Tag Archives: strength

On Struggling

There has been a lot of struggling at our house lately. I’m struggling with recovery from surgery, lack of contact with others, exhaustion, feeling like I’m not in control, feeling left out. Big Sister is struggling with math and, well, math. Little Brother is struggling with being at a new school and learning new rules. Husband, well, I’m not positive what he’s struggling with. He’s the strong, silent type. Maybe he’s struggling with lack of sleep because he’s the one the kids go to while I’m in surgery recovery mode.

It has been about seven weeks since my surgery. I’ve had six different casts, five trips to the hospital for surgery follow-up and foot repositioning, and 52 days of a life that doesn’t look much like the one I’m used to. But I’m told that I have excellent coping skills and I think I’ve adapted pretty well to this new (and hopefully temporary) version of my life. Knowing all that (and reminding myself of it constantly) still doesn’t make the hard days any easier.

It’s very easy to slip into blame mode when the rest of my family struggles. It’s all the fault of my foot. I am up and about and thankfully not confined to bed (anymore), but it’s surprisingly hard to help a struggling child when you can’t get up off a chair and walk over to them, put your arms around them and comfort them. How do you convince a child to come to you for a hug when all they want to do is run away? Words have been used in ways that I used to use gestures and physical contact, but sometimes the words are not as effective. And patience has been practiced more in this house in the last 52 days. A silver lining, I suppose.

From struggles come lessons.

I’ve been reading a book lately called School Struggles, by Dr. Richard Selznick. It’s a guide to helping your child break through the shut-down learner mentality and achieving success in school. It has helped me immensely to understand Big Sister’s struggles with math. I’m not great yet at applying the lessons learned from the book, but Dr. Selznick’s message has given me different approaches for helping her.

A growth mindset

See that little word up there? That little “yet”? That’s my new favourite word. I read an article somewhere recently about how this mom was using “yet” at the end of every negative phrase that she heard her children utter. So she hears her son yell from amongst a pile of LEGO in the living room, “I can’t build this LEGO spaceship!” She recognizes the frustration in his voice, but she’s busy making supper and can’t rush to his aid (nor should she, because what will he learn if she does?). So she yells back, “Yet!” She’s been doing this whenever an “I can’t” phrase is said in her house and she’s turning it around.

I’ve started doing it, too. And when helping Big Sister with her nightly math struggle homework, and she screams says, “I can’t do this!” I follow up with “yet”. It’s a tiny thing, a tiny little word, but I think it’s working. It’s putting the idea in her head that almost everything is a struggle and you just have to persevere. A little hard work, some help from an understanding (and calm) adult, and she can do it.

Some math issues are bigger than we can handle together, though, and that’s where Dr. Selznick’s book has been particularly helpful. Though written for and about the American education system, many of the principles apply to Canadian education and it has encouraged me to seek help for Big Sister even though she’s not struggling enough by the school’s standards to qualify for special help.

I’ve always wanted to be the help that gets my kids through, but after so much time spent in hellish battles with red-eyed, purple-winged, hairy number and equation demons frustrating-for-everyone-including-Little-Brother homework sessions, I recognize that it is time to seek outside help.

cat_math_problem

I struggle with this. I want to be the one with her when she has that Aha! moment. I want to help her break through this shut-down learner mentality and realize how wonderful learning is, whether it’s learning about math or words or science or emotions. But my own struggles have taught me that I am too close to her math struggles to be honestly helpful.

I seem to have spent a great deal of time on how Big Sister’s and my struggles have intertwined here of late. Little Brother is also struggling. He’s at a new school (Big Sister’s school, finally!) and he has to make new friends and learn new classroom rules (because every teacher does it differently). For the most part, he has adjusted nicely. He’s learning a new language this year, too. He comes home each day singing the new songs he has learned in French. (If there’s a way to get this kid to learn, it’s through music. And really, who can blame him for choosing that route to knowledge?) But his struggle is with rules. He wants to build and experiment and figure things out. And, unfortunately, there’s not a lot of time for that in classrooms today. The big focus in class from what I can tell is on literacy—letter recognition, reading and writing. He has a great teacher who does allow for more “figuring things out” time, but this is what he wants to spend his whole day doing, and the materials he wants to use are locked in a cupboard for when the teacher can supervise their use.

Getting used to the rules

It will take some adjustment, and there will be days when school will seem unbearable to Little Brother because it’s not how he wants his day to go. But he will struggle through it, and from the struggle he will learn the lesson that we can’t always have things the way we want them. Sometimes we have to conform and follow the rules of the class lest there be chaos. (But really, what’s wrong with a little chaos every now and then? It helps stretch the soul.) I struggle with his sadness that school isn’t fantastic for him. I struggle with wanting to pull him out and show him the world from home in a safe and free-flowing learning environment. This is my biggest struggle.

I can cope with the surgery recovery. I can manage the physical pain. I can adapt to new limitations and new-found abilities that come from limitations. But my biggest struggle is watching my kids slowly shut down because school is taking all the joy out of their learning.

And for now, I will continue to struggle.

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Five Minute Friday – Grace

Linking up with Lisa-Jo over on her site today.

It’s Five Minute Friday. The word is grace. Here’s how to play:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back to Lisa-Jo’s post and invite others to join in.
3. And then, absolutely no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

GO

Two things collided this morning.

Yesterday, I volunteered at my daughter’s school, which gave me a chance to be with the teachers and the administration and to see the children in the environment in which they spend most of their waking hours absorbing, learning, grasping, growing, and attempting to comprehend their place in our world. Continue reading

Reminders of Innocence

I was doing a little catching up on my blog reading, and I came across this post on Memoirs of a Clueless Woman.

She wrote that she knew her third child would be her last, so she took tons of photos of him. And when he pushes her to her limits of patience and sanity (and really, what kid doesn’t do that to their poor, exhausted parents?), she looks back on those photos and is reminded that he is her baby and he won’t always be so challenging.

Her post made me aware that I do the same thing when my kids test me.

I get through the challenging moment the best I can, then, after putting my kids to bed, I sit down at my computer and sift through all those delicious baby photos that remind me of their innocence, their sweetness, their tiny personalities at that stage and how much they trusted me unquestioningly with their safety and well-being. Then I go back upstairs, tip toe into their room and hug and kiss them until I almost wake them up. I sneak out of their room then and stand at the door, peering at them through the crack as if looking into their lives as they stretch out before me.

Looking back on those baby photos, reliving those motherhood moments when I thought I couldn’t love another human being more and was so terrified of messing them up, reminds me that I was innocent too. I didn’t know the full capacity then—and I don’t know now—of the love that I feel for those little people that I brought into the world.

As a mother, I have grown so much right alongside those two little monkeys who, on some days, test me to my limits but who are really just doing their best to figure everything out…just like me.

Dipping into the past through photos (and catching the odd glimpse of myself in those pictures—most of the time I was behind the camera) is such a great reminder of the infinite wonders that are my little ones and the distance that I have come as a mother to those little wonders. But it also shows me that we have this infinite capacity for love and patience and strength that keeps us going, even on days when we don’t think we can.

Big Sis and Little Bro

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Looking for faith and revisiting how I define it

This post was originally published on April 25th. It’s a speech I gave at church, and I thought, since I’m working on a project for the church right now and in desperate need of faith that what I’m doing is going to work, it would be nice to revisit how I feel about my faith and the path I have traveled to get here.

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From where do I come at life?

That’s the question that popped into my head as I reached for the shower tap to turn off the water.

I had spent a few days staring at a blank page in my notebook and at a blank screen on my computer, unable to find the words to express my faith despite my promise to Father Al to participate in this series.

I should have known that a good hot shower would get the ideas—and my courage—flowing. I find there’s something restorative about water. If I need to solve a problem, I wash dishes or take a shower. Until quite recently, I had always thought of these activities—and how they connected to my great ideas—as being governed by Murphy’s Law. The minute I put my hands in the dishpan, the very second I step in the shower, the moment when it is not possible for me to put pen to paper without disintegrating the paper with puddles of dripping water is when I will have my brightest idea of the day.

Then, one day—while I was in the shower (of course)—it hit me. Continue reading

Five Minute Friday – Listen

Linking up with Lisa-Jo over on her site today.

It’s Five Minute Friday. The word is listen. Here’s how to play:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back to Lisa-Jo’s post and invite others to join in.
3. And then, absolutely no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

GO Continue reading

Five Minute Friday – Imagine

Linking up with Lisa-Jo over on her site today.

It’s Five Minute Friday. The word is imagine. Here’s how to play:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back to Lisa-Jo’s post and invite others to join in.
3. And then, absolutely no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

GO Continue reading

Five Minute Friday – Jump

Linking up with Lisa-Jo over on her site today.

It’s Five Minute Friday. The word is jump. Here’s how to play:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back to Lisa-Jo’s post and invite others to join in.
3. And then, absolutely no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

GO Continue reading