Monday, February 8, 2016

Free Time

I don't have time to write much anymore.  I don't have time to shop for clothes or read books (the kind with lots of words, written for big people).  I don't have time to get my hair done or be super-crafty or write songs and sing at coffee shops anymore, either.  No free time at all, really.

And for now, I'm okay with that.

Because right now, I'm living for other people.

My writing involves a second grader and a fourth grader huddled around our dining room table, pencils poised, ready to summarize the story I just read to them.  They are becoming excellent writers!  Yay!

My clothes shopping involves hurried trips to the second-hand kid's clothing store, scouring racks of $1 clearance items in just about every size (since we've got most of them covered)...or maybe running into Goodwill to find a pair of $4 jeans for myself, since I've needed new ones for months and haven't found the time to shop.

My reading involves hippos and trucks and baby owls and farm animals, board books with baby tooth-prints embossed on the cover, and well-loved paper books with Scotch-taped spines. 

Doing hair means (on a good day) getting a shower, and (on a usual day) trying to remember to run a brush through my hair.  Frequently, it means sitting boys (and man, too!), one after another, on the chair in the kitchen, clippers or scissors in hand.  Some are always more willing than others.  Some can only be bribed using Thomas the Tank Engine (I'll let you guess which ones).

These days, super-crafty means laminating kangaroos with my preschoolers. No lie, I did that this morning.  Last week I laminated jellyfish, and the week before, iguanas.  This is my life.

The songs I write now are mostly about stinky diapers or rubber duckies or how Mama loves you more than the whole entire world.  Not the kind that draw a crowd, but maybe the most important songs of all, at least to my little audience.

My "free time" is filled with doing puzzles with toddlers and playing with babies and driving teens all over the planet.  I pick up discarded bread crusts from the floor, and I eat a lot of plastic food.  I edit schoolwork, dictate sentences, and research marsupials and amphibians with an eager crowd of children gathering around.  I exclaim over Lego creations more often than you would even believe.  I listen as children recount, nearly word for word, the awesome new book they're reading, eager to share every last detail with me.  Every time I turn around, somebody has something to ask or wonder aloud or complain about or just simply to share.

I am often completely overwhelmed with my life.  I have bad days, my kids have bad days, and there are days when we're just a big ball of crazy.  In all honesty, sometimes I long for just a few moments when nobody needs me for anything at all. 

But then I remember that someday, I will have those moments.  My kids will be grown, my house will be quiet.  Someday, I will have time to live for myself - to "follow my dreams" or get my hair done or maybe just to go potty by myself - and when that time comes, I'm pretty sure I'll long for the moments I'm living today.

We've been told by older parents to spend as much time with our kids as we possibly can when they are young, because it goes so fast and you can never get it back.  Not ever.  Every moment you spend away from your kids is a moment that is lost forever. 

I'm okay with no free time.  I want to give my kids every second that I possibly can.  I want to enjoy them, experience life with them, be in awe of their discoveries, teach them, learn with them, and learn from them...even on the hardest of days. 

I don't want to miss a moment.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

One Particular Morning

It was one of those mornings that came too quickly on the heels of one of those nights. One of those nights that the baby needed to be held the whole night long, and the burning weight of my eyelids was begging the morning to hold off for just another moment or two.  Sun streaming in, quieted baby tucked into elbow crook, I had barely given in to the fog of sleep when the alarm clock went off at a fog-clearing volume.

"AAAARRRRGGHHHHH, MATEY!!!", the alarm rang out loud and clear, just as the first droplet of saliva was threatening to spill onto my pillow.  "AAARRRGGGHHHH, MATEY!!" came the alarm's echo.

My alarm clock just turned four at the beginning of February.  He's a very immature, impulsive four, and so very not ready to be labelled a preschooler, so I shall refer to him as Alarm Clock Toddler. 

Alarm Clock Toddler is a spirited concoction that God purposefully designed with beautiful, big blue eyes trimmed in gorgeous lashes.  He was then gifted an impish sparkle with which to light up those baby blues, and an equally impish grin (a "naughty grin" per se), to take the sting out of many of his unwelcome antics.  In short, God made Alarm Clock Toddler adorable so he's far less likely to be throttled.

And then there is darling Echo Toddler, barely two.  Short, bespectacled, and beyond-belief adorably dimpled and pudgy, Echo Toddler has vocabulary skills equal to the Alarm, but with perfect baby pronunciation.  He spends his days (and early mornings) trying to duplicate whatever Alarm Clock Toddler does...and attempting to not be bowled over, squished, trampled, or otherwise maimed by him.

This particular morning was nothing out of the ordinary for Alarm Clock and Echo, or for me.  Nor was it out of the ordinary to hear an urgent tap-tap at my door, followed by the muffled voice of a certain seven-year-old big brother, who we'll call The Informant.  Wiping the nearly-escaped spittle from my mouth, I shook the cobwebs from my brain and trudged to the door to hear a first-hand account of what Alarm Clock and Echo were up to.

So you know that little kit with the strap and screws that you get when you buy a new dresser?  Kinda wishing I hadn't tossed it aside and ignored the subsequent step in the instructions that boldly stated "Affix dresser to wall."  Let's just say that Alarm Clock Toddler learned the hard way that dresser drawers don't make good stairs.  Thankfully, the only casualty was Alarm's doggy bank, but as I struggled to lift the dresser and clear away decapitated doggy-bank pieces to the tune of a screaming newborn, I could tell it was going to be "one of those days."

It was.  The morning was full of clutter, hyperactivity, arguments, rolling eyes, unfolded laundry, spilled milk, sticky hands, runny noses and poo.  Miss Tween (shockingly) was in a foul mood, The Informant was playing with Legos during chore time, and the Sparkly-Unicorn Girl was doing ballet during math time.  Alarm Clock Toddler, who is really a nudist at heart, was seen streaking naked through the parlor on more than one occasion, and Echo Toddler screeched every time he came near, afraid (with good reason) that Alarm was going to rip his toy out of his hands.  And the baby cried.  And cried.  And cried.  And cried. 

Just as my calm fa├žade was beginning to crack, Alarm Clock Toddler pinched Echo's fingers in the piano, and with a wailing Echo on one knee and a wailing newborn on the other, I sat cross-legged on the parlor floor, staring into space, wishing I had the energy to wail along with them. 

Here is the truth of my life:

I am not enough.

The world is constantly telling people "You can do it! You're good enough! You can do whatever you want to do. You're strong enough! You've got this! You can do anything you put your mind to. You are enough!"  But if there's one thing I've learned in this adventure of parenthood - in this adventure of life - it's that all these things are lies I will never be enough.

I wasn't enough when I brought my first little darling home from the hospital.

I wasn't enough when I signed my name and promised to love two hurting children through whatever came.

I wasn't enough when I brought home that second little bundle, or the third, or the fourth, or the fifth.

And now, as the Mama to seven of the most precious people to ever grace this planet, wonderful little people who bring so much joy and insanity and heartache and wonder and exhaustion,

I am completely, totally and definitely not enough.

On this one particular morning, sitting criss-cross applesauce in the chaos of my everyday life, God gave to me the most beautiful thought:

I am not enough.  But Jesus is.

He makes my life beautiful. 
And He makes me beautiful.
He takes what little I have to offer, and He makes it enough.

"I think your fingers are okay, Bubby. Let's go get you some milks."
"My fingers are otay," said Echo. "Let's go get me some miwks."


Sunday, December 14, 2014

God is Faithful

It's been a long time since I've posted...since August, just before our son came home from boarding school, as a matter of fact.  I'm sure there are a few people that are curious as to how our family is adjusting, especially in light of my relative silence, but I assure you there have been no major catastrophes that have kept me away from blogging. 

It's been an emotionally and physically draining few months.  Not in a bad way, to be sure, but in a way that reminds both my husband and myself that due to PTSD, we still have some healing to do ourselves.  We're also expecting our seventh child within the next two weeks, so needless to say, I'm a bit worn out.  But beyond that, I've been feeling like it's time to give my RAD kids a little more privacy as they're both working through what Reactive Attachment Disorder means for them in their day-to-day lives and in their futures.  They've made tremendous strides toward healing in the past couple of years, are participating in therapy and conversations with us about behavior and motives, and are both headed in the right direction.  I couldn't be prouder of them.

I may from time to time write about RAD and trauma-related adoption in general, but will probably not be sharing a whole lot of specifics.  I don't ever want my kids to be defined by their failures; I want them to be defined by their strength in being able to shoulder the burdens placed on them by their birth parents.  By their courage to pick up the pieces and keep going after they've lost their way for a short while.  I want my kids to be known as overcomers.

I do want to share one thing with you tonight, though.  It was two years ago this past week that my husband, my dad, and a couple of great friends picked up our hurt, angry and defiant thirteen-year-old son from Juvenile Detention and transported him to his therapeutic boarding school.  It was one of the darkest days in our family's history, especially when measured by the number of tears that fell from this broken-hearted Mama's eyes, but we knew that God was with us all, and we knew He would be faithful.

More of this Mama's tears were shed today, as I thought about what life was like two years ago.  This morning, you see, I sent my son away again, but this time with laughter and love and a hug and kiss as he and my husband left for a father/son trip to see the Lions play the Vikings at Ford Field.  My son...the very same son that was so wounded two years ago that he couldn't function at home or at school or at life.  My son...the one who is now getting good grades and is being respectful to his teachers, the one who is doing his chores with very little complaining and listening to his therapist and loves playing with his baby brothers.  The one who never passes up a chance to hug his Mama and lights up whenever he makes me laugh. 

Life is not perfect.  It never will be, for anyone. 
But life is good. 
And blessed. 
And full of second chances and hope for the future.

And we serve a God that is faithful to the end.