Parenting by Choice, Rather than Circumstance

April’s turning out to be one long month at my house! One surprise after another – and not the pleasant variety. Frustrated? Of course, I am – like most parents in the trenches would be.  

But am letting the chaos get the best of me? Or have I looked within myself – perceiving the taxing situations through a different lens? 

First came the storm. Although the wind uprooted a large tree in my backyard, I am thankful. It crushed the birdbath but didn’t land on the house. No serious damage. And when I asked for help with the clean-up, one of my sons quickly volunteered. Now we have firewood for years.  

squirrelNext was the pregnant squirrel. It conveniently built a nest in the engine of my seldom-driven Jeep. While the babies were precious, the chewed wires were not. The vehicle wouldn’t start. But I am thankful once again. My long-time mechanic fixed the damage – without charging me an arm and a leg.

 Relationships matter more than things.

Onto the hernia. I successfully kept it at bay for two years with targeted exercise. No longer!  The pain intensified 10 days ago and hasn’t let up – even with nightly ice. Although outpatient surgery and recovery lie ahead, I’m thankful for a fixable condition. My neighbor wasn’t as lucky. Pancreatic cancer took her life on the first day of the month.

April also brought my middle son’s annual appointment with the nephrologist. There was no change in his kidney disease. In fact, a slight decrease. Yet I am thankful for a wonderful doctor who listened to my son’s concerns. And responded with empathy. The lithium, that’s reduced his mood swings more than any other medication, can still be taken – as long as he maintains a special diet and drinks a gallon of water each day.

The challenges are real – but not insurmountable. 

Last week my oldest son transferred to the state prison, following a year in the county jail. For a young man with a rough start in life, addiction and PTSD proved a rough combination. Instead of allowing the incarceration to embarrass me, I’m thankful for his solitude – without the influence of drugs. My son reflected on past mistakes. He took ownership for the first time. And he openly communicated with me. Best of all, a true sense of faith appears to be emerging.

And let me finish with the word toxic! That describes two of my children’s behaviors for nearly the entire month. As unexpected stress triggered their past trauma, they’re overwhelmed. More emotional, less rationale. They struggle to say anything nice. They look for someone to blame. And I’m thankful that person is me, not someone who would refuse to understand – much less love unconditionally.

In times of darkness, the light will always return. 

In other words, I had choices amid my frustration. Did I worry and fret? Did I become angry? Did I grow bitter? The answer is no.

Not to be cliché-ish, but I knew that April showers would bring May flowers. You see, the columbine in my yard will bloom next month. Fragile yet brilliant. An annual symbol of hope, made even more compelling by a tragic school shooting – in April, 17 years ago. 

columbine

And I thrive on hope!

How about you? Where will you look today, tomorrow, next week? What will you see? Will you take time to ponder before responding?  

You, too, can find an inner peace – when parenting by choice, rather than circumstance. DCP

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Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special” Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE

To follow Craig’s progress in writing a book about raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

To follow his son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page. Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold

 

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