With three kids, I never get a silent night. Yet, for Christmas this year, I got to have as close to one as my family possibly could. This year, our Christmas was just a bit different.
Blessed with both sets of family down for the holidays, there was a whirlwind of happy cousins, playing, swimming (it IS Florida, people) and early gift giving. There were songs sung, games played, bible verses meditated upon and well, just the busy-ness that comes with the season and family.
But Christmas day was an odd day. With my firefighter hubby, he had to work. Not a big deal, we just moved up our Christmas day to the 24th. But that made the 25th a day of stillness. The turkey had been done. Leftovers were ready. No stores to go to meant no errands to run. And all the presents opened meant my kids had an ample supply of new toys to entertain themselves. I found the stillness…the quiet contentment of the day extremely refreshing. There was no hustle and bustle. No “have to’s”. Pajamas were the rule until lunch time. And even though I opted to spend the afternoon with other family members, it was for the cousins to play and then chill in front of a movie. In the silence that was produced, I was able to enjoy a book without interruption. Such things are a treasure indeed.
I may not have the ability to repeat this next year…but if I can, I will. For me, I found it much easier to meditate on the truth of the season when I wasn’t running around preparing for everything else.
If my suspicions are correct, I have a fabulous son with a combination of ADD/Dyslexic tendencies. Evaluations will begin in the new year, as the medical world does not accept or recognize the observations of a homeschooling mom (I understand why, it’s just ironic in my mind).
All this has been revealed over the past month. Well, the ADD part has been suspected longer. To be succinct, it’s been overwhelming. I’ve panicked. I’ve been angry with God. I’ve been frustrated with the growing understanding that this is not a fixable problem but one as a family we have to cope with. One he will have to cope with for the rest of his life. And I’ve been saddened by my own ignorance in the past, and comments I’ve made to others in that ignorance.
For years, we’ve had our children with us in church. I wanted them in there. I wanted them to learn how to sit still and be a part of the service. To know what they hear, see and be able to talk from it. And, truthfully, I was wanting to prevent in them the same inability my spouse has in sitting still. It’s worked…with much discipline and training. And I’ve been glad. I’ve encouraged it in others. I’ve counseled them to embrace it. Until now.
Now I wonder what consequences I’ve inadvertently caused in a child whose made different. Already, my children hate what I want them to love, but this child more so. It has been a specific form of torture to him. I understand now the unique torture it is for my spouse, as I know he is the same as my son. It seems obvious, but now I realize that families are different. What one family can do, another may not be able to do. And I have judged, wrongly, thinking that there is just one way to “train up a child in the way he should go”.
God makes unique children. Unique families. And while I do not advocate “forsaking the assembly of believers”, I’m plunged into the realization that not every family can do every service, or every service this way. Families with learning disabilities or other handicaps may not be able to do all that another can. And that is ok. We are called to be faithful where we are; not where we wish to be. I’m realizing that for the sake of a young child and spouse who cannot sit still that long, and for me trying to hold everyone together and learning nothing from the service because of it…maybe what we’ve done isn’t the best way for our family. I’m still at a loss to what is the best way, but I have spent the past two weeks discovering that there are uniquely challenging situations that don’t always have a quick answer. All I can do is try different things prayerfully, knowing that God is in control, has made each of us, and formed us as a family. He knows what will work well for us during each step of our growth as a family. And to rejoice in the gift of love He’s given us.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my Thanksgiving break. In a rare form of celestial alignment, my husband had 3 days off in a row. This called for lazy days filled with kid-wrestling, snuggles and a general disregard to all things called chores. Books were read, kids played, and we all enjoyed afternoons outside with crisp air and bright sunshine…one of the perks of Florida living. Time was spent with extended family. A cold night around an outside fire with friends was enjoyed. Along with s’mores.
For perhaps the first time, the holidays slowed things down. Instead of rushing around, or trying to be the perfect hostess or the homeschooling mom, I just let it all go in favor of enjoyment.
I wasn’t late this year with my advent calendar. I finally obtained The Elf on the Shelf in time to use it. I have a plan for sharing advent with my children (which still depends on me actually implementing it). I’ve sat with my kids and watched a dozen of holiday movie from The Polar Express to Charlie Brown.
Isn’t this what being a parent is about? Isn’t this the reward of it? Sure, there’s battles and struggles and tough decisions that make it suck, but it’s this kind of stuff that reminds me that I have been chosen to shepherd souls…not just manage people. It’s creating memories that will stick with them. Memories that will stick with me.
Come Monday, I’ll be homeschooling again. The cycle of our lives will continue and move forward. But I hope that the effects of this time will linger. That I’ll take time to enjoy what I’ve been given…because I’ve been given much.