Friday, May 24, 2013

Why Don't I Write More?

When you're going through something that involves the whole family, it becomes very tricky to talk about who's struggling through what without slandering someone.  This is why I don't write very often.  But I could definitely find something to say every. single. day.  And it would be easier when I write my book to just go back to my blog posts and glean information rather than try to sort out the giant junk drawer that is my brain.  I really do want to write a book some day, but that is ambitious considering the fact that I don't know if I'll make it through each day alive, let alone the number of days, months, and years it may take to "go through" whatever you would like the call the challenge we're having in these parts.

Let me sum up:
Financially:  Money is tight.  We filed for bankruptcy and have our final hearing on June 3 - yeah!  Now we have no credit (yeah?) and no source of emergency money - boo!  Also,  the kids and I will be dumped off of Al's insurance in July - boo.  I shouldn't say that in such a negative way.  His Long-Term Disability coverage through his company has been more than generous in covering our entire family for 2 1/2 years.  But it's still another financial unknown.

Therapy:  Not really happening.  The big guy is discouraged.  Or disillusioned.  Not sure which.  He is getting a new switch put into his electrostim sleeve, which will allow him to grasp an object at will, so that may be a helpful start.  It's still hard for him to look past the fact that he has to have a bionic arm to do the work for him.  Walking is still functional, but at a minimum in terms of stamina.  He came with us to the kids' science fair at school and had to sit down most of the time.  A week later, the girls and I went to the East Lansing Art Festival without the boys, and I felt nostalgic for the times when Al was able to join us on such family ventures.  I get a little choked up thinking, "He may never come sledding with us again," or "we may never go camping again." 

The good news is that Al is finally back in the driver's seat with the SOS stamp of approval, and with the additional help of a turn signal adaptor and spinner knob.  Turns out it's illegal for me to use the knob, so I'll just have to drive my own car.  Too bad, it looks like fun!

I am in the ever-present state  of feeling overwhelmed.  Too much to handle and not enough brain or time.  I work 2-3 days a week, do the laundry & dishes, get the groceries and gas, clean the house (on occasion, at least), try to be a parent to 4 - sometimes 5 - kids.  Not intending too much offense - I suspect that most married women would lump their husbands in with the kids on occasion, too! 

I'm trying to "help" Al with a new budget, too, but from the look on his face I have just bewildered him.  I just want to figure out how to live within a budget.  We always thought we did it before, but we really didn't.  We had X amount of money budgeted for groceries, for example.  I would buy the groceries.  And maybe a hanging plant or two. And some new sandals.  Oh and we needed a new trash can for the kitchen.  So when the grocery money was out, I would just ask for more, and my husband would make it appear.  Now, I am obsessively aware of where every last penny is going, and it's not fun yet.  I was hoping it would ease my anxiety about bankruptcy, but it hasn't.  I'm a control freak.  So when I budget something, I simply cannot tolerate a $350 fix on the shower that wasn't in my budget to begin with!  Al would have  handled it differently, but he is graciously letting me get involved so theoretically, if I see where the money all goes, I can have more peace about it.

Finally, I would say I've never experienced a time like this in our marriage before.  Marriage was always very easy for me.  I adored my husband (and I still do).  I found it easy to speak well of him, and I did that regularly, often to people's surprise, since so many women bad-mouth their boys.  I had fun with him, and I trusted him.  I'm writing all of these things in the past tense, not because they're not true any more, but just to try to demonstrate how easy marriage was for me.  Since the stroke, marriage has become difficult.  Exceedingly difficult.  Not difficult as in we're signing divorce papers or anything.  We continually reassure each other that we're committed to each other for life.  But our roles, responsibilities, and even our personalities have been changed, and we are learning how to love and be loved as new people.  I don't exactly know how to be a wife to a man who isn't the provider in the way he used to be and wants to be.  I don't know how much to push him to go beyond what he's comfortable doing - will he fall (literally or figuratively), or will he succeed and be thankful that I gave him that nudge?  How much do I force him to do, entrust him with?  And how much do I choose to do, not grudgingly, but because I want to serve my husband and family?

If you're still reading, thanks for being with me.  I don't have many people that I talk to in depth about these things, but it's good to get some catharsis from time to time.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why I Wanted to Cancel Mother's Day

I wrote this letter to my children this morning:

The day before Mother's Day, I felt like there was nothing worth celebrating. All I could think about was how I had failed in countless ways as a mother. When you, my children, were very small, I remember a friend telling me that if I were a perfect mother, my children wouldn't need the Lord. OK, that made sense. It made me breathe a sigh of relief because I didn't have to be perfect.

However, sometimes I think I let that truth, and God's mercy, convince me to be lazy about mothering. I am ashamed at all the ways I have set a bad example. I have been lazy, crabby, mean, and selfish. I have set the example of hiding from my problems and shirking my responsibilities. I have complained instead of rejoicing; I have worried instead of praying; I have grumbled instead of giving thanks in all circumstances.

When I thought about Mother's Day, I thought about you giving me cards that said, “You're the best Mom in the world,” and it made me regret all the ways that I have been so much less than the “best” Mom in the world.

So, I thought I didn't really deserve Mother's Day.

But none of us deserves God's mercy. None of us deserves what Jesus did for us on the Cross. So, I have to face my failures and ask for forgiveness, from you and from the Lord.  Then, I am free to receive His mercy and love because.  And then, I have to resolve to “do better.” That doesn't mean “try harder,” because growing as a mother – like growing in any kind of holiness - doesn't come from my own sheer effort. It comes from my submission to Christ and His will for my life. If I want to be a better mother, a better example of gratitude, joy, and service, then I need Christ first. I need Him to give me the grace to say no to my desire to be lazy, my temptation to complain, and my habit of thinking of myself first.

I apologize for not putting Jesus first in my life every day. I'm sorry that I haven't worshipped and adored and glorified God the way He created me to. And I'm sorry that I haven't taught you to do so as well.  Forgive me for trying to be a mother on my own strength rather than through Christ who gives me strength.

Forgive me for all the ways I have failed you. I pray that God will help you to heal from the ways I've hurt you. I know that HE is enough when I am not. I pray mostly that I will be able to submit to His will to be able to be used by Him to be the mother HE created me to be.

So, on Mother's Day, instead of dwelling on my own insufficiency, I will rejoice that God is enough. I will rejoice that love covers a multitude of sins. I will rejoice that, even though I'm a “failure,” God brought us together as a family for a reason. Not because any of us is perfect, but because we're perfect for each other.

I love you!