After reading and re-reading this post several times it seems a little disjointed and rambly (a true writer’s adjective). This is probably just the result of my disjointed thinking right now, but I have made a goal of posting more regularly so with all of its wanderings away we go. Please allow grace to abound.
Last weekend I came back from my umpteenth turn-around trip to the central valley. This is where my littlest man has been living for the last 6 months, in a group home, and for the last three months he has been coming home almost every weekend which entails turn-around pick-up and drop-offs on Fridays and Sundays. Not complaining – it just adds to the job of single parenting and the incredible numbers of things you don’t know about when you sign up for this gig.
I had been meaning to write a letter to my family and tribe of prayer warriors for the last couple of weeks. You see, the plan is for him to come back home permanently. Everyone asks how I am feeling about it. My response is typically “This is where he needs to be”. This is followed by more than one person telling me that this response is not a feeling. Fair game. I guess I just don’t know how I feel.
While he was gone, I tried to spend a lot of time keeping on top of and building my full-time job, building my new business and mostly, allowing J to blossom. My introvert has opened up in ways I could only have dreamed of when we were in the throes of his silent 7th grade – have I mentioned that period of time?? I realized a little late that it took me about 4 months to try to decompress from the chaos that was our home for a while, and I probably did not do as good a job of self-care as I should have. I am trying.
I did some therapy and I faithfully did Lysa TerKeurst’s Bible study Trustworthy and I began to think that I might know something. But almost immediately upon his return I recognized I overestimated my abilities. And I suppose what I did learn is that I continue to hear a voice telling me “You don’t know sh$#”. And I think it is Jesus. Now before you get all offended, because I am sure that I have just offended a handful of you, I am pretty certain that He would not say it that way. I am also very sure that my conservative Baptist preacher grandfather is rolling over in his proverbial grave but yep, that is what I am learning. (And no other word seemed to have the same power in my head.) This is what I am learning – over and over and over. In a recent life-affirming text conversation with my cousin she typed, “I sometimes want to question why God has to severely teach me the same lessons. Did I miss the mark THAT badly the first go around??” Clearly, I did, and guess what…. once again, I realize I don’t know anything.
And now along comes this week. Just when I start to think I might know something. I wonder what we will think looking back on this week and month. I wonder what things might change permanently and what parts will feel like a “remember when” moment. The past 2 years have felt a bit like that. In Northern California I thought forced power outages would be the extent of the new normal, but now with a shelter in place order starting tonight I am just not sure. It feels like we are part of a movie set. I sit here trying to think what the next scene would be/should be…. New normal and I don’t know anything.
I will admit. I was a little knocked off balance today. Once I know the plan, I can typically roll with it, but I found myself unsettled- all day kind of unsettled. Admittedly there have been some changes this week. The littlest man did move back home permanently (another post entirely) which coincided with our schools being closed. “End of site-based learning” is how they framed it which I realize a lot of you parents are also figuring out how to manage. With the transition he is “between” schools so our home-school plan is completely up to me with no access to his new school info – no computer, no check-ins, no google classroom assignments. It is me and him in this together. He is not a motivated learner and significantly behind right now so it will take a lot of hands on encouragement and planning. More power to you moms who are trying to do this with elementary-aged kids and pre-school kids. I don’t know anything.
I also realize this has created some new rules for the school week in our house. With the potential of my kids being home for the better part of a month before site-based learning starts again, we are in a season of trying to stay occupied. The usual summer distractions of swimming pools and trampoline parks and youth group and camps and sports practices aren’t available. School, typically a 6-7 hour day, is now compacted into 3 “solid” hours of learning, which leaves a whole lot of day for the kids to figure out how to spend it. Kudos to you parents who have crafts and activities and plans and ideas. This is not me. In addition, I still need to work a full-time job. So guess what? Right now our days include more screen time than feels acceptable (and let’s be honest I am NOT one of those parents who is great at limiting it to the recommended allowable time anyway). It also includes a flexible start time because….teens. Go ahead and judge. Judge that I am not having them on a strict schedule to read and play outside and learn to cook and all the other really guilt-inducing suggestions that are on social media. You can add it to the list of things I may have judged before I had kids and definitely would have judged before I understood how different parenting would be with kids who have come from traumatic backgrounds. We also had kids over today. With the shelter in place order coming tonight I am not sure this is supposed to be happening moving forward so we will see how that pans out. They are teenagers. They are meant to lay around each other’s houses and play board games and video games and jump on our trampoline (all things that happened today).
So, let’s be real. I think my goals over this non-defined period of time may end up being 1). a little bit of learning and 2). to keep my boys from killing each other. At this point those seem like stretch goals, but you know, a girl has got to challenge herself in trying times.
Honestly though, my real goal should be to try, once and for all, to learn the lessons that God is teaching me. To keep my eyes on Jesus and remember that He called me to this time, in this place – to parent these kids, to savor the good moments with them, to serve my friends in Uganda, to be a good partner, to use my story to teach about trauma and race and adoption, to be salt and light in a dark world, to remember that my actions may be the only Jesus a lot of people see. To really remember that He is in control. And if I ever can learn that then maybe, just maybe, I might know something.