September 29, 2014

In Which Our Family Was Falling Apart

A little background:  last year Bill taught preschool at Hope to fill a need, and since I was already teaching Jr. High full time, Owen (2years old) ended up just going to the 2/3year old class with Bill for preschool every day.  It was a rough transition, and never would I even consider putting my two year old in preschool in the States - but after about a week he was thriving and loving school.  Everyday he & Bill went home at noon for lunch and Owen would get his nap.  School only lasted a half-day anyway for preschool so it worked out great.  We were happy to serve, it's what we were here for.  Bill ended up falling in love with teaching the littles and it was going great.  Owen was thriving and learning loads of new things, making lots of friends and loving every minute of school.  He even refused to go to kids church back in the States over furlough because "Ms. Dorothy (Bill's co-teacher) was his favorite teacher."

This year, there was a greater need in Kindergarten, which is full day at Hope, so Bill was 'promoted' to full time.  We also had a need for a PE teacher and Bill was the best 'candidate for the job', so he stepped in.  He loves what he does.  Especially the PE part because he's at school all day now and able to connect with the older students (which he's amazing at).  It's great that they have another male role model and I'm so excited for him to have this opportunity.
With our shortage of teachers, my desire to step back from teaching a little and help more with administration wasn't able to happen.   Instead, I'm again teaching full time with a Jr. High homeroom, 2/3rd grade , 4/5th grade and Jr. High Language Arts classes as well as two art classes on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  Again, we are happy to serve, and are totally okay with this.  We love being able to teach the rapidly-growing population of kids at Hope.  It's SUCH an opportunity and we are  humbled and thankful that God would allow us such a 'job'.  
Our new roles, meant that on Tuesdays and Thursdays Owen (now 3) was a full-time student.  He had school all morning, lunch at noon, recess until 1pm, then a 'rest' time where all the kids laid on a mattress for an hour or so, then playtime until school let out at 3:30.  Thankfully I was able to come and work from home Monday, Wednesday and Friday so I was able to get Owen home for his nap on those days.
This has been our life for the past month.  To say it's been busy would be an understatement.  We quickly learned we'd no longer be able to attend Wednesday night potluck/worship because it meant Owen was a complete and utter mess on Thursdays - even if we left worship early.  He would be falling apart by 10am and still have many more hours at school.  Though we tried everything we could to get him to take a nap at school - sending stuffed friends with him, comfort items, bribing him with brownies (yes, I of all mothers-who-never-let-her-kid-have-sugar-before-he-was-1 bribed my three year old with a bite of a brownie to get him to take a nap at school) nothing worked.  Soon, Tuesdays and Thursdays became dreaded.  Most days did, actually.  He was beginning to snuggle closer to me in bed in the morning and say he didn't want to go to school.  On days he knew it was a full day he would cling to me all morning until the whistle blew and I would have to hand him over crying to his teacher.
We thought it was going to be okay.  We knew it would take time to transition.
But then, last week, when I was going to God with this situation, asking him for help, he told us to stop.  Stop trying so hard to serve in every area.  Our family is first.  And right at that moment our family was falling apart.  Bill & I rarely talked because we were so tired from school and dealing with a cranky three year old that by the end of the night (which was like 9pm) we were just exhausted.  We weren't spending quality time together as a family because we were too busy trying to plan for school, grab groceries for the week, cook meals and eat all between 4pm and by 6:30, sometimes 6pm so O could get to bed because he'd skipped a nap.  We weren't happy.  We weren't in strife or anything like that... but we definitely weren't healthy.  We were treading water, with our heads barely afloat.  I could feel us drifting further away from each other and it made my heart sad.
I sat on this advice from God for a good three days before even mentioning it to Bill. (another sign we weren't in a healthy place - I was worried what he'd say and that he wouldn't agree with my concerns)
When I finally said something he nodded in agreement.  We know this is not our Owen.  Our Owen loves school, looks forward to it even.  And what we're making him take on at three years old is just too much.  7am-4pm out of the house at school is just. too. much for a three year old.  So we started to brainstorm ideas on how we could get Owen back home on Tuesdays and Thursdays and finally came up with an idea.
This afternoon over lunch we sat down with our administrator and told her how Owen has been doing, and how we've been doing (or not doing, I suppose.)  She was completely understanding, as we thought she'd be, and said our family comes first and we need to do what is right for us.
So starting this week we're putting US first.  Bill will come home with Owen on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I'll continue to do so MWF.  We are already feeling better just having talked about it and made the decision.  It's like there's a little light shining through the cracks in the walls that were beginning to close in on us - we will get back to a healthy place, a happy place, and a place where we can grow closer together and closer to God as a family.  It's a sacrifice for us - not being at Hope all day to help and serve when the school is already short-handed - it feels awful every time I walk out of the gate taking Owen home for his nap, knowing that those left behind are still stepping up to fill the positions of the teachers that we don't have yet.  But it's something we have to do.  And I'm confident that God's going to handle the other side of this because of our obedience to him in putting our family first. 

Have you ever struggled to put family first?  I'd love to hear your experiences with this and how you overcame it! Leave a comment below or email me to share your stories!