Saturday, August 15, 2015

Endurance

 What a week it has been. And its climax was this morning when I woke up with what I thought was a bad case of reflux, which I tend to get when I eat more than a couple bites of chicken, but turned out to be quite a bit more miserable and dramatic. I am thinking maybe I mishandled last night's chicken in the cooking process, since everyone else seems fine.
But the long and short of it is, after just 2 days trying out the "autoimmune diet" to see if this would help with my recurrent episodes of joint pain...I am throwing in the towel. The diet consists of relying mainly on fruits and vegetables, which I have really already been doing. But I have always leaned more toward the Mediterranean diet myself and felt good on it. The autoimmune diet eliminates dairy, legumes, and whole grains, and is heavy on meat, eggs, and oils. My stomach has never handled meat, eggs, or oils well, and I have felt sick for 2 days. Apparently it is not for me.
 Oh well.
I have been putting off calling the doctor to add the rheum labs to my coming up routine bloodwork, as we discussed when I went in for this symptom a couple months ago. But I'm not putting it off because of why you would think. It's not because I am scared of bad results. Honestly, I'm a person who would rather know if there really is something wrong.
It's because I am kind of afraid it's actually something like fibromyalgia, and if that's the case and it's just going to be an annoying pain disorder that causes no damage, then I am perfectly content to ignore it. It's not that bad. There is always that niggling feeling in the back of my mind like...I don't want to be the crippled mom of 3 boys in 10 years, which is why I will eventually give up and get the bloodwork done. But it goes to show that you really have no idea about anything until you experience it yourself, and that you should really explore the judgments of your own heart because dude....I have secretly kind of always thought that fibromyalgia was some disorder that women got in their middle age who were unloved and lonely and unhappy and stuffed their feelings so that they manifested themselves physically.
 But now that I have woken up a couple times and struggled to straighten my fingers and had a couple days where I had to take the stairs one foot at a time while grasping the hand rail....I am finding myself a bit more humbled.
I am dearly loved. I seriously have the best husband ever. He hugs and kisses me, and tells me he loves me every day. He holds my hand. He smiles at me over our childrens' heads even when he is totally worn out. My kids love me too. They follow me around constantly talking to me, they fight over whose turn it is to get in my lap, they make elaborate Lego creations for me that take an hour to build when I tell them that I will play with them for 20 minutes.
My parents and brothers and sisters, and JT's parents and brothers and sisters love me. And I have a few really good friends, though I haven't been a great friend since my kids were born because...just....when?
 But way more than that, I am secure in God's love for me. Most of the time. This week I have actually gotten a few minutes of quiet time. I have been able to sneak out of my bed earlier than the kids on a couple different occasions and managed to pen a few simple prayers and read a Psalm before those feet came banging on the floor. It was inconsistent, but amazing.
 I am not stressed, at least most of the time. This week was perhaps more stressful than average. School started, which is exciting but exhausting. There was always just one more supply to race to the store for. The bill for Greystoke's ER visit came in the mail...the same day that our water heater broke.
I waited outside of Aquaman's first grade classroom the first day next to the class mom from his class last year. Her twins are in his class again. She told me how they spent most of their summer out of town and out of the state. How they had season passes to Sea World, and how they celebrated the twins' birthday. Another classmate's father joined us and invited us to his son's birthday. He said he and his wife live on Lansing Island and are planning a big party. He said they spent their summer driving all the way up the northeast coast and visiting all kinds of interesting places.

 Contentment is not usually something that I struggle with. I always knew I didn't want much. I always pictured a house full of boys and broken water heaters, and holding hands, and living on love.

But beachside schools and parents can take some of the wind out of your sails.
Aquaman is becoming more aware of the effects of money. I was sitting there hoping that these parents wouldn't notice that, apart from the fancy new outfit I treated him to the first day of school, most of his clothes are used, and that I am still trying to figure out how we are going to afford to take him to Legoland for one day for his birthday...because I told him we would months ago before the bills for CT scans and soccer and school supplies.
 But the thing is, the thing that I sometimes forget....is that my kids have school supplies, we are able to pay our medical bills, and for all those groceries that pile up in our cart, and it is pretty amazing that The Dude, and maybe even Aquaman have the option of playing soccer, and that we will probably find a way to take them to Legoland too.

Sometimes I feel almost...ashamed that we struggle. Like it is our fault...we are lazy...
I could make a decent income if I worked full time.
But what about our kids? Devoting my time to them is amazing...but it's not exactly always easy.
And JT is already working full-time, sometimes overtime, and just applied for a second job.
So I don't think laziness is exactly the right word.
Besides, I can see how what JT does really matters, and how he is meant to be where he is. How his love emanates from him, comforts and encourages those around him.

You can't put a price on that.
 The night that our water heater broke, after a cold bath and the screaming that results from this sort of thing, at story time, The Dude brought me a little white New Testament that he found in the bookcase. He knew this would please me, and he so loves to please.
 He got squirmy after 1 chapter of James, but I knew that it was orchestrated by our loving Father in heaven because by the time I finished that one chapter, my perspective had changed.

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
James 1:2
 He doesn't hold back material, or even physical blessing from us because we are unworthy or unacceptable....He does it because He is perfecting us. He is making us holy. And for whatever reason, this is the road we must walk down to get there.

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
James 1:12

What an amazing promise. What love He has for us.
 The first week of school went amazingly well, despite all the other setbacks.
 Aquaman got a male teacher whom I have been hearing about since before he even started elementary school. "You want your boy to get this teacher" everyone said. One of Aquaman's friends who went on to first grade when he stayed back in TK1 also ran into him on the playground once last year and informed Aquaman that this teacher had the best class ever.
 Their class pet is a snake. Enough said. There has been no anxiety, no frowning at all this year. He walked right in the first day and didn't even glance over his shoulder. The teacher is his "favorite teacher ever". Of course, he also announced that 1st grade was the easiest grade ever too, so I don't think it has occurred to him yet that the first few days are just review. Hopefully his bubble is not about to burst.
 The Dude is loving school too. Taking a cue from his brother, as usual, bur also true to his happy go lucky and much more confident self, his class is also "the best class ever".
 He also walked in to school without a backward glance. I hope he is behaving. When I asked the first day if he was he said yes, and not to ever ask that silly question again. Hmmm....
 But then again, I think I believe it. Because over the summer, he was so sweet most of the time. He had his moments, but he was able to hold himself together much of the time. He always has just a little too much....swagger...and he can throw a doozy of a tantrum. But I almost thought he was outgrowing some of his drama until the first day of school came and went....
Under the pressure of holding it together so so completely for 3 hours in a row....he totally melted as soon as I picked him up. Became completely unreasonable. Didn't want to buckle in, didn't want to even sit right side up in his seat. At pickup for Aquaman on Friday, he snatched toys out of Greystoke's hands and made him cry. And when I stopped him from doing that, he tried to knock over another unsuspecting wobbly legged 11 month old. And when I stopped him from doing that, he began to scream and flail around in usual Dude fashion. Then the bell rang. Aquaman emerged from his classroom and rolled his eyes at the teacher, saying something about little brothers. He once told me that he worried people would think he was "from a bad family" when they saw The Dude's outlandish behavior.
 He ended up earning himself a 19 minute timeout from that whole escapade, and by the time the 19 minutes were up, he was back to his Dr. Jekyll self, such a pleasant and sweet and terrifying little package you never did see.

So yeah, Post School Dude is going to take some getting used to.
 But there were still afternoon swims, and more and more Lego creations, and watching Arthur on my bed while I finally put away the mountain of laundry that had built up since Sunday, because I squeezed almost all of my 2nd job's monthly work into this first week of school, and as a result got nothing else done, and completely wore myself out.
 But, as much as I was dreading back-to-school, and as much as a little piece of me is always a little ambivalent about sending my kid off to public school, I can tell it is going to be a great year. This was the first summer that seemed short. And the first summer where I thought to myself...if I was at home full time I probably could home school these boys.
But I am not at home full time. I need to work, it is God's plan for me and I have accepted that. And my work matters. And not only that, but abundantly beyond what I can imagine, God has blessed my children so far in school. So far, Aquaman has gotten the perfect teacher for each particular stage in his life....kindergarten she was gentle and laid back and let him sit beside her and did not push him. Tk1, she pushed him a little more. But gently, and respectfully. And first grade...so far, his teacher is exciting and kind and makes learning fun. But insists on solid work.
 My first born has long been an enigma to me. He is very much like me and very much different and his initial social struggles worried me. But like the bud of a flower, he is slowly opening up, with the support of respectful adults, and it is a beauty unmatched to watch him blossom.
 He is even thinking very seriously about playing soccer this fall, my little perfectionist for whom I wrote off team sports long ago. As we kicked the ball around the other day, he told me "as I grow things are getting easier for me. I realize that I am not as bad at things as I thought. Sometimes I kick the ball well. And adults show you the right way to do things so that you can do things better, not because they're mean."
Sweet, sensitive, growing boy.

Even though this week was crazy with work, the rest of the month, I can tell we are going to hit a stride again, and that is a great feeling.
Greystoke and I will have time together. Time to be quiet with each other. I love that time with him. My older two are hoarse one day and fine the next. The struggle over the years has been to determine how much is reflux and how much is pure vocal cord abuse. They never stop talking. Aquaman's first GI doctor commented on it when he was just 2.5...."I have never really heard a 2 year old never stop talking like that..."
I love their words, and am proud of their verbal prowess...
but perhaps, like me, Greystoke's words will come easier in the click of the keyboard, or pen on paper.

 He still loves to read. Clutching the stuffed dog he picked out himself when I was not planning to let him pick anything.
I did want him to find some sort of lovey though, since he needs an extra lot of snuggles, to ease the weaning transition in the future, and apparently he found it himself. As laid back as he is, there are a few things he does want with certainty.
 So all in all, things are looking up. My stomach is getting better, I even just managed to choke down a cup of coffee. Greystoke is snoozing peacefully upstairs, and though I am tired and achey, this is my chance to pick up a few things. But I'll do it with a song in my heart.
 "You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound."
Psalm 4:7
 "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever,"
Psalm 73:26

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