She walked across the street, brow pursed as she stared at the ground. Our once exuberant 6-year-old threw irritable glances at her brother as soon as she got into the car. I couldn’t figure it out. What was going on at school that made her so upset? She loved kindergarten and the first half of first grade, but as she got into the second semester, her after-school outlook dimmed.
A year later her 2nd grade teacher informed us that she was beginning to lose ground in reading and comprehension. As words got smaller and closer together, she struggled more. Her self-confidence and love for school diminished. That’s when Aaron decided it was time for a more thorough eye exam. We found out that our daughter could see 20/20 when tested, but her eye muscles were working so hard that she easily became fatigued and words began to float on the page. We tried special glasses for a year. Amelia struggled to keep them on and I struggled to remind her. Then last week we went back to the eye doctor and decided it was time for eye therapy: computer-led exercises 20 minutes a day and therapy with the doctor once every 3 weeks.
Do I have what it takes?
My enthusiasm for helping our daughter turned into anxiety as we hit the road for our two hour trip home. How could I possibly motivate her to do exercises that cause her discomfort every day? I haven’t even been able to keep track of her reading log for school or help her stick to a routine for practicing piano. I’m horrid at keeping routines and the kids know it. The dark sky around us loomed as I asked the kids if they had any ideas for how we would fit eye therapy into our day. They seemed as lost and defeated as I felt.
But as we turned onto the interstate, I turned a corner in my mind. I was preparing to speak the next morning about how what we say to ourselves about ourselves is important. I know what it’s like to beat myself down for my lack of a detailed routine and focus. And I know that beating myself down never makes me perform better. Instead, with self-shame I become self-focused and I lose my ability to offer myself to my family. I wanted to search deep for words that are more true than, “I’ll never be able to do this. Other moms would do a better job at providing what my kids need.”
As I searched for truer words, I recalled a phrase I learned from a friend of mine who knows about walking through life, confronting hard things as a mother. I took a deep breath and with Kimberlye Berg’s words in my mind I said, “You know what, kids? We are going to figure this out. We are smart. We are creative. And we can do hard things. We’re going to come up with a plan to fit it all in and we are going to stick to it, even when it gets hard.”
Something about saying those words changed my perspective. I felt like a grown up. I felt like a mom who refuses to be tossed around by expectations and chooses to serve her family with purpose. And I knew that in order to accomplish our goals for the next few months, our whole family would need to be more intentional about our routine. That which changes one of us must change us all.
The next night I outlined our weekly schedule and determined how to fit in the things we want to accomplish, as well as the things we want to enjoy. It requires me to get up and go to bed much earlier than I prefer. It requires Aaron and I to be more intentional about planning out our work time and family time when we usually prefer to do whatever feels right day-to-day. But you know what? I believe that we can do it. Because we can do hard things when we decide the benefits are worth the sacrifice. We can do hard things for one another.
This morning I woke up at 5:30 and desperately wanted to roll over and go back to sleep. But my determination to lead our kids by example propelled me to the gym so I could come back and start the day with our kids. Even if Amelia doesn’t gain ground in reading, I’m hopeful that she will gain confidence in the next few months and retain an important lesson: “I can do hard things.”
You can too.
What hard things are you facing that you can do?
Read more about replacing self-shaming words with powerful words in my article for Her View From Home this week: How I Lost and Found My Dignity
Read more about Kimberlye Berg in Book Impact: Schema Of A Soul
Read more about: Vision Therapy