One of the first out of bed each morning is our middle child, Z. He bounds out of bed, ready to tackle the day with full-force. And I thought I was a morning person! No one keeps up with Z's crazy energy -- morning or night. So to continue the Fruit series, I want to talk about the fruit of energy.
It is true that Z probably requires the most energy from me in raising him. He's more active than any of the other four children in the house and easily 20-times more active than his dad or me. If you saw his long, lean body -- as it blurred past you -- there would be no mistaking him for a couch potato.
Z runs, rides, jumps, flips, rolls, dances and practices other entertaining and sometimes less-masculine movements pretty much non-stop. (He has two favorites, one he calls a shift-walk where he over-dramatizes the way a very curvy girl might walk if she wanted everyone to know she was curvy; the other is one where he pretends to flip his long hair back from his face full of diva-esque attitude, when he hardly sports more than a very short, well-shaped to his head haircut. So silly.) He even sleeps tumultuously and wakes with the slightest suggestion of noise.
Totally off-track here, but speaking of waking him, I had to do this the other night when he fell asleep in the wrong place (collapsed in exhaustion, really) and I wanted to move him to his bed. I gently rubbed his back and said his name in a sing-songy way and he woke with a funny, half-his-face-was-still-asleep appearance and a wild elephant seal-like moan that came more from his chest than his throat. Then he sat straight up and said clearly, "Mama, you scared me!" But I was already dying of laughter from the funny wake-up he'd had, which totally took me by surprise and has given me so much joy when I retell the story to others (he's a good sport about it, too, which helps).
Anyway, he is a really cool kid with a great sense of humor and just a lot of energetic and entertaining qualities. Well, that's the good stuff anyway.
A kid like Z, who burns energy constantly, never stops to rest and only eats hand-sized meals throughout the day, because he can't bear to sit down to a regular-sized meal -- it takes waaaaay too long -- tends to run out of energy from time to time. When he gets like this and doesn't realize that another scoop of trail mix or another granola bar might do him well, he is prone to massive temper tantrums and whining. Both of these consume much of my energy.
You might be wondering what positive thing I might be revealing about all this chasing a kid around to coax him to rest or to eat or to use the bathroom or whatever. While I think he demonstrates and requires energy to the max, Z is a constant reminder to me -- whether it's to keep up with him or all of the kids -- that in order to accomplish what I need to do in a day, I need to keep track of my own energy-reserves.
As a mother, especially in the early days when I was just learning to take care of the kids, it was easy for me to overlook my own needs. Even now, rest is rare and often restless as I process a billion thoughts about the day or the kids or life or whatever. There were some days when I'd go all day and forget to eat. The kids would be fed, of course, but my husband would come home and see me in a crying puddle on the floor and I'd suddenly remember that I got too busy to feed myself or sadly, to even use the bathroom, while he was at work. I'd be completely spent.
I've had to learn to balance that better. I am no good to my family if I am not seeing to it that I am fed (nutritionally and spiritually), I am no good if I don't focus on getting actual rest, I am no good if I forget to take regular breaks for the bathroom or just to enjoy five minutes of quiet and solitude. These are the things that re-energize me and give me what I need to tackle a day -- whatever may come.
Z still has a lot to learn about his own energy levels and keeping his reserves up, but in his own struggles to understand that about himself, he has been a great teacher to me. I have thought to myself at times that if I had a quarter of his energy, I'd feel so much better in a day; but truthfully, I know that regardless of how much energy I have upon waking, it's the management skills that matter most.
Meanwhile, I enjoy the portion of each day when his energy runs high and he shows me how his moonwalk has improved, a new trick he's taught himself to do on his bike and how many steps he can skip on his way up the stairs. Then I call him back down, hug him tight and offer him some dried fruit on his way back outside. Amazing. How can one person accomplish so much in a single day?! I'm in awe.
Click here to read the next post in the series.