Today's challenge is to share my hardest challenge I've faced to date.
I've done a lot of thinking about this one.
Is it just simply "parenting"? That is a crazy hard challenge. One that involves almost all my time and energy. That has me on call 24/7, that has me questioning my sanity repeated, that makes me so filled with joy and so filled with anger intermittently. Maybe.
Is it homeschooling? The struggle to balance emotional needs, social needs, educational needs? Trying to figure out how each child learns most effectively and working on it. Comparing materials and curriculums, finding programs and fieldtrips we can afford, struggling to keep motived and encouraged, fighting off the guilt and the stress. Maybe.
Was it when Middle was born and ended up in the NICU for 2 weeks? That was one of the most emotionally draining and stressful times of my life. I'd never been alone from Big, I lost my ability to touch my new baby, was bounced around hospitals, treated like dirt because I wasn't a conventional mom, talked down to by a doctor who felt my suggestion for Kangaroo Care was completely irrational and experimental, and where I had to learn to drive standard car just to be able to get back and forth to the hospital - in winter. Maybe.
Each of these has it's own place in my list of hard challenges, but I think that winner is the year 2009. (Actually it was from Oct 2008 - Early 2010). That 18 month period has been dubbed "The Year From Hell."
That got the ball of madness rolling. It was just one thing after another from there.
J's chest pain (that thankfully wasn't a clot and faded on its own).
Middle getting scary sick.
J getting scary sick.
Big & Little getting ear infections.
J missing so much work we were financially in the hole.
[Being blessed by friends and family with money for bills and so much Christmas stuff I can't even tell you!]
By early in the 2009, we had more sickness followed by a March phone call from the office telling us that we were eligible to move to a bigger unit in our complex.... in 2 months. It meant going crazy on our unit we lived in to get inspections done and approval for the move. Try cleaning a house with 3 little kids. Ya, not so easy.
April brought the news that J's work was cutting 100s of jobs, and he had 9 days to decide if he was going to take a settlement package and a new job elsewhere or if he was going to stay. He chose to leave (best decision ever, I think.).
So May 1st, we moved. In itself, that was stressful enough. Add in 3 young kids, and the fact we couldn't even get into our new place until late afternoon, that we had to clean up our old place to crazy inspection level, that I was so stressed I could barely think.
After the move, everything went to hell.
My baby sister unexpectedly passed away. My family fell into a state of blank numbness. I rushed home to be with them - taking Little with me and leaving J with the older 2.
We tried to make summer be as normal as possible for the kids, as we settled into our new place. J survived the wrapping up of his job and prepped for the end of it.
In September, I started to bleed spontaneously from one of my breasts. Hello new freak out. This started a whole sequence of tests and retests - from dr to dr and hospital to hospital. Spontaneously bleeding is far too often caused by breast cancer, and given my high-risk history of my birth mom and breast cancer, it was really important. I bled for almost 6 weeks, but they never figured out why.
Mid-september, J's job was over and he started a new one, which completely changed our family routine and schedule. It was a blessing, but one that would come with a big stress - finances - since the new job paid a lot less than the old one.
Oh.. and let's not forget the flour incident....
After Thanksgiving, my grandma passed away. (I'm shocked to note that I never blogged about it. I think I was just so worn out by this point, I couldn't share anymore.). She was one of my favourite people ever and I miss her a lot. It meant I headed back to my hometown (this time with all 3 kids) and spent the week with my family again.
In the midst of all this, I started homeschooling, struggled to keep my Tupperware business afloat, and tried to keep life as normal as possible for our kids - celebrating birthdays, doing activities, playing and having fun.
We thought we made some wise financial decisions with the settlement package money - paying off our extremely high-interest loan on the van. But that ended up with us being refused EI when J was laid off the new job for winter (much to our dismay), and several weeks of desperately trying to keep things together. I think I didn't sleep much for weeks. We finally were approved for some help for the few weeks we needed it, only to find out that because I had a Tupperware party, we lost it all. Argh.
It really was one thing after another. It was like we'd barely get our feet under us and something would knock them out from under us again. Or we'd just have realized we hit the ground and something would step on our chests to keep us there. It was horrible.
I'm so grateful for faith. Without my faith in Abba, I don't know if I would have survived that year without Him. It would have been impossible.
One of my long-time mama support groups asked us to share what we were proud of for 2009. My answer?