Thursday, February 17, 2011

Struggling

Reading blogs often gives you the impression that the blog owner has it all together.  Generally, most bloggers only post about the good things, the things that are going well, and I'm no exception.  For years, I've been learning how not to dwell on the bad things...because I've always tended toward pessimism and negativity, because I've struggled with depression for most of my life.  And it worked.  I've grown more optimistic, and I beat depression.  I quit antidepressants 6 years ago and haven't needed them since, and I feel like I have a good handle on how to work out those times when I'm feeling down rather than slide down that slippery slope all the way to the bottom.  Purposely acknowledging the good, what you are doing right, what you did accomplish works.

That said, I still go through times where I am feeling down.  It usually takes me several days before I recognize why I'm struggling.  I'm been struggling this week...to do school with the kids, to clean, to prepare meals, to want to do anything really.  Yep, I'm in one of my downward spirals.  Fortunately, I do believe I'll pull myself out of it, just not today probably.  Maybe tomorrow.  Today, I still need to process, to think about what's really getting to me and figure out what I want to DO about it.

I've had some things on my mind for quite a while. Others have just come to a head.  Altogether, they are overwhelming.  While I know I'm doing plenty of good things, I also feel like I've failed and am failing all four of my kids.

Mikaela - She's smart, and she has awesome social skills.  She finds friends everywhere she goes. I've always known she was smart.  In fact, it was the reason I initially began homeschooling; I didn't want her to be bored out of her mind in school.  Well, I didn't challenger her enough either, and now she's the classic example of a gifted underachiever.  I don't know how to motivate her and have had to be satisfied with her doing her school work without giving me grief over it.  What I really want is for her to enjoy something and excel at it...because she can.

Samuel - He's the ideal student: motivated and excited to learn.  He loves his grammar, math, and chemistry.  He can't wait until we start physics and astronomy.  He's pretty good at most of the other stuff.  But he's struggling socially and emotionally.  We've been trying to help with him social skills and appropriate behavior towards other people.  He's shown symptoms of depression, and two days ago, he started taking Zoloft.  I really want him to have friends and to be happy and content with his life.

Joshua - He's full of life and energy.  His smile and laughter lights up any room.  But he's full volume, full speed, full time, and it annoys all of us on a daily basis.  He wears us down.  He also gets the short end of the stick when it comes to getting attention from me.  I feel pressured to get school done adequately with the big kids, and I'm still nursing Madelynn.  There's very little left for Joshua.  Sure, I take him to the store with me for one on one time.  Sure, I let him help me in the kitchen at times.  But he's not getting enough on a day to day basis, and I don't want him growing up feeling like he was the least important and the least loved.

Madelynn - When she's happy, she's virtually ignored.  When she's unhappy, she refuses to be ignored so I have no choice but to stop what I'm doing and address her needs. She spends her days watching TV with Joshua.  Yes, I know kids her age shouldn't be watching TV at all, let alone all day. I wish I could do with Josh and Maddie what I did with Mika and Sam...go places such as museums, parks, puppet shows, and the like all the time.  But I can't because Mika and Sam have school to do. 

Really, what it boils down to is finding the balance.  Balance is something I've never been good at finding.  I'm usually all one way or all another.  I feel that if I meet the needs of the older kids, I'm not meeting the needs of the younger kids.   I feel that if I'm meeting the needs of the younger kids, I'm not doing a good job of with the olders.  If I could find that balance, motivate my daughter to find her niche, and help my son feel good again, it would be wonderful.

It's tough sometimes.

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4 Comments:

Kim said...

I could have written this post. But I only have 2. The underachieving really smart kid....and "Hurricane" the little sis. The TV that I never thought I'd use so much.
So I am thankful to know I'm not the only one...which o wouldn't have known if you had not be open. Thank you!

Julie said...

Wow, don't always read your posts but for some reason was drawn to read this one this early am. Can I just say "me too." Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate your willingness to share and it encourages me in a weird sort of way. God bless you and your family. All is grace.....

lking said...

This is one of my favorite post of yours. It opens all sides of the spectrum to a heart of reality in which I can relate and sympathize with. Although it has its dilemmas, I feel encouraged that I am not the only one struggling with the imbalance of life. Personally I no longer try to wrestle with bringing balance (I've thrown in the white flag). God is helping me to roll with it, manage the extremes, facilitate the unmet expectations, delve into the strong moments, and embrace the joys of not being in control (at least choosing to..haha). Most importantly, I collaborate, share, and listen over tea with Him.
Thanks for sharing!!!

Khadija said...

Hi, I read your blog but rarely comment. These gifted kids sure are tricky, aren't they? I'm constantly tearing my hair out and second guessing my choices. I guess as homeschool moms we all do that, but when you have gifted kids it is all just so much more intense.

My oldest son is 8 (almost 9) and a lot like your Sam. Way gifted in science and math, and moving right along in other subjects as well. I am so fortunate to have just moved into an area where we have a homeschool group for gifted kids and I've learned a lot that makes me feel a little bit better about 8/9 year old boys. I don't know your son, but I've compared notes with some of the other moms with similar kids and we all have similar complaints. Our math/science guys aren't so comfortable socially and seem a little behind emotionally too (can be very sensitive and are often very easily upset about war and death and other "big topics"). I thought it was just me, and was contemplating doing something about it. My son gets very nervous when people say "hello," ask "how are you?" or make general small talk. He looks down and responds with single word answers and seems really shy. However, I've noticed when he jumps right in with other boys who have similar gifts, he seems very well adjusted and they talk about their passions easily. If he's talking about something he's very into, he seems fine. Maybe Sam is just shy and uncomfortable with "small talk" with new people? Some of the moms with slightly older boys say that it improves dramatically as they age.

I think gifted kids realize very early on that other regular kids don't "get them" in the way that they'd like, and they react to that in very different ways. I hope that you can find some groups for the gifted in your area (TAGMAX is a nation-wide email list for homeschoolers of gifted kids and might be a start to finding peers in your area). I think having peers that "get them" can really help alleviate some of the stress that these kids feel.

I only have 3 kids (and no nursing babies at the moment!), so I can't fully relate to balancing all that you do, but when I am going crazy I try to get outside with all the kids or find some kind of an activity that we can all do together (geocaching is our latest hobby that gets us all out and includes the youngest). I often feel like my youngest is getting the short end of the stick, but I pray that it all works out in the end!

Maybe you can include the younger two more by easing up on some of the regimented "seat work" with the older ones? It's just so hard with toddlers though... I really wish you all the best and hang in there! I always look to your blog for inspiration from someone who is doing _so much more_ curriculum with her kids than I am! :-)

Khadija