YHVH Rapha

He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” ex 15.26

Use your words

It’s a simple little phrase we tell our two year olds with their emerging language skills. Recently I’ve started to wonder if this is the key to helping me, too.

Use your words.

While I’m not two years old (not even close), still i find myself in many frustrating situations. I’m not faced with having to tell a playmate or sibling “Please don’t take my toy away,” or “I want to read that book.” But I keep trying to remind myself that it’s way more appropriate to tell the kids, “Please help your sister pour the milk,” or “I need you to stay in your bed tonight,” than to be yelling when they don’t do what I want them to do.

With a houseful of kids, there are literally thousands of interactions daily between one kid and another, or one kid and a parent, that frustrate, irritate, and distress me. Simple frustrations pile up and become huge and yelling turns into screaming. (Though sometimes I start out extremely frustrated.)

Perhaps talking to my kids–using my words–would help alleviate some of my intense frustration, overwhelmingment (is that even a word? Guess it is now!), and anger with all this normal family friction.

Sigh.

This is rather embarrassing to admit. I’m an adult, I should know this stuff!

But I don’t. It sounds like a lame excuse, but I did not grow up in a house where this was discussed or practiced or taught. Heck, there wasn’t a lot of positive anything happening in my house growing up. I never had the opportunity to learn all these wonderful things that help kids grow up emotionally healthy and well-adjusted. (Just look at my siblings and me for proof of this.) I’ve begun to understand, how can I give my kids this thing that they need when I never learned it? Didn’t get it myself?

I want a mommy. Mine didn’t work out very well.

I guess I’ll settle for a counselor.

Which gets us to the positive side of things, I’m finally seeing my counselor again fairly regularly. (“Regularly” meaning once or twice a month.) My oldest and youngest are also in therapy. . . talk for the oldest, play for the youngest. I think it’s helping us all. (Though it does add to the busy-ness of life and time stress . . .) I’m amazed at the things I’m learning about parenting my children, positive ways to interact, helpful ways to talk with them when they are angry or distressed. I’m excited that now I can finally do something positive to deal with life and stress.

Wish I’d learned this, oh, say 13 years ago.

Wish I’d had this growing up.

It really, really hurts to think of all the heartache I could have saved my kids for all these years if I’d known and practiced these things.

I know I shouldn’t spend time grieving over what isn’t, wasn’t. I know I should just start here and now with what we have and be grateful that i can learn new, helpful parenting habits before my kids are grown and it’s too late.

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Year in review

This seems to be a popular type of post these days, so I’ll try my hand at it. 😉

¶ I’ve not seen my counselor in over a year. I keep thinking, I can do this, I can get thru this, I can talk to my BFF and deal with this.

Till December came around, then i realized that I needed to talk to my counselor. The thing is, its’ just so helpful just to hear someone say “You are OK” and “You are the perfect mother for your children.” (not meaning, you understand, that I’m PERFECT as a mother, but that I am the mother that my kids need.)

Except when I called in, I couldn’t make an appointment. I’m no longer an active client as I have not had an appointment in the past three months. I’m now on the waiting list. I might be able to get in and talk with her the end of January.

Wth.

Deep breaths.

¶ My oldest is now 12 and my youngest 2. They seem to be growing and developing well. We have some good times. We have a lot off frustration. It’s all normal, right?

My middle kid, when anxious, pinches her eyebrow (think Dr. Sawyer in the original Miracle on 34th Street.)

My oldest son screams and yells and threatens violence when he doesn’t get his way. (Hmm, I wonder where he got that from. . .) He’s also been known to push people out of his way.

My other son seems to hide in the background, fade away, let others take the spotlight. . . and then whine and cry and scream in agony over seemingly minor injuries.

They all retreat to their rooms as fast as they can when I yell.

¶ Still, I’ve had a few situations lately that make me wonder if I’m as bad a mom as I think I am. A guy from church asked if my kids do this irritating thing–and they don’t! Wow, could it be that this particular issue isn’t a problem for me because of my parenting? (Probably has more to do with other things than me. But still.)

Then there was the other thing. Which I cannot remember right now. But it was another to make me think that maybe, just maybe, I’m being too hard on myself and that my standards for mothers are too high (huh, you think?) and that I’m ok, acceptable, maybe even competent as a mother. Maybe.

¶ Still married. That’s a wonderful thing. A year or so ago, we passed up good ol’ ma and pa as they had divorced after 13 years or so.

Though I wonder sometimes why we are. Why does he stay with me? I’m not very good to him sometimes.

¶ Always, always, always wonder what my children will remember from this time of their lives. The lousy dinners? The yelling and screaming? Watching movies together and playing games together?

The worst part of this, is they won’t be able to tell me until they are grown. 😉

Three years later. . .

I know it’s pretty lame to start a post with “where have i been for the past 3 years” . . . but still . . .

Life has happened. I have had a couple more babies. Lots of stress with them. I almost wonder now if the sheer number of kids ruined mom’s mind. 😉

Life is so busy and there is so little time for me, my interests. I know mothering is about sacrifice but wonder if i missed the memo about balance.

I hate the mother I’ve become. Yelling at the children replaced calm instructions. I keep telling myself that they are young, they don’t understand, they haven’t done this before. No matter. I don’t have time to be patient.

Seriously wonder if i’m ruining my children.

Terribly afraid that i’m turning into my mother.

Worth the read, twice over

Read this a few months ago.  Intended to blog about it, but time has gotten away from me.  (Story of my life.)

Nurse resentment and you are are never released and forgive your parents for the past or the past forever holds you, a permanent child.

I’ve got to figure out how to do this, how to honor the parent, because didn’t God promise that without that nothing else can go well?

Yes, yes indeed. But how?

among other things. . .

When you believe that everyone is always just doing their best, that we never war against flesh and blood but against the principalities, that in light of their own limitations, they truly are doing their best… this changes everything.

Interestingly enough, I’ve done this.  Helps to know I’m not perfect, can’t be perfect, am not supposed to be perfect. . . and neither is mom.  i have my limits and so did she then and now.

Diagnosed mental illlness helps too.

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And then there’s this one.  A little more recent.  Still much wisdom.

I keep my secrets tight and my secrets keep me tight.

We all  thought the secrets would save us…  but they slowly slay us.

I can show you my scars.

ouch.

And yet. . .

Because it’s keeping secrets that keep us from being real. From being fully alive.

Need to remember this.  This format, this blog, may be a great place to share my secrets without being condemned for them.

I will have to think about this more.

Mother’s little helper

I was 17 years old still living with my mother and siblings. I was on my way to work, it was before noon. Mom was puking drunk. Orange juice and alcohol, a great breakfast. When I got home from work she was nasty mean, probably hung over and miserable.

She admitted that there were other times that she drank over the years after she and dad divorced. I don’t remember them, of course I wouldn’t, I was at school when she was getting drunk. But now I wonder, was that one reason she was so mean.

Did she drink while she was pregnant with us?  I shudder to think.  Might that explain our difficulties now?

That song about “mother’s little helper,” can’t stand it.

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry

I picked this book up off the library shelf, thinking it would be a nice way to help me get my own anger under control.

Guess what? It’s not about controling one’s anger.  But it was helpful to me, nonetheless.

It’s about a little girl whose mother has bipolar disorder.  This used to be called “manic depression” because there are two different, severe moods: the depression, where a person can barely get out of bed, and the manic phase, where a person seems to have boundless energy. . . and is easily angered and even sometimes subject to psychotic delusions.

It wouldn’t be a fun thing, I’d imagine, to deal with your own bipolar disorder.  I can’t imagine it would be fun for a child to deal with his or her parent’s.

The main point of this book is that the children should not think that they cause their parents’ actions.  And that parents who deal with mental illnesses should have the support of their community–family, neighbors, etc.

The author notes that bipolar disorder can be treated and parents should have treatment, although they often may resist their treatment. (I imagine that during the “psychotic delusion” part of the bipolar disorder, one may think the medicine he or she has been given is harmful. Or that the neighbor or relative who is truly, truly trying to help is “spying” or “out to get them.”)

I can SO relate to the girl in this book.  Her mom is in a good mood when she leaves for school, but is angry when she gets home.  It leaves her to wonder “What did I do wrong?”  She calls her grandma, who tells her she’s done nothing wrong.  “You know that your mother has problems, and she hasn’t gotten the help she needs.  I hope that one day she will.  But your mother loves you even when she’s yelling.”

I can relate to this girl because it was like that with MY mom.  One minute, she was fine (at least she wasn’t screaming and yelling!) and the next I wondered what I did wrong.

I cried while reading this book because I did not have a grandmother to call, to comfort me and remind me that mommy still loves me and is not mad at me.  A few days ago, my younger sister and I talked about this.  She doesn’t believe that mom loves her.  It took me a long time (almost 30 years) to realize that yes, mom does, but because of something in her head mom can’t be the “mommy” that I wanted her to be.  Still happens today. I’m 36 years old.  I have to keep reminding myself that “this isn’t mom talking, it’s the mental illness.”  It is so hard to keep that straight!

I did not have a “secret snack” or people I could call.  I truly believed that I was the problem, and that mom was mad at me, and why would a neighbor help me, after all I was a problem child and caused my mom such grief.

I cried reading the book also because I wonder, had mom had the medications or therapy or social support that she needed. . . where would I be today?  Another sense of grief, loss.

And yet if she had, then I would not be the person I am today.  Hmm.

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, by Bebe Moore Campbell (illustrated by E. B. Lewis)

Pain from my father and mother

I’ve heard before that “it isn’t until one has children that one truly understands the sacrifices made by one’s parents” and yeah, I rolled my eyes.  You don’t know what they did or what they were really like, I’d think.

I was raised to look at the negative side of things, to look at what was lost, to focus on the ugliness of life.  It’s been hard for me to think of anything positive from my childhood.

As an adult, I guess I have been afraid to let go of the yuck.  I don’t mean not forgiving, I have forgiven my parents many times.  I mean letting go of the ugliness and negative side of things and losses.

I think I should be looking for the benefits and gains and positive things that happened when I was a child.

But I don’t want to.  Because to do that would be like saying the ugliness had no effect on me, that life was ok and it wasn’t really that bad anyway.

Maybe that’s not really what “letting go” is after all?

I’m coming to realize that there was more to my history than the negative, and if I am going to move on from this I need to see my past more clearly.

Because holding onto the yuck is holding me back, keeping me from seeing benefits.

And part of that is appreciating the blessings I’ve had, instead of always complaining about the troubles and pains.