Thursday, January 19, 2012

Parenting Part 1

Thus far, the hardest thing about being in Africa has been parenting.  Little w is doing fine.  She basically seems oblivious to all the changes and has even started trying to say "Jambo."  J is a hero for doing cloth diapers for in the absence of running water.  THAT is a lot of dirty work.  Pray that the running water gets fixed soon.

Back to parenting.  Little t is really struggling.  The is A LOT to adjust to, though we see improvement each day.  The hardest part for him is that there are 300 kids here half of whom live 50 paces away in the children's home.  These kids are sweet and joyful and well behaved, but they're still kids with no concept of personal space or privacy or alone time because they are all always around 100 of their peers.  My hat is off to Christopher, the manager/pastor/father here, who manages to keep this wild herd more or less under control twenty four hours a day.  I'm failing to manage my two.

The outworking of t's struggles are that his behavior has been atrocious.  I won't go into details.  And he is having nightmares, night terrors, and is experiencing a lot of fear that he is neither able to express nor really able to process.  Of course he just comes to us for security.  But he doesn't ask or use words.  Don't think: cuddling up and saying “Mommy hold me."  Think: irrational inconsolable four year old screaming in our bed for an hour at 3AM.  Almost daily.  And there are lots of other unpleasant symptoms.
It's stressful. And we're not getting good sleep. Frankly, it's hard not to be angry with him—especially when I've been up most of the night. I confess that at time I have felt and even expressed anger. I'm frustrated that I can't control his feelings or behavior. This has led to some pretty desperate moments. But I'm learning something from it.

I am experiencing the inevitable brokenness of human relationships, and I am so disappointed. I have tried so hard (not just this month, but for the last four years, always striving to make parenting a priority). And I realize that in some sense I have failed. Our relationship cannot be perfect, no matter how I try.

His behavior is so bad at times that often I don't even want to be around him. And that just breaks my heart.

But I don't know why I expected otherwise. Of course we are both sinners (imperfect people), doing not what we know we ought to, and doing what we know we ought not. Of course brokenness enters in and disrupts our relationship.

There is hope, however, that our relationship will be redeemed. Because it has been fractured and will be made new again on the altar of Christ, it will be better than new, better than it would be if it had never been disrupted. We can choose to love one another nonetheless.

Have we not behaved the very same way toward Our Heavenly Father?

To be continued...


  1. Thanks for your honest posting, T. We dealt with a lot of night terrors with Jack when he was 3-4...hard stuff...maddening. Spent a lot of time doing spiritual warfare for him and us. We will be praying for you guys in this area specifically. All is grace.

  2. David has been having those for a while, now. I used to get frustrated when he would not speak and just cry and cry, so I started taking him for a walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Usually the walk shakes off the crying and the water settles him back to sleep. Walking him helped me to feel like I was doing something- and it turned out to help him, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the frustration and how it's hard to be around him. I can totally relate. It's especially hard when the other one is just sooooo sweet and easy going. ~JRoss

  3. A beautiful post...honest, vulnerable, the voice of malleable clay, eyes on Father. David, Elaina, Elisa, Carrie and I are praying - against little t's fears and insecurities, and for wisdom for his mommy and daddy. Grace, peace, and hope to your sweet family.

  4. T. is at such a vulnerable age, too, in becoming more aware of life/death. I know we are not always sensitive to the impact just a day visit has on little ones, much less the amount of time you've been away from home and traveling/experiencing all things new for him. Habits are made in something like 7 weeks. We found w/ our kids in Kenya that they finally seemed to be adjusting about the time that we left. It is those pressing times, those middle of the night times that reveal to us our need for our Deliverer, huh? Thankful for His loving kindness and tender mercies, for us and for our children. Praying for you and know that you are not alone in your "failures". T knows he is loved.