Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Human Doing

 Amazingly enough, I have found myself with a few childless and work free moments this afternoon.
 Noni and Papa picked up Greystoke from preschool today and took him back to their house for some play time. Grandma picked up the older boys from school and took them both to Aquaman's gymnastics class.
Me? I finished work and then began to run frantically around the house like a chicken with my head cut off wondering what to do first.
I ran around throwing legos on to the table to prepare to vacuum and wiped down the kitchen counters, and put school papers away, and made the beds, and wiped up the worst of the crumbs and made lunches for tomorrow. I spent more time than I wanted to hunting batteries for the Roku remote so I could listen to Pandora on TV. I gave up.

What do I need to do? I need to put away laundry, the story of my life. But at least that's hidden away in closets. Which need to be gone through because I know there's a bunch of junk in there that I don't need. I need to clean out the refrigerator's been a while. I need to vacuum. Probably clean the bathrooms again. Need to run to the store for a contribution for the barbecue we are attending tonight.

I need a long quiet walk on the beach.

 But I need this to. To sit down and process it all. To get it all out. How I have been feeling like a "human doing" lately instead of a "human being".
How I am emerging from the fog of 1st trimester, and finding my energy back, finding that I can take delicious gulps of water without being overcome by the urge to vomit again. Finding that some days I can think about food and actually cook it again.
Still having moments of debilitating nausea, hanging over the trash can wishing for the sweet release know. Sometimes finding that release and hating it.
But it's almost over. I am starting to feel again something besides the robotic getting-through-the-moment that these past few months have been. I don't enjoy the 1st trimester. I still feel annoyed at the middle aged woman that looked down her nose on me once in church for sitting down while we were singing during my 1st pregnancy, 1st trimester, and said if I had to sit now, pregnancy was going to be very difficult for me.
Give me the 3rd trimester over the 1st any day. I hate it. But it's almost over forever and I feel a surge of home in that declaration.

I had blood work a couple weeks ago. This bloodwork was meant to tell me if my baby had risk for any genetic disorders and it was negative.
 It told us something else too, something I have never found out so early or this way before.
The nurse dragged it out on the phone, seeming to enjoy the suspense. I was crying before I even hung up the phone. I still remember the shaky feeling I had 2 days later when the results popped up on my Quest app on my phone and seeing them really seeing them and knowing it was real: No Y chromosome detected, indicating a female fetus.
 It's a GIRL!!
 I am going to have a daughter.
 I would have been thrilled with another son. I love my boys so much and there is a part of me that is afraid to show how happy I am to have the new and exciting experience of mothering a daughter because I don't want to discredit or devalue one of my boys. I love being a mother to boys. They are each so incredibly different and fun and interesting and loveable and I didn't wish that any one of them was a girl, and I wouldn't have wished it with this one either.

But I was shocked by how happy I was to find out this news. I get to experience a whole other side of parenting now. A new learning curve. I am not as afraid as I thought I would be. By the 4th child you just don't have the time and energy to be afraid anymore. God has officially given me more than I can handle already, thank you. He will continue to give me the grace to parent my beautiful daughter.

I am thrilled that my boys will have the benefit of growing up with a little sister who has different needs than they do. Now all the female exposure pressure will not be limited to me.
I am especially thrilled about the opportunity to see JT with a little girl. As much as I have loved boys, I have often thought it would be too bad for JT not to have a girl because he is the dad that every little girl needs. She will be wrapped around his finger just like his boys are. 
 So there you have it. So much excitement in my life, but to be honest, I don't yet feel like I have the time and energy to process it. People keep asking me what I am going to name her, and I look at them blankly because honestly I am still trying not to vomit and to get all the homework done and to juggle my 30 hour a week work schedule with 3 kids and a home and a husband who works opposite days.
 I work mostly from home, and don't have an office so most days I sit surrounded by the crumbs that I haven't had time to clean up, and the uneaten cereal left in bowls on the table beside me, wondering if there will ever be enough of me to go around.
 This is the path God has chosen for me. It is full of so many blessings, and the biggest blessings are often the ones that push you most to the edge of yourself.

 Every now and then I will be driving over the Pineda and somehow I ended up on a station that has good music...real music...and I will stare out over the sparkling water and something will surge inside of me, come to life, and I will remember a piece of who I am, and with that is always the longing, always the sense of emptiness that reminds me...

 Only He is enough.
He is the only reason for any of this, and the only answer, and the only meaning. Otherwise it is all just striving, all just "chasing after the wind".
 To be honest, I don't do that well when things get too hectic. I think the majority of people probably drown themselves in busyness partially because they think they have to, but mostly because they are afraid of the silence, of the empty space, of the realization that they are enough.
But not me. I crave it. Not like a pregnant woman craves chocolate because actually this pregnancy I hate chocolate. I much prefer olives and pickles. But I digress.
 So I thought about cutting back my hours. But it's only 6 more months until the baby comes. And then maternity leave, and then in all reality I will not only want to more than ever, but NEED to work less, so for now I am just going to keep trucking on, and keep my eyes on the author of my faith and my story.
And try to save some money for the new AC they said we're going to need next summer.
 I want to do it all, I want to be the perfect mother. I wish I could home school all my kids and keep them with me every day. I wish my house could be neat and orderly and that I had more time to date my husband.
But for now I am remembering my calling. Today I saw a client who is dying. He sleeps most of the time, he opens his eyes briefly. I stopped and put my hands on him and said a prayer for him. I talked to him and he heard me, and I could tell he was glad to have me there. I wasn't there long enough. It never feels long enough. But on the way I heard the song by Leland that I remember being my inspiration to go to work years ago: "I'll follow You into the homes of the broken. I'll follow You into the world. I'll meet the needs of the poor and the needy, God. I'll follow You into the world."

I have always struggled and always will struggle with not feeling enough as a mother, especially of 4, because I have been called to work. I also struggle with the fact that I get paid to work, so somehow that makes my job less important. Which is probably the opposite of most moms' struggles.
But today I remembered that every moment of my life can be a ministry. That every moment of my life can be an act of worship, even when it feels almost frantic, even when it never feels like enough.
 My boys are beautiful. I am enjoying them so much. Greystoke is almost 2.5, the age of will and opinions, but he is still such a pleasure. He talks incessantly and adorably. His articulation is still more babyish than the other two were, but very intelligible still and I love to listen to him talk. He too loves pickles and olives, and eats them every day on the way to school. He still mostly loves school and was thrilled about picture day, but every now and then on the way he will say wistfully: "I wish I stay home with you today". He loves to go to the park and swing and for me to go down the slides with him. He adores Aquaman, who is head over heels for him and will do anything for him. He is in awe and admiration and a little fear of The Dude who tortures and teases him every chance he gets.
 The Dude is my difficult child these days. Luckily they usually only go one at a time down that road. He is so stubborn he will fight with anyone about anything. He is struggling with writing and his teacher has referred him to the intervention team because he is so behind, so now we are doing remedial work at home but it exhausts me. The reason he is struggling with writing is because he has the attention span of a fly so what should take 10 minutes takes usually an hour. He doesn't cry, though he occasionally will fight me over the proper way to form a letter, but it is so hard to keep his eyes on his paper.
His teacher has also been giving me many harried looks at the end of the day and reporting that he has been "disturbing the class" because he basically never shuts up. He is best friends with pretty much every girl in his class. Every time I go to drop him off, I feel like I am dropping off a celebrity in the parking lot. But I am not exactly sure how I am supposed to get him to shut up when I am not even there, so this is a new one for me.
 I had my conference with Aquaman's teacher earlier this week and it was awesome. This was a student led conference and he showed me all of his work and how he is doing. He was off the charts for his reading, and coming along fine on his timed math despite his struggles last year. The best part of the whole thing was that his teacher did and does nothing but talk about how great he is doing in everything. He got an N on handwriting on his report card and his teacher did not bring it up. Once. This is why he comes home happy from school now. Last year all his teacher did was try to "fix" what he considered broken in Aquaman instead of looking at all the great things he can do. So what if his handwriting is messy? He can already use a keyboard quite well. He will be fine.
He chews his shirts at school. At first that used to bother me until I realized that last year he would never have felt comfortable enough to chew and drool all over his shirts at school and that is part of why he always had so much pent up anxiety and stress when he walked out of the door.
His teacher could care less if he chews his shirts, and neither could I.
 This week is fall parties. I am going to carve a pumpkin in Greystoke's class tomorrow. On Friday is Aquaman and The Dude's costume parade and then I am helping out with The Dude's party. I am so thankful for the amazing flexibility of my job that I can do these things. It is such a gift from God.
Well I better go. The laundry won't get put away today. I think I can make it to the store and grab something though. And maybe even take a 10 minute walk on the beach. So here I go.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Unfinished

I wish I had the energy and the time to sit down and write something long and meaningful, but alas, the weekend has almost escaped me, and here I am to jot down some words as quickly as I post the too many pictures I have taken in the last few weeks, and to rush on to the next thing. That last load of laundry that needs to be put away before the week starts....though realistically I probably won't finish writing before the boys get back home and then there will be dinner and cleanup and bedtimes, and the laundry may not actually get put away.
JT came home from work and invited us all out into the world to play, but having just returned from the grocery store with the oldest and youngest, after spending the whole day doing what felt like running a marathon but never actually accomplishing anything, I was too tired to go back out into the world. So they went without me.
The Dude is at Awana with Grandma.
So right now it is just me and the littlest one. Who is still pretty quiet.
I had another ultrasound this week, this time at the perinatologist, since I am the ripe old age of 35 now.
She said the baby was beautiful. In fact, it moved so much that all of the pictures turned out pretty terrible, but it made for a pretty amazing experience in real time. He/she was lying down on its tummy sucking its thumb about half of the time, and bouncing around in a style true to its siblings. The tech said she had never seen such an active baby. The perinatologist said she had not seen one in such beautiful health in a while.
So basically, life is pretty good. I got the bloodwork done that will tell us the sex of the baby and should get the results toward the end of this week. I am so excited because it doesn't really feel real until I can start thinking of names and knowing which clothes to look at.
I love little boys. A few times this pregnancy when I have been hanging over the trash can, which has been all too frequently, I have found myself wondering in terror if this one who has made me so sick could be a girl. What would I do with a girl?? I don't know when I will ever have time to do my own hair or makeup again, how would I ever have time to teach someone else how to do it?
But of course I will be thrilled with all of it. A daughter would be very special, Being the mother of FOUR boys would be very special.
It's been a great couple of weeks. The nausea had its moments of terrible peaks, and now seems to have subsided for the most part. I am 14 weeks today. It is usually gone completely by 16 weeks. I am weaning myself off the medications which also means I am more functional as a person because the medicine I was taking was a sleeping pill.
The weather has started to cool, I found some awesome Halloween costumes at Once Upon a Child, and life is full and happy.
Don't get me wrong, I am plenty hormonal too.
Sometimes I am so tired, and it all feels like wheels spinning in the dirt and never getting anywhere. By the time I get to the weekend I am so drained and behind that Saturday morning with all its laundry and dishes and demands and JT at work all day feels so daunting that I don't know how to get out of bed.
Sometimes I just want to have something pretty. I want to have something nice. I want to have time and energy to make myself pretty every once in a while and it is never there. Today in the span of a few minutes my oldest son shattered my phone screen and my youngest pulled down the curtain rod that just got fixed by the handy man a few weeks ago.
Sometimes I really missing have 4 day weekends where I could just enjoy my kids and focus on them and our home and not think about anything else.
But I always do get up. And I don't have to look far to find so many reasons to smile. And remember to count my blessings. Like the fact that I have a job that helps pay our bills. Not only that but it is a job that allows me to spend a lot more time with my kids than most jobs do, and one that I enjoy doing.
Open House at the IHB fire department this weekend

Team work. It's a miracle. There was crying not long afterward.
We had a whirlwind weekend visit from my sister a few weekends ago. It always leaves us wanting more, but we enjoyed it so much.
Then we had a massive hurricane coming straight at our house that we were pretty sure was going to leave it in a million pieces.
But God allowed it to wobble away.
He could have not done that. I prayed that night as I went to sleep and I told Him I understood if He didn't. 800 people died in Haiti from this same storm. I don't know why they died and we didn't even lose power for more than a few hours.
All I know is that I am thankful for His mercy.
And it is good to have experiences like that once in a while because it is a reminder of what I already know.
The Lord gives, and Lord takes away. He is still worthy to be praised.
His thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways.
And all things, and all people, are to be held loosely in our hands, and enjoyed, and appreciated, because we are allowed to experience them and use them and love them today, this moment, and that may be all that we get.
And that's ok.
It's easy for me to say right now because my kids don't have cancer and my house didn't get destroyed and my husband still has a job. But what I know to be true today will be true tomorrow, when those things may well happen.
Thank You God for hearing our prayers today.
So life is trucking along. Aquaman finished his evaluation and he does not have any learning disorders other than slow processing speed, which can be worsened or contribute to ADHD and anxiety, but for now he is doing so well that I am really not worried about it.
The place that did his testing offers social skills playgroups and we are looking into those because he is a bit delayed in those areas, and it would help so much to have a safe place where he could learn appropriate skills without others judging him or criticizing him. He is such an amazing kid. I want to the whole world to see who he really is, and not the sometimes prickly side that comes out. I know they will.
He is still getting occupational therapy, which is loves, though I am not sure exactly how much it is helping, since most of it I have been doing at home most of his life anyway. Things like taking sensory breaks and practicing with utensils and shoe tying and touching and taking bites of new foods. But he loves it so much I definitely don't see any harm in it so for now we are going to keep going.
I had a conference with The Dude's teacher this past week and I just love her. She was Aquaman's Tk1 teacher and was so supportive and accepting of him as he was, and she is just as great a teacher for The Dude.

I can tell she enjoys having him, and she laughed as she described his behavior in her class, very silly, very chatty, very Dude, He confers with his best friend, Chloe, over everything, and in turn she encourages him when he is struggling to write.
Which he is really struggling to do. His teacher wants to refer him to the intervention team to see if he will qualify for speech therapy so he can also get occupational therapy which is what she really wants him to have. We work on it every night, but he has made very little progress. It is not his fine motor, it seems to be the complexity of the task that is difficult for him. It requires a lot of concentration and memory and he just doesn't seem ready for all of that yet.
My theory, right or wrong, is that this is why they do not offer occupational therapy as stand alone in schools unless the child qualifies for speech or another learning disability....there would be too many kids in OT to count because the schools now ask many kids, and especially little boys, to do work that is not developmentally appropriate for them,
Aquaman took 2 years to learn to read. He had all the basics down before he started kindergarten but he did not take off until last year when he went from 1st-6th grade level in one year. Some of that was probably the processing speed, but most of it, I think, was that he just wasn't ready.
Luckily The Dude is as happy as can be, nothing can get him down for long, and so far he has not even seemed to notice how far behind his friends he is in writing. Probably some of it also has to do with the attitude he often tried to share with Aquaman last year: "who cares if she can write better than you? I bet you can jump higher than she can!"
I love these boys.
The rice cooker died so I better get up and cook it on the stove the real way.
I will leave you with Greystoke's first haircut. He was such a trooper.
I have hardly talked about him at all in this post, and he is practically my world. He makes me smile so much every day. He is almost 2.5 and getting an attitude about some things, but he can't ever stay mad for long. He is almost fully weaned and handling it like a champ. He has been sleeping poorly since his last ear infection, but I think it was just a bad habit that I was too tired to break...we're slowly getting there.
Seriously though? He pretty much lights up everyone's world everywhere he goes...
Well I am going to go cook dinner, and maybe start the laundry.
But probably not.