It has been rough around here lately with our older three. We suspect it comes with the territory, because of the journey our family has been on for the last few months.
Andy was laid off in November '08. There is not much need for an architect in this market, so it has been an up and down road of learning to trust God deeply to meet our needs. We have not been terribly stressed about finances -- just cautious. But when Andy is able to get a contract job, he goes from being an active part of family life, and involving the kiddos in various home projects, to suddenly working long hours to meet a deadline and praying that this new client will lead to another job opportunity. This wreaks havoc on family routines, for obvious reasons. And me? Oooh, that is another journey altogether. 'Take it easy' status, followed by bed rest, then sudden hospitalization & stricter bedrest, then no bedrest - but weak and tired, then 'Baby is here!'. Ugh. None of us have known quite how to 'normalize' that experience.
For weeks now, we have been dealing with crazy amounts of whining, bickering, and sass. Our best attempts at dealing with it have felt completely futile. Last night, Andy and I were very discouraged. It just seems that we have not been able to reach our children and deal with the heart issues that they are struggling with.
And then God brought Christine's blog entry to my mind. To our knowledge, we are not dealing with attachment issues. But we are dealing with children who feel a bit neglected, frustrated, and probably a lot of other emotions, too. When I first read this entry, I thought it was a great idea, and I prayed for the MANY families who commented on her blog and took her up on her challenge. But other than that, I was basically thankful that the more serious behavior challenges we've dealt with in the past, with the help of a wonderful Christian therapist, are not an issue right now. But last night I was praying for our sweeties, and for wisdom for Andy and I, and I realized that is the level of intentionality we need in our parenting right now. We can't expect to wing it on a daily basis and get great results when our family life has been chaotic for months now.
So this morning we woke up, put smiles on our faces, and gave our kiddos lots of hugs and intentional, caring interaction. We helped them with tasks they can technically do themselves -- like dressing, putting lotion on, etc. We are calling them by loving nicknames, using active listening when they want to tell us something, and making sure they know how much we love them and feel blessed to be a family together. We are changing the focus, and trusting that God will help us set a new tone for our family life in the days to come. This is our chance for a new beginning as a family of six. And we are ready! We'd appreciate your prayers as we walk this path with our children.
And thank You, Lord, for giving us a fresh start. Please sustain us when we are tired at the end of a long day. We are so blessed to be the parents, mentors, and nurturers of these four precious children! Please help us to be good stewards of our time with them.
Our basic daily goals: ~lots of hugs and verbal reminders of our love for them ~as many positive and purposeful interactions as possible ~active play time with each of them, even if only for a few minutes ~family reading time (used to be a fav family activity) ~continue with consistent discipline and instruction
We won't be checking these off a list, but rather we'll see these as goals, and a focus to get back to when we feel that things are slipping. :)
Key phrases to avoid right now: ~Seriously....seriously? ~You've got to be kidding....does that ever work? ~How about your try that again with a little more whining....
Oh yeah....sarcasm has crept in. And now we are cutting it out! ;)