A BIG SIGH of relief …

I woke up this morning feeling something I hadn’t in a very long time. RELAXED. Sidney has been home from college for about a month now. George graduated from high school last night. Libs and Reese have their last day of school today. Our absolutely exhausting, unpredictable, and stressful school year is OVER. There were many times when I wondered if we were going to make it out of this one unscathed by our circumstances. It was a tough one. This past week one particularly memory has come to mind time and time again.

I was just recently out of the hospital. On top of everything else my vision was terrible even with my glasses on. Between the medications and being so sick everything was just a blur. But there George and I were, sitting in front of his computer finishing up his college applications. I remember thinking HOW? How exactly are we going to get from HERE to THERE? And what if we didn’t? The worry was incredible. So much “hinged on” those applications. Too much to even imagine the loss. He needed my guidance. He needed my help. No excuse was good enough. It all had to get done and it had to get done then. His future wasn’t going to wait for me to feel better and for me to see clearly again. So we did what we had to do and got them done despite our obstacles.

And here we are. Many months later. Sid home for summer and soon to be entering her Junior year in college. Libs with a Distinguished Scholar Award for keeping a 4.0 her Freshman year. My Reese thriving and ready to take on 2nd Grade. And George, a high school graduate leaving for college in just two short months. I can’t believe we got from THERE to HERE. Their resilience amazes me. They persisted and it all paid off. We made it. THEY made it.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you breathe a BIG SIGH of relief!!!

Proud … 

If I had to describe this past school year I would describe it as CHALLENGING. It started off as any other year had … and then craziness ensued. Getting sick is one of the most selfish things I could have ever done to my kids, my family and my friends. It derailed all of us.

Do I really believe it was my fault?

No. Of course not. But I still feel a tremendous sense of guilt especially when it comes to my kids. They needed me and there were days when I could hardly lift my head. My heart broke each time I couldn’t do something for them. I was angry when they had to struggle without me. They had to step it up and do so much on their own. Things that I normally would do for them or with them. They missed out on our talks. Moments that they used to deflate from their day or share their excitements. They handled stress and problems without me. Again. It broke me.

Today my son George graduates from high school. Goodness I love this kid of mine! He is gentle, kind, compassionate and brilliant. And throughout this past school year he grew into so much more. He matured naturally but also because he had to. He didn’t fight it. He never acted out. He wasn’t bitter. He just went with it. He helped so much. He took on so much. And he accomplished so much. As painful (and wonderful) as it is to admit this, my baby boy grew up in what seems like a few short months. He had to.

Today feels surreal. I want to cry because it’s over and cry from a sense of relief. This was a tough school year but George did it. He finished despite the curve balls life threw at us. And he somehow managed to thrive.

If we are lucky, as parents, sometimes we get a glimpse of reassurance that our kids are READY to take on the world. They get it. They can do this. Those moments when we see clearly that they are exactly what God meant them to be in this time and in this place. I gratefully had many of these moments this school year. They came as a result of time and nature but also out of pain and need. I don’t believe anything happens by chance so I cannot look back on this school year bitterly. All the events that unfolded have delivered us to this day. My baby boy’s graduation day. He got here precisely how he needed to and in a way that has left him better and more capable. What an amazing young man he has become. Indeed.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are proud!!!

A glimmer of hope and a Joe’s O …

I’ve mentioned before that Reese’s biggest delay is in her oral motor development. One significant issue we have is that she doesn’t chew. Despite years of therapy and trying to teach her how nothing has “turned-on” that ability for her. Nothing. And no amounting of testing, evaluations and specialists can tell us why. So I purée, mash and grind all her food. She’s a great eater but she is choking hazard. And that’s just scary. Really, really scary.

As a parent, you do what you have to do. Therapy, puréeing, whatever. If your child has a special need, you just meet it. You change and do what you have to do to help your child thrive. The changes soon become part of your daily activities and a part of your normal routine. But in addition to these adaptions a slow disappearance of hope occurs too. You start to forget what you had originally wanted for your child. You mourn and move on.

Until this morning I wasn’t even aware of the amount of hope I had lost in this area of Reese’s development. We have adapted well to her limits and her nutritional needs are met quiet well if I do say so myself. Let’s be honest, it was no coincidence that I chose to become a certified nutrition and wellness consultant. I’ve always loved nutrition but my Reese was a huge motivator for me to get my certification.

Anyway, I say that I “realized” all this this morning because twice today Reese picked up 1/4 size pieces of Trader Joe’s Os and put them in her mouth. She needed help getting them to her molars to “chew” them but she totally got the concept. WHOA. This is HUGE.

And IT all came flooding back to me. The hope and dreams I have for my little girl.

Perhaps I’m being selfish but I also want those things for me too. Simple things that parents don’t think twice about are things that Reese and I have never experienced together. I have never seen my daughter delight in eating her birthday cake. I have never seen a smile come across her face when she was given her favorite cookie. And I’ve never not worried that she would choke if I wasn’t there to meticulously monitor her food intake. Yes, I selfishly want all that … for her.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are given a glimmer of hope!!!

It’s surreal … 

Today is George’s last day of high school classes. Forever. He graduates next Wednesday. Watching him leave the house this morning filled my heart with all sorts of emotions and flooded my mind with memories. How is this possible? Where did my baby boy go? It seems like just yesterday that I found out I was pregnant with him. That moment, still so vivid. And here we are … I can’t believe it.

Well, I hope you all have a day that seems surreal!!!

An early start (and LOOK, I’m not crying) …

I am so excited that my son George is graduating from high school! This is a nice reprieve from my cry-fest. It’s an emotional roller coaster having your child graduate. At least it is for me. I reacted the same way when Sid graduated two years ago. Ecstatic one minute and crying the next. I was NUTS! And I am NO better this time around. With excitement driving my mental status today I decided that it was a great day to decorate for George’ special day. Graduation isn’t for over a week but I just had to get this celebration started … ya know, until the hysterically sobbing starts again when I think about how my baby boy is all grown up.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you get an early start on it!!!

A chocolate chip …

I have mentioned before these Reese’s biggest delays are in her oral motor development. It’s common among people with Down Syndrome and speech therapy works wonders for them. Reese still only speaks minimally and when she does speak she is often hard to understand. Her family, teachers and caregivers understand her but most everyone else would have a difficult time. This means I have to trust that the people I leave her with will take the time and make the effort to figure out what she needs when she is distressed. Reese also does not chew. She is a choking hazard. All day, every day. Awake or asleep. If this isn’t enough to keep a mother from ever sleeping soundly at night, I don’t know what is. Again. I must trust the people I leave her with to make sure she is safe. That she is watched around food at all times. And that she isn’t forced to eat something that she can’t. It’s terrifying to think of the consequences. Terrifying. Especially on days when I go to clean out her lunchbox and find a chocolate chip.

A chocolate chip.

To most of us when we see a chocolate chip we think YUM. Or SWEET. Or COOKIE. And I admit, I am one of those people.

But Reese, is not.

To her, an innocent chocolate chip is something that could potentially harm her. It is anxiety provoking. It is not a treat. It is a threat to her well-being.

I don’t normally focus on Reese’s delays. To me she is developing just the way God intended. She is capable. She is smart. She is loving. And so so silly. I think she teaches me more than I teach her. She reminds me to slow down. To stay in the moment. That life is precious. Every. Moment. She is a gift. She is a joy. MY JOY. And I love her fiercely. 

Whether you have a typical child or a child with special needs, parenting is not for the faint of heart. There are days when I feel like a warrior for my children. I would walk through fire for them. Literally. Loving them has given me a strength I never knew I had. An invincibility and fearlessness allowing me to protect them against any concern that comes their way. And yet, there are those days when I find myself reduced to tears by a single chocolate chip.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you don’t worry!!!

Feeling nostalgic …

Sid took an early train to see her boyfriend this morning. I drove her to the train station. On my way back I opted for a different route home. I took me by California State University, Fullerton. My alma mater. One of them anyway. I didn’t realize it but this is graduation weekend. Despite being early there were many people arriving. Some walking. Many in their caps and gowns. It really took me back. I remember my graduation days from both Fullerton and California State University, Long Beach like they were yesterday. Such great days, filled with so much excitement, reflection and hope! I know I’m feeling more emotional these days with George’s high school graduation just around the corner. So I’ll just dismiss my crying watching perfect strangers cross the street.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you feel nostalgic!!!