Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Musings in March

It seems that life moves extra quickly in March. For most of our married life, JT has been a full time ocean lifeguard, and when you're a full time lifeguard in Florida in March, life gets crazy. The weather is perfect, the beaches start getting busy, the stations and equipment have to be prepared for the influx of seasonal employees, those seasonal employees have to be trained, and it seems like they're always short staffed this time of year.
For the past several years, there has also been competition prep to make things even crazier.
But nothing has compared to this year. Because this year, JT is working a 2nd job, and guess what? This is the busy season for the hospitality industry too. So this week JT worked an 80 hour work week. And this is after his having worked 60 hours pretty consistently recently. He also had dad duty for the older 2 boys on the 2 days that I was at work. Not surprisingly, he is now sick. He is pretty sure he has the flu.

Because that's the other thing about March. It feels like winter is over, even the weather says winter is over. And you want to be out there soaking up the beautiful weather. But March is that month when everyone gets sick. And though we have been surprisingly healthy this year, March brought with it it's usual onset of sickness. Greystoke had another ear infection, another night of croup. And now he has a deep chest cough and is waking up screaming "no! in his sleep again. And The Dude is barking like a dog all night. Aquaman is blowing long ropes of snot out of his nose and then showing them to me.
Boys are so weird and gross.
Of course, there are good things about March too.
My sister K came to visit. It went too fast like it always does, but we soaked it up while we could.

The Dude turned 5 years old last Friday. A whole handful.
And there is a spring feverish feeling in the air. We filled out the registration form for next year last night. I carefully described Aquaman as needing a teacher who is structured but gentle and positive and who does not push him.  As I read the description to him, he shouted "next year is going to be the best year ever!"
Spring break is only 2 weeks away.
Summer camp schedules are starting to come out.
A couple of nights ago, as he lay in bed contemplating all of this, Aquaman said: "Mom? My teacher is a really good teacher. And he is a really nice person. He was just not the best teacher for me."
I got tears in my eyes when he said it. It's a hard and helpless feeling watching your child struggle with something over which you have very little control. I know there will be many such moments in our lives and that it is part of growing up, but he is still so little. I don't like sending him out unprotected.
I have struggled a lot the past couple of months because many of my Christian friends whose parenting I admire home school their kids. And I wish I could too. There is a new hybrid Christian homeschool on beachside that has 2 days of private school and 3 days of homeschool of which they give you the curriculum, and I would love to do something like that.
But what it comes down to is, today at least, and all we have is today, it is just not possible.
This is a new stage of parenting and of letting go for me. When Aquaman was a baby I struggled a lot with having to work, even part time. I felt that the ideal was to be home with him. Slowly time healed that wound. I have seen how God has provided for us with grandparents to care for our children, and part time family centered jobs with great schedules and that I have felt like I could really make an impact with. He is more than provided us with everything that we need.
It is my nature to fight through every angle. One of my nursing school references wrote: "J leaves no stone un turned."
I like to turn the stones over. I like to look at every angle. I am highly idealistic. I am willing to make great sacrifices for those ideals. But sometimes I have to set the stones down, sigh, and admit that this is not the Garden. Life is not always ideal. And my thoughts are so much smaller than His thoughts.

And so I trust that where I cannot go, God will go with him. He will go ahead of him. And He will use these less than ideal conditions to accomplish His will in Aquaman's life.

Some of the rough and ragged and stressed out edges are starting to soften lately, and it's great to see.
Aquaman will always be a quirky boy. He will always be different. That's ok.
I have struggled over the past couple of weeks with embarrassing moments when he wasn't the careful and obedient boy that I wished he would be. He is highly impulsive and emotional, and when he is excited he is wild and loses most of his self control. He vacillates in those excited moments between high and low hysterias. There is nothing you can do to control it, you simply try your best to contain it. I struggle with that sometimes. I know what people are thinking and saying, I have heard it all before.
But just at my lowest point last week, I heard an awesome broadcast on Focus on the Family that talked about different personalities. The speaker said his first child, a daughter, came out of the womb apologizing for being a little late. She saved her money to buy Shakespeare and was the perfect child. They bragged to their friends. Then heaven laughed at them and sent them their son...who was born with a cigar in his mouth. Who prayed every day to drive his mother crazy, and every day God answered his prayer.
I laughed until I almost cried, and then I did cry, later, as the speaker went on to say several things that really resonated with me. 1) Pick your battles with these children. Or you will be picking on them all the time, and they will never know when something really matters. Let go of the control. You can't control them. And 2) Everyone loves their kids, but kids will never really feel that love if you don't accept them. Just as they are. Not trying to change who they are to be more acceptable to you. But accept them with all their quirks. Love them as they are.

I love him. I love all my crazy boys. I love the impulsivity, I love that they don't want to be controlled. What a holy and wonderful word is no! They will need to use it in so many important ways in the future.
And speaking of no, it's still 2 more months until this guy is 2, but I'm just going to say it....he is 2.
In all its take-off-your-diaper-and-poop-on-the-floor, and scowl and hold your ground, or else go totally rag doll limp and screech like someone is killing you glory. 2.
But that sweet, sleepy eyed baby is still in there somewhere. He lays his head on my shoulder in the mornings. He gives the sweetest kisses. When Daddy is rushing off to work again and stops to tell him goodbye and tells him: "I am sorry for leaving again, will you forgive me?" He says "yeah!" in such an exuberant way that you really believe him.
He is as blond as the other 2 are red. He still waves at random strangers in the store and says "hi!". Even when his ears hurt, he assures me: "ear better", almost apologetically. He loves to color, and cut, and most of all he still loves reading books and taking walks, though now he wants to walk by himself so we never make it very far.
He loved seeing Aunt "Tatie" and "Bart". He loves his Papa, and puts Papa down for a nap while he quietly slips out of the room because he already thinks he's getting too big for such a thing as naps.
The Dude turned 5 on Friday. I brought donuts and goody bags to his friends at school, and then we left school early, picked up Aquaman early from school, and went straight to Grandma and Grandpa's house for his family birthday party, because JT could not get off work in the evening, and Grandma and Grandpa were leaving town over the weekend.

He had such a great birthday.
He's talked about it over and over since then. Says he wants his 6 year old birthday to be exactly like his 5 year old birthday, so I guess it was a success.
Aquaman was almost as excited as The Dude. He woke him up and dragged him out of bed at 5:10 am. I heard the ruckus and was sure someone was sick or having a nightmare or something. When I made it down the stairs and saw them both up, I told them to go back to bed. The Dude said "so THAT'S why I am so tired." and fell cheerfully back asleep. But Aquaman lay in his bed "thinking" and staring out the window until the sun rose.

Aquaman made The Dude's day so special. He told him over and over: "this is your day!" It was very sweet.
The Dude got a skateboard, a tablet,  a guitar and a remote control truck. He loved them all with all of his exuberant Dude love. It is fun to watch him become. His heart is so big and he wears it on his sleeve. Before work this morning, he colored me a picture and put it in an envelope which he taped shut and then presented it to me. A love note, he said.
He is starting to read, albeit slowly, but he sticks with it persistently and happily. Last night when we sat down for me to read to him he said "can you read a page and then I read one?" The book was much too hard so he agreed to play a sight word game on his new tablet instead.
He has never been excited about books like his other 2 brothers, but his current obsession is wild jungle animals, and at the library last week he found a chapter book about Cheetahs and practically has it memorized.
He wants to go to zoo camp this summer.

On Saturday he had his first t-ball game and it went so much better than soccer!

3 years ago I was dragging his older brother to these same fields for tot t-ball.
But I didn't have to drag The Dude. He practically dragged me.
3 years ago, it was The Dude looking through these fences, ready to charge the field.
He was a bit of a ball hog, but you really couldn't blame him. None of the other kids seemed much interested in chasing it. He threw the ball underhanded and he threw the ball directly from his glove a few times, but he started to get it toward the end, and he actually stayed interested in the game, unlike the soccer debacle. T-ball requires a much shorter attention span.

This is a short week for school, the boys get Friday off. I'm looking forward to it. They'll be climbing the walls.

I've been really enjoying life these past few weeks. I've been feeling a little guilty about all the hours JT has been working, but it's not really something I can do anything about, and I decided a long time ago that being stressed just because he is stressed doesn't help things at all. So I have taken the time to stop and smell the roses this week. I have dropped everything, rented a movie, and watched it almost all the way through with the big boys on Saturday night. I have been finishing up all the housework on Saturdays and then trying to really take that day of rest on Sunday.
It has done my soul good.
Life is hard, there are so many unknowns around the bend. There are so many struggles all around us, so much pain, so much sin, including in my own heart.
But lately I have been falling asleep reading Ecclesiastes and thanking God for the beauty today. For the joy in the labor of it. For the feeling of a soft bed after a long day. For the laughter of my children. The hugs. The hope.
Meaningless, Meaningless. Everything is not meaningless.
Because He lives. Because He makes the sun set every single day in its pinks and oranges, but sometimes we are so wrapped up in our own little selves that we don't stop to notice it.

Because He has set eternity in our hearts, even as he washes the dirt off our feet.

1 comment:

  1. I think again of what God continually has remind d me. You two best gifts to your children (aside introducing them to God of course). One is roots, the other wings. The second one is so much harder yet now I know just as important. This was also a Dobson stress point. I read his work like a meal. All I need for proof are you and your siblings. You fly straight lookin up and not back toward comfort. With a challenging child the wings stay wet maybe a little longer like Asher and Aimee but the strength that comes is like steel. I wish I could live to see him grown but I hope he and Cecily never totally lose their exuberance. The other day Chris wrote to me. You rais d strong kids. I know it wasn't me but I hold it tightly it in my heart as encouragement. God is so good.