Another day has elapsed.

A peace has blanketed my home once again.  I find myself staring into the soft glow of my laptop, letting my fingers tap against the keyboard underneath, and reflecting on my day after a failed attempt to lay down and drift off myself.  My mind keeps racing as it looks back at our day.  And thus…I find myself tucked away in a corner of my room, trying not to wake anyone, as I begin writing once again.  Feeling myself unravel as I pour my thoughts and emotions across a screen.

I am exhausted.

Not because I’m pregnant.  I can push through that kind of tired.  Not even because I had a full day with my kids.  Just another day with four boys.  I’ve had far fuller days than this one.

It’s an emotional exhausted.  The kind that just wipes every fiber of your being leaving you numb and limp to everything around you.

I messed up yesterday.  I pushed one of my boys past his limit even though I knew better.  Even though I knew exactly where his limit was at and yet, I ignored it.  I put my own desire to write before the emotional need of my child, which is definitely not something I do even remotely often…and I paid a heavy price for it.  There’s a reason why my writing is done predominantly late in the evening after everyone is tucked in bed.

But…I had a post begging to be written.  It wrote itself line by line as I made breakfast.  Ideas expanded as I loaded the dishwasher.  I could see the quotes on each page of the books that wanted to be shared as I gave directions to my boys for their chores.  I wanted to write.  During the day.  While my boys were awake.  And therein, was where I messed up.

It’s been a long time since I’ve spent hours writing while my boys were awake.  A very long time.  As much as one would think a 9, 11, and 12 year old could be somewhat independent during the day without me…the reality is, it’s not there.  One of my boys decided to use his actions to get my attention and reminded me I had let him get overwhelmed by not having constant guidance from me.  I  l o n g  for the day when they no longer get overwhelmed by independence.  It’s as if it triggers a fear in them that their needs will not be met if my attention is focused on anything other than my family.  It escalated to a point where I’ve never seen him so upset…ever.  No doubt God knew when I needed the support of my husband most, because Les walked in the door from work unexpectedly at that very moment.  We spent an hour talking with our son before he started to calm down….during which, at one point Les and I just stared at each other speechless.  A conversation elapsed between the two of us with only the look a husband and wife could use to communicate, but never a word being uttered.

Oh. my. goodness.  Next time, the writing goes unwritten until they are asleep.  The irony in all of this is that I was talking to my brother earlier in the day, asking him for elaboration on the definition of two words – martyria (meaning “witness”) and diakonia (meaning “service”).  There are times when I wished my grandfather had spoken in Greek with my dad so that I might have learned it too – but that wasn’t the case, so I needed help in order to understand the deeper meaning of these words for my research.  My brother texted me back saying, “Metanoia – You first have to die to your old ways so that you are raised by Christ into the way of God.  Think about metanoia as a symbol of death to your old ways and this world, raised up by Christ into His ways and His Kingdom.  We cannot have martyria or diakonia without first repenting to our old ways and becoming what Christ is calling us to be.  The constant death to our own will and way of being, raised up by Christ in His way.”

Talk about speaking to the moment!

My life is about constantly seeking a balance – taking care of the needs of my family while also finding the time to recharge myself.  I could list off the ways my bigs boys have progressed since we got them nine years ago…but it is still a constant struggle on a day by day basis with them.  I can’t even begin to tell you how vitally important affection and taking care of the needs of a child are during their first year of life and the impact it will leave on them if you don’t.  I’ve gotten to the point now where I can tell within a short amount of time being around a child if they were raised with love, if their needs were taken care of  but with minimal affection, or they were simply neglected much of the time.  I’ve become so sensitive to it that I can’t even help it when I’m around children.  I can just tell what their family life is like by watching them interact with others.

Over the years, writing has become my down time.  My reflecting.  An unraveling of stress and frustration as I return to what I’d like to believe is the naturally calm me.  It’s allowed me to keep my sanity.  It’s helped me to realize that although this path is strenuous and exhausting, that it has a greater purpose.  I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that Illumination Learning would not exist if I wasn’t going through all of this with my big boys.  (Not the website itself necessarily – but the content.)  If someone told me to explain only one purpose for the boys being in our lives – I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to tell them that it’s to draw myself and everyone in my family closer to God.  The moment my family is in the presence of God – at church, saying a prayer, reading a story about a saint…it’s an immediate calm within the storm.  Every. single. time.  It’s our peace.  It’s our restoration.  Our strength.  The glue that most assuredly holds us together instead of falling apart under the stress.

These boys are so hurt.  So bitter.  Angry.  All these years of attempting to mend their little hearts has drained me. There are days when I have no idea where the energy is going to come from to get through one more hour of it. But…I do.  God has sustained me.  He’s carried me when I couldn’t even put one foot forward.

As if I wanted to add another level of depth to all of this, hormone changes for two of the boys have taken all of this one step further.  Lord. have. mercy.  I’m not in just for a bumpy ride.  We apparently got into the line for an extreme roller coaster ride.

And if I just didn’t feel like all of this was enough of a challenge, I recently re-read a book for my research and had to struggle not to lose all hope.  I know she was trying to encourage parents to put forth all of their effort into their children – but what about those of us who are trying to pick up the pieces of the parents who didn’t?

Many children come into the world unwanted – and some are not even permitted to come into the world.  Every child should be welcomed with love into the family.  The love which a child receives from his parents at the beginning of his life is irreplaceable – it is a secure foundation on which he can build his life.  Lack of this love leaves wounds which are incurable unless the child receives an especial grace of love for God, because someone who lacks parental love in early life is too weak to bear psychological sufferings, even minor buffetings which we are bound to face in our life with other people.”  – Sister Magdalen

Earlier tonight, Les sent me out to have some uninterrupted, down time after he got home from work.  A sliver of recuperation.  As I sat reclined in a chair reading at the bookstore, instinctively rubbing my belly, I found I was pulled away from the book as Symeon rubbed his hand (or foot) exactly along where I was rubbing my hand.  I immediately remembered how Gabriel used to do that too at the end of my pregnancy.  It continually amazes me how young a child is when they respond to affection.

It also pulled me back in time to a question Chris asked me while I was pregnant with Gabriel, “Why do you rub your belly all the time?”

I responded without hesitation, “Because I love my children from the moment they are given to me by God.  I can’t kiss or hug Gabriel yet so I rub my belly.”

Without hesitation back, he asked me, “Do you think C. rubbed her belly when she was pregnant with me?”

I sincerely pray that I can be a healing presence to these boys…but there are moments where I’m not sure how much I’m really helping them.  I do know, however, that I have to keep trying.  I have to keep going.  I have to keep hope.  Writing in the hush of the evening is more rejuvenating to me than many nights of sleep combined…but here is where the writing belongs…after tender hearts are resting.