Parenting


Written on 5/10/2010:

Jase, the kids and I had a perfect day yesterday, for Mother’s Day. We left our house around 1030am, to go on an extended walk, and returned 6 hours later! There were so many laughs and admirations for nature (and for each other) as we ventured to the park and enjoyed snacks, ate lunch at a nauseatingly-hot fast food establishment, and laughed/got freaked out by different animal parts/sea creatures in an asian market before stumbling on some delicious candy. We got the kids to try new things with mocha coconut Boba Tea (a favorite of mine and Jase’s) and found LOTS of books to borrow from the library. The two mile walk back home was rewarded with a strawberry shortcake dinner and reading two chapters of our new library book, The Secret Garden. Really it was a perfect day. The kids would complain every now and then as they got tired or overwhelmed with carrying their stack of books back home, from the library but I might just claim yesterday as my favorite Mother’s Day ever. The weather was even great. Sunny and cooled off by a gracious breeze. The day was so beautiful.

So why am I stuck in a rut again today? Why have I been feeling like this for months? I don’t want to put away that last load of clothes or clear the piles of paper off of the kitchen counter. I don’t want to vacuum up the floor or clean the toilets. I wonder about what I’m doing in life and where I’m spending my time and whether or not the things that consume my mind and my time are worth it.  Jase and I watched a movie last night. The movie was a live-taping of a comedian and really funny, I was even cry-laughing at some points, but I almost threw up when the sexual jokes started. I hate that I’m affected, negatively, by that. I hate that it affects the way I feel about myself, my body, and my trust in Jase. I hate that I can’t just laugh those things off or at least overlook them, unaffected.

Life, at the moment, is beautiful and tragic. It’s exhilarating, yet, in stasis.

I feel like I’m constantly switching from joyful and satisfied with life, to depressed and feeling as if my life has no purpose, no meaning. I feel worthless and unable to do anything right. At the moment, I question the time I spend mentoring teenagers and with one of the things that seems to sustain me: singing. I wonder if the passion and love I have for people means anything, does anything, helps at all. I’m having severe issues with trusting people and their words of affirmation and love. I’m severely dissatisfied with my health and my physical shape.

People have really been affecting me, negatively, lately. I sang, at church, a couple of weekends ago and I’m having a hard time letting go of some looks and smirks that seemed to be directed at me.

I’ve been doubting a lot of things lately… the love people have for me, the positive qualities I thought I once had, the difference that I make…

I’m fighting. Fighting back hard.

Days like yesterday continue to sustain me. However, these ruts/attacks, though few and far-between, are tough.

Jase and I, and the kids, were rear-ended on Sunday. Besides the pain I’m now in, the thing that sucks the most is the fact that we were in the process of communicating with a broker to trade in our van and jeep for one vehicle with a lower monthly payment. After looking at a car lot on Saturday, selecting a couple of vehicles that could work for our family and communicating with this broker, we were finally on the right path of getting our finances in order.

That is, until Mr. Chevy Impala decided to not see us stopped at a yield for a highway on-ramp and slammed into the back of us. My first thought was the trauma of this night as I desperately scanned the back seats to make sure my children were ok. Then I was concerned since the man was now in Jase’s face, while Jase was still in the driver’s seat, and the guy had his hands on Jase’s shoulders, apologizing profusely. I was afraid of what this stranger was capable of doing and that chemicals could possibly be in his system. After asking the guy, several times, to back off, the guy retreated and Jase went out to handle the info swap. I got on the phone and called 911. Paramedics, police cars and a fire truck showed up. From terror to confusion to excitement to fear again, the children experienced a range of emotions. When I started feeling the numbness/painless-burning in my neck, I got scared. Not only did we now have to handle the strain of insurance companies and claims and getting our van fixed. I knew that in a couple of days, I was going to be painfully messed up. Did I mention that we don’t have medical insurance? Yeah…

My last blog entry had me looking forward to helping out with the Downtown Rescue Mission again. Well, fear got in the way of that and I never went back. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.

I was preparing to help my friend that night and, on a whim, I decided to reread the story of my childhood/teenage years, my testimony. I wrote it out, years ago, but some sort of curiosity took over and I read it, just hours before I was supposed to leave. That was a major mistake and it sent me into a downward spiral. Reading about being in numerous, frightening positions and being taken advantage of many times, made me feel stupid for preparing to put myself in a situation where, once again, I’d be in a room where the men to women ratio and the drug-free to on-drugs ratio was desperately uneven. Reading about those bad times and feeling like they had all happened yesterday, caused me to completely freeze up. I tried to fight off the fear but it only intensified. I tried to rationalize and it only retaliated, stronger and more convincing.

I was terrified and it enflamed me. I was crushed. I felt defeated. I felt like I was taking two steps backward from the healing and recovery that I felt I had just gone through.

Two weeks prior, I felt on top of the world with conquering a fear and feeling like I would never look back or take a step back and here I was, trembling with the possibility that I was about to make the stupidest decision to go help people. This fear got my mind racing at the endless possibility of having anxiety take over, preventing me from doing just about everything. Where would it stop? What would trigger this fear? How many situations will I put myself in, in the future, and then realize that I feel vulnerable and trapped and want out? It was in this moment of sheer terror that I was grateful (and pissed off that I was grateful) that I never went to Afghanistan. I can’t imagine having this fear and anxiety overtake me as I’m halfway across the world from everything that makes me feel safe.

This situation also got me learning much more about myself. I’m learning that I have boundaries. I can’t stand knowing that I have them but this has to be some sort of positive step in realizing this about myself. It’s caused me to figure out what frightened me about going back to the Rescue Mission and what situations, in the future, might cause this fear to rise.

I feel as though there’s a fine line with knowing too much about people and not knowing enough. I know that people can be cruel and that sometimes a certain type of person is more prone to cruelty than others. Obviously I can’t see their heart, so I discriminate toward the people that remind me of those that have harmed me. The lack of knowledge about people can easily be replaced by fear while having knowledge about people can instill fear as well. How do I combat this? It seems like a neverending cycle… At various points in my life this fear will cause me to freeze and hide, tremble and cower. What I’m learning is that the antonym of my fear is faith and hope. I can have all the love in the world but, in fear, that love is worthless. Without faith and hope, I would continually sit in my house and ponder the end of everything good.

While learning the boundaries of my emotional well-being, I’m also discovering what it takes to push past those boundaries. I’m learning what I’m prepared to conquer and what may still take time to overcome. There may be things in my life that I will never be able to do because fear is gripping so tight. There may be things I never would have dreamed to prevail over and I may effortlessly triumph. For now, I’m grateful to be learning more about what I can and can’t handle and I’m grateful to learn more about what faith in God actually means.

I’ve been treading water, keeping my head above drowning, for my entire life. Specifically, desperately, in the last year. I’m just now realizing that I’ve done nothing to bring me closer to shore, to where I want to be. I’ve completely worn myself out, staying in the same place. In faith, in action, I must press on. Beyond the boundary.

Christmas is upon us and I’m finding myself less than thrilled to get lost in the commercialism of it all. I’m actually disgusted by it. Every dumb commercial and poster begging for someone to “Buy NOW!” is starting to really get under my skin. A couple of weeks ago I started feeling like I didn’t want to take part in any sort of traditional holiday this year, to sort of rebel from the stupidity of it all.

It’s very strange what detachment disorder realization does to the brain.

Yes, I’m blaming my current state of X-maspathy on the healing I’ve been doing this year. It seems like in the midst of letting some things go, I’ve released everything I was clinging onto, traditions included, and now I’m bringing the important things back into my life. Slowly and methodically. Throughout the course of my life, it’s like I’ve been holding hundreds of balloons, attached to string. Some balloons have been released completely and some couldn’t escape the canopy mass. Realizing I had issues with detaching and attaching emotions, this year, I feel like I’ve completely let go of every string and now I’m frantically grasping at the “balloons” that are significant to me. Inadvertently, I’ve been writing things off in my life and it’s very uncomfortable and strange to search for what is missing and what I still want to keep.

I understand the significance of Christmas and in celebrating the birthday of Jesus. I am just confused on the lame decorations and reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing. I want to make sure I’m not on auto-pilot as a result of “what I’ve always known.” Maybe this change is also occurring because we don’t have money to buy anything to go under the tree. However, I think that if we did, I still wouldn’t want any of it. Maybe it’s because of my heightened need to help people more than consume *things*. All I know is that, compared to millions of people around the world, we are blessed. In their eyes, not American eyes, we are rich. Adding abundantly to that wealth while they suffer around us, sickens me.

We ended up buying a tree and put up the decorations. The tree was $17 and it is perfect. I LOVED going to the tree farm and looking for the saddest, most pathetic tree while families all around us scoped and measured and felt-up their “perfect” tree. I want to instill traditions in the life of our family, but I saw us heading down a slippery slope several weeks ago and I want to make sure we don’t get lost in the cut-throat consumerism of it all.

I’ve mentally stripped away the blind tradition and I’m replacing it with knowledgeable, meaningful values. Because we are trimming the fat that is Christmas tradition, we are able to help others around us as well. That feels good, pure and right, like we’re living the meaning of Christmas. 🙂

Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!!

I know I’ve written a lot of heavy posts this year. The reason behind that is… well… it’s been a heavy year for me. For the first time in my life, I’ve dealt with traumatic events against me – starting with when I was eight years old. It’s been a tough year but it’s been an extremely healthy, healing year. For that, I am grateful, sometimes overwhelmed, in knowing how blessed I am.

In honor of Thanksgiving, this is my list of thanks.

  • For my perfect fit, Jase: He’s the most patient, loving, forgiving, gracious person I know.
  • For Malakai: My genious, loving, drumming, passionate first-born.
  • For Zoe: My happy, creative, kind and sensitive little girl.
  • For Cali: My carefree, dancing-singing, funny, precious toddler.
  • For all of my family and friends: Their support, love, listening ears, sound advice, similar struggles, and compassionate hearts have taught me so much.
  • I’m thankful, to the extent of immense disbelief and emotion, for the love and forgiveness I’ve been shown by the Creator of life. I am constantly moved to tears for the sacrifice that Jesus gave to me and the people that have harmed me. Because of Him, I know love. Because of Him, I know forgiveness and grace. Because of Jesus, I know the effects of second chances. For that chance, I breathe deep everyday and vow to show the same love that I’ve been gifted.
  • For the material possessions (house, vehicles, bed, computer, television) that allow me to relax and love myself, my family and all others while life attempts to push me into the ground, burying me with expectations and flashbacks and busyness.
  • For Jase’s job. His current job is the best he’s ever had but Jase has constantly worked his butt off to make sure that I’m able to stay home and raise our children with our values and morals.
  • For my past. I can not truthfully claim to wish change with any of it, for fear in it changing the positive aspects of my current life. Even in the midst of flashbacks (causing me to relive the pain and trauma) I know that allowing God to work through my past has made me a stronger and more loving person. Would I like to have this strength and love without having experienced the pain? Sure. But I can’t live life while drowning in “what if” scenarios. So, because of my past and with severe diligence, I will let my past refine me (for better) and use it to help me protect my children. I’ll pray they know the love, empathy and passion I have for people, WITHOUT needing to experience what I went through.
  • For the opportunity I have in being a mentor to youth. Because of my past, I have a heart/passion for youth, however, with the opportunity to reach out to them, I have a voice. Because of this opportunity, it’s become a positive reason to speak the heartache I’ve been through.
  • For the beauty of God’s creation. All of it. The intricate solar system, down to the smallest particle. I am blown away by how life has been so perfectly created. I love photographing nature and gazing at pictures of space. I notice, every day, how perplex and perfect God’s creativity graces us with it’s presence.
  • For music. Music helped fuel the rage I had as a teenager but has also helped keep me afloat while drowning in sadness. Music can bring out every single emotion in me and something about singing on stage makes me feel extraordinarily close to God and people.
  • For laughter. God, in His own sense of humor, has placed in me an unusual one. My humor is self-reliant. Almost daily, something in my own imagination gives me a chuckle. I’m also surrounded by so many people that help this innate desire to laugh and make others laugh. For that, I’m sincerely grateful for wittiness, sarcasm and ignorance to idiocy. Writing that even made me giggle. 😉

When looking for opportunities of thanks, rather than opportunities to complain, your list will overwhelm you as well.

Look around. Find beauty. Somewhere. Anywhere. Cling to it.

I have had severe writer’s block, for weeks, with this idea/post. I’m tired of it swimming around in my head. So, although it might be incomplete or disjointed, I’m publishing it now.

I had an epiphany last night. Oooo, I love those. I realized that if I would stop having expectations with other people, then they wouldn’t let me down. If I stopped expecting things from people or for them to act a certain way, then I wouldn’t be disappointed in them.

I realized that that must be what defines unconditional love. Then I realized that that is how I needed to start viewing myself. I judge myself quite severely.

For most of my life I’ve felt defined as a singer. Not as a person who loved to sing but as, just a singer. If I messed up in singing a song, I failed in who I was. It was a horrible place to put myself. If I wasn’t singing, I wasn’t fulfilling who I was meant to be. If I wasn’t at the top of my list of accomplishing “all things I want to do and places I want to go” with singing, then I wasn’t complete.

I feel closest to God when I’m singing on stage at church and most complete when I’m singing, anywhere. However, I was getting to the point, before and after singing, of being unnerved with how I did because it wasn’t the best.

Being ONLY a singer was killing the value that I should have placed within myself. Having unrealistic expectations was killing the unconditional love that I should have had for those around me.

Once I realized that my problem resided in the expectations I had on myself and others, I quickly learned how to dissolve the issue.

In this seemingly simple act of change, I’ve lifted another incredible burden off of my shoulders. The difference I feel, in singing (whether it’s at home for an hour or at church), is tremendous. I’m not held captive to the feeling of being a failure if I make a mistake because I’m not just a singer. I’m a person that loves to sing. I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mentor… that just loves to sing. This change has also lifted a burden off of people around me, whether they knew they were carrying this burden or not. If my family and friends failed in my expectations for them, then they were failing me. Now that I’ve dissolved those expectations, I feel I’m now free to love unconditionally.

No expectations = Unconditional love.

Several months ago, a friend of mine told me he was going to Afghanistan. As my eyelids shaped my eyes into spheres, I said, “I could never go there. People are always talking about humanitarian work in Africa and the Middle East and those are the two places that scare me the most.”

I was raised in a neighborhood where Caucasian was the minority. For the first sixteen years of my life, I grew to completely understand what racism was, from a very different perspective than the norm. Once we moved to a more Caucasian-populated area, I felt as if I was still the minority because I’d grown accustomed to feeling like I had Hispanic, African-American and Filipino roots.

I know what it feels like to, not only, be singled out because I’m white, but to be singled out because I’m female. Both of those, in and of themselves, are extremely terrifying to me. I used to carry a pocket knife to school in Junior High. Junior High! I was twelve years old and so fearful of harm coming to me, I would carry a weapon with me to stab a potential attacker. Why would I want to go to Africa and the Middle East and be singled out like that again? Especially when the media shares horrific stories of attacks in these places, over and over again. Why would I want to put a target on my chest and, essentially, scream out, “Here I am, you Violators of Women, you Haters of Americans, come get me! I dare you!”

Since my friend shared his story of going to Afghanistan, something began stirring in me. For the last several months, I’ve actually felt my heart becoming soft and intensely empathetic to the people of Afghanistan. I’ve reflected, over and over, on the fear I have of harm coming to me and the lack of faith I have in God if I ever had a chance to go to this country. I’ve cried, so many tears, as story after story of God providing a water well and a school and other supplies for these people in the desolate refugee town of Barek Aub. I’ve become attached to the familiar faces shown in pictures and videos as team after team travel from our church and help these people establish freedom after Russian and Taliban invasions have killed their family and friends and/or maimed many of them. The “least” of their problems has been a complete and total crush of hope… until our church became involved. The other day, someone shared how, for years, the Afghan people prayed to their god to bring water to their town. When we prayed to God, they got their well.

Our church is putting together it’s third and final trip of the year with a medical trip to Afghanistan. I applied to go and have an interview tomorrow morning. I have never been more passionate about doing something and more overwhelmed by fear, in my entire life.

Since deciding to go (once Jase gave his blessing, of course), I’ve been daily consumed with the pain the Afghan people have had to endure, the struggle they live with everyday and the fear a trip of this magnitude brings. I’ve also been consumed with wanting to share my life with these people.

How can I teach people (especially my own children) about Jesus’ love and passion for people, from the comfort of my free country, air-conditioned home and way-above-poverty income status? How can I show love when I’m almost a world away? How can I show faith in this God I serve if I never live that faith?

The more I try to write off the feelings of going, the more overwhelmed I am with a push to go.

If you pray to God, please pray for me and my family.

  • I am very aware of the toll a trip like this will take on me and my loved ones as I’ll be gone for ten days.
  • I’m aware of the danger I’m placing myself in.
  • From fruitlessly trying to raise money as a teenager for fundraisers to fruitlessly trying to raise money as an adult for a couple of mission trips and given the state of the economy, I understand the struggle it will be to raise the funds.

Given that knowledge and the fact that I believe in a God that loves these people and dislikes what they are going through and longs for His people to share a message of hope and love and help these people attain stability on their own:

How can I do anything but take a step forward and trust?

My counselor wasn’t available yesterday so we moved my appointment to today. Last night, I felt like canceling. I panicked and once again, felt that the money being spent on counseling might possibly be a waste and the freedom from the pain of my past and bad flashbacks might never happen. I couldn’t cancel at 11pm last night so I decided to give it another shot.

The session today was the most significant meeting I’ve ever had with any counselor. Ever.

She began talking about wanting to try a new exercise with me, “Breathing, Integrating and Grounding.” She mentioned that those suffering from PTSD usually have detachment issues. Detachment is a defense mechanism to protect the victim from further abuse. What she described was nothing short of a waterfall of enlightenment.

Just the fact that she brought this term (detachment) up, clued me into so much of who I am. I have a problem with being apathetic toward people, my children included. Jase and I have often said that I would be a horrible counselor because my advice would be to “get over it.” I have a hard time keeping close friends because I have a hard time letting others in below the surface and/or I don’t feel like keeping friends and wearing their pain. However, more often than not, I severely ache for hurting people. In one respect, I deal too objectively with people and in the other, I’m too empathetic. Both seem to be on overdrive. I have no gauge in figuring out when I’m opening myself up too much or not enough. As I type this all out now, I wonder if my empathy turns on when I feel safe and the detachment/defense mechanism turns on when I feel threatened. I can’t even describe the elation I feel with finally thinking we’ve hit the nail on the head with the core negative issue that drives me. This detachment issue is what allows me to not be dragged down by people and the problems they need to share with me. However, it’s also the issue that prevents me from letting Jase (and others) close to me at times. This detachment is what closes me off from some people and situations. If I feel threatened, I shut down. My brain goes somewhere safe, while my body “takes” on whatever I feel is a threat. It’s the reason why I shut off from society and hole myself up in my house. Obviously, in most cases, becoming detached has hurt me and has hurt relationships I’ve been in. However, in cases where friends and family or teenagers I’m mentoring or have mentored have vented/complained/freaked out OR when a family member/friend/acquaintance has hugged me, or touched any part of my body and I felt threatened, this mental state has served me well. Better to detach rather than punch them out. 🙂

The detachment really comes on strong when I have flashbacks. The flashbacks are triggered by different things, either when I’m alone and there’s no understandable reason to have them or when Jase and I are intimate, whether it’s sexual or not. During the session today, I realized that when I start having flashbacks while around Jase, I shut down.  Now that I have a word for it, I know that I detach from Jase but it’s not complete. I start feeling like a victim and my brain tries to escape and detach while a physical connection is made but I fight back on that further because I feel like I’m being taken advantage of and being used. Since Jase and I have been together, almost 12 years, I’ve reacted the same way when I have flashbacks or feel threatened. I’m quiet. As was every single time I was violated while growing up, I recreate the same atmosphere. It’s quiet, dark and I shut down. My counselor gave me the most beautiful homework ever. When these flashbacks happen with Jase, I have to communicate with him. I know it sounds like common sense but it hasn’t been. I completely recreate my violation atmosphere and then am despondent. So, I have to tell him that I’m having a flashback and then have him tell me: “Open your eyes and mirror my hand in yours” then while being gentle AND strong (so important for both to coexist) he needs to bring me back to reality by asking, “What’s your name? What’s the date today?” Then tell me, “You’re safe.” I couldn’t stop crying when my counselor told me this because, instantly, I knew it would be the most beneficial advice I’ve ever had when dealing with my PTSD. For the first time since being violated I will start creating a new pattern when in despair or in fear.

I recognize when my detachment is well-used but I also now know when I’m using it incorrectly. Now that the problem is visualized, the correction can be made.

To say the movie, Taken, was heart-wrenching would be an understatement. Jase and I just finished watching it and my head hurts so bad from sobbing, I can barely see straight. I was prepared for the emotional charge of a child getting kidnapped. Even though it is my greatest fear with my own children. I was prepared to hug my children tighter after watching this movie. I was prepared for the movie’s focus on the horrible crime of sex slavery and the pigs running it all, or, at least, as much as I could be prepared. However, I wasn’t prepared for the self-pity. I wasn’t prepared to finish that movie and sit still, baffled, as to why I wasn’t rescued as a teenager. I wasn’t prepared to finally be in a position where I feel I can turn to God and say, “Where were you? Why weren’t you fighting to save me like this father? Why did you let all of those horrible things happen to me?” I didn’t think I would wonder, yet again, why my parents seemed so quick to give up on me as a teenager.

To me, this movie is very similar to the Prodigal Son story in the bible. I have always loved that bible story because of the reminder of a father that loves so unconditionally. It always hits right home for me since I was a teenage runaway. I ran away twice when I was fifteen. The second time, I was on the streets for ten days and I witnessed, took part in and fell victim to horrible things. I was scared and alone and addicted to drugs and to the mentality that my life at home was worse than the hell I was putting myself through on the streets. I came home after enduring way too much. I walked through the front door of my house and dropped to my knees, in painful and heaving sobs. Begging my parents, as I had the first time I ran away, to bring me to a counselor. I went into my room and was shocked to see everything I owned, packed in boxes. Even the sheets on my daybed. My dad said that if I had been gone one more day, my stuff would have been sent to the Salvation Army. To this day, I don’t know if he was trying a Tough Love approach on me or if he had meant it. Either way, I long SO MUCH to believe that, like the Prodigal Son story and like this movie, Taken, I had a Father in heaven just rejoicing that I was home. I get teary-eyed every time this bible story is shared because I wish I would have been welcomed home like that. I wish I had a parent run to greet me with open arms. I wish I would have been fought for and tracked down and risks would have been taken. Just to show me that I was loved and forgiven.

I don’t dwell in self-pity too often or for very long but I’m thankful for it tonight. I’m thankful for the reminder of how my children should be shown love… unconditional love… no matter how bad they’ve messed up.

We all got back from our amazing whirlwind of a vacation, one week ago. Last Sunday, at 1130am, we pulled into the garage after Jase drove twenty+ hours straight through (minus time spent at dinner with Jase’s dad in Vegas). Needless to say, we all came inside and crashed. Until today, I haven’t ventured out with the kids since we decided to all take turns getting the flu for the last seven days.

Malakai got sick first. Initiating the family sickness by vomiting between our van and the gas pump at some gas station in Richfield, Utah at 3am. We drove away, impressed at the way the macaroni held it’s form and before anyone could write down our license plate number. We thought it was food poisoning from eating bad food at some bad casino in some bad city. A place Zoe mistakenly (although aptly) named “Lost” Vegas. However, after I got the fever, body aches, sinus and cough issues a few days later and then Cali got it after that and then Zoe… well, then we realized it was the flu. We all have lingering coughs and are still a little weak but the hard part is definitely over.

I’m very grateful that each of us (Jase must have been immune to what we were serving) got sick on different days. I never would have even thought to wish or pray for this but none of our fevers, chills or severe body aches overlapped onto anyone else’s days. Kai was sick for a couple of days, I was next, then Cali and then Zoe. I knew I was on the verge of shutting down and needing a nap on Wednesday afternoon and, thankfully, Jase was able to leave work early (and take off on Thursday) and take care of the kids (and me!) so I could allow my body to shut down, get sick and heal faster than if I tried to trudge through motherhood and sickness on my own. This past week was hard and frustrating, however, I’ve never felt more loved and appreciated as a mom than I did these last seven days.

That’s why I’m writing this.

It’s hard to be a mom. Children don’t really grasp showing gratitude and they’re great at wanting bigger and better things. They don’t understand that this job is looked down on by so many people and that moms lose so much of what they feel their identity is in quitting the jobs they got salaries and benefits (and respect!) with and trading that for harder work with no pay. The dishes never stay clean, the dirty laundry is never gone for more than a day and those dang toilets always get that nasty orange ring RIGHT after you feel you were just on your hands and knees (contorting your body in ways you never thought possible and trying to keep hair out of your face while keeping chemical-covered hands away from everything). On top of the housework, taking chef courses would be extremely beneficial as would taking any and every class/course available that would help aid in creativity with games, crafts, errands and tantrums with three cranky children that don’t think you have one intelligent piece of advice to give. This is a thankless and disparaging job. Or… that’s how it feels sometimes.

I was needed this week. I was reminded that this precious job I have been entrusted with is worth more than money could ever pay and is more valuable than all the accolades the world has to offer. This week, the flu caused my nine year old son to forget that he has a computer and cool transformers and lego sets and caused him to ask me (more than once!) to just sit near him or to lay by his side until he fell asleep. After Malakai got better, the flu caused me to rest and allow Jase to take care of me in ways that he’s been aching to help. Then two year old Cali got sick and was forced to be a *still* toddler and reach out for, and snuggle and relax with her mommy. Finally, Zoe got sick and the little girl that I need to remember to let be a fragile six year old instead of trying to toughen up, became fragile and weak and I relished that.

For the last seven days, meals were frequently eaten on a sheet on the living room floor and movies were a constant must. Malakai and Zoe were beyond ecstatic once they realized they each got their OWN bottles of gatorade AND their own popsicles! And the hugs, kisses and cuddles were passed around hundreds of times.

I felt loved this week. I felt appreciated. I felt taken care of and genuinely respected. I know the kids and Jase did too. Being in such a vulnerable state left all of us feeling so much more in love and grateful for what we have and what we’ve been blessed with. Each other.

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