May 31, 2019

The Teaching Bugs.

Journal Entry #26

Today would have been my last day of taking the Miltefosine before we decided to extend the treatment.  As of today, I have 9 days left.

Last night was brutal.  Itchy, twitchy, back spasms into my hips…likely from spending so much time on my back with my feet up (and not in the way one might prefer).  I finally fell asleep sometime after 4am.  At 8:30am, I awoke to one child yelling, one child crying, an upset Grandma and an angry dad.  All over a computer password.

Everyone is feeling the stress.

It has been a slow accumulation.  We talk, we have family meetings, we educate the kids and keep them informed with the information that we feel is appropriate for their age.  The kids have counsellors in place should they need an outside source to talk to, their teachers are informed of what is happening too. We have an incredible support system around us and my mom has been staying with us the last few weeks to help us keep the routine as normal and uninterrupted for the kids as possible.

But this journey has been hard on everyone.

It amazes me how we can raise two kids, in the same home, with the same set of rules, with the same spiritual construct, with the same set of morals, ethics and values and yet each kid is so unique unto themselves. How we resolve conflict with one is very different than how we resolve conflict with the other.  Which appears to the other that they are being treated differently or unfairly.  We love them in their own unique ways, keep gifts and opportunities as equal as we possibly can and yet the emotional, spiritual and mental nurturing that each requires has to be unique for each kid.

There is no cookie cutter recipe for raising kids.

All we can do is our best each day.  Some days we will get it right and some days we won’t.  Some days we will make the connection and be able to have the realistic talks and some days its best to just let it ride.  My mom always says “sometimes you just have to pick your battles.”

Today, the battle picked me.

I wasn’t sure what was what when I walked into the kitchen this morning, but it wasn’t the way anyone would want to start their day…angry, sad, disrespected, stupid…it certainly wasn’t the way I wanted to send the kids off to school this morning.  And to top it off, due to EQAO Testing this week, both kids are in the same classroom for the week!  I said a prayer for their teacher this morning.  Yikes!

I think it is easy when we are in the heat of the moment to react. To join in on the chaos.  To stand our ground and hold our position.  Whether we are right or wrong doesn’t matter once we reach that threshold, we just hang on for dear life because heaven-forbid that we appear to be wrong or weak.  Protect the ego and the pride at all costs.  Once we cross that threshold, no one is listening to one another.  No progress can be made.  Resolution is futile.

They crossed the threshold before I entered the kitchen. I immediately I knew it wasn’t about a computer password.  This is the result of stress.  This is the result of fatigue.  This is the result of worry.  This is the result of a household hit with the uncertainty of disease.  This is the result of Leishmaniasis.

Bear with me a moment, because it is important that you understand that I am not taking ownership of the stress in this household.  Nor am I blaming Leishmania for the emotional chaos happening in our household. Shame, blame, embarrassment and fear do not move us forward to heal, repair and resolve that which is triggering us.

Leishmaniasis is actually a gift in the form of a teacher, not just for me, but for my whole family.

I’m not sure that my family has that part figured out yet?  I know that I am learning everyday through this experience and that they are lasting lessons that are already generating change in my life.  I am seeing things differently, more open to look at the root of what is going on, more respectful and in-tune with my body, more compassionate with myself and others. I am listening more.  I am communicating more effectively with my husband. How can I be mad at these bugs, when they have brought me so many pathways to peace?

When I committed to sharing my journey publicly, I agreed to share my internal workings, thoughts and feelings.  What I don’t want to do is presume or violate the inner workings of my children or husband as they navigate this challenging time.  This is their journey too.  These are their lessons too. And they will share it with the world in their own way, when they are ready.

As a Mom, when your kids hurt, you hurt.  It doesn’t take much for Mamma Bear to appear.  I want to fix them, to make things better for them. I want to intervene and advocate for them.  And sometimes, the appropriate Mom reaction is just that.

Sometimes, it isn’t.

Sometimes, intervening enables patterns and behaviours to continue. Sometimes, interjecting removes the power from the underdog who is desperately needing the opportunity to learn to stand up for themselves.  Sometimes, forcing an apology disrespects the recipient or even the wrong-doer.  Sometimes, letting our children fall, fail and fight it out gives them the opportunity to sculpt their own relationship, create their own identity and express themselves in a way that is appropriate for them.

If I think back to all of the big moments in my life that stress and suffering appeared, it was though those times that I grew as a human being the most.  If I smooth it over for my kids all the time, am I not taking those opportunities of growth away from them?  Am I not disempowering them?  How will they figure anything out, if Tim and I are the ones always doing the figuring?

When our kids started Nursery School at 2 years old, I left them every day with the same saying.  And most days still, I offer the same advice:“Hands and feet to yourself.  Say “please, thank-you, and I’m sorry” and most importantly, have a great day!  Remember, I love you.”  I think children need two things to survive.  They need to feel safe.  They need to feel loved.  The rest is just finesse.

This morning wasn’t about a computer password.

This morning was about my children not feeling safe.  It was about the uncertainty of what is ahead for our family.  Although it has been explained to them that this is only temporary, they are not blind and see how hard this is on me, and they are scared.  They know that they are loved.  They know that we have a village supporting all of us.  But the security of their safe home has been turned upside down by sand fleas.  And at 11 and 12 years old, they don’t understand these big, scary emotions swirling around them. So, a computer password seems as good a reason as any to let it all blow.

And that’s okay.

Today we decompressed.  Tim and I talked through strategies on how to reach each kid. When the kids came home, they were calmer (still irritated) but in a place where we could have a rational conversation about what was underneath the computer password.  If we had of pressed the issue this morning and resolved the issue our way…it wouldn’t really be resolved.  There would be one left feeling wronged and this pattern or trigger would still underlie and be there for another explosion.  I don’t know if this way of resolving the pattern will be a permanent fix.  What I do know is that the solutions that they came up with wouldn’t have been what I would have mandated wearing my Mom-hat in reactionary mode.  By allowing them the safe place to have a healthy conversation, they have taken their power back and they know that it is up to them to choose their own reactions and responses to situations as they arise.  Faith needs more hugs.  She asked for more hugs.  Which tells us that she needs to feel safely loved.  Canyon needs more respect and quality time.  He asked for more respect.  Which tells us that respect and love are closely related for him and that makes him feel safe.

Today, we learned as a family.  Today, Leishmaniasis gave all of us an opportunity to grow into new ways of being.  Today was a gift.  We know our children better tonight than we did this morning.  We know our children at a deeper level now.  And that is a good thing.

9 days left.  Leishmaniasis is not done teaching us yet. I wonder what other lessons these bugs have in store for us?

Xo Juli

1 thought on “The Teaching Bugs.”

  1. I have been quietly keeping up to date and keeping you in my prayers in the background and from a distance. Much peace and many blessings to you on the next leg of your journey.

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