Friday, March 14, 2014

on the business of behavior (sorrynotsorry).

right now.

spring break.

the day I wrote this we awoke to snow flitting to the ground, melting and disappearing as if it had never been. and now today the warm spring sun is shining full and long upon us.

the littlest is asleep.




I had successfully consumed two cups of coffee, but not before the pot sat for an hour or more.
we were expecting company.

my floor is littered with cheerios, a seemingly endless supply of one of the three possible foods our little Tank will eat. the days of fighting with him over food are anxiously pregnant with strain and worry.

it's hard not to fret.

our world is turned upside down on a daily basis, more often than not. this whole autism business.
it's okay. I am not scared of a diagnosis. it doesn't change how much I love this child, his sparkling chocolate-brown eyes, his curling lashes that frame them exquisitely, his perfectly sculpted cheeks leading to chin and his ribbon of a mouth and the way it crinkles into a grin so deep his eyes have to close with the joy of smiling at you.

the way he eats popcorn (enter food number two) with so much gusto he has to throw his head back because his joy is so immense it cannot be contained.

this boy, and the ocean. he is so quiet & curious, studying the waves lapping at his feet, fearless to enter the water but content to throw rocks in endlessly. he belongs outside. he is so at peace in the fresh air, rain drizzling his hair down to his sweet face as he launches stones into splashes. this is one of those moments. right here.

the other behaviors are what are difficult.
and sometimes it's just not okay.
slamming cupboards.
throwing.
stalking his baby brother.
restless sleep.
yelling. non-verbal.
refusal to eat most everything.
yelling.
moaning.
flailing 40 pounds out of my arms and injuring me.
power struggles.
hitting me.
scratching.
breaking things.
the yelling. oh Lord, the yelling.

I have to SOAK with a capital S.... SOAK up the good moments while I am thoroughly in them. even when the good is mucky, I have to jump in with both feet and stomp hard and dance long to squeeze every last drop of juicy goodness out of it and get the fun and thick of it up in a great splash - so that when the next difficult moment comes, I have the remnants there to remind me of the joy within.

Jacob wants to be wherever Isaac is. he wants his big bro's opinion & thoughts on most every topic under the sun. "Mom. I want a sandwich just like Isaac's. Did he put mustard on his sandwich?" "He did, sweetie, but you don't like mustard, remember?" "Hm. Yah. But I'm going to go ask Isaac if he thinks I should have mustard on my sandwich because I want a sandwich just like Isaac's".

but it is taxing, nonetheless. I can't pretend it's not. and anyone else looking in from the outside who doesn't get it is just that. they don't get it.

and so i feel judged. incapable. exhausted. inhospitable. unable to both be my children's mother and an exemplary housekeeper. to both be my children's mother and an excellent host. to both be my children's mother and joyfully open my home to all guests. some times I am one of these, sometimes I am the other. more often than not I choose to hang with my kids, and some of those days are piloted on a bit of survival mode by the skin of my teeth. and my house is crazy, and while it's fine for us to live in this season of crazy house little kids tornado toddler etc, etc...

other people judge, dammit.

so I'm sorry. I'm sorry I feel so much anxiety with having people over who don't get it. I'm sorry if you're one of those people. I'm sorry my children and my family come before my playing host to you. or maybe I'm sorrynotsorry.

there will come a day where I have learned to fully grasp this, to manage and still clean my house and smile when you come to the door and greet you warmly and have clean hair, clothes, and skin.

where I can serve you and keep you and shine my countenance upon you.
but if I don't know that you get IT - the it where I am right now?

then I'm sorry, today is not the day yet where I can do that.

my girl. arms wide and heart abandoned.

taking him away doesn't help, either. I have no desire whatsoever to take my child elsewhere, away from me. this is not a helpful offer.

spending time with him, with us, observing what I do, then listening to what I say, and observing his reactions with love and encouraging him, and I - these are things I long for in the way of help.

because he doesn't walk to the park like a typical child. he runs. to the street. in the street.
he darts away from the park. to the street.

and if it's just me, I have the baby, the stroller, one child in one spot and one sprinting in the opposite direction. over and over and over.
these were the images that used to wake me in a cold sweat when I was a mama on my own...why, it's enough to make a mama's hair turn gray. (ha! and what's a mama to do who already has gray hair?)

he escapes the yard. he escapes the playground. he wants to escape the room, the house, the car, the store. he yearns for the open road. he's got big dreams, big plans, and a mighty big spirit. he just doesn't articulate it in the same language as the rest of us.

and so we stay home. nearly all of the time.

and the tornadoes ensue.

he has a storm brewing inside, when he is bored...and as his mama I have not completely learned how to guide it just yet. scratch that - if I am one on one with him, he is a lovely, completely manageable little sweetheart. honestly. because then I CAN manage his behaviors and catch and redirect and praise and teach.

and when there is a sweet moment, I lavish in it.

but I have four others.
and we play host FAR too often to so many who don't get it.

a lovely mama with many years of experience of raising her adult son with autism counselled me just last week, speaking of how overwhelmed she felt with the work of it when he was growing up.
"the work changed when I stopped trying to make him into who I wanted him to be; to stop throwing, stop yelling, stop it all. everything changed when I got down on the floor and threw with him. he looked at me as if to say,
'mama? you see me?'"

whoah.

I get it, but I know that because he isn't my only I can't always get down and throw with him. (broken ipad/broken tv/gallon of pain down the stairs/abrasions, cuts and bruises from flying objects/broken dishes/safety of others)...and so sometimes I am worn thin.

too thin to be able to play host to you, the way you probably deserve, or the way I am capable of and hope to. at least not right now. unless you are one of those who gets it.
and I'm sorry.
well, I'm sorrynotsorry.






might not seem like a big deal, but it is. ready to start the day in shark boots & a fedora... that he put on ALL BY HIMSELF.

and then as if on cue, he shows me something he can do. and you're damn right I cried.

I needed that.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

today.

taking a long, winding and meandering walk down memory lane by finally making time to go through photos and writing out some of my heart. it has been a long time coming.

a long time, indeed.


it has been so long since I have been able to write, to squeeze away, to take more than a few moments with my phone in hand whilst nursing a squirmer or spoon feeding a stubborn toddler or wrestling sweet faced boys to bed or talking and taking opportunities to be present with my growing bigs... all good things.

so this time I've carved out here is a weaving of nearly a year of snapshots and memories and life all wound into one tapestry where I find myself finding my feet under me as a mama and wife and as laura and standing strong again... we have so much to catch up on.

where do I start?
wait, I already have.


nearly an entire year of photos I have been waiting for a moment to post. a year. aye.


my last post told of our young jonah who lived with us for a few months last summer. the brood and I went away across three provinces and in and out of three weeks we visited family back home on the prairies. it was heavenly,
and it was torturous,
and through it all my only wish was that my Mr. was with us.

it was not a journey for the faint of heart, but then again, when have I been known to be faint of heart? ha!


oh, saskatchewan. you will always be back home to me.


this was the exact stretch of highway in alberta where our van broke down and we needed rescuing over an entire year earlier.

jonah went back to his parents and to university on the mainland while we were away, and shortly after we returned, our house was joyfully opened to family -- joel's brother aaron and sweet kaiti moved in with us while aaron recovered from a broken pelvis.

God is really revealed to us when we are totally and completely broken. and our dependence on Him is so vital, so necessary that it is when we are broken that we are forced to our knees and we truly let Him be in complete control. 
then the good stuff happens.  

hearts were shared over months together of aching for babies. for children. for parenthood. for togetherness. for family.

and it is with much joy and trepidation that we announce a piece of the story being renewed.  
we are throwing our names back into the hat.
we have started our application to adopt.
 

 our furry nephew, charles. isn't he fantastic?

 kindergarten. already. time flies, i tell you. it flies.

I can't stop the tears from flowing these days. and I don't have to.

how does that song go? 

joy... and pain.
sunshine... and rain.

there is a constant struggle between desperately seeking joy in the every day, in the glorious-ness that is being alive, being a mother to my little houseful, the joy in being wife to my Man. the struggle lies not in those things, not in those roles, but inside of myself.

when I fix my gaze on me, on my lack of sleep, my lack of quiet time, my lack of effort, my lack of grandparents nearby, my lack of family and close friends, my lack of willpower and discipline and beauty and intelligence and patience and love and joy and talent and heart and spirit...

...the battle is just that. it goes from a self talk of come on, chin up, you can power through... because I CAN and I know I can power through the days of less sleep and screaming toddlers and the challenges that arise with 5 children, the cusp of teenage years tipping into adulthood, the relentless redirection for curious bigger ones, the onslaught of a gazillion questions from curious little ones,
"do crabs have balls?"
seriously. this was an actual question the other night.
I try to keep a record of these things, if only to appease my exhaustion with a much-needed belly laugh to the point of tears.

oh yes, and the exposed and full-blown exposition of personal nudity with a breastfeeding infant toddler. my self talk goes from get up and do this another day, this is just a season, you can do this...

to a full blown you are worthless. pointless. powerless. a failure. a fraud. an imposter. bad. wrong. broken. ugly. damaged. fat. stupid. liar. sinner. you don't deserve any of this. and the hard stuff? well, you made your bed, honey. now lie in it.

ack, devil. be gone.




today.


I am in my pyjama pants for the third day in a row. fighting a sinus infection, a kinked neck, a cyst in my knee. I have a sweet cheeked little boy touching the speakers playing fun music at my feet, his eyes growing wide with the vibrations on his outstretched fingertips.

I am so thankful for this, right now.

today I am mourning the loss of a sweet friend. She was a champion encourager, a visible vessel doing Kingdom work in her every.single.thing. You know when sunshine pours into windows and highlights the microscopic particles in your air and sets them ablaze, and you never knew they were there until the light shone brightly upon them? my jacob used to call that sunfloweration.


this sweet friend is the picture of sunfloweration.
everything about her was sunny.
tears are flowing again. was. ouch.

I thought with 100% certainty she was going to fully recover this side of heaven. I couldn't wait to wrap my arms around her with her blond mane of curls growing back and a coffee in hand and we could weep over the joy and the pain and the life she poured into me while hers was ebbing away. sweet Kristin, I miss you terribly. I love you. thank you for your incredible, far too brief, and all encompassing friendship. You were such an example of Jesus here on earth.

oh, the tears.

she taught me to relish the pyjama clad days. even after they are a blur of when they began and no end in sight. she showed me love, and faith and prayer even when her own walk was far more fraught with real work than my own. selflessness.

so all of those garbage messages? argh, let them go, child.

let them go.

and just like that, He takes them for me.

He will for you, too.


it is a new season.

much like the spring underfoot, crocuses and buds poking out of the damp earth and leaves uncurling from their branches, stretching and reaching and striving for something better--I am reaching and striving and aching to push forward out of my sleepiness and into the light of a new day, a new season.

time spent with hands thrust into clay has been so incredibly good.

our amos is awaiting an autism assessment.

while it is true we love amos or any of our children no more or no less than we would if he was created differently, this day-to-day life with some of our unique challenges can and does get a bit difficult or a bit tiring--far more so when I fix my gaze on myself.
when instead I turn my eyes upon Jesus, the things of this earth grow strangely dim.

my beautiful friend who is now in the arms of our Savior so boldly and lovingly reminded me of simple and wonderful things when we were first given the news of this possibility, and to continuously turn my eyes upon Jesus.

she also reminded me to collect memories in print, in photos, in words - so that they have a lasting effect outside of my own head and heart. 

how wise was she? what a blessing, strolling through photos from warmer summer days with rounded bellies outdoors, barefoot and sunkissed, all the way into the autumn and school days and the gathering of christmas. joy.



um, hello cherub!


all of my loves.


sweet Kristin, your words and kindness and wisdom and love will never be forgotten.  

there are so many moments here that I don't want to forget.

thank you, Jesus, for your daughter Kristin. thank you for Your word and Light in her, and through her. thank you for her boldness in speaking Truth and her loving reminders of where to fix my gaze.


softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling. and we are ready to dig in to soil, to help new growth stir, and to be thankful for the dirt and the sun, the work and the promise.

and to myself I say welcome back.

welcome home. 

so glad to be here.


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