Monday, June 27, 2011

Lessons from the fields

Earlier this evening I dropped my two oldest kids off at church. They are heading up to the Adirondacks for a few days of fun with some other kids in the Youth Group. They will be going for hikes, white water rafting, and to Adirondack Extreme. My oldest daughter and I spent the afternoon shopping for last minute necesseties. They are only last minute because our weekend was filled with baseball games and cleaning out some of the garage. As I type this, my middle child is probably on his way home from All Stars practice with his dad. I took the two youngest out to dinner (they chose McDonalds and YES for the toys) and then to ice cream. It is so seldom to have one on one time like I had with my oldest daughter today and then to even have the time to spend alone with the two youngest is pretty rare too. We are usually all headed off to some ball game or other, taking two cars because my husband is always there early to help get things ready and stays late to clean up and talk about any issues that came up with whoever else ends up staying late.

Earlier today, during one his quick pit stops to change after work and head off to the ball field, he told me about how someone "accused" him of doing all of this for our kids. I'm assuming the emphasis was on OUR kids. What a funny thing to be accused of. I'm not really sure what to say to that except, "Yes." We do give almost all of our free time to our children's activities. I don't mean just driving them to the activities (which is a part time job in and of itself) but also coaching, reffing games, being on boards, getting fields ready, cleaning up afterwards, dealing with all of the negativity, complaining and snide remarks that go with it from the very few albeit very vocal people who seem to thrive on their own anger.

We have 5 children and let me tell you it is not easy. I will also tell you that it is so wonderful. I truly wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. That's not just some phoney baloney, Rob and I are truly dedicated to our our children. We are always trying to do better by them and we struggle to know what exactly that is. When we got married we "planned" on having 2 children. I have photos of us on vacation with just our two oldest kids when they were so little and the only two. I was so happy and truly felt our family was complete. The happy  fool that I was, I didn't see God's plan at work. We were so happy that we truly felt we had to share that love with another child. Before we even went to China to bring home our daughter, we already had our "third" child. So our "third" child became our fourth. (our adopted daughter came to our family AFTER our son was born but she is actually OLDER than he is by 3 months). We again, thought we were a complete family of 6 until less than a year later we found out we were pregnant with #5. We had added 3 more children to our family within two years. We had no choice but to hit the ground running. We never changed what kind of parents we were going to be just because we now had 5 kids. Rob was already coaching Justin in soccer. I spent that same summer with the double stroller coming across the soccer fields to watch all of Justin's games and his little brother and 2 sisters were there to cheer him on. Fast forward to 9 years later and Justin is now helping out at the score board, Megan is helping rake the fields and work the concession stand, while Helen, Nate and I are cheering for Logan's All Stars games. Nate also helped out as batboy for the travel baseball team Logan is on. And that is just this past weekend. THAT is our family time. We wear the team's colors to the big games as a family and sometimes even wear shirts with our last name on it with our son's number on them. YES, we're that family. LOL We support each other and cheer each other on. We don't just drop our kids off at practices and use the time to get errands done. (not that that doesn't sound like a very practical idea sometimes) We coach. We volunteer for boards. (granted Rob does more than I do but I'm right there supporting in any way I can even if it's just to listen) Yes, we do it for our kids but we are there for all of the kids. We want the best for all of the kids. Why else would anyone do this? Kids should have Little Leagues, Soccer Leagues, Basketball Leagues to play in. These organizations take an incredible amount of work and time commitments.

I don't remember the last time Rob and I went out and had a nice dinner together. Many nights are spent grabbing a hot dog at the concession stand or stopping at the local pizza place in town for a late dinner. Don't worry, this is so not a pity party. This is our family. A family of 5 kids & 2 parents that spend as much time as possible together, supporting each other, cheering each other on and spending a lot of time making sure everyone has their equipement, uniform clean (yes boys, you need to wear CLEAN socks LOL), and having bizarre conversations that go very similar to:
 "I don't know where your jock is, believe me I didn't take it and hide it on you... oh wait you made it into a boat for your lego guys... .NICE... we'll be cleaning the Lego guys now too."
" Do you have your water bottle? Yes, I know they sell water at the concession stand. Do YOU know how much I've spent at the concession stand this year? No, actually I do not want you to try and figure out how much I've spent at the concessions stand this year. Forget it we have to go, we'll get water from the concession stand when we get there. Get in the car. Did anyone feed the dogs?"

This is a snapshot of our crazy life and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I will treasure these moments when one day we find ourselves sitting across from each other alone, just the 2 of us. I know that one by one they will grow up and move onto the next stage of their lives. There will be no more soccer games, baseball games or basketball games to go to.There may even be days, very few I hope, that we don't get a call or email or text.  I can only hope that we have grandchildren who have activities that we get go to and sit proudly in the stands or auditorium. Then hopefully we'll be watching our children coaching and cheering on their children. That's what life is all about. Supporting, cheering, offering a shoulder for disappointed tears that come from time to time, talking about the great plays or how to do better next time, reminding them that we win as a team and lose as a team, and to always respect the umps, coaches and each other and don't forget to hustle and keep your chins up.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

If I were a Robot, would it be easier?

Being a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, you never really have to guess where I'm at. I've been called "transparent" many times and I've considered that a compliment. There are times when I wish I was harder to read... that I could keep my feelings closer to my "vest". I especially wish this with my youngest daughter. It is so difficult to not take her "rejection" personally. Nancy Thomas lists 23 symptoms to tell if a child has Reactive Attachment Disorder. #23 pretty much sums it up.

23) Parents appear hostile and angry. This is very sad, and people that don’t have RAD kids don’t understand this. The more the parent loves the child, the more pain the child dishes out to get them to stop. The child had his heart broken as an infant, and he believes that love hurts. They do whatever they can not to be loved – they don’t use the parents love to grow emotionally strong. Parents are basically abused in their own home.

As a mom to a child who has RAD, my love is received as pain. I really struggle with how to counter that. How do you show someone love when it causes that person pain based on their own brokenness? Her goal is to keep distance between us to protect herself. Believe me she is very good at it. I try to parent her in the ways suggested by RAD therapists and experts. At the same time it is very difficult to muster up the energy to even want to be with someone who you already know is going to do everything in their power to make sure you don't get close to them. I am not a Robot. I have feelings too. I went into adoption with the idea that there was a child out there somewhere in the world that needed someone to love them. That hungered for a mother's hug and love. Someone who would now know that there was someone, actually an entire family, in the world that wanted THEM and LOVED THEM. I admit that it was rooted in my own childhood desire to have someone in the world who loved me just as I was. That desire grew into wanting to give that love that I longed for to another child who felt that same emptiness and loss.

I still know that I am a warrior and that God is using all of this for our good. My question is simply, how do I show love to her without causing her pain... without her needing to do everything in her power to keep distance between us. How many times can I say "I love you no matter what." before she believes me. I do get frustrated but I keep going back to her to show her that I still love her. Yes, being pushed away hurts but even though it hurts I will always keep coming back to love her more. The roots of my love for her come from a place of my childhood pain and now her childhood pain is hurting both of us, but as the mother I have to love her through both of our pain.

It's not easy.

There are no guarantees that this will have a happy ending for us. I just want her to see me as her mom or at least I want her to feel love, period. Then there are days when I just want to get through that day without reacting to her pushing me away.

If I was a Robot it would be easier.
Robots do not have feelings to get hurt, but then again Robots also don't feel LOVE either.

"Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--
and the greatest of these is love."
 ~1Corinthians 13:13 NLT

It is my faith in and my greatest hope that LOVE will indeed last forever between she and I.