I remember more seasoned parents telling me that the baby years aren’t as bad as it gets. I was crazy from sleep deprivation and the chronic stress of caring for a special needs child, and couldn’t imagine anything worse. Now, I’m getting a peek at what those parents were talking about.

I won’t say that it’s tougher, because I am sleeping at night and everyone’s health is stable right now. The stress in our lives comes from different places, and isn’t of the life-or-death variety. But the challenges of raising our children have changed and the complexity has taken on a new dimension.

color bleedOne child wakes up angsty and over-reacts to perceived slights and lack of fairness. Another child can’t control their tongue and vomits all manner of opinion, critique, and insults on everyone around. Another asks me if “sex” is a bad word and what the F word means. I discover how difficult it can be to remain level-headed and calm amidst the stormy lives orbiting mine (which isn’t exactly calm either).

They are watching me. I’m watching them. We rub off on each other. The lines between us blur and overlap and the colors mix. I labor hard to keep my head above water and shove the frustration down when they are at each other’s throats.

But it isn’t just them dragging me down. I see how it affects them when I’m tense or worried or angry. It’s a constant battle to listen to myself and reign myself in, to deal constructively with my own unhappiness rather than pouring it all over them. I pray that as we work through these things together, we will forgive each other, give each other room to figure it out, and learn from each other. Maybe our colors will bleed together into something beautiful.

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Life: unmasked buttonIt’s Wednesday, which means it’s a day to write unmasked, share the real-life with one another, put something out there to let someone else know they aren’t alone.

The instructions are simple: include a link back to this post in your post (you can use this short link: http://wp.me/p2n5xv-xq ). Copy the direct link to your post into the linky below. Then visit a couple others and let them know you stopped by! (I’ll do my best to visit a few of you too, but this summer has made writing and reading challenging!)