Monday, March 31, 2014

"How are you guys doing?

On the few occasions I escape my house these days, I am always asked "How are you guys doing? How are the toddlers doing with the baby? How are you holding up with the transition?" "How's life with 3 kids?"

And every time I stare back blankly. How are we doing? What toddlers? What baby? Transition?

How do I articulate this?  How do I explain this roller coaster ride of 3 small children? One minute gloriously wonderful and exhilarating- a high on love. The next- poop is flying everywhere.

How do I explain that this morning I agonized whether to punish Carter because he snuck up onto the counter and stole a cookie instead of eating the breakfast I laid out for him on the table...or to praise him because before taking his own cookie- he grabbed the biggest piece and handed it to Addison who was waiting down below.

How do I explain not knowing whether to laugh or cry when I walked into the Dining Room after only being gone less than a minute and discovered the baby had his mouth stuffed full of cheerios and a guilty Addison was playing with the rattle that I had left for him. The choking possibility was scary (he didn't choke), and yet Addison conducting a trade was kinda hysterical.

How do I explain the days when I stay on top of everything- the dishes, the laundry, the housework, the meal executing, and feel like a million bucks playing with my well-behaved dolls dressed in clean clothing and shining faces. Only to wake up the next to and have my entire empire collapse with one pin pulled out of my delicately balancing Jenga structure. All it takes is one pin- and all that "million bucks" feeling comes tumbling down and I find myself collapsing onto a pile of clean laundry on the couch at the end of the day because there is no where else to sit and I am tired.

How do I explain the feeling of being homebound for most of the month of March? Carter started out the sickness...passed it to Addison...and now the baby has it. In between there Aaron and I got the stomach flu. (Note: It IS possible to breastfeed a baby while vomiting into a Tupperware resting on the poor baby's body. I could have lived a hundred years without experiencing this joy...but it is possible...this I know.) We have been to the doctor 5, no 4, no 5 times because of course they didn't all get sick at the same time and they didn't all line up with their previously scheduled well-baby visits. Can I slip out after they go to sleep? Nope. Eli still won't take a bottle and he has been waking up just for kicks and giggles a odd times during the evening because he's breaking through his first tooth. (Holy crankiness, batman. Tooth evil has stolen my sweet little boy!)

And yet- how do I explain the intense gratitude that hits me even during this long period of being homebound and sickness? Gratitude for 3 beautiful children, a husband who has bent over backwards to help with this transition, a house in which to be homebound in, and good health as it returns.

Yet sometimes I wonder- is anyone else still out there? Is the world still spinning? Is winter really prolonged another day for every time someone watches Frozen? Because I think we have added on at least another month just on our own.

How do I explain the sweetness of Carter and Addison reaching out to hold hands for family dinner?

How do I explain to joy of being able to breastfeed Eli and not taking a single moment of the experience for granted after the experiences I had with the other two.

How do I explain sometimes having to "sacrifice a room" to the toddlers for a few minutes of peace to get dinner made?

How do I explain that a full, restful night of sleep is only having to get up once or twice and that I'm squinting at them not because sun is in my eyes, but because my eyes are tired.

How do I explain the joy and pride as I see Addison and Carter learning and growing like the big children they are? The times that they so sweetly hold their brother and give him gentle pats when he is upset?

How do I explain opening up the tea kettle to boil some water and finding it stuffed full of bread and knowing that toddlers climbed up onto the counter to do this- did their thing- replaced the lid- and silently returned to me with innocent smiles and I had no idea until that moment when I found the stale bread.

How do I explain them all napping at the same time- for gloriously long hours- me missing them fiercely...and then questioning my sanity when they all wake up and have extra energy to torture the house (and me).

How do I explain the intense love holding my baby boy who is already past the newborn stage and well into babyhood and how I want to grasp every moment and squeeze every last bit out of it. And then I look at Addison and Carter and remember when they were this small and how fast they grew to big toddlers full of words and attitudes. And then I start missing Eli as a baby even before he has grown out of the stage.

These questions all flash through my head. How are we? 

But instead of overwhelming the friendly pharmacist with WAY too much information, I smile, nod, and calmly say "Fine. We're just fine. Thanks for asking."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Addison's Interpretation Of The Milestone Sheet

The receptionist handed me the papers on a clipboard, and I barely glanced down at them because I knew exactly what they said. More importantly, I know what they didn't say.

I carried them over to a chair to sign the ones I was supposed to before the nurse came to get us- still refusing to look at that top paper.

I was just talking about this on Instagram after Eli's last appointment. "These sheets used to bother me, but not any more!" In that moment I remembered that off handed brag, and I remembered why they don't bother me for Eli or Carter's appointments. Because they are hitting all of their milestones. But Addison's appointments are a whole other matter.

I just won't look. I just won't go there. And yet I did. My eyes, without my permission, skimmed across the document, landing on "has a vocabulary of about 1500-2000 words". The vocabulary thing is a sensitive issue right now. Having a four year old with delayed speech but with exceptional ability to whine is extremely frustrating. Having a little girl who is so smart and who has so many ideas of her own but who can't communicate them to us is extremely difficult.

I stared at the sheet. Development: 4 to 5 Years it said. Yup, she's 4. Does she have a vocabulary of 1500-2000 words? Not even close.

I looked up and stared at the wall, willing myself not to cry. It hits me at random moments- her delays. She is such a fantastic person, that oftentimes I live in our own little family bubble and forget that she is different. But here it was in black and white detailing out exactly the many things she is NOT doing and the many different ways she IS different.

That pause was all it took. I felt small hands taking the clipboard from me. In surprise, I looked over at Addison who had decided to settle into the chair next to mine. Holding the clipboard firmly on her lap, she then reached for the pen. I gladly surrendered it. What was she doing?

Gripping the pen perfectly between her small fingers, she furrowed her brow with concentration and set to work. First she drew circles. She has become an awesome circle drawer and loves to show off this skill whenever possible. Then, she headed back over to the center of the paper and practiced her "lines going down". Over and over she drew lines "down" before she proudly looked up at me and beamed at her accomplishments.  Filling the page quickly, she soon flipped it over to its back and continued her penmanship practice- carefully, intently, skillfully.
I watched her work- every trace of sadness gone as quickly as the white paper filled with blue ink.

Where I saw a list of "can't"s- she saw an opportunity to show "can"s. Where I saw discouragement, she saw potential. Where I let myself believe something printed in black and white, she colored outside those lines and created a new purpose for the document that I had been dreading.

And she did all of this without saying a word.

She reminded me why these sheets mean nothing. They don't really tell me anything about my child. They are just words on a page. Delay is in the eye of the beholder. Each child has their own pace, their own set of milestone priorities. My job isn't to compare or to be sad when they don't measure up to a random list. My job to to enjoy the accomplishments that are here.

So I did. I told her that her circles were beautiful, and I tried to get her to turn some of her "lines down" into an A. Before we realized it- it was time to go back for the big 4 year visit where she followed instructions and cooperated like the best of them. When her doctor commented "Wow, she really does understand a lot, doesn't she?" I nodded, smiled, and thought to myself "if you only knew."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Your Perception Of Down Syndrome

What do the words "Down syndrome" mean to you? No really. Stop and think about it. What do they really mean?

I realize if you are reading this- if you are a follower of ours at all- either you

1. have a child with Down syndrome yourself and are part of our Down syndrome "network"
2. are curious about a parenting reality different than your own
3. love following the unique journey of a certain little Addison
4. have a compassionate heart that truly wants to learn more about life with disability to further your knowledge base and therefore your ability to understand with kindness.
5. just received a new Down syndrome diagnosis and are silently doing your "research"

Perhaps I'm assuming too much with that list, but for the sake of argument let's just go with it.

To each of you, "Down syndrome" is going to mean something entirely different.
It's like we're all standing around a tree. Some of you are way across the yard. Some of you are so close to the tree you're practically under it. Some of you are a few steps away- circling around the tree. We each see a different side of the tree. We get different spots of light through the spaces in the leaves. The leaves are angled differently to all of us.

The same tree. Different perspectives- or perceptions if you will.

To a random stranger in the store- perhaps "Down syndrome" means an individual with a slightly different look- still shopping with his/her parents long after other children have moved away from home.

To a facebook friend who clicks "like" on a promotional Down syndrome poster or video- perhaps "Down syndrome" means a feel-good, happy thing that is always a screen away.

To a new parent just receiving the diagnosis, maybe the words "Down syndrome" strike fear, sadness, and uncertainty in your heart.
To those who love following Addison's journey, the words "Down syndrome" to you might equal Addison.

To a parent who has only typically developing kids and no real contact with someone with Down syndrome, perhaps "Down syndrome" means only "That awful thing that we luckily escaped- GOD IS GOOD!"

The truth is, we all have different perceptions when it comes to Down syndrome. How we were raised, who we know, books we've read, philosophies we follow, beliefs we cling to- how we were taught to think about disability...all of these things combine to create our unique perspective about Down syndrome.

I know in this world there will never be ONE perception because we all live such different lives and it isn't fair to expect us all to think the same way.
And honestly I don't think that different perceptions of Down syndrome are wrong, but I do think that it's important that we shape our individual perception around certain facts. Well, facts according to the perception of someone living with the reality of Down syndrome every day.

(for example: We all see a tree. But let's establish: the tree has roots in the ground. The tree has leaves. The tree is tall. Etc.)

Fact #1 Down syndrome is not a bad thing
Fact #2 Down syndrome is not just an excuse for the newest trendy feel-good campaign
Fact #3 The presence of Down syndrome in a family is also the result of God being good
Fact #4 There is no ONE model of Down syndrome.
Fact #5 There is not just ONE possible future for an individual with Down syndrome
Fact#6 Down syndrome doesn't prescribe automatic happiness, but life with Down syndrome can be full of as much happiness and joy as you choose to let it
Fact#7 Individuals with Down syndrome have HUGE potential and ability to learn life skills, academic skills, and social skills.
Fact#8 There isn't a right way and wrong way when it comes to accepting a new Down syndrome diagnosis. You approach it with your previous perceptions- therefore our approaches will all be different.
I have lived a wide range of perceptions when it comes to Down syndrome.

There was the young childhood version where I was oblivious to such a thing existing. There were the awkward teen years where I avoided anyone who would make me feel even more awkward. There were the college years were I studied to become a teacher but sat through the special ed classes with a raised eyebrow. There were the grad school years were nothing mattered to me but my goals. There were the early teacher years where I had a child with autism in my class that started to stretch the way I thought about those different than myself. There were the days of Addison's diagnosis were I was suddenly aware of Down syndrome and loathed that it was now part of my life. There was the first year of motherhood when Addison started to teach me about life in a way I had never been taught before. There were the next three years in the school of Addison....and then there is now.

The loathing is completely gone- Down syndrome is intrinsically a part of my motherhood story, and I am in awe of how perfectly and beautifully this story was written for me.
Before, I was viewing the tree from far away. Now I am staring at a beautiful leaf from this tree through a microscope, marveling at the wide variety of colors, intricate design, and artistic beauty that wasn't available previously to my naked eye- way across the way. It's easy to have a tainted perception when you aren't looking closely enough. But with this blog- with us sharing Addison with you- this is our invitation for you to join us at our microscope. Getting the scoop on the close up picture. Of course- staring at this particular leaf full of vibrancy and unique design wouldn't be like EVERY leaf that you could study from this particular tree. Each leaf will still hold its own uniqueness even though they can all fall under the label "leaf". But here is our leaf. Come see the beauty that is here.

As I stand contentedly in the now and look to tomorrow's celebration of World Down Syndrome Day (3/21 standing for 3 copies of the chromosome 21), I find myself with the impossible wish that everyone could share this close-in-view perception of Down syndrome. Not just for a day, but for every time they see someone different and have a choice of how to respond. When they are in the crossroads of choosing "cool" or "kind" and have to pick only one. When they are facing that genetics counselor who just advised terminating the pregnancy to eliminate "suffering". When they have the chance to help someone else even when it's inconvenient to their fast-paced schedule. When they are bragging about their child's brilliant achievements as if it's the only thing that matters in life. When they talk about schooling their child in a classroom without a child with a disability so that THEIR child won't be held back by THEM. When they choose who to sit next to in the lunchroom. When they aren't sure exactly how to respond and struggle with respecting someone "different". When they get dragged down by frustrating, difficult circumstances, and need to find strength to keep going. When they think "hard" means to "stop trying".

Down syndrome means a lot to me. Down syndrome is a big part of who my daughter is.

Down syndrome may mean absolutely nothing to you. But in honor of World Down Syndrome Day could you pretend? Could you pretend just for a moment that Addison is your daughter? How would it change the way you perceive Down syndrome? How would it change the way you see other individuals with Down syndrome- the way you treat them? If you had watched a sweet little girl fight so hard for life...skills...and the ability to tell us about it- would you have more respect for someone out and about who isn't accomplished and smooth- but is trying their absolute best and succeeding spectacularly on a level all their own?

Welcome to our microscope.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day, baby girl. xoxo

Monday, March 17, 2014

2 Years- But Never Forgotten

Note: This is the last day of the Giveaway. Enter HERE.

Today should be his 2nd birthday. Or it is his birthday. Or was?

I don't know the correct way to say it. I don't know if there's anything correct when it comes to the death of a child. I don't know if anything is still right.

But two years ago today- he was born- this I know. John William Slepitis.
He was beautiful, healthy, full term, and he belonged to my sister.

I remember her calling me the next day- pride and love evident in her voice. This was her baby boy.

We celebrated. We talked about how sweet he was. What a great sleeper. How handsome.

I felt guilty because I wanted to send her a picture of Addison and Carter (who was only 6 months himself) holding a sign that said "WELCOME TO THE WORLD JOHN WILLIAM", but it was a busy week, and I never got around to staging it.

I remember the call saying that he was bringing in his 1 week birthday by breathing too heavy for comfort and that he needed to be taken to the Emergency Room. I remember hearing that the doctors weren't really sure what was wrong. I remember hearing that he might need some heart surgery.

I remember hearing that he didn't make it. I remember hearing that a rare virus attacked his body- the only symptom being a heart attack. By the time anything was noticeable- it was too late for sweet little John.

All I remember then was the intense grief and "This isn't fair" on repeat in my numb mind.

My sister is one of the best mothers I know. Her stripe of motherhood falls under the "fantastic" category. I have half a mind to ship MY kids off to her most days because I know they would get better care from her than they do from me. She had a picture perfect pregnancy, did everything by the books, and yet she still had to say goodbye way too early.

And yet even though I felt intense grief as the aunt- even though my whole family grieved- I knew that no one felt this as deeply as John's parents- my sister and brother-in-law. No matter how many articles you read on losing a child, no matter how close you may feel to the situation, no matter how much empathy you may apply- nothing can compare to losing a child yourself. I saw the look in my sister and brother-in-law's  eyes at John's graveside service and knew that the pain I was feeling wasn't even a fraction of their pain.

I can't erase that look out of my mind- a hurt deeper than I have ever felt burning in their eyes normally so full of love and laughter.

Over the past two years my nephew's all-too-short life has been heavy on my heart.

When I worry about if I'm doing enough- protecting enough- following all the right rules- I remember that at some point I have to put down all of the parenting advice columns and trust. Trust that at the end of the day I'm not in control of my children's lives. I can do everything right and still don't get the outcome I want because no matter how well I feed them, exercise them, teach them- I don't get to choose whether or not they draw that next breath. Their lives are in the hands of someone else. I can't dwell on the shoulds, can'ts, and recommended lists too long because at the end of the day- I do my very best as a mother and trust that the Lord will choose to sustain them another day.

And if he doesn't choose to sustain them another day? I find peace in knowing that this is part of his plan. That he created John to lead a perfect one week life. That he has a number on my children's lives and my life- and it's my job only to do my best with what we're given- just as my sister has so graciously demonstrated to our family.

When I grapple the unfairness of life with the fact that God is intrinsically good, I know all too well that it doesn't always feel good. Sometimes it feels wrong. When I watch my sister beautifully mother her two daughters, I see the hole that John left behind. When we talk about about motherhood- our conversations go deeper than perhaps they would have a few years ago.

My sister and brother-in-law are some of the strongest people I know. When I remember today, March 17th- I will always feel an extremely bittersweet reminder that my nephew was born today.

That his family got one beautiful week with him.

And that he was, is, and always will be- loved.
Written in loving memory of John William Slepitis 3/17/12

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Saying Sorry

"Carter, I'm sorry that I yelled at you. Will you forgive me?"

Blue eyes widened under eyelashes that are way longer than mine. His nose crinkled a bit, and his mouth opened like he wanted to say something. But nothing came out, so he shut his mouth once again and carefully listened, staring intently at me.

"I need you to understand that how I said it was wrong, but it's important that you never ever do that again."

He looked down, those wickedly long eyelashes now brushing rosy cheeks.

"When the baby is sitting in the bumbo seat, you are NOT to see how far back you can snap his head. You could really hurt the baby, and it's important that you are very gentle with him so that he can grow up to be big and strong and then he can play with you. Do you understand?"

"Obey." He whispered, twisting his little hands together.

I remembered the 30 seconds that I stepped out of the room, my terror upon returning to find this scene, and my confusion when Eli was laughing hysterically- happy to be noticed by his brother.

I thought about how my first instinct was to yell and yell at Carter. HOW COULD HE BE DOING THIS! And then the guilt that followed when I saw the confused look on Carter's face at the harsh tone of my voice.

Every once in a while something will happen- my children will do something that will make me stop in shock. WOW! Can't believe they just did that! Someone should really teach them to not be like that, and so I lash out in return with my tone. HOW DARE THEY.

And every time, it slowly dawns on me- that is my job. I am the teacher. A job that requires gentleness and love at all times. The lessons I am to teach are not detailed in a syllabus. The when and where are ever changing. The hows fluctuate daily, and the whys are the obvious unspoken.

Even in the most frustrating, exhausting, awful moments- I try to remember that this is a teaching moment. A moment in which they are watching me, waiting for my response. A moment that takes us one step closer to learning a valuable life lesson. Sometimes it's one step forward three dancing steps back to a silent "What Does The Fox Say". But these moments are invaluable. These moments build the future of my children.

As I begin each day, I pray to have patience, a calm spirit, and the kindness to reply to them how I would want them to reply in situations in which they are frustrated.

30 seconds after I pray this- I have to pray it again. And then 30 seconds after that.

Because when I walk into the room and poop is flying- when the baby pees on me- when Addison is expressing frustration through hours of whining- when the house is exploding around me- when dinner is refused by tiny mouths- -when NO ONE IS OBEYING ME- when my day seems to be a first instinct is to yell. NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

But I am learning- I build stronger bridges, make more of an impact, teacher a longer lasting lesson- when I get to the "why did you really do this?" "what were you really trying to say?" "how can I reconnect with you right now?" in each situation with grace, calm, and a loving spirit.

I wish this was a one and done lesson for myself. I wish I only had to apologize that one time to my son because I was perfect after that. I'm not perfect, and I find myself back here far too often. But I pick myself up each time and keep going. Because that is my job.

And when the bad moments fade only into distant memory and the good moments take over- it is really good. The laughter, the smiles, the emerging personalities, the helping, the little people communicating with me, the family we are building- it is really good. We work through the hard so that we can fuel up again with the good.

As my two year old stood in front of me- looking puzzled at my apology- I asked him for a hug. His eyes started twinkling and he threw himself at me backwards so that I had to catch him (this is the way he hugs). His head fell back, laughter exploded from his lips, and his entire body shook with joy because of course I take the opportunity for a good ol' tickle.

"I love you." I told him and kissed his forehead.

He said nothing as he freed himself from my grasp- pretending to wince at the kiss, but the little smile on his face gave him away. As he walked away, I heard a soft, "yank you"- his remote response to everything now.

I thought about his cute little version of "thank you" and how he says it without being prompted.

I smiled.

I taught him that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Word Association- Retarded

I'm at a point in my life where I really despise telling other people what to do or not to do.

You make your choices- I make mine. I respect the way you choose to live your life. All I ask is that you respect the way I choose to live mine.

I grew up for so long with the mentality that there was one right way to do everything. One right way to dress, one right way to talk, one right way to choose entertainment, one right way to eat/drink. ONE. Anything that varied from this prescribed path was WRONG.

And as I have grown and become just a bit wiser- I realize that God created us all differently for a reason. Diversity is a good thing. I like decorating with black and white chevron as much as someone else loathes the pattern. I prefer jeans to a skirt as much as someone else would always choose the skirt. We go to one church- friends go to another. We choose not to drink soft drinks while someone else may love them. Places we choose to put money are places someone would would never dream of putting priority on.

We are all different-we make different choices. And that is good. The world would be boring if we were all silent clones of each other.

That is why something that used to be easy for me to write about now seems hard to describe- because in my new "wiseness" (ha)- it is sometimes difficult for me to separate the things that are good to be different and the things that are bad to be different because this whole shift in thinking has made me a little gun shy.

What I'm talking about is casually flinging the word "retarded" around in conversations to describe something "stupid, idiotic, ridiculous,"etc.

I want to say DON'T SAY IT. But then I'm afraid it sounds like I'm telling you how to live. I want to scream- IT DOESN'T RESPECT MY DAUGHTER. But then you shoot back with how you didn't mean it in relation to her it's just a word you say. I stop watching a movie in tears when I hear them write this word into the script, but they're just trying to portray a character a certain way- one that uses a certain kind of language.

But the truth is, as I grapple with how to share the way this word makes me feel without coming across like I'm telling you how to live- it all comes back to what I said in the opening paragraphs. "I respect the way you choose to live your life. All I ask is that you respect the way I choose to live mine."

A big part of my life is my daughter- who, medically speaking, is retarded. Her mind works at a slower speed because of her extra chromosome. This is not her fault. It just is. It is part of the medical description of Down syndrome. Because of this word being used in a medical setting, this word- "retarded" means something very different to my life than it might to yours.

So how do we tell good different choices versus bad different choices? When a word (like "retarded") degrades another human being- it is no longer a good different choice. When a word ceases to offer respect, it is not a good different choice. When a word portrays a certain type of life as a laughing stock- easily replacing the word "stupid"- it is no longer a good different choice.


A while back on my facebook page, I was telling a story about how Addison had taken chocolate to give her teachers at school. I went on to describe the way she wanted to snatch back the chocolate for herself as her being an "Indian Giver".

Someone commented under this story that she wasn't sure "Indian Giver" was a good choice to describe that scenario anymore.

Shocked- I googled it. Was this really a thing? Was I really offending someone by saying this? But I had said it my whole entire life! It was just a natural association in my mind. I wasn't trying to be mean or hurtful to anyone with a Native American heritage. I was just using descriptors in my story that I thought everyone perceived the same way I did.

Key word being "perceived". Turns out we all have different perceptions of everything- including word association. And if you don't association the word "retarded" with anything bad? It doesn't mean that hundreds of thousands of other people perceive it the exact same way as you. Your innocent perceptions don't make you immune from hurting other people by using it. Because we are all different- our perceptions are all different. These different perceptions can create a dynamically negative reaction to your "innocent" word.

Respect the differences.

As I finished my research on "Indian Giver", learning that it was in fact offending a large portion of people because of the negative reference to their heritage, I deleted my post and mentally erased the phrase from my vocabulary. Because it did not offer respect. I wasn't willing to sacrifice hurting someone else for the sake of (what I thought was) a good descriptor of the situation.

You might be thinking that this could be applied to everything. Where do we stop? Why do we let others control our vocabulary? SOMEONE is offended by pretty much everything. Why would we live our lives controlled by that.  We are all different- YOU SAID THIS WAS GOOD.

We need to decide which different perceptions are you seeing pink and me seeing people and which different perceptions are you seeing "innocent descriptor" and me seeing "you just called my daughter an idiot because you replaced a word that describes her condition for idiot".

That was so retarded./That was so idiotic./That was so stupid./That was so ridiculous. If you perceive all of these words to be innocent and mean the exact same thing- I ask you to consider (and respect) those who see the first sentence's use of "retarded" and immediately think of a loved one who this word might mean something extremely sensitive to them.

Words have meaning. Words have weight. What looks like a feather floating aimlessly to the ground to you might look like a sledge hammer slamming down and shattering something to someone else.

Don't be that person. Don't be that one who thinks that HIS perception is the only one- blinding ignoring the world around you. And even if you completely don't understand and think that I'm the one who thinks that HER perception is the only one...when it comes to words- would it hurt to err on the side of caution?

Respect the differences. I'm not telling you how to live. I'm asking you to respect those living a different reality than yours. It won't hurt you to not say a word. I promise. It won't.

I work to be a sensitive as possible to other's perceptions- even when I don't always understand. I change where I need to change when I see that I'm not respecting another. All I ask is that you try to do the same for me. And for my daughter. And I thank you in advance.

3.05.2014 Spread the Word to End the Word

Monday, March 3, 2014

Killer Donuts

It was 4am. Eli woke me with soft cries to be fed. I love having him right next to our bed because he'll do one or two very convincing cries, but as soon as he sees me put on my glasses and sit up- he lies there patiently waiting for me- smiling and smacking his lips.

I scooped him up, answering his coos with "good morning, handsome" and big smiles of my own.

He nestled in close to me for the first feeding of the day, and I cherished the feel of him holding onto me with little fingers that got chubbier by the day. While feeding him, I decided to check my phone to see if I had gotten a reply email to a discussion I had started with a friend the night before. From there- I hopped onto facebook for just a minute. Big mistake.

There I found an article about sound machines and how they were not recommended by Pediatricians any more because of how loud they are and how they may hurt the baby's hearing. I have never purchased a sound machine- I use a white noise ap on my phone for Eli. And while my phone even on the loudest setting doesn't get very loud- I immediately started worrying. This is what I do. I worry about my kids. It's pretty much my profession now- spurred on my countless Internet articles that constantly contradict each other. Yes this medicine is safe. NO IT'S NOT! Definitely do this while pregnant. DON'T DO IT! Your child can eat this food at this age- the earlier the better. WAIT UNTIL HE HITS PUBERTY TO TRY PEANUT BUTTER! If you love your child, give him this supplement. GIVE IT TO THEM ONLY IF YOU HATE THEM. And on and on it goes.

Eli finished his feeding, and I set him back in his bed- no white noise now. He fell immediately back to sleep- tummy full- the 4am smile quota being hit.

But I couldn't sleep. I was too busy worrying. I tried to sleep- lying in the blessed stillness that was my house trying to force my body to relax. But the nagging voice in my head wouldn't shut up, so I figured I might as well take advantage of this time to get work done.

Sneaking out of bed without disturbing Eli, I made a beautifully savory cup of coffee that would put those clog dancing commercials to shame. I made a new batch of Addison's favorite energy bites that Aaron requested for his day of skiing today. And then I sat down with my steaming cup of coffee, a few energy bites, and my computer at the Dining Room Table.


I could do something that I had only dreamed about in years. Slowly- sip-coffee-let-slide-down-and-warm-me-before-another-slow-sip. Fingers gripping the hot mug, I realized how much I missed such a simple pleasure instead of the usual drink-as-quickly-as-possible-DON'T-DRINK-MOMMY'S-COFFEE-gulp-down-caffeine-before-it-gets-spilled-and-super-cold

The house was completely silent. The silence of three sleeping children (accompanied by a snoring husband) is truly a beautiful sound.

Surrounded in darkness, my little house felt all cozy as I opened my Word document and diligently set to work- wondering why I don't do this more often early in the morning while my brain is fresh. This was awesome.

All of a sudden, I heard deliberate knocking at the front door.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

My mind froze, my heart started pounding, and my palms immediately started to sweat.

It was 5:30am. No one would come to my house at 5:30am. It was completely dark outside- making it seem even more like the middle of the night, and we don't live in an easily accessible neighborhood spot.

My first logical thought- a murderer. He had come to off us all.

My second thought- I wish I hadn't watched all those Criminal Minds episodes.

My third thought- too bad the house wasn't clean. I would last be remembered for a half-full dirty dishwasher and a pile of unfolded laundry on the couch.

The side of the Dining Room Table that I chose to work at had my back to the front door, so the sound of knocking came from behind me, but it definitely was there. There it came again.

Knock......knock.....knock...slowly and steadily like the sound of a hammer pounding in cadence. The hammer pounding...the last nail in the coffin...

The front door is half glass. If I turned around and leaned around the small half wall to see who was there- they would definitely be able to see me.

I started yelling "Aaron Aaron AARON! GET UP! HEEEELLLLPPPP!"

I've always had a secret fear that someone would break into our house and my soundly sleeping husband wouldn't wake up to locate his gun and protect us all. Would I be able to protect us with the gun? Not unless throwing the gun in a sort of dodgeball vengeance counted. And even as I type that I realize how ridiculous it sounds to throw a gun at an intruder...but seriously that is about all I would know to do with it. (Note to self: take husband up on shooting lessons)

But as soon as I finished screaming for him, I realized- why did I yell? Now the murderer knew I was here- super close to the front door. There was no way he didn't hear me too. Ignoring him now would just be rude! Maybe it would anger him. Maybe he was preparing now to break the glass in the front door- wait for it....wait for it...I held my breath.

I heard Aaron stir which gave me the courage to peek around the half wall, gripping tightly my cup of steaming coffee of which I had only gotten in a couple of sips so far. My thought was- this will protect me. I can throw it in the murder's eyes and the awesomeness of my coffee will blind him. Haven't seen that in the commercials yet, but I was sure it was just because no one had thought of it yet. They've all been too busy clog dancing and singing about what's in their cups.

I saw a slightly hunched shadow of an older woman standing at our front door. At first this freaked me out even more. But looking closer, I realized that it was someone from our old church- someone holding- donuts?

Aaron was dashing into the hallway to protect me while looking suspiciously still asleep, but she had seen me, so I simply had to open the door now.

Turns out- it was someone who had just gotten off their shift at the bakery and stopped by with fresh donuts because she knew we loved donuts. Maybe she saw that our lights were on?

But in my still-haven't-finished-enough-coffee-yet-5-am-haze I half expected her to whip a knife out of her fanny pack at any moment.

She left pretty quickly. I think the pasty, freaked out, I-just-peed-myself-I-was-so-scared look on my face hurried her departure along.

My hand hurt from gripping the handle of my "Mommy's Not Coherent Yet" mug so tightly- ready to defend myself with it.

I heard stirring in Addison's room as soon as the word "Donuts" was uttered. Nothing wrong with that girl's hearing. She is now saying "All done now. All done now." with the kind of urgency that lets me know that she will wake up Carter if necessary to get her point across to earn her morning freedom and her share of the donut goods.

It is 5:45am.

Aaron shuffled back to our room- calling me paranoid when I started gushing about a murderer when it was clear it was just a friend being nice (it's hard to take a boxer-only clad man serious when he almost immediately after the incident has large quantities of donut powder on his face)

Eli heard Daddy come back in and immediately woke up with startled I'm-up-now-feed-me-again cries because now he didn't have any white noise to block out the extra sound.

So to sum up: 2 out of 3 children are now awake. My steaming coffee has now cooled to the usual lukewarm. My work progress has been limited to opening the document. My heart is still pounding, and I'm shaking like a leaf. The day is starting 2 hours earlier than usual with the kids. least there are donuts.

I am anticipating an awesome day.

Also- THIS. This is why I don't get up early to work before the kids wake up. THIS. I thought I had the luxury of sipping my coffee. Apparently- I should always guzzle it down as quickly as possible as soon as waking up. ALWAYS. #notamorningperson #evenalittlebit

Moral of the story: when you have a friend with an extremely overactive imagination with a coffee dependency and a husband who owns a gun- always call first. always. For your own safety. Who knows how many years of therapy you'll need to recover from...that hot coffee being thrown in your face.