Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Savoring the Beauty of Motherhood

I know I have been absent here. This is due to a number of reasons. One of the big reasons being, I've been working on several other writing projects, and there just isn't time to fit everything in! So blog posts have been pushed aside a bit.

Today I am sharing one of the projects I've been working on for the past month- a talk I gave at our church's Cross Connections this Monday. This is a breakfast we put on for preschool moms. This ministry has always been such a huge blessing to me, and I am thrilled to be on the other side of things this year, helping out and contributing as I can. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share, and to the many people who braved the snowstorm to come out and enjoy the morning!

I am sharing this talk because it is something very near and dear to my heart- "Savoring the Beauty of Motherhood", and I know this topic is important to a lot of you as well. 

Fair warning- this is longer than my usual post length. It was given as a talk (long winded people unite!), but feel free to dig into it if you want, or pass if you just don't have the time. Just putting this out here for those who might appreciate the subject matter and the heart behind it. (And for my own memory storage purposes.)

Without further ado- here you go!

Savoring the Beauty of Motherhood

The day before my son’s fourth birthday, I woke up to a bit of a horror show. It took me a few minutes of sleuthing to piece together what actually happened because of the many pieces involved in this particular show of horror. And it might sound like I am making this story up. Trust me. I wish I was.

So here’s what went down. My son Carter Henry (yes, the middle name is necessary for this story) woke up quite early this fateful morning and tiptoed ninja-style into the kitchen. Using his monkey-like skills, he climbed to the highest pantry shelf and removed a handful of dishwasher soap tablets from the box tucked way out of sight and reachability. You know, the kind of tabs with the warning label “lick this and you will die a slow and painful death”…or something. He climbed all the way back down, deliberately removed all of the wrappers from the tablets, and then placed the open tabs in his little brother’s crib. After placing these tabs, he went back to the kitchen and proceeded to spray down the entire kitchen with nonstick cooking spray. The greasy finish was the perfect addition to the hot, sticky summer day. I can just imagine how his wheels spun on this one. As he is climbing to the super high up point where the tabs were hidden, he passes the shelf with the cooking spray and thought, “Huh. Wonder how this works?” and snagged it on the way down.

I woke up as I heard the baby talking to me, and I went first thing to the baby to get him up, and discovered the highly poisonous tabs surrounding him. I think God made him especially wise (because of who he is dealing with as a brother) as baby brother had not touched a single tab, but instead was staring accusingly at his big brother, as if beginning a long career in tattle-telling.

Confused and livid all at once, I asked Carter why on earth he would do this? Why would he give the baby poison? And his response was, “I wanted to kill him.” Great. Now I’m raising a murderer. I thought back to the day before when I did a HUGE demonstration by the dishwasher “DON’T EAT THESE. THEY ARE POISON. THEY WILL KILL YOU.” in an attempt to capture a teachable moment for my crew about what not to put in their little mouths. And I realized that this warning only served to make them extremely curious about all things poisonous and this strange new word- “kill”.

I think we can safely call this a teachable moment fail.

Around this point, I went into the kitchen to throw away the dishwasher tabs, and my feet slipped rather strangely on my normally dry wood floors. With a mind struggling to comprehend the horror of it all, as if moving in slow motion I saw the empty can of cooking spray and the thick layer of grease covering the entire room.

Carter stood in the corner, looking guilty. With a black, black heart and greasy hands.

Barely holding it together and feeling the need to NOT LOOK AT HIM not even A LITTLE BIT, I calmly- oh so calmly- told him to go get dressed. Now. The discipline and talk through would come later, after my heart calmed down from a point of anger to a calm but firm “this is not acceptable and you will NEVER DO THIS AGAIN.”  So I told him to go get dressed while I got my breathing back under control and figured out how most effectively to address this situation.

He was mad. He didn’t want to get dressed. So, naturally, he went into the bathroom and threw up. Everywhere. (He has the gift of throwing up on command.)

At this point the kitchen was covered in greasy cooking spray, the bathroom was covered in vomit, one son was trying to off the other, and it was 6:30am.

Did I mention that I was struggling with a pretty serious case of morning sickness myself? Because definitely- bring more players into this game!

The last thing on my mind at that moment was savoring the beauty of motherhood. The. Very. Last. Thing. In fact, running through my head was a bit of “how did this become my life and how do I get out of it?”

Now, just to set your mind at ease, you most likely will not have this same exact story happen to you. All of our kids are different- some are just naturally more challenging than others. Carter is my most challenging child. Parented identically to his brother, he still presents situations to us that his brother would never DREAM of doing. Depending where you are in your motherhood journey, you might have already realized that these types of moments will come. These stories will no doubt come in different shapes and sizes, depending on your child’s temperament and stage of life, but in every motherhood story there are moments that can only be described as a “low point” as we face our sinful charges and try to figure out how to parent through.

The next night, I slept rather fitfully, keeping my ears wide open for even the slightest stirring of naughty toddler. What would I find when I exited my bed at the selfish sleep-in hour of 6am?

But it was the oddest thing. All day long Carter was kind, polite, well-behaved, and overall an extraordinary, helpful child. It was as if a switch was flipped. And this new behavior continued as the following months progressed. He was growing up! He was no longer three! He was four now! He was going to school! He was learning! He was becoming someone I could rely on and really enjoyed being with instead of someone that I dreaded interactions with. (mostly because of the cleanup involved). He became such a joy and my big, big helper with the other children.

Motherhood involves some rather serious valleys. But- for every valley, it is surrounded on both sides of peaks- the highs- the mountain tops. And as you stand back and seek a more comprehensive view, it’s like driving down I-89 during the peak of fall foliage. The peaks and the valleys blend together to create one breathtaking view bursting with intense color and beauty.

Do you get this same view when you are standing in the valleys? No.

Would you get this same view if no valleys existed- only the highs? No. This is what they call flat ground. Do the endless miles of Indiana cornfields offer the same amount of enticing beauty as New England fall foliage?

It’s like going through grueling, painful labor to get to meet your sweet newborn for the first time. Like floundering through months and months with a baby who REFUSES to sleep and as you stumble to their crib for the thousandth time that night, your baby flashes you the most beautiful, captivating smile ever in the history of the WORLD. Like enduring a screaming, public two-year-old tantrum to get to the sniffled “I wuv you, Mommy” and the tight hug. Like watching your child be selfish and unkind- working and praying and working on this with them until the playdate that you see them kindly sharing. Like that first day of kindergarten drop off. You’re so proud! This is your baby all grown up! And then picking them up at the end of the day, kicking and screaming, carrying their writhing body out to the car because they simply didn’t want to come home. They want to stay at school FOREVER.

Peaks and valleys.

So how do we stand back and see the whole picture? How do we enjoy the beauty when it seems like we are constantly stuck in those valleys? How can we appreciate our reality when some days it seems like it’s so completely different from our motherhood hopes and dreams?

How do we savor the beauty when we are on our hands and knees cleaning up a bathroom full of vomit, knowing that we have to go degrease the kitchen next and oh by the way- it’s a LONG way until bedtime and they are off destroying the living room while we get this done?

1. Remind yourself that this phase doesn’t last forever
Fall foliage is a quickly fleeting thing. We get so used to it that it’s easy to take for granted. Until one day you are driving down the same road, and it’s all like- um, why are the trees naked? WHERE IS MY AUTUMNAL COLOR?

Soon the naked branches are covered with a luscious, thick layer of snow. Come spring? That melts too.

But then the naked branches burst into new color. Green, fresh life. Does this last forever?

Phases in motherhood are the same way. In those hot and sticky summer days. It’s almost impossible to convince our sweating forehead that in a few months it will want to be under a wool hat, desperately trying to stave off frostbite. When we have babies, it’s hard to imagine them as toddlers. And then school aged kids. And beyond.

But while we are wrapped up in the details of today, tomorrow sneaks up on us until it’s already the next phase and we aren’t really sure how it got here.

When Carter was three, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to survive it. This phase was lasting FOREVER. It was TOO HARD. He’s five now. Heads up- I survived. The morning sickness from the story? Gone. I have a beautiful 9 month old daughter now. The kindergartener that I had to drag kicking and screaming to the car after her first day? She’s a super grown up, confident first grader now. And the baby who REFUSED to ever sleep? He’s the kindergartener. He collapses in bed exhausted after a day full of learning.

These phases fly by. What’s the saying? “The years are short, the days are long?” yup. That.

I really enjoy my Timehop ap. Are you guys using Timehop? Basically it takes all of my pictures that I post on social media, and it keeps it organized per day. So if I pull up Timehop today, I see the pictures I posted last year on this day, two years ago on this day, three years ago on this day, four years ago, etc etc. It is a very helpful reminder as to how fast my kids- these seasons of motherhood are changing.  How quickly these little years are fleeing. I had to laugh as on a regular day my timehop might begin with a post from 8 years ago about how extremely TIRED I was while finishing grad school. (My definition of “tired” has really been stretched since those grad school days.) Then no doubt post a couple years later- something about my first pregnancy. And then the following years after that just start adding babies. All the up to a year ago today. It’s crazy how fast the time has gone.

2. Capture the Memories
Sometimes when I am having a particularly rough day, I will dress the kids in cute clothes and then pose them in one giant heap, and take a ton of pictures. Out of 1,275 pictures taken, there will be 1 that is halfway passable with four grins facing my way. At the end of the day after the last baby has been tucked in bed and the last cheek has been kissed and the last goodnight song has been sung, I will go back to those pictures and scroll slowly through. The wriggly tiny bodies that somehow represented all my greatest frustrations that day suddenly transform into the sweetest, most mellow, glorious little human beings that are just ridiculously cute in every possible way. I’ll then go to watch them sleeping, and they look so angelic. So peaceful!

Also sometimes on a rough day, I will take a picture of the ridiculousness of it all. Three Costco sized boxes of cheerios spilled on the floor? Take a picture! The house trashed beyond all reason? Click. Your child literally climbing the walls? Picture! Sometimes sending these pictures to my husband is the only way my stories are believable at the end of the day.

Oh, and if the house is covered in cheerios and the kids are bouncing off the walls with no end in sight? It’s a great opportunity to load all the kids up in the car for a little drive time while playing music and/or an audio story. Our current favorite is Adventures in Odessey. My 6, 5,and 3 year olds really get into the stories, the van becomes super quiet, and Dunkin’ Donuts has coffee drive through. Just sayin’.

All of our motherhood lenses are unique and beautiful in their own way. Mine tends to include a lot of mess as the curiosity level in my boys tends to demand that they take things apart to study them. To me this mess represents a house full of life and energy. That is a beautiful thing.

I have a theory think that taking pictures of our kids can help us step back and view certain situations more objectively. Rather than holding the hard times close and internalizing them in a subjective fashion, stepping behind the lens can help us step away and observe the big picture, as pictures somehow combine the peaks and valleys all together in one shot and gives us the opportunity to study it from afar.

So for example, subjective- “I can’t believe this happened to me. Why did my child poison the baby, grease down the kitchen, and throw up all over the bathroom? Why is my child so bad? He hates me! This is the worst morning ever!”  And viewing the same situation a bit more objectively: “This is intense curiousness and athletic prowess at work. How do I channel this for good? How do I help him learn to navigate his skills in a positive way? How can I take this energy and curiosity and mold him into a strong leader someday? A dependable, kind man?

Call me crazy, but taking pictures helps me view the situation a bit more objectively.

Now after capturing these moments, you may feel comfortable sharing them on social media, or you may not. This is an entirely personal decision and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. I myself tend to share a carefully selected variety of pictures. Mostly because I don’t have a lot of time to stay on top of baby books, and this allows me to create a store of memories with short captions (which then shows up on my Timehop which means that I will be reminded of that short memory exactly a year from now).

If you find yourself enjoying capturing these moments, and finding solidarity in others capturing and posting theirs, let me offer just a gentle reminder to not participate in the compare game of the motherhood lens. We are all going to choose different parts of motherhood to stand back and objectively study.

Someone else might be posting a series of peaks on a day when you feel stuck in a constant valley.

Also, I’m convinced that social media makes us all look like we are much more together than we actually are. Every time I log onto instagram and search for new pictures, every pregnant woman I see looks like a model with a pretend belly strapped on….every house looks like it should be in a Home and Gardens magazine….every meal looks like it should have its own Pinterest worship team…and every toddler is dressed to the nines, accessorized with an angelic smile and doesn’t look at all like they plan to paint their baby sibling in poop later on that day.

But to be fair, the pictures I share tend to be on the more positive side as well. The highlight reel of my day. For example:

A few months ago I ran to the grocery store during an extremely hectic morning in the midst of an extremely hectic week. I was barely holding it together when I ran into a friend. After our initial “hello”s, she surprised me by asking, “How, how do you do it all?” She asked, breathlessly waiting for a wisdomous answer. “Well” I looked at her a bit unbelieving. “It is 9 am and I am at the grocery store…in something that looks remarkably like pajamas. My hair hasn’t been brushed for days. My toddler is wearing two different shoes. And my baby’s sleeper has more than a few smears of avocado that are hardening into dark green crusties from a hurried breakfast before school drop off. It occurred to me that she sees my life only through what I share on facebook and Instagram. The night before I had posted some sort of adorable picture of my kids smiling, all dressed. With matching shoes. And spotlessly clean baby collars. Hectic mornings where I don’t have time to brush my hair don’t make it onto Instagram.

It’s not the whole picture, I promise.

Feel free to take pictures of your motherhood peaks and valleys and feel free to enjoy other’s pictures, but always remind yourself that there is more to the story. And if you feel yourself getting discouraged because of others’ shiny postings of their motherhood awesomeness? Maybe time for a social media break. Just a couple days away to focus back in on the beauty in front of you instead of feeling the need to compare yours to the cleaned up, posted version you see online. I do this regularly and it really helps to reset.

3. Keep your eye on Moms with older kids
I absolutely love following moms who have “been there, done that” and are on to a whole new phase of motherhood that I can’t even wrap my head around yet. For example- after a somewhat trying day of wrangling 4 small children one day, I logged onto Instagram to see a mom post about dropping her oldest child off at college for the first time.

Her motherhood lens captured this tall, lanky boy man- ready to face the world. His face was etched in optimism and wonderment. He was leaving home and entering the world as his own person. No parent would be there to tuck him in at night. No one would hold his hand as he walked toward his first class. No one would be there to comfort him if he woke up in the middle of the night with a bad dream. In his lean face framed with floppy brown hair, I immediately saw both of my sons. And my heart froze at the thought of leaving them alone on a college campus. To be responsible for their days entirely without my input. To learn and grow into a life entirely separate from mine. To not be available for me to just wrap my arms around them at a moment’s notice and breathe in their boyish scent- half dirt, half mischief.

I tend to sometimes think, “If we can just get to that next phase, it will be EASIER”, but watching these moms navigate new territory, I observe that these new phases come with new problems. A new level of motherhood complexity that makes a house full of squirming babies suddenly seem simple and lovely to navigate.  That provides a unique privilege to be able to scoop up my crying toddler after he stubs his toe. To appreciate the ability to place soft kisses on his forehead as he is frustrated with his homework assignment. To be there. To have him with me for all of the little and big moments alike. To have years in front of me with teaching potential. Of memory making. Of living life under the same roof. I have years ahead of me still to prepare them for the responsibility that college requires. To send my children out into the world, ready to start making big, scary decisions all on their own.

After seeing posts like this one, I do my dirty diaper duty and piles of laundry of today with a new kind of sweetness. A realization that this won’t be my life forever. And maybe, just maybe someday I will wish for these days back again- to safely have all of my babies under one roof with my biggest problem of the day being how to get them to just LISTEN and pick up their toys the FIRST time I ask.

Following moms with older kids provides a valuable perspective. Their motherhood lens is one that we can learn a lot from.

4. Rely on The Lord’s Strength
When we went in for the 20 week ultrasound for our very first baby, we stared at that fuzzy ultrasound screen, bright eyed new parents- full of hope, happiness, and ideas of how parenting should look. We were just supposed to find out gender, and boy were we excited. But it turns out we found out more than we bargained for that day.

The “It’s a girl!” was followed up by a somber, “Now I don’t want you to worry, but it looks like something isn’t quite right” which led to the ultrasound being switched to the high risk center which led to counseling with a genetic counselor which led to an amnio which led to the worst phone call of my life.

“I’m so sorry, but your baby tested positive for Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome)”

I was halfway through my first pregnancy, and already I was in my first motherhood valley. I wasn’t even close to being able to see the whole picture. The beauty that comes with this particular valley. The bursting colors, the unique viewpoint, the happiness of mothering a child with Down syndrome. At that time I could only see the dark, cold valley in front of me filled with dirty, gray rocks that at times seemed to be suffocating me. It was only later that I would realize what a gift this diagnosis would be to our family. A beautiful, delicate, unique blessing that today I wouldn’t trade for the world.

But in that first motherhood valley, I couldn’t see it at all.

One difficult pregnancy later, a horrendous labor, a long NICU stay, bringing my baby home attached to an oxygen tank and a g-tube, two heart surgeries later- I learned something very important about being a parent.

Hard times will come our way. Really, really hard times. Parenthood brings with it a new level of hopelessness and inability to control the life in front of us. We can’t control our children’s ultimate safety, health, or life. We can do our best, but so many things are out of our control as parents, it is rather ridiculous.

And we can’t do this on our own. When your beautiful new baby is in heart surgery and you are sitting in the waiting room just praying that you will be able to hold her warm, soft body again, you find that you need someone else to hold you up. Someone so much stronger than yourself or the hundreds of people sending encouragement your way. Someone who created this entire situation and put you into it with the title Mother. Someone who designed this all to happen this exact way and who willingly provides the strength necessary to get you through it.

Motherhood has driven me to my knees.

Motherhood has seen me cry out for the life of my child all the while praising in thankfulness for the opportunity to have at least met her in the first place.

Motherhood has taken what confidence I had in myself and forced me to acknowledge that I can’t do it. Not even a little bit.

I’ve heard it flippantly said that “Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.” And I get the sentiment behind this, but at the same time, I respectfully disagree. Motherhood absolutely IS for the faint of heart. Because we all are.

In fact, I would say that our hearts are even worse off than merely “faint”. I think our hearts could more aptly be described as “broken”. “Shattered beyond repair”. Our hearts are the Christmas tree ornaments that we thought we set up out of the toddlers’ reach but then somehow miraculously pudgy hands grab hold and the delicate glass falls falls falls to the ground and the singular ornament suddenly becomes shiny confetti. Didn’t happen at your house? Mine either, of course.

Jesus was born in that stable those many years ago, and grew perfectly into a man who died on the cross for our brokenness. The Christmas story was the beginning of our opportunity to heal. The manger scene is so much more than a pretty greeting card or a mantle display. The manger scene is part of God’s intricate plan to offer forgiveness and hope to mankind. The strength that we need as mothers to carry on in the hard times can be traced all the way back to that babe in a manger and the incredible plan that was laid in place for our salvation.

Motherhood makes me all too aware of my own sinfulness. Of my own need for a Savior. Of my own need for grace, strength, and wisdom. Motherhood pushes me toward the cross in a desperate cry for help. Of God sending his own son to take my sins on his shoulders. Of him living his sinless, perfect life in such a way that he became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Of him dying and then rising from the dead just thee days later. Of his willingness to forgive me of my sins. Of his promise of life everlasting.

Our calling as mothers is so much more than keeping them fed, clothed, and alive. I would venture to say that our calling as mothers is to live this gospel message out to our children. Not just by the words we speak or the church services we take them to- but rather how we live in front of them. How we forgive them for their transgressions. How we love them. How we give grace, kindness, and love to others while they are watching. And how we acknowledge our own brokenness and need for a Savior and how this same need is mirrored in their own sinful lives.

I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for seven years now, and I am no expert. The one thing that I know is that I know nothing at all because as soon as I figure something out- they change.

But one thing that I can say with certainty. I can love my babies even when they are doing horrible things like spraying the kitchen down with cooking spray. My sin was far worse than that. My sin was enough to condemn me for all eternity, and yet he still loved, forgave me, and gave me new life.

I have forgiven Carter Henry for the day before his fourth birthday. (Although this doesn’t mean that I won’t still share it at his rehearsal dinner someday. That girl deserves to know what she’s getting into!) And I never stopped loving him.

The way I handle these situations with my children is far more important than making sure that they never do it again. Handling motherhood “low moments” is my opportunity to live the gospel out in front of my children.

Motherhood is such a beautiful thing. It is a rare gift. A unique privilege. Motherhood is something never to be taken for granted.

Certainly it comes with its challenges. With its frustrations. With its “How did I get here and how do I get out of this?” moments.

But I honestly think that motherhood was designed to draw us closer to the Lord. To remind us in a very real way how inadequate we are and how much we need Him. How forgiveness works as it allows us to be on both ends as the forgiver and the forgivee. How the unconditional love that we have for our children doesn’t even compare to the unconditional love that He has for us.

5. Enjoy the Bigger Picture
There are moments that I take pictures of my kids and there are moments that I refuse to reach for the camera. Moments that I soak in and merely be present for. Moments that I tuck away in my heart, unwilling to share them with whoever might look at pictures I take.

And so I enjoy my motherhood moments. The sticky ones, the soft warm ones, the hilarious ones, the messy ones, the ones bursting so full of love that I feel like my heart might explode.

I will never get today back again. My children will never be this exact age again. These moments are quickly fleeting, and I want to remember exactly the beauty in front of me and savor each and every last bit of it.

I regularly remind myself to look at those peaks and valleys all in one. The exquisite Vermont landscape in front of me. Sweeping gorgeousness in every season alike. And when those fall leaves are up, I enjoy the color. When deep blankets of snow coat the rolling hills? I enjoy the sparkling white. When bare branches grace spring? I enjoy being able to see more of the startling blue sky. When greenery floods the scene, I soak in the lushness of the green.

Whatever your motherhood lens may show today, look for the beauty there. Or just laugh at the ridiculousness of it as you seek to view trying times more objectively. And then put it in the big picture, next to those truly lovely peaks, and be grateful for the view.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

That Moment When You Realize Your Plan Is Not Better Than God's

Have you ever have a moment where you stop and say "Oh okay, God. I see what you did there."?

That happened to me today in a big way. This morning I went to Addison's Parent Teacher Conference at school. I realize that doesn't sound like the usual buildup to a dramatic AH-HA moment, but hang with me here.

You see, this past spring/summer I was a woman on a mission- to sell our house and move over one school district. We did some really big renovations (which honestly needed to happen anyway), put it on the market, worked our little hearts out to do a million showings while keeping the kids alive, fed, and mostly clothed.

And in spite of our very best efforts, it didn't sell. Which was surprising considering how gorgeous it became with the renovations and how much a sellers market it is here. Was it perfect? No. But it was a good buy, and we knew it (no bias whatsoever here lol). It was so puzzling and obvious at the same time that God simply said "No".

(Not to mention- the entire time it was on the market, there wasn't one house that we wanted to buy. Not one. We couldn't agree on a single house. It was obvious that this "no" was a firm one on multiple levels.)

Feeling a bit defeated, we pulled our house off the market, but within days something strange happened. A deep contentment just came over us. We were supposed to stay here for at least another year. Why? We didn't know. So we set plans in motion to add just a bit more room via a finished basement (and another bathroom!) and settled down to just enjoy our renovation work for at least a year before we tried that insanity again.

And honestly- I have been LOVING the renovation work. It has been such a joy to stay here and take advantage of all my favorite colors and things (hello new kitchen!). And according to Instagram, I have been filling the walls full of some cute stuff, some helpful stuff, and some cannibalistic stuff. (You can't win 'em all.) It's been nice to "move back in", and it was nice to have the motivation of selling to do things around the house we had been meaning to do for years. Now we get to enjoy our hard work.

But.....every time I thought about our attempts to sell, it stung a little. A lot. It felt like a failure. So much hard work with not the outcome we wanted. Why? I didn't know.

Until today.

I walked into Addison's Parent Teacher Conference with pretty low expectations. I know Addison can be a bit stubborn, and I wasn't sure how she was performing at school. It's tough to get a good read with a thirty second pickup- especially on the days I end up carrying her to the van or she tries to run off. Just not a lot of chat time.

Her teacher- let's call him Mr B- asked me if I had any questions. I said I had questions on two levels- how was she doing socially and how was she doing academically.

He launched into a report of her social progress first, and his eyes shone as he talked about Addison. I could tell right away that he was very enthusiastic about teaching Addison.

He started in on how she works hard; she is so kind to all of the other students; she is quite good about getting classroom routines down; and she delights in participating in all activities with her peers. He particularly mentioned reading group with a peer and how their reading time was just like any other reading group.

Somewhere in there he revealed that he has a 65 year old brother-in-law who has Down syndrome. His BIL was not offered the level of education, support, or inlcusion available to kids with DS today, and Mr. B has always wanted a child with Down syndrome in his class so that he can pour into that student all of the educational opportunity that his brother-in-law never got.

Wait for it...

Addison is his very first student with Down syndrome.

Somewhere in the conversation Mr. B's eyes teared up as he talked about his brother-in-law and Down syndrome and Addison and a dance party the class had the other day which ended with Addison and Mr. B rocking it out together in the middle of the room. These things all kind of blended together as his past with Down syndrome lit up his present experience with Down syndrome. The DS joy continuum through time was a beautiful thing to witness.

In that moment I got a clarity over the past year. We were NOT supposed to move because Addison needed to be in THIS CLASS. This exact class with this exact teacher. THIS was her perfect 1st grade classroom. If I were to dream up my ideal educational scenario, it would be exactly what Addison is getting. Exactly what this teacher was offering her. If we had moved districts or even to a different part of this one- she would have missed out on this incredible experience.

She is getting the education of a lifetime. Mr. B is doing everything humanly possible to keep her included with the class, to see her excel academically and socially, and to celebrate her for exactly who she is (along with her aide and SPED). When the teacher tears up a bit as he passionately speaks about Down syndrome and what it means to him and how excited he is to have Addison in his class and what a joy she is- you know you've found a good one.

And her peers- the same peers that she had last year- know her so well that they will often interpret for Mr. B or others if Addison isn't understood because she is speaking too quickly or mumbling- as she often does.  Oh and when she does have her stubborn moments, she is motivated by her peers coming alongside her and asking her to come join them and the rest of the class. They love her, understand her, and help her. I really couldn't ask for more.

You know how some parents take in book or presentation to explain to the class, "THIS IS DOWN SYNDROME. THIS IS HOW TO CELEBRATE DOWN SYNDROME"? I left feeling like this teacher and this class should come teach me how to celebrate Down syndrome. Because they are doing a heck of a good job. Addison beamed as she showed me her class today. And as I talked to Mr. B, she immediately grabbed some books and ran to the front of the empty classroom to "teach".

Oh and she can read. I found this out today. SHE IS READING AT SCHOOL. And she gets better every single day as she goes to school in this hugely supportive environment and gets treated with such fantastic student dignity and support. All of the supports that she has right now are really allowing her to thrive academically and socially like she never has before.

Sadly, Mr. B's BIL with Down syndrome is in the hospital right now, dying. If we had moved, Mr. B. wouldn't have the encouragement of Addison in his class every day during this rough time of saying goodbye. I mean really- the one year that he finally has a child with Down syndrome in his class is the one year that he is dealing with this difficult goodbye. Coincidence? He said his wife asks every night what Addison did that day, and they both smile and get such joy out of her performance that day in class.

I am kind of in awe about this, actually.

I am thankful that my hopes and dreams of a bigger house for our growing family were crushed for this year. So, so grateful.

Because this kind of education- this kind of classroom environment for Addison- money cannot buy and no amount of house awesomeness can replace.

I left the Parent Teacher Conference in tears. To hear Mr. B speak of his brother-in-law, to hear him speak of Addison, to see how Down syndrome connects hearts in ways I can't even understand, but somehow I get a front row seat to witness- this is absolutely thrilling in a way I had no comprehension of when I first got Addison's diagnosis.

This is more than CHEER Down syndrome with peppy Facebook memes and flashy pictures of smiling babies. No. This is deeper, much more complex happiness that I feel gets more and more revealed to me as time goes on. Connections, life experiences, joy, a feeling you just can't put into words.

Down syndrome community extends far beyond a matching extra chromosome. It allows a new way of looking at life- a new way of connecting- a new way of experiencing joy. I am so thankful and blessed to be a part of this community because of Addison.

I am currently sitting in my house that didn't sell with my daughter who has been sad all afternoon that she wasn't at school (because of conferences). Rain is falling outside in sheets, almost in an attempt to put out the fiery tree color surrounding us these days.

I am sitting in the Dining Room, exactly where I WASN'T supposed to be because- hello new house Dining Room? And yet this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. Exactly.

I am thankful for the "no". Sometimes one simple "no" means a thousand times "yes" in more important areas.

Sometimes I get so up in my head about THE WAY THINGS NEED TO BE and I forget that God always has a better plan. Always. (I am a slow learner on this matter and just for the record, the title of this post makes me roll my eyes at myself so hard.) My trust in him needs so much work because my amazement over this school situation probably should have been more like an "I knew it" instead of a "WOW" with a dropped jaw.

I am thankful for his better plan. And I'm thankful for his grace to me even as I fought against it.

Here's to the most awesome school/teachers in the world. And here's to a 1st grade little girl who is having the time of her life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I Know A Girl Who...

I know a little girl who accessorizes with the flair of an Egyptian Queen, flaunting her strings of beads and large dangly bracelets as frequently as possible.
She loves to tease her brothers, pulling hair or stealing their stuff and just waiting with devious anticipation for their response.

This little girl kindly reads to the baby whenever the mood strikes her, gesturing wildly and articulating words on top of words and yet even more words until the story always somehow seems to make sense.

This little girl has Down syndrome.

I know a little girl who begs to cook with her mommy. She grabs the roller and rollers the heck out of the dough whenever the situation calls for it. And cheese needs to be sprinkled? Sauce needs to be spread? I know a girl.

She pouted as her mother dropped her off at school this morning, her teen-like attitude as thick as pudding, but definitely not as sweet.

Speaking of pudding, this little girl adores chocolate. I feel like "adores" might not be a strong enough word?

This little girl has Down syndrome.

When this little girl was a baby, she stared death in the face, but stubbornly clung to life, returning to us to remind us that not one single day should be taken for granted.

Her birth was closely followed by two baby brothers and one baby sister. She holds strong to the title "Big Sister" and gets quite bossy when the situation calls for it (and even when it doesn't).

These siblings (minus the baby) run around like crazy- playing in a pack. A tight knit pack where she is an equal member.
This little girl has Down syndrome.

This little girl knows all of her letters, can count to 15, is learning to play the violin, is SO close to reading, and on the days she has music class she comes home saying "Ti ti ta!" with all the enthusiasm in the world.

She makes her bed and cleans her room (ish) and is an eager table setter. Her keen eye scopes out which plates do not have spoons- detective style- and lays out the needed spoon with all the precision of a surgeon making that first cut.

She'll sit at the table at Papa's house and serve herself- her strong hand remaining steady as she pours more cheese sauce over her broccoli. And then she'll refuse to eat the broccoli. She just really wanted to pour sauce over it.

She prefers to sit with the adults and chat as the other kids run off to play. She has a lot to say and she knows that they will listen.

This little girl has Down syndrome.

I know a little girl who has a lot of friends. She comes home eagerly chatting about her day with them, and when she arrives the next day for more school- they cheer to see her.

She is quick to forgive and quick to smile and her hug is like no other.

This little girl isn't perfect. She pitches fits and get mad and makes messes (and blames her brothers for the messes).

When she doesn't like the outfit that has been picked out for her, this little girl hides it, and goes to pick out a new outfit.

Her outfit is almost always better. Or at the very least more interesting. This girl has killer fashion taste.

This little girl has Down syndrome.

I know a girl whose presence fills the the house, yet she is small for her age. Tiny, really. With hands that fit perfectly in her Little Big Brother's hands as he helps her stay safe loading the van. Her tiny feet are quick to run and jump and climb because- hello- brothers need to be caught up with!

I know a girl who has alabaster skin, rosy red cheeks, blue eyes, and blonde hair. Sometimes that hair curls when it is feeling particularly saucy. Or humid.
I know a girl whose smile lights up the world, whose frown tugs at the heart strings, and whose tears can melt the hardest of hearts. (She has been known to use these tears to work at the hard heart of her mother who withholds ice cream cones for not eating dinner first. Can you say Mean Mommy?!)

This little girl has Down syndrome.

October is Down syndrome awareness month, but what is it exactly that you are supposed to be aware of?

This could go many different ways, but my point of this post is that Addison is a person- just like you, just like me. This list, that I wrote specifically about Addison, could really describe any number of little girls- Down syndrome or not.

She has likes and dislikes. Things she's good at and things she's not. She experiences intense joy, intense pain, and everything in-between.
If you are expecting a baby with Down syndrome, I cannot in good conscience promise you that your life will be all rainbows and unicorns because of your "extra"- anymore than I can promise this to anyone expecting any baby- extra chromosome or not. I can, however, promise you that you are giving birth to a human being. A person. An amazing, beautiful soul who will change your life forever in the best possible way.

And just like birthing ANY human, you will have good times and you will have frustrating times and you will have times you wonder "Is it too late to just get a puppy instead of having a baby?" times.

But so go the growing pains of raising a human being. A person. It comes with the territory. (Believe me, this happens equally with all four of my children. Down syndrome doesn't hold the rights over these roller coaster emotions of parenthood.)

And if you are just curious about Down syndrome and perhaps want to be friendly to Addison out and about, know that she is a little girl who loves to chat, and she has parents who don't mind telling you what she just said if she talks too quickly and you don't understand her. No need to panic. Just ask!

Life with Down syndrome has incredible take-away-your-breath highs and frustrating lows...oh wait...that kind of sounds

And even though there can be frustrations, I would be lying if I didn't set something straight. The message going to new parents with a child with Down syndrome- the message of "this life probably isn't worth it" and the doom and gloom and the "life can't be happy or normal because of the frustrations this child will bring"


I can't say that strongly enough. I have experienced severe health needs and huge delays with Addison and I say as strongly as I can say it- WORTH IT. Worth every single blessed second that I have had the privilege of being Addison's mother.

I know a girl who lives life to its fullest- her laugh tickling the air and making it somehow sweeter to breathe. Her step is full of confidence, not a fear in the world.

I know a girl who gets frustrated and says, "I can't" but then when she keeps trying and trying, no smile is bigger than hers when she proclaims, "I did it!"

I know a little girl who has so much potential. She can do anything she sets her mind to. The milestones she has already achieved blow my mind on a regular basis. The sky is the limit for what she can accomplish in life, and I am honored to be on her cheer team.

I know a girl who knows its worth it to try. That all good things are worth fighting for.

I know a girl who has Down syndrome. She is my daughter. And she fills my life with joy.

Down syndrome awareness month. Welcome to October. Let's celebrate difference by choosing kindness. Getting to know the person. Celebrating life.

I'm celebrating Addison. She is the peoplest person that I know. And that's saying something. (-;

Here's to Down syndrome, personality, and chocolate- in that order. (Addison wouldn't have it any other way.)
 (Professional pics taken by Floor Three Creative)

Friday, September 30, 2016

When The Teacher Won't Stop Screaming

The season has shifted here. And in Vermont when we talk a change from hot, sticky summer days to cool, clear fall ones- we are talking pure magic.

The colors turn from green to a plethora of colors- oranges, yellows, reds. I swear this tree down the street goes to pure maroon, with a slight tinge of purple. Set against the clear blue sky that somehow darkens and lightens all at once- it is breathtaking. I point this tree out to the kids as we drive by every day, wanting to make sure they don't miss it because if you blink- poof- the tree is empty and we are preparing for snow.

Fall is quickly fleeting, but it is my favorite season. The air is cool but full of a charged energy. Energy like spending Friday night with fire pit time out on the deck under the clear moonlit sky while wearing a sweatshirt and soaking up the smell of the air. Yes, fall air has a smell. It's a wood stove/cool breeze/apple cider/happiness smell.

I love pointing out these small pleasures of life to my children. I tend to quietly internalize things, so it's sometimes tricky for me to remember that I'm supposed to speak these things out loud- that they can't somehow hear my thoughts of "Wow that's a gorgeous tree! Look at the colors!" as we drive by.

I have been working on purposefully teaching them. Slowing down my racing mind to focus on one concept at a time, exploring it with them. I have an education degree- might as well use it, right?

Especially since Carter is not in Kindergarten this year and his PreK program only meets twice a week, I have been focusing on teaching him. We cover more about his letters, numbers, reading, science, the world around him, and basic life skills. Oh and his violin lessons. It's not an official homeschool program at all, but my mind is set on "teach Carter" as to not waste this year.

Last week I realized that you can type "learn about (any kind of animal)" on youtube, and you get a ton of short educational clips that teach about that animal. Gold! (I realize that maybe all of you have been doing this forever- forgive me for being behind the times).

Our first lesson was on frogs. We saw a frog out on our deck a few weeks back, and the kids had been fascinated. So we pulled up probably 6-7 short educational frog videos and learned about types of frogs, life cycle of frogs, and everything else you can possibly imagine about frogs.

After our videos we went to the table and drew pictures of frogs while I asked them questions about what they had learned. I was pleased. That went extremely well. Their minds were eagerly soaking up all of the information; they asked cute questions to try to learn even more; and it felt good to so productively use that rainy day.

Look at me teaching my kids! I silently patted myself on the back.

Fast forward to yesterday.

The mornings have been chilly as we transition between our sticky summer and freezing cold winter. Chilly mornings call for steaming hot coffee and baked goods and pandora but I digress. The windows had been open all night, so the house was filled with a delightful chill. Aaron wasn't feeling well, so he had slept on the couch and was still on the couch waking up while I rushed around trying to get the kids ready for school.

It was Carter's morning to go to PreK, and I realized that his school sandals were out on the deck. (Yes, you know you are a real Vermonter when you pair a sweatshirt with sandals. It's a valid style choice!)

I rushed out to the deck to grab the shoes (we were going to be late!) and saw that they were all crusted over with mud from his play the afternoon before. Because of course. Hastily picking them up, I held onto the ankle strap and banged the sandals aggressively together, watching the dried mud fly off in bits. Both of the boys followed me out to watch the mud flying show.

I settled with "good enough" and made a note for Carter to just walk through the damp grass a bit on the way to the car.

"Hurry hurry! We're going to be late!" I sang...not as cheerfully as that verb might suggest.

I was over to the side of the room, stuffing lunch bags in backpacks and slipping my phone in my bag, when Carter started to complain.

"There's something in my shoe." He whined.

Ugh. Always complaining about something- that kid. I ran across the room, frustrated. Ready to flick away the piece of dried mud that no doubt had landed where his foot was supposed to go. Why does everyone always have to whine about EVERYTHING!

I knelt down on the floor and put my face right up to his shoe to do a careful extrication of the piece of mud so that we could get this show on the road.

That is when I discovered that the "piece of dried mud" was actually a huge, slimy, brown frog that was wiggling away in the comfort of Carter's Keen sandal. Slime was positively dripping off of this frog as his fat limbs squirmed with life.

In that moment I lost my mind just a little bit. I'm not really sure what happened. I think it just really startled me. Plus, my hand had just been RIGHT THERE when I was smacking the shoes together to clean them off. Not to mention my nose was almost touching it as I was searching for the imaginary mud on the brown shoe. We were practically making out- unbeknownst to me.

I remember thinking (while I was screaming and screaming and screaming and running to the hallway and hopping up and down and screaming some more) "Hey- that frog blended in to the exact color of the brown of the shoe- just like that video said it would!) But I just kept screaming.

Because I was screaming- poor sensitive Eli started crying and screaming. And Carter- feeling that slimy feel still on the bottom of his naked foot- was crying too. The baby joined in with a high pitched wail. And Addison looked at us all with a look of "What is WRONG with you people?"

"GET IT GET IT GET THE FROG!!!!" I screamed to my poor husband who was trying to rest on the couch and had no idea what was going on. All the kids raised their screams to a higher and louder place to match my hysteria.

Like a trooper, Aaron got up and took the shoe out to the deck and got the frog out of it. (Pretty sure he was laughing as he realized what was going on.

I stood in front of my wailing children and felt my "Cool Mom Who Teaches Science Lessons About Slimy Creatures" medal fall away. To be fair- it felt different when the slimy creature was a screen away- NOT able to surprise me in my own home and terrorize my children.

Shaken, I loaded up all of the kids for school drop off. I needed to make this a teachable moment! I needed to keep teaching! What do I say? How do I spin this?

We passed the tree, with tips of maroon touching the blue sky, "Hey, look at that beautiful tree." I tried, but they were all quiet. No doubt spent from all the screaming.

It wasn't until later that day, after pick-up, where I had my moment.

"Mommy, why was that frog in my shoe?" Carter asked.

"Well, probably it was a nice warm place for him to spend the night since it's getting cooler outside."

"A warm place?"

"Yes, you know how we have our nice warm house- well, the frog doesn't have that. So he used your shoe."


"And so we should be thankful for our nice warm house. Not everyone has that. Frogs don't for sure. That's why he had to use your shoe. God was so good to give us our house to keep us warm and dry at night while we sleep."

Aaaaaaand teachable moment achieved. Look at me segue right into Thanksgiving. Like a pro!!! The fall theme holds strong!

"But why did you scream?"

Oh, that little thing...yikes....

"Because sometimes mommy makes silly mistakes. And the frog scared me. And....have I told you lately how much I love you?"

Gosh this mothering thing is tough.

But we still have fall. Beautiful, beautiful fall. And nice shoes- that now spend the night in the warm house with us.

But, just in case, we have also added to our morning routine a special "shoe frog check" just to help with Carter's PTFISD (Post Traumatic Frog In Shoe Disorder).

Next lesson- butterflies. Just in case nature is listening in on our youtube science lessons. Just in case.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Enter A Frog- A New Kind Of Prince

I'm sorry for another post so closely on the heels of the last one, but I had to follow up on the day.

Thanks for indulging me my outlet yesterday morning, because frankly, it was kind of a rough day- especially with my very strong willed 2-year-old (the one who flushed the contacts).

Last night as I put Eli William into his bed, tiny body resting on freshly washed sheets, tucked in safely under his big fluffy blanket, I felt the guilt of the day wash over me. Yesterday I wasn't on my A game. You might even say I failed at the day. Spectacularly failed.

"You know how much I love you, right?" I whispered down into his huge green eyes that were staring at me with absolute adoration.

He grinned in response.

"I'm sorry we had such a rough day. I'm so thankful to be your mommy."

"We saw frog. Frog on the front porch."

"Well, yes. But all the rough stuff from before, are you okay? Do you want to talk about it?"

"Frog eat flies. We saw a frog." He was smiling in excitement about the frog.

Twenty minutes into bedtime I had tiptoed into his room, held my finger over my lips, and quietly led him out to the front porch where we studied the frog together while the others were in bed. Green with random black swirls and dark beady eyes and fleshy thighs all tucked under him- the frog didn't seem to mind the intent study. And Eli just about burst with the excitement of it all- the after hours field trip. Just me and him and the super cool frog on our front deck.

Later as I was tucking him in, I realized- he wasn't talking about how I yelled at him for the contact situation, or when he wouldn't nap or obey, or when he threw all of those clean towels into the fully drawn bath, or when he wouldn't listen, or when he....all the other things from the day. The times that I lost patience as his actions all stacked on top of each other to equal far past my breaking point.

No, it was as if his mind was wiped clean of my responses to him after our brief chats and my many, "Sweetie I'm so sorry for getting frustrated. Can you please forgive me?"

He had moved on. And all he remembered from our day was the exciting frog study. Together.

I placed my cheek against his warm cheek and felt chastised. No one forgives like a small child forgives. So easily moves on. So easily forgets. Granted no doubt this is a developmental thing. An almost three year old isn't capable perhaps of processing actual forgiveness- he just does it naturally, like a reflex. Perhaps so much living happened between then and now that his mind pushed the memory out.

I started at him, so big yet so small, and I could almost feel him crying out for me to just love him. Love him right where he's at. Just like the baby cries when she needs to be fed, he acts out as he explores life- his boundaries- his curious nature. And yes he needs my firm hand as a guiding parent and yes he has so much to learn and it is my job to teach and teach and teach some more- but most importantly he needs my love.

When he's acting out the most, that's when he needs love the most. When I am the most frustrated, perhaps he is too. Perhaps that's why he needs me to love him the hardest right then.

People often say that having a child with special needs requires unconditional love. I venture to say that all children do.

Yes- the same applies with Addison- and when she frustrates me with delays or speech or bolting- it isn't my job to hold her to a higher standard and tell her she just doesn't measure up. No. Those are the times that I love her the fiercest. Right where she's at. When she appears the most unloveable- that is when I dig in deep and find the greatest love of all. The unconditional service in motherhood might outwardly appear more pronounced at times with a child with special needs, but truth be told, unconditional service- unconditional love is required for every minute, every second of typical parenting as well. Sometimes even more.

So why would I hold Eli, my sweet, mischievous, trying-so-hard-to-grow-up son to a different standard than I hold my Addison? Does he not deserve my unconditional love as well? Even as I am blind from no contacts, the bathroom is covered in soaking wet towels, and I'm exhausted from trying to get him to just listen- this is when I need to love him the fiercest. And remembering this helps with the frustration. Remembering that this acting out is him begging, pleading for love. Just like I pick up my crying baby and nurse and comfort her and show her that she is safe and loved.

As I hear my son excitedly chatter about our frog time, I remember how I'm pretty unloveable and yet I'm unconditionally loved by my Savior. I act out in ways he doesn't like yet he always forgives and teaches and loves me. Who am I to not keep this same attitude toward my children?

I've moved on from the "kissing the frog and finding my prince" stage of life. I'm now into the "study the frog with one of my tiny princes" stage. It comes with its ups and downs, but I have to say- this stage is pretty spectacular. Spectacular failures included.

After an impossible day, Eli and I studied a frog together. We lay still in his bed and talked about it. We prayed together (he asked me to pray for all the cows). No one was yelling. No one was frustrated. And that's all he remembered. The love. The fresh start. And we will do better tomorrow. I will be more patient. He will not act out as much (ish).

Together we will grow. And I will love him every step of the way. Even when- especially when frustrated.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

My Last Pair Of Contacts Transitioned Peacefully and Calmly Into The Toilet

I got up early this morning to get work done while the blessed babes were all snoring peacefully in their beds. I had a 75% success rate with the "all snoring peacefully in their beds". I found myself instead of working, snuggling my smallest babe on the couch pleading with her please PLEASE not to wake up all the others at 6am. And so I decided to reply back to different outlying things on social media on my phone while she drooled happily on my shoulder. While online, I ran across an article that suggested that a way to help children with transitions is to sing the transitions to them. "We will now clean up. We will now clean up." etc etc.

Brilliant! I need to do this more, I thought, admonishing myself. After all, wasn't I just lying awake at 3am worrying that I wasn't providing enough educational opportunities for my children, that they were all going to FAIL at life because I wasn't giving them enough- teaching them enough? Singing through the transitions! I LOVE IT! I can educate AND transition AND put a smile on their faces at the same time with peaceful and joyful song!

Armed with my newfound facebook knowledge, as I heard tiny humans begin to stir and stumble sleepy eyed into the hallway searching for breakfast, I was enthused about today.

"Good morning Good morning oh how are you
How are you
How are you"

I sang to them cheerfully and enthusiastically as their eyes sparkled with delight and they climbed up to the breakfast table.

"Let's eat breakfast oh I love you
I love you
I love you."

They smiled and blew me kisses and ate their cereal, and I thought- what fun! All my parenting troubles are solved! I feel like Julie Andrews! Next up- curtain clothes!

Addison took Eli's cereal bowl and he smacked her on the arm with his spoon so we transitioned to

"We do not steal other people's food
other people's food
other people's food

And we do not hit Addison on the arm
no we don't
absolutely not."

Cool as a freaking cucumber. Parenting level- NINJA!

I was busy patting myself on the back and happily singing to the baby (because it made her giggle and who can resist a baby giggle??? plus once you start singing IT'S SO HARD TO STOP SINGING) and I told Addison to go get ready for school, neglecting, in my parental high, to notice that she had a huge blowout you-know-what in her pull up...that she went off to change herself.

When I stepped into the living room, confident and cool, NOTHING COULD STOP ME NOW, I then noticed the large, smeared, smelly problem. Ok, deep breaths. We can handle this.

In a slightly shakier voice, with a still present but barely noticeable cheerful undertone:

"Who put that big poopy on the rug
poopy on the rug
poopy on the rug

We do NOT do poopy on the rug
No we don't
Definitely we don't"

Calm transitions. We can do this calmly.

Ok fine, I yelled a little bit. But just a little- to keep her from stepping back in it. It was while I was taking deep breaths and sanitizing and cleaning Addison up and cleaning up the room and singing to her rather desperately

"Did you sit anywhere else on the rug
please tell me
please tell me"

that I neglected to notice Eli William, who had scurried away quietly to do evil. Upon further inspection I realized that while I was cleaning up Addison, he had taken it upon himself to flush my last pair of contacts down the toilet and dump out an entire bottle of very expensive contact solution (I suppose he, in his ultimate 2-year-old wisdom, recognized that if I had no more contacts, I OBVIOUSLY didn't need any more super expensive contact solution. DUH.)

Deep breaths. We can do this. We can do this.

"Why did you climb up and touch my contacts
I told you not to
A million times

Increasing in intensity. No, Deanna. Stay calm. CALM WITH A SONG.

Where did you put my all contacts
Why are these holders
All eeeeempty"

Holding off hysterics. HOLDING.

The toilet? Really? 

"The toilet the toilet 
I can't look at you

Lucky for you I can barely see you anyway
Because I am blind
Mommy is BLIND

No Carter, I'm am absolutely NOT yelling. I'M SINGING!!!!! LOUDLY. WE ARE TRANSITIONING PEACEFULLY.

Go Go Go
To your room forever
Forever forever FOREEEEEEVER
tra la la la"

 After situating everyone out....trying to find the peace in my heart to apologize (blindly)....pushing everyone toward getting ready to take Addison to school....and fighting back the stroke that seemed imminent, I took stock of the situation.

Eli was sobbing in his room (no doubt, he because he felt SO BAD about what he did. Not to mention- he HATES being in time out), Morgan was sobbing in the living room (because she just got up way too early to PARTY), Addison was sobbing in the living room because we had to do an outfit switch because of the poop situation, and Carter was tearfully watching me continue to search for just ONE contact just in case it was still in the sink area and whispering traumatically "I didn't do anything. I didn't touch your contacts."

Which led to me feeling HORRIBLE and a big hug to calm his insecurities. "Of course you didn't. Mommy is so sorry that she yelled- er- sung loudly. I love you so much."

Julie Andrews, you win. I can't do this. I'm done.

This feels a bit to me like when I designed fun nursery Pinterest designs for their rooms and then my kids were born and promptly scaled walls and ripped down every last design (Carter even at one point took a picture out of a frame and smashed the frame around Eli when he was a baby. I lie not. I can't even hang pictures in my kids rooms right now.)

You know what, I'm guessing there was a scene JUST LIKE THIS ONE where Julie Andrews sang angrily just a little bit but they had to delete it because of time limitations. I'm almost positive.

It's 8am, Addison was late to school drop off, and my entire house has come unraveled- one loud gasping sob at a time.

Transition peacefully?

We will spend the rest of the morning NOT singing, hugging tightly, and focusing on survival. Sweet, quiet survival. Who am I kidding- Netflix, here we come.

Pray for me.

We will try again tomorrow. Perhaps in a different key????

A Blind Mother Who Is Now Out Of Disinfectant Spray

p.s. this post was NOT written for you to feel sorry for me. Rather- take this opportunity to LAUGH with me. Laughing makes it ALL BETTER. Thus, this overly dramatic post. May I suggest laughing in song?

p.s.s. If you are looking for a warm and fuzzy mothering post- please feel free come back another day. I'm fairly certain such a post might appear here again at sometime in the future. Pretty sure.