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.