Dear Family: I Am Listening…

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My goal has been to really, really listen to my family’s words and actions. That is what I posted about this morning. Here is what I have been hearing.

My family is jealous of my phone

My family needs a clean home

My family needs me to smile and dance

My family needs me to provide healthy meals and snacks

My family needs my undivided attention

Yesterday, I officially decided to homeschool my children. Yes, I know I am already teaching my son to read and am currently researching preschool science curricula for the fall. However, I have been on the fence due to my low opinions of my abilities (despite my early childhood education training) and my exhaustion level. But, I am quickly reaching my limit with worried parents bringing their children into therapy because they are falling behind in school. Sometimes it is bullying, and usually they have ADHD. These children are starved for healthy attention, to the point where they start destroying my office when I am conversing with a parent! They need me to get on the floor with them and play. They need undivided attention.

They do not need therapy. They need healthy attention. They need their teachers to sit with them and individualize their work so they can learn the material on their level. They need their parents to read to them and play with them (even if it means falling asleep on floor while the children drive cars over the parents’ backs), no matter the parents’ level of exhaustion. They need their parents to shut the television off and take away the iPads and video games. I am not judging their parenting, because the Lord knows I fall short. I yell at my son, I spank (yes, I do spank, and may write a blog at some point regarding using this method of discipline correctly and not harmfully) at times when a discussion and a hug is more appropriate, I fight with my husband in front of my kids, and I sit my son in front of the TV when I am exhausted (though he is the one who asks me to shut it off before the movie is over, because he’s bored and wants to play).

I have decided to delete my email off of my phone for now, except for when I am nursing. When I did this today, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders because I did not feel chained to my phone. I listened to my husband’s frustrations with me for replying to a text instead of focusing on whatever sports clip he was trying to show me, and I apologized for hurting his feelings. I let my son help me vacuum. I cleaned my kitchen- I mean really cleaned it, because my daughter’s new-found mobility seems to have her finding everything she cannot have and shoving it into her mouth before I can reach her. I opened my windows and breathed the fresh air. I danced with my husband and children. I engaged in silly banter with my husband. I noticed my husband’s change in mood when I began laughing with him. I decided to run regularly, both with friends and on my own.

I do not have it all together by any means. I have just decided that I need to stop complaining about how much I am struggling and I need to just do things differently. That means making a better choice in the moment. Do I fall apart in despair? Or do I realize that my husband’s comment was not trying to hurt me? Do I hide from my family? Or do I embrace them?

Though I am standing bold today, that does not mean I’ll be standing bold tomorrow. But it means that I recognize my ability to make choices. It means I am finally listening to my family.

Photo credit: http://www.iphixni.com/apple.html

A Doable Schedule

ScheduleMy new therapist suggested I do my best to follow a consistent schedule and thought that was the very next step for me, besides seeing a psychiatrist. I shared that I am less capable of getting things accomplished on bad days, and that my bad days usually revolve around getting less sleep (hence the bad day has a scheduled nap for me!). Therefore, I made three schedules to go by that have doable goals for each level of emotion. As I have time, I will put coping skills into the various groupings, but I thought these overall categories were good enough to start with. I also started to make a schedule that has a column for each person in the family (namely, what I need to be doing for each of them during each time frame), and that’s what I’ll probably go by, but here is my first attempt at ordered living 🙂

We’ll see how it goes. I much prefer making pretty charts and schedules than actually going by them. This chart is far from being perfected! Excel is so fun 🙂

Gifts

When my daughter was first born, when I put her in her crib alone in her room, I would pray for God to keep her safe. Then I would proceed to check on her every few minutes until she woke up for a feeding. I have done this for months, continued to pray for her safety. I pray for my son’s safety too. Last week, something very sobering hit me… my children might not be safe their whole lives. Something could happen to them tonight, tomorrow, or anytime before they are grown. I must have discernment and use wisdom in being their mother, but I cannot protect them from everything. There is a 1 in 3 chance my daughter will be sexually abused before she is 18, and there is a 1 in 7 (maybe even higher at this point) chance my son will be sexually abused before he is 18. Those statistics are very frightening. In a way, this realization brought me a sense of peace. After I prayed for God to protect my children as I tucked them each into bed (for God does answer prayers), I also thanked God for the time I spent with them today. They are true gifts from God. This day (however difficult it was for me) was a gift from God. It is a gift to breastfeed my daughter and watch her discover the taste of new food. It is a gift to watch her blow raspberries when she is excited, and it brings me great joy to watch her as she is army crawling and scooting on her hiney to get where she wants to go. It is a gift to teach my son how to read, and a joy to listen to him read most letter combinations- he is not even 4! It is a gift to hear someone call my son “polite” and to hear his giggles as his daddy tickles him. It is a gift to watch a video on the computer with my husband today, and it is a gift to watch my grandma bond with each of my children. Through my trials of dissociation and flashbacks (which were quite strong today if you read my last post), I must also recognize the gifts God has given me today.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes from the Father of Lights – James 1:17

Photo credit: http://blog.pgi.com/2013/12/on-the-seventh-day-of-telework-my-coworkers-gave-to-me-gifts-and-a-sense-of-camaraderie/

Family Love

I’ve been posting all serious things recently, so thought I’d take a moment to share my blessings.

This morning, my 6 month old woke up earlier than I desired (especially after nursing almost every hour through the night). When I realized she wasn’t going to go back to sleep, I decided to nurse her lying down like we did when I was healing. She wasn’t hungry, but enjoyed it as much as I did. She nursed for 45 minutes, popping off every minute to smile, with that gummy grin reaching her eyes.

Breastfeeding grounds me. She is close and looking in my eyes; I am meeting more of her needs than one; her tiny body curled into my chest. It grounds her too. Sometimes in the middle of the day, she just needs to connect for a few seconds before she can return to playing.

My son is quite the opposite of calming. He’ll be 4 next Saturday. He is tired of being cooped up and is going bonkers inside. I turned on his music full blast the other day and taught him how to jump on the bed. Then I told him to take the empty boxes to the kitchen so I could break them down. 45 minutes later, he was calm. I’m going to have to save those diaper boxes for him more often!

My marriage seems to have always been an uphill challenge, but we are better than we have ever been. Last night, we drove 45 minutes together to pick up my grandma from the airport. Instead of listening to a March Madness game on the radio (he actually wanted to be home watching but didn’t want me out in city traffic alone on a March Madness Friday), we turned it off and enjoyed each other’s company.

I feel that by the time our kids’ needs are met and my PTSD needs are met (unfortunately this takes a lot out of my family), there is little time for our needs as a couple… Or for him, really. I am blessed by his patience as I battle my symptoms, and am thankful he is at my side.

My life is beautiful.

Engagement Anniversary

My dear husband,

Today we celebrate 5 years of being engaged. If I questioned before, I knew I’d marry you for sure when you willingly put yourself on the road to take this picture for me:

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Your proposal was so incredibly thought out and elaborate that I trip over my words just trying to explain it to people- but my favorite was when you got on your knee and offered me the ring I still wear each day. It looks a little something like this, except it is real:

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This has, by far, been our best year of marriage. Thank you for standing by me through my pregnant hormonal outbursts, my dramatic labor, and my struggle with my faith and moving forward from my past. I am so happy to call you my husband. Here are some of my favorite moments with you over the last year:

Hearing the squeal our daughter gives every time she sees you

Watching you seeing our daughter on ultrasound (all three times!)

Watching you grow our race timing business right in our spare bedroom

Rough-housing with you and our son

The first time you waved at that carved bear at the end of that person’s driveway

Watching you learn HTML code!

Watching you map the course to train our son for his first running team next spring!

Watching you father our son; thank you for being his best friend

I love the way you come and lie down with me when I need you most

I love the way you set up our computers yesterday so we could connect more effectively 😉

computersMy goals for the upcoming year:

Learn to enjoy sports

Do the dishes every day (I just don’t know if this is ever going to happen but I’m not going to give up!)

Be patient with your humor

Cook more

Laugh with you more

Engage in your theological tangents

Okay Okay, I’ll stop writing about doing the dishes and just go do them. I love you! Love,

Your wife (ps- thank you for the m&m’s for our date tonight!!)