In case you were wondering if I’d disappeared…I haven’t.
I’ve been hiding out here; licking my wounds.
Trying to re-establish which side is up. Trying to get up the courage to say something;
We were doing so well…
and I knew it was too good to be true, this positive momentum we were coasting on.
It’s not so much one big thing as a build up of little things.
It’s that pile of little things that makes you feel overwhelmed, like a laundry basket full of mismatched socks in the hallway.
A doozy of a head cold hit our home about a week ago and so for a week now I’ve been blowing noses,
doling out cough candies,
drinking hot tea,
and dragging my body around the house.
There’s been a lot of shortcuts.
A lot of excuses to do anything but vacuum.
A lot of weariness,
movies in the middle of the day (with the excuse that I am folding laundry at the same time)
and wandering around doing absolutely nothing.
That’s the back drop.
At the same time one of our daughters is dealing with a lot of anxiety as she transitions into her new school. I always wondered what it would feel like to have to leave your child crying and upset at the school gate.
Now I know.
Yesterday I came home and sobbed into the phone to my husband.
This wasn’t just a few worried tears at the gate. This was a full blown panic attack.
Fear in her eyes,
feet running after me and a screaming cry.
Tell me how you could leave that without your knees trembling and your throat clenched tight?
It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy school…she does! By the end of the day she comes running to my arms with a smile and a “Mommy, I had a perfect day!” But being away from me for such a long period of time and watching me walk away without her is very traumatic for her. What gets me is that I let myself believe our attachment was strong and secure enough to handle this. I should have known. She’s my little worry box. She’s been attached at the hip to me all summer. We’ve only been a family for three months. Of course she’s upset when I walk away from her. Even though her head knows I will be back at 3 o’clock, her heart and emotions are screaming that she is being abandoned. I am able to write this because this morning was the best morning we’ve had in a long time! After a few trial and error methods I hope we have found some good solutions. Our lovely principal and a few of the teachers have bent over backwards for us, and I am so grateful for this. Their compassion is sincere.
Admittedly, though, I’m discouraged.
Both the girls are revealing some major attachment needs right now. It’s exhausting just thinking about it sometimes. I want to love them the way they need to be loved, but the reality is it’s hard! I often fail to take advantage of the moments when they need reassurance of my love. I like to have a plan…but you can’t schedule love into your daily duties. You can establish special times to meet those needs, but there are always going to be the moments you didn’t count on or prepare for.
I know that it’s a good thing these things are coming out so soon, because it means they are starting to feel safe. Some kids take years to get to this point. I also know it could take years before they’re ready to let go of some of their anxieties, fears and coping mechanisms. We’re used to pushing children forward toward success, but sometimes regression is the only way to move forward. When anxiety gets in the way of a child’s daily routines and functioning it’s tempting to turn to medications or other band aids to cover the messy places…until you remember all the good reasons for her to be anxious. Do you really want to cover it up again? When your five year old is craving the care and attention an infant normally receives, it is not first instinct to cater to those desires. After all, it’s a sacrifice to take the time to feed, bathe, rock and hold a child who is perfectly capable of more mature behaviour. But realizing that five homes in five years chips a pretty big hole in the brain’s ability to attach puts things into perspective. See, there are such good reasons for going that extra mile, but still it is my job to act on this knowledge and so often it means sacrificing my own comfort or desires. I am selfish. I don’t like to make my aching arms reach out, my weary ears listen, my disoriented mind calm. I don’t like sacrificing my time, my energy and my routines.
I am also a control freak.
It’s hard to let the mess happen and stay calm. It ruins the image of perfection I like to show other people. It tears down the confidence that bolsters my steps. It’s hard to admit out loud that I don’t know what to do and to have other people observe the trials that turn out to be major errors! I think we all cringe away from pain – in ourselves and in others. We encourage the cheery surface conversations that make us feel put together and in control of our lives. Another’s pain and messiness sets our teeth on edge because it’s uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because we know that acknowledging their pain means we then need to care. We need to let our own hearts take a beating.
I am thinking about a song I haven’t heard for years:
“Love them like Jesus
Carry them to him
His yoke is easy, his burden is light
You don’t need the answers to all of life’s questions
Just know that He loves them
And stay by their side
Love them like Jesus.”
I want to love this way.
I want to love my children without needing all the answers to their hard places in life. I want my love for them to be an outpouring of grace, not a rewards system. I want to be able to see hurt and confusion in their messy places, instead of only my own frustration. I have so much to learn.
But in the middle of all my failures there is light!
Despite everything I am doing wrong and all that I lack…my children are finding Jesus!
He doesn’t need me to have it all together in order to reach them. They are growing and learning so quickly! Their innocent young voices speak His name with honour and adoration. Their eyes glow as they talk about Him being inside their hearts. They feast hungrily on the stories, songs and truths we feed them. They ask questions, talk to their friends and make statements that surprise us. They are connecting the pieces and making it their own, despite all that they don’t yet understand.
If there is nothing else, at the end of all this I hope that my two beautiful daughters will know that God is so much bigger than their Mama.
I hope they will always feel awe for all that He is and that they will see with clarity the transformation He makes in people’s lives.
I hope they will bask in His grace for us all and that His love will fill in the gaps that I have missed.
Wading through the messiness of these days sets me on edge and the truth is I could really use a date night with my husband. But we haven’t quite reached the point where we have approval to get a babysitter for the girls, though I hope this will happen soon.
I should be diving into God’s Word to give me air each day now that I have quietness, but it’s hard to make my mind settle.
In another couple weeks I’m sure the pieces will all come together and our lives will hold a steady rhythm again of people, activities, routines and even emotions. The girls will settle into school, I will know a routine of my days there as well, the weather will decide what to do and health will return for a while. (If that is too long, I’m sure my sister time on Friday will help me maintain my balance for now! 🙂 Yay!)
Until then, I will try not to balk at the stretching or let the guilt overtake me.
I will try to learn the lessons here for me.
Also…I will put vacuuming on my list for the third day in a row and truly do it this time!