A Glimpse at One Month Home

So we’ve actually been home for almost two months now, although it doesn’t feel that long.  But I wanted to do an ongoing series from glimpses of a day in our life at one month, three months, six months, etc.  Just to give people an idea of what exactly daily life might look like at those benchmarks when you adopt older children with special needs.  Also because I think it would be fun to chronicle for myself and watch the progress we make as a family.  So the below are two “sample days” from what our daily life is basically like.  These aren’t real days, just days I made up in my head from real things that usually happen during our time together :)

First… the perfect day post-one month home.  Also known as, the day that only exists in my head…  (Not that these things never happen just never all in one day!)

A Perfect Day… One Month Home

I wake up promptly when my alarm goes off at 4:45am.  I say my morning prayers in a concentrated and thoughtful manner while the children sleep blissfully upstairs.  After prayer I drink a full glass of water with my first round of B6 vitamins so that I don’t hit a mid-morning slump, then I begin working on tidying up and starting breakfast.  About 6:00am the children begin to stir and I methodically and lovingly get everyone pottied, dressed and downstairs to eat.  We all sit down at the table at 6:30 sharp and have a delightful meal together.

After breakfas t Jake and I refill the children’s waters and Hope’s bottle, we do another potty break and take everyone outside to play before it gets too warm.  After I get help carrying the children out, Jake says his good-byes and skips (ok walks, trying to keep it realistic) over to the office to begin his work day bright and early.  I read a spiritually encouraging book, take turns swinging the children, do some chores in the yard and enjoy the morning until it’s snack time.

At 10:30am Daddy takes his morning break and helps with another round of potty breaks and we all go inside for a snack.  We spend our time before lunch practicing our sign language, singing hymns, reading books, doing puzzles and other enjoyable, wholesome activities.  At 11:30am I get lunch ready, we all sit down to eat with Daddy at about noon and once everyone is finished we head upstairs.  The children all go down for their naps like precious angels and sleep until 3:00pm.  Mommy blogs and lays down for a nap, making great use of her two hours of free time.

After naps we head back outside to have some more fun until Daddy is done for the day.  He plays with the littles while Mommy goes in to make dinner, which of course was already planned ahead of time so it takes no effort at all to whip up in a hurry.  We decide to eat outside since it’s such a beautiful day, which absolutely delights the children.  Afterwards we have a quick clean up and go for an evening stroll.  By the time we arrive back at the house it is almost 7:00pm and the children are thoroughly worn out from a fun, full day; so we usher them upstairs for bedtime routine.

Hope drinks her bottle while everyone gets dressed and settled in, then we all sit in a big circle and progress effortlessly through stories, hymns, prayers and a bedtime song.  The children listen and sit still and participate beautifully. Everyone gives everyone else goodnight hugs and kisses and merrily hop in their respective beds and fall quickly to sleep… all before 8:00pm.  Mommy and Daddy get some quiet relaxing time to debrief and plan for tomorrow and to do a quick run through of the house to make sure everything is ready for the morning.  Then, by 9:00pm it’s time for everyone to sleep restfully until morning.

Sounds absolutely blissful, doesn’t it?  Ok, so that’s what I think every day is supposed to look like.  Here is how it usually plays out instead…

A Day in Reality… One Month Home

My alarm goes off at 4:45am… I don’t even bother hitting snooze; I just say to myself “I’ll get up in just a second…”  Twenty minutes later I rouse from a light sleep to realize I didn’t get up and sigh frustratedly.  I head downstairs to say prayers.  Hope is awake already.  I can hear her through the baby monitor and keep wondering if she needs me yet or not… I sort of finish my prayers in a distracted fashion and go to the kitchen, intending to get my glass of water and vitamins.  I get one sip and hear Hope making a fuss again, vitamins and breakfast will have to wait… I head back upstairs.  Dirty diaper.  I change her as quickly as I can since Stephen (our light sleeper) was woken up by my walking up the stairs and Hope’s commotion.

I go nurse Stephen back to sleep and next thing I know it’s 7:00am and everyone is awake except for me.  Jake asks me to please get up and help with the kids.  I was, of course, in the middle of my REM cycle so I’m grumpy, feeling sick and fairly useless.  Jake asks what’s for breakfast… I stare blankly into the fridge.  Eggs again?  Since yesterday was Jake’s day “off” and we had doctor’s appointments and errands I didn’t have time to make Hope’s food when it ran out.  It usually needs replenished every three days or so.  So we tag teamed it, Jake cooked eggs, I blended chicken.  We put a video on for the children because, what else are you going to do at that point?

By 8:00am we are finally sitting down to eat.  The kids are grumpy because we are grumpy and I still don’t feel like eating anything… especially eggs.  Jake finishes his bowl quickly and I reluctantly tell him to go to work, since I know he wanted to be there an hour ago.  He leaves us to finish breakfast on our own.  When we’re all done I scramble to find some proper playing clothes for outside, trying to be quick so the kids don’t get into fights and Hope doesn’t start poking herself.  After 45 seconds I come downstairs to find children fighting and Hope poking herself.  I get everyone dressed in a more chaotic and grumpy way than I would like and shoo them out the door.  I carry Hope to her stroller and manage to get Jacob down the porch stairs.  Then I sit down…

That was more work than my pregnant self should be doing I think.  So I sit and watch the kids play, while refereeing disagreements from the sidelines every two minutes.  Children randomly have bathroom emergencies that is even more work and frustration.  After an hour of that I am emotionally done for the day and call Jake over for an early break at about 10:00am.  He helps me get the kids inside and I turn on a movie to try and keep their attention until lunch time.  Meanwhile, I attempt to clean the kitchen.  After ten minutes I realize that I am way too tired to do anything of the sort, begin to wonder why I feel so miserable and remember those B vitamins I forgot that morning.  I look over and my full glass of water is still on the counter too.  Defeated, I go and watch Toy Story with the kids, hand them a bowl of animal crackers, and bide my time until lunch… trying not to fall asleep.  Once the movie is over, if Daddy is still not home, I might put in Signing Time and pretend we did something productive.

Finally Daddy comes home at noon and I try to hobble together a quick lunch, since we’re behind schedule.  The kids eat, Jake makes me eat, there are tantrums about going potty before quiet time.  Everything is awful, but we manage to get all the children at least in their respective rooms.  After about twenty minutes they start to fall asleep one-by-one.  I start blogging before Stephen wakes up at 2:00pm – an hour early.  He won’t go back down, so we head downstairs.  No blog and no nap for Mommy.  The other three get up soon after and I am stuck with an extra hour of “What am I going to do with them before Jake gets back?” as well as a very overtired and grumpy disposition.  I get out the toys and let them play while I hold Hope’s hands to keep her from poking herself.

After a while of trying to contain overly-energetic little ones in a single room, I reluctantly take them outside and do some more sideline refereeing.  Jake comes home a half hour early so I can go lay down for fifteen minutes before I go ballistic on the world.  It helps a little.  Dinner hadn’t been thought out so after hemming and hawing for an hour we finally decide to load everyone up in the car and go pick something up that will be easy and not make the kitchen worse than it already is.  By the time we finally get home and eat, it’s already bedtime for the kids.  We get them upstairs finally around 7:45pm. I leave Jake to start stories while I run downstairs to make Hope’s bedtime bottle.  I sit with her to help her drink it instead of being in the circle with everyone else.   Jake has to stop three dozen times during songs, prayers and stories to correct the kids for fighting, laughing, moving around the room, not paying attention, etc, etc, etc…

At the end of our patience for the day we muster up some goodnight hugs and kisses and begin the long and arduous process of actually getting them to sleep.  Hope is upset after a long day and keeps her sister from sleeping, Stephen refuses to stay in bed, Jacob sings loudly despite repeated corrections.  Jake has to leave after routine to go back to the office and finish up work he didn’t do from the chaos of the day earlier.  I bounce from room to room putting out fires until finally, at around 9:00pm they have all settled down to sleep.  I finish my blog from earlier and go downstairs just before 10:00pm.  Jake comes home and we look defeatedly at one another and decide to watch a show instead of talking… talking takes so much energy, and really who wants to debrief that day?  I sleepily wander up the stairs around 10:30 and pass out, wondering how on Earth I’m going to get up when my alarm goes off tomorrow…

So those are what our days are generally like.  Sometimes it’s more like the first version, sometimes more like the second, and most often a mix of the two.  I think this is what they call Survival Mode.  :)  Thankfully, that is more accurately what it was like a few weeks ago and we are starting to see more progress now.  Yes, it’s been crazy and hard, but it’s all so incredibly worth it.  I remember the crazy times after our bio kiddos came into our family too.  But every single child is worth a month (or a year… or a decade?) of chaos.  For the joy that is set before us is greater than the burden of the moment.  May we all remember this as we go through the inevitably chaotic seasons of motherhood.

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