And though it was difficult to keep my homeschooling head above water as I was constantly cleaning up vomit (brief backstory to catch some of you up: LM was Failure to Thrive when he came to us so we had to feed him every 3 hours...so 8 times a day...for the first 6 weeks. Feedings took an hour each b/c he was on an NG tube and and if you fed him too fast, he puked. But to be entirely honest, he puked about 7 time out of 8 feedings a day, regardless of the speed of the feeding. I really am not sure HOW he gained any weight, other than by the grace of God and lots of diligence on our part...but I digress), and keeping all the doctor appointments and visitations straight.
And though it was a struggle to continue to homeschool during that time, I was thankful b/c a) I had two built-in, readily accessible helpers to grab towels and anything else I needed during a projectile vomit session (eventually we figured things out and just kept a big stack of beach towels in the living room...burp cloths and cloth diapers were no match for this professional vomiter), and b) the older boys had ample opportunity to also be the hands and feet of Jesus to this sweet baby boy who needed a safe, loving home, and at the same time grow to deeply love this boy who would eventually become their legal brother.
So the stage was set for our family to be close, in spite of the fact that the age difference could easily dictate otherwise.
But as LM grew and began to thrive and (most importantly yippee!) learn to eat by mouth...we knew we had to make a decision: what will our evenings look like? The big boys are active in sports, which means practices and games in the evenings. If they are gone, do we eat dinner with LM and let the bigs eat alone after they get home?
Or do we feed LM early by himself and get him to bed at a "decent hour" (decent being dictated by what we did with the older two...who both went to bed at 7 or 7:30 as toddlers, but were also up by 6:30 in the morning...).
Neither one seemed right. Or fair. Or the way we wanted our family to be structured.
We felt that even if LM wasn't going to be a forever family member, we still wanted him to experience family life to the best and richest and fullest he could while he was in our home. And we wanted to be a close-knit bunch. I'm certain that you've all read at least one article that lauds the benefits of families eating dinner together every night, so we decided to set up stakes in that camp as well.
Clearly pulling the bigs out of their activities wasn't going to be a viable option, so we, instead, put LM on a sleep schedule similar to the bigs...because who doesn't love having a toddler up at 9 at every night?
For the most part, our days function like this:
- Bigs get up for school by 8 and LM gets up about 8:45/9.
- LM goes down for a nap at around 1:30/2 and sleeps until 4:30/5 (yes, that is not a typo...I am a blessed woman, right?).
- Then we eat dinner (ideally) around 6:30/7, but during soccer season it might be 8:30 or so before we sit down to dinner.
- Then LM goes to bed at 9/9:30, with the bigs going to bed by 10:30. And I follow closely behind that.
I realize that it seems unconventional and dare I say shocking to some. But it works for us and keeps us connected. I know the bigs will be gone soon (*sigh*) and we can adjust LM's schedule again at that point if need be (but who knows...it might continue to work for us!). He will, most assuredly, not be taking naps at that point, so bedtime may naturally come earlier anyway.
But I tell you all this to say this: you can no longer be surprised if you see me out at Target (or anywhere else for that matter) at 8:30 in the evening, with LM in tow.