Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Pretty Good Deal

Today was an awesome mommy day. I'm sure it didn't totally cancel out yesterday's failures, but the children definitely had full emotional cups before falling asleep. Fullness is good; days that end on that note are my favorites. If everyday were equally full, I guess we wouldn't appreciate the feeling as much. Can we properly recognize and give thanks for fullness, without also having heart knowledge of its polar opposite (emptiness)? Probably not. We humans are weird that way.

Enough philosophy. The Lord showed me a few things. Again. Good thing he has infinite patience; I seem to need a lot of repetition. LOL

We have the book Different Children Different Needs. It's a valuable resource in understanding how our own personality and parenting style can either build up or tear down our individual children. Along with Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages, it has helped me identify problem areas between Daniel and myself. When I forget the lessons and Daniel is having a rough patch, God is faithful to remind me of them. For the sake of brevity, I'll just say that my Daniel craves togetherness and I crave space. He is like his father that way, while Timmy is more like me. Emily falls somewhere in the middle.

Don comes home from work and immediately rolls up his sleeves, so to speak, and jumps into his husband and father roles. The man seriously needs no time whatsoever to wind down. He craves togetherness; he literally thrives on it. We've been married nine years, and he never ceases to amaze me in this area. The contrast between us is wide; in light of this, the peaceful nature of our union is a miracle. While single, I loved living alone; he always had lots of roommates. I merely PRAYED for a husband; he literally PLEADED for a wife.

Knowing my husband this well helps me understand more of Daniel's needs. I see that the ADHD merely magnifies some aspects of his very normal personality type. Unfortunately, it just happens to be opposite of my own. The Lord showed me all the reasons we've clashed this week.

When pregnant, sleep is problematic for me. I wake up frequently and have trouble falling asleep; fatigue and impatience can creep up on me, as it has this week. Further, when I'm in a state of stress, I crave even more space. And Daniel when stressed, craves even more togetherness. See the potential for disaster?

We switched the children's bedrooms this week, and last night it dawned on me how stressful the change must have been for Daniel. He isn't falling asleep as easily, and he's getting up earlier. Possibly, he's even waking during the night. It worries me that any change, no matter how small, is hard for him to cope with. Inflexibility is an unfortunate part of ADHD. Whether he'll grow out of that part or not, I don't know.

So with both of us stressed this week, I suppose a rough patch was bound to happen. Don and I came to the conclusion last night (again) that the extent of Daniel's impairment, compared to many children, is mild. We simply can't justify putting him on a stimulant, at least at this time. As we get better at identifying and preventing triggers and clashes, we think he will thrive for longer stretches without flare ups. And the other children will be fine, too. The enemy wants us to worry uncontrollably; it always takes our eyes off the Lord. It gives us the false notion that we are responsible for, and can control, all outcomes, if only we work hard enough. But if we are faithful to seek the Lord's help, again and again, he reminds us of his grace, of his power. There is so much power in his grace; it covers a multitude of sins.

I remember reading the heartwarming stories of two homeschooling moms, both of whom are as flawed as me, and how all their legitimate child-rearing failures turned out to be completely covered by our Lord. There was no ill-effect in their grown children. In one case, the mother suffered terrible depression, especially after several successive pregnancies. There were periods of no energy, no smiling, no hope. Psychologists tell us all the time how damaging a mother's depression can be. This woman definitely had a real concern, and yet none of her adult children recollected any hard times. They had only fond memories of their upbringing.

While I often feel selfish at the core, due to my need for space, I try to remember that the ability to be alone is a valuable skill. I want all my children to have it, for a couple reasons. One never knows how long of a wait there will be for that God-given spouse. And spouses die unexpectedly all the time. Jumping the gun and taking second best, or falling into premarital sex because of an inability to be alone, is a recipe for disaster. There is a time for everything under the sun, Solomon tells us. In his wisdom, God gave our children a parent who excels at togetherness, and one who excels at being alone. I wish I were the other type, I must say, but then I wouldn't understand Timmy as well.

Anyhow, I'm so glad I'm not the one in control. God drives and fields the traffic. I get to enjoy the scenery, from the back of his limousine. It's a pretty good deal, no?

P.S. Thanks for your heartfelt comments. You are the best!


Ashley said...

What a wonderful post! I have also often given thanks that I'm not in control. I'm amazed that you can learn so well from God during your stressed/sleepless times. I'm a little stressed, and I feel like it has made me rather dense to God's teachings. Your post really helped, though.

Thanks for the reference to Different Children Different Needs. It sounds exactly like the book I was looking for when I was pregnant with Melora, and so I just ordered it.

Fern said...

So glad your day went better and you got some perspective! I am going to check out that book. Oh, baby is calling

Fern said...

All right, now I have another minute...

It is so great to gain some perspective on your own family dynamic. That book sounds like a must-read for me -- I am like you and need space when I am stressed, and my husband is like yours. I cannot wait to read this so I can figure out how each of my kids are... but I think Phoenix is like my husband and Griffin is more like me. It is like a light bulb has gone on for me! So thank you for this post.