Me and My Battles

16 May

You have to keep your cool at work, generally speaking.  Can’t lose your temper in the face of complete incompetence, you have to be professional.  But then you go home and you let off that steam.  Sure, you try your best to be nice to your spouse and your kids, but it’s still your own home.  Your safe place.  You do things the way you want to.  You keep things the way you want them.  Like the lids securely on all the Tupperware in the fridge?  You got it.  Like the bigger pots to hang behind the smaller pots?  No problem.  Like to do yoga in your underwear?  Um, sure.  You can face another day at work, because you just had a night or a weekend away from all that nonsense.  Even if you love your job, you need some perspective, some refreshment, some solitude.  Or is it just me?

Now imagine you live at your work.  That little break room at the end of the hall?  That’s the extent of your “privacy”.  And the other employees?  Some of whom drive you nuts all day?  They never leave.  Evenings, weekends, holidays, they are perpetually there.  There are always at least 3 of them sleeping down the hall, sitting in your living room when you’re “done for the day” and just want to relax in peace, rearranging your silverware for no apparent reason, listening to loud and obnoxious videos on their phones, and always ready to pounce if you lose your cool for one second.  My type-A, verging on OCD-like tendencies, are under constant attack, as is my introverted heart.  A hundred times a day, I see something that makes my skin crawl that I’ve just learned to let go, because it doesn’t make any difference to call it out.  I like my house kept a certain way, a logical way (in my mind!), but I’ve realized it just ain’t gonna happen!  But letting it go just means I don’t do anything about it at the moment.  It still feels like a little assault inside of me every time.  Then there’s another tier of things that I try to gently address because it more directly affects the well-being of our kids.  Those things are usually met with a myriad of excuses and complaints.  So that’s fun.  Then, after letting a hundred things go, and addressing a dozen things that are basically rejected, I have reached my capacity.  I do have a capacity.  I am human.  Something, big or small, is going to tip me over the edge.  I’m going to overreact.  And because I try desperately never to let this happen with our kids, it is going to be with one of the adults in our house.  I don’t like when it happens with Wilson, but overacting to your spouse is sort of “acceptable”, in a way, I think.  More acceptable than overreacting to your employees at work, at least.  But that’s where I am all the time, at work with employees who, frankly, make me crazy.  So lately I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of a breakdown.

Adjust your expectations.  That’s the advice I’ve received on a number of occasions.  And that sounds nice; lower your expectations and you won’t be bothered or disappointed.  But it’s not that simple.  For one, I will not lower my standard of care for our kids.  I just won’t.  They need to be clean.  They need to be safe.  They need to be loved and engaged.  No compromising there.  Second, I am a steward of money that is not my own.  If I were not strict about how supplies are used in our house, there would be a gross misuse of pretty much everything, driving the Promise House budget through the roof.  I know this because that’s how it was before we moved in and that’s how it is every time I “give an inch” or when we leave for a vacation.  And third, I’m not sure you can just switch personality types because you say you want to.  And, I’m not sure I should anyway.  I think my perfectionism, organization, logic, planning, and determination are at least partially responsible for the progress we’ve made so far in the Promise House with these kids.  I think to run a home caring for 8 kids with special needs and staying within a donated budget and being mom/advocate/nurse/teacher/therapist/manager/etc. takes at least some of these qualities to do well.  And we are doing well.  The kids are healthier and happier, they are progressing, the house is cleaner and more efficient.  But the cost is a battle inside me and I’m pretty sure I’m the one losing.  Guys, I can’t even have a good cry in my room because the nannies can hear me from the kitchen and the short-term volunteers can hear me from upstairs.  I can be the picture of perfection for weeks and lose my temper once after the umpteenth time they do something totally ridiculous and they will lose their minds and go tell the nannies in the other houses what a horrible person I am.

For a few months, we had a nanny-free day every week and even though it was hard work taking care of the kids by ourselves, it was pure bliss, in its own way!  A day to detox.  We really appreciated their help more after coming back from a day without them.  But now we’re back up to 8 kids in the house with another little one on the way (yes, I’m 12 weeks pregnant, if you haven’t heard!), which means I’m more tired than usual and soon won’t be able to physically care for the bigger boys for a while, so it’s just not practical to continue our nanny-free days.  So truthfully, we need the nannies. But truthfully, I’m barely holding it together having to live with them 24/7.

And then one day, God touched me with his magic spirit wand and now I have the patience of a saint.  No wait, that didn’t happen.  And then one day, I stopped caring about anything that didn’t have true, eternal value, so the dumb things our nannies did just stopped bothering me.  No wait, that didn’t happen either.  There’s not really a resolution to this little story, I’m sorry to say.  It’s just me, hanging in there because God has given me a fierce love for these 8 precious kids that I can’t turn my back on.  Just me and my battles, praying that maybe I could win a few so I can find hope for myself like I already see for my kids.


Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Life in Haiti, Prayer, Sheila


14 responses to “Me and My Battles

  1. Angela Covington

    May 16, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I’m going to remember this in my prayers! Thanks for sharing. I understand to a very small degree, as I care for 12 year old J. I still have the luxury of going home in the evening, but after being his primary daytime caregiver for the last 3 years, and recently having a new employee join the team, I realize that everyone doesn’t share my standard of care or do things the way I think makes sense. It IS hard to just let it go! And J isn’t even my kid!

  2. Angela Covington

    May 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    PS Congratulations on your coming little one! So exciting!

  3. shelley w

    May 16, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    sheila, i am in this very situation at my work. i am so sorry this is happening. and i have no answer either, except for what you’re doing: to remember that your kids are the priority and to try to convince yourself that these personal affronts are ultimately inconsequential. I have a book recommendation, but shouldn’t name the title here. i have to remind myself everyday that i am powerless to change anyone else’s selfish behavior; all i can change is my response to it. but you go ahead and cry and be mad and take some time to be alone as much as you can so that you are able to be there for Wilson and your kids. So proud of you. Hang in there:)

    • nursegal513

      May 16, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      love you, shelley! feel free to send me that book title some other way 🙂

  4. Kristen R McClain

    May 16, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Oh Sheila, thank you for being real and vulnerable and sharing your heart and your struggles. I wish there was better advice I could give you to cope friend. But for now, I’ll be praying for you like crazy ❤

  5. Ruth

    May 17, 2017 at 5:32 am

    Dear Mama,
    Please remember that all these things you are feeling are heightened by your physical condition of the baby yet to come. As your trimesters change, some parts of this will seem less intense.
    Your husband and children reap the blessings of the best parts of your love. Don’t lose heart.
    God bless you, comfort you and give you strength and wisdom.

    • nursegal513

      May 17, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Yes, I suppose hormones are not helping the situation 😉

  6. Jill Holt

    May 17, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Oh Sheila! Appreciate your honesty and vulnerability . In the end it is our human nature that we war against,and your right, there is no easy answer or solution.We wake up each day and pick up our cross and carry on. I admire you and Wilson and others like you …. Doing what you do, it’s amazing.And it’s good to hear some of the challenges you face . Will continue to pray for you all.
    Psalm 31:10″ Be strong and let your heart take courage,All you who hope in the Lord”
    Isaiah 41:10″ Do not fear for I am with you ;Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God.I will strengthen you,surely I will help you.Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”
    Love you, Jill

    • nursegal513

      May 17, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Got a little teary reading those verses. Thanks for sharing them, Jill

  7. Anita

    May 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

    While reading your post, I laughed, then I cried, then I laughed some more. Thank you for sharing your heart. You are always in my prayers.
    Anita (King’s Church)

    • nursegal513

      May 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Thank you, Anita. And thanks for keeping King’s in the loop with prayer requests and such as they come up.

  8. Heather

    May 24, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Sheila, you’re an amazing woman! I know it may not feel like it, but you really are. It’s so encouraging to see God being at work in you, giving you passion for what matters to Him and carrying you through the struggles even when you feel like you’re “failing” as we all do. Your life experiences are an inspiration to me, so thank you so much for sharing and please know that you are in my prayers!! I cherish my memories of times past with you and I hope someday we can come visit you!!! Congratulations on Baby Chery!!! Super exciting 😀


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