When we decided to home-school, it was after a particularly trying year last year. Teaching has, for some time, become a challenge. Not in a good way. I had begun associating my job as a teacher of Kindergarten and 1st graders with paperwork, an overly messy classroom, an endless amount of planning, preparing, filling out, grading, ....the list is endless. I would have four hours worth of work many nights, after I left school two hours after the kids did. When it was just Gabby, I felt guilty that she was getting so little of me. She'd stay late with me at school, frequently eating fast food for dinner, and sit by my side while I worked on school work long into the night. I was short-tempered and frazzled.
When we suddenly went from just Gabby to 4 joys in our life, I found that I went from short-tempered and frazzled to desperate. I wanted these children so badly I had ached in my heart for them and I was turning them over to others to raise. Now this is not a condemnation on working mothers so get off your high horse if you're feeling all ruffled that you're working and putting kids in daycare. This is my story, not a commentary on your choices! If you can swing working and parenthood, you are amazing in my book!
Our days were a study in how fast can I get these kids to move. How fast can you eat breakfast? How fast can they get dressed? How quickly can I get them in the car without chaos ensuing? Never wake them up sooner than necessary because who knows what might happen! Drop off quickly, more chaos and crying. Late for work. Rush.
Same after school. Stayed too late. Rush to pick them up. Last ones there again. Ugh! Lydia's belligerent because she'd been left so late. Pretending she'd had a good day until I saw the note. Rush home. Cram something that didn't involve cooking into them, baths, bed. Somewhere in there try to figure out how to get Will's homework done and address Lydia's behavior for the day. Collapse for 15 minutes then drag out the school stuff. Work until midnight if I was lucky. 1 or 2 am if I wasn't so lucky. At some point try not to cry when I realized there'd been no bedtime stories. No singing to sleep. No tender hugs. I was otherwise occupied.
Will did great in school thanks to his wonderful kindergarten teacher. He was with me at school so we saw each other lots but I was distracted. Busy. He felt in the way. He was fighting to feel accepted, to overcome food issues, bonding issues, and I was otherwise occupied.
Gabby, full of teenage hormones and was struggling to discover her identity; Struggling with this huge change in her life; And she was silently crying out for my attention. But I was otherwise occupied. At one point Gabby decided to run away. She only lasted about an hour but as she ran away from school, that was long enough that it scared all of us. Desperation gave way to terror and I began begging God for help. "Oh Lord, you've given me more than I'm capable of. I can't do all this. My children are getting the short end of the stick. Help."
Madi was doing normal things that a 2 year old does but those tantrums and defiance seemed so much bigger than normal in view of everything else. She loved school and her teacher but I was missing the hours she was awake. I was otherwise occupied.
And Lydia. My Lydia. She was so willful. So hurt-filled. So angry. And I was so unprepared for how much I would come to love her, hurt for her, understand her, and not know how to help her. We enrolled her in Pre-K and warned them from the start that this would be a bumpy year. She lured us into a false sense of security by having a perfect first couple weeks. Then the battle began.
The notes became a blur: "Lydia kicked the teacher today. Lydia hit her friend. Lydia grabbed and threw several children's lunches away before they could eat today. Lydia spit on the teacher. Lydia had a meltdown because she didn't get to paint today." She probably had to leave the room more than 100 times over the course of the year. We tried every traditional and creative thing we could think of in the way of rewards and consequences. We even had "magic boots" that make you make behave. Yeah, that worked for about 2 days. Many days I just put her to bed as soon as I could. I mean, 5 pm is an acceptable bed time right? I didn't know what else to do with her. Our wonderful counselor who came with glowing reviews was turning out to be not so wonderful.
Total frustration. "God, please help us. We're at the end of what we know to do."
He answered, "My child, I gave you those children to care for. I did not give you the others in your classroom. As precious as they are, they already have parents to care for them."
"But God, we barely make it by now and we're trying to find a bigger house. That'll cost more. How will we get by if I quit my job?"
"My child, I'm telling you what to do. How it will happen is up to me. You don't control that. I will take care of it. You're job is to seek me."
Crap. That isn't the answer I was looking for. I was looking for a plan of action. A 3 step plan. Ever feel like that? God is telling you to do something and in your heart you desire to do it but it's scary because you can't see how it could happen? When we first decided to adopt the kids it was that way. But somehow I'd been able to trust easier with that. This felt like jumping off a cliff with out a net.
But God gently worked on us. Guiding us to realize He was in control and would take care of everything. So we took the plunge. It has not been easy. There are days when I am not so emotionally prepared for spending all day with 2 emotionally raw children. Other days, I'm at the top of my game and handle everything they throw at me with grace and don't even yell at them (rare but it happens). And then there are the other days. The days when we just seem like a normal family. Days when their past is not threatening to overwhelm their present. Days of just living, loving, and learning. And I love those days!
We have busy, hurrying days still. But now we are hurrying so we can go to Gabby's school for a Veteran's Day program. We are hurrying to go outside and decide which is the most beautiful color in all the fall leaves we see. There are bedtime stories, songs, and I smile a lot more.
Tony's favorite thing is that I make him breakfast and lunch each day.
Gabby loves that if she calls me, I will be there to answer the phone. I heard Gabby say something about her sister the other day and realized it was the first time I'd heard her refer to one of her siblings as a sister not, "the kids".
I'm not the most organized, go on tons of field-trips, teaching fantastic lessons, home-schooling mom. But instead we are making the most of our days, catching up on the cuddling and holding they missed as babies. We're making up for missed childhood play instead of dealing with grown-up situations. We're doing our best to soothe their wounds and still bewildered at how to help with some.
And the 3 step plan we hoped for? Nope, nada, nothing. But God has made it happen. Someone commented to me, "it just doesn't make sense on paper, does it?" Nope. We should not be able to survive but I'm realizing God's economy isn't the same as ours. Just when we think, how are we gonna make this work, He sends the answer. Out of the blue. And we are doing more than just surviving. We're thriving.