Saturday, March 14, 2009

The New Normal

It's amazing how quickly we've all gotten used to this new living situation. Granted, Niece was just here for 2 weeks at Christmas, and she lived with us for a month last summer, so she knows what day-to-day life in our family is like. But still, those times, she was a "guest." There was a clear end-date to her stay. Now, she is part of the family, just another one of my kids.

We've all settled in really quickly. Niece into our routine. The kids into having their cousin around. Even DH and I to having another child... an older one, with a later bedtime and different needs. Not that everything is perfect, just that it is... comfortable... right.

There are some really nice fringe benefits of having a pre-teen around. She's a big help getting LilBro snapped into his car seat. She can help me carry the heavy bags of groceries (not just the bread and pretzels) into the house. She keeps me company when DH is out for the evening, or out of town.

It feels so good to be relieved of my CRHP duties, and to have my Bible study and Art History lessons planned for the remaining weeks. I can focus my attention on my family, on our lessons, on our adjustments to Niece's arrival, on Niece - giving her the attention she desperately needs. After so many months of being distracted by responsibilities in the "outside world," it's surprisingly refreshing to be able to focus nearly exclusively on my family.

Somewhere in the past year or so, I lost this. I lost the simple pleasure, the basic joy of focusing on my family. I got caught up in the work, the effort, the bickering, the whining, and the utter exhaustion of it all. I lost the beauty. I lost the peace of focusing on one thing... this most important thing.

An unexpected blessing of adding my niece to our family: I stopped taking my family for granted, and started giving them my full attention again.

And we are all benefiting from that.

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