Sundays are coming way too quickly these days. What used to be my favorite day of the week, has now become the day I have to leave my kids for two and a half days.
I have a new kind of gratitude for the four and a half days a week I’m home, and have noticed that I have been much more intentional about trying to enjoy every minute. Snuggles with Creed are sweeter. Talks with Maddie are longer. I revel in all these ordinary moments that have now turned sacred.
Today, before the last-minute cleaning, shopping, and packing activities that have become a big part of Saturdays, the kids and I spent some time on a little art-turned-mental-health project that was recommended to me by Mary Dev, who is a counselor at MD Anderson, and now part of my healthcare team.
My doctor felt that I could benefit from Mary’s services because I have young children, and I’m so thankful she took the time to speak to Patrick and me Monday. As I mentioned here, telling the kids about my diagnosis was certainly not something we ever thought we’d have to do, and since that time, we have tried to be very observant of how they’re handling our new normal.
Both kids seem to be doing very well, actually, but I am all about doing everything we can to make sure we are addressing their emotional needs during this time.
Mary gave me backpacks for both kids that contained a few items to help them cope mentally and emotionally with my diagnosis. Most of this was too elementary for Maddie, but she was a good sport and played along for Creed’s benefit. Creed absolutely loved it and has already utilized some of the suggestions we went over this morning.
Each backpack held a stuffed animal, a worry box, a paint kit (to decorate the worry box), a set of five feeling bracelets, and a journal.
The purpose of the wooden box is to help children deal with worries or stressors that are on their mind, but they may not be ready to talk about yet. They write out their worries, and then place them in the box. Once the worrisome situation has been resolved, or they decide they’d like to talk about it with someone, they take it out of the box.
We decided to change the name of the worry box, to the prayer box. I told them if something is bothering them (even if it has nothing to do with me) they can write it out, put it in the box, and pray about it. When God has answered the prayer, or given them peace about the situation, they can take it out of their box and thank Him for the answered prayer.
The bracelets are a clever tool to help children communicate what they’re feeling. Each bracelet lists a different emotion; happy, loved, angry, sad, or worried. The emotion is written on the inside, so only Patrick and I know what they’re feeling, and then we can address it.
So far today Creed has put on the angry bracelet, because his newest lego creation broke and it ticked him off. The sad bracelet, because I made him pick up all his broken legos out of the middle of the foyer. The worried bracelet, because he couldn’t find our cat and was just sure she had escaped out the front door and ran away forever. And finally, the happy bracelet, because his daddy took him out for a bike ride on this beautiful day. Apparently, the only emotion he hasn’t felt in the last hour and a half is love. Guess we’ll have to work on that. 🙂
I might suggest to Mary that an eye roll bracelet should also be included, because that’s what I got from Maddie when I asked her why she hasn’t worn any of her bracelets today. 🙂
This project was actually a fun little bonding time with the kids, and I’m ever so grateful for anything, even the little things, that may help them cope with the unexpected changes occurring in our home right now. Mostly though, this project has reminded me that my kids have something more powerful than a bracelet on their arm, or a box in their room, to help them cope; they have Jesus in their hearts.
If you or a loved one are going through a rough patch, I encourage you to seek out practical ways to deal with conflict, stress, and the unwanted emotions that accompany those valleys. I am thankful for those in the mental health profession who have spent thousands of hours learning how to help those who are hurting, or who need clarity for certain situations in their lives.
Sometimes life just gets too overwhelming for us to handle on our own. We’ve all been there. I fully believe in utilizing these professionals and allowing them to share their knowledge on coping skills and appropriate responses to the hardships of life.
And in addition, allow Matthew 11:29-30 to sink into your soul. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
He is the giver of peace, despite what you are facing.
Do all that you can, and then allow God to do what you can’t.