because when you listen…

The past two weeks have been the hardest two weeks of my entire life. We thought we were through the rough, that the smooth was headed our way. We have put in the hard work; we have changed and learned and grown. We have tried harder than we ever thought possible. The past few weeks have taught us that we know nothing. That right when we think we have made progress, we are so quickly reminded that this process is a lifetime. That progress can’t be measured on a daily basis but must be looked at over a lifetime. That we must celebrate every inch like it is the biggest victory that we will ever get.

Because sometimes you do therapy after therapy, read book after book and watch video after video hoping and praying that one of those will be a beacon into your days of suffering. That someone will have the answer to the trials.

But, what about when that doesn’t happen? When you wake up another day only to find that it’s exponentially harder than the day before. The day before, you thought it could never get worse but then, it does.

Lately I’ve let jealousy overcome me. I’ve been consumed by other peoples happiness, by their apparent ease of life. And, I hate being riddled with jealousy. Jealous of dates with spouses, vacations sans children, by extra spending money, by those whose lives are…easy. I’m jealous. I simply want what they have. A peaceful moment. The calm. The laughter. I want it all. But, then I find myself so consumed by others lives that I miss my own joy.

And, when I miss my own joy, I miss the laughter roaming through our halls, the giggles that bounce from wall to wall. I miss the days we spend with our children and the adventures we go on. I miss our joy. Our joy isn’t date nights and lavish vacations(heck, any vacation), it’s not fancy dinners or remodeling our house. Our joy is different than their joy. I was so consumed by theirs that I missed ours.

Our joy is having our sweet baby make eye contact. Or running to us with an owie instead of holding back his own tears. Our joy is using words instead of screams. Of not smearing poop all over the walls. Or not hanging from the curtains. Or jumping off the bed instead of sleeping. Our joy is…different…but it is still…joy.

And, then, right in the middle of my own self pity, I had a revelation. I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t listening to my child. I was so consumed by what was wrong about our lives and what was amazing about everyone else’s that I missed the cries. I was so consumed with wanting a moment to myself that I couldn’t hear anything. I was so consumed by my own misery that I couldn’t find the answer to my child’s cries and screams. It’s like I had become numb to the noise. 16 months of constant screaming had been hard but the last two weeks of torture had, finally, worn me down. But, the Lord laid a hand upon me and whispered that I must listen. That this was my job. It wasn’t for the faint of heart and it surely wasn’t easy but we couldn’t give up. And then, I started making changes. Listening. Trying. Changing, again.

This time I realized that the sudden increase in my child’s screams were his way of saying that he couldn’t handle it. We had put him in a preschool and looking back, things went from bad to worse right after that. But, two weeks, it took two weeks until I opened my eyes to see it. And, then I realized that his preschool was triggering. Sure, many said to tough it out, that he will get used to it. But, for 14 months, my son didn’t have the voice of his momma to help calm his cries or protect him. And, it’s not his job to push past his pain, it’s my job to protect him from the scars of his past. To ease his little life so that his past wounds don’t haunt him everyday.

And, when I did listen, it was like the gates of joy opened. On the surface, it’s like the change of preschools was just what he needed. But, looking back, he needed to know that his momma was listening to his cries. That not only was I there for him but I proved to him that his suffering doesn’t have to be something that he has to endure.

It sounds ridiculous, preschool. Like, could that really be the root of all of our problems? To tell you the truth, yes. Changing his preschool turned a light on in him. A little boy came out that I have never, in 16 months, seen before. It’s like he finally realized that we weren’t bystanders or people holding the spot until someone else came along. It’s like he realized that he was safe. That his feelings were validated and that, above all else, we were listening.

So while I still want calm moments and date nights and fancy dinners and vacations, I’ve realized that the joy in our home right now is more than enough to carry me through this phase in our life. That my sweet baby finally being HAPPY is the greatest gift that I could ever receive.

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