriving isn’t an option. But survival is.
Our lives don’t always come to us wrapped up in neat and pretty packages. We don’t always have days (or weeks or months or years) when we can truly thrive. To thrive means to prosper, to flourish. And thriving is a great thing. But it isn’t the only thing.
- In winter, plants don’t thrive. They survive.
- Hibernating animals don’t thrive. They survive.
- Sick people don’t thrive. They survive.
- Hurting and broken people don’t thrive. They survive.
- Sick and pregnant women don’t thrive. They survive.
- And mamas playing the single mom for five weeks to six kids? They don’t thrive. They survive.
I know my situation of having my husband on the other side of the world while I reign in the crazy here in the States for five weeks is a small thing. And yet, it doesn’t feel like a small thing when
- We have all been jet lagged and just downright tired
- Almost all of the kids have been sick (and we rarely get sick)
- Bethany did not handle jet lag well and spent more than a week waking up ready to start the day at 2:00 am
- Zachary has four molars coming in, is sick for the first time in his life, and broke out in a horrendous case of hives (which we later learned was due to the ibuprofen given to help with the cry-all-day teething pain)
- We’re all dealing with reverse culture shock and a feeling of not belonging anywhere
- We all miss dad!
- We are living in someone else’s home, which while is a blessing at times, leads to a lot of adjustment on everyone’s part
- We are living without our normal, everyday things (dishes, toys, decor, bedding, etc)
- We have no norms, no routines, no real schedule
So yea, we’re in survival mode. And I am okay with that. There is an ending in sight (18 days, in case you are wondering). And in the meantime, I am sticking to my “survival mode” rules (many of the same ones I employ when I am pregnant):
- Make sure everyone gets lots of sleep (a little tough with jet lag, but I think we are officially over it now!) This means no late nights, even for “special” things.
- Watch what we eat (we are especially mindful of things like sugar intake when emotions are already running high).
- Get lots of fresh air
- Try to ensure that the introverts get time alone (which for me means getting up at 2:30 am in order to have a few hours of peace and quiet) and the extroverts get some people time (which means going on a few outings with church and friends)
- Lots of extra snuggles and kisses
- Keeping spaces clean (it is amazing how much better we feel emotionally when our surroundings are tidy)
- A very light (but predictable) schedule
- Accepting help when needed and offered (I’m having a young lady come over today for a few hours so I can get some much needed work done)
- Extra time in the Word and in books (quiet reading soothes the soul)
- Extra doses of patience and compassion
- Not a time for learning new things or working on trouble areas in life
- Finding times for things that fill the soul (for me that is creating, either through photography, writing, designing, or baking)
- Little things first (I try to get all the small and pesky to-do things off my list first thing in the morning so they don’t weigh me down all day)
- Cutting out any and all things possible (for example, school time is down to reading and math)
- Getting exercise (I haven’t been able to run every day but I have gone out for the last few days and it has been GLORIOUS!)
I am sure there is more, but these are the things I am intentionally doing this time of single-parent survival. We’re a flawed bunch and we’ve had some really hard days, but we’ve had some really great days as well. The slower pace and lowered expectations for “getting things done” allows us the time and freedom to just BE together. Yesterday we snuggled on the couch and watched America’s Funniest Home Videos. Later we sat around the dinner table discussing all the different ways that people eat (vegetarian, vegan, paleo, Atkins, clean eating, the American out-of-a-box diet, etc.) The kids came up with a plan for us to try each of these for three days, just to experience them (I’m already feeling sick at the thought of eating frozen food out of a box for three days!). But as I sat there at the table, my kids surrounding me, listening to the laughter and creativity, I thought to myself, “Maybe survival mode isn’t so bad after all.”
And for your viewing pleasure, the jet-lag and 2:00 am cereal chronicles…