Sometimes We Need Them More

At the prompting of a dear friend, I'm going to write about a lesson I've recently learned. It seems I've had my thinking a bit backwards...

You see, I have a child who has rocked my world. Unlike some children with different needs, you might not know at first glance which kiddo has rocked my world. In fact, unlike many more children, depending on the day, you might not even know which child after spending an afternoon with us. But believe me, I know.

I know because I often plan my life around this child. Of course, if you've never had such a child, that will sound crazy to you. If you have been blessed with such a child, you know exactly what I mean. From canceling plans at the last minute to letting go of a job, I've done a lot to ensure that I can give me children what they need.

Not long ago, a friend sent me an email that I'll never forget. In it, she reminded me that I'm exactly the mama God had in mind for my three children. As I read her words, I was humbled. She challenged me to view as an honor what I'd once seen as a burden. That was the first shift in my attitude change.

The second change has come over the recent months. If I'm honest, I could tell you that if my difficult child had a different personality, this parenting thing would almost be a breeze. Though I've truly never wished for life without this child, I have often desired that my child had a more flexible and easygoing personality. That dream is typically followed with thinking of all I could do if that child was just, well...easier. Life would likely be simpler and dare I say more enjoyable. And yet, I've come to realize that my life wouldn't be better. In fact, it would be worse. This child has made me who I am. This child has made me more fully understand grace. This child has made me know what it's like to empty myself until I feel there is nothing more to give. This child has made me realize that there is always something more to give. There's always something more to give because of grace.

If it weren't for grace, I don't think most of us would still be taking care of our children. Surely a parent's love is a decent example of grace. These children come to us unable to do anything for us. If anything, they do nothing but disrupt our lives and ignore our needs and yet we love them. We love them so deeply that we would die for them without a second thought. Remind you of anything?

I believe parenting in general teaches us much of God's love. Parenting my challenging child has taught me even more. It didn't take much to help me to understand that my child needs me. Of course a child needs someone who won't give up on him or her. It blessed me tremendously to think of the fact that maybe God had looked around and decided that I could do it. I could parent the kiddo that many others might give up on. Yes, that was humbling.

Yet, even more humbling than being chosen to parent a challenging kiddo (and really, aren't they all somewhat challenging?) was the realization that as much as this child needs me, I need this child. I shudder to think of the person I might be if I hadn't had this child. I'd be full of pride, not grace. Grace is so much better.

One of the most important lessons I've learned in my life is that the right thing is hardly ever the easy thing. Being the mama to a challenging child is never the easy thing, yet I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's the right thing. I know I'm better for it and it's my prayer that my child is as well.


Cute Bed Head

Actually, the pictures don't do this mane justice. Her bed head was impressive. I wish I looked so stinking cute when my hair is a mess. Love, love, love this girl. I plan on soaking up every bit of the next year and a half until she goes to kindergarten!


The Beast

Last year we said goodbye to our dog. Buck was the sweetest dog. In fact, he even managed to win over a few self-proclaimed dog haters. Well, maybe "win them over" is a stretch, but they did both tolerate and trust him.

Saying goodbye to him was hard. I mean hard. As much as I missed him, my husband and oldest daughter missed him more. Eventually, we stopped expecting to see him when we looked at his favorite spots on the floor, and I grew used to actually having to use a broom under the table.

Yet, even though we missed our dog, we remained firm about not getting a new dog for at least two years. We didn't even last a year.

One day my husband sent me an email about two Boxer-mix dogs who needed a home. The pics were cute, but no way were we getting two dogs!

A couple of weeks later, he sent the email again. The dogs still needed a home. My attitude had changed. I said I thought maybe we were supposed to take them. He said he didn't want two dogs.

While we were visiting my mom in Colorado, Tony got a call from the dogs' owners saying they were willing to split the two dogs up to different homes. That's when Tony got serious about considering a dog.

A few days later he went to "meet" Bear. I think we both knew that by "meet" he meant "go take one look and declare him mine." And that's what happened.

After the kids were in bed, he brought Bear home for me to meet. Despite the fact that he peed on me, I agreed to make him ours. We made arrangements for him to stay with Tony's friend who took the other dog. Tony would pick Bear up on Christmas Eve after the kids were in bed.

We planned for the kids to meet him Christmas morning. Of course, we expected the sun to be up. The sun is definitely not up at 2:30 in the morning, but that's when the girls met their new dog. Ann, 7, sat up with a goofy grin on her face. I wish I had a picture, but who thinks to grab a camera after being awoken at 2:30 a.m? Not me. Chris had the decency to wait until 5:30 Christmas morning to be coherent enough to realize there was a dog in the house. That's when I finally got video of the kids and their new dog!

Bear has adjusted quite well. He continues to prove my theory that our house is just happier with a dog in it. Dirtier, but much happier. I'd say the dirt and the dog hair is a small price to pay for the memories. (Well, most days anyways.)

So, I guess 2011 was the year of the dog for us. A sweet, sad and surprising year of dogs.

If my daughter had her way, 2012 would be the year of another dog or cat. Just today she told me to put a small live dog on the shopping list. I looked at her and told her that children who own both a dog and a cat do NOT get to request more pets. I don't yet know what 2012 will bring, but I'm certain it will not be our year of the dog, cat, hamster, guinea pig or anything other living thing!


If They Twist my Arm, I'll Post a Picture

Alright, alright. I'll do it!

They've hinted and hinted some more. They've called, emailed and sent me texts. So, to my two biggest blog readers, this is for you!

I took this Christmas morning. It wasn't the first time the children had been downstairs. Oh no, they had first ventured down for a peak at 2 a.m. We didn't cave until 5:30 when we finally decided we might as well join them (and brew a big pot of coffee)!

Of course, you probably notice something new in that picture. Bear (formerly known as Bull) was our big Christmas surprise for the kids. Sure, we said we wouldn't get a dog for a couple more years, but it's been nine months since we had to put Buck down and we were ready for the fun a dog brings to a house. And let's face it, there's never a good time for the messes, shedding and smell that a dog brings. If I was going to wait until I was ready for that, well we'd never have a dog!

Mom and Little Brother, you're welcome. Wait, this wasn't enough? Well, I suppose it was just a bit of a tease. I'll post more soon.

Happy New Year!