Baby, it’s cold outside.
It’s cold and clear and I’m not feeling well (the endo is raising its vicious head these days and I think I’ve got the black lung)
so while my husband played with the kids in the playroom, I curled up with some coffee by the fire.
As I snuggled up by the fire, I transferred all the pictures from my phone to my computer (2500 of them… yikes…). I was struck with the themes and emotions I felt watching them upload.
My word of the year for 2014 was Health. As the photos flipped through, there were countless pictures of fitness. Despite feeling ill today, I’ve made dramatic strides in my health this year and am proud of how far I’ve come. 25 pounds gone, more strength and better sleep.
So, yay. I improved financial, physical, and spiritual health this year. I have been loving the study my bible study is doing- it’s been a key source of spiritual health for me.
I’m so grateful for these ladies who have taken me in and loved me and encouraged me in my faith. Time in the Word has been a source of strength to weather this year.
I was most struck, though, by my emotions as pictures from this summer and fall started popping up. So many fun family outings captured as memories. But instead of joy at seeing these great days, I felt sick in the pit of my stomach remembering how hard those times were. Oh, that was the day that this child screamed for 2 hours straight when we got home, or the day that child hit someone with a folding chair, etc etc.
See, these past 6 months have been tough. We’re doing a lot better, but man was it hard. We’ve had such great support and I’m so grateful for that. And we’ve got great insurance to help with the costs of all the various therapies my kids need. Most of all, I’m grateful I’ve got such an amazing husband walking this path with me. He’s truly been my rock this Fall. Not to mention, he’s smokin’ hot. Bonus! 😉
There have been some really good times, too. Times that bring hope to keep me going. Hope that we might some day have normal, regulated kids.
But it’s been a dark time for me. Emotionally, I’ve failed to be healthy in 2014.
And let’s be real here, there’s not a lot of understanding for parents with traumatized kids. Because unless you’ve walked the road, you don’t get it. And I can’t expect you to. You don’t realize why we can’t get a baby sitter so we can get a break (hello there, abandonment issues… let’s aggravate them by leaving the child at bed time- tots brill), or why we have to have crazy strict boundaries (or someone will get hurt, or save a container of pee in their room, or whatever).
I wonder, sometimes, if my neighbors think we have a medieval torture chamber in the basement because of all the crying and wailing that comes from our home. But no, I just asked my kid to get a pair of socks so we could go to the park. 45 minutes of melt down screaming because I asked the child do something that removed them from being in the same room as me (this was during the 3 week long post-Halloween everything-is-scary minefield).
Or the 20 minute howl fest, accompanied by frantic running back and forth along the hall, after the tiniest paper cut in the history of mankind. Said child later declined a band aid for it.
It was a hoot, in retrospect. Not so much in the midst of it, wondering if the neighbors would call CPS or something over my poor, dear child’s paper cut. But afterwards I laughed with great gusto sharing the story with my bible study friends (Who, incidentally, have never once told me it was normal or brushed the trauma under the table. They’re kind of amazing like that.)
But there has also been success. Little Warrior went to get a hair cut and did not cry at all! 2 years in the making- most of the credit goes to finding an awesome barber out here willing to patiently work through it every 4 weeks (we tip him well…). And also thanks to a quick phone call to Bapa right before we went in– to “make him brave”. 🙂
The Princess has had a great attitude this year. I’ve been so proud of how much she’s grown in maturity and what a sweet heart she has. She did this puzzle all by herself!!! So, so proud!
So, please don’t think it was all bad this year. We had good times to celebrate. Especially their adoption in April! I love them each so dearly. It’s just been hard to move so many times and be so far away from our families. And I don’t share this to have a huge pity party- though I sure do throw an awesome pity party!- but to encourage others in the trenches. Fostering and Adopting traumatized kids is HARD WORK. We need open and loving channels to share about it and I want people to know what they are getting themselves into BEFORE they start the process. Because in this amazing adoption movement we see happening, my biggest fear is the lack of honest education about the trials people will face as they enter the wonderful world of loving the the precious little ones who’ve been hurt by the world.
Going in to the new year, I’m determined to pull out of this funk. The kids are slowly regulating and that’s finally allowing me to come out of overdrive and start healing myself.
To that end, we’ve decided, after much prayer and thought, to put The Princess in school. While it’s academically best to homeschool her, as a family system it’s too draining on me and I really need the break it will provide. I did the math, and with her in school and Little Warrior in preK I will have TWELVE hours a week ALL TO MYSELF. As opposed to the 50 minutes a week I’d get to sit in my car by myself while waiting for Princess at ballet when Little Warrior was in preK. Add in the hour they’d be in Sunday School each week and I’d usually get about 2 hours a week kid free (any true introvert knows that sitting in a sermon is great, and a blessing in spiritual development, but you’re not really alone).
12! I might be doing a happy dance right now.
As I move in to this next year, the thing I’m craving- the thing I need most- in the next year, is JOY. So my word for 2015 is JOY. True JOY comes only from our Father in heaven and I pray that I find that JOY and it spills out into my relationships with family and friends. Because after the dark of this year, I could use the light found in real, gospel-centered, grace-sharing JOY.
I think the Lord was pressing the word JOY upon my heart long before I knew it, because I was obsessed with this Christmas pillow from the first time I saw it and I waited a month before giving in and purchasing it. I plan on leaving it out all year as a reminder. 🙂
May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but REJOICING comes in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious JOY, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ~I Peter 1:8-9
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with JOY in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~Psalm 16:11
My lips will shout for JOY when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered. ~Psalm 71:23