We're now a few weeks into the four kid family and I've been mentally taking a sort of measurement.
Where are we and how are we doing. I think it's the sort of thing that everyone does, especially home school families. For us, you add in the foster kids, and the need to evaluate rises. Even if you aren't putting it down on paper, it's always running through your head in a way.
I'm happy to say we're in a better spot than I gave us credit for. I knew we were falling "behind" in school and was starting to really pound myself over it. Well, when I actually sat down today and looked at where the kids were at, their work and my overly ambitious schedule for them, we're doing pretty great, life circumstances considered. Now, in the land of home school, the most common "excuse" for less than adequate is often "life happened". I'm not saying it isn't sometimes a valid thing to say, but even when life is in seeming chaos, we still need to be plugging away at the main and most important studies. Progress is necessary.
We've been adjusting to the added efforts that Little One requires. He has a slew of appointments and therapy times. There is a constant stream of people coming in and places for us to be in addition to all the ones we already had, so we're adapting. All in all, much better and faster than I had hoped.
Now, it's by no means perfect. We're certainly seeing our fair share of jealousy and rebellion, which leads me to the next set of forced studies. Every little while, when "life is happening" the flaws in your parenting are revealed in a startling light. For me it leads to lots of added prayer and confession and apology. For the kids it means lots of character training and manners lessons.
It's slow and draining and exhausting. It can be utterly exasperating. It makes me drink more Diet Coke than I should and eat more Oreo's than a person ought to. It leads to bed time snacks of Hershey bars and jars of peanut butter.
But every time I think that I'm just wasting my time, that I'm making no head way, that I'm talking to the walls, they come around a little bit and offer up the glimpse of mommy hope that says maybe, just maybe, one day they'll grow into fine young adults.
And so at the end of a very long day as I'm taking stock of where things lie, we're alright. I'm almost current with laundry, notice I don't say caught up or done, there is no such thing in family life. The dishes are under control, thanks to paper plates, and I'm noticing that my big kids are much more able than they were even 6 months ago. They're making their own breakfast without being told and relatively cleaning up afterward. They keep the trashing of the kitchen to a minimum. They take turns doing some basic baby helps and do it responsibly and respectably. I'm not fearing for a babies safety when I take 5 minutes in the bathroom. They are helping in a reasonable way with the dog. She is getting fed and watered, let out and cleaned up after more than not. They are making great strides at playing well with a very demanding toddler. They are getting quite independent with other tasks like getting the younger sibs out to the car seats and buckled in or making sure all the diaper bags are stocked and actually IN the car. Trust me, that's key. There is growing a much more respectful response to mommy's "no". They are making great strides in personal care. It's a nice thing to not have to supervise every single tooth brushing or shower or hand washing.
We've come a long, long way. We're at a new level of peace and calm, even when chaos strikes, it's less and shorter. I know now, that the boat does right itself, even when we go turtle. I've realized that those families I look at and want to be like have older kids, more years between them, or younger kids or fewer kids or less medically needy kids or kids without major behavioral issues or, wait, here's the light bulb moment, not my kids. Our family is unique to itself and thanks to God and foster care and ever changing family, but that doesn't make it a family unplanned by God or unnoticed by God. In fact, strange as it looks from the outside, we know on the inside, it's just as He planned it.