When someone feels frightened, backed into a corner or invalidated they usually react one of two ways….fight or flight.
I’ve spent most of my years in the flight mode. I’ve run away from change, from confrontation, from responsibility. Avoidance has been my specialty. Fear has kept me cowering to other people’s opinions, from living my dreams and from enjoying parenting my five amazing children.
Most of my fears center around my children. Will they get sick? Am I warping them? Do they enjoy life? Am I doing “right by them”? Are they learning enough in our home school? I could list an entire page of fears just about them.
More specifically many of my “child” fears center around Joseph, my oldest. I’ve written about him and his journey on the spectrum. Well…our journey along the spectrum. Well this next leg of the journey is a bit more tricky. Navigating puberty and adolescence is tricky for any family, or typically developing child. It is exacerbated by autism and the range of emotions is very difficult for Joseph to handle and express. Things in our home are volatile to say the least.
There is a saying I’ll paraphrase that says if nothing changes, then nothing changes. Well, our family is in the words of Stitch from Lilo and Stitch “This is my family. It’s little and broken, but still good. Yeah….still good”. We have some pieces to put back together to make our family a whole, healthy and thriving unit. Currently we are seven people living under the same roof, all doing our own thing. I have a son that is addicted to video games, a daughter that tries to control everyone and everything and two four-year old sons that would rather pitch fits and watch movies all day. We’ve survived, or tried to, the best we know how and it has become painfully obvious that our best isn’t good enough any longer. So….something HAS to change.
The first step in this process is to BREATHE both physically, geographically and emotionally. Our oldest son Joseph has the wonderful opportunity to go on an extended vacation to NC (our home state). He and my father will be leaving on an Amtrak train tomorrow to travel across country. This is a once in a lifetime chance. I must admit I’m a little jealous. He’s going to eat at Chick-Fil-A, visit with our family, attend our former church and just get filled up on LOVE!!
However, it’s a treasure and a special chance for the six of us “left” in WA. It has been a difficult environment to focus on all five of our children, and to be honest I think our middle children feel a bit forgotten, abandoned and overlooked. So we are going to make a definite, concerted effort to dote on, focus on and establish a sense of deep love and security in our other four children. Family outings, counseling, times “unplugged” and meals together will all be activities that we will be planning. These are things that unfortunately are slipping through the cracks at this time. We all walk on eggshells and do whatever it takes to keep the proverbial “caca” from hitting the fan. If Joseph’s happy, we are all happy. He can no longer manipulate us and control the dynamic and tone of our home. It’s time for Nathan and I to rise up and become fully engaged, more efficient parents, that listen well, love unconditionally and steward our gifts from God.
We have been a home school family since Joseph was 5, but that also is changing. Joseph just finished evaluation and testing and will be enrolled in the Everett public school system after our series of I.E.P. meetings. As early as May, but more likely next Sept. Starting him in school for just three weeks might be a difficult and unnecessary transition for him. We are also contemplating enrolling Jesse and JoyAnn as well in the Fall. So many decisions to make and I feel unable to make them at this time. I know though that once I can take a breath and really evaluate what is happening in our family that with God’s help and guidance the right path for our family will emerge.
I am continuing on my path of transformation. I’m training for my May 10K race, I’m about to end my first round of 21 Day Fix (I’ll report my progress) and will start a new round on April 14, 2014. Nathan and I are attending weekly counseling sessions and we are looking for opportunities for the children to have a safe environment to share. Change IS going to happen. I’m tired of fleeing. I’m tired of “flight” meaning avoidance I’m ready to fight for my family, my serenity, my sanity, my full and abundant life. I’m ready for flight to mean soaring, rising above challenges, fears, problems, pain and strife. I’m ready for flight to mean climbing to new heights of freedom, ambition and passion. I’m ready to embrace fully what Proverbs 31:25 says.
I will not sacrifice my family for the sake of my “dreams” and agendas, but I will fight fearlessly for them all. I believe that I can be the best person, wife, mother and friend possible. That means loving well, myself and others. It means investing time in caring for MY soul and then listening well to those that I’m in relationship with and showing them Christ’s love. I’m releasing guilt and shame and picking up ambition, passion and dedication. Change isn’t easy but it is SO WORTH IT!!!
Thanks for being a part of this change. If you are a praying person, would you pray for Joseph and for our entire family as we learn to love each other in a new way? Perfection…not possible, but recovery TOTALLY possible. Changing expectations, releasing fears, guilt and shame, making plans, learning consistency and moving forward….CHANGE IS A COMIN’