I've thought about this "thirteenth birthday" milestone for the better part of a year; tossed around ideas of what would be appropriate gifts for such a significant birthday. I've wondered what kind of cake I would bake and how I would decorate it, which is a big thing in our family. My husband had even been planning a sort of "man trip" this fall to mark our son's passage into the teen years. They were going to go to a professional baseball game and a car museum and eat big burgers and do all things "manly". They were going to discuss Biblical manhood and what that looks like in this fallen world.
And now our son is incarcerated.
Of all the ideas whirling around in my head for Mr. J's thirteenth birthday, I can honestly say that this scenario never entered my mind.
Now I can't get it out of my mind.
How do you celebrate a birthday when your child has been threatening to kill you? When he's threatened your baby and your husband and is smashing windows in your home? How do you say "Happy Birthday!" and "Welcome to the next stage of becoming a man!" when he's assaulting police officers and being arrested and refusing to cooperate or even be civil to any adult charged with his care?
How do you celebrate that?
|2010 - and a very pregnant good witch!|
We have so much fun this time of year. Gathering final costume pieces, warming ourselves around a bonfire, apple orchards and cinnamon donuts and pumpkin pie and hot apple cider. And there are hayrides and snuggling barn kittens and the crunch of cold apples plucked from the tree, piles of freshly-raked leaves just begging for romping children, Artprize and Halloween at the zoo and hunting out the perfect pumpkin from the pumpkin patch...always an agonizing decision. This year, for the first time, we're choosing from our very own pumpkin patch that we planted as a family in the spring.
And then we don our coordinating costumes, and tramp through the store to get our picture taken amid laughs and cheers of intrigued on-lookers. We soak it in and laugh along, because this is our family, and it's what we do. Our family is happy and silly and fun.
We'll be celebrating half-heartedly, doing our best to keep our traditions and our smiles for the rest of the kids, hoping that next year there will truly be a happy birthday and a season of whole-hearted celebration.
I'm choosing to trust that God is doing something big right now, in His own time, and that the joy will be overflowing in the morning. I'm clinging to this with everything in me. Begging God to make it be so, to keep the hope alive inside me and inside my husband and our kids.
Please God, give me the faith to believe that this time of suffering will someday come to an end, and that there can be joy for our family in the morning...
...and if not in the morning, Lord, then maybe by next fall.
Mr. J will be incarcerated until the end of the month. He has five charges against him, and remains hostile towards staff. We have had very little contact with him, although my husband was able to visit him for a short while this past Sunday. Mr. J maintains that he is doing "good", and would like us to believe that he's having a grand time, although the reports from staff, his probation officer, and social worker prove otherwise. He continues to blame his actions on anyone and everyone else, and seems unable to relate consequences with the choices he's made. His cause and effect thinking appears nonexistent. We have been working tirelessly to make arrangements for him when he is released, are working with many agencies and Mr. J's therapist, and are exploring every avenue we can find. The unified goal is residential care, but the timing and funding are yet to be determined. He may still be coming home. Please continue to pray for God's guidance and wisdom, and for healing and safety for our family...especially for Mr. J.