I thrive on routine, but my kids do even more. And I’m not going to lie, this holiday break has been rough on all of us.
To me, Christmas has always been a magical time in which we pause to consider in awe a God who would humble himself to be a baby so that he could live the perfect life we couldn’t live and then become the complete sacrifice we could never offer. But now Christmas is also a time in which two of my children, adopted at older ages, act out or withdraw as they think back on Christmases past with loved ones who have died or left. Christmas is also a time in which the school break means an interruption in routine, which also means a higher risk of seizures for my child with epilepsy and a closer monitoring of him as I checked to make sure his room monitor was properly plugged in just before I started filling the stockings. Christmas is also a time in which most of our therapists rightfully take vacation time, so the stretching and one-on-one work they do with our daughter with cerebral palsy becomes my job.
I tend to stay positive, because I don’t see the point in wallowing. Pity parties take time and energy and never make me feel any better. But New Year’s Eve found tears winding their way in crooked lines down my cheeks as I read status messages on Facebook. My friends seemed full of hope and thankfulness and a sense of promise. I didn’t feel full of anything. Instead of an optimistic status message, I wrote out an SOS prayer request email to several girlfriends, and then I never sent it because I wasn’t sure my words made sense and because I didn’t want them to think less of my children if I shared some of our recent challenges in parenting specific ones.
Our break was sweet in many ways, so please don’t think I’m saying it was all bad. We played, and snow flurries came one morning, and we spent time together without having to rush to school, and my husband and I actually got to go on a date. We enjoyed our Christmas Eve service at church, even managing to get a family picture afterward (complete with claws, as seen below), and none of the children burned down the church even though we let four of them hold candles with open flames on top. We still captured the magic and awe of the season, even in the midst of meltdowns.
But for me, today’s the day that feels full of hope and thankfulness and a sense of promise. Today’s my New Year’s Day. Today’s the day when the blessing of routine returns, along with the teachers and therapists and specialists and other support folks who make up our village in parenting six uniquely gifted and uniquely needy kids.
I love my kids. Truly. Deeply. Unendingly.
But I also love the end of Christmas break. Who’s with me on that?