Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Left Out. a special needs posting

Growing up I never felt like I fully fit in. I don't really attribute this to any certain thing, but it's probably a combination of many things, one of which is just my anxious personality!

I remember being teased by other kids, probably not more than other kids were, but as a kid you don't notice these things. I remember coming home feeling terrible about myself, being too embarrassed to share what happened with my dad. I still get nervous meeting new people, overly worried about what they will think of me or if they'll like me, or talk behind my back. It's ridiculous I know, I'm a grown woman.

Now, as K gets ready to enter into kindergarten, I feel all of my fears and anxiety returning, three hundred fold.  This morning a dear, dear friend of mine had a back to school spa morning for a few girls getting ready for school tomorrow.  I was so grateful that she thought to include us, and I felt it was so very good for K.

But, as the morning progressed, the other girls didn't want to play with K so much.  I don't really blame them, K is a handful!  She likes to play with things her own way, doesn't really understand interactive playing like other kindergarten-ers and isn't the easiest to share with!

This triggered in me deeply rooted fears for her future.  I know all parents have trouble letting go of their first child to school, but this is so much more intense. It's hard to describe to parents who don't have children with extra special needs.

I love my daughter. There have been many many late sleepless nights worried about what will happen to her as she grows up.  Will kids tease her at school, will she have friends, will she always get chosen last for teams in gym class, will she be the only one kids don't invite to birthday parties, will she be able to get a job after school, will she ever live on her own....

If you are a parent with special needs reading this, I assume we are already friends, and to you, I say thank you!!  With you.... I never feel weird.  I never feel like my fears are silly or overly anxious. You get what I'm saying. I don't feel guilty that my child isn't nice to yours. You don't worry that I won't invite you over because your child with have a meltdown in my living room.  I don't have to explain to you how sick it makes me feel when someone uses the word retard.

My whole life, I wanted to fit in.  When I found out K had down syndrome, one of my first thoughts was that she would experience the same anxiety I did of never really feeling comfortable or secure.  

But, I'm seeing now that I do fit. There are people in my life who get me.  And those who don't, or can't, try. V, my best of friends, you always make me feel like you care. Josh, who always listens. Another dear friend, Jenny Jen, who feels sad with me over K being excluded, and doesn't just shrug it off as "what kids do"

And now K gets to be raised in this awesome family that IS safe and secure. With grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, a church family, all who care about her, and know her and love her.

I pray that tomorrow goes smoothly for her, as she starts a new stage in a life-long journey, that she can break down barriers and become a young woman who changes lives and hearts.  I know she has changed mine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Inspiring Love

Bear with me as this is a highly personal topic, and I'm probably doing a bit of over-sharing this week so it will be chalk full of grammatical errors I'm sure.  But... I'm doing it on purpose because I'm hoping to 1. work through it all in my head, and 2. share a really tough lesson with other women who maybe struggle with this same thing (or men!)

A day in our house usually looks something like this:
 6am, everyone is awake
 6-7  my husband gets ready for work & leaves.
7-530 chaos ensues.
530-6 hubbie gets home and kids make mad dash for daddy.
6-730: I am trying to get everything cleaned up after dinner, get baths done, bedtime routines, check, etc.  Usually Gibbs will get at least one dirty look throughout the evening (for not changing a dirty diaper when he knew it was there, etc)  Maybe a little snarky comment when he tells one of the kids he's too tired to read another book....  The kids go to sleep, and I gently remind him about the door he promised he'd fix last week....

Anyways, the point of that long winded day in the life of... is not so you feel sorry for him, or me.  It's so that I can see how we got here more clearly. Life is so busy. We get so wrapped up in the daily needs, wants, demands, that we don't see always how our spouse is really bearing up under the weight of expectations.

After a really good discussion with Gibbs last night, I think I have finally gotten some clarity on what's going on and what to do from here.

If I were to ask Gibbs to do 5 things tomorrow, chances are that he would forget to do 3 of them.  He'd do one of them sometime that day.  And the fifth thing he'd do the following week.  I have a typical response I go to at that point (it's not very attractive I've been told)  He'd maybe remember to do 1-2 more of the things after I "gently reminded" (hah!) him enough, still forget at least one, and not feel very loving towards me.  I would have likely ruined any chance at good conversation with him that week because he'd be so frustrated and exhausted with me that he would be out of emotional energy to spend on making me feel "loved"

And usually I am indignant about these things that he's forgotten, or put off. I can be quite self righteous when I get upset!

Proverbs 31 says... a Wife of Noble Character... who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.

I have an idea of why she's so hard to find!  It's HARD being a wife of noble character!  Go ahead, read through Proverbs 31 and see the standard for yourself!  I hate reading that passage.

Verse 28 says "her husband calls her blessed and praises her"   I think they maybe left out the second half where it says "her husband calls her blessed and praises her... right after helping her complete her to do list for the day, and putting the kids to bed so she could take a break"

Ok, so here comes the conclusion/clarity part:
If I don't ask Gibbs at all for the five things I need done at the end of the evening, chances are that he'll notice at least one or two on his own, and do them without my needing to ask at all.  Don't get me wrong, I really WANT him to do all five! But is the price I pay for demanding that two more things get done really worth paying?

Is it possible that maybe by keeping my mouth shut and giving him the "comfortable and restful" house that he desires will inspire him to love me more? To help me more? To have more energy for those late night conversations to meet my insatiable emotional needs ...

My new verse on my kitchen window: 1 Peter 3:3-4
Your beauty should not come from outer adornment, but instead it should be that of your inner self, that of an unfading gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's Sight.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Parenting Purposefully

I've been reading a book this week that really has me thinking about the type of children I want to raise.  The book, 7 habits of highly successful families, isn't written from a Christian perspective but it has a lot of good thinking points.  It talks about parenting with purpose, and taking the time to sit down and write down the top ten qualities that are most important to you that you hope to instill in your children.

I think that coming from an "atypical" (although I suppose these days it's more typical than atypical....) family life, I think more frequently about my style of parenting than others.  Perhaps because it wasn't modeled, I often find myself at a loss for how to handle situations that come up in marriage and parenting.

So, with that being said, I spend perhaps TOO much time thinking about how to best parent my little ones.  I know very well how hard it is to learn lessons the difficult way, and would much rather them have a healthy model to learn from while they are growing up then have to figure it out on their own after they are married with children!

Here is my list so far:
Honesty
*Responsibility
Compassion
*Respect for Authority
Good communication skills
Problem solver
Fun/Sense of Humor
*Flexibility/Willingness to adapt to change
*Generosity
Love of Learning

In case you are wondering what the stars are, I will tell you! :)  These are the qualities that do not come naturally to me.  Not that the other qualities have been perfected, but I think they are some of my strengths...  but the ones that are starred... I am still struggling through.

I've said in a previous post that I really believe that the best way to teach your children is by modeling behavior. If I try to be flexible, and talk with them about the importance of it, I really believe they will grow up with a willingness and ability to be more flexible.

But that's the hard part isn't it?  Changing when we don't want to change.  Being something that isn't natural for us. Swallowing our pride and humbling ourselves before God, and asking Him to help us change.  Today at bible study we discussed that verse that tells women that our outer adornment, instead of clothing or beautifully braided hair, should be our quiet and gentle spirit (1Peter3:4)

 I am not quiet, I am not gentle.  I am not flexible, I am not very respectful. I am not very responsible or generous with my home.  But, I do know God wants me to be these things.  And I really know that I want my children to be these things. I could use the excuse, "Oh this is how God has made me!"  But I know it's not how He wants me in the end.  I have human weaknesses, but I also have a perfect blueprint of how He can re-make me, in His own image, for His own glory.

What blessed children I have that they will also be benefiting from all God is showing me and doing in my life.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Discipline

This month has been a LONG month for us.  We purchased a home, moved our entire household, unpacked every single box (I mean I have unpacked every single box...Gibbs actually has two left... sitting in his office) and found a way to really settle in here already.

I've also managed to continue on my weight loss journey, exercise regularly, begin a Precept Bible Study on Abraham all on my own, and try to begin a regular cleaning regimen.  What I'm learning from this, is that discipline begets discipline.

Four years ago, I began a journey to really Know God.  Soon after, I struggled with balancing two kids AND a consistent bible study routine.  I slowly got the hang of it, but then I wondered how I would balance that AND the laundry... then I had Caleb. I had to relearn balance all over again.

Only a few months ago, I added exercise and a diet plan to my list of things "to do".  It seemed impossible to fit one more thing on my plate, but I slowly integrated it anyways.  Just last month, I tried to start a habit of getting dressed every morning, and though I wanted to quit many times along the way, it's now become just part of our routine.

Four years ago, when it was just K, Gibbs & I, I never could have imagined being able to care for THREE children at home, keep up with PILES of laundry, stay consistently in God's Word, and exercise every day!  But as I become disciplined in one area, it seems easier to stay disciplined in other areas. I have no idea why or how this works, but now that I'm in a "routine" of setting and keeping goals, I am able to balance more with less stress.

Last night, I began feeling rather guilty for not posting on the blog for awhile (which is silly, I know!)  but it made me wonder what the purpose of this really is if it's causing guilt.  For me, I find writing so therapeutic, but it's more than that.  It's another area in which I can practice discipline. Writing down my thoughts, organizing them, sharing them with friends. But mostly, it's a way for me to see evidence of my relationship growing with God. It's a story that I hope progresses with highs and lows, but with a thread of continual growth evident in each posting.

Discipline is something that I really struggled with as a child. And I don't mean my parental discipline... though I certainly struggled with that too, haha!  But, personal discipline was almost non existent. I would quit things sometimes before even beginning them!  I hope that my example of setting goals and reaching them is creating a by-product of a learning opportunity for the three little ones always watching me.

The Lord is so Good.  And always faithful.  And always teaching me new things.  I can't wait until I'm 50 and have been perfected ;-)   (kidding!!!!)