A place to be real about a life of chaos, with eight beautiful children, homeschooling, special needs, adoption, sanity or the lack thereof.........a rubber hits the road sort of journey that I thankfully do NOT walk alone!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Suffer"..."Smell"..."Smile" :)

Shortcomings or at least the perception of same as a Mom is nothing but a road block!

Today was one of those days where I seemed to take one step forward and two steps back.

There are not enough parenting classes in the world that would leave me feeling totally equipped for what lay ahead...or is that simply "perspective?"

It's never a good thing to awake like Miss Clavel in Madeline thinking "Something is not right!" I jumped out of bed and raced through to the boys room (good guess!) and found the younger two quickly pulling up their covers and initiating synchronized snoring noises. I'm still not entirely sure what was transpiring but I'm fairly certain I foiled the plan! After a brief "I'm going to have a bath and I'd best not hear any more" I head to the bathroom with intentions of breaking my bath speed record.

Despite my best attempts at hurrying...I had my bath while listening to extremely loud thumping. I feared there was jumping from high places while role playing oh.....I don't know....Tarzan, Superman,.....some Star Wars hero.....(note to self....clothing is much easier to put on if you have taken the time to properly dry off!)....I raced through the door to find one with another in a head lock that surely was cutting off oxygen!!!

The oldest..."the more mature one" after politely advising me I was having a bad hair day suggested he had done his very best to control the two, still sat with that smug look of pure entertainment on his face. I thanked him for noticing my new hairstyle and suggested he move quickly to complete his chores and get downstairs for breakfast.

This was all before 7am!

I'm resigned at this point I believe that finding my happy place and relying on well practised deep breathing exercises would be mandatory for survival! Their survival!!

All this to say the day progressed as expected with a larger than usual number of distractions, meltdowns, pouting episodes, tantrums, refusals, and just downright naughtiness.... At least it's predictable!

By 10:00 I had "nuked" my coffee at least eight times and still was working on the first cup. I had implemented the do not sit within arms length of your brother rule and spent the rest of the time trying to enforce said rule while jumping over the gate to stop the baby from climbing on everything, pulling the light cord on and off at record speeds, and emptying his mouth of "whatever" that was he found under the couch cushion!!! I taught language at two grade levels and marked tests, celebrated with my five year old the success in his math program and encouraged reading, reminded several times that the planner has all the information regarding "what now?" if they would read it and said "Please sit down on your bottom with your feet flat on the floor to do your work" no less than 50 times!!!

Lunch time came and went, the baby was down for a nap and my taxi-ing to co-op complete I sat to eat my lunch while the children had some free time. I recapped the morning in my mind wondering what I could have done differently to make things run a little smoother and then I realized as I often do that I was doing the very best I could and although it seemed to me to be totally out of control we had accomplished all that I had set out to accomplish this morning and I should just "collect" myself and get on with it!

One of my boys is struggling these days. He's a very bright child, capable of all I ask....all that is, except any and all social cues, impulse control, boundaries, following rules even when he can recite them verbatim, and a clear understanding of dangerous behaviour (both to himself and others)...piece of cake if I sit and hold his hand all day but alas.....I am divided in eight directions and that is not possible. Here's where I insert the "thankful I home school" plug!

He is the one who "melts" at the first sign of not completely "getting" the math lesson even though with brief instruction he's off and running...he gently loves on his biological brother proudly "helping" him without being asked one minute and the next is wailing...."I'm not doing this...I'm not helping...You just want me to suffer!" My precious woven rugs (read my last post) are exceptionally intricate.

As I finished my teaching day and I was trying to wrap up my marking I struggled with how I might have made this day easier for this same child. How might I better serve him to make his journey easier and to be honest....to make it easier on all of us...I opened his spelling work and the stress of my day dissipated as I found myself laughing out loud at the response to the final question in his work....

Complete each sentence with a spelling word that means the same as the boldface word.

#17. allow God will not __________________ the foot of the righteous to be moved (Psalm 121:3)

Very carefully he had inserted the word........ "smell"...........

I'm still laughing and I'm reminded of how important laughter is in my day.

I called him over to go over his work and when I got to this answer he looked at me waiting for instruction...."Honey....did you look this scripture up?"...."Nope I knew it all by myself!"

His honesty.....my day went from "suffer" to "smell"....to "smile"!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mistake or Plan?

On most days it's easy for me to acknowledge my children, every one of them, are masterpieces. "Individual works of art", molded and formed to be just as they are with all of their strengths and weaknesses, desires and dreams, challenges and frustrations, stumbling blocks and successes. I would however be lying if I didn't add that there are times when my expectations don't step up to the forefront and "mess" with the whole "plan".

The whole "nature vs. nurture" argument leaves me without question leaning heavy on the "nurture". With seven of the eight born not of my womb but of my heart, what I feed into their lives is all I can take responsibility for. You know the day to day influences, the values, the goals, the rules but more important than all that structure is the unconditional love.

Admittedly, the tendency to allocate "blame" or "justification" for all that nature "dished" out is easy. Finding the courage to push through can be draining...even downright exhausting.

How easy when it is I who has fallen short to find a reason other than something I have done to account for the behaviour. Finding the courage to look full into the eyes of my child and see their individual potential regardless of my own preconceived notions...necessary.

I've never been too fond of labels and try to make it a priority to avoid them at all costs especially when it comes to my children. Life is stressful enough without having to wear a large, neon sign saying....please excuse my behaviour but I have "such and such".

Behaviours tend to speak for themselves and to offer up a reason to be looking for "trouble" does none of my children any good. Aside from having the potential predetermination of guilt it suggests to the child in question "There is something wrong with me and I am doomed to not succeed here." That just won't fly in my house!

A friend once shared a story of a traveler who visited a village and upon entering a shop there stood watching in awe the rug makers hard at it. This traveler was amazed as the craftsmen sped a shuttle back and forth on the loom.

"What if you make a mistake with the shuttle?" asked the traveler. "You are going so fast you will not see the error in the design until you have woven several layers over it. What will you do then? Will you unwind the carpet and remove the layers of thread that you have added?"

"No," said the rug maker "we would never do that; that would take far too much time. I'll tell you a secret. The most beautiful rugs with the most elaborate designs, the most expensive weavings, are the ones with the mistakes hidden inside."

"How's that?" questioned the traveler. "Well, once we notice the mistake, we have to integrate it into the pattern. We have to change the pattern to include the mistake and make it part of a new design. Sometimes the new design is far more complex, far more embellished than anything we could have created ourselves. That's why the most beautiful rugs are the ones with the mistakes hidden deep inside."

You see, I believe that these "complex designs", these beautiful "embellishments" that make each of my children who they are...are not errors...These "designs" are not mistakes but the careful placement by the Master Weaver of each of them in the plan He has for them.

The intricacies of each one only makes them special, unique in the Weaver's eyes and in mine. What they have to offer this world and selfishly what I continue to learn as I am blessed with the privilege of parenting them is immense! What a different place this world would be if we could all look through the eyes of the Creator of each "masterpiece".

What the world might reject...I must cherish. What the world judges...I will nurture.

Mistake or Plan? I choose to follow the "plan."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicken or Pig?...Tales from the parenting trenches!

Before I begin...I know...yes, it has been made abundantly clear to me, I have been absent with NO excuse for far too long! With that in mind and of course with the beginning of yet another "well-planned" home school year, I am endeavouring to set new routines in place including this blog. I have found it quite therapeutic and to more than a few of my bloggy friends I have provided a hearty chuckle or two.

This past Sunday our preacher delivered a message that included visual aids. Much to the pleasure of all of the children, two live barn animals...yup, you guessed it, a chicken and a very unnaturally clean and quite feisty pig graced the stage. I have to admit I was uncertain whether this was indeed the Sunday he'd finally lost it. But after an hour and a half realized "losing it", was simply the goal.

The much condensed version of the message is simply this...are we spiritually a chicken or a pig? Are we content pecking at bits of nothing while wandering around aimlessly and often alone, or are we willing to truly be hungry with a voracious, "pig-like" hunger for God, desiring the company of others just like us? There was much more to it but essentially a chicken even when giving eggs isn't wholly dedicated to the task. It's just another "offering up" with no real sacrifice. But a pig!....now when he offers breakfast sausage or bacon he's, as my preacher says..."All in!". A complete sacrifice! This is what we are called to do as fully devoted followers.
As I absorbed (translated: "was smacked in the face by!") this message I couldn't help but draw many parallels to my call as Mom to my eight awesome kids. My role must be one of full dedication to the task or I am not filling the shoes I am meant to fill. To be set apart from the status quo I have to realize the "cost", take "action" and quite often be misunderstood by those that don't agree or simply don't "get it".
For those of you that know me well, you know our story, you know the blessing of our only biological child and the heaped upon us multiple blessings of our seven adopted children that followed. Being a parent to this tribe requires being "all in" ALL THE TIME! There is a personal cost to be sure but like the pig, I'm on a mission....I have an important job to do and I must be willing to stay in the trenches and complete the task. As for "losing it"...I lost it ages ago! Some of my friends would argue what I lost was my everloving mind, but what I refer to is the selfish control of all circumstances. In order to be the best Mom I can I have to wake every morning recognizing my job is to love, to teach, to discipline, to live my life by example. Controlling all simply does not occur! I have grown to understand that living each day coping with the challenges that present themselves as they arise with a "pig like" focus will better serve my family.

An aside.....

My dear friend just yesterday messaged me concerned that all stories I was sharing of late had a certain focus...a common thread...a theme shall we say....."poop!"

Now before I lose you let me share ....

Last week I took seven of the children to the dentist to have their teeth cleaned. Yes, I had temporary loss of sanity when I booked them all together but it was too late to cancel when I finally flipped the month to September on the calendar and noted the appointment so off we went. It turns out six of the seven were due for x-rays and of course the many consults with the dentist regarding the plethora of imminent orthodontic treatment dragged the time on to about one and a half hours before the inevitable...."I have to go to the bathroom!". I quickly left the five year old with his older sister in the waiting room promising to return before it was his turn and directed the potty going child to the appropriate bathroom and instructed to lock the door and come directly out when finished. Within three minutes she returned with this distraught look on her face. "Mommy, something happened when I flushed the toilet and it's overflowing"! I raced into the bathroom to find the contents resembling an infinity pool just hovering at the lip of the toilet bowl! I cranked the shut off valve and held my breath hoping to see the level lower and the crisis to pass. It was not to be and I soon came to the realization that the last of my children to use the bathroom had deposited the paper hand towel in the toilet not the garbage and it was neatly blocking the hole from allowing the "contents" to flow away! What choice did I have but to remove my watch........

At the beginning of this week as I set my sights on early rising to have some quiet time, do some reading etc. I went to bed set the alarm extra early and looked forward to a refreshing new routine. I managed to get up without stirring the other nine heartbeats, bathe, dress and head down the stairs. What met me in the front hall I can only assume was the result of a rather elderly dog enjoying the scraps left around the picnic table from snacking with friends the day before. Every olfactory nerve ending was hyperstimulated as I hit the bottom of the stairs and I spent the next half hour on my knees cleaning and scrubbing. What choice did I have but to have my quiet time right there, being thankful for the food the dog must have eaten, thankful for the ability to get down and back up again although a little slower than years gone by, and thankful for the quiet time..........

And just this morning....I rose early without waking anyone and was just closing the door behind me to go downstairs and a wee voice from his crib in the dark greeted me with "Hi Mommy...Mommy.....MOMMY!!!!!.....POOPY" Remember that lack of control? I am simply Mom......all in!!