Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Facts of Life

Just call me Blair.  Actually, truth be told, I'm more like Jo.   

No matter who you call me, I'll take the good, and take the bad.  And today had it's bad.

It was a wonderful start to a Sunday morning.  The boys slept in, thanks to this dreary, rainy weather.  Who wouldn't want to stay under the warm down comforter on a day like that?  I did.  It was heavenly.  I rejoiced that I was able to rest up for my morning teaching the pre-school class at Southpoint, my church home.  I love teaching the little ones.  Plus, it gives me a chance to see how Isaac is interacting in a classroom setting, get some pointers and tips for/from his teachers at school if I have questions, and generally, be a visual presence for him. 

All was great.  He sat through our class lesson, video, skit, puppet show.  Answered questions asked of him.  Played and shared with friends.  He even shared a little snippet of his day yesterday with them:  "I rode on my scooter, friends!"  I was very proud of the morning. 

Lunch time was a treat.  I made myself and the boys baked chicken and some salad.  Isaac won't eat baked chicken, but he will eat hot dogs.  I get the uncured organic all beef ones, and he only eats one or two a week at most.  He ate one and a bowl of orange bell pepper and yogurt ranch dip.  I was very proud of the afternoon. 

And then I forget. 

I forget the good days aren't because of me.  I can help them be positive, and look at them in a light that will put a spin on success...but it's not because I did anything super special.  I'm a mom of a kid with a few special needs. I said....sometimes on the good days, it's easy to forget.

Something triggers my sweet boy into a panicky, blubbering mess.  I run down to the kitchen to grab my coffee while the boys are upstairs in the bath, when I hear feet in my bedroom.  I rush back up and Isaac, wet and dripping, comes around the corner.  "Isaac Josef!  What are you doing?" I ask loudly.  That something...that trigger?  That was me.  All me. 

He immediately puts his hands up to his face and squeezes his eyes shut.  He is crying so hard, I cannot get him to breathe.  "Isaac..." I whisper in his ear as I hold him to me.  "I'm sorry, it's okay..." I let out a deep sigh, partly because I know this is going to take time and patience, both of which I'm running short on as of late, and partly because I feel like a total failure. 

Hyperventilation...rubbing his face over and over, (he doesn't like the feeling of the tears on his cheeks, I've discovered) making spitting noises at me when I ask him what's wrong, stomping his feet and making gutteral noises--and even lashing out and hitting me once when I tried to get him to look at me.  Emotions combined with a difficulty in communicating.  I pick him up and just hold him.  Ethan is sad too.  As I try and calm two crying children, I wonder what happened to the good today? 

This is life.  How many times have I wanted to grunt and stomp my feet?  I just know better. Isaac needed a moment of comfort, rather than a moment of instruction.  There is a fine line, and I was tight roping it. 

After calming Isaac down, getting him into jammies, and cuddling with him on the couch, things were better.  I thanked God with a deep, heavy breath as I tucked him in. 

The good is there so when the bad comes (and, yes, it DOES come) you can pause and be thankful.  The bad doesn't last forever, and more than naught, we find more good through the bad. 

Isaac and Mommy, 2008
Isaac will learn.  I will be patient and graceful.  He will ALWAYS know he is loved. By me, by his brother, by his father...and by the Creator who made him "fearfully and wonderfully." 

THAT, friends, is a fact of life. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A few of my favorite things...

With Dan gone on business for 2 weeks, I have mentally, physically, and spiritually prepped for his trip away.  Being a mom is hard, but being mom AND dad, that's the hardest.  And impossible.

I woke this morning (far too early, mind you) to two little hands pressed gently on my cheeks.  Isaac's face was the first thing I saw.  He smiled.  I grunted.  You get the picture.

He ran off to play, and I rolled over.  I needed a reality check.  What would I do if those little hands and that precious face weren't around?  Waking up to that is one of my favorite things, even if it is early on a Saturday.

I mentally jotted down a list of faves:

1.  Listening to my children laughing.  Best.  By far.
2.  Being randomly told "I love you Momma."  (melt)
3.  Watching my kids stop and pray before eating, without being told.  Conversation with God=priceless.
4.  Being the "Tickle Monster" and playing "sock missiles" in the living room.  (Socks are okay to throw--they're soft.)
5.  Listening to them read to each other.
6.  Experiencing joys of discovering something new or unexpected.  Like the robin's nest in our garage.
7.  Watching them sleep
8.  Seeing their Daddy in them.
9. Cuddling.  It's a drug, I swear.
10.  Being able to be home and watch them grow.  And eat.  And eat more.  Gosh, do they eat....
My very first in many "early" mornings with my sons...
So many more, too many to count.  Saturday mornings without sleeping in?  I'm okay with that.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I used to think the bathroom meant privacy.  As a mom, there is no such thing.

"Moooooooommmmmyyyy!"  I vaguely can make out the faint voice of Isaac, calling from his bed.  I stick my head out of the shower curtain in my master bathroom.  "Mommy will be there in just one second, buddy!"  Honestly, if there were a Guiness World Record for the world's fastest shower taker, I'd hold first place.  I quickly dry off with lightning speed, throw on my lounge pants and the "Guys and Dolls" T-shirt I still have from my Junior year of high school--slightly huffing and puffing, I plop next to Isaac's bed.  He smiles.  "Do you have on your jammies, Mommy?"  "Yes I do."  And he sighs, slithering deeper under his blanket. 

He has already prepared a selection of stories for me to read and usher him off into dreamland.

I have always read stories to my sons.  I grew up with a wonderful Mother who gave me the same gift as a child.  I fell in love with books, fell in love with the library.  This creative and slightly introverted girl grew a voracious appetite for all things literary.  It's wonderful to share this love with my children, and to watch them delve with their eyes and ears into stories.  But sometimes, it's the life story that has the greatest characters and the most beautiful endings.

As I tuck Isaac in, turn off his light and pray for him, I leave his room a little melancholy.  In a good way.  (See, us melancholy introverts, we APPRECIATE this stuff.)  It's more of a reflective moment...

10 years ago, doctors told me I might not be able to bear children.

I had been struggling with life and dealing with reality.  There had been tremendous loss and inexplicable tragedy.  Many people deal with these things.  Many people bury their hurt, grief, fear, anger...and roots of bitterness and regret burrow into their souls, weaving destructive paths through their minds and hearts.  This is what happened to me, and the consequences became external.  By trying to hide that which I couldn't fix or heal by myself...I had allowed depression to distort my view of myself.  I had tried to end my life when I couldn't control or hide the roots from poking through.

I'm standing in the hallway, gazing into the shadowy room of my son.  He is sleeping soundly already.   I allow my mind to continue remembering...

Depression had given way to an eating disorder as I struggled to maintain some semblance of control in my life.  Hospitalized and enrolled in out-patient therapy for anorexia, I will never forget the first session with my doctor.  "Christa, if you don't allow yourself some room to fail, you're looking at some serious consequences..."  I dropped my head down and listened as he flipped through some papers and let out a deep sigh.  "You're getting married, right?"  I nod my head yes.  "Do you want to have children?"  I look up and with the most sincere heart I say, "Yes."  His lips form a hard line.  "Well, you've done damage to your body in ways that may not allow that to happen."

"Mom?"  I turn around and see a semi-toothless grin on Ethan's sweet face.  "Can you tuck me in too?"  I pull him to me.  "Of course...brush your teeth yet?"  He runs into the bathroom and I run back to a memory...

After hearing the doctor's warning, something clicked in me.  The desire to be a mother was so deep and so strong, I knew I had to change.  I prayed to God that He would give me the strength to heal and truly see who I was meant to be.  I worked then I cried and I rediscovered truth.  I burned, I healed, I opened the scab of fear.  He was there to patch me up again and push me on.  He was, and is, my Heavenly Father. He is the type of parent I wanted to, and still hope to be more like. 

"Okay, I brushed my teeth, Mom."  Ethan and I walk into his room, and I watch him climb into his bed.  We read a story, we pray a prayer.  We say goodnight.  "I love you, Mom."  "I love you too, bubby."

I stand in the hallway again, looking into the rooms of my peaceful sons.  Both, unique in their own ways.  Both, destined to be something.  Both, gifts and challenges.  Mostly, they are the tangible fulfillment of a promise that my healing would create new life, new growth in the place of bitter roots.  They are constant reminders that God has never left me and will keep working on and through me, no matter what life's stories bring.  And one day, when I tell them this story, I will praise God for the wisdom they have to understand that NO story and NO life goes without promise. 

What a Mother's Day.  10 years in the making.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cats & Dogs

Isaac is standing in the kitchen, his favorite navy blue and orange motocross t-shirt on, and a pair of sports themed briefs.

"Mommy!  I'm ready to go!"

I raise one corner of my mouth and raise my eyebrows?  "Really?  I think you forgot a few things..."  Coffee in hand, I tickle his belly with my other free one, and take his wiggling hand.  "Let's get some pants on.  It's chilly today, and it's raining cats and dogs!"  The idiom slips off my tongue before I could catch myself.

I squinted my eyes and waited for the impending response...

Isaac turns his head to look up at me, amazingly without getting whiplash, and bounds up the stairs to his bedroom.  I hear his heavy feet pound towards the window.

As I enter the room behind him, I see Isaac's long, skinny legs (just like his Daddy) with extra wide feet up on his tiptoes; palms and nose pressed simultaneously to a now foggy window.  His voice is loud and excited.

"I don't see them Mommy!  Where are they?"

He is referring to the cats and dogs.

Talking with Isaac is an adventure.  Things that we take for granted that people understand aren't always as easy for Isaac to grasp.  I have to be careful with the way I explain situations or events, because with this little boy, specifics and concrete ideas are essential to his understanding.  It doesn't mean I can't ever use a phrase like "it's raining cats and dogs," it just means I have to explain the context.  I make sure he gets the picture that he won't ever be hit on the head by a German Shepherd while he's walking to the van in the rain. 

As I kneel beside him, I wipe the window that has been made opaque by little puffs of hot 4 year old breath.  "There aren't cats and dogs out there,"  I backtrack.  "It's just a saying.  It means it's raining very hard, and very heavy...and there's LOTS of rain."

"Yeah..." he responds.  I watch his eyes process as the rain pounds the porch roof outside.  When I'm confident the information has soaked in, I smile and turn to get him some jeans. 

"LOOK!" He says all of a sudden.  To my surprise, our elderly neighbor, two houses down on the left, is walking her dog.  "It IS raining dogs, Mommy!  And a lady!"  His little mouth makes a large oval shape "WOW!" and he bounces up and down like he just won the lottery.

I decide not to explain anymore.  I kneel next to him and we watch the big old dog walk in the rain.

No beating around the bush--I love this kid.
And for a moment, I catch a glimpse of Isaac's thoughts.  They're bright, imaginative, and happy; just a drop in the bucket with all the other moments he's given--a piece of cake.  Something an idiom could never explain.