Roadblock to Service

If you have followed my blog long at all, you know we try to serve others and we try to involve the kids in service.  (See all posts under the service tab.) I try to take these nuggets along when I can.

But lately I have been feeling like my kids are a roadblock to the service I need to do and I am not sure if it is a real roadblock or a perceived one?  Am I just using them as an excuse or is serving with kids dang hard?

This issue is weighing heavily on my mind right now because I am facing much service that I WANT to do:

My mom has cancer.  She has 1 chemo treatment to go and then she starts radiation every day for a month.

My dad had a large precancerous thing-a-ma-jig biopsied from his colon this week and has to have surgery to remove it.  He will be in the hospital 3-7 days sometime between my mom’s last chemo and the start of her radiation.

My sister is 8 months pregnant and is in complete denial.  She doesn’t even know where the nursery is going to be, let alone has it set-up.

Another sister got a job to teach P.E. in the fall and needs help setting up, organizing, and decorating a whole classroom. (She doesn’t have a gym.  Is that weird or what?)

My brother, his wife and 5 kids are moving from Corvallis, Oregon to Spokane, Washington on a very low budget at the end of this month.   They don’t have the same family support out there that I do here.  Plus my mom and dad can’t go help. Having recently moved I am dying for them and the task that lay ahead.  I so want to fly out there and bust a move (no pun intended).

One of my best friends is building a house and wants to paint a few rooms before she moves in at the beginning of August.  And who better to help her paint than me?  I was a paint slut in my former life.  We have been friends for years and I want to help her make  her new home beautiful.

But as much as I want to help my family and friends, I have 4 kids!  That I still have to take care of everyday–all day.  I am still changing diapers, tying shoes, wiping mouths, etc.

Chad is gone so much and Elle is not old enough to leave as a babysitter for long periods of time.  Plus they can’t help with any of this service.  They can’t be in hospitals, or near sick people or babies.   I wouldn’t get anything done with decorating or packing or moving or painting if my kids were around.  They would hinder rather than help.

(Oh, and did I mention that Locke has to get his tonsils out smack dab in the middle of all this!  He will be out for 2-3 weeks according to my doctor.)

So, needless to say, I feel helpless.  Like I really want to serve but don’t know how to with my kids?

I like to think of myself as a problem solver, but this time I am stumped. I am not sure what to do.

Can anyone give me some suggestions or sound advice?  How do I serve my family and friends at this especially crazy time, but still do my part as a mother?


14 thoughts on “Roadblock to Service”

  1. You can make meals for your mom and deliver them at least once a week. Stay and eat with her if she’s up to it. Call for 5 minutes each night to listen and encourage. Throw your sister a baby shower. That should at least get her registered in a hurry. Your teacher sister can handle this. 🙂 Be available to look at cell phone pics and offer suggestions while she works. And an empty classroom really isn’t a bad place for littles anyway. Bring a box of legos and shut the door and you can help in person. I really wish I knew what to suggest for your brother’s family. If you have some extra money, you could call and have pizza or Chinese delivered to them on some crunch days. Will your kids sit for a movie? You could get at least one room started off, or finished off with painting for your friend by plugging in a TV and DVD in another room. And even if none of these brainstorms work in your real life, it’s okay. As moms, we want to help everyone and take care of everyone, but you’re taking care of kids, and everyone gets that. Focus on your kids and just being encouraging to those around you, and don’t beat yourself up about what you can’t do. In 5 or 10 years, your kids won’t be little, and there will still be plenty of needs.

  2. Sounds like a combination of the above comments and you’d be covered. Remember, people like serving you too. They’d gladly tend your kids while you were involved elsewhere. You already provide lots of service … I mean your blog … I just barely discovered it … and I get all happy when I see there is a new post. I would gladly tend your kids for a day or two … but then again, getting them to Phoenix might be a little difficult. One thing I’ve learned thru the years, is that a batch of sugar cookies can stretch across several households — plus the kids love decorating. A personal note shows love. You don’t have to fix everything; others might lose their opportunity for growth, but a little love … and sugar … go along way.

    PS … even kids can give great foot rubs to grandma and grandpa!

  3. Something my wise older sister taught me back in the day when I was RS Pres and had three young kids and one on the way: There will always be really important service opportunities, so just start each day prayerfully with the request of “who needs my help the most today?” Some times my kids just needed 100% of my attention and other days afforded me the opportunity to reach out to neighbors and extended family members. It is so hard when the needs for service seem overwhelming, but I feel confident that God will allow us to serve most effectively when we are in sync on a daily basis. This is something I need to focus on again, as lately I have observed an increased opportunity for service in my own life while balancing family life with 5 kids.

  4. Ashlee Erickson

    Well, you and your kids provided a pretty awesome service to me and Lily yesterday. (does that make you feel better!) As for helping out with your family – I’m here! Let me come stay with the kids for a day while you go help Chelsea or Shauna. You know how much our kids love to be together. I’m happy to help out in any way I can with the kids so you can help your family. Please let me know how and when.

  5. Lindsey Erickson

    So much going on with your family & I can see you wanting to help with it all! Suggest that your brother’s family gets help from their ward they are leaving & arriving at. A few good men would make you feel better about them being by themselves 🙂 Chelsea will be fine as long as she has a bassinet or your darling cradle & a pack of onesies & diapers….and of course a cute going home outfit! The PE room- (that’s what Zoie’s school does)- poor her I can just imagine the smell that will be there. ha! You will be able to suggest activities and things along the way because you were a PE teacher before. And for your parents, just try taking them food and visiting. Maybe you can leave Elle for short amounts of time or look for helpers to watch them. Wish I was there to help! Extra prayers & hugs for your family. You are such a good mom!

  6. Tiff, I would love to watch your kids anytime if you want to go help out. Honestly just call me.

  7. You are sweet. Kids get in the way of a lot of things we could be doing…but we are doing so much service for them as mothers. You watched our kids for us and we used Chads office so we could get the house we are in – you have helped so much already! I wish I could take your kids during Lockes tonsil situation…serve where you can and the Lord will bless you! Love seeing you guys!

  8. Keep your head high… know you’ll do all you can. I can just see your future post already… telling of your success!! Your a Stenson * You got this!!!

  9. Just throw in the towell and stay home and eat pizza and watch the Olympics…. OR…. let others fill in. Do what you can, and let others (including your sister (me) who doesn’t have small children) help. Remember the wise words from your 8 year old nephew, Boden- “You can do anything, but not everything.”

    P.S. I do not paint.

  10. Thanks so much to you and your friends in serving me yesterday. I am so grateful. I love it when we all pitch in and it doesn’t matter what part of the service we do.

  11. Tiff, Tell me what Chelsea needs and I’ll get a package off. When does Jared need help? I may be able to get down to Corvallis to help with something!

  12. Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment and help me out. I really appreciate the advice, encouragement, and offers to help. It means a lot.

  13. I don’t know you but I read your blog regularly. We all want to be the one to serve “our own” but I think it’s really important to remember that there is a time and a place for everything.
    One way you are serving is to raise good people who want to serve others as they grow. And you do things that your family CAN do for others just as you are now. God uses us each in our own way. You not being there for your moving family opens them up to accepting help from others and making connections in their new places.
    You not being able to be there with your mom and dad allows nurses and volunteers the priviledge of care giving for them.
    You must be a difficult sister to live up to at times so the biggest gift you might be able to give your sisters is your belief and faith that they can meet their own challenges in their own ways. Tell them what is so special about them – all those non-obvious things you talked about wanting to hear about yourself. Pumping them up with love and legitimate observations could be the best service you could do for them as they enter two incredibly hard and rewarding jobs – motherhood and teaching!

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