Friday, August 31, 2012

The Ordinary

Undoubtedly, motherhood has moments of pure sparkle and light. Like the string of lights that's trapped onto the branches of a tall evergreen- flashing, shining, making the whole tree look magical- enticing. But the truth is that under the countable string of lights, there are countless needles of pine that are necessary to make that picture, but are dull, boring, sharp and even painful to touch at certain points.

I love blogging because it lets me better see those bright moments in my version of motherhood- it helps me be thankful, take a deep breath, celebrate those fleeting moments, and see my life from a new perspective as I hit "publish" and then go back to read what the crazy lady on EANFE wrote today from the removed view of a bystander.

This week I was blessed to catch one of those sparkling moments, hold it in my grasp for just a second, feel the warmth- the happiness-the extreme sense of satisfaction, but then it was gone. And for the rest of the week I have been stuck grasping at those plain pine needles, getting poked and sticky hands from the residue.

From a certain little boy who wants to climb on EVERYTHING with no sense of danger from the height to a little girl who is such a picky eater that I spend a day planning out new foods, spend the week's budget trying to create "Addison dishes" and then have her take one lick and refuse to try any more. From a little boy's newest habit of releasing his bowels in the bathtub to a little girl who steals the little boy's food (not to eat- to discard and then dance on).

From a house gone to the dogs (read- toddlers), laundry that I just haven't gotten to, dishes that sit for too long before I wash them, and diaper pails that are overflowing before I notice them.

I have to confess, this week I have felt like a horrible mother. I have been distracted- off my game- a failure in so many areas.

The link Dear Sweet Mom Who Feels Like She Is Failing  has been flying around Facebook this week- a helpful and encouraging reminder. This post came at just the right time for me this week.

Sometimes for me the most helpful thing is remembering those small successes along the way- the shining lights that don't include any type of dried on food or overflowing diaper messes. The moments where I look around for just a split second and everything is good (usually this happens after bedtime). The times when both babies rise up and start dancing at the same time or when I say "Mommy has to work for just another twenty minutes" and they play together like the little angels that they are.

And some days even the pine needles capture me with their own unique beauty- that unique smell that can overwhelm the trash rotting in the trash can and the diaper that Addison emptied behind her crib that I didn't discover until the next day.

Motherhood is definitely like nothing I've ever experienced before- dirty, messy- uncharted. But I'm embracing the ordinary along with the extraordinary because without that pine tree, the sparkling moments would just be a disorganized clump of light with visible and ugly wires. The texture and interesting patterns made by the way those needles are blended together create a beauty all on their own, perfectly suited to be enhanced by that string of lights.

And on those days and weeks that I feel like the biggest failure, I remember that the most important thing is to keep going- keep grasping at the ordinary trying to do better-become better- BE better, because before I know it, another sparkling moment is going to come my way and it will all seem worth it once again.





Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gymnastics Class #3

You know those moments of euphoria when you are so overwhelmed with love and pride for your child that every bit of kicking and screaming- crying and wailing- frustration and fear- all of it was worth it just for that one moment?

That was me today in class as I stared at my child who set out to prove me wrong- who CAN follow an obstacle course with children her own age without pitching a fit- who CAN follow simple directions to "climb" "walk" and "jump"- who CAN throw herself as a willing participant into a class environment and have a good time.
 I watched her small form climb another obstacle, both literally and figuratively, and I wondered why I  ever doubted her. A tiny voice in the back of my head told me that there will still be moments like last week. Lots of them. Probably starting in next week's class.
But I shushed the voice because I wanted to enjoy this beautiful moment of watching my daughter enjoy a gymnastics class with her peers. I wanted to cry with joy when I said "climb this one next" and she did. I wanted to weep with astonishment when her friend led the way and said "follow me Addison!" and she did. I wanted to scoop up my little girl who was acting more little girl than baby, hugging, kissing, and telling her over and over again how proud I am of her.

I heard the voice of the behavior therapist next to me say that although this is hard work for her, Addison will learn a lot very quickly as a part of this class. Together we marked out a plan to tackle "wait time" problems- the only time that Addison bridged into acting out today.
I thought through how she has already grown over these past three classes, noted what worked to help her and what didn't, and I couldn't help but think about the many other challenges still facing her in life.
And yet because of today- instead of seeing the normal doubt and fear and worry, I picture her sitting cross legged on her mat saying "Challenge Accepted"just like she tackled today's gymnastics class after all of this week's preparation:

We arrived 15 minutes early for her to explore the course before class started, the big girl camp class wasn't happening in the same room (like it was last week), Addison was stuffed with enough breakfast for two little girls, and we practiced our at-home obstacle course almost every day this week.

When set up for success? Addison delivers in an euphoric, awe-inducing, inspirational way. Well, I think so anyway. (-:

Now if you will please excuse me, I need to go make a chocolate something for a certain little someone to wake up to after nap time...

Monday, August 27, 2012

NOT back-to-school from Addison

Well hello there. Addison here.

I'm hearing this buzz from friends and that all-consuming monster called Facebook that this weekend was the last free weekend before going back to school. Whatever that means.

I feel like I'm missing out on something exciting, but Mommy said that my time will come so I'm going to try that patience thing that seems to be such a big deal. Since I don't have pictures of a new backpack, sharp weapons called pencils (I NEED THESE!), fancy big-girl school shoes, or a picture of me smiling in front of a school bus next to my mother who is a weeping mess (you know she will be)- I'm going to share with you my awesome weekend. You are welcome.

This weekend I...

...went swinging.
I had a good time
if I do say so myself.
...I read a good book.
I just love it when I get sucked into a
tear jerker. Bring me some Kleenexes and chocolate and we've got a par-tay.
I climbed down the super fun front steps of my house for the last time, apparently
because I looked out this morning and saw this where those steps used to be. Dad said something about building a front deck with railings and place for "safe play". Sounds boring. Give me back the sharp edges and tumbling-off-the-top capacity of the old steps any day!
My request to run the jackhammer was denied. Sometimes my parents just suck all the fun right out of life.
So I watched the activity outside while fighting for my rights to window-watching space.
but I digress. This weekend...

...I hung out with this guy,
ate some good snacks,
explained the ways of the world,
tried to escape into that world,
gave lots of hugs and only squeezed so tightly mommy had to intervene a couple dozen times,
scouted for more snacks,
found some keys to hide,
and then pretended like I didn't have them.
So yeah, a pretty awesome weekend leading into a boring, normal Monday. sigh. I hope all of your excitingly thrilling back-to-school Mondays are going well. I will get there. Someday. Meanwhile I have to go rest up. I have a gymnastics class to crash tomorrow.
Toodles,
Addison

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Because you inspired me:

You all were quite the inspiration in your comments yesterday. She is young (2.5), but I do think she is capable of learning basic things in class (even if she isn't ready to do ALL that is asked of the other kids). 

All day yesterday I tried to think through the best way to help teach two simple things to Addison:
1. Obey simple commands
2. Get used to the concept of an obstacle course

#1 being the most important since she will need to use those skills all her life. #2 is a great, fun way to teach that to her (the reason we're in gymnastics class in the first place!)

aaaaand that is why my living room now looks like this:
I decided the simple commands that we would be working on (of course with assistance where she needs it...such as getting on the horse):
I felt like this was a good way to help her understand what we're trying to do but let her go completely at her own pace.

I got to thinking- Addison has quite a delay in response time when it comes to speech and signs. Why would it be any different for something new like an obstacle course? If I can let her practice obeying basic commands at home THEN perhaps I can give her the appropriate amount of  wait time in real class with the assurance (or hope) that she's not going to go running.

It's not a solution...but it's my next attempt at understanding Addison so that I give her the tools that she needs to succeed (and make the most of next week's class)

To help make the course look more appealing to her, I called in a little backup:
ummmmm.....Carter?

Help just isn't what it used to be...

At first she was upset just to be put back in her outfit- kicking and whining.
But I kept saying "Let's go do gymnastics!" in a super cheery voice, and when she saw Carter rocking out the course (oh my he loved it so much) She decided to give it a shot as well.
I turned a Youtube gymnastics class onto the TV so that we can practice while being "distracted" by a nearby class (but I forgot to push play during this morning's practice....oh well I'll get it next time).
Since it took most of this morning to set up, we only got to practice once around each. They both got time to explore the set while I was setting it up as well. Here's hoping to many more sessions of good practice.

Repetition is the key with Addison. Why did I forgot that when dealing with something so big as a new class?

I'll let you know how this goes (and if it helps....fingers crossed!)

Thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions and encouragement! Since Addison is my first, it is hard for me to know how much of her behavior is typical for her age or not. I'm so glad that you are there to help teach me. (-:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gymnastics Class #2

I've let this all sink in for a day before I've finally settled down to write about it. Gymnastics class #2. sigh.

Well for starters, the morning of- Addison didn't really want to eat much breakfast which is usually fine because she hangs out at home most mornings and finds herself an hourly snack if she's hungry. This is my fault for letting a bad habit develop. So yesterday morning we were going to class where she was going to burn energy and she only wanted a couple bites of yogurt. Not enough. (I could fill post after post of Addison's eating issues...let's just say we're doing the best we can in that department)

Then, we dropped Carter off at Grandma's house, and when Addison realized that SHE wasn't getting out to play with Papa and Grandma, she started bawling. She cried the entire distance from their house to the gymnastics center.

When we got to the center, I was paying the nonrefundable registration fee and the cost for the rest of the month while Addison went up to a poor little girl and tried to steal her bagel. We didn't have time to buy her her own bagel (which she wouldn't have eaten anyway...just trust me on this one), but I gave her the granola bar that I brought and tried to get her to eat it. She nibbled at it until she spotted the large room full of "stuff" and then threw the rest of the bar down on the ground and tried to open the doors herself.

I thought that if she had a few minutes to roam around the equipment without being told what to do, she would be more likely to obey during class since she already had some "free play" time. So we went inside and she "explored" for a few minutes on her own and seemed very happy.

Then, the other members of her class arrived and it was time to start. We ended up going to a different room (maybe this set her off? She LOVED the first room where class was held last week), and it was a swift downhill slide from there.

Last week, she would whine and thrash for about thirty seconds and then at least be quiet as she continued to wiggle. Yesterday, her whines turned into squeals which turned into long, continuous screams of "MY MOMMY IS TORTURING ME- HELP!"

I tried to hold her on my lap for the warmup- at first trying to help her do the warmup, and then just settling for trying to get her to just sit quietly (which she DEFINITELY did NOT want to do).

When we did the first obstacle course that included jumping on the trampoline into the pit, she did OK, but once she was out of the pit she didn't want to finish the course. She just wanted to wander off and continue to explore on her own. When I "guided" her to the next station, we were back to the whines turned squeals turned screams. And thrashing. I swear she kicked me in the head a couple of times as I tried to keep her in the right place (yes, she is that flexible to be standing in front of me and still kick me in the head)

We took a couple of time-outs in the bathroom to talk about her behavior and to ask her if she was OK and if she was hungry. She would immediately settle down and didn't sign "eat", so I would take her back to class and set her back down.

I would give her a minute to stand on her own to re-acclimate to the class, but sure enough, every time, she would wander off either into another class's space, into the way of another child in the middle of the obstacle course, or under a high beam or something.

So I would pick her up or try to guide her by holding her hand (or both arms by the elbow) to the right place to be, and she would start whining/squealing/screaming again (and holding up her feet and making herself deadweight when I wanted her to walk in a certain place)

Totally ignoring the rest of her class, she thrashed, she screamed, she turned red in the face and looked VERY upset that I would not let her just wander off and play.

I have NEVER seen her this poorly behaved (of course, she has never been told so specifically where she could and couldn't be). We did finish the class, and I did not give in to what I really wanted to do (pack her up in the car and head home). After firmly holding her (in spite of her kicks and her trying to claw my face off) where she needed to be and whispering encouragement and "NO ADDISON"'s, I THINK I saw a little progress by the end. (maybe that's hopeful thinking)

But we worked on- sitting quietly, following the class to the next activity, waiting her turn, staying with the class, circling around the obstacle course even though we didn't do each motion (I let her do her own thing on most of the objects- the second room we were in made this easier to do which is maybe why she did better in this room?)

I felt like the big bad wolf as I "made" her do these things (and she attacked me as such).

It left me wondering
1. Is she really just not ready? (I wish she would have done this before I paid all the fees)
2. Was she hungry but not signing it?
3. Is the busyness of the room just sending her over the edge?
4. By holding her in place and asking her to "be" certain places, am I asking more of her than she can give?
   .......does she truly understand what I was asking of her and refusing to do it? or was she frustrated that I was holding her back from free play on the cool toys and didn't understand why I wouldn't let her go?

OR
5. Is this the process we need to go through in order to learn these behavioral issues that we've never faced before. Will a few really horrible classes (with me not giving in) help teach her how she's supposed to act in a class environment? (and I'm going for VERY basic behaviors here) Is this her process?
.....Is she acting out like ANY 2 1/2 year old and we just need to work through it by repeated process and hope that it gets better each time?

After the class I told her I loved her and I was sorry that she wasn't happy. She glared at me and went for another kick. sigh.

Next week I think I'm going to have Addison's behavioral therapist meet us there (I already paid for it, so it seems silly not to go at least one more time...I think)......any thoughts???

Just reminding myself of what I'm going for here.....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just Write


It's 1:30pm and I'm on my second pot of coffee. Carter is awake, looking like a miniature teenager in his sweatpants with bold navy blue stripes down the gray legs. He's walking aimlessly through the house, searching everywhere for his sister who is still asleep. The reason she is still comatose is most likely due to all that adorable screaming and flailing she did in her gymnastics class this morning. Maybe. This same reason might also explain the need for a second pot of coffee.

That time of sickness, the can-we-make-it moments seem weeks away and yet it was only days. The sanitized laundry is on the couch waiting for me to fold, the dishes are in the dishwasher poised for me to hit that magical button that does all the work for me, the constant carpet of cracker crumbs is temporarily gone. Life feels normal, comfortable, and ready for me to dive back into my writing and exercising schedule.

It's the perfect season to be feeling better. I love this time of year. The heat gradually fades into the slight coolness of early fall that slowly (or not so slowly) fades even to a deeper coolness of late fall. It means sweaters and boots and puffy vests and pumpkin everything. The bite to the air and the swirling of orange and red leaves in my yard create a special kind of happiness. This year I will have two babies running around in those leaves. Two. Last year I was a million months pregnant with one of them and the other was a very stubborn little girl who refused to walk through the leaves let alone run. A year can truly change everything.

I'm hoping that the next few months will change everything for my book. As the characters in my book become more and more real, I find myself wanting to hide in a corner and dedicate myself solely to helping them live their story without taking time to share those words with anyone else. Because sharing means the possibility of failure. Opening the door to opportunity means creating an easy way for a door to be slammed in my face.

But as I look out to the lush green of my front lawn and picture it soon covered in the leaves of fall and plan out two adorable Halloween costumes (matching or coordinating?) I can picture success so vividly it's almost like a chapter in my book that I need to pause and write it all out before I forget. But the hiding in the corner bit is a hard one to get over- at least temporarily. If I seem silent or distant on Facebook, I apologize. The truth is, I'm caught up in a world of made-up characters and dramatic story lines that begins and ends solely on my computer. Sometimes I forget about the real people. I'm going to mark that down as something to work on...Perhaps the coming of the fall will draw my attention back to the real world (if Facebook can be considered a "real world"-cough cough).

*As I arose from my computer to get another cup of coffee, I noticed that the pile of laundry did not fold itself while I was typing. There's a machine for everything- why hasn't someone invented that yet?

Monday, August 20, 2012

On A Silver Platter

Unnamed person: "I think I have pneumonia!!! Call the doctor! Let's go to the ER! I'M DYING!"

Me: Spend the next hour on the phone trying to secure an appointment while "unnamed" lies on the couch squeezing his eyes shut and dramatically searching for that next breath.

One Hour Later
Unnamed person: Runs out into the rain to chat with someone for fifteen minutes in heavy downpour and then returns inside like he's Noah returning to the ark after a good swim

Me: "Um. Are you OK? You must be freezing! Why did you go outside when you're so sick?"

Unnamed person: "I'm good."

Me: "But you're all wet. Are you crazy?"

Unnamed person: "Never felt better." (Beats chest like a caveman)


I feel like I have ratted on my husband a lot lately, so I'll keep it vague today (oh, oops). I love him dearly, and he is a wonderful person, but he is the

worst

sick

person

ever.

He has been ill since Thursday, inducing a lot of "in sickness" curses (they trick you with putting that in the vows because you both look so fabulous in your wedding attire and sickness is the LAST thing on your mind) and dry comments of "I've never wanted you more" and "I wish I was wearing tennis shoes so that I could run to you faster".....

but yeah, I love him, so I tackle nurse duty like the best of them.

Unnamed person: "You have been just a saint these past few days"

Me: "I prefer goddess"

Unnamed person (you've figured out this is Aaron, right?): "Goddess then. Can you bring me some more ginger ale.....with sugar in it to take out the fuzz...in a mug.....on a silver platter...and maybe some more medicine....but then I'll need some more ginger ale to wash it down...with sugar in it.....in a mug...with maybe a cracker....and then some more ginger ale to wash the cracker down...with sugar in it...in a mug....DON'T FORGET THE SILVER PLATTER!!!

OK, fine, I may have taken slight liberties with that last paragraph....he didn't want crackers...

I DO hope he is now on the upward mend now though. He so lovingly shared his flu with me, although I was only out from Saturday night until Sunday night (with some tiredness left over for today). This was really the first time I have been sick since pregnancy/sick with Carter. And with TWO  little babies who don't understand "I JUST WANT TO LAY ON THE COUCH AND WATCH YOU PLAY! STOP CLIMBING ON ME!" said in the sweetest of tones (of course) and whose needs continue unfazed...and who thought that the silver platter was meant for them to beat each other senseless instead of bringing ME crackers and ginger ale (how old before they will do this?)....I realized (not for the first time) just how difficult it is to be a mother. (I really think I want to wait until I'm older before I have any kids....I have decided)

Anyone else notice how motherhood is pretty much the only job that does not allow sick days??? Trying to keep up with the laundry and clean bottles and toy pick-up and EVERYTHING while feeling at 0% really made for a "WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO" moment. (sorry for all the dramatic caps, but how else am I supposed to show emphasis?)

I'm not complaining mind you...just stating a fact. (OK, I might be complaining a little....but this weekend was JUST that bad. In the spirit of trying to stay classy, I've spared you the gory details- you are welcome) Thankful for a MIL who does Tylenol/sick food grocery store runs and an afternoon of baby watching for a quicker recovery!

Some days weekends are just harder than others....but then when things take an upward turn....the sunlight has never shone so beautifully, the breeze has never felt so wonderful gliding through my house, clean laundry has never smelled so heavenly, the dry hallway has never been so luxuriously clean looking (don't ask), the children have never been cuter, and my husband's face temperature-free has never been so handsome.

Now let's just hope that the kids don't get sick.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hallmark Cards for Toddlers

Today Carter was toddling towards me with a grin on his face and a twinkle in his eye. But then he slightly miscalculated his balance and promptly fell flat onto his face.

Of course I scooped him up and held him, tears liberally streaming (from him, not me...although I do hate to see him hurt, his dramatics were actually making me laugh- horrible mother that I am)

I said the first thing that popped into my head (because I spend a lot of time with two babies and have too much time to think therefore tending to an emerging version crazy)

"Oh Carter sweetie. If Hallmark had cards for toddlers, I would send you one that says"
and then I laughed because the concept of Hallmark making cards for an entire segment of the population that not only couldn't read, but would only use the card as a soggy teething device seemed funny to me in the moment.

But then being the maniac that I am, I sat down to see how many other Hallmark cards would fit for toddlers....hmmmm

(no this picture wasn't from this morning. I'm not a TOTAL monster. This was when he got upset after having too many pictures taken maybe a week ago. Can you imagine?)




So when you see this as Hallmark's next big "thing"...just remember that you saw it here first.

p.s. I know I totally threw that sample chapter at you yesterday and have been a bit sick to my stomach ever since thinking about you all hating it. THANK YOU so much to those of you who read it (and bonus points to those of you who left comments). You will never know how much that means to me as I continue to work and prepare for the next step.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chapter #3


So.....I am kind of VERY nervous to do this, but I feel it is time. I will be sharing some short excerpts from my book No Guarantees over the next couple of months, and I hope that you will (pretty please???) read and enjoy them. I will be creating a "Book" tab up under the EANFE header, and will collect these various excerpts there as I head into the next stage of publishing.

Are these chapters perfect? No. Thus the nervousness. But as I work and rework and work some more, I'm coming to the conclusion that perfection will probably never happen, but telling this story (fiction this is not my ebook) is truly one my favorite things. 

I am currently knee deep in a book-wide revision from my conference, and am just itching to share some bits and pieces with all of you. So I hope you can humor me for an occasional snippet from what I'm working on. Without further ado...today's chapter:

Chapter 3

LILA
I was conscious of the moment’s every detail. I wanted to remember this forever- the joy, the awe, even the pain.

A warm bundle was resting on my chest, small tufts of hair tickling my chin. As I breathed in out, in out, I felt the tiny bundle breathe in perfect sync with me. My eyes fluttered open and as I glanced down at the beautiful face peeking out at me from the tight bundling, a smile slowly drifted up my face. My son.

So many things about childbirth and new motherhood were force-fed down my throat by experts and fools alike during my expectant period. Walking into the mall to purchase a smoothie, I was given advice on how to get my new baby to sleep. Ordering a burger at a drive through, I was given proven ways to go into labor should I go overdue. Smiling kindly at a mother with toddlers at the grocery store, I immediately became subjected to an “I wish I had known this then” list. A friend of a friend felt led to go into graphic detail of her labor experiences and tell me exactly what I should expect to go wrong.

Everyone has the answers; the facts; the ugly. But no one tells you what this feels like. No one tells you that your heart leaves your body and forms a protective second layer of skin around this seven pound fourteen ounce baby. No one tells you about the feeling of possession that overcomes you; the intense desire to protect; the knowledge that you will never be the same-love the same- again.

Tears pooled in my dark brown eyes for no reason whatsoever, my shoulder length brown hair was flat and stringy because it had been ignored for the past thirty-six hours, my makeup was half removed from my post-labor shower, and my slender shoulders were slumped from exhaustion. But this? This was the greatest moment of my life.

Nothing had adequately prepared me for the celebration of blissful arrival into motherhood. Meeting for the first time the child who I grew-through all the sickness and inconvenience, seeing his eyes lock onto mine for the first time, feeling him nestle into me with ultimate trust, watching his crying pleas for immediate nurturing- I was in love with my baby and with life. I couldn’t imagine life getting any better than this.

Soft snoring met my ears, and I glanced over to my left while tightening my arms around the precious baby resting on my chest. My husband’s tall frame was sprawled out onto the hospital’s sleeper chair that appeared to have about as much cushioning as the elaborate brick walkway in front of our house. The fact that he slept so soundly despite comfort level spoke volumes as to how tired he must truly be.

Other than his slumped form a few feet away, the room was empty and small; crowded with the necessaries, yet devoid of every luxury. I was alone, and yet not lonely. I had never felt more exposed and vulnerable in my life, and it was necessary for me to recharge myself in the comfort of silence where my thoughts were the only speaker. As I nestled into those thoughts, I was surprised to realize that the state of vulnerability was so much more than the simple physical aspect of near nakedness underneath this flimsy robe that played peekaboo with my backside.

For the past two days my body felt as though perhaps it was enduring war against itself and yet losing every battle. I kept surrendering but no one seemed to listen or care as the next wave of conflict came in form of contraction after never-ending contraction. My romantic childbirth ideals formed through hopeful wishing that my strong pain tolerance and mind games skills were stronger than a few little contractions were crushed after a mere eight hours of deep breathing. Labor was hard. There were many moments in those hours of labor that made me think that perhaps my desire to stay in control and not let any sort of drugs overtake my body was the wrong choice. “I can’t do this.” I bawled more than once glaring into Jake’s calm eyes and feeling strangely ticked off that he got let off so easy in this whole process of becoming a parent.

And yet reluctantly grunting aside my annoyance and focusing on his consistent coaching and visualizations of what I was working for, I kept breathing, gasping and eventually pushing for the ultimate prize of becoming a mother. Now my baby was here in my arms, and I was ready for a lifetime of mother-son moments that I had been dreaming of ever since I was a little girl in pigtails, holding my baby doll, singing softly, and rocking the plastic baby into a deep sleep.

With many events, truly the anticipation is better than the actual thing, but in the case of motherhood? The last twenty years of longing and hoping for my own baby was nothing compared to the serene joy that I felt in this moment. I was a mother.

Humbled and ecstatic in the same breath, I’m not sure that anything in my life prior to this could even compare to the conflict of emotions overwhelming me in the moment that motherhood welcomed me with open, shaking arms. Blissful, content, delighted, overwhelmed, scared.

Breathe deeply in, out, in, out. My perfect baby sighed deeply and followed suit. My entire pregnancy, fear like a creeping vine touched every part of my happiness. I constantly worried that when I looked at my baby for the first time, I would be met with difference. My heart housed an apprehension that I couldn’t express out loud even to Jake. The prenatal screening, the eagerly shared horror stories, the statistics, the worry that this is all too good to be true- modern medicine gives pregnant women hundreds of reason to fear. As crowned Worry Queen, I allowed my mind to tumble all too often from “what ifs” to “worse case scenario”.

But now as I looked at my perfect baby snuggled against me I wondered why I even wasted a minute on the fear. Gazing down at the baby tagged as mine, I could find no fault. Curly dark hair exactly like his father’s, clear blue eyes that stole thunder from the clearest of summer skies, ten fingers with ten perfectly formed nails that grasped eagerly toward me, the most delicious rolls of fat on his thighs, and lips that were forming a handsome pout that I knew right now that I would never be able to say no to.

A small round mole graced one ankle that initially made me cringe. But the longer I stared at my little boy and reached down to place a kiss on that dark brown marker on his ankle; I realized that he had been blessed with a small beauty mark. My imagination immediately jumped to a scene including him as a toddler, wearing sandals and shorts on the beach with his ankle mole decoratively splattered with sand as he built the strongest sandcastle possible against the waves that were sure to come. Then he was a teenager hanging out on the back deck of the house with his strong legs propped up on the opposite bench with the mole showcasing his very own unique ankle. In my mind’s eye he was then an adult proposing to a beautiful young woman, down on one knee with the top of the mole visible over his sandal as he declared his undying love. I hated the beautiful young woman already for taking my baby away from me.

The thought sent a warm smile back to my face because I knew that I would be that crazy mother-in-law who couldn’t let go of her son. This mole didn’t take away from his perfection. It enhanced it. Even now as he was bundled tightly sleeping against me, I could picture the slight curve of his birthmark resting on his ankle like a permanent etching of the kiss that I just left there.

My previous fears about motherhood now seemed inconsequential. Of course I will do whatever it takes for me to take care of this helpless embodiment of perfection. He was my son. Why had I even worried? The weight from his small frame rested on my heart in a reassuring way that actually made it feel lighter.

Quickly fading adrenaline combined with exhaustion from labor overcame my ability to stay conscious. My entire body stilled as a restless sleep won over the desire to place more kisses on the rounded forehead that reminded me so much of my own. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gymnastics Class

This is not an inspirational post or a controversial post or a writing exercise post. This is a tiny glimpse into our morning because it was kind of a big deal.
This morning was Addison's VERY FIRST
gymnastics class.
I got her kind of worked up about it (OK fine, I sang Wheels on the Bus over and over and over to get her to smile for the camera)
But I was excited to see how she would do....
And to be honest, I almost walked out of the class with her after 5 minutes. She didn't want to sit on the mat. She didn't want to stretch. She didn't want to pretend to have butterflies on her head. She didn't want to do ANYTHING that she didn't think up first. Her physical therapist met us there, and I finally gave the PT Carter to hold, and I held Addison in a firm grip on the floor and waved her limbs and such myself looking sheepishly at the rest of the class eagerly following the teacher's instructions and realizing that this was the first time that Addison was put in a class situation that didn't entirely revolve around her.
But as we got rolling (pun intended) into the main part of the class, things got better. No she wasn't able to do everything the rest of the class was doing. No she wasn't any happier about following instructions. No I didn't calmly sit in the corner sipping coffee while she performed mad twirls on the hand bars bragging to everyone that she got her talent from her mother (insert stubbornness for talent and that sounds about right).
BUT Addison did start doing some of the actions the second time around each obstacle course (she even attempted a roll all on her own!). AND she really seemed to enjoy the big room full of fun stuff. She was always extremely curious and wanted to explore EVERYTHING.
At the end of class, Addison's PT (pictured below) and I decided that if Addison did this every week, she would become better and better at not only gymnastics, but following instructions and fitting into a class environment.
All in all- a win
(She was allowed to keep her shoes on because of her orthodics)
and something that would be really good for Addison (although a LOT of work on my part to teach her to be involved as politely as I would expect Carter to be if he was this age and in his first class). If we put in the sweat and tears now, maybe her preschool transition will be easier???? 
I don't want to say the rest of her life "Oh, it's OK that she's poorly behaved because she's SPECIAL" (see yesterday's post). I really think that Addison has the capability to behave just as sweetly as the other members of the class. Can she DO all the same physical activities on the gym equipment? No. But she can learn to wait her turn, to not run circles around the room, to sit when she's asked to sit, and to follow the class to the next activity.
So I guess this class is my first chance to truly practice what I preach. (-:
(yes, she DID walk on this balance beam the second time we tried it!)
(she's walking on a trampoline here)
And she wouldn't jump into the pit, she wanted to gently place herself down in...lol...so cautious!
So yeah, I'm exhausted and both kids are sound asleep. But I'd say that the first gymnastics class was a success! Wish us luck for next week!!!