Saturday, April 18, 2015

Going out in Joy

Even though there's still like 6 more weeks of school, it feels like summer has started.
We've been ending almost all of our days with 30 minutes or so at the beach.
Not only does it help to burn out some of that aggressive little boy energy before bedtime, but it calms my own nerves before that last push before they finally fall asleep.
And lately, almost every time we to the beach, we run into one of Aquaman's friends from school, which makes it that much more fun.
A few days ago, as he was falling asleep, which is when Aquaman usually tells me the most profound confidences, which is another reason why I usually sit in a chair with them as they are falling asleep, so I don't miss those occasional glimpses into his heart; Aquaman said: "I have learned so much this year, mom." I at first he assumed his writing, or spelling, or the fact that his reading has gotten so much more fluent and he is so much less frustrated when he doesn't know a word.
But he surprised me by saying: "last year I was very small and didn't have any friends." This year, I have lots of friends. He's also, as one mother in his class put it: "grown about a foot since the school year started."
It has been a huge year of growth for him. He has come out of his shell and developed some confidence in social situations,
And I realized the other day at the zoo, watching all the moms there with their small children, how much easier I fit into this phase of life than I did back then to those earliest parenting years too.
I'm guessing most of it is, I've got 3 kids now. I can't even feign a semblance of control over most situations. The best I can do is hang on, and keep my patience.
I have 3 active and impulsive little boys, the older two whom are exactly like their daddy, which is what I always wanted. The older 2, at least, are kinesthetic learners, a type that isn't often understood well in today's society. I've given up being the mom whose kids don't make a scene. Pretty much anywhere we go, except maybe the beach, we make a scene. Even there, with their bright red hair, and courage in the ferocity of the ocean, we draw attention, but at least that is generally positive.

I have 2 jobs, even though they are part time. They take up whatever extra resources mentally and physically I might have had left. I've stopped trying to do crafts on my days off. I don't spend hours in the kitchen.
I find satisfaction in my work. I appreciate the opportunity to use my brain in different and challenging ways, and other than the stress of childcare on sick days, I don't mind that I work a little now.

I've given up trying to make the house look cute. Even most of the pictures that I had framed on the walls are in various broken stages at this point.

We try to avoid food dyes and too much sugar. But we don't spend the money to eat organic. We simply have other priorities for taking care of our children. We are quite fortunate to be able to all of us eat and so I am happy and grateful for that, instead of always feeling guilty about it.
When you have a school aged child, it no longer matters whether they were on a schedule at 3 months old, or if you made them cry it out. By this age, pretty much every kid sleeps through the night.
Most kids give you trouble at bedtime, but end up going to bed.
None of them are still nursing, so whether you never breastfed or whether you nursed until they were 3, no one really talks about it anymore.
I suppose there are probably new forms of competitiveness that just haven't kicked in yet for us. Like grades, or excelling in sports or something. But it's so much easier to just...stay out of now. I really don't care if my kid reads better than anyone elses. Right now it's just fun letting them
And so, having 3 children has been so much more fun than having one. I've really truly enjoyed Greystoke's babyhood. He's just now starting to pull up on things, whereas my other 2 were pretty much running by this point, and I am not at all bothered by that. He's quiet, and doesn't say much, though he follows commands easily, and I have no doubt about his intelligence.
Because that's the thing too. At the age of 6, they can all pretty much run. I'm not sure what the rush is about.
Greystoke isn't either.
And so we have settled into what I can only call, in the midst of chaos, and weariness, and occasional sleepless nights (Greystoke nursed pretty much allll night last night...getting some teeth? Ate something that bothered him? Just needed an extra snuggle? I don't waste my time obsessing about these things anymore. And I don't spend hours planning how to night wean him. It will happen.), and JT's busy work and volunteer schedule....

I'm feeling very comfortable right now.
And that shakes me up a little, because I know that getting too comfortable is growth stunting, and so I'm expecting some form of shake-it-up in the near future.
I've been feeling convicted a lot lately, and JT and I have been talking about it a little. How we're peace-makers, and to just get right down to the heart of it: people pleasers, which might seem like strength, but is actually weakness.
Because we love pretty much everyone we meet, and we want to help them, and show them the way to have peace in their own lives, but the thing about it is, the truth: JESUS- is confrontational. Because it's a narrow way, not a wide and easy one. Even though it IS easy if you can get past yourself. But ourselves are very....big.
And we're not loving others if we're not being truthful with them. That there is only one way, and that's the cross. And with religious freedom in this country becoming less and less a thing of the past, it's coming to a time when we're going to have to face confrontation in order to be truthful. And that's hard and scary for me, and I'm coming to terms with it.
"The very comforts the American dream and American Christianity hold out to us are the same ones we must abandon without looking back, daring to trust that a Savior who had no place to lay His head might have the slightest idea what He was talking about. We must trust that He would never lead us astray, although you might find yourself questioning tenets that once held your sweet little life together. And that will hurt, and people will criticize it and you might cry. I know I did. But hear me: 'you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.' Isaiah 55:12"
-Jennifer Hatmaker
We're supposed to always be ready with an answer for the hope that we have. Gently and respectfully. But Truthfully.
And Jesus and I have been working on this together lately in the few quiet moments I can steal away to think.
And I believe the promise of joy. I believe it because, right now I am living it.
This is a special time of year for our family. JT's birthday is only a couple of days away. Then Greystoke's first. Then our 8th anniversary. And then my birthday.
God has done a lot of amazing things in our lives during the spring time.
There aren't any mountains around, but there's a great big powerful ocean, and there were perfect waves today, big ones, barrels, long lines. And I was waist deep in them with 3 little boys, and a little girl, and a friend. And the ocean was breaking forth with song out in front of us, spraying up between the streams of sunshine and the laughter of little ones.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I self diagnosed myself with a very serious, not to be downplayed unbillable ICD-9 code this week: mo3b.


1) Brain Fog.
This one is serious. I really did used to be smart, people. If you've met me in the past 11 months, you will probably question this. If you met me prior to this, you have probably already started giving me uncomfortable looks.

2) Fatigue and general body aches.
Most of the time I can ignore this one. If I keep moving, I don't even notice it. It is generally not until the end of the day when I dare to sit down for a moment on the couch that it hits me like a ton of bricks.

3) Lack of housekeeping motivation. Seriously? There's no point. The littlest culprit is following along behind me crushing crackers between his fingers while I clean the floor, and the older 2 are dirtying laundry much faster than our tired machines can wash them.

4) And this is the gold standard criteria for diagnosis:
Despite the IQ dip, the chronic malaise, and appearance of having given up hope:

I am very, very happy.

Greystoke is sleeping better most nights, and as bad as ever on the others.
I self medicate with caffeine, which due to familial sensitivity has to be carefully titrated...just enough to cause friendly alertness and not enough to induce anxious rage.

I try to cradle him as he nurses, but most of the time he won't let me anymore. He prefers to stand, to rapidly flex and then straighten his knees. To pop off every 30 seconds to look around and make sure he's not missing anything. To say hello to his Daniel Tiger toy, or roll a ball before crawling back over and demanding, through gestures, to start right where he left off.

I memorize his soft squishy thighs, and the easy chuckle emerging from somewhere behind 6 of the whitest teeth when I kiss his belly. The way his breath smells always smells faintly of butterscotch. And I don't wonder why my brain feels so crammed and overloaded, because I've been memorizing these things for 6 years now. And sometimes the day to day just seems so....irrelevant in comparison.

From the moment he wakes up, he is pointing at everything he sees. Wanting to touch it, explore it, and learn it. It's never enough. It's never just exactly what he wants.
He is becoming a real person now, with opinions and demands, and ideas. It is fun to watch his identity form....

And tiring.

Peace and humility and one-ness have been the theme in our home this week, theoretically, if not practically.
JT and I are peaceful people.
Arguments between us, or really anyone, are exceedingly rare.
Which is what makes what has been going on in our home lately, all the more wearying for us.

Sibling rivalry, between Aquaman and The Dude, is a thing in our home right now.

Which I know is completely normal, but that makes it no less heart-breaking.
We have been talking and praying about "being completely humble and gentle"
and "as best as you can, living at peace with one another", and "turning the other cheek", and how we are all one body, and we need each other to work together.

We have been talking about how mean that world out there can be, and how those kinds of things can happen out there but they're not going to happen in here.

And sometimes, like when we took out the trains for the first time in a while last weekend and I set up a whole room full of tracks in their bedroom and they played for 2 hours straight and only had two minor conflicts (per Aquaman's report), which they were able to resolve through Aquaman's simply giving in to The Dude's demands (also per Aquaman's report....hmmm), it seems like we're making some progress.

But other times, like when The Dude kept trying to write on Aquaman's homework, and Aquaman kept screaming "SEE? This is why I DON'T like you!"
It feels like we're making absolutely no progress at all.

But I'm glad that they're learning to negotiate life together. Glad I can be there with them to help them do it, in my own faltering and uneven way.

I'm glad for 2 strong personalities that find a way to work together sometimes.

And for the laughs. Because aside from caffeine, this is the best treatment for the niggling other symptoms of mo3b.

Wrestling the puzzle piece carseats into our little car, moaning and groaning and sweating in the spring-that-feels-like-summer humidity on a Monday morning, and hearing Aquaman whisper to the The Dude: "don't you wish we could buy Mama a new car?'
And then: "Hey mama, I can't buy you a new car, but I can maybe buy you a TOY car!"

Because that's the kind of boy Aquaman is. A little sour sometimes, maybe a little crunchy on the outside, but inside the kind of boy who is looking for any way that he can help.
The kind of boy who cried in frustration while watching a cartoon: "isn't Daniel Tiger sinful AT ALL? Why is everything so easy for him?"
And knowing that lots of things are harder for him, and as a result of all that resistance training, and a heart that seeks after God- he's going to be strong. Really strong.

And come to think of it, so will I.