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Posts Tagged ‘siblings’

Just when I think I’ve got this whole motherhood thing figured out (which usually lasts about four point three seconds), one of my three throws another curve ball. This time it was my oldest.

For the majority of her seven years of life, my oldest has been my easiest- compliant, mature, helpful, gentle, trustworthy. She is big sister to two brothers (ages four and one) and exhibits first born qualities through out the day, every day. She is my helper, my sidekick, my shadow. So when, on a now forgotten date, some weeks ago, she began exhibiting behaviors I had never seen in her before, I quickly became more than a little perplexed.

Dark was her mood for many of those days, and not in the way of a young child, not in the way of her brothers when they pout or whine or lash out. This was different. This was new. -Honestly, she reminded me of my darkest days as a teenager, days when I was sullen and brooding and weepy with no idea why or what in the world to do about it. (“Can a seven year old be hormonal??” I kept thinking. “Surely not!”)- Many tears were shed over those few weeks (most of them hers, a couple mine), as I wondered what was happening to my girl and what was I, her mama, going to do about it? But it wasn’t until last week that I became alarmed when she not once, but twice within a few days time, was physically unkind to her brother.

Now I realize that in many households this is normal- siblings fight, siblings hit and push or worse- and would not necessarily be cause for alarm. But this has never been the case in our home. (ok, I take that back, my one year old hits when he is mad -or frustrated or whatever it is that one year olds get- and that was probably the case when my other two were that age as well.) But now, and for as long as I can remember, Meadow and Granite do not and have not been siblings that physically fight. So last week when one argument with Granite led to her angrily pushing him off the bed with her foot and another involved her hitting his leg in response to something he said, I knew something just wasn’t right. (Both times I happened to walk in the room right as she did it, allowing me to observe and understand in a way I could not have had I only learned about it through Granite telling on her. I think that was a God thing.)

So last Thursday night (after the morning that Meadow hit Granite’s leg, her second “offense”) we were in the car on the way home, Meadow and Granite bickering in the very back seat of the van, Chaz and I talking quietly in the front as I tried not to overreact to the bickering, and Canyon observing it all from his carseat in the middle, when I brought up the hitting incident and expressed my concerns about what was going on with Meadow. I had mentioned her behavior several times prior but not with as much emphasis or concern. “I don’t know what to do with her. I don’t understand where this behavior is coming from.” were some of my words to my husband. And it was right around that time that the bickering in the backseat escalated (once again, as had happened so many times that week, thanks to Meadow) to the point that Meadow was told by her father not to speak again until we got home (about five minutes away).

“You guys go on inside. I’m going to stay in the car and talk to Meadow.” were Chaz’s words to me as we pulled into our driveway. I gathered the boys and their bags, headed inside and began getting them both ready for bed, all the while thinking about my girl and wondering what was being said in the van sitting under our carport.

About fifteen minutes later father and daughter entered our back door and Meadow quickly, quietly headed to her room to get ready for bed, Granite following her close behind. I greeted them both from the couch then watched Meadow walk away, noting that I would talk with her after talking to my hubby. Standing, with Canyon on my hip, I asked my hubby how the talk went, what was said, what was her response to him. Almost immediately his eyes filled with tears. Alarmed and surprised I waited for him to speak. He recounted their conversation, speaking the words that brought his tears-

“A few minutes into the conversation it dawned on me to ask, ‘Has someone  been treating you that way?’ (referencing her hitting and pushing her brother), to which she immediately answered, ‘Yes, Amaya next door hits and pushes me sometimes and she yells at me.'”

At that point he paused, giving me a chance to gently ask, “Why the tears?”

“It’s just so pitiful. She’s never been treated that way by anyone. And you know it’s been on her mind by how quickly she answered me. Just picturing her dealing with that and thinking about that…” he kind of trailed off at that point, tears still filling his eyes.

We talked for a minute more before the older two ran back into the room, then decided to continue the conversation later, after all the loud short people were in bed. I hugged my husband fiercely, so very grateful for his care and concern for our daughter and our family, and kissed him goodbye as he headed back out the door to return to work for several more hours.

And for the rest of that night and for the past week since, Meadow has been back to her usual self- chipper, talkative, helpful, occasionally emotional, sometimes selfish, silly, gentle and kind. Her mood has been joyful, her aura light, her energy pure. Our home has returned to its usual state- quiet and peaceful, full of chatter and laughter, with a bit of arguing and bickering mixed in.

And all this week I have asked myself: How could one conversation with her daddy release my girl from the torment that was causing such ugly behavior, such emotion, such a dark mood for so much of those three weeks?

This is what I have come up with, these are the lessons I have learned (or relearned maybe?) from the kid next door:

1) Learn to ask good questions. I think sometimes our children/the people around us are hurting or thinking/feeling things that they need to express and just don’t know how to without a little prompting. Learn to ask good questions. And lots of them.

2) Don’t always take a child’s/person’s behavior at face value. Children/people are selfish creatures and much of their ugly behavior stems from this. But other times they are only reacting out of the hurt that they are experiencing or feeling. Don’t assume their bad behavior is just them being “bad”. It could be from them feeling hurt.

3) Don’t be naive and assume that the children your children are playing with are going to treat them with respect and kindness. Be observant. Be vigilant. Be appropriately protective, especially until your children are old enough to protect themselves.

4) And lastly: There is power in the spoken word. I have learned (relearned) this for myself recently as I have fought some ugly demons (another post for another time) and watched the stronghold that these demons have had on my heart loosen each time I confess/express/speak them to a friend or family member. I saw that same power the night Chaz talked with Meadow. So speak, my friends, speak! Find someone you trust, someone who loves you and speak your truth, speak your struggle, speak your demons. Find the faith, the humility, the guts, and speak! And if you have no one, no one in your life to listen with compassion, please, please message me. I know an incredible counselor and would love to pass along his number. I am also a willing listener myself. Speak what weighs on your heart and watch as the load begins to lighten.

I hurt when my children hurt. I so much want to protect them, protect myself, avoid any and all hurt as well as I possibly can. But I am also learning that life’s hurts usually lead to life’s greatest lessons. And that that is one small/huge piece in our story of redemption. So I  am also grateful. Grateful and learning and hurting and laughing. Thanks for reading, friends. Let me know if you need me.

Sincerely Yours,

~Echo~

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Canyon and mamaHe is here, he is home, he is healthy. Thank you, God! And he is already one month old today. How can that be?? It has been a month of change and adjustment and emotion but my baby is here and I am grateful for his life every single day.

Our second son, Canyon Boaz Vetter, entered this world 5 days past his due date and after 15 hours of labor at 2:37pm on September 21st, weighing 9lbs 9oz and measuring 21 1/2 inches long. He joined 6 1/2 year old big sister Meadow Grace and 3 1/2 year old big brother Granite Isaiah and so far both have shown nothing but complete adoration for their baby brother. My mom told me that it is with baby #3 that you learn to really stop and savor the sweetness of those early moments. And she was right.

I have many stories I would like to tell (as much because I don’t want to forget them as anything) including a few from my pregnancy (still need to finish my 300 series, among others…), Canyon’s birth story, what I experienced while he was in the NICU and some of my thoughts and emotions and experiences from this past month of being a new mama of 3. But seeing as I have barely figured out how to even get all 4 of us dressed each day…well, you get the picture. 😉

Stay tuned, my friends. I do hope you will hear from me again soon!

His and Yours, ~Echo~

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my second born

By the time Granite was five days old, I knew my children were very, very different. This realization occured to me after a loooong, sleepless night spent with my second child. As the sun rose and I realized I had not slept at all I thought, “Oh man, what have I gotten myself into?” In fact, most of Granite’s first year, I am sad and slightly embarrassed to admit, was spent thinking that. As I dealt with his nursing problems, his eating problems, his digestive problems, his sleeping problems, his illnesses, his two hour screaming sessions, his defiance, his fussiness, his restlessness, his anger issues and our major communication problems, I could not help but think, “What have I gotten myself into!?” It was a rough, rough start to say the least.

Then spring rolled around (at this point Granite was somewhere around 12 months old). Things had gotten a little better, now that he was weaned and mobile and sleeping like a champ (twelve to fourteen hours every night, with a two to three hour nap every afternoon!). But things were not what I would describe as ‘good’. We still had huge communication problems; him trying to communicate and me not understanding and him getting furious that I didn’t know what he was wanting or saying. And me telling him what to do and him reacting in anger to any suggestions that did not one hundred percent agree with what he was already trying to do. And he could still be very fussy, restless and tempermental. So, our life had improved but there were still many, many moments of desperation, of unhappiness, of general overwhelmedness.

Until one afternoon when everything changed for me, and my life course, my perspective, my reality was changed forever.

We (Granite and I) were sitting in Ed Mikrut’s office. He is the “eastern/alternative/voodoo medicine man” that we have been seeing for well over a year now. (I’m not sure of his actual title, so forgive me, that may be a misrepresenation of him. Basically he encourages natural/alternative methods for pursuing wellness and dealing with physical and emotional illnesses and problems.)

Anyway, so we were sitting in Ed’s office again dealing with another sickness that Granite had picked up and come down with. Ed had finished testing Granite, given me what I needed to take care of Granite and I was about to gather our stuff to get ready to leave when Ed said, “Let me see him for a minute.” (note: Granite had been either fussing, crying, or screaming pretty much the entire session.) I handed the kid over, happy to not be holding a squirming, screaming child for a moment and watched as Granite slowly calmed down and got quiet in Ed’s lap. My jaw hit the floor (at least I think it did) and I stared in awe at my quieted child.

As this developed, I remember Ed said to me, “Something isn’t right here. Something is off with this little guy. I don’t think he’s just a fussy baby…I think there’s something going on inside him. Maybe if we figure out what it is then we can deal with it and make it better.”

After Ed made this statement he proceeded to ask me many, many questions; questions about my pregnancy, about Granite’s birth and about how I have dealt with and interacted with Granite, questions about Granite’s behavior at home, his interactions with other people and his reactions to different environments. And he listened. He listened as I answered his questions,  as I said things I’d never conciously thought about before, as I shared about all of the overwhelming emotions of the prior year. And he listened as I confessed that……I didn’t…really…like…my son.

And when I uttered these words, words I had never spoken out loud or even been willing to conciously admit, he waited. He waited as I cried. And cried. And cried. Cried because I was ashamed of my feelings towards my son and because I was sad that my son, who didn’t ask for any of this, had a mother who felt the way that I did.

And then he listened again as I, through my tears, realized and admitted that I wanted my second born to be like my first born- quiet, compliant, calm and easy going -and that when I had realized he was not, I had become so overwhelmed by, resentful towards and frightened about having to be his mother forever, I could barely function!

And then Ed spoke, or the Holy Spirit spoke through him, about taking it one day at a time, about embracing the challenge of being the mother of a spirited child, about me being the one to break the cycle of emotion between Granite and I, about Granite needing my acceptance and about what an incredible man Granite’s strength and spirit and passion, would one day make him. (and he said more but I cannot remember it all nor do it justice, though my memory is of him saying exactly what needed to be said, exactly what I needed to hear)

So I don’t know if it was the power of confessing these things that changed me, the words of wisdom that followed, or the combination of the two, but I left Ed’s office a different woman. And I swear, Granite left a different boy.

The moment I realized this difference was in the car on the way home. Granite was sitting in the seat behind me as I drove and I was lost in thought and still somewhat emotional. I pulled the mirror down to look at him, he was being quiet and I wanted to see what he was doing. And when I looked at my son through that mirror, I saw a different child. It was like I had on a new pair of glasses and, for the first time, was seeing things clearly. Instead of seeing a difficult, tempermental, anger filled wild child, I saw a precious boy who, while spirited and energetic, was just emotional because his mama did not accept him for who he was…and is. And my heart melted as I begged God (and Granite, though I’m not sure he really understood it) for forgiveness.

Our days have been different ever since. We still have our bad moments. And he will always have an energy and spirit that I don’t have or understand. But I have learned to appreciate him, enjoy him, even adore him. He brings so much life, so much hilarity, so much preciousness to our home and I thank God for the grace and wisdom that made it possible.

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It’s finding coins and hairbows and legos in my children’s pockets when I am doing laundry.

It’s listening to my four year old teach my one year old new words while they sit at the dining room table eating lunch.  -“Granite, say airplane.” -“Ehpane.” -“Good!”

It’s opening the kitchen trash can and finding Granite’s bowl from breakfast laying in the bag of trash.

It’s walking in on a game of pretend and listening to Meadow explain, “I’m the mom. Granite is my husband. That is our baby.” and then watching her point to the baby that Granite has wrapped in a blanket and is carrying around the room.

It’s searching our house for my deodorant and make-up brush and finally finding them in the toolbox in the laundry room.

It’s telling my children to go get in the car while I gather our things and then finding them both buckled and waiting patiently in the backseat.

It’s hearing my daughter exclaim, “Mom, look at your son!” when Granite does something cute or funny or ridiculous.

It’s peeking into the den while I am making breakfast and seeing two blonde munchkins sitting with their backs to me, side by side on the couch, watching cartoons.

It’s answering Granite’s questions that he asks through out the day, every day. “Where’s Meadow? Where’s Daddy? Where’s Micah? Where’s Papa? Where’s Sky?” (and sometimes other people too, but always these five)

It’s watching my 43 pound daughter carry my 33 pound son around the house, “Because he wants me to, Mama.”

It’s hearing Meadow and Granite talking over the baby moniter when she gets him out of his crib in the morning, “It’s ok buddy, Mama’s downstairs. Let’s go find Mama.”

The little things… 🙂

my little ones

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Meadow and Granite

We are in Meadow’s room. It is 8:30 a.m. We have just begun our day with a diaper change for Granite and channel eight cartoons for Meadow. I am dragging…feeling the effects of my three a.m bedtime the night, or technically morning I guess, before.

I lay down on Meadow’s bed, longing for my own but knowing it will be at least fourteen hours before I am back in it. Meadow and Granite take turns snuggling with me and I love on each for the moment that they slow down enough to lay beside me.

Granite’s snuggling is brief and occasionally violent. His preference for getting on the bed is to climb the bench at the foot of the bed, flip over the footboard, then stand and jump into position beside me (or, at times, on top of me). This position usually lasts for approximately three seconds before he starts squirming and thrashing and fighting to get back to a standing position, either on the bed or beside it. This of course, as entertaining and hilarious as it is, does not allow for the relaxation that I was so hoping for when I layed down on Meadow’s bed in the first place.

Meadow’s snuggling is much sweeter and longer lasting, but continually interrupted by her brother as he flies through the air and fights to fit between us on the tiny twin bed that we are all sharing. She will crawl under the covers, lay her head beside mine, hold her duckie and talk to me or quietly watch cartoons. Much more conducive to rest and relaxation.

They continue this for half an hour or so, taking breaks from their snuggling to chase each other around our upstairs and play with the toys that are scattered over Meadow’s floor. It is during this play that Meadow finds a plastic lid to one of the containers that usually holds all of the toys that have been dumped out on her floor. She picks up the lid, stares at it for a moment and says,

“What should Granite have for breakfast, mom? Should he have oatmeal or cheerios or a cereal bar…?”
“Oatmeal.” I respond.
“Do you want oatmeal for breakfast too?”
“No, I was going to have a bowl of Raisin Bran.” I answer.
“Ok. You stay here. Don’t come downstairs, ok?”
“Ok.” I say.

She disappears down the stairs, carrying this plastic lid with her. Many, many minutes pass. I start to wonder if she is ever coming back when I hear her holler from the bottom of the steps, “Ok, you and Granite can come downstairs.”

I stretch, still not wanting to be awake, stand up, and gather up my son. I carry him downstairs, all 32 pounds of him, and pause when I reach the bottom. Meadow is in the kitchen, lifting the “breakfast tray” from the counter. “Breakfast is ready.” she announces when she sees us.

“Thank you for making breakfast, Meadow! You are amazing!” I exclaim.
“You’re welcome.” she replies with a smile. “Look, mom! I made yours too but it wouldn’t fit on the tray.” she says and points to another counter where a small bowl of Raisin Bran sits, surrounded by Raisin Bran crumbs and an empty Raisin Bran bag. I thank her again, amused by the evidence her hard work has left behind.

She hands me the “tray” and I take it to the table. I set Granite in his seat, return to the kitchen for my own bowl and come back to the table. I sit down beside my children. Meadow eats her oatmeal while I feed Granite bites between bites of my own.

We sit in pleasant silence for only a moment until that silence is broken.

“Mine’s a little dry.” Meadow comments, breaking the silence. “But it still tastes good.”

I peak into her bowl and wonder how much water she used to make the thick mix that she is eating for her breakfast. As I watch her eat, my heart swells with amusement and appreciation and suddenly I am not as tired, the day ahead does not seem quite as long, and my longings for my bed do not seem quite as overwhelming. A good breakfast. A good morning. I am blessed.

Breakfast of Champions

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my precious pair

Its moments like these that remind me how precious my children are.

It is 11:30 at night. My children and my husband are asleep. The house is quiet. I am finishing up some laundry and remembering Meadow’s meltdown at bedtime.

She had lost “duckie” (the little duck she’s been sleeping with since she was an infant). He was nowhere to be found and she was going to bed without him. She had held it together at first, snuggling with “duckie’s brother”, and keeping a positive attitude. After ten minutes or so, though, she had appeared on the stairs, bottom lip quivering. I had pulled her to me and asked why she was out of bed. With that question she had burst into tears, sobbing on my shoulder and lamenting the loss of her dear friend, duckie.
“I know you are sad that duckie is lost but you really need to go to sleep. It is late and you have school tomorrow. Mama will find your duck. You can sleep with him tomorrow night. Go love on duckie’s brother and go to sleep. I love you.”
With that she dried her tears (some of them) and headed back to bed. Five minutes later she was asleep. 🙂

So I’m remembering bedtime when I begin a thorough search for duckie, knowing that she will be thrilled and relieved to wake up and find that duckie has been found. I start in the living room, checking drawers, cabinets and the coat closet. I move couch cushions, lift curtains and crawl on my hands and knees to check under all of the furniture. Duckie is not in the living room. I begin a similar search in the den when…I remember Meadow and Granite playing in the van that afternoon. I remember their game as explained to me by Meadow when she came in to ask for two dollars and two credit cards (to which I gave her a Kroger card and a Blockbuster card)-

“I am the sister. Granite is my brother. Our parents died. I can drive and I have a phone. I am taking us to school. We have to get gas because we live in Kentucky and our school is in Paris. So I need two credit cards and two dollars.”

I smile and head outside to begin a thorough search of the van. I start in the front seat and work my way back, ending my search when I lean over the backseat and find a bag in the trunk of the van. I open the bag and find the cutest assortment of items that my four year old and one year old have packed for their journey to Paris. I find hairbows, headbands, a comb, a small blanket, a bag of water balloons, two toy cars, several plastic animals…and duckie!

Duckie

With this discovery my heart swells with emotion…what a precious pair! I wish I had a hidden camera to follow them around as they live these adorable moments.

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