Thursday, June 28, 2012

Renewing My Strength

Weary; someone used that word recently to describe how they were feeling. Not "tired;" they said they were weary. I can relate. Though my situation has improved greatly over the last few months (meaning I am doing more than simply surviving), I have by no means recovered from the struggles or stress of the last eighteen months.

According to the free online Merriam-Webster dictionary, weary means "exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness" or "having one's patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted." However you define it, the indication is you are plain worn out.

That word describes how I feel; worn out.

The cries and struggles of my two youngest have drained me dryer than I imagined one could be drained. Simple tasks can feel overwhelming; sorting folded clothes for kids to put away or planning a menu (which I've done for years) is almost too much. I hate feeling like this. But, I do.

So, when a verse came to mind earlier this evening, I was very excited. It isn't a solution, per se, but rather an refreshing new perspective of a passage I've known for a very long time.

Isaiah 40:28 says God does not faint or grow weary. Instead, "He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might, He increases strength." (Isaiah 40:29 ESV) Isaiah goes on to say, "Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but those who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength..." (Isaiah 40:31a  ESV).

It hit me; this verse isn't just (or primarily) about overcoming, like I've always thought. It is much more complex and precious. Though God doesn't grow weary, He understands that I do. Waiting on Him means my strength can be renewed. Why do I need my strength renewed if it isn't ebbing? This is written to people who are weary. I am weary. I can relate. And, God can help. What a comfort.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Enough, already

I have been on a quest, to figure out how to help my three year old daughter manage life with fewer traumatic episodes and cosmic meltdowns. It started with speech therapy. Having successfully led six other children through the process of learning to speak, it became apparent that my youngest daughter was not speaking as she ought. Assuming her frequent episodes of crying were related to frustration over her inability to communicate well, it seemed logical that her struggles would improve in correlation with her communication skills. That did not prove to be the case.

So, at the recommendation of our speech therapist (or speech language pathologist - very wise and kind lady), our daughter was evaluated by an occupational therapist. The OT diagnosed sensory processing disorder and some mild developemental delays. So, in addition to the twice-weekly speech therapy appointments, we added occupational therapy to our daughter's schedule. Though she enoyed the time, some behavior issues became worse!

Concluding that some of the problem might be related to my parenting technique or style, I called Focus on the Family to ask for advice. The counselor I spoke to (for free!) encouraged me to seek additional evaluation for my daughter with a pyschologist, among other bits of very helpful insight (like having eight children was a "mental health diagnosis.").

The psychologist suspected a panic/anxiety disorder and recommended counseling, weekly. The counselor, the psychologist, and the speech therapist all recommend a government "developmental" preschool (several times a week), with more speech and occupational therapy, as well as "socialization." We also attended the parenting classes recommended by our OT. If you are interested in what we learned, search "Circle of Security" on Youtube.

Finally, I said, "ENOUGH!!" I don't think my daughter is going to be able to learn effectively until the other issues are sorted out, and I'm not going to have time to do any sorting if all I do is run her from appointment to appointment all week long.

So, we are going back to basics, focusing on simple structure and consistency at home, and making sure my sweet girl knows she is loved, no matter what. The tantrums continue (though holding her tight, in a bear hug, definitely helps), and she still doesn't know all her letters or numbers (colors are getting better), but those things can come with time. Besides, she is only three! Her life (and mine) will go on even if she isn't doesn't learn everything for a while.

If you have any thoughts or ideas, please let me know. As a pretty overwhelmed, over-extended mama of many, I can use all the help I can get

Scaling Mt Never-rest

Laundry is an ongoing challenge in a family of ten. Although, if I were to be completely honest, laundry was difficult when mine was only a family of three. But, I digress. In the interest of humoring others who may (or may not) share my challenge, this is to give you courage to scale the heights of Mt Washmore, Mt. Foldmore, pushing all the way to the very top of Mt. Never-rest, the highest height of motherdom.
The pile is what won't fit anywhere else.
The laundry sorter is full, the blue hamper in the  middle of the page is full.
Laundry is getting out of control!

Here is my exploding pile of laundry, and the photos just don't do justice. Although the pile looked huge when I cowered at its base, somehow it shrunk between the basement and the computer. So, you'll have to take my word for it; the pile is was HUGE. Later, I'll post some beautiful pictures of what it looks most of the time, when Mt. Washmore hasn't recently erupted and Mt. Foldmore is under control.

You are probably wondering, what did I do? How did I manage to so effortlessly scale the heights of Mt. Washmore? Well, the honest answer is, I didn't. My children did. Ah yes, I've learned the art of delegation. I'm mastering it, you might say. Each child is responsible to start and fold at least one basket of laundry a day. And, since we have an extra large capacity front-loading washer, each basket is at least two regular loads.

Though my children don't necessarily enjoy helping with laundry, they all understand the concept; you don't wash, you don't wear. I didn't really know how to do laundry when I left home. Somehow my clothes were always clean when I needed them, and every once in a (great) while, my mother would call me to come help hang Dad's work shirts when the buzzer buzzed on the dryer. Beyond that, laundry was a mystery.

You can imagine my shock, horror, and fear when I realized I must scale the heights of Mt. Washmore, on my own, regularly! Then, just when I was beginning to get the handle of Mt. Washmore, Mt. Foldmore erupted, explosively, all over my house! Adding to the craziness was the arrival of a new baby girl, complete with spit up and dirty (cloth) diapers. Suddenly I found myself at the base of Mt. Never-rest, quivering and quacking. It looked insurmountable, overwhelming, and beyond my ability to comprehend.

But, thanks to a few tips from other "climbers" I noticed the hand holds, the small steps that could be taken, and the ropes that would catch me when I fell. My favorite "rope" is the laundromat. Yes, the infamous laundromat, where you can wash and dry countless loads of laundry, all at once, and get them folded on tables specifically designed for that purpose.

It has been quite some time since I've resorted to taking all my clothes to the laundromat, but knowing that option is available does bring comfort.  In the end, though, my biggest piece of insight is, just keep swimming. Laundry, like dirty dishes or stinky toilets, never goes away. It just keeps being generated, day after day. And, as a very wise woman once told me, when the laundry piles and dish piles and chore piles finally go away, I'll miss the children who helped create them.  Until then, I'll keep climbing.

The Road Less Traveled

We have had an interesting situation develop with our neighbor, quite suddenly. I honestly have no idea what happened to spark the conflict, but spark it did. First, I was confronted by a very irate neighbor, who didn't even wait for me to completely open my front door before expressing her displeasure, with loud, strong words. Then, she posted "No Trespassing" signs on the fence between our yards.

"Posted: No Trespassing."

"Private Property"

I honestly am not sure how to respond. What I do know is that this situation feels icky, I'm uncomfortable in my own backyard, and I feel betrayed.