If I’ve been asked once, I have been asked a thousand times. How do you get your kids to …fill in the blank? Examples are: eat vegetables, eat a variety of foods, try new things, sleep in, talk early, be so verbal, perform in front of people, participate in activities they don’t want to do (at first), stay in an activity that they asked to sign up for, but now want to quit and so on?
Nearly ALL of the answers involve presenting options to our kids, being an example and talking, talking, talking. Many times the ultimate choice is theirs. For example, I will never force them to eat something which they have decided not to eat. However, I won’t let them quit an activity we have already committed to.
I’m going to spend the next few posts diving in to our family culture and telling stories. These are not meant to be formulas for you to follow in order to get your kids to behave a certain way. Believe me when I say, I do not have this parenting thing figured out. I don’t think I ever will. But, I do have a lot of kids (ages 16 months all the way to 15 years), with one special needs child and a lot of experience. I’m going to share more about our family and how our family experiences have shaped our kids. Right or wrong, we all have cultures in our families. It’s good to reflect on what those are and see where we can change or further explore the cultures we have developed as a family.
So, this happened this morning. It’s more of a picture, a glimpse into what my life is like every single day. I try not to get discouraged because I realize this is just the lifestage that we are in. And, it’s not going to be like this forever. And, one day I will look back on this and miss these days. At least that’s what I hear.
I do believe that I will miss these days, but not this part.
Me: “Trinity, turn off the TV, get your dance bag and wait for me at the door”
Me: “Trinity, please get your dance bag and wait for me at the door”
Me: “if you would get your dance bag and wait for me at the door, perhaps your brother would follow you and also put his shoes on”
Me: “Why is your dance bag still sitting there? We are going to be late. Get your dance bag and get in the car”
Into the car we go-
Off we go-
Park at dance class-
Me: “Get your dance bag. Put the book down. Let’s get out of the car. Dance class has already started”
Me: “where is your dance bag???”
Yep, you guessed it. We got to dance class with no dance bag.
Had to drive home and pick it up.
It’s still exactly where it was all morning.
It’s the story of my life today in September 2014. I realize it won’t be the story of my life forever but goodness is it frustrating to not be able to get things done and feel as though I can’t teach my children to do for themselves. I know this too shall pass, but until then pray for me and others that have preschool and elementary age children. I don’t know what it’s like for parents of Middleschoolers and highschoolers, because I’m not there yet. But I know what it’s like for me and sometimes it’s just so overwhelming.
On Wednesday, I was feeling frustrated. Sad. Alone. I went to the computer and opened my blog to write. When I looked at the drafts page, there was one that I had never published entitled “Admitting the Truth.” I opened it. Read it. Wrote a quick intro and hit publish. I walked away and went back to my normal night routine.
The next day, the battle I was in continued. There I was again asking someone to stand up for my son. Asking someone to do what is right. Asking for compassion. I was having to battle for these things. Believe me, I do not want to constantly be in a battle. Thankfully, I’m not. I choose them for the most part and sometimes the battle chooses me. This particular battle chose me. I won’t go into the details of this one. But, I will say, compassion won. Thank God.
Later Thursday, I was spent and preparing for a special rehearsal with our contemporary worship band and our traditional Bell choir- Bel Canto. That night we had an amazing rehearsal preparing beautiful arrangements of contemporary worship music. I loved every second and it was very therapeutic for me after the day I had. By Friday I checked back in with my blog post from Wednesday. I was overwhelmed by the responses. I’ve received so many encouraging comments, emails, texts and messages and Moustapha and I just want to say “thank you” to each and every one of you.
Being honest is an important step in life. For us, we’re honest about this because we’re in this together and we need the love and support of others to make it work. And, we’re not ashamed. All of us have ‘stuff’ we deal with. Some of it privately, and some of it can be more public if it helps others. We feel like this is one of those areas where, if we’re honest about our experience, it may help others who are just beginning to question whether or not their child is on the spectrum.
I will share more stories about how Bakri was diagnosed, how we came to accept it and how amazing he is doing now in the near future. But, for today we want to simply say THANK YOU!
With four school-age children, it’s a wonder I get anything accomplished outside of the Els activities and commitments. Yes, most of these commitments are things I willingly commited to, signed them up for and paid for. Most, not all. There’s weekly swim lessons for the three oldest. Leeland will get his turn, but for now there isn’t space for all four to take a class at the same time. Little League baseball. This was probably the most fun for the whole family this semester. Our oldest boys played on the same team and they were a really fun team to watch ending the year with a 17-2 record and winning the playoff championship. However, it’s a three time a week commitment. Sometimes we had call times an hour after school pickup. That’s barely enough time to have a snack and change clothes and leaves no time for homework. Trinity has pre-ballet class once a week. Then, there’s cub scouts and weekly church activities. Nearly every week we have at least one birthday party or family event. I’m sure I’m forgetting something, because that’s par for the course. I try and try and run around with two calendars, but I still forget things. So, on top of all of that there are class field trips. My “work” is flexible and so, I usually say “yes” to field trips when given the opportunity. With four kids, there are many many field trips, especially at the end of the year! Yesterday, I went with the first graders to see the play, “James and the Giant Peach.” Except for the fact that our buses took wrong turns, missed turns, basically got lost (in my neighborhood!) and took 45 minutes to travel 8 miles, it was a good time. I LOVE my babies and I love their friends and teachers. But, field trips are exhausting. Can I opt for one per kid next year? And, have no guilt? I’ll try!
This is the first entry in a series I call “El Real Momma”The purpose is just to be completely “Real” with you all and real with myself. The internet can be a place of fear and sometimes I am afraid of the consequences and the negative results that could come from over-sharing. Don’t worry, I am not going to intentionally over-share. But, I am going to share. So here goes:
It’s hard to believe in just a few days we will have a 3, 5, 7 and 9 year old in the house. Time feels faster and faster and all I can do is try to breathe and take it slow. All of the Els are in elementary school. There is a crazy rhythm in that. Tuesday folders full of information. Some of it very important, and some of it not important (to us) at all. Activities. One day a week, three of the Els swim. Three days a week, two of the Els play or practice baseball. One day a week, one of the Els attends dance class. Then, we have family activities, church activities and birthday parties for friends. Date nights (sometimes after my rehearsal we have dinner and actually talk to each other!) On top of all of that, there is an enormous amount of homework mainly for our 3rd grader. And, on top of all of that- making it work with four kids- one of our children has extra challenges. So, sometimes that means we need to meet with his teachers and administrators. Sometimes, I need to go to the school to check on him, bring him medicine, make sure he is happy at lunch, etc. It means that often times, I stop whatever I am doing, wherever I am and I put my child(ren) first. Completely and totally first. Oftentimes, lately, I feel off balance. Like I’m not myself. Writing music, having a cup of great coffee with lots of cream, reading scripture, sunshine in the mornings, laughter and late, lazy breakfasts just don’t make it into my day. They are some of my very favorite and most life-giving experiences, but when I’m lining up my priorities, putting on eye shadow falls pretty far behind making school lunches for 4 people, on my list of important things to do. Don’t get me wrong, I do try to make time for both. But, I will walk around with no makeup on if that’s how it has to be. And, sometimes, it just is what it is.
Friday, we were walking into school and I looked up to see this. Maddux and Trinity holding hands. Walking together. Happy. These are the moments that I would give up every perfect cup of coffee for.
We’re different. They are different. I am different. I feel completely changed from the day I gave birth to our oldest. Almost like I am a different person, but not quite. These experiences, every one of them. The good, the bad, the amazing: they have shaped me, molded me and at times, forced me into who I am today. I love making friends. I love connecting with people. I love being a momma. I do not love conflict or feeling like I am bothering someone or imposing or asking for help. That list of things I do not love has become more a part of my life than I would have ever hoped. But, it’s okay. I am okay. I am better than okay. I sat in a meeting on Friday about one of my children who needs me to be strong for him and I was. I didn’t cry one tear. Not that crying would have been a bad thing, but I just think that it wasn’t the right thing for me, that day, in that meeting. And, God gave me strength, patience, peace and wisdom to know when to speak, when to listen and when to give praise.
And, today, our three year old Batman went for his first solo drive. Always something to look forward to, even in the darkest of storms.