Sometimes Telling the Stories is Hard

When I began blogging many years ago, the basis of my blog was just to update friends and family about the growth of my daughter, Curly.  I got married in my 30s and had her in my mid-30’s so it was a big deal – and not just for me.  Being able to communicate the life experiences as they came while working full-time and taking CARE of said baby was pretty challenging for me – especially since I was taking online college courses at the time.  I heard about blogging through work and decided to jump in and voila!  My writing had an outlet and my stories had a forum.  As Curly has grown, and Georgie & Little Man came along, there was more to write about.  But sometimes telling stories is hard.

As I wrote more posts about my family – about my journey as a wife and mom – and the huge challenges that came along (because LIFE!)  I had to learn how to balance privacy and respect with authenticity and openness.  I tend to lean toward TOO much information, and had to learn how to cut back on details and soften some sharp points.  I also found that people in my life – family members and friends – that I interact with on a daily basis, could become offended by certain revelations and references.

I have had some dark moments.  Days where being a mom was the LAST thing I wanted to be.  It has been exquisitely painful and I have had to process a lot of things about myself, my expectations, and my reality.  And I continue to do so.

I stopped blogging regularly – for quite some time – because I had shared some difficulties my family was experiencing and it stirred up some “stuff” that affected people in my life who have nothing to do with my blog.  So I tried to stop blogging about the personal stuff.  And then I just stopped blogging.  I even got to the point that I wasn’t even journaling in a notebook for fear that someone could stumble upon it “one day” and discover things that might be more fearsome than they could handle.  (and little by little, my spirit started to die in the process…)

What I learned is that NOT sharing the stories in some way is missing out on opportunities to connect with people who understand the struggle and who need encouragement too!!!

I have stories to share about the Autism Spectrum/ADHD, marriage, parenting, spiritual stuff, and family dynamics.  Can I just say that the ADHD/ASD alone has turned my world upside down!?!  It has been a long process and it’s shaken me and changed a lot of things for our family.  I am having to consider things for one child that I don’t ever have to consider for the other two.  The fact that our oldest child struggles with her ASD/ADHD is a big part of why I want to both share and respect her as I write about life.  Being married to a counselor has some great benefits, but being married to a counselor also means that privacy is a BIG issue and I need to be able to balance what I share with how I share it.

So, I will be writing more about our life – sharing the stories – and hopefully sharing not just the struggles (because THEY. ARE. REAL.) but also the victories.  I don’t  have everything figured out.  I don’t have all the answers for my own problems, let alone anyone else’s.  But I do know that companionship can bring great comfort.  Compassion can lead to greater understanding about life’s journey, and God’s work, and crazy circumstances.  And sometimes comic relief is something we ALL need!!!  I want to be able to share the Grace & Glory of the life God has given me most of all…

Are you a Tell-It-All kind of person, or Keep-It-To-Yourself kind of person?  How do you feel when someone shares what you consider to be “too much” information?  How do you feel when someone doesn’t share enough and you leave with more questions than answers?  

Parenting An Out of the Box Child – Part 2

New here?  Click here to read Part 1 of this series.

I. Was. Lost. in my parenting journey and I found myself wondering all the how’s and why’s that come with ADHD.  Frankly, I still feel lost in my journey most days.  Is this ADHD thing my fault?  is it her fault?  Is she just reacting to my failure to discipline enough? or to discipline too much?  Could I have prevented it?  Is it totally neurological? Behavioral? Environmental?  It sure seems like God handed me something I could NOT HANDLE and I couldn’t figure out why.

Just like my out of the box child cannot be so easily contained, no one formula or strategy will work exclusively in my ability to parent her.

My every move – at times – seems to be counterproductive more often than not.  Boundaries are very difficult to establish with her.  Consequences are difficult to not only dole out but for her to respond to.  Reactivity – of which both she & I are guilty – is our worst enemy.  Knowing which battle is worth fighting – and which is worth letting go – is never easily identified.

The truth is:  some days, loving her is hard.  

And the guilt that courses through me when I think that, let alone say it, is devastating.  I don’t mean feeling affectionate for her. Or being willing to throw myself in front of a bus for her.  I mean being willing to lay down my life in the daily living so she can know how much I love her.  And even more so how much God loves her and has a plan for her.

Loving her is exhausting.  Draining.  And more often than not, I feel like I fail her miserably.  My ugliness shoots straight to the surface in the face of her defiance. It bounces right against my tightly-stretched nerves – and I lose myself in an avalanche of impatience.  And fatigue.  And fear.

This child that wants to go toe-to-toe with me over which shoes to wear to school is really desperate for something steady and sure.  And many days, that’s. not. me.  I am so broken by this realization.  In the rare moments of quiet I am able to snag in my hectic days, I cry out to God to make me better for her sake, but only after I beg for more peace and less chaos for my sake.

And more often than not, I hear Him whisper to my wildly-beating heart that HE has a plan for her.  It may not be the plan I envisioned or imagined for her – but His plan is to take her strength and use it for HIS glory.

This scares me to my bones.  Some of the godliest people I know have a wild, spirited child who was raised to know and love God. But the child grew up and made different choices.  And as an adult, that child wrestles with substance abuse.  Crime & prison terms. Broken lives.  Broken bodies.

Not every case.  But more than I am comfortable with.  My heart is wrenched for the possibilities.  For all three of my children.

Because I have no guarantees in this parenting business.  The reality of parenting children is harder than I ever possibly imagined it could be.  And God is teaching me in this parenting journey, as much as He desires to teach them.  And to speak to their hearts Himself.  Dying to ME is the hardest part.  Dying to me and letting God become my child’s steady and sure is like watching her climb a tightrope a bajillion feet above the ground with no {apparent} safety net.  And it is as much a test of my FAITH as a test of my love.

I don’t always know what that means.  I don’t always know what it looks like.  I don’t know what it will look like 10 minutes from now, let alone 10 years from now.  I want a formula that FIXES our problem.  But there isn’t one.

I just know that I have to desperately lean harder into God so she can see that He is MY steady and sure, too.  That in my weakness, HE is where I go.  He is where I turn. And He is always there for me, even when I fail.  It is exquisitely painful.  To be broken out in front of my children.  And when I struggle to yield to Him, it is even more painful for them.

I get Sarah Mae’s statement:

ultimately, the most important thing is laying our children at the foot of the cross and praying that Jesus will call them to Him.

And there is the ultimate sacrifice in parenting.  Not learning methods or means to raise a child, but learning how to lay each child down at the foot of the Cross and LEAVE her there to hear the Savior’s call…

Do you struggle in parenting an Out-of-the-Box-Child?

Parenting An Out of the Box Child – Part 1

My friend, Christie, recently posted a (long) list of books on Facebook that she is reading during the month of April.  She was doing it to request a little bit of accountability.  She got some encouragement.  She got some criticism.  But she listed the book, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson – and I told her I would read along with her. I’ve read it before and even posted a review, but as I began reading it again today and this evening, I couldn’t believe how much differently I could relate to it now from the first time I read it. I had many lines and sentences highlighted already.  But then I came across a section that just rang SO TRUE with me.  The phrase that started it all was “out of the box child.”

I totally related to that phrase.  And it made me think about “the box” and what that represents, which made me think about a Jack-In-The-Box.  The thing about a Jack-in-the-Box is that it is fairly predictable.  You turn the handle on the side, the melody plays, and just at the right moment, up pops Jack with a loud bang, generally to the amusement of most people.

With an Out-of-the-Box child, though, things are very different.  And Life is NOT like a childhood toy.  It is not always so easy, not so predictable.  And some children are born just fresh

Out of the Box.

Me?  I’ve got 2 of them.  Well, 2 so far.

My oldest girl, my sunshine girl – she was born bright & bubbly.  Smiles a mile wide. Happy go lucky.  Sweet natured, yet determined.

My youngest girl, was born just as beautiful, but less bubbly & bright.  She smiled & laughed, but she also screamed for 2 hours at a time.  Sometimes just with ME, and not anybody else.  She is my sensitive soul.  Sensory-soul. The one who feels like she is going to explode if her socks don’t feel right.  If music is too loud.  If anybody in our family is upset about anything.  My husband & I decided early on, that our #2 girl was always outside-the-box.  It’s how she operates.  If you say the sky is blue, she sees it a different color.  Not to be disagreeable, but because she sees a different color.  She would prefer to dance around the dinner table as she eats.  She doesn’t mind getting down in the dirt to love on a pet.

When you live in a “Stay-In-The-Box” world, it can be really hard to be an Out of the Box kind of kid.  or her parents.  Let me be clear, I am not complaining. We have likened her somewhat to the character “Phoebe” on that show we used to watch called FRIENDS.

But a few years ago, our sweet, spirited, outgoing #1 girl – became defiant, loud, chaotic, angry, uncooperative, fearful, withdrawn.

I was not so prepared for this change.

Fairly quickly, her dad recognized some of the behaviors and changes, and eventually she was assessed and diagnosed with ADHD.  This was, of course, after one pediatrician told us he didn’t “believe in ADHD and that it was really a discipline problem.”

huh.  discipline problem = parenting problem, right?

We adapted our parenting skills and strategies, and watched her grades start to slip.  Watched her attitude shift.  And watched her body react to the stress she was feeling.  She was unable to focus.  She was unable to communicate her feelings with words.  She became angrier and we became more frustrated and it was a vicious cycle.

The next pediatrician quickly assessed her and acknowledged her ADHD and we began a journey with medications and varying parenting skills & strategies – that would often work well one day and then not-so-well the next.  My husband, being more educated and practiced in the parenting strategies, has had to coach me (and still coaches me) as much as parent our child because I have been at a complete loss.  I was desperate to help her but didn’t know how and I felt like every day I was losing her more and more.

And I have struggled to put into words this journey – both because I didn’t want to embarrass my child and because I had not yet mastered my ability to parent her…  I didn’t want to air “dirty laundry” and yet I felt alone in so much of this and I didn’t know how to even wrap my head around most days.  Can I tell you that just writing this so far, has really given me courage to keep writing.

So I will.  I will write and share this journey.  Because it is important.  And I am most likely not the only parent who feels this way about parenting an out of the box child

{I will continue this series in my next post.  You can sign up to receive my posts by email in the sidebar!}