A Not so Happy Birthday

Last Thursday was our oldest sons birthday. Timothy turned 7, marking six years and one week that he has been with us, that I have been a mom....amazing. With all the blessing this boy brings with him, he can also be a bit of a handful. I've said before, he is loud (really loud), and goes 0-60 from sun up to sun down. On his birthday, or anytime he's especially excited, these characteristics increase to extreme degrees, which is cute on one hand, and ridiculously exhausting on the other. The day still has to happen....school, grocery store, allergy shots....but in his overcharged excitement he can single handedly make these things impossible, getting in trouble and turning up the dial on my irritation and anger and increasing his consequences with each indiscretion. And that is exactly what happened on this highly anticipated 7th birthday, and it wasn't just Timothy...it was his youngest brother Eli right along with him, running, yelling, grabbing, name calling, hitting....  It was devastating and heartbreaking for everyone, and incredibly embarrassing for me. 

I have eluded for about four months now that something happened bringing hurt and harm to our family. This 'thing', that I'm still not supposed to talk about, has hovered just beneath the surface of life for almost 5 months. This thing has been called small. We have been told there's no reason for us to worry about our kids, they are fine. This thing has basically been swept away at the place that it happened, forgiven and forgotten. But in our home, for Scott and I, this thing looms heavy. It hurts us, it scares us and it infuriates us.

The tie between Timothy's 'bad birthday' and this 'thing' is difficult to explain, but very real. God is working on our hearts daily...the anger, the hurts, the fear...but it doesn't mean the anger isn't still there. And, wrong as it may be, sometimes my anger gets misdirected at the very little ones my heart is set on protecting. Why? I have no idea. Probably because they are the ones in front of me. And mostly likely, even though my anger about this 'thing' is not directed at them, they are unknowingly poking the bear. On this most distressing of birthdays, the behaviors that had me on edge would have been annoying under the best of circumstances, but this 'thing', the effect it's had on me, I don't like it.  It has heightened every negative emotion within me. The things that scared me before, make me panic now. The things that would draw out anger, get me there much quicker. Hardly noticeable social anxieties that existed before, threaten to keep me home now, nestled in with my kids where I know they are safe.

My response on this birth day grocery trip? Take them to the bathroom and have a stern talking to of course. And that birthday dinner at the 'fire restaurant' that he'd been looking forward to for a month?? Yeah, mad mommy cancelled it. While that's a little embarrassing to admit, and it was awful for all, I'm not sure it wasn't the right thing to do, I just wish I hadn't been so mad when I did it.

That night was tough, and a hard lesson was hopefully learned. After a much improved day, we did in fact go for that birthday dinner the next night, and enjoyed a wonderful evening with our four delightful children! Our grill master that evening, carried on about how polite our boys were, how well mannered, how sweet, how smart. He said our beautiful daughter obviously got her looks from her lovely mommy and great-grandmother, and that we were just the luckiest family to all have each other and be so happy together. Of course, I didn't tell him she wasn't ours biologically. I didn't tell him we finally had an adoption date after more than two years, and that our excitement over that was barely containable! I just went with it, taking delight at the smiles on my kids faces and the calm in my heart.

Mason and Timothy at 'the fire restaurant' 

It was as if he knew I'd been mad mommy for a while now, and was doing all he could to remind me to enjoy my precious gifts....even if things are tough right now.


Emotional collisions similar to this, are the norm these days, it seems. And what I'm beginning to see, and attempt to deal with, is that parenting out of fear and anger isn't working. These kids are worth the best I have to offer, and while that may be changed just a little now, it shouldn't include my misguided anger over the actions of another. It should include the joy I experience when I look upon their beautiful faces. The wonder that wells up inside me when I hear them pray to God with wisdom beyond their years. It should share in their excitement as they show me how fast they are or how big their muscles are getting. It should encourage their moments of success, and teach in their moments of disobedience. It should mirror the grace and mercy I have received and reflect the unending love I have for them.

Today was another grocery day, and while it wasn't perfect, there were no stern talks in the bathroom and my blood pressure remained within normal limits. It's a team effort, and we're learning together.

Progress in motion.