This month was a big month. The Mini turned eighteen months, as in, a year and a half old. Which is wildly hard to believe, except for when she throws a genuine big girl tantrum, and then it’s totally believable. Her latest accomplishments include rolling to her left side, smiling at people, and grinding her freshly sprouted teeth for hours on end (words cannot express my horror of the sound). She also has discovered my phone, when you touch the screen the lights move, which is almost too much temptation to resist…even for her “please burn all the toys and never make me touch them again” self.
Little Jed man turned four months old. He celebrated the month by very nearly coming home, then not coming home and having three surgeries instead. He’s also on a personal mission to demonstrate that pulmonary hypoplasia means absolutely nothing to him, and he will scream the loudest of anyone else in PICU just because he can. That kid you can hear from inside the bathroom all the way outside the unit? Ya, he’s mine, and all that ruckus is music to my ears. I can’t wait for the day when the Mini can holler in my face like I know she’s just dying to do sometimes. The upshot is, that if he can refrain from any impressive medical catastrophes for another week or two, he should be coming home!
As for mom, I am learning to be ok with hard. Today was day three of dialysis training. I learned how to take a manual blood pressure, how to inject heparin into dialasate bags, and how to set up a peritoneal dialysis cycler correctly. That was in between suctioning out the Mini’s trach every forty five seconds because she has some sort of a bug, and pretty much failing spectacularly at a decent day of home school for the older two girls. I finished up training to sail right into speech therapy for the Mini…which was followed by an phone call to beg and plead with my medical supply company to please be a dear and send the trach ties I need just a day or two early and I promise promise promise to never allow my supply to run out again…and the day wrapped up with the Mini getting fitted for leg braces (to help keep her leg muscles from getting so tight). Which she hated. And chose to demonstrate her hatred by throwing up three times. Don’t tell me that kid can’t communicate.
I remember a time, back when I only had two perfectly healthy kids and a house to care for, that I believed with all of my mind, heart, and soul that I did not have time for anything. Because kids. And laundry. And stuff to do. And wow those kids sure do need a lot of attention. And now there is now. I look back to then, and want to sail back in time and slap myself for complaining. Because wow. I pretty much had nothing but time back then, and I had pretty much zero legitimate problems to complain about.
But perspective is everything, and someday I’ll probably look back at today and chuckle at myself for being so dramatic now. At any rate I’m resurrecting this old blog post I wrote ages ago (with a few modifications), because sometimes when your living room smells like throw up, and you have a cranky baby to wash, and ten pages of reading to catch up on with a first grader, and a four year old wailing because she can’t find her horse, and supper that should have been in the oven thirty minutes ago, you may just need to remember a few basic things…Like my favorite nine tried and true ways to conquer the urge to give up, feel sorry for yourself, and otherwise succumb to whatever it is that is making you feel like you’re drowning in problems.
1.) Get up and do something. Resist the urge to sit and mope, honestly, it will make you feel worse. Give yourself one small task and an amount of time to get it done. Take out the trash, put a load of laundry away, make one phone call on the list, whatever…getting even one or two small things completely done will give you a sense of accomplishment that will instantly make you feel better.
2.) Find something to do for someone else. Constantly brooding over our own problems will do one thing, it will make a very self centered person who’s problems will be even bigger. Chances are, one doesn’t need to look very hard or very far to find someone else with heavier struggles to carry who could use a helping hand or simply an encouraging text or phone call. By helping someone else, you will do yourself the bigger favor and you don’t even have to get off the couch to do it.
3.) Change the scenery. Sometimes all the black clouds need is jolt of change. Go for a walk outside. Take the kids to the park. Re-arrange the furniture. Go get a hair cut. Doing something that feels “fresh”, often has the effect of freshening the spirit too. Sometimes this can be tricky, like say if you have a tubie kid and you can’t leave your house except on an “absolutely need to go” basis. You might have to get a bit creative…for me, something like thirty minutes of reading a book lets me “leave” the house and helps me redirect the attitude train.
4.) Be healthy, and stop making excuses.Eat good stuff, be active, and try to get decent sleep on a decent schedule (the sleep thing may or may not depend on the whims of a tyrannical eighteen month old so that’s mostly just a really nice wish for some future utopia I have). Bad habits have the strange affect of creating an unhealthy body which can in turn help create an unhealthy heart and mind too. Everyone can do this, everyone has time…it’s a choice plain and simple. (uh hum, dear me, I hope your paying attention to this one)
5.) Try comparing yourself to others. I know, I know, comparing is bad bad bad. But once it in a while, it may be a good thing. Have you ever noticed that other people have problems too? Sometimes the people with heaviest loads to carry are the ones you hear talk about them the least. Observe people once in a while and be grateful you only have the problems you do have. Ninety percent of what I am complaining about today, someone else would be grateful to have.
6.) Change what you can change, and adjust expectations for the rest. So yes, there are sometimes some irreversible evils we are just going to be stuck with in life. Everybody has them. That doesn’t mean one must completely resign one’s self to be stuck with everything that’s unpleasant. Find ways to improve the things you can. And along with that, stop expecting the moon. There are days when “it” is just not going to get done, change, or improve. Oh well. Do your best today, and try again tomorrow. “Being stuck” is mostly a state of mind.
7.) Get dressed and show up. People all around you depend on you whether you feel like being depended on or not. Whether it’s work, or the kids, or the volunteer group, or whatever, don’t be the rainy cloud that dumps gloom on everyone else. Look your best, and act your best for the sake of other people. Someone needs you to be the coworker, or the mom, or the friend, or the wife, or the neighbor. Resist the lie that says life is all about me, and how I’m feeling right now. It most emphatically is not.
8.) Watch your thoughts, apply the Philippians 4:8 principle. That verse gives an entire list of things to check thoughts by, is it honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, does it have virtue or praise…well then it’s ok. So when I’m having a moment when I’ve decided I am the worst mother in human history and I should probably run away to Somalia and change my identity effective immediately…I can help myself out by doing the 4:8 check. Is is honest? Well it’s possible I’m the worst mother, but probably not. Is it just and pure? Well it’s a little on the selfish side actually. Etc. You get the point. (totally hypothetical example of course)
9.) Try prayer. There’s an old gospel song that’s been dancing in my brain lately, part of it goes like this,
“Time is filled with swift transition,Naught of earth unmoved can stand, Build your hopes on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand”
This is it people. This is the greatest thing that I can ever understand and hang on to. Everything and anything can change in the blink of an eye, will fail, and will wildly disappoint me at some point. Everything except God. You and I can do everything right and have every right attitude concerning any problem that ever comes up…but if we forget God in the picture, we will still find ourselves with a sense of emptiness in our hearts. The greatest comfort and encouragement is found in God and in His word, the Bible. The next time the blues hit, do yourself a favor and have a chat with the One who knows your feelings better than you do.He cares, He really does. Also, you might need to memorize, and repeat this list seven times daily to yourself. Just saying.
Psalms 62:8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.