This week marks 6 months together as a family.
I had to stop just a moment and read that again. It almost doesn’t seem real to me.
This week has also been the hardest week since we returned home from Ethiopia.
I think that many different factors mixed together like so many potent ingredients to form the perfect emotional storm in our household.
Ingredient #1 – The holiday break and all the release from structure that came along with it. I have said before, and I will remind myself again, that my kids do better with a routine and a
calm peaceful as un-crazy as possible environment.
Ingredient #2 – Christmas itself. The busyness and excitement that came along with the holiday was almost more than they could handle. Also, all of the talk of family and traditions seemed to stir up the heartache of missing their home in Ethiopia.
Ingredient #3 – Leah having such a long break from school. We are working hard to re-teach our dear girl her role in the family. She is learning how to be a daughter and a sister instead of a mother. When she goes to school, she is surrounded by other girls her own age who serve as “role models” to what a 10-year-old girl should be. When she is home for so long, she slips back into the only role she had ever known.
Ingredient #4 – Scott had to leave town to work for 3 days.
Ingredient #5 – Both of the wonderful babysitters that I have had watch my kiddos were out of town for the holidays.
Ingredient #6 – This mama was tired! Over-tired, over-whelmed, over-emotional, over-done.
Every day brought a new battle.
“He touched my new toy! No touch! It is MINE!”
“He stepped on my blanket! Now it is dirty. Wash it or me no go to bed.”
“She doesn’t listen to me! I no listen to her again! NEVER!”
“She looking at me! Stop looking at me! I no like when you look at me!”
Sweet Jesus, take me now.
It all came to a head on Saturday. My poor, unsuspecting husband came home and I unloaded both barrels at him. All of my stored up anger was unleashed.
I had gone to the gym for 2 hours and when I walked in the door of my house, this is what I saw….
Children roller-skating down the hallways.
Dirty breakfast dishes still on the table.
6 hungry kids who instantly started
asking for demanding lunch.
My husband sitting at the computer.
And the laundry pile still sitting on the floor of the living room.
The anger that had been simmering all week suddenly boiled over. Why had he not taken care of any of those things while I was gone? Why was my house still a mess? Wasn’t he supposed to clean everything up for me? And I was pretty sure it was his turn to make lunch! I spent the rest of the day crying and doing my best to hide from my children and my husband. And I texted my friend Jessica. She is a fellow adoptive mom – of 7! I knew she would have the perfect shoulder for me to cry on. Understanding. Soothing. Comforting. I asked her to meet me at Starbucks (and I planned it for bedtime so Scott would have to take care of getting our kids tucked in for the night.)
As I sat and cried and spilled out all of my frustrations to Jessica, I had her response already figured out. She would explain to me how she and her husband divided the household duties. She would tell me what her husband did to keep her from feeling overwhelmed. She would give me the perfect parenting tips for how to handle the behavioral issues that I was dealing with.
Instead she spoke truth.
She told me that Satan was attacking our family. When he sees the redeeming work of adoption being done, boy does it get him riled up! He wants to throw anything he can in our path to try to make us stumble. Behavioral issues from our children? Check. Unexpected expenses? Check. Fighting with my husband? Check. A selfish heart? Check.
She told me that I needed to put my husband first. Ahead of the children and the chores and the expectations. My relationship with him was more important than figuring out the perfect parenting response to the latest crisis. Because a happy marriage is the strong foundation that our children need right now.
She told me that I needed to lower my expectations. No….she means reeeeeaaalllly low. She asked me if they were as low as I could make them. My floor is sticky when you walk into the kitchen? So what! The children are behind in their school work? Who cares! The pile of laundry is taller than my oldest child? No big deal! Let it all go and instead, enjoy this moment with your children. This moment right now. I will never get it back.
I came home Saturday night with a new perspective. I realized that when I walked in the door from the gym earlier in the day, what I should have seen was this…..
Happy, healthy children who are learning to laugh and play together as siblings.
The opportunity to provide nourishment for children who were missing it for so long.
A husband who had spent 1.75 hours playing with our children and who was trying to answer emails and catch up on the work he had missed when he was out of town. A husband who works hard to support our family of 8.
And the laundry pile still sitting on the floor of the living room. (There really is no way around this one. You can’t miss it. It is taller than my oldest child, after all.)
Oh God, forgive me for my selfish heart! I am a work in process, that is for sure. I pray that Jessica’s words stick with me and that I do not let my not-low-enough expectations get in the way of what is really important.
6 months together as a family. We are ALL still learning lessons. We are ALL still in the adjustment phase. But thank you, Jesus, that we are not where we were 6 months ago.
Apart from each other.