Sunday, January 10, 2016

January Days

This is the best in the world. These are two of my favorite things and they love each other.
My sister K took these pictures when she was here last month. I wanted to give them a post of their own, because they deserve it. So I was waiting until the craziness of Christmas was over. These are the first set of real family pictures we have had since....well...our wedding pictures, which is pretty crazy because we have literally multiplied since then. But better late than never, and these did not disappoint. Thanks, K!
He has HAIR. Haha. And it's not at all red....yet. And also, it was a very windy day. And also, I love him.
I was going to post about New Years Resolutions, since this is my first post in the new year, and since I have tried to make that a tradition ever since 4 years ago when starting this blog was my resolution.
Yes you will, Dude
Justin was as bad as the children about talking instead of smiling. The apples do not fall far from the tree. :)
I do have some resolutions this year, and I am even making headway on some. Like spring cleaning. I'm going a little crazy, really. It took me a few false starts, but even though I really hate the process, I love having things organized, and I hate clutter so I am throwing everything away. I also broke the kitchen drawer I organized yesterday, so not everything is going smoothly.
At the debriefing with Aquaman's psychologist a few days ago, he advised us that the reason Aquaman demands order and routine and no deviations from plans is because he has no order or routine inside of his own overloaded head, and so he needs to have it outside of himself in order to feel in some control. I can totally relate to that! My head is a mess. I start cleaning one thing then I get distracted by something else and I flit off to the next thing. I have trouble even starting anywhere sometimes because there are so many things to do that sometimes I am paralyzed. But I so badly need that structure in order to relax. And the answer to that, most of the time, because I cannot manage a lot in my head is to get rid of stuff. It is much easier to manage a few things, and know where they are and be able to use them than to have a lot of junk thrown around willy nilly. And it is amazing how much junk you can accumulate in a small amount of time. And it is literally just junk, because we are not shoppers.
Anyway, so I'm getting rid of it, and it feels good. I found a spring cleaning app for my phone and it's fun to check things off, because I am nerdy like that.
I also found a chores app for Aquaman's new tablet and gave him 3 chores and am starting a very small allowance that he can keep track of in the app and he is thrilled. Along with some small financial incentives for doing extra reading and math.
My next resolutions centers back around prayer, and JT's mom gave me a book about praying for boys for Christmas, so it's working perfectly. I still don't get enough time to myself. It is extremely rare that I can beat all 3 boys out of bed in the mornings and still get adequate rest so that I can be a good mother to them, because that matters too. So I am back to journaling. The book is awesome because it actually writes out verses with places to insert names, because that is my favorite way to pray, because it is a way to pray Truth and Promises and to align my will with God's.
So every morning I insert JT's, Aquaman's. The Dude's. and Greystoke's name into one verse each and I pray it for them. And then I pray some more. I love talking to God about the 4 most important people in my life, and hearing His promises for them.
I don't really know if I am done making resolutions yet this year. I should probably exercise more, and I thought I was going to make that one, but I don't think it can be one of my top priorities this year. Maybe next year. Spring cleaning is pretty good exercise anyway.
And given the choice between tending my soul and my body, I must choose my soul every time. It is the only part of me that is eternal.
But as I sat in church this morning, listening to the best sermon I have ever heard in church about depression, I knew this post couldn't be all about resolutions. Because January is about more to me than that.
On January 13th, many years ago, my oldest brother took his own life.
I don't know what year it was, because I was too young for years to matter much to me then. I don't even remember how old I was. And I only have small snippets of memories of him. But his life and his death are a big part of who I have become.
Today, pastor J said that the 2nd week of January has the largest incidence of suicides than any other week. Then he preached from a passage in 1 Samuel about David. About joy. About how sometimes we can't find that joy.
David was my brother's name. He got lost, and he forgot there was a way out.
January is a dreary time, even sometimes in Florida. As I drove home from church this morning, grateful for pastor J's honesty, for his addressing depression as a mental illness and not just a spiritual issue, listening to my youngest son chatter happily in his carseat, I looked out at the foggy overcast morning and allowed myself to feel....January.
I've had my days of it too. I've had years of it. No one can tell me that depression does not have some genetic component. Though, I think if we're going to be real, there are very few who are spared going through it at some point in their lives.
Life is so, so good right now. And some of that is certainly circumstances. I mean, look at these pictures. I am married to a perfectly imperfect man who loves God and me with all of his heart. A man who, just 2.5 years ago when I was going through one of those bouts of depression (which I was finally able to attribute to the birth control I was taking, and thus the miracle of Greystoke was conceived), fought for my heart in a way that I will never forget
I have 3 amazing and unique boys that fill my life with laughter and fun and purpose. I am living my dream of motherhood. All those years of playing with dolls long after other girls had moved on to makeup, and imagination has become my reality, and even though it is much messier and there is way less sleep involved than I thought, it is everything I have dreamed of.
But circumstances are always changing. I know that as well as anybody. I know that sometimes you can be hitting your stride, you can be walking out there leaving beautiful footprints and then suddenly everything can go wrong.
We're only one "accident" away from despair, and I say that not in an anxious way, not in a hopeless way, but in a sober way. It's what keeps me on my knees. Not asking to be spared that pain, because pain will always come in this world, but to be ready in my heart for it.
My sister K is doing IVF this month. It is an awful thing that no one should have to go through. She should be walking on the beach with all of her kids lined up in a row, but instead she is walking through a dark time of headaches and hormones and uncertainty and literally putting all of her eggs in one basket.
Come, Lord Jesus.
But it is those dark times that give days of endless joy real meaning. I am so grateful for the days when I felt absolutely nothing. Numbness to the core of my soul. When I could hear the waves crash and there was just silence in my heart. When the warmest of hugs and words of solace felt only cold.
I am thankful for nights when I literally tore my clothes in anguish and sorrow. Because when hearts break, they can fill again if you let them. If you get help. If you just keep going. Or if you can't keep going if you just stop for a while and let others go on for you. I am lucky to have been so loved all my life. I am all too aware that not everyone is.
I'm not really sure exactly where I am going with all of this except to say that it matters, wherever we are. And that we shouldn't be afraid of it, because we are all human. And also to say that just because I am such a happy and thankful person today doesn't mean I always was, or that I won't have hard days again,
The past couple of months, I have experienced really for the first time in motherhood a situation I can't fix with Aquaman. I have been watching him struggle, lash out in an anger that is not typical of him. I have watched him bravely swipe his hands across the tears in his eyes before he squares his shoulders and walks in his classroom door in the mornings. And I know he doesn't believe me, but I think it hurts me as much as it hurts him.
I don't know the answers yet, but I've made a promise to him that I won't stop looking until I find them. I won't give up. I won't pretend it is all just a phase, or that it is just some little kid problem that means nothing, or that he is not feeling some pretty intense and terrifying feelings. Because I know my boy, and I know he is.
As I mentioned earlier, we had a debriefing with the psychologist who has been evaluating him over the past few weeks this week, and it was a really great meeting. I am so glad we consulted him, and really I think it would be an awesome thing for almost every parent of every child to do because it helped me understand him so much more.
He has an IQ of 142, which the psychologist said means he is cognitively a 10 year old. His processing level is only average, likely, as the psychologist explained, due to ADHD. His impulsive and scattered brain makes it almost impossible to sort through the way too much information flying rapidly through it at all times and that makes actual performance at school very difficult even though he is so intelligent.
He is performing in reading comprehension, spelling, and math at the level of a mid third grader. He is actually in 1st grade. And emotionally he is in kindergarten. And his writing is on grade level, but certainly not at the level it should be compared to his cognitive age.
Which all adds up to a very good reason for feeling so frustrated and having such a low self esteem.
He is happy at home, which is always good to hear. He felt that the biggest problem in our family was that we need a minivan. If he was stranded on a desert island and could only bring one thing, he did not choose Legos. He chose his whole family.
But school is a different story. It is good to feel validated, in some ways. I have finally found accurate descriptions of him in the "twice exceptional" child. I always knew he was smart but felt there was no way he could be gifted, because all the gifted kids I knew loved to learn, learned to read when they were 4, and loved school. He definitely didn't fit that profile.
Instead, he is an "at risk" gifted child, with higher stakes. The psychologist warned that he is already teetering dangerously on "amotivational" syndrome in regards to school, and that steps need to be taken to ensure that he is challenged and encouraged properly.
Thankfully one of my best friends is a special education specialist, and she is helping me in navigating the school system with this. I would be so lost without her. Google searches aren't nearly as helpful as a real live person who loves you pointing you in the right direction.
So the next step is officially requesting a full psychoeducational test through the school system. And help for him will not come without a fight, I know. I know because I took The Dude for an evaluation last year, and came away with a very bad taste in my mouth about how little anyone actually wants to help your kid. If they pass the tests it doesn't matter to them whether they're coming home in knots every day and not getting the education they need. Because their resources will go to the kid who isn't passing the test. Because that's where the money is. And that's the sad state of things these days.
But we'll fight.
Because Aquaman deserves it. Because I know God has great plans for his life. And some of that is going to mean a lot of tears.
I can remember crying every day on my way to school in upper elementary. Mine wasn't from academic problems. I was lucky in being above average intelligence with little learning trouble, so school was relatively easy for me (though I can say beyond a doubt, I wouldn't have finished nursing school without ritalin because, as mentioned before, I am very scattered too). I also had and have terrible handwriting.
I cried because of my brother. Because my mom had cancer. Because of a particular bully who targeted my sensitive nature.
I know that little kids can have big feelings. I've been there.
Aquaman is going to spend some time talking to Mr. N about all those big feelings. He is going to talk to him about grace, because Mr. N is a pastor, and he said Aquaman desperately needs to understand grace.
We all do.
I am thankful for the Januarys in my life. Thankful for all those who helped me in those January days.
Thankful that if you keep going, if you remember the promises of God, if you get some help, and if you understand grace, those January days don't last forever.
You should be here, David.
You should see all of this.
I know you'd be freaking out.

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