Monday, September 13, 2010

The battle of identities

*DISCLAIMER!!! This post is NOT about anyone besides ME, it is about MY feelings, MY insecurities and MY attempt to better where I am. I LOVE my church, I LOVE my Pastor. I HIGHLY RESPECT the children's director at our church. This is about MY struggle... and maybe to encourage any other moms like me out there that it is OK to take care of your needs in ways that some others might disagree with. This is MY side of what is happening"

The battle of identities rages on here in my world!

Do you know what I mean?

Sometimes the many different hats we wear every day battle over which one is going to get worn. Sometimes even, what you need for one thing is a direct contradiction for what you need for another thing. It is always so hard to choose which thing looses! And when one of the losers could potentially be one of the members of my family... even harder!

Confused yet? Well let me explain!

I work my a#$ off everyday for my children. Both of them really, but one of them takes the lion's share of my time and energy. It just is. That is life with a special needs child. But what REALLY gets lost in the shuffle is ME! My needs go unmet, my desires are shelved, and my focus is outward. And that is ok sometimes. I get that there are seasons in life where our children's needs overshadow our own. But when it happens day in and day out, then we loose the energy it takes to be what our children need.

This has been happening to me a A LOT recently.

If you read here regularly, then you know I have been rather random with my posts, and that I am running like a month behind in posting pictures of things we have done. It breaks my heart because this refuels my soul, but time has just NOT been there.

I also have had a hard time keeping up with friends and that drains me. Some of it is inevitable, one of my best friends is living in a different country and has a ton going on in his own life. Another is far away in another state and I haven't been on line much so we haven't talked as much. Yet another has suffer a series of huge losses in her own life... it's just that way. But some of it is me. I am too tired to log onto the computer, or read blogs of friends, or pick up the phone (this is the WORST one recently!). And part of it is my selfishness... I really crave those friends that seem to b the MOST unreachable right now!

And there is my morning routine. I am usually so faithful to the cup of coffee, smoke and Bible time, followed by am bowel routine for Nathaniel, followed by a work out for me before my "day" starts. But I have been so physically exhausted that I am lucky to drag my booty out of bed for am bowel routine, and Bible time seems to be sitting on the stool in the bathroom with Nathaniel supervising him, and don't even mention my coffee (which I am STILL drinking and it is well after noon!)... not good! Not good physically for my body to not work out, not good spiritually for my soul not to have that deep grounding time daily.

But I think the worst has been church time. And this has NOTHING to do with  my church (which I LOVE) and everything to do with how everything in my life seems to be a struggle right now.

I have joined a new small group... and if you know how much people scare the crap out of me, then you know that this step in itself is huge. But it is something I KNOW God is calling me to do, and I actually feel pretty safe with this group (or as safe as I feel with ANY people!) But add to it the factor of having care for BOTH children while I am there (because this single mom things SUCKS!) and it's monumental! Not monumental that I am there, or anything bad about the group, but just that it takes so much WORK for me to get htere. Care for small group time entails TWO adults for the children! One In Home Behavior Support person for Nathaniel and his theatrics, and one respite provider for the regular care of the kids.... and I still have not gone one 2 hour small group meeting without receiving AT LEAST 5 text messages.. Oh Vey! Hard to concentrate and make meaningful connections when my kids keep pulling at me, but again, I know it is where the Lord has directed me to be.

But that hasn't been the worst of it. Church... that little segment of time on Sunday mornings has been pure hell. Now don't get me wrong.. I LOVE my church. I liek the people there. I NEED church, I know I do and I feel it when I miss. And most iportantly, it is NOT the church's fault that things are so hard for me, it's just one of those things that is.Some times life just is... not a good is, not a bad is, just an is.

 I am one of those silly moms that believes that church is a family thing. This is all me. You know.. full blown Little House on the Prairie thing, with kids in their "Sunday best" sitting in church with mom and dad? Yup... that is what I think is best for families! But..... it's HARD! And dang it, I need that time to recharge my SOUL and MY HEART! So take that pretty picture, change the mom and dad to just mom, and add in a church (that I LOVE!!) where most of the kids head off to Sunday School and then throw into the mix Nathaniel and all of his specialness. It has been HARD! I love hearing my kids voices raised in praise and worship with the rest of the congregation. I love talking about what Pastor Randy (who is an AMAZING Pastor, but who Audrey calls "that silly man who talks too much") said that day. And I love hearing what their little ears pick up. But I don't love the constant tugs on my clothes, or the days when Nathaniel just melts, or the 600 times Audrey has to go to the bathroom during service, or the "whisper" arguments that they get in with each other. None of that leads to a positive refueling time for me.

So I have tried the Sunday School thing. We have a WONDERFUL woman who is in charge of Sunday School, and man does she have a heart and passion for teaching the kids. But none of them are trained to deal with Nathaniel. (I mean come on, it's a church of like 200.. of course I don't expect them to have the training.) But a few times that I have talked to them and put Nathaniel in there is has been so hard! Like there is one Sunday School teacher that we see in the market sometimes, and both of my children freak out just seeing her. ??? Wow!!! One time with her, and they are so freaked that one cried uncontrollably and the other completely shuts off?? Geesh! But again, these poor people have no idea how to help this child.

I love Nathaniel, but sometimes it is hard to meet my needs with him. He is in a totally inclusive school, where he is around mainstream children all the time, even in some mainstream classes. He goes to the park and plays sports and does so much with mainstream children. I DO NOT treat him like an outcast at all!  But sometimes I need his needs taken care of on a lower level so I can take care of myself too.

But this is REALLY about ME. I NEED to refuel. I NEED to be around other believers and  connect with them. I need the breathe of the Holly Spirit that is found in the company of other believers. And I can't do that in full blown mom mode, nor can I do it when my special kid is melting. This is not so much about what Nat needs, but more about supporting Nat for a short time so that I can get what I need to make it through the rest of the week.

So I have been pounding my head against the wall on this issue for a LONG time. I have tried so many things, and prayed long and hard over it. I have found I am spending more time, thoughts and energy on HOW I can get to church than I actually am spending AT church! Crazy.

So I did it this weekend.
I bit the bullet.

I hired my respite person the come to the house to watch Nathaniel while Audrey and I headed off to church. And I cried while driving away. I felt like a horible mom. I felt bad for being selfish. I felt like Nat would think I loved him less or some none sense like that.

But the truth?

Nat had a BLAST with his respite worker. They took our dog for a walk down by the bay (that we now live so close too that we can smell and hear it all the time!). They played baseball in the yard. They shot hoops. Nat was in a GREAT mood when we got home, all smiles and love for us.

Audrey had a bit harder time. She wanted to hang out with the respite worker and sort of felt like I was punishing her taking her with me. But we talked about it, and I told her how good church makes me feel, how much I feel the Holy Spirit when we are there. She LOVED to dance and sing with me (although she is CONVINCED that Gary told her she can dance on stage next week??? What did I miss???). She did ok through message (although she still thinks Pastor Randy is silly and talks too much :) ) They we went out to a Mommy and Audrey lunch, where I told her what a great job she is doing with her brother, with the tough situations and with all of the change. She DUG it, and I loved being able to build her up away from Nathaniel where I wouldn't worry abou him feeling like I was tearing him down.

And me... I got to refuel. I got to recharge. I felt wonderful. When one friend asked me where Nathaniel was and I was actually kind of scarred to answer. I had such a needed time of recharging that I didn't want any negative to knock me down. But I took a deep breathe and explained where Nathaniel was and why. And you know what? Bless his heart, S lifted me up for being smart enough to take care of myself too! Oh, I bet he didn't know what to make of those tears in my eyes when he said that, but they were good tears, I promise. Tears of relief that SOMEONE understood what I needed. And tears that I was supported in doing what I needed to take a few minutes to take care of myself.

So this might not be the norm every weekend. Actually, I know it won't be every weekend. But I think it will be pretty often. Some time of recharging with the kids, and some time just for me. And no matter the fear that someone is going to call me selfish, or say that I am excluding my son, or some other crap, I AM going to take this time for ME. Because in addition to being a single mom of two beautiful children, one of whom has some extreme needs, I am also a daughter of Christ  that needs some time in His holy house with my brothers and sisters in Him! And how hard I struggled over this, but how simple and full of blessing the answer was. Oh the identities that battle!

So there!
Knock me down if you must....
But remember, we never really know what another is going through until we try to walk a mile in their shoes!
Wanna trade for a week and see what you think then?


Colleen said...

Girl, if this is your worst mom moment, you're doing good. I don't blame you one bit. What if you take his respite care worker or his behavior support person or whoever can go to be with him during Sunday School as his aide?