My Instagram and Facebook feed are full of smiling pictures of 4 girls.
We aren't always smiling.
We aren't always okay. This life we live is hard. I do a lot of things wrong.
I need a lot of grace from my husband, from my girls, from my friends, and from my Savior.
The difficulties and the mistakes are useful in so many ways apart from the realization of my need for grace (and to give grace). They are growing me in so many ways. One day time will permit me to share some of those ways.
As this new year starts, I want to remember what I am doing right. Not as a way to pat myself on the back but as a visual reminder that I can come back to when I am not having an Instagramable/ Facebookable (yes, those may or may not be real words)
So I have created this list of things that I am doing right as a parent:
I have said it aloud and said it often to my kids who are adopted:
"You have two families. You will always have two.
You will always have two countries: Ukraine and the United States.
You will always have two moms and two dads. You will always have 1 brother and 9 sisters."
A weekly family meeting in which we discuss life events over dessert. It always ends with each child getting being asked, "Do you have any questions? Are you okay with everyone around the table? Do you have any concerns? Do you need anything?"
Kissing everyone good night before I go to bed even if it is hours after they have fallen asleep. A few times someone has woken up or is still awake. They see me tuck in and kiss their siblings and then do the same to them. See love expressed to others so you can do the same.
Break down chores so you do a few things each day. But you don't get paid for chores. We do chores to take care of ourselves, our things, and each other. These are life skills. And because we homeschool and I am already the teacher and mom, Dad is responsible for the chores.
Ice Cream after every shot and doctor's appointment. Ice cream after social worker visits. Ice cream while you are getting lice treatment....if it is stressful but required, you get a treat. Should food be a reward? Probably not. I don't care.
Keeping our world very small by not signing up or attending lots of events.
Throwing the schedule out the window when life gets crazy. So we don't get to math or science today, but my kids know they are secure. Two of my kids have never felt that security while all of my kids have had their world turned upside down so yeah, security is more important. (It is hard thing to prioritize these intangible and immeasurable things over tests and grades.)
Weekly tea parties with my girls in which we make special consideration of (some) of our Ukrainian heritage. We also each say something we like or admire about each person around the table. It is probably the most beautiful thing we do.
Letting /making my kids all share room. Nobody wants to be alone. Nobody want to share all the time. It works right now. No one but our family is allowed in that room so it is always a safe place to go when you need a break from the world.
No electronics upstairs. No electronics without permission. Almost no social media (like 15 minutes a week for the two oldest and none for the others.)
Memorizing a verse together as a family. When the girls arrived home we started to memorize 1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 8a. One verse a month. Even if you are not a follower of Christ, these verses are a great tool for teaching our kids what love is and what love is not. Once we all have this knowledge, we can use it to help us make good choices and kindly remind others when they aren't.
We eat meals together: lunch and dinner. Breakfast is on your own because we live in a house of non-morning people.
The older girls have pets. They are completely responsible for these pets.
I found a great counselor and see her for individual counseling and as needed for family counseling.
Reading aloud to the girls. Making them read aloud to each other. Buying books in Russian and English. Setting aside time each day and before bed for reading. Michael and I reading so the girls know it is important to us. Encouraging the girls to grab a book if we are going to be in the car or waiting somewhere for a while...reading is a gift that has so many benefits.
Having a weekly lunch date with my husband. ALWAYS rescheduling it if/when it gets cancelled.
I told you I need a lot of grace. Maybe you do too.
What is something you are doing right?
And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6