Category Archives: Family

Waiting For SuperMom…

I’ve been waiting for the time to be right, hoping that I would know with unequivocal clarity.  Hoping that I would make it,  to be the best mom ever for my babes.  To be the Supermom that they deserve.   At the end of each day I sit, hoping that the next one will be better.  I  mistakes constantly. I pray that my children are strong enough not to be scarred by me, since I know that there is no way around them being hurt.  I’m just not perfect.
I fold laundry at 2am, I do dished a 4am ever so quietly, hoping not to wake the locals.   Then I sleep till 10am because I pushed too hard  and my body isn’t what it used to be.  So I feed them whatever I can get my hands on, and don’t make dinner until the last minute so the kitchen is a mess. Because I have to make everything from scratch. We have  various food allergies and housing upheaval. I have fibromyalgia, a herniated disk, a para-esophageal hernia that is going to require major surgery in a few weeks… A whole pot of crazy going on.

I spend my days trying to school them.  I love these days, but they don’t feel like enough for them, around my health and other needs. Each and every day I wonder if school would be better.   Not that I feel like a failure, but the thought is just always there. I am very aware that there are ways that school would NOT be successful, but then I worry about my inability to hold to structure and how it is affecting them.
My children are brilliant, and inspiring! Says-every-mom-ever. And I mean it!  They amaze me even more than they concern me. We are in a season of complete upheaval with construction on our home, changing our family budget, and getting health stuff taken care of.
One big change for our family happened about a month ago when we did send one of the babes back to school.  Over December we thought and prayed a lot about it.  It basically came down to this. Lucas needs clear structure and routine.  I am not very successful at either.  Lucas needs a full evaluation for insurance to pay for his therapy needs for Asperger Syndrome.  Insurance does not cover the evaluation which is anywhere between $2500 and $5000.  In public school he can be evaluated for free and provided the structure and support he needs.  Sounds like the perfect answer!!
It was still hard. So, so hard.  Lucas is the one I always keep with me. Mostly because he’s so much for other people to handle.  So dropping him off for others to care was overwhelming.  The school staff spent several hours over  2 weeks with us, in preparation for bringing Lucas in. They were wonderful.  We went over his need for support in the bathroom, and talked about his Sensory Processing Disorder. Because of his SPD, he is likely to be in pullups until he is 10-12.  The created a special plan and routine for him, based on what we suggested, with supervised bathroom visits and help with accidents. Their attention to detail for his needs was such a relief.  In his 504 plan for special needs, they also allowed him to have his chew necklace, wiggle seat and fidget toys.
Lucas has been there for a month now, and he is thriving. For the first time!  I can say he is thriving!! We still pick him up every Tuesday and take him to his OT appointments and he is in the middle of the evaluation process. In spite of my fears, it was absolutely what he needed.
Things come up with each of our children where we have to re-evaluate what we do.   We have to look at their needs. We put them above ours, and even above our ideals. We shift those ideals, as each process with our children changes the shape of our parenting; changes the priorities we thought we knew were “utmost” ten years ago.

I absolutely, despise the question “How do you do it all?”  Actually, even more than I despise the movie. The question is lame. No one really wants an answer. What they really mean is that you just have too much, way more than they would ever want. And it implies that they really have a clear preference for their own life.  Well, touche.  I prefer mine.
The truth is that NONE of  us do it all.  We choose in the moment, we grow with their needs. We stretch the muscle of our heart, the tissues of our brains… and they both ache and quake through the process.  We don’t do it all. Ever.  No one does.  Wed on’t have to.  We just have to do today.

I caught myself waiting again.  Waiting for something that will never happen. Something that doesn’t exist.  There is no Supermom.  I will never be her, and neither will you.  We have no cape and no need for one.  Who we are is who we are meant to be, and it is what our children need.   I mean, Edna said it and I agree.

Join me in putting the cape envy away.  Let’s put down our list of expectation. Of what we would look like if we were Supermoms.

The next few months look like climbing Mount Everest to me, and I don’t know how to do it. I just know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this sweet family of mine will make it to the other side… regardless of my lack of cape.

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Over Sensed- My Experience and Opinion on Diagnosing SPDs (Sensory Processing Disorders)

There is a lot of confusion out there about Sensory Processing or Sensory Integration Disorders. It seems that every child has it, if they don’t sit still and act perfectly. If they get overstimulated and have meltdowns, it’s because they clearly have a disorder. Right?

Ok, stop. Don’t get your hopes too high about the post. The bottom line is that I am going to share my experience and opinion.  And I’m totally aware that the latter may be flawed and convoluted, but it is my opinion and thoughts as of right now.

In a culture has become increasingly fast pasted and overstimulating I don’t know one person who doesn’t get overstimulated and thus overwhelmed.  It’s become the new “American Way”.   In trying to make life bigger and better we’ve made it louder, brighter to an extreme that is affecting us all. Food is bigger, kids shows are CRAZY, entertainment consumes more of our time than it ever has before.  Yeah. We’re all living the life, alright.

Everyone has experiences like this at some point being overstimulated. Some more than others.  So we have a range.  We have the average American, who, based on their lifestyle choices, is going to experience Sensory Overload in varying levels of frequency.  As many of you know, I dream of going off the grid to minimize my frequency of this, but don’t see it happening for many years.  But you do it, I do it, your next door neighbor does, too.

Just because your child does not behave perfectly, does not mean they have a disorder or that something is wrong.  You don’t have to panic about this. It means they are a child.  Just because we as adults can relate to the panic, frustration and feeling of being overwhelmed that comes with an SPD, doesn’t mean that we have one. You’ll be ok. Promise. I feel like if we look around and pay attention, we will find that we as a country are experiencing Sensory OVERLOAD.  And we ourselves are the disorder. Because out lifestyles are…out of order.

So I do agree with those who  have said it doesn’t always mean you need a label.  But sometimes, you so. And when you do, it sucks.

No matter what you do, you get judgement coming from both ends. You get those who look at you like you are a mess and not normal. They get frustrated by the inconvenience of your needs because they’re different. They don’t know how to handle  you. Then the next day you’ll run into the friend who thinks that all of it is a crock.  All of it is just labeling and making excuses for varying levels of what is really normal.   You’re a wimp, or a bad mom for accepting the diagnosis. You’re selfish for allowing your child to be labeled. You just want to use it as an excuse to make you look better, or to get pity. But your kid is fine, and you’re the problem.

I have actually experienced this. I have people who were a pretty regular part of my life a few years ago who now don’t even communicate with my family anymore.  Because of the two reasons above. Either it’s just too hard to deal with the issues when they don’t know how. Or it’s just too shameful that I dare to admit my child has them.

But let me explain something that you may not have known.  I don’t just speak from experience as a mom. I speak from experience as a child.

I always had a hard time listening, and dealt with so much frustration as a child and even more as a teen.  Because, you know, as a teen everyone assumed that it was because I was CHOOSING not to listen, right?  Darn rebel.  You would think that it may have tipped someone off that as a preschooler I could only sing harmony to any song.  In chorus at 10 years old, I struggled to start learning to hear the melody of a tune, because all I heard was the abstract tones of the harmony.  To this day, I almost always sing harmony. To everything.
When I started college at 17, I had my first real classroom experiences and the frustration was over the top. I quickly became fed up and went to get my ears checked by a specialist.   I was diagnosed with CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) a way before the  diagnosis of ADHD, ADD, Autism and Aspergers were so common.
Let me explain it for you the best I can. Some people have a neurological disorder where they have loss of depth perception visually, right? They bump into things, can’t tell how far away something is. Well, I have the auditory version. I often can’t distinguish sounds from one another. They blend together and I can’t tell which are close and which are far. When the number of sounds get to a certain number, or volume, my ears short out. That’s what I call it, anyway.  Take your hands and cover your ears tight. Now take them off and on rapidly.  That’s what it feels/sounds like. Not fun.
I often can’t find my cell phone because I can’t tell which direction the ringing is coming from.  I’ve been known to post on Facebook asking someone to call me repeatedly until I answer. Then I stand in the middle of my house trying to figure out the direction the ring is coming from, sometimes needing as many as 10 calls. So glad I have good friends who helped me out with that! As soon as my kids were old enough, I taught them to find my phone for me.  I’m not even kidding.  That was SUCH a relief!

That’s why I recognized that Lucas’ issue went beyond just “being a little slower”.  It was the frustration and signs of being in pain and confused.  And, as anyone who has read me knows, the poop.  So Lucas has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and a Vestibular Processing Disorder. He craves and makes extra sounds, because the vibrations the sound make in his head soothe him.  When he is frustrated, little repetitive noises are one of his main sources of comfort. Sometimes they are NOT so little, as he was doing Chewbaca calls in a perfect repetitive rhythm for 2 hours yesterday morning before I could redirect him to making a quiet lip-pursing noise.  That’s one of my lifesavers of balancing my auditory needs with his  sensory/vibration needs. It’s a great trick learned from a friend who has an older son with Aspergers.  Let them make a noise, but  help redirect them to one that you can agree works for both of you.

So where am I going with this?  Oh, right. Sharing this video and rambling a bit first. That was the plan.

This is a phenomenal example of what it can feel like.   But be aware that MOST people wherever you range from being busy and experiencing Sensory Overload to those who have a diagnosis of Sensory Integration or Processing Disorder.  We could all use to think through what our nervous systems need…

And I have no clever ending for this post. But thankfully, I have the video to share. The End.

This video was shared by a friend on Facebook and got my brain turning, so that’s why I wrote this rambling for your reading pleasure.  The source was HERE on NPR.  It’s a great read. Check it out.
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The Boy and His Poop

This morning I took the crew on a little adventure down the street at the park.  With jars in hand, they were each commissioned to observe nature and find specimens for us to discuss. In particular, insects were high on the list of priority.   Gleefully, the bandits scattered through the park in search of the perfect items to present to each other when we regrouped.
I took in a deep breath to ground myself with the amazing nature around me and feel the wind…what peace. THIS is what homeschool is about.  Bliss.

A few minutes later, the scene changed.  All of the children were clustered around something. And as usual, the something had to do with Lucas.   Three voices, upset and anxious telling him to stop, that’s gross.  Lucas’ in his high-pitched tone of agitation that I’ve come to know so well, screeching over and over frantically, “I’m catching flies. I’m catching flies.”    As I walk towards them to diffuse the drama, I’m thinking, “What’s the big deal with flies?”
Well, the big deal was that he, in his own clever way, found a fail proof way of catching flies.   Shoving dog poop from a careless neighbor into his jar.  And I take a deep breath.  And I close my eyes. Because I can’t attack this kid, even if the last 5 years of my life has revolved around him and poop.
If you’ve read before, you know that poop is not a new issue with Lucas. (there’s a little poop HERE and then a lot of potty talk HERE) Both are from the same week, when he was 3 1/2 and I was determined to be done with his poop issues.  Looking back it kills me.  First, because I now know so much more about this sweet boy and what he needs. Second, because I neglected to come back and share with you the results of the poop wars. For three years. Yeah.
To be honest, I think a part of me doesn’t want to put it in writing.  It makes it more real, so concrete, this computer screen of mine.   For me, it’s putting it in writing that makes things so final. Makes them more true somehow. I’ve hinted about it, I’ve talked about it. I’ve somewhat posted Facebook statuses and links about it.  But, now I write. It’s time.

Lucas is now 6 years old. And he is still in pullups. Actually, he’s growing  out of them and I’m having to look for xsmall depends. WHAT, you say?!?!?!  So much has happened. GI specialist, blood tests, pow wows with preschool and kindergarten staff…. Yes, I sent him to Preschool and K because he needs structure desperately.   And the reason is that Lucas has a Vestibular Sensory Processing Disorder. His nervous system does not tell him how or when to poop without help.    He also has what commonly comes alongside  SPD.  Lucas has Asperger Syndrome.
I am very thankful that he is high functioning. There are pros and cons to that, as well, since many people just see him as a badly behaving child who lacks discipline.  We had an email from a teacher last  year who was upset at how disrespectful he was to her. He just REFUSED to make eye contact with her when she was speaking to him.  Heck, I’m happy if he makes eye contact with ME!! We’ve been working on eye contact since he was a baby!
He can go for hours looking like a completely normal child, and I start thinking maybe they’re wrong.  Then something sets him off. The squeals start, the repetitive motions….It’s there.
As far as the poop, we’ve been told that at his level some children aren’t fully self-sufficient even until 12 years old.  So, we’ve dropped it.  Taking the stress of that out of my day was huge, even if it meant surrendering myself to many more years of butt wiping.  I’ll be sharing more about it, but I wanted a starting point. I needed to get it out there to move on.
And since, the poop has been such a part of this walk, I figured I’d start there, and let it all be known.

We had to leave the park to clean Lucas up. He was devastated because he was certain that his fly trap would be a great success. I’m sure he’s right.  And there comes another facet of having a different level of need in your home.  The disappointment of 3 other children who wanted to stay and play at the park. It’s a unique juggling act that many mothers better than I am have mastered. I’m just catching the balls as they come and throwing them back when I can, hoping that I’m doing the right thing for these little people in the process.

Lucas is a lover, a cuddler, the one who strokes your hair when your head is down.  He comes with a deep insight that’s unexpected.  He’s incredibly intelligent and  I get daily glimpses of what he will be as a man someday.  I look forward to that, because the day-to-day now is temporary.  Every time I clean his mess, I pray. Not a prayer for rescue or healing.  I pray a prayer of thankfulness that my son is happy and healthy.  I remember what my mother always said, “Well, thank god for  good plumbing and a healthy digestive system!”  I take a moment to consider the mothers who have children unable to play, speak, move.  I have nothing, NOTHING to complain about.  My son is perfect, just how he is.

I’m ready to start sharing more, and I think that I will now. Now that I’ve cleared the air… on the poop.

Lucas, aka Ludini, with his fellow escape artist and favorite hen, Copperfield.

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The Toy Free Summer Challenge- How to Jumpstart Imagination

At the moment it’s a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in Midtown Atlanta.  The windows are open and the fans are spinning with the sweet, peaceful drone that’s hypnotized me since I was a child.  To my left is a lovely iced coffee with stevia and coconut cream that Selah (9) made for me after she  folded a load of laundry.  The children’s bedroom is basically immaculate.  The TV is off and there is no one asking for batteries or chargers or to talk on the phone. In front of me are  my four children, a 4th grader, 2nd grader, kindergartener and 3 year old, all playing contentedly with a pile of construction paper and one pair of scissors. Yes, I mean together. Yes, I mean without fighting. No, they don’t have anything battery operated involved, especially with letters like DS, Xbox, Wii, I(enter your choice of pad, phone, touch)… It’s a moment of bliss. Something to be documented.  And it’s all because we made a commitment together as a family yesterday. We’re spending the summer without toys!!

Wait, let me explain,
Last week I had a moment where I lost my cool with the kids and threatened to take all of their toys away and give them to goodwill.  I say threatened because it was one of the few times that I really didn’t expect to go through with it all the way.  The poor crew was already in one room with 2 sets of bunks and hardly any toys…. Anyway, the story… Poor Selah and Jake asked me to go ahead and do it!  Now, if I were assuming adult motivations in my children, which we all often do, I would have gotten more angry. I would have yelled at them to not talk back, treated them poorly for the defiance they were clearly showing. Instead, I looked in their eyes and didn’t assume it was just defiance. Instead I asked them why they would say that and if it’s really how they feel.  To my surprise they were as serious as I was! They weren’t trying to trap me or call my bluff. They both agreed they would rather go without toys than have the constant stress and pressure of picking them up. So we sat down and talked about what that would mean for all of us. Lucas got involved. They all got excited… The idea of  the Toy Free Summer Challenge was born.
Also, we have been in a rut, so to speak, and I know other families get in them, too.  They play the same thing, they do the same thing and they fight over the same thing.  For our family, it’s always creative, but for yours it may not be. I’ve had friend ask me how I get my kids to play together. I’ll share some other tips on that later.  But for a lot of people, joining in the Toy Free Summer Challenge could really help jump start imaginations that have been going dormant amid a world of Ipad, Itouch… well, key word being I, I, I…right?  Let’s help them snap out of it!!  Get your kids creating!!

The goal is to get rid of anything that  creates mess, causes solidarity, destroys any community in your family and wreaks general  havoc in the house, so we can enjoy our moments better. Here are the rules for our family. Yours may be different.

GET RID OF:

  1. Things that are messy and doesn’t get put away on a regular basis.
  2. Anything that causes strife and gets fought over instead of shared and played with together.
  3. Things that don’t get played with, or we are tired of, but still takes up space.
  4. Anything that drives someone else in the family nuts.
  5. Anything that steals our peace, space or happy moments. (by fighting, excluding, hoarding…)
  6. Anything that makes noise, causes hyper-focus and ignoring of parents and/or siblings
  7. Extra blankets, cuddlies, stuffed animals, lovies… things that we can live without but cause clutter.
  8. Movies, handheld games, zone-out material other than books

Keep: 

  1. Games that require multiple players
  2. Smiles
  3. Things that require creativity, instead of direct it
  4. Hugs
  5. Things that we work with together on a regular basis without conflict.
  6. EACH OTHER
  7. Smiles
  8. Things that have been consistently cared for and put away. (legos!)

So, it’s a work in progress, as anything like this is, but in this case it is the brainchild of a little boy and girl.  We’ll give them some time to perfect the process, shall we?

Feel free to do your own version of the Toy Free Summer Challenge and tell us about it!!  We’re so excited about creating this concept for a stress-free summer outside the box, by boxing things up!!!

Clear it out and find the space to move and breath, together…

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Filed under Candid Kid-versations, Family, Purging Clutter, Uncategorized

Husband Hijack and Daughter Stalled-Contest to Come

I’ve failed you all!  I didn’t post the contest last night for two reasons.



1. My dear loving husband did our taxes and submitted them yesterday. YAY!!! Sadly, we have only one laptop and it was commandeered for the grunt work the entire evening well into the night.

 

2. My usually wonderful and mature 9 year old went to bed early for the day’s behavior and I had promised her she c0uld help with the post and the photos because she was instrumental in making the prize set. So I agreed to wait for her.  Sounds confusing, I know.  These kids NEED their sleep.

As you can see. It’s serious…

Please bear with me. The post WILL be out late tonight. I have to honor my promise to the mini-perfectionist, who does not seem to think it is “ready” to be revealed. And she’s the designer.

Before midnight at least….  Look for it by tomorrow morning. Today is full of schooling. 😉

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If My Life Came With An Owner’s Manual…

It would look like this.

And it would most certainly have, hidden somewhere between it’s well worn pages, one of these.

I used to be really organized, always on time, always wore makeup…That was soooo 2 kids ago.  I’ve had lots of ups and downs, typically congruent with pregnancy, but I was doing well for awhile.
Last year something unexpected happened. I got sick, and I re-injured my back. Not going to go into detail on that, other than to say that my usual ability to hold things together disappeared.  I was incapable of working, cooking, cleaning, teaching… of being me.  Over and over, I wished that I had followed through and made a User’s Manual for our house so that people COULD help. So that if I was in a car accident or otherwise unavailable all of the people who depend on me wouldn’t be completely lost.
Over the last two months I’m finally feeling like myself again and I think it’s time to do it. I’m making an owner’s manual for my life and my family.  I know many people call it a Home Management Binder, a Family Organization Binder.  I googled all of these and didn’t find anything that quite fit my style. So last week I decided that for the beginning of my new year I would make my own. And then I decided that I’d share them, which I’ve never done before. Maybe someone else out there is looking for something like mine and they can’t find it. And maybe they don’t enjoy playing around in Excel as much as I do… Yes, I’m that strange.

So I invite you over the next few weeks to get organized with me, starting today..

This is my binder.  I really wanted to buy a cute one, but sadly they are only available in 1 inch.  I thought about it. I really did. But I can’t see how all 6 of us and our daily “Dos” are  going to fit in ONE inch.  So, I bought this two inch in the prettiest color I could find, with a sad sigh.

 I bought one of those page turners so that it wouldn’t get as messy.  The idea is to NOT add more messy to life, right? You can’t tell from the photo but the colored tabs are my Monthly tabs.

 In each month I have a Monthly calendar and a weekly agenda.  Both I designed myself and are available for download.   I found some great ones online, but NONE of them were 2 page.  Also I must have cuteness in my life, like birds and trees. Take a look!

There’s just no way I can fit a whole month on one page, so here ya go.
MonthlyAgendaMomstinct

For my weekly sheet, I wanted something that gave me space to write scheduled items, but I needed it to be flexible. I also wanted a place to put my menu plan, without having to waste another sheet. Once again, it didn’t exist. So, introducing…
WeeklyAgendaMomstinct
Keep in mind that this is my first attempt at  sharing a free printable.  If you use them, please comment and tell me what you think! PLEASE. I really want some feedback!

After my monthly tabs, I have a simple tab sheet for each family member.

For Travis he can have his own To Do sheet and a scribble sheet for things he doesn’t want to forget.  (Those printables will be available tomorrow, so come back for them!!) For the kids, I have their weekly school agendas, chores, and behavior chart (that’s another post coming, too!). For the younger two, they have a Potty Chart that we put stickers on every time they go.  Nice. I know.  Sadly, it’s a big issue in our house.  Read these if you’re new to the blog and want a laugh at my expense. 😉

Urine In Contacts= Not a Good Substitute for Saline
Today- A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity and The Quest For A Shower
Extreme Potty Training Makeover
#8 Is it Possible That I’m Thankful for Food Allergies

Last, I bought pocket files for my binder, and sticky tabs to attach to them.  Why in the world has no one made these yet? Here’s a shot of my pocket tabs. First one holds the stickers for Lucas and Irie to use on their potty charts.

Now it seemed like every blog post I found on making one of these said something like “decide what tabs you want, and label them.”  Ok, I need a little more than that and it took me several tries to get it right. So, I will say decide what tabs you want, but here are mine as an example, in this order (after the month tabs and the people tabs).  I chose the order that I thought I would use most often.

Stickers/Stamps– So I can find them, because we use them often.
School– Homeschool papers, notes from classes, events fliers, etc.
Routines– Our Morning, School, Evening, Weekly routines typed up with directions/addresses and contact info where necessary.  For accountability and for babysitters, who happen to LOVE this.
Meals- Recipes I want to try, the rare coupon that we’re not allergic to,  What’s in the freezer (again for babysitters, when I’m on call I never know when I’ll have to run to the hospital!)
Home/Construction–  Notes on progress, ideas, budget, receipts, photos of designs and such… Someday this file will be much lighter…
Doula/CBE– Notes for the new program I’m putting together, receipts, contact info, paperwork to be filed
Gluten Free Rebel– All of the same type of stuff for my baking/cooking business HERE
4GiggleQuacks– My kids crazy idea in the works… HERE
Bills- I just like to leave this toward the end… But the bills go here and I have an amazing husband who balances them for me so this is HIS tab.
Receipts- For any others that need to be kept around, returns that need to be made, extended waranty…
Medical– I really don’t like this tab.  But it gets a good bit of use around here.  Sometimes it’s notes from the doctor, or magazine clippings to research.
Miscellaneous- Because there’s always something.

 So now it’s your turn. What tabs would you need? What’s missing?

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see what I’ve got for you to add to your User’s Guide for Life!

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Filed under Family, homeschooling, Motherhood, Purging Clutter, Uncategorized

Retreat, Before You Move Forward

retreat- {ree treet}
vb 1. to treat  again
 2. to withdraw or retire in the face of or from action with an enemy, either due to defeat or in order to adopt a more favourable position.
3. an asylum, as for the insane.
4. a retirement or a period of retirement for religious exercises and meditation.

Many of us seek retreat.  An escape, an out, a pause or intermission on the regular ticking of the clock as our days march on ahead, dragging us with them.  Whether it’s a women’s retreat, a couple’s retreat, a solo retreat.    Looking on dictionary.com these are a few of  the definitions offered for the word retreat, and in my 3 days away from my family and home, I found all of them to be true.

Most of the responses to my plans for a retreat seemed based on an assumption of the first definition. That I owed it to myself and needed the escape.  It’s true that we need to keep balance, and we have to care for ourselves to care for others. But let us get something straight.
We don’t deserve time off.
Never in history were mothers promised  a break. Nowhere is it written  that mothers we are entitled to a full nights sleep . It’s not that we can’t have them and that they can’t be needed or wonderful.  But we are not owed them and we can endure the cadence of our days without them.   It’s the mindset that we deserve them and are owed anything that is damaging, not the taking them when the opportunity arises.

But yes, I was being treated, for my birthday to 3 very quiet days away.  Which is so not me. Completely unheard of… ((as half my readers snicker at the idea of ME being silent for more than 5 minutes…)
It started a few years ago, in a fit of tears and exhaustion.  With a 5, 3 and 1 year old and suffering from 24/7 nausea with my 4th, one day I told my husband I needed a break.  My birthday was a few months away and he valiantly offered that I should get a few friends and go have a girls weekend like other moms seem to do.  The offer threw me off guard.  I’m not the kind of woman that goes to girls night out on the town, not to mention weekends away. I’d never done anything like that!!   It sounded like the perfect answer, logically… except that I couldn’t do it.  So then I shocked my poor husband right back.  My immediate response was No! That isn’t it at all!  I knew there was something deeper that I needed. I longed for seclusion, silence and peace; time alone to reconnect with the beauty in life, and my Maker.  I know… it surprised me, too.

I decided that I wanted to go on a silent retreat. I googled and found the nearest options to Atlanta, but knew that it wasn’t time. Leaving my babes was too much work. So for the past 3+ years I have been lying in wait until the time was right for me to fall back.  Last year I tried. I knew that there was a women’s silent retreat right around my birthday and hoped to go. As the time grew closer I knew it wouldn’t work.  Eden wasn’t sleeping through the night (yes, almost 2 years old then) and was still nursing.   She just wasn’t ready for 3 nights away from me not to mention that Lucas was still not fully potty trained.  I would have spent the whole time nerve wracked over giving my dear husband such a long coldhearted dose of my reality.
This year when the new retreat calendar went up, the December retreat actually started ON my birthday. I knew it was my time. So I reserved my spot and blocked off my calendar.  I was going to be alone and silent.

It was a wickedly crazy day, full of ironic twists of fate that made it the most un-birthday-like day possible.  All four of my children behaved like rotten, wild hyenas.   They trashed my house and I didn’t even get time for breakfast, which is traditionally served to me in bed on my birthday but somehow was forgotten.   They wailed and moaned all morning as the poor heating and air guys tried to work around the drama to install the new HVAC.  We locked my keys in the house and I missed my own birthday lunch with my mom.   It went on and on, baffling me at every step. Craziest. Day. Ever.
When I finally arrived at the retreat house I was shaking from low blood sugar and traumatized by the 1+ hour in suburbian traffic that my  intown sensibilities were completely unaccustomed to. This is where definition #3 above comes in.  I was really feeling ready to be admitted for observation…sedation even sounded nice.

But I knew the truth.  I knew that I was facing an attack on my time and my spirit.  When I looked back over my day I was amazed that I even made it there. And I knew that definition #2 was a reality and very much played out in my life that day.  There I sat, with a glass of wine in my hand trying to relax; retreating from the fray, certainly ready to adopt a more favorable position.

That first night was rough. I had to really adjust and slough off some tension to be able to dig into myself and accept the peace and quiet.  I was so wired that I couldn’t sleep so I read the entire book, Letters To Malcolm by C. S. Lewis before the sun rose.


I spent the next three days in peace, slumber, beauty, reading, nature, prayer, strength, meditation, sunlight, confession, quiet, solitude ,tears, awe, dancing, pain, laughter, love, and growth…most definitely growth.  The nuns who lead the retreat were amazing and in those few days they impacted me as much as any other spiritual mentor I’ve had my entire life.  Amazing women.


So, in the end my retreat was what it should be, And that would be definition #4. It brought me back to my beginning.  A retirement.  An exercising of the spiritual muscles that atrophied from lack of use. To where He meets me;  where He waits, patiently, to give all good things.  The retreat gave me the chance to chose again. To chose my family and  my life.  My man and my children. My home and my God. All that he has for me, all of the unknown.

All photos in this post were taken by me while on retreat. Here is a slideshow with a few more.  If you are looking for a silent retreat, I absolutely recommend  Ignatius House in Atlanta.

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