Saturday, October 12, 2013

Our Ever Changing Family

It's another Saturday morning. It is silent in my house, except for the ticking of the cuckoo clock and the gentle whirrrr of the fans that are sucking the glorious fall morning air into the house. Matt has all the kids at their karate class, and I get a few hours to myself. I've been doing a lot of thinking recently. 15 months ago I had two children. My life was neat, orderly, and relatively simple. Then we took the huge step of adopting three children. Three children with some pretty significant special needs. We didn't know at the time how complex their needs were. Just like that, the rug was pulled out from under me. Here are some of the ways life changed.

We went

  • One insurance company to three
  • One kid in one sport, to five kids in two sports
  • One school to three schools
  • No therapy to 6 hours of therapy per week
  • One kid with ADHD to three kids with ADHD, one with OCD, five kids with SPD, three kids with learning disabilities, one kids with developmental delays, two kids with PTSD...yikes!
  • Two gifted, low maintenance with school work kids to two gifted kids and three kids with learning disabilities who are obviously high maintenance in school
  • Six loads of laundry per week to fifteen loads per week
  • Many hours of quiet during the day to one hour of quiet in the evening
  • Monthly dates with Matt to "what's dating?"
  • Regular cooking to doubling every recipe
  • $300/month on groceries to $750/month
  • Our water bill has almost doubled
  • Low conflict to almost continual conflict
  • Lots of room in the car to every seat full
I'm sure there are a ton of others, too. The changes have challenged me tremendously. Not all of the changes have been difficult, though. Much good has come out of this. Snapper and Pepper have become much stronger, more flexible, more patient, and less focused on themselves. Matt and I have learned how to be intentional with our time, and we've fine-tuned our communication. Matt has become a more affectionate, more involved dad. I've learned how to manage my time and resources so much better. We have all developed empathy for others, and a greater understanding of families who have special needs kids. We've become advocates for foster kids. Our faith has been challenged and deepened, and I feel like we're more authentic about living it out. We've had to learn to trust God, sometimes in the moment, or even in the second, because without Him, we just can't take another breath. Yes, sometimes it has been that hard. 

Would I go back to our easier lifestyle? Not for anything! We've seen the lives of three little girls be completely transformed. All three have come to know Jesus. He has given them peace and security that not even the love of our family could provide. They've gained physical health, emotional health, and mental health. All three are making huge gains academically. They are all participating in sports and church activities. They're no longer shy or skittish or afraid. They're learning more every day how to be a contributing member of a healthy family. Our pediatrician saw all three of them on Thursday, and he said he is blown away and continually amazed at the transformation in our girls. We've come as far in 15 months as he expected we'd come in four years!!! God is so, so good! 

My heart has changed. Mothering has become a different kind of thing for me. If there's one thing I've learned from all of this that I feel the need to share with you, it's this: it's okay to parent each child differently. You hear that? You don't have to treat everybody equally! The consequences don't have to be the same for every child. It's okay if two children get to watch a movie that the others aren't ready for. It's just fine if Daddy only buys ice cream for the two kids he took to the store with him. It's okay to allow one child to sleep on your bedroom floor after a nightmare, even if the others aren't allowed to do so. It's okay to spank three of the children, but not to spank the other two. What is comes down to is this: a mother has to be a student of her child. A mother has to fine-tune her parenting to meet the unique needs of each child. Without even meaning to, I realize I've gotten very good at this, because the new girls demanded it of me. Just as no two snowflakes are the same, no two children are the same. I regularly emphasize to my kids that fair does not mean equal. They're learning that, and I believe they're beginning to appreciate it. Snapper appreciates having free access to my bedroom anytime she needs to be by herself. She knows that I see her and am committed to meeting her needs. Bubbles appreciates being my only homeschooled child this year. She's aware that she needed a year of extra support. She knows that I see her and am committed to meeting her needs. Pepper appreciates that I regularly set up times for him to play video games alone with Daddy, times when the girls aren't allowed to go out into the garage/game room. He knows that I see him and am committed to meeting his needs. Piper appreciates that I let her sleep on my bedroom floor after she has a nightmare. She needs the security of having us near her. She knows that I see her and am committed to meeting her needs. Sunny appreciates that I do the green/yellow/red system with her at home to help her monitor her behavior. She needs more structure and help with regulating herself than the others. She knows that I see her and am committed to meeting her needs. 

Now life is about to change again. Our surprise baby is growing healthy and beautiful inside me right now. When he/she arrives on the scene in April, everything is going to change again. Doctors, laundry load, schedule, etc. Even our house and car are going to have to change to make room for another family member. I'm curious to see how God is going to change me yet again.

1 comment:

Tara said...

You are amazing!! I need to do a better job of learning and practicing "fair doesn't mean equal." In many ways I do, but in many more ways, I do not.