My kids have off this week from school. Why in God’s green earth the Lutheran schools have a week off in October is beyond me, but honestly, I have started to fall in love with this break.
October has been a hard month. Between my oldest (9) being admitted into the behavioral health (psychiatric) hospital (for suicidal thoughts and plans) and my other kids being heartbroken and angry over their brother being away for 8 long days — it has been rough.
With the kids off of school, my husband and I have decided to focus on our little family this week. He took a few days off work. We canceled all extra therapies this week. We didn’t invite anyone over or go to any events we were invited to. We decided to be home. All of us need each other. We want to be home. Together.
While there have been more meltdowns, time to process the recent diagnoses of three of our sons and such a backlash from my oldest’s hospitalization we have had time to stop. Adopting 5 kids in under 5 years of becoming foster parents has been quite the transition. We adopted our daughter in 2013, our son in 2014 and a sibling group of 3 in 2015. It has been a difficult journey.
We often forget to take time to stop. Our family keeps on pushing. Therapy sessions keep happening. The kids go to school. Homework still gets done. Meals are made. Someone has got to do the laundry!
But this week – because we have decided to stop – has had beautiful moments.
We’ve asked for help to fill the gaps. When my friend asks to take one of my kids to the park with her already large family, I let her. The friends who offer to bring over a meal, I let them. I recognize our need for help – for things to be easier and I let the community and support system be there for us.
While our son was away, we decided to surprise our kids with matching power ranger costumes. With 5 kids between the ages of 5 and 9, it is kind of perfect. Having kids so close together is great, but sometimes they have a hard time getting along. But, they unite to play Power Rangers together. So, we surprised them with the costumes and a trip to Trick or Treating at the Milwaukee County Zoo! They were thrilled.
As we came home, we were able to snap back into just being a family. We got to put the darkness of having to take our son to the hospital, the brokenness we all felt and just had fun all being back together. They ate candy (we barely do any sugar around here). They were high fiving with other kids. The kids forgot about the years of trauma they’ve endured.
We all forgot about how brutal our lives were feeling.
After that blissful day, the kids had their typical meltdowns, chaos returned and reality set in. We remembered. I continue to lose sleep over the implications of their diagnoses. Us moms are built to worry, consider the future and strategize about what therapies, medications, treatments, and discipline will help our kids. All we want is for them to become healthy, generous, kind, loving, safe adults someday.
But today – on this lazy day hanging out with my kids – I choose joy. I choose to see them as the hilarious, silly kids they are. Praying and letting God’s truths set in are my main missions today. I decide to laugh at my son dancing around in our living room in a wig and his sister’s leotard. We all choose to wear the bracelets my son made us after his meltdown this morning. Together we are just a family. We love each other ferociously.
Today, we choose joy.