Thursday, November 29, 2012

Peace and Quiet?

Because my oldest daughter was having surgery, our other kids were farmed out to family and friends. It was, for the first time in recent memory, quiet and peaceful at my house. And I realized I don't really like it!

It was quite novel to actually finish a task. It was refreshing to finish my food without anyone asking for a bite, or spilling anything, or any bickering. The toys stayed in their respective locations, as did the dog food and kitty litter. And it was much quieter than normal. Nobody had a meltdown, nobody got hurt, nobody needed Mommy to settle their quarrel or get them a drink or change their diaper or wash their hands or wipe their nose.

As nice as that sounds, on the surface, I didn't like it. It was too quiet. Honestly, it was rather lonely. In spite of the pleasure of peace and quiet, in spite of the novelty of finishing a task (or meal) without interruption, I missed my family!! The blessing of community far outweighs the "cost" of our large family (and I am not talking about dollars and cents). It is good to be reminded again how very much I love my family and how very blessed I am to be the mother of eight. Yes, the last several months have been difficult. Yes, I get tired, impatient, irritated, and overwhelmed. Yes, my house is rarely clean and my laundry is rarely done, but that is because my life is so full, and that is a precious gift.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leaves and Bean Stalks

I became a gardener almost by accident. Memories of weeding my parents' 37 square mile half acre garden, and being forced to eat vegetables from said garden (against my will) soured me on gardening for the first 35+ years of my life. My husband has gardened most of his life, so I enjoyed the fruits of his labors. I just didn't engage in the process of growing that fruit.

Then, quite by accident, I picked up a copy of a "granola" type magazine; the five minute bread recipe caught my eye, but several articles on vegetable gardening kept my attention. Slowly, over the course of several months (and multiple issues said magazine) I was converted; suddenly I wanted to garden! Before the planting season started, I drew up plans for several containers, designing in a pattern around a bean stalk. The pattern was based on the French "potage" or kitchen garden. And it turned out really well, if I do say so myself.

Being a kitchen garden, the idea was to locate it close to the kitchen, which has the added benefit of creating beauty right outside my window. What a treat. As the vines on the bean pole slowly shrivel, and my heart grieves the passing of the gardening season, bright, crackly fall leaves fill the void. Though the days outside are cold and dreary, though the garden season is over, color brightens the day. Leaves of maple and ash trees tumble about, blown by the wind. And then I remember; I love fall. The gardening season comes to an end, yes. But so much remains to be enjoyed. What a treasure to watch those leaves. The vibrant green vines are gone. In their place, a different vibrancy fills my view and my heart.

Anxiety vs Rest

Driving my youngest son to the hospital for yet another test, anxiety and fear threatened to overtake me. This precious boy, who is so dear to me, is about to undergo a potentially life-threatening procedure. Our doctor and I agreed that the benefits outweighed the risks, but it is still scary.

As the feelings of panic welled up, God reminded me that He is still in control and the verse that has been on My heart often came to mind, Lamentations 3:21. It says (in the Marchauna Revised version), "But this I call to mind, therefore I have hope...the steadfast love of the Lord never changes. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness." What an amazing promise!! It isn't a guarantee that life will go smoothly, that everything will be ok, and that I'll never experience pain. Instead, it is a promise that I am not alone, that God is faithful, and that no matter what I do, I will never come to the end of His mercy. What a gift.

We are still waiting for the results from the MRI. I have no promise that tomorrow will dawn bright or clear. But I still have a reason to hope, and that gives me rest.

Not So Simple Anymore

Until I had a child with anxiety issues, I had no idea what kind of challenges it could present. Now, I am getting an education. Every day, my daughter struggles with some thing. Changes in routine, so easily adapted to by most people, cause intense trauma and panic attacks for my precious little one. Issues with clothing, socks, shoes, turtle neck sweaters, even where the seatbelt hits her on the neck can cause an overwhelming sense of panic.

Today, we are heading out to find a Christmas tree. Anticipating the anxiety such an unfamiliar adventure may cause, I've been preparing my sweet daughter. And, I have purchased clothing intended to make the layering experience as painless as possible. No way could I have anticipated all the ways the additional layers of clothing would cause issues. Consequently, what was hoped to be a fun, entertaining, bonding experience has been wrought with anxiety, tears, meltdowns (hers, not ine), and frustration (mine, not hers) over the helplessness of the situation.

Finally, over an hour after the process of dressing began, we are heading to the car. My little anxious girl is properly attired (with a different coat, no sweater, and her brother's boots) and getting buckled into her seat. My youngest son, who also struggles with anxiety and sensory issues (as well as thermoregulation issues, which means he easily gets too hot or too cold) has adjusted to his snow pants and boots, and we are ready to go.

The only problem is, I'm worn out! I don't want to go cut a Christmas tree (a tradition dating back more than 18 years). I want to go find a quiet spot where I can sip tea and read a really good book, for a very long time.

When I think of what I have taken for granted with my neuro-typical children, and what challenges lie ahead with my two youngest, I'm incredibly thankful for friends and family who will walk this journey with me. Life isn't so simple anymore, and at times I wonder if I'm going to be able to find a new normal, but at least I'm not alone in the process.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Blessed Boo Boos

The other day, my youngest son was pushed by his big sister. It resulted in a scratch and bump on his face, and a great deal of tears. It was also, for me, a reason to celebrate.

"Why?" you may be asking, and rightly so. Let me explain.

My son has spent most of his mobile months with bumps, bruises, and scratches on the right side of his face because of his low muscle tone, vestibular/balance issues and right-sided weakness. He falls often and his right side usually takes the brunt of the fall. We have done what we can to help him, tried to protect him (sometimes too much), and created the safest environment possible, but because of his challenges, boo boos happen. Consequently, when he fell for a "normal" reason, I was very excited!!

It is easy, as I recently posted, to take simple blessings for granted, or to miss precious gifts because they aren't what you expect. This is a perfect example. Now don't get me wrong; I'm not glad my son was pushed by his (not much bigger) big sister. I do not condone that kind of behavior, at all. But, this is a normal reason for a boy to have a boo boo, and that is a blessing.