Being a mom to 3 young children has always had its Challenges when it’s come to needing that second income. I’ve always worked in some form or fashion but each job has had its own season. I’ve nannied, worked in church Childcare, done sales from home and most recently I’ve cared for my grandmother. Each one was ideal for it’s own season. This past summer has been nothing short of emotionally exhausting. Watching my grandma pass away was the hardest thing I’ve ever walked through. I’m still walking through it, actually. She had such a special place in my little family’s hearts, that it felt so unnatural for me to “move on.” So when it came time this last week to search for a new job that would replace the exact amount I lost and would allow me to continue being the busy mom I’m called to be, it was no easy task. I put myself out there And I’m proud of myself for that. Being A Caregiver in the evenings means no family time. A full time Nanny during the day means no break when Jenna’s in pre-k 3 hours a day. And I’ve earned that break, at least one day a week! 🙂 I’m sure all moms feel that way at some point and time. I say it but then when all is quiet I will silently sob. I’ve been left with this delima of balancing all that is already on my plate. I began to pray asking God to show me what to do. The same night I’m out to dinner with my girl friends telling them I’ll do Whatever it takes. I’ll work Nights, weekends and nanny all the kids I can get, Somehow I’ll replace that income. My mom texts And it says “I think I’ve come up with a way to replace that income where you don’t have to kill yourself getting there.” My initial reaction was to steer away from allowing my mommy to bail me out. It wasn’t until days later I reread that and understood what God was trying to show me. For this season in time I will be Nina’s baking assistant! It will be fun, flexible and helpful to my mom who has a true gift, but only two hands. I don’t know if this season will be short or long. I don’t know if people may respond negativity to my staying under my mom’s wing another season but I know after the summer we’ve both just walked through together, losing grandma, she needs my presence in her next chapter as much as I need hers. I love what God is doing and the freedom he has to do even more with my flexible schedule.
I have done research on just about every neurological disorder out there in hopes to understand my middle daughter better. We currently have an ADHD combined type, SPD and an anxiety diagnosis. We are also now red flagged at school for dyslexia testing. I am not sold on any one of these diagnoses. Every disorder has a list of symptoms and each list has something in common with the next. It’s very confusing. What could be sensory overload could in fact be a sign of Autism. What was once labeled ADHD could very well be confused with dyslexia. Dyslexia can tend to hint to ADHD. Most kids that have one, also have the other. Or ASD is almost always misdiagnosed when it’s actually SPd. Then there is Anxiety which hints to be any one of these disorders! How can we differ all of these symptoms and possibilities?
I just decided to create my OWN symptom check list and add up how many of them fall into which category. Feel free to guide me.
Extreme sensitivity to Sound and light
Prefers being held or wrapped tight when upset
Academic delay in math and reading
Lack of some Social boundaries
Headache and tummy aches
Lack of understanding sarcasm/jokes
Gifted in creativity (art/gymnastics)
So I admit, I used to be one who didn’t believe in diagnosing children who were just “bad.” Because they must just have “bad” parents who can’t control them. I probably even used the phrase “when I have children I will never allow them to behave that way in public!” Trust me, I would have never dreamed I would be that Mom, with that child. Until it happened. I’d like to say the differences in her behavior started when our daughter turned 3. She become more strong willed and defiant than we remember our first being. I didn’t pay it too much concern because we had just had our third baby who took a lot of the attention, so we boiled it down to jealousy. But soon after the adjustment to the new baby settled into our new normal, she was still showing more and more signs of impulsive, hyperactive behaviors. When she turned 4 we decided to enroll her in pre-k two mornings a week. She loved it and made friends easily. But at each parent teacher conference we would hear the same things “she’s just a little busy and not where her friends are academically but don’t worry mom, she will get there.” Kindergarten wasn’t too much different from that either. It was mid year kinder her pediatrician recommended us to see an occupational therapist and a psychiatrist. No one would ever use the terms ADHD or dyslexia until we met with the psychiatrist. She was able to diagnose Brooke with ADHD within minutes of being in the office, but we completed several forms and evals to recieve this diagnosis. She also recommended the school do further testing for her academic delay. Here we are just moved to a brand new school this month and her new First grade teacher is ON IT! Finally I have a teacher seeing something that I’ve seen for years. ADHD is not an excuse or a cop-out for a child’s poor behavior. We work hard everyday (every hour really!) To find our control. When you have a true diagnosis from a professional, It is very real. It is an extreme game changer for all involved and it will affect your daily activities and emotional state. To the parent of a child suffering from ADHD, You will have good days of laughing and playing outside and you may even think to yourself “wow she/he is playing well with her sibling today.” You will have nights you cry yourself to sleep feeling like a complete failure. Some of these behaviors are so intense, I catch myself responding in the same unsurd way she is and then wonder why we are suddenly in a raging screaming match! We can’t both be out of control. But holy cow I just can’t fathom why her brain processeses the way it does. That’s when I have to really remind myself that SOME (and I say that carefully) of these outbursts cannot be controlled on her own. It’s the hard truth. ADHD is real you guy’s. No excuses are ever made for her poor choices in our home but my discipline method, approach and response HAS TO BE DIFFERENT than with any other child. Why is that so hard for me to remember in the moment? Because I’m human. My brain doesn’t process the same way hers does. My prayer this year as she’s struggling more and more in school and with peers, is that she and I together can find a way to control the daily struggles better. In order for me to do this successfully is accepting that ADHD is very real.
A few Months ago Kevin and I took a step of faith and joined a new home church closer to home. Today we led worship with them for the first time. This morning during our corporate prayer time before service began, both our Pastor and our worship Pastor encouraged us to dream again. As we closed our eyes and lifted our hands to receive what God had for us, I felt the weight of what felt like about a thousand pounds sitting on my chest. I couldn’t explain it. It wasn’t really nerves. It didn’t feel like my normal anxiety or fear creeping in either. It was the Holy Spirit. I think he was pressing on me to dream big. Somewhere deep within me I have dreams and visions that I’ve tucked away for either the sake of my kids or my own insecurities or lack of enough skill or confidence. Our worship pastor spoke over me before worship began and said I was going to have breakthrough in my worship today. I led out for the first time in a long time, on an unfamiliar and somewhat challenging song that I didn’t know I was leading until this morning and honestly I don’t feel like it was all that great technique wise and especially towards the end. Yet all of that aside, I felt such freedom and genuine happiness when worshiping. Jesus doesn’t pay much attention to the details I tend to play out In my own head. Jesus sees my heart for him and that dream in me. He will send shepherds to guide and train me in the skills I lack. But One thing I know for sure today is that worship can no longer be on my back burner, no matter how or when I grow in it, it can’t be my hidden dream anymore. The pressing on me was just too much to deny.
Wow. That’s the only word I have. When The Lord called us out to our new home church Declaration in August this year, we never dreamed he had intended to move our family to a new home and for our girls to attend the very same school our church gathers and prays each week. The list goes on at how many God moments we’ve seen these last few months. He’s given me visions. He’s spoken to my children in dreams and through church lessons. He’s provided me a job that I’ve prayed for for years, that just so happens to cover our new rent to the penny, the very week we were told our current house was being listed to sell. You can’t deny he’s guided us here and planned all of this. We were fearful to step out to a new church months ago. We were worried when we were told our current home was being listed, we are anxious and sad for Our girls to be uprooted mid year. But how can we feel that way still, when we have seen all he has done? I am not afraid, I am not worried, sad or anxious. I am excited! And I am fully anticipating great things!!
I can’t tell you how many countless hours I’ve been pondering this thought of “What if I’m doing it all wrong?” There are so many eggs in one basket piling up all at once this week regarding Jenna medically, that my brain jumped in the “Yay! Maybe we’ll finally find an answer!” mode, again. It’s hard not to label her. I Try not to take captive one out of 12 Doctors diagnostic opinions. I know I analyze her body movements and symptoms but I don’t intend to create more issues. What if she is fine and her tests were wrong? I truly don’t know if I’m failing her and doing her a disservice here or if I’m advocating on her behalf and doing what any dedicated mom would do. There is absolutely no worse feeling. It’s heartbreaking, lonely and exhausting. What if I’m doing it all wrong? I can’t stop wondering this. But I AM a dedicated mom who wants answers for her child’s future. She was diagnosed with a real life threatening issue at a time. So what if I’m supposed to be her advocate and get her all the therapy she can get? What if I AM doing it all right?
I have to ask myself 3 Questions:
1. Am I holding her back?
2. Will these medical decision help her in the long run?
3. Is she happy?
(If you know her at all, you know the answer in a minute is yes! She carries so much joy with her.)
I am 100% convinced that the #1 stress in a special needs families daily life is not the disability itself, but the financial struggle that tags along with it.
My youngest daughter receives SSI (supplemental security income) for several medical issues that includes a g-tube. SSI is strictly income based, NOT just medical disability based. Meaning, you may have a child who is wheelchair bound but you can earn too much money from your or your spouses job to recieve any services. SSI includes full medical coverage, it covers all of my daughters feeding supplies and they deposit money directly into my bank account every month for any of her extra needs. The stickler is you must send in check stubs each month. They keep track of every cent earned. The more income my husband may receive on any given month, the less Income SSI will deposit into our account.
SO HERE IS THE DILEMMA!
If I work a full time job, we make too much money for ANY services. If I work outside of the home, a nurse cares for my child’s special needs and I pay a nanny or daycare to keep my older girls after school. Which leaves me back to square one. Broke.
Now, let’s Say I don’t work. We will remain tight financially and Living on one income is a challenge for a family of 5. You would be surprised however how much you adapt and learn to live small. I would love to continue to be able to have the honor and flexibility of being my child’s full time advocate. Does that make me selfish?
So Here’s where I’m at.
I want to be my child’s full time advocate but I need to earn SOME income. I have been praying for months for God to bring me more consistant opportunities to do both. Today, he answered this for me. I am so relieved and excited to feel like I’m free to do what I’m really called to do in this season, which is to be with my children. But to now also contribute finically and help take a small load off my husbands shoulders.
The financial struggle for the disabled is real.
If you know me well, you know that patience is not my parenting strength, like at all! With two out of three of my children being special needs, my awesomeness is pretty much maxed out around noon each given day. A few days ago my younger two wanted to “help” by doing the dishes. Only, no one asked mommy if they could help, they just “surprised” me. And by surprise, yes I mean they flooded my kitchen counters, floors and themselves. Normally I would have lost my mind. Any new mess or chaos that isn’t within the normal crazy over here makes me completely anxious. But this time, I snapped a photo of them, instead of snapping at them and decided to try all that was within me to use this as a teaching moment. Tonight I found a little extra time after dinner to show the little’s how to properly clean the kitchen. And to my surprise, it was so much fun!! We were singing and laughing, twirling and even getting a little wet on purpose. My kids learned a lesson while having a different kind of fun with mommy. Oh and my kitchen is clean. Maybe not by my typical standards of “clean” but cleaner than it was, none the less. I wish I could say I utilize each daily opportunity to train them, but I don’t. I’m human. I’m constantly asking the Lord to show me how to better respond so they can become all he has called them to be. It’s funny how a flooded kitchen can bring the absolute crazy mom out of me or the patient teacher. It was all about my choice of response in that moment. I hope to keep remembering that this outcome is so much more calming and fun for us all. Who knew? 😉
Last night I placed this leftover birthday cake of my husbands on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Only, it didn’t look quite like this the last time I laid eyes on it. After much begging from the three little’s, I promised the kids a piece of the left over Cake after lunch today. Upon opening the fridge, much to my surprise, this was what I saw. Mystery finger prints covering the top layer of icing. Only lets be real. There was no “real” mystery behind these finger prints. Truly, I knew the culprit without a doubt was my 3 year old daughter, Jenna Reese. I snapped a quick photo to share a laugh with my husband, who was at work. It was then, after getting a second look at this messy cake, that I had a whole new realization about these finger prints. How often do we ask God for something and he asks us to wait? Well for me, it feels like I’m constantly waiting on him and his promises and plans to pan out for me. I’m sure to him, I’m like an impatient child, waiting for my cake. I look at this cake now and see my own finger prints. I see Me, making a mess of his good and perfect plan, trying different or faster routes, because I just can’t seem to wait or trust him. If only my Jenna had just waited for my promise, her slice would have been so much prettier, more icing and much more satisfying to her. How do we wait patiently and really trust that his promise is true? Well for me, I think like a mom. I am a mom of Three, after all. When I promise my child something and they wait like they have been told to do, they get what they were promised. It’s not always when they want it or think they desperately need it, but when I feel they are ready. May we all wait patiently for our promised cake and may it be delicious when it’s our turn to eat!
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”
Psalms 40:1 ESV
Well my goodness. I surely had no idea my latest blog post would be so well received and by so many different types of people. I have a few new followers, It’s been shared on Fb by several friends, I have gotten friend requests, private messages and text messages thanking me for being so raw and real. Wow am I ever so relieved to find out that I’m “normal!” I’m not alone and people care. Thank y’all so much. I will continue to blog and maybe one day I’ll have my own little special needs mom book! You never know! 💛