Friday, July 8, 2011
T-minus eight days until we pack up the Conestoga and head west and we've barely begun to pack.
I'm not a mover. It's not so much the physical act of putting stuff in boxes and loading it on a truck - although its not my most favorite thing to do.
It's the absolute mayhem for the month before and after. Stuff gets lost...the house is trashed...the kids run wild.
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All the chaos means we're one step closer to our new normal...and it means Shad is coming home.
For those of you who aren't connected to me via Facebook, I apologize for keeping you in the dark. Shad has been my excuse for not writing for the last two months. Without him here, I've been single-parenting four kids for the last eight weeks.
Eight weeks is a long time when you don't have back-up.
Shad headed out to Wyoming at end of May to start his new job. We sent him off on that plane with no clue as to when he would return...or when we would see him again. The nightly phone calls and weekly Skype sessions with the kids have helped, but honestly the last 60 days have been trying.
Up until he left, I would have said that my kids really don't have abandonment issues. They are great kids who seem to have it all under control. Even Ellie's issues seem relatively minor and have mostly disappeared.
Then Shad left - and everything broke loose.
I had four kids on my hands with obvious signs of fears of abandonment.
Alek's teenage angst ramped up to a new level...one never seen before. He also HAD to have a plan for every moment of every day. If we didn't have a plan, he could barely function. Even if it was just a plan to stay home and be quiet for the day, he had to know about it...days in advance. It drove me nuts.
Anya exhibited in other ways. She would often walk up to me while I was working (from home) and just stare at me. If I asked her what she needed she would mumble 'nothing' and quietly walk away.
Perhaps the most heart-breaking is Nick. A few weeks into the thing I thought he was handling things the best. He was sad Dad was gone, but he wasn't showing any other symptoms at all. I was pretty proud of my little guy. He was handling everything so beautifully.
And then I let him go out with his friend. His buddy invited him to go to a class held by a local nature observatory to learn about and hunt crayfish. Nick being a total boy who loves to hunt for frogs, bugs and anything else slimy, was excited...so I let him go. Thirty minutes into a drive to the class, my friend called and said she thought Nick needed a pep-talk. He got on the phone sobbing. He didn't want to be away from me, he said. He missed me. This is a boy who had NEVER done anything like this before.
But Maddie, by far, was the worst. She reverted back to ALL of the post-orphanage behavior she had three years ago - stealing food, bossing kids, lying, having nightmares and overstimulating at the drop of a hat.
I had a lovely experience a few weeks ago (insert sarcasm here). I was at a meeting with several of my clients (mistake no 1), with Maddie (mistake no 2), and I forgot to give her the ADHD meds (mistake no 3). She did reasonably well throughout the meeting even without her meds and so I was patting myself on the back and getting way too comfortable for my own good when I stepped outside of the group to talk with a client more privately (mistake no 4). I came back into the group and found Ellie and one of my clients talking.
'You're daughter is so sweet," she said. "She walked right up to me, shook my hand, said it was nice to meet me and then gave me the biggest hug."
I turned around and looked at Ellie who promptlye LIED to me...in front of my client.
I thought we were doing SO much better with the 'no hugging anyone but the parents' rule. I can't remember the last time this has been an issue. But with Shad in Wyoming, it seemed all bets were off!
I was at my rope's end. I went home that night, got the kids ready for bed, tucked them in and promptly went downstairs where I broke down in tears.
'I can't do it. I just can't,' I told my heavenly Father. 'You know that thing where you promise to not give us more than we can handle? That's bunk!'
As if to prove my point, I grabbed my Bible and looked up the verse. And that's when it hit me. In I Corinthians, Paul is talking about temptations. God won't allow the temptations in my life to be more than I can stand.
He didn't say anything about everyday stress. I need situations in my life that are more than I can deal with on my own...so I will allow God to work.
This pastor says it so beautifully...
It does not imply that God won't let you be stressed beyond what you can bear.Wow, that's tough to hear. But oh, so very true.
Or challenged beyond your ability.
Or pushed beyond your threshold.
In reality, God gives you more than you can bear all the time. On purpose. It's only when you can't bear the load that the strength of Christ kicks in...and He becomes everything you need and more.
How many times in my life have I refused to hand things over to him and instead have tried to handle it on my own, only to finally reach a breaking point? And how many times has He come through for me?
Too many to count. I finally decided to hand this one over too.
You know...over the course of the next few days the kids settled down and life turned to a new kind of normal. Alek stopped asking a million questions, Anya stopped stalking me, Nick went over to a friends house and didn't look back and even Maddie stopped swiping food, being so bossy and generally became more pleasant to be around.
And I didn't have any more meltdowns.
Sure these two months have been tough and I will absolutely NEVER willingly do it again, but we've survived and I could dare to say maybe even thrived.
I know one thing for sure - we have missed Shad. These kids are planning a homecoming like none other.
And as soon as we unpack that Conestoga, I'm planning on an evening out, sans kids.
I think we all can use a little break. ;)