Today we had a rough morning. However, I am realizing that we HAVE to have many rough mornings, afternoons, evenings, and days, weeks, months (?) just to get to a place of peace and calm. I so want to go around this time of adjustment and turmoil and just arrive at the so-called "destination" of what I think life should look like. Ha ha! The only way through it is through it!
So . . . to elaborate a bit . . . Sunday, I had a very rough morning with Jerome. I was getting all seven kids ready for church by myself because Cameron was on-call the night before (this always means in-house, or in the hospital all night, call) and wasn't home yet. We were doing great until the last 5 minutes when I was rushing us out the door and impatiently asked Jerome to do something--big mistake. However, I do expect obedience even when I can't "sugar-coat" my requests. This turned into a MAJOR battle. Thank God that Cameron pulled in the driveway in the nick of time and carried (yes, carried) Jerome back inside to deal with this "tantrum" and I took the rest of the children to church. Cameron met me at church for the service and in God's timely fashion, the sermon was on children obeying their parents and parents lovingly enforcing obedience.
The rest of Sunday didn't go much better and yesterday we decided to have Cameron take Jerome to the dentist. We were anticipating a repeat performance of his behavior at the doctor's office. Jerome pleasantly surprised us. Now, before you go thinking that this little boy is a mother's worst nightmare, let me say that he is not--he is a hurt, lost, confused, emotional little boy. He probably has never been consistently disciplined. He is in a new environment, struggling to find out where he fits in. He swings like a pendulum between extreme affection and helpfulness to absolute defiance with emotions raging.
So, last night, after the kids were in bed, Cameron said "Let's pray." One hour and 45 minutes later, I was done venting and processing and we still hadn't started to pray! Thank God Cameron is so patient with me! I am beginning to realize that parenting adopted kids is A LOT of processing--there are just so many factors to consider and most of them unknown. You just don't know what your child has been through, seen, experienced. You have no history to know what will work, what speaks to their heart, what scares them, etc. Is behavior defiance or a reaction to some memory of trauma? Do you pour on the love or pour on the discipline? Well, Jerome has been here a month and many things have become clear--esp. that he obeys Cameron more than me. Yes, for awhile (as I blogged) I babyed him. He needed that and I needed that so that we could establish a relationship. Now that we have that, it is time for me to call him out on things. I no longer "baby" him when I know he is not hurt (which is most of the time). He no longer wants me to hold him so much, but trusts that I am here for him and goes off to play. However, in order to keep peace in the house, I gave him many many chances to obey. In contrast, I expect immediate obedience from my biological children. Cameron called me out on this last night during our conversation. I have to treat ALL my children the same and if it leads to a tantrum so be it! I was avoiding these tantrums because of how unpleasant they are AND because it causes me to get nothing done! Well, Cameron explained that if things are going to improve, I have to establish my authority and go through it!
I liken parenting to this: Before children, I felt like I was using a paintbrush to paint my life--like a paint by number picture--neat strokes, in the lines, clean, organized. Parenting is not like that! It is fingerpainting!! It is messy and the colors all run together! What I mean is my days aren't pretty--things rarely go according to my schedule. Who can have a clean house all day, finish all homeschooling subjects, cook 3 healthy meals, have obedient children all day, and accomplish all tasks on schedule?? NO ONE! Things are always coming up to "mess up" my plans! Someone gets hurt, someone is sick, children are fighting, disobeying, something spills, a phone call interrupts, etc. etc. This is life!! These "interferences" are not what I planned, but they are what God planned for me that day. He wants me to deal with these things, go through it! Arrive where? But, that is what I want to do!! Arrive at some destination of bliss where everything goes according to my best plans. I don't think it is wrong to have that goal, but in the midst of the "mess" of life, am I so fixated on that goal that I fail to recognize that THIS IS MY LIFE and this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing! I have to find joy AND enjoy this messy picture of my life. We don't always want to hang up that finger-painted picture because it is ugly! I don't want my finger-painted picture of my life on display! I want everyone to see a neat painted-by-number picture. Not that I don't want to be real--sometimes I am TOO real! I just don't want that messy picture period.
Now, I realize that there ARE some destinations I will eventually arrive at: I won't be changing diapers forever, my children will obey promptly more and more, my house will stay cleaner longer, but I need to accept that my life will never match the perfect picture in my head.
So, to my point . . . yes there is a point to my post . . . Today I decided to "go through it". I didn't manuver Jerome through his "sin" in order to avoid going through a fit--No, I went there! It was messy and hard and draining, but I know that this is what I have to do--for me and our family, but also for him. He needs to know that he can trust me to deal with his sin, he can trust me to discipline him, call him out on things and be the grownup and him the kid. Sometimes I think that adopted children, who have been through hard things, were forced to "grow up" and act like an adult at a young age, before they were ready. Jerome really wants to be a kid and wants to know that he can trust me to be the adult so that he can finally let his guard down, relax and be a kid! I think also with adopted children we fear that if we deal with their sin they will hate us or reject us. Well, Jerome came out of his room when he was done with his tantrum and apologized to everyone and hugged me, did his chore and went outside to play. He was his usual cheerful self at lunch, cleaned up and is now napping. He didn't reject me--yes, he was mad at me, boy was he mad! but he knows that I love him and that I love him enough to go through this with him and still stick with him. He is testing me! He wants to know: Will I also take him to an orphanage and leave him? I am not saying that his mom was mean in any way! She probably did the most loving thing for him, but not in his mind. In his mind, he was rejected and abandoned. He wants to know if we will do the same thing.
At many points during the last month I have thought, "I didn't sign up for this!" and God clearly said to me "No, you didn't. I signed you up!" Yes. That has to be my perspective. Why would I think that just because something is hard I am not supposed to be going through it?? Do I think that because Jerome is tough that he doesn't deserve a mother? Am I better than him? It is because he needs a mom that he IS here--That God gave him to us. He is a GIFT, not a burden. His tantrums sanctify me! Why do we flee from the very thing that will make us more like Christ. So many people say they don't want to adopt because of the very thing I am going through. I say: Your loss.
So, this is much longer than it was supposed to be . . . and Haven is crying . . .
I am sure there will still be more processing as I wade through this and learn to love and embrace my "mess" of a life for what it is--because it isn't a mess! Not at all! It is God's plan for me--the mess is my perception, the reality is that God is doing something beautiful. As Corrie ten Boom said--we only see the messy underside of the tapestry--all the tangled threads and knots--but God sees the top--the gorgeous tapestry that is our finished life that is being woven together through all these trials and daily "interferences". My dream of a destination may never be realized here on earth, but I look forward to heaven and instant glorification. Sanctification, on the other hand, often hurts and the reality is that it is just downright messy.