Saturday, January 7, 2017

Broken Silence

So much has happened since my last blog. I guess it is true that change doesn't happen until life starts hurting too much. I realized after writing my last blog that I didn't want this to be my story. I never have. In so many ways over the past few months I have let go of so many aspects of me, of who I am, and what I value. And I didn't want to buy into the lie that this was just how it has to be.

To be sure, we chose to have 4 kids, or at least we chose to accept God's plan for us to have 4 kids, so we signed up for some level of crazy. It's just how it is.
If Aquaman and The Dude were our only kids, life would....or at least could...hold some certain level of simplicity that will never exist in a family of 6.
But it's just as easy to fill life and schedules up with other things, so maybe not. There is always that temptation to go and go and go. To achieve and accomplish and feel busy because somehow busy is supposed to be productive.

Which I have remembered, once again, not to be true.
Our lives should only be filled up with God's callings. And so, JT and I's lives are filled up with 4 little children. 2 wild and strong willed and red a little less so but just as full as personality, and 1 whom we haven't met yet.

They're filled up with jobs for both of us because that is how God has allowed us to feed and shelter and love these 4 children, and that is another way God has chosen for us to minister to the world.
But it doesn't have to be frantic and constant. There should be space to breathe.
"You can't be a poet when you start to speak in certainties. You can't stay tender and connected when you hurl yourself through life like being shot out of a cannon, your very speed a weapon you wield to keep yourself safe." -Shauna Niequist
So I made the decision to cut back my work schedule to only 20 hours per week a couple days after this last blog. I decided to pull Greystoke out of preschool 2 days a week to enjoy that time with him before our lives are changed again with the birth of his little sister.
The moment I made that decision, I was bathed in peace. I knew that it was really what God had been telling me to do for months, why God had actually felt so silent. He kept telling me to trust Him, to back off, to slow down. But it felt selfish to me. I can rest when the baby comes, I told myself. I need to work now and try to save money now because oh my gosh, we are going to have 4 children. How are we all going to fit into this little house? How am I going to give them everything that they need?
But the thing is, I haven't been giving them what they need anyway. I may have been providing for them to some degree materially, and I may have been actually present these past few months, but I have not been whole, I have not been fully me, and I have been so busy that my stress has leached out onto them.
Not to mention that these are not the values that I want to teach my kids. They can go without the latest clothes or activities or experiences and be just fine, in fact, I would rather they do that instead of falling into the trap of consumerism now.
What they can't do without? A mother who is here with them in the  moment. Who is not so stressed that I can't stop what I am doing and patiently help them deal with their conflicts, or talk them through a spiritual matter, or sit down and play Legos or Candyland for a few minutes.

I'm still freaked out of course. I want to do the best thing for all of us as a family.
But God says that all we have to worry about is today. And today we are just fine where we are. And my babies share a room with me for years anyway, so it's going to be a while before it really becomes an issue.
"For me, being brave is trusting that what God is asking of me, what my family and community is asking from me, is totally different from what our culture says I should do. Sometimes, brave is boring." -Shauna Niequist
We had a great Christmas.

Greystoke got sick the day before Christmas Eve, so he was a bit more needy and sleepless than usual, but generally in a good mood.
Christmas Eve was relaxing and low key. Christmas was a bit more hectic, but we did it.
The kids are all getting so big. The older 2 are still on Christmas vacation, so the house has been insane. I have been nesting big time, and the first thing I did when I realized I had a few spare minutes was write down all the things I want to organize since I haven't organized in months.

I hate clutter, clutter stresses me out, and one of my favorite things about living in a small space is that there is no excuse to have a bunch of junk in your house. I mean, it's all junk anyway, but we can have less of it.
I haven't gotten to actually any of it yet though since the house is absolutely insane with little boys on Christmas vacation. But the floors are cleaner than they have been in months, and I am not completely wound up tight like I was.

Greystoke is fully potty trained now. It was so easy because he was ready. He can hold it for hours, and he only had a handful of accidents his first week in underwear, and none since.

This past week he moved into the "big boy" room and sleeps on the bottom bunk. He is so proud of himself. I still put him to bed before the other 2 because he is way too excited to sleep when I put them all to bed together. But luckily he sleeps like a rock through the noise the other 2 make.
He wakes up with his usual huge grin, hugging his "giraffey". He always has a whole bed full of stuffed animals. He is such a cuddler.
Every night he sits in my lap while I read to him, currently a library book called Dinosaur ABCs, while he eats a mandarin orange. Then he brushes his teeth and changes into pajamas. We rock a little, and he rolls around in his bed a little, and then we rock some more, and then he takes off his pajamas and wants clothes. And then I know he will sleep soon.
He is 2.5 with all its rigid glory, but he is the easiest 2.5 year old that has ever graced the doors of this house. Every time he breaks something, which is usually Aquaman's legos, he says "that's ok!" just to make sure that it really is ok, and for the most part Aquaman groans a little bit, takes a deep breath, and says it really is ok. Unless it's the high speed train. We keep that out of reach.
I hope baby sister doesn't eat Legos. We were blessed in that Greystoke never was interested in that sort of thing. He is a visual learner, so different from the kinesthetic learning style of his red haired brothers. He did not feel the need to try them out with his mouth first.
The Dude and Aquaman continue their brawling. It is a difficult thing to have a child with sensory processing disorder and a hyperactive/aggressive child together. Aquaman does not like to be surprised by touch, and The Dude springs hugs and tackles on him constantly. He does not like loud or repetitive noises (unless he is making them), and The Dude loves to sing the same songs or phrases over and over again at the top of his lungs.

They are a blessing to each other. Aquaman has no choice but to learn to deal with touching and noises. The Dude has no choice but to learn how to back off and slow down a bit.
Aquaman finally had the endoscopy that his doctors have been recommending since he was 2 years old 2 days after Christmas. We had a long drive to Florida Hospital together, and he couldn't eat or drink anything until 1 pm when he woke up, but he was a total trooper. He loved the excitement of the "big city". and getting to see the Sun Rail pull right up to the hospital.
I and the nurses were all totally amazed at his maturity and poise. The other kids there were clutching their parents and asking a million questions, and he was just relaxed and quiet throughout the whole wait.
The actual procedure only lasted about 15 minutes and found that he does indeed have inflammation in his esophagus. We will find out more when we get the biopsies next week.
He only has one month left of OT and the therapist is trying desperately to get us to sign up for another 6 months, saying that he is making so much progress, and insurance won't like it if we stop before he is discharged.
He is making progress, but I don't know how much it has to do with therapy. Most of it is stuff we can do at home. And most of his progress is simply from the tincture of time.
He is the king of asynchronous development, and this is just going to be his childhood story, I am coming to understand that. Parts of him mature so fast that the other parts do not have time to develop properly. At his psychological evaluation last year they found him to be socially/emotionally delayed to around age 3-4, while his academic abilities ranged from 6th-8th grade. There was a time I wondered whether he would ever play on the playground the way all the other children did. It was not until earlier this year, at age 8, that I first saw him participate in an imaginative group play game. But he did. When he was ready.
And yesterday I took all the boys to a playground that is supposed to be for special needs kids, a "sensory" playground with tons of swinging and spinning and rubber bouncy floors, recommended by his therapist. Of course every kid in the whole world loves this playground so if you actually had a very special needs kid, you would probably never be able to take him there, and indeed last year when we tried it it was full of meltdowns from the crowds.
But yesterday the older 2 boys played for a solid hour WITH other children, Aquaman swinging 4-5 boys at a time with great gusto. It felt kind of weird to be so proud of my 8.5 year old for playing nicely with other kids, but this was a big deal for him. He is growing up.
He has really matured so much in this past year. He is not scared of regular kids' movies anymore, and rarely has nightmares. He is so patient with his 2 year old brother. He is working on patience with his 5 year old brother (and gave him a bloody lip while I was in the shower the other day), but then again....I am working on patience with his 5 year old brother.
The Dude is at the age when school breaks are difficult. He is out of routine, and life is unpredictable, and as a result everything has to be a test. Nothing is simple or easy. His answer to everything is no, even if what he really wants to say is yes. He is often in time out 15-20 times a day. He can't give personal space, and loves to tease both of his brothers.
But he is such a sweetheart. He vacillates between saying "I hate you so much I want to kill you. I wish I was as big as Daddy so I could kill you!" (to me), to telling me "Mommy, I love you so much! All the way to Pluto AND back". He gives out hugs as often as kicks. Sometimes his hugs feel like kicks.
He is endlessly curious. Creating concoctions out of water and soap and salt and honey every time I turn my back. Tying extension cords into knots. Taking everything apart. Making forts out of pillows. All things I really can't get mad about....they are just curious little boy things...but they are messy and exhausting.
He loves to pick and peel at things, and yesterday I overheard him bartering to give a toy to Aquaman in exchange for being allowed to pick the peeling skin around his toes.
He wants to play peewee tackle football this spring. He would settle for machine pitch baseball. We are trying to decide. I am not thrilled to jump into the team sport world when he is barely 6. I know how crazy it is, and I am deliberately trying to keep our lives simple. But he is going to be a team sport player, he is such an extrovert, he is so athletic, and he is going to need an outlet for all his extroverted energy.
Well, JT will be home from swim practice soon. This is his last weekend off for a while, so we are going to soak it up. I still have to do a bunch of dishes and make the beds and take a shower, so I better get moving.

Life is good. Life is simpler. The silence has been shattered. Sometimes you just have to listen in order to hear again.