Thursday, May 31, 2012

Transparency: Tips for helping the overwhelmed

Let me just start right here by saying the last couple months......ok, who's kidding who.....
the last several YEARS have been extraordinarily difficult for me.
In the fall of 2005, my husband decides to change his career from accountant to police officer.
He gets hired in April of 2006 as a police officer after months of working through the extensive hiring process required for this job.
During this time, we find out we're expecting our 5th baby.
He is born in May of 2006 while my husband is going through police academy.
My husband begins work, on the night shift of course, in the early fall of that same year.
Just as I'm beginning another year of homeschooling 3 children with a toddler and a newborn.
Unexpectedly, we find out we're having our 6th baby in the spring of 2007.
During this time, I was still overseeing the children's ministries at our church, running the Wednesday evening programs for children, coordinating the nursery, and playing the organ.
When I found out I was expecting, I didn't know how I was going to be able to manage everything on my plate.
So I resigned all my positions, and we quietly changed churches.
(There's more to that story than just leaving our church because I had to much to do.....more later.)
That's when our 3rd son started throwing up everytime we went to Sunday morning services.
It was a half hour drive one way.
Our previous church was 3 minutes away from our house.
My husband was still working the night shift during all of this.....on the weekends.
That meant that most of the time, I had 6 children, including a newborn who was born in January of 2008, to get ready, fed and driven to church, by myself.
When you work the night shift, you don't magically go to being awake during the daytime hours on your days off.
But I struggled along.
In January of 2009, our 2nd child {who was not yet 9}became very ill. VERY.
She was diagnosed on February 11, 2009 with Type 1 Diabetes.
What I was struggling with before all that was NO.thing to this.
It was like unexpectedly bringing home a brand new baby again.....but with none of the support and encouragement.
I didn't know how I was going to handle all her needs plus the obvious needs two of my other children had with their schooling.
I felt like I was drowning.
In the summer of that same year, I had these two other children tested and the results helped me feel some relief that I wasn't going clinically insane and that I was not a worthless failure of a parent.
My oldest child, our oldest daughter, was diagnosed ADHD-Inattentive type.
My third child, our oldest son, was diagnosed ADHD-Combined Type.
But they also told us he was struggling with moderate anxiety levels too.
Hence the vomiting everytime we got off the highway on our way to church on Sunday mornings.
In the meantime, I can hardly get out of bed.
I'm exhausted and irritable, and I don't feel like myself.
I go for a physical and am referred to an endocrinologist for a nodule on my thyroid.
Within one year's time, we go from no medications or doctors to two children and myself on medications for conditions we can't control.
In the meantime, I'm still struggling to homeschool.
The biggest struggle isn't the's GETTING to the schoolwork.
There are so many distractions in a tiny house packed with children and all their stuff.
Especially when you're constantly monitoring blood sugar numbers and medications, and toddlers, and a baby, and ADHD.
ADHD doesn't just manifest itself in being crazy hyper.
It's also sassy and disorganized and messy and aggressive and defiant.
It gets bored in 30 seconds and looks for something to keep it moving....usually by picking on a younger sibling.
So I say all of this....not to complain.
Not as an invitation to you to come join my pity party.

But to ask you to consider what is going on in your neighbor's life.
Or the life of your adult child.
Or the life of one of your fellow church members.
Or the life of the wife of your youth pastor.
Or the life of your spouse.

Why don't you offer to DO something to help shoulder the load they might have?
If you know a family who is living with Type 1 Diabetes.....
ask them if they have any financial needs?
Can you help them with groceries {or diapers or pull-ups} since the cost of medications and equipment for this condition is astronomical?
Would you consider keeping their child overnight so they can have one or two meals where they don't have to count carbohydrates and think about medications to cover their child's food?
How about giving the child a piece of super cool medical alert jewelry that their parent's can't afford or maybe funding that adorable medications bag that they have to take EVERYWHERE with them that contains medical supplies?
Just to distract from how frightening this disease is to live with?

If you know a family who has ONE child with ADHD......
Consider having that child over for just a couple hours {overnight would be better} to play or do crafts, so his parents can have some quiet time?
Some time without the stress.....the constant correcting......the refereeing between siblings?
Maybe you could take that child under your wing and do something special with them every WEEK?
They rarely get positive interaction.
They make everyone around them so frustrated that they daily have somebody upset with them.
They need special, intense coaching to know how to interact appropriately on a social level.
They always have to have the last word.....which causes constant friction with parents.
Consider asking me if my child could use some fun tutoring?
I'll tell you that they would LOVE it.....and so would I.
Someone who loves my children as much as I do and actually wants to do something meaningful for them and wants to see them grow up and be successful?

And don't just say...."I just don't know how you do it."
Because I don't.
We don't do it.......well.
We are barely surviving.
Pray for us.
Call us every week and offer to take a couple children to the park with your children.
I need a break.
I need to have some time to read a book, create something pretty, find new recipes for our extremely picky ADHD children.....clean my bathroom.
Don't give me a book to read.....I don't have time to read.
Don't pat me on the back, smile, and say, "I just don't know how you do it."
Don't ignore that I'm drowning.
If it looks like it might be crazy, ask.
Ask if I need some help....don't wait for me to ask you.....I don't have time to go to the bathroom....
much less make a phone call.
If you wake up with a entire glorious day spread out in front of you with nothing to do, and you wonder how on earth you can fill the time?
Give me a CALL??
Come clean my children's rooms and organize them for me?
I'm burnt out on doing that every week, and it looking no better the following day.
Offer to clean out my vehicle.
I just can't get to that.
Children already are notorious for leaving everything they own in the vehicle but compound that with 6 children who don't like the way shoes feel on their feet?

Come fold and put away my laundry for me?
There is laundry hanging over us every. single. day.
We have no laundry room.
It stacks up in my bedroom until I can get to that too.

Should I really have to ask for help?
I'm not good at that.
I can cook, and entertain children, and make lovely desserts and crafts and.....
all while drowning.
But I don't generally like to ask for help.
I guess I wasn't raised that way.
It's not an excuse.
I'm just explaining why I do what I do,

Doesn't everyone do better with some encouragement?
Look around you.
Lend a hand.
Be Jesus to someone desperate to know if they are even close to doing the right thing.
Give them hope that everything will turn out all right.
Let them know you are on their side and holding their hand as they go through very dark places.
Don't just pray...though that is the FIRST thing that should be done.
And learn that not only can you BE a blessing to those who are struggling, but you will find joy and encouragement for your own life because you gave.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Hi Brenda, I'm on the ADHD email list and I've followed your blog for awhile. Thank you for your wisdom and honesty. They have been a blessing to me more than once. I love this post and agree wholeheartedly with everything you've said. Thank you and God Bless you and your family! Michelle H.