Monday, April 16, 2012

On Life with Four Kids

We've had our foster son for over four months now. I am still adjusting to and sometimes fighting against our new normal. I have wanted another little one under our roof for many, many months. It just feels right to have another child in our home, even temporarily. But, it has been so hard. The baby, JJ, is eighteen months old now. He is not a difficult child. In fact, he's pretty laid back. He does give me the occasional slap in the face  or back-bowing fit, but he is easily consoled. He has the best, biggest grin and he gives a bear hug that can make a grown man cry.

It seems like any change or difficulty in life heightens any other problems that were lurking. Having JJ has shown me that I constantly wallow in guilt and fear. Guilt is like my security blanket.I have felt guilty about everything for all of my adult life and most of my teen years. I think I have punished myself by feeling guilty as a substitute for accepting God's grace. It really is easier to brow beat myself than to accept God's forgiveness and let go of my mistakes.

Gramm, Brooklyn, Vivian pouting during the Easter story 
I am still muddling through all of this. Letting go of a lifestyle of guilt is surprisingly hard. Accepting grace for the first time in my life, while parenting four kids is really, really hard. The thing with parenting four kids is that I make a lot of mistakes. I raise my voice. I yell. I don't point my kids to the Father every time they disobey. Most of the time, I say something along the lines of, "Put that down now or you will be in serious trouble!!!"  Spoken through gritted teeth with eyes narrowed down to tiny slits by the end of the sentence. And, I feel so bad about it all. I sit and stew and replay every mistake I made throughout the day until I'm weighed down and in tears. My sweet husband has been so good to point me to Jesus at these times. I am trying to accept grace. I want to be free, but it's slow going and a battle hard-fought. Even though it's hard, it is good. Even in the difficulty, I know we are doing the right thing. Having four kiddos is not easy, but it is worth doing and it is worth doing for the glory of God.

So, if you come to my house, it won't be clean. My children will disobey me at some point. They will try to interrupt our conversation. They will ask to play on your Iphone. I will tell them no and one of them might throw a fit. I will very likely have to leave the room to put a child in time out or have a heart to heart about why we don't strangle our sister. I will use a nice cloth napkin to wipe snot from someone's nose. I might even be really tired or get frustrated with one of my kids right in front of you. My pride will die a slow death as you see that I am not perfect. My home is not perfect, my kids are not perfect.

Brooklyn and Daddy having a chat, most likely about how to behave.

Brooklyn (left), Vivi and me enjoying some late night snuggles.

But, when you come to my house, you will hear the sounds that make up the beautiful chorus of a home filled with children. You will hear the smacking of smooches, the giving of high-fives and the ooohs and aaahs over a flower retrieved for mommy or a grasshopper found in the yard. You will see the smiles on dirty faces and piles of lego shrapnel leading up to one amazing lego creation. You will see a high chair dragged out to the back deck surrounded by baby dolls, teddy bears, blankies and possibly a small shopping cart. You will be welcomed by my kids. They will greet you at the door, or even in the driveway. They will talk about you and your children when you leave. They will look forward to you coming again. And, if you let them, they will hug your neck before you leave. And, the baby...he will walk through the mess with a smile on his face. He doesn't need a perfect mom or a perfect home. He just needs us.

Gramm, Vivian, Brooklyn