Every pregnancy has its lessons. If we commit the whole thing to prayer and really seek God’s will, He makes those lessons known. This pregnancy has been no exception. Its lessons have been about slowing down, taking time, really studying and responding to my children, and resolving, with the help of grace, not to forget it all when the baby comes.
Truthfully, I’ve been too sick to drive much at all Mass once a week and that’s about it. I’ve spent a whole lot of time just sitting or puttering about my house, trying to make it more peaceful. Some friends have stayed in touch. Others have gone their busy ways. But what about the children? For the most part, coaches have been very kind and helped with transporting and the kids have understood that we’re all about making our fun at home these days. Two children, in particular, needed my careful attention as we began and pursued neurological/educational testing. Though the testing and the meetings were extremely wearing, the time to sit and contemplate and reflect on the results has been a blessing. So, how to tie all those lessons together before this baby is born?
It all began innocently enough. I was feeling sick late one afternoon and began to channel surf to distract myself from the nausea. I happened upon EWTN and Johnette Benkovich was talking to Ned Hallowell, author of several books on Attention Deficit Disorder and crazy-busyness in general. His descriptions of ADD so fit some people I dearly love that I stopped clicking the remote and listened. My newly diagnosed teenager wandered in. He listened. The show ended; I went to the computer; the books were on their way in minutes.
One thing I knew before the show was that I needed to spend some time thinking about how to structure the children’s days, weeks, years so they aren’t swallowed by busyness. Official ADD diagnosis aside, every person in my household can benefit from peace and order. And I had a sense these books could help me to help them. The last push before the baby arrives is to really cement the quiet at home that has become our reality these nine months.
For me, the most riveting point that Dr. Hallowell made was that we are not to strive for independence. Instead, we need healthy interdependence. The person with ADD needs support people. The wife of a man with ADD can foster healthy interdependence and be an asset to her husband. As I pondered this whole dynamic of interdependence and I thought about countless struggles to “fix” or “change” those very pronounced ADD tendencies, it occurred to me that part of the vocation of a woman whose husband has ADD might just be to fill that support role in a deliberate, tangible way. Similarly, the mother of a child with ADD needs to look not so much toward making him tow the line like everybody else, but to embrace how he is wired and harness that uniqueness for something good. My role is to coach and to do what I can do to make home as structured for success as possible. And that’s where providing calm and order for everyone comes into play.
Dr. Hallowell also makes the point that just as there is true ADD (a neurological condition), there is environmentally induced pseudo-ADD. The environment in which we live to which we are wired feeds frenetic activity, multi-tasking and distractibility. We are Crazy Busy: Overbooked, Overstretched and About to Snap. And that’s the title of another Hallowell book.
We see evidence of this all around us, particularly in the hyper-competitive suburbs of Washington, DC. It’s about over-scheduling. It’s about spending too much time attached to a Blackberry, cellphone, computer or telephone. I'm just guessing here (haven't read that book yet), but an ADD individual living in a crazy-busy world might not be the best scenario for success.
Should any child live in a crazy-busy world? What do we teach our children when we over-schedule them or allow them to over-schedule themselves? Is that good time management? How will that play out in their adult lives? Just as important as the lessons learned through sports, dance and music are the lessons in peaceful relaxation, quiet contemplation and regular renewal.
The last nine months have been slow. Really, really slow. Every time I think I can add things in, up the busyness factor, God slows me down.
This morning, my son Stephen told a friend of mine that he wasn't going to play travel soccer this fall because that would really make mom pass out. It's a little extreme, but the truth is that every busy day we have had has been followed by two or three “pass out” days. I have spent nine months saying, “I can't.” And every time I'm forced to dial back, I ask what God is trying to teach me. He’s teaching me to say “No.” Now, close to the end (please Lord) of this extreme form of being reminded to slow down, I am beginning to understand that crazy-busy isn't ever going to do any of us any good, and “little and hidden” needs to be my way of life well past this baby's birthday.
My husband and I are making a conscious effort to be sure that our children spend far more time in a peaceful home than they do in the crazy-busy world. I truly believe that the success and the happiness of this family depend on my ability to remember those lessons.
Elizabeth Foss is a freelance writer from northern Virginia. To visit her blog click here.
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)