February into March 2013. I've called February Monster Month, something I needed to attack so it wouldn't attack me. With Valentine's Day, my wedding anniversary and it being so close to the anniversary of his passing, it had been rough on me.
Here was our last month.
I work full time
My daughter has tutoring during the week, which she loves.
She has 1 hour with a math tutor each Monday and Thursday 4-5pm
She has 1 hour with a reading specialist each Tuesday 4:30-5:30pm
Regular test schedule
School, church, work, preschool, housework, fractions, diagramming sentences, learning letters and teaching Elijah to recognize his name in print.
3 Black History presentations: Each one required researching a chosen person in Black History, preparing a 3-5 minute oral presentation and giving it in front of the class dressed as the person with props. Due dates were 2/8, 2/19, and 2/28
Science Fair Project: Due 3/7. There was a mix-up where I ended up thinking it was due March 4th. I actually didn’t know what happened until we walked in and my daughter tried to hand in her project. Two other children also brought theirs in. Her teacher was very apologetic and she’s a great teacher and as the day went on, I was glad for it. Just homework to focus on the rest of the week.
Needless to say these projects bring some challenges regardless, but completing these along with everything else with a child with learning challenges I have to take certain paths I might not normally take and it does increase the time involved. I’m still learning about dealing with it too, but things have been much better now that we know. That doesn’t even take into consideration having a preschooler in the house who needs my time as there is no one else in the house to give him any.
Her project was on magnets. The background research took well over a week. It was reading and writing and learning, all things that give Ariana the biggest challenges. And this was after the monumental task of finding an experiment online that was written up in language a child could understand. Sometimes I think the people that put these projects online expect the parents to be the ones doing them. You'd think a Science website for children would be written for a child.
Putting the project together took all weekend prior to March 4th including Sunday morning when I was suffering from a migraine. Ariana had a hypothesis (questions), she made her guess as to what would happen when we did the experiment, and we did the experiment. She enjoyed parts of it and others were a battle. She enjoyed shopping at the science store for the materials, doing the experiment and recording the data, even chasing Elijah down when he would steal magnets off the table. Doing the calculations to get to the conclusions and getting the data ready to present, not so much, except for the part where she had to make bar graphs. We had a large tri-fold to present the Hypothesis, procedure, data and conclusions, then a log book that included the information she gathered on magnets, the experiment procedure in pictures, her calculations, and her data in little charts she made on index cards.
We were both exhausted. She actually fell asleep before decorating the cover of her log book, so I drew a magnet on it for her. Oh, and for good measure, Elijah started puking after he woke up from his nap that Sunday afternoon. A stomach bug was going around his school. Somehow it got done. But we learn a lot about time management when we have projects and this time was no different. We always talk about what we can both do better next time.
But along the way, there was also incidents where I fell short in the eyes of others where I think about what others expect of me and I just think, we still just get most things done. It is not usually smooth and rarely without incident, tears even. But there you have it. It drives the point home that there’s no one to be me, but me.
Even when I lack patience with my children, I know there likely isn’t anyone better for them. The multitasking, the sacrifice, it’s on me. If our lives will get easier and run any more smoothly it’s on me and God. That’s why they got their leap pads instead of me getting that new phone I wanted. I figured I’d reward Ariana for her hard work in February and Elijah for his patience even though he doesn’t know what patience is, he exercises a lot of it. And I'd slip in an educational toy that would also serve to quiet them at times. Elijah has a strong desire to learn and I can't always sit down with him. These toys tend to help Ariana learn a bit too, but I've read that games are good for people with Dyslexia. She's managed a 3.0 the last two quarters and I appreciate it. So my motives were mixed. They came off ebay and they’re the Leap pad 1 and not the most recent 2, but that was the only way to get 2 of them. When they got them it didn’t look like it mattered. Now I don’t have a tablet of any kind and my phone is an antequated Blackberry Curve, but that's okay.
But thanks be to God, we plowed through to victory. She got good grades on all of her History presentations though she struggled with the 3rd one. And all I was after as far as the Science project was for Ariana to learn something and get a good grade. To my surprise, the girl's project won first place. I started off February calling it monster month, but my little family attacked it, clawing back even though I am sure my children had no clue what it really meant to me.
Eventually known to only myself between the three of us, March 9th came and went. We were on a little road trip we take every year to see UNC Women's basketball team in a tournament but it usually falls on a different weekend. I acknowleged in my heart and on facebook, the 3rd anniversary of the date my best friend stepped beyond my reach.
In that three years, I have experienced a wide range of things. I was not shielded any more after Thomas passed than I was during his illness. I have experienced what some might call the ugliness of grief. In that time, I have pushed God away and pulled Him close. I have doubted His love. I have turned my head. I have pleaded for help and then wondered how He put up with me. I have wondered if He was even there anymore. That's real. I've experienced unexplainable peace and unbearable fear and doubt. The truth is I have had days of feeling empowered and days I wanted to hide, so that anyone who didn't have the experience to know God for themselves would not be confused by what this Christian was reduced to, but I've come to understand, that while it is a lot for people to handle, it's okay with Him. God's shoulders are infinitely broader than the entire human race combined. He easily handled it all and loved me.
What is real and what people need to know is that despite the ugliness, God never left. On the days I couldn't reach inside myself enough to find that place where everything is possible, He didn't think less of me. What is also real is that I have expressed my anger and frustration and gratitude and admiration and I've seen the beauty of His patience. I've seen how He's still been present at my lowest moments, even if it was in the smallest way. He's been there for me even when I didn't believe, didn't trust, didn't want to listen, was overcome in the sadness and stress just as much as the days I was empowered, believed all, hoped all, long-suffered, had all patience, and counted it all joy. He's there when I'm about to scream in the 3rd hour of homework with one child while the other is climbing up my leg and He's there when I've gotten everything done at home and I'm in the park playing with my children. When my 3 year-old son told me he needed a daddy too and I was lost for words, to the point I shook my fist at Thomas, God was there.
That's why I appreciate Him more than I can accurately say. The love that sent Jesus to the cross...it's always there.