Wake Up Call

There's truly nothing like tragedy to put things in perspective.  This is true of anyone.  It is certainly true of me, especially when I'm already hypersensitive as I both navigate the changes of becoming a family of five and adapt to our new life as a special needs family.

So, when I read about what these parents endured with the loss of their oldest child, read the emotions she went through as a mother, saw the pictures of their last moments with him, I cried.  I bawled.

And then I prayed.

I prayed because my heart felt broken for those parents.  You can tell they are good parents, and you can see how much they loved their child and how hard it was to endure his loss.

My heart hurt for my own parenting failures, especially recent ones.  My mind remembered all the recent times when, from the confines of the couch, arms full of newborn baby or self hooked to a pump, I yelled too much or threatened too readily, times when I resorted to physical punishment when I had to put the baby down or unplug from the pump to run after unruly boys who were not listening to my repeated (and increasingly loud!) demands of them.  Times when the demands of the day, of having three children to look after, of repeating myself for the hundredth time, of getting mired in the monotony have overwhelmed me, set me on edge, and then ultimately pushed me over that edge. 

I imagined what it would be like to be at the threshold of losing a child, of having a child be fine one day and then completely not fine the next, of having to make those unthinkable decisions, of having to face that unspeakable loss. 

Morbid as it may be to do so, I imagined how utterly heartbroken I would be if I were in that circumstance with any of my children.  And I imagined the guilt and regret I would harbor for all the times I have not been more patient.  Times when I have not been the mother I really want to be.  When I have not been the mother my children need and deserve.  Times when, in the light of day, I have been mean and impatient and demanding and tried very hard in the dark of their room at bedtime to make up for it with eleventh hour hugs and kisses and whispered "I love you"s. 

It shook me.  It woke me up.

I prayed for forgiveness.  I prayed for strength to do better, to be calmer, to speak softer, to correct more gently.  I pleaded for the ability to unplug more frequently, to really connect with my children more often during the day, to capture small moments each day where I really look at (or touch or hug) my children and once again feel awestruck at their being, and at the privilege of being their mother. 

I am happy to say that today I was better.

I hope and pray that tomorrow I can be better still, so that for each of the tomorrows my children spend in my home, they will know the depth of my love for them, because they will feel it in the ways I treat them and speak to them, in the ways I confront and deal with conflicts with them, in the ways I respond to challenges, and in the ways I love and hug and touch them, even in the midst of those challenges.



Child's Eyes

A couple of weeks ago, I let C run around with my camera. It made his day and he took almost 200 pictures.  It was hilarious to look through them.  Hi-larious!  Most of them were random, and most I deleted.  But here are a couple that I saved. 

The selfies of him on the toilet and of his legs really made me laugh.  There were also ones of his chest, etc. 

So, there you have it: the world through a 4 year old's eyes.



2 for Two

It's so hard to believe our A is already two!  Knowing that I would be having his baby sister by cesarean, our options for a party were to have it early - which we seriously considered - or doing it on the actual day, which meant I would still be recovering and would have to give up on making his cake.  We opted for the latter, and got him a "McQueen" cake from Safeway.

In true A form, he surprised us by actually eating cake and ice cream!

His favorite things this year have been Big Trucks (his first two-word phrase), ducks, and McQueen.  He got all those and more.  Lucky boy!

This little boy is a whirlwind on legs, walking mischief, and is currently into EVERY. THING!  He's insanely curious, and is bold and unabashed about exploring his surroundings.  He knows when he's being mischievous and I swear he was born with a twinkle in his eye.  He also knows when he's being funny and will try to get everyone to laugh.  If you're sitting on the floor in his vicinity, he'll try to climb you.  True story.

He's got a tempestuous side (watch out for hitting and thrown objects with this one!), but he's also the funniest, sweetest little dude and is usually giving kisses and hugs (when he's not hitting and throwing).  He'll get into a fight with you if you hurt his feelings (hence the hitting and throwing), but really all this boy wants is for everyone to hug and kiss and get along.  Sometimes he'll throw a fit even after he gets what he wants just because he has to stick with what he started, usually he rethinks it and calms down pretty quickly.

He loves books (pulling any and all of them off of shelves and looking through them) and he loves numbers (carrying around foam bath numbers or pointing them out when he sees them, calling every number a "two", which is definitely "age appropriate" - pun intended). 

His favorite words are "No" and "key-yute (cute)" and "truck" and his favorite two-word phrase is "ought now (right now!)" and his favorite three-word phrase is "big cool truck!"  He is repeating words and phrases from everything we say and it's pretty great to hear him pick up on things that way. 

He's a lovely, lively, fun little boy and I'm so glad to call him mine!  Happy Two, dude!



Hot Hot Heat (and How We're Coping)

When we're not hopping around to appointments, this low-key loving momma is hiding with her chicks indoors.  It's my way of: 1) dealing with the heat; and 2) restoring a sense of calm to our home.  Sometimes going out can be so disrupting! 

But when we're out, we're out.  The other day, I took R to her pediatrician appointment, and while we were out, we also went and got groceries and went and visited her Dada at work, while the boys played their hearts out at their grandparents' house.  But before all that, during the rush of getting out of the house, there was this:

first major blowout - just as we were ready to leave the house!
And when we're not out, we're in.  Sometimes, it gets a little hairy and cabin fever definitely strikes.  But other times, it's not so bad.  Like when the boys build "mountains" out of the furniture cushions in the front room, climb them, and sit on them to watch a movie...

pretty high up and yes, despite my warnings, at least one boy has tumbled off and hit his head on the ground...

And then sometimes I'm writing grocery shopping lists left-handed because I'm holding a baby...

But she's so stinking cute, I can't even help myself!
she's smiling and starting to "coo" at us.  so cute!
She's getting more stable so that putting her in different positions for a few minutes at a timeworks well:
propped up with pillows...
Meanwhile, when they're not sticking their parents' toothbrushes in fully operating fans or clogging bathroom sinks and toilets or screaming/fighting over some toy or other, the boys use their best imaginations (especially the eldest) and employ kitchen chairs as rocket ships:
yup.  it's summer and we're not going anywhere, so why put pants on at all?

blasting off!
And on the weekends, when the Dad is home, we go to summer movie fun (popcorn and candy for breakfast?  hooray!) and then sometimes end up at Chick-fil-A for lunch before feeding the fishes at Bass Pro Shops.  And then sometimes when their parents are too distracted to notice, those adorable boys pilfer small items that their parents discover later in the back of the minivan... And the Dad laughs and says it's in their blood.

Dad (looking admiringly over the pilfered items as we try to figure out who stole what): "We stole stuff all the time when I was growing up!" 
Mom: "Not me!  I got in trouble for stealing a sucker and was made to return it and fess up to what I did.  I never stole again!"

I think it's gonna be a LONG summer!



Becoming Special

When I was around 28 or 29 weeks pregnant, I was driving to work one day and doing my typical Tevye-type praying (conversing with God while doing daily things).  Heavy on my mind was how on earth I was going to be able to be a special needs mom, that is, actually do the amazing things special needs moms do.

I remember thinking that my current quandary was not very different from the beginning of my mission when I wondered how on earth it was that one becomes a missionary - that is, suddenly gains the ability to do what was required and do it well.

So, I prayed.  I prayed basically for the sun, moon, and sky: specifically for the sum characteristics that make special needs moms "special" - that make them able to endure what they do, advocate the way they do, know what they do, and be what they need to be, all on behalf of their special child.

And then, I laughed at myself as the thought bounced back that I was asking the impossible.  This voice went on to school me on how exactly this special thing works.  Those special needs moms I was envisioning in my head did not get that way over night!  The sum of those characteristics that I, in my angst to be what I will need to be for my daughter, wanted immediately - those are cumulative.  They are hard-won badges of courage, earned in the trenches, day by day and year by year.

How silly of me to presume to want them before I had even begun!

And now that I have begun - and not even truly in earnest, because it's not until next week that I add four additional weekly appointments to attend - I feel a little differently about becoming special.

What I had an inkling of at 29 weeks, I am just beginning to understand more fully now.  There is nothing "special" about a special needs mom, except that she is the mother of her child(ren).  I do not feel "special" for what I do.  I feel like any other reasonably good mother (or father) would do for their child what I do for mine.

If there is anything exceptional or special about me, it's solely that I get to be the mother of my children.  They are what makes me "special".  They are not the lucky ones, I am.  And how very very lucky indeed. 

"May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." -Ray Bradbury