Archives for posts with tag: holidays

Yesterday my 10 y.o. unleashed a series of ‘acting out’ behaviors.  It started in the morning with a wet bed, went to grumpy and uncooperative during morning chores, and continued downhill with rebellion during schoolwork.  I kept my patience with her intact, and offered for her to accompany me to town for the afternoon on some last-minute errands.  I tried to engage her in casual conversation as we sang songs while driving, and made our stops along the way. 

After 2 hours she seemed ready to start the day over again.  When we got home, I had her help me with some dinner prep which went fine.  Once she rejoined the other family members for late afternoon chores, little miss pit-bull reappeared and the slippery slope continued.  Finally, after all of us enduring her lack of cooperation at meal-time, I sent her to bed early which meant she would miss out on Friday night family fun activities. 

As I was preparing for bed, she got up to go to the bathroom, then came and found me in the laundry room.  With tear-filled eyes she said “Mommy, I think I know what is wrong.”  “What?” I patiently replied.  “I have a broken heart” she continued, breaking down into sobs.  I held her and just breathed with her.  “What gave you a broken heart?” I asked tenderly.  “I don’t know” was her only reply.

Sad to say, she really can’t put words to why her heart is broken.  At 10, she isn’t emotionally aware enough to analyze her plight in life.  She might blame it on little brother picking a fight with her, or big sister being too bossy.  What she can’t say is that she misses her birth mom everyday, and has since she last saw her 7 years ago. This is the consequence of the sin of sex outside of marriage, birthing kids out-of-wedlock, and birth parents not properly caring for their own flesh and blood, so others have to do it for them.  In the end, it is the innocent children born into such a life that are punished for the sins of their fathers and mothers.  Only time, and a huge outpouring of unconditional love by adoptive families, and trusting in the sacrificial love of Christ, can mend that kind of broken heart.

In the meantime, I am clearing my schedule to insure she gets more ‘mom time’ each and every day through the holidays and beyond.  My hubby is out-of-town with my older daughter shopping colleges, so it is single parenting for me during the next four days.  Thankfully, snow is falling so we’ll stay home, and take life really slow.  Broken hearts need a lot of attention and time.

“Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss.”                                 (According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Three of my adopted kids have major loss issues related to their relationship with their birth parents.  They have worked their way through most of the stages of grief:  numbness, pain, bargaining, rage, depression, anxiety, acceptance. We have actively helped them work through these stages, as much as they are able as they pass through different developmental phases.  Sometimes they revisit a stage when they have gained a new coping skill. 

I can relate to their grief and want to help them through it.  Our youngest biological child, Abby Joanne, died 16 years ago on Christmas Day from a sudden illness.  Though I, too, have worked through my grief, it overshadows much of the happy celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I wonder if a parent’s grief over the loss of their child is greater, less than, or equal to that of a child losing their parent?  Well, we’ll never know.  A more answerable question is:  How do we deal with all of this grief that tends to surface during the great celebration times of Thanksgiving and Christmas? 

I don’t have all the answers, but here are some things we have learned to do over the years that help make the holidays special and celebratory, even amidst our grief:

  1. Give thanks to our good and gracious Lord each and every day.
  2. Remember that Christ is the Reason for the Season of Christmas, and the Christ worshipping Pilgrims were the reason for Thanksgiving.
  3. Listen to Christmas or worship music all day long, especially in the afternoon as you tire and tend to be melancholy.
  4. Plan time each day to be alone, by yourself, to just breathe and be.
  5. Try to laugh in the face of adversity.  On a really bad day, put on the old black and white Little Rascals or Ma and Pa Kettle dvd and get a good laugh with your kids.
  6. Think of others who are suffering more than you with charitable giving, inviting them over, or sending personal cards.
  7. As a family, choose and work together on a project for a benevolence ministry;  we make and deliver Christmas shoebox gifts for foster kids.
  8. Select a charity to assist; use the money you would have spent on a gift for your lost loved one; we donate to an orphanage in my daughter’s name.
  9. Slow down your regular schedule to accommodate a few choice activities like caroling, special programs, and meal celebrations with comfort food favorites to create life-long, positive memories.
  10. Start or increase the frequency of regular family devotions, studying God’s Holy word, and sing praises to Him.
  11. Shop for, wrap, and give modest but thoughtful gifts that make the members of your family feel special and loved; a hand-made ornament with the year date grows special over time.
  12. Get more sleep by going to bed earlier, or sleeping-in as many days in the week as possible.
  13. Eat nutritious food  in moderation at regular meals, so you won’t suffer greatly if you overindulge at special meals.
  14. Give lots of hugs and compliments to your family members, and gently remind them you need some, too.
  15. Do the extra work together as a family (cooking, cleaning, decorating) so as not to overburden yourself.
  16. Focus on family time and couple time, limiting social and church obligations.
  17. Take time to talk individually with each of your kids every day, letting them lead the conversation after you get it started
  18. When time permits, gently ask your adopted child to share their thoughts about the holidays they remember with their birth parents; just listen and affirm their feelings without putting your ‘spin’ on it.
  19. Learn that is okay to say ‘no’ to extended family gatherings that involve revisiting your pain, or being with relatives who just don’t ‘get it’ about your adopted kids.

Our kids need us to be mothers and fathers who are ‘there’ for them every day, through good times and bad.  Thankfully, our Heavenly Father is ‘there’ for us every day, especially in good times and bad.  God knows our loss and grieves with us.  His one and only Son died so we could have life.  He wants us to celebrate that life despite our grief. 

Well, the stress of the holidays hit our house full force this morning!  Everyone was cranky, uncooperative, and the worst offender was ME!

Okay, breathe deeply….  The holiday season of Thanksgiving week to New Year’s Day can be overwhelming for even the most well-adjusted adult.  For those of us already stretched to the breaking point, and our kiddos who subconsciously still retain  bad memories from their earliest years, well, we might as well fast forward to Valentine’s Day if we want love to reign.  Seriously, our culture heaps on so many expectations – gifts, parties, relatives we don’t even like, extra food preparation, fancy clothes – the list is endless.  This afternoon while half of my family is gone to town, and the other half is outside playing (thank the Lord for good weather!) I must readjust my attitude, or crimes will put several of us in jail before the turkey is served!

My plan of action from here on out is:

  1. Breathe, to calm myself
  2. Pray, to repent and seek forgiveness
  3. Be thankful, gratitude always improves my attitude
  4. Write, to process it all
  5. Perform simple chores, to vent my frustration
  6. Start baking, to make forward progress
  7. Take time for kid time, to gain perspective
  8. Plan couple time, to heal the wounds inflicted this morning
  9. Lower my expectations, to relieve some of the stress
  10. Get a good night’s sleep, to stay healthy and strong
  11. Wake up tomorrow, as a new day always means a fresh start.

I hate the fact that I am the emotional glue in my family!  But, I need to accept it and seek the Lord for strength during the next 6 weeks.  And, remember, I’ll be on the beach in 3.2 weeks if I don’t go to jail for out-of-control behavior! 

Okay, enough computer time, gotta go do some real work on that ‘simple chore’ list to be ready for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving overload!

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