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How to thrive as a parent

Thriving On Your Special Needs Journey

by: Elizabeth Thorndike

Warning: longer post

My aha moment, and the seed behind this blog, came about 5 years into our special needs journey. I sat crying in our walk-in closet, (a common occurrence at that time), doubting myself in every way. I began praying, “God I am not cut out for this. I never knew it would be this hard. I love my family so much, but I can’t control the hard, and I can’t always control my anger and fatigue. I feel like I am failing…” I sat still in my sadness and despair for over 20 minutes until I felt my breathing change.

Mom hiding in closet

As I re-entered the family scene, my husband approached me and gave me a hug. “Why don’t we just take it one moment at a time?”, he whispered. My heart squeezed and I paused. I knew, beyond a doubt, that the phrase, unknowingly uttered by my hubby, was the answer. A gift in the midst.

I sat in my thoughts and prayed about the phrase “moment to moment” for a few days. As I wrote in my journal one afternoon, it finally dawned on me what God was trying to tell me.

…I remembered back to a sermon I heard at church a year or so before I met Dan. The pastor had a backpack, and one by one he loaded heavy rocks into his pack. Over time it was full and very heavy…too heavy to bear. Although this sermon was talking about unforgiveness, I knew God was weaving a different story for me. I pictured me carrying all the moments and emotions of each day. They were heavy like those rocks. I saw myself so weighed down with feelings and emotions. It was heavy and I was tired. Too tired to go on…

I knew that I needed to change my thought world in order to be a happier mama. But how?

thriving on sn journey body

The days went on, and as I was on a walk one late evening in the quiet of dusk, a phrase came to mind that my husband and I utter occasionally as we leave a hard or chaotic outing. (Well, that went well.)
Scenario: We load all our kiddos in our YMCA-like van (vans are sexy) and take a heavy sigh once all are finally belted in. We look at each other sarcastically and say, “well that went well!!!” (Most of the time, we laugh, but sometimes I cry.)

On that walk though, I felt God nudge me to start defining all my moments throughout the day, just like we did once-in-a-while after those difficult outings. I felt Him urge me to define them and then leave them behind.

Define, then move on! Could this be the answer for me?

A million hard things and a million great things can happen in one single day. If by some means I can pray for the strength to live each moment, define it, then move on to the next without carrying every emotion from the last moment, I can survive. (Okay, hang with me people!)

You see, the way I was currently coping had me so weighed down, and so tired, that I carried the feelings…the failure… the grief…and the heaviness of each moment into the next. By the end of the day my backpack was full.

WORN OUT MOM

Thorndike Moment snapshot:

6am – 5yo wakes up for the 5th time that night and is fully awake… (tired, hard moment)
7am – 3yo wakes up singing a made up “I love you mommy” song heard on the baby monitor (precious moment)
10am – 5yo throws a complete fit in the middle of library story time because I won’t let her lick the sanitizer bottle… (deflated hard moment)
1pm – sweet 8yo cuddles in for a bit on the couch during nap time while I enjoy a warm cup of coffee (sweet moment) that I end up kicking over on the new rug while running to stop someone from ringing the doorbell and waking my babies. (UGH…haaaaaard moment)
3pm – On hold for over an hour on my phone, trying to sort out DDD and health insurance, while playing with 3 children out in the yard… (cross fit moment)
5pm- Mama has a teary moment, for all the extra medical needs my tiny redhead has with her extra chromosome, as I sweetly read her a book (raw moment)
6:15 pm – Hubby is 15 minutes late (eternity) and you are stirring boiling pasta, holding one very sad 3yo, while 5yo hugs both legs and 8yo is crying because 5yo just ruined her art project. Then hubby walks in, and you bite his head off for asking how your day was…. (humble moment)

Alas, I am sure some, or maybe all your days, are similar to the above one. This mama journey is hard! When God opened my eyes that day, over five years ago, I began noticing every moment and my feelings surrounding that moment. The simple act of acknowledging the moment, and defining it, helped me fully leave it behind.

Defining looked like:
” Okay, that could have gone better”,
or “Hey love, that went really well”,
“Okay, mom do-over!” or even
“Mom needs a tag out…”
No matter how you define the moment, if you take it captive, it does not own you. You own it!

Fast forward 5 years…

I find myself living in more joy and less heaviness. The hard is still there, but my day is not defined by the hard. Instead, at the end of a day with all our moments, I am able to celebrate our journey.
However that day ends, I am grateful I was chosen to be the mama of this crazy group!

Mom and baby Shay airplane

Me and Shayland at 6 months

So, fellow mamas and caregivers, embrace the moments. Be they great or be they poopy, they are yours. In all these moments, we grow, which is a great way to journey through this life for which we were designed.

Beloved sister (or Brother), I SEE YOU, and I celebrate all your moments!

about us

Meet the Thorndikes - Moment to Moment Family

Hi there! We are the crazy cool parents to 5 amazing and crazy cool kiddos. But, first, we are Dan and Elizabeth Thorndike – married 15 years and living this life one moment at a time. We have a full and blessed life, but we are clumsily tackling a journey we never foresaw ourselves living.

Read our story of how this journey all started in our blog post titled:
“The Beginning. Our Special Needs Journey”

Author

Elizabeth Thorndike

Introverted extrovert – that’s how I describe myself. I absolutely love being a mama but never knew how hard it would be, nor how deeply I could love.

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