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!!!

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!!!

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!!!

Alike …

This morning as I walked Reese into school she was hopping over all the painted lines on the ground. She was carefully timing her steps and was jumping and having a great time. Boy oh boy, that took me back! I did the same thing when I was a kid. Reese also loves to twirl around. I could do that for hours! She and I are so similar when it comes to childlike play. I didn’t notice this as much with my older kids. They played differently. But Reese and my 7-year old self are like reflections in a mirror. This totally warms my heart. She had me smiling ear-to-ear watching her this morning and I said to her cheerfully, “You’re just like mommy!”

And then it happened.

She said … NO. With the expression of a HECK NO. 

Oh goodness. This child just tells you how she sees it. She’s very matter-of-fact in her delivery and expresses exactly how she feels. I hate to tell her … but that is also just like her mommy. HA!

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

Parent-ly surprised and The Lip Balm Saga of 2017 …

Reese gets terrible chapped lips. Sadly, I know that she gets this tendency from me. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life avoiding chapped lips. So much so that my kids think it’s funny to hide my Burts Bees lip balm (my favorite). For the record, it’s NOT. And I stash them EVERYWHERE. It’s a little obsessive but if you battled chapped lips like I have you would completely understand. 

Anyway, it was pretty windy at the Lemon Festival yesterday and despite putting on lip balm Reese’s lips still got chapped. In an effort to prevent them from getting worse I wanted to send her to school this morning with lip balm. To my dismay, I couldn’t without a doctors note. WHO KNEW?!?!

This is where the LIP BALM SAGA of 2017 began. First I waited patiently for the school to print out the form that I needed to have filled out by Reese’s doctor. I then left school and emailed her teacher. I told her that if her lips appeared to be getting worse that I would come down and I would put lip balm on her myself. Reese’s teacher was equally as concerned as I was that her lips could get worse so she invited me down at recess and lunch time to reapply the lip balm. I thought this was a great idea! However, about halfway through my day of dealing with lip balm applications I became wildly aware of how crazy the whole thing seemed. I wrote several emails, went to school a total of four times today, filled out a form and made a trip to Reese’s doctor’s office. Now don’t get me wrong, I would run barefoot on a treadmill that had Lego pieces glued to it for this child of mine. But as I started to calculate the hours I spent on just this one task I realized something. Never, in my wildest parenting dreams, did I expect that one day I would spend so much time just trying to apply lip balm to my child’s lips!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you parent-ly surprised!!!

Living lovingly in denial …

I absolutely love having all of my kids at home. The laughter and conversations. The loudness and busyness. Listening to them “catch up” with each other. I love it ALL! Being a parent who was only child I wanted so much so to have a home filled with lots of children. I have been blessed to live that dream.

This may sound silly, but as my kids where growing up it never occurred to me how much it would affect me when they left home to go to college. At minimum, I WAY underestimated those feelings. It has been terribly hard to be so far away from Sidney. I miss her very much when she is gone. And the worry! Let’s not even discuss THAT one! YIKES!

Anyway, I remember when Sid’s second semester of her senior year rolled around, my emotions where similar to that of a roller coaster on steroids. I was utterly shocked at myself. Even I didn’t know it could be THAT emotional, HA! And now, with G3 just a few weeks shy of graduating, I have been overwhelmed with all the same emotions. The same feelings of loss and elation all over again. I’m tearful one minute and excited the next. How is this possible?!?! Isn’t this process supposed to get easier?!?! Because it’s not, at least not for me. And that’s OK. These feelings remind me of just how blessed I am to love so deeply these wonderful beings I get to call my children. I am thankful that our close bonds have made these milestones emotionally charged. Love really does crazy things with your heart. I have written before, that as painful as this growing-up process is, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have found no greater joy than loving my children and watching them plan to leave home to chase their dreams. It truly is beautiful.

I am so thankful that we are all together again. I know it’s not going to last very long. But for now, for the next few months while they are all home, I’m going to pretend that I don’t know that times like these will become fewer and farther between. I’m going to love them like always and relish in the joy I feel just being their mom … appreciating every precious second.

Well, I hope you all have day where you live lovingly in denial!!!