Wednesday, March 30, 2011

rabbit holes.

Forgive me if I stumble and fall and make no sense and end up trailing down too many rabbit holes. Why does it seem to take so much more energy for some people to be optimistic? Why are some people so much more inclined to be happy? Why does it take so much more energy for me to be optimistic? Is it really an easy choice for some people? Is my slope towards stress and pessimism more slippery? Or steeper? I see all of these other mothers, wives, women, girls - smiling, happy, radiating joy  - and oozing it all over my poo party sh*t show.




The First Rabbit Hole.
Pardon me for feeling sorry for myself. Pardon my language. I am feeling very selfish right now. These are questions I've been asking myself. I have a tendency to swing towards being this over-stressed, teary-eyed mama, hair fuzzed out and sticking up and weird, eyes bugging out and sweat beads on my forehead, crazy sweat pants on and an ill-fitting top, baby on my hip and kids underfoot and Too Many Crunchy Things Under My Bare Feet... being a bit of a drama queen in my home - I get far too stressed out by the house getting a little too messy, the kids being noisy - too many voices.

I let the house go and go
and go 
- and go. 
People have heard me say repeatedly that I will not be a slave to my floors - I realized many years ago and fully believe that on my deathbed I will not wish that I had vacuumed more often or ensured our sheets were freshly laundered twice a week or that my toilets were scrubbed before they needed to be scrubbed - I know inherently to the very depth of everything that I am that my wee children are more important than whether or not my dishes sparkled and were always put away promptly. And then I crack. I very nearly feel an actual physical cracking - my head and my eyes and my feet can stand the clutter and the noise and the icky sweat pants no more.

Although I will preach to my family when I can see they are feeling overwhelmed - you can do this - you don't need to feel overwhelmed. take a deep breath. why do you feel so stressed? does someone have a knife to your throat? implying stress is self-induced...  so I also inherently know that I am causing myself much if not all of my stress, and the depleted energy and exhaustion that comes with it. because of all the energy I give to it.

And selfishly, I whine to myself about feeling alone. Oftentimes I just wish I had someone in my corner, whispering to me you can do this - you don't need to feel overwhelmed. take a deep breath. why do you feel so stressed? does someone have a knife to your throat?


Or perhaps I am feeling gray yet again today because the sun went away again, I have not slept more than three broken hours in a night for far too many nights in a row to even remember... and all the while I struggle and claw and scrape and frantically scratch at staying on top of it, remaining optimistic, but at that point of having nothing left - something like my hubby speaking not so kindly to me, or to the children will set me off. I can no longer retain my fingernail scraping optimism, and I feel myself propelled backward, yanked out of pleasantness into a state of near hysteria. The exhaustion seeps from my very bones, and although in moments I am a walking example of grace, clarity, purposeful thought and communicating in love, the next I feel as though there is literally steam blasting out of my ears and the term spirit of anger is so painfully true.

What's This? Another Rabbit Hole?
And then I just realized; besides my Savior, I had people all along, in my corner, whispering me sweet words of encouragement. I just needed to look somewhere besides the crumbs on my floor and the stains on yet another pair of my pilling lululemon pants. Feeling like I needed some validation, this was my most recent status update on facebook:
hard to believe I've been pumping to feed my baby breast milk for more than three hundred days. Feel like I deserve a medal, or something. It's all for you Amos, you little love.
Nearly a whole year. Three hundred and nine days, I think. That is a lot of time to be spent with a machine instead of a baby squirming in my lap and against my skin. But, through the grace of God, my heart is no further from his than any of the other three little ones who have drawn nourishment from my body for those first years. Blessed milk for a blessed babe with such blessed little feet.





little sweet milky lips.
And responses to my little plea?
  • warrior!
  • you do deserve a medal! So proud of you!
  • Dairy Queen!
  • YES!!! You DO deserve a medal! I could only pump for Rae for 6 weeks...then found out she was allergic to it. It felt like a slap in the face. Way to go!!!!
  • Good job mama! I had to stop nursing Jenner when I was sick and on antibiotics...you think they could have given me different drugs..
  • Go you! I could only handle 8 months before the devil pumps drove me crazy. And you have 4 kids?! Mighty impressive.
  • You're a very dedicated Mom Laura - so proud of you!
  • You are an angel Laura......Amos is a lucky boy.
I am an angel. I am a warrior. 
I am an angel! I am a warrior!

And then within two days of one another, my husband saunters up to me and tells me how important what I do for our family is, and my friend tells me I looked lovely in my robe and icky sweatpants. And I couldn't detect even the teensiest bit of a lie in her face, or in her heart.

Melt.

Thank you, dear ones.

A Semblance of Parenting. Otherwise known as Another Rabbit Hole.
Some days I am a great parent, some days I am a crappy parent. The ideal days - the days where I get enough sleep, have good food to eat and time in which to prepare and eat it, am able to make sure I am taken care of as well in taking care of my little ones - the days where I put my real pants on (not the previously mentioned icky sweats). Those days, most everyone's needs get met and everyone in this house feels happy, peaceful, and contented when they lay their heads on their pillows come sleepytime. And the parents? We reconnect with each other, with our Father in heaven, and we go to bed with love for each other in our hearts, even if we don't get to share the same bed all night every night. This too shall pass.

On my bad days, not enough sleep, still in my pajamas or those dang sweats in the afternoon, no coffee in the house, cranky whining children, an indifferent husband, oh and yes, there's me, the cranky whining wife and mama - I neglect myself and it all snowballs gloriously downhill from there, picking up speed with each sigh, each act of willful disobedience from the children - and I get frustrated with them not listening the first time. The house is crazy. And in the middle of the sweatpant wearing chaos, a moment of clarity struck me hard enough to nearly fall on my sweatpant clad butt.

Why would we think children should listen the first time?

I am my childrens' mother because they need a mother. They are our children because they need parents. We go together. If our job were so easy they wouldn't need us. There would be no need for such a thing as parents if children were fully independent and did everything right the first time they were asked, 100% of the time.

Likewise, does our heavenly Father God expect us to be fully independent of Him? Does He ever expect me to get it right the first time? Does He sigh loudly and impatiently with exasperation when we fail, we sin, we hurt Him and disobey His requests yet again, over and over and over?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

Oh, that scripture gets me. I love it. Goosebumps. And with that I Throw It Off. Much of it is exhaustion, and much of it is sin, and it easily entangles. And now? Can you see me running? Can you hear my footsteps, pounding the pavement and my heart thumping in my chest, resounding in my ears as my blood carries refreshing oxygen and new energy into my brain? And the whiny hole I had dug myself into? It's not so deep after all.

And there it is. The rabbit hole lead somewhere.





I decide to get back on my feet, revel in the exquisite features of my girl, lavish love on my boy - the one on the cusp of not being a child much longer, relish life with the zeal of my little boy, and soak up the essence of joy and contentment in the wee picture of contentment that is my littlest babe.

precious |ˈpre sh əs|
adjective
1 (of an object, substance, or resource) of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.

Exactly.

So I made some banana fondue with the sweet little blessings that are my precious children. Nothing like some chocolate, peanut butter, fruit and grains to getcha goin'.
 
















Wednesday - middle of the week. Let it be the start of something that looks like digging out of the tunnels, the rabbit holes, out of the damp soil and into the light, and throwing off the things that so easily entangle.

Run with perseverance.



Friday, March 25, 2011

flip flops and love.



We have been away.  
It was delicious. Somewhere along the way, spring and sunshine arrived. Finally.


Fresh. 
After much contemplation, I cut off my hair. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.
It is shorter than I was thinking of getting, and a bit bolder than I am used to. But - somewhere, this bold hairstyle taps into my inner badass that was in need of something. Something was up.
Before and after. (My apologies for the dirty mirror.)

My vision-of-loveliness that is my girl - she and I spent an afternoon together to nurture our feminine spirits. It was delicious, too.



Did somebody say time away?
We went away to have some relaxing time as a family. Because frankly, we needed it. I can't be dishonest.
A wonky work schedule from our self-employed daddy to our clocks springing forward during spring break, gray skies and dipping temperatures and sickly kids and Too Much Time Cooped Up Indoors... it was as good a time as any to walk away from our own four walls that can become too familiar at times, and head somewhere refreshing, nurturing, challenging, and peaceful. Brother John's. Fresh air. Sunshine. Perfect.

This time we went and stayed. All of us. As a family.

This time we didn't get to a place of sigh. so relaxed. nearly as easily or quickly because this guy, the guy who admittedly detests routine, who hates schedules, and who is a self-proclaimed struggler of remaining patient and when stressed by the previously mentioned self-employment finds it difficult and tedious to be joyful and tender with wife and children - this guy bucked the system. 


The first several days this guy kept trying to nail down a strict routine, and then felt so much stress when this ethereal routine did not solidify. It was so heavy, in fact, that his stress and anxiety and anger overflowed onto all of us. It pained me. It made my heart heavy. My gut and human response to it? I wanted to fight, hammer it out of him. I wanted to weed out his problems because I am so strong. But I didn't do those things.

All I could do was pray. And cry sometimes. And watch my tongue. So I loved on him anyway. Did it make a big, satisfying, noticeable difference?
No. Maybe. Not at first.

And while I was waiting for Joel, God showed up. He showed up in my heart. He reminded me He joined us to one another. Be darned if any man will separate us.

Is that why I bit my tongue, held back in love, didn't come out with both guns ablazin'? Maybe. No. 

Truthfully, I did it because my Father has been showing me with the same gentle insistence that Amos calls out of me (from deep in his milky grins and sparkling long lash-framed eyes) that what I see in my husband anyone around me that gets under my skin is precisely what He wants to be weeded out of me - refined out of me.  
Not out of anyone else, but out of me.

Much like the fresh green and crisp buds of spring - I rose to the call. Bloom where I'm planted, baby.


And with that, the sun came out. Thank you, Jesus.


No problem is too much that a little patience, a little prayer, a little effort, a little coffee, a little snuggle with some little ones, and a spackling of sunshine can't fix - or can't cause my heart and mind to flip-flop to the other side, and see things in a new way.
Ooh - or maybe a ride on a double-decker bus. Or digging toes into warm sand. The first bare feet of the year.
That was also divine.

ooh, this baby boy.
My babies and I are happier if they get carried, don't cry themselves to sleep and we sleep together.
The suck-swallow-breathe, suck-swallow-breathe at night that I worried I would miss out on with this baby being fed from a bottle, but not so... cradling his sweet fuzzy head, hearing his contented breathing and little baby gasps and sighs that are oh so fleeting - I can't imagine missing out on those with him being elsewhere. Slow blinks with each suck that turn into the heavy breaths of a sleeping baby.



Curling my body around his, and he melts and molds his sweetness into my arms. Little neck in the crook of my elbow. Delicious Babyness. These days are gone so quickly. I am relishing them, and I welcome any and all reminders to soak them up while they are here.



Reminders like his sweet face and squealing sounds. Reminders like soaking up his big brother's little conversations stretching words into longer and longer formed sentences, each word, each phrase not sure if it's going to be the last of the sentence... these sentences and expressions stretch on... and on... and on... it is pure deliciousness in everything it encompasses about toddlerhood. Little thoughts and memories pouring out of his mouth, more and more everyday. His words are powerful, emotional, celebratory for us to hear - as his parents.





I missed getting a post together for World Down Syndrome Day - 3.21 (you follow? three-twenty-one?) I instead was feasting on the time away with my family - and just continuing to grow in the lavishnous it is to be Amos's mama. His sweet face. His gentle spirit. His preciousness. His gentle yet pure and clear insistence that we all slow down and watch him gently and slowly emerge and unfold like the petals of a flower. A dear friend shared words similar to those with me, and like a morning's gentle dew, they refreshed my outlook and gave me a beautifully simple new perspective on treasuring Amos as he is each day, while truly celebrating milestones as they are lovingly and sweetly plodded toward. 
at. 
any. 
pace.

His little workouts are paying off.


Gripping onto thumbs, he can go from his back to standing up. Can we get a whoop whoop?
Such a proud little face that says - "look at what I can do, Daddy!"
Proud big brother's face says "look what he can do!"

So in belated honor of our precious and amazing and wonderful little boy, World Down Syndrome Day, and all of my sweet and precious friends and their amazing and beautiful children, I share with you these special words from Adeye at "No Greater Joy Mom".

until you came along.

I never knew the absolute JOY that the beautiful extra chromosome could bring to a family.  Joy unspeakable, really.  And unconditional love?  Well, I didn't fully grasp that either.
Until you came along.

I used to rush around and do a million things a minute, never really stopping to savor the moments.  I lived my life in fast forward--forgetting to live for the day, for the moment. 

Until you came along.

I forgot to cherish each and every milestone--and etch them in my memory forever.  I didn't pay much attention to the milestones our children reached.  On most days I forgot to praise even the smallest victories they achieved. 

Until you came along.

I worried about tomorrow, fretted about the future, and gave way too much attention to the things that really don't matter.  I got caught up in the mundane, trivial stuff time and time again.

Until you came along.

I
thought I understood that each and every person was fearfully and wonderfully made just the way they were.  But I didn't really get it. 
Until you came along.

My ears had never heard the judgments
, the snarly remarks, seen the horrible prejudice, the mockery, the snickering, and the evil that is so often targeted at people who have special needs. I was oblivious to it all in my own little world.
Until you came along.

I never in a million years ever thought that I had the ability to parent a child who struggles in this life. I always prayed that God would give the job to someone else. Anyone but me God, thank you very much.

Until you came along.

I felt bad for families who had one of
those kids... 
UNTIL YOU CAME ALONG.

And while I still have a very long way to go in getting things right most of the time, and I am one of God's biggest works in progress...

Because of you, I am changing.
Because of you, I am becoming a better mom.
Because of you, I am learning to linger in the moments like never before.
Because of you, I seek out those who have "special needs" just to tell them how amazing I think they are.
Because of you, I am more patient, more understanding.
Because of you, my relationship with God is richer, deeper, more intimate.
Because of you, I see ALL children as valuable and priceless.
Because of you, I am learning to love unconditionally... just as you do.
Because of you, my life will never, ever, never, ever be the same again... it will be better!
Because of you, I am blessed beyond description.

Until you came along I had no idea how absolutely wonderfully and exquisitely created the glorious 47th chromosome truly is. 


Our God
never makes mistakes.

I know that now.  With all my heart I know it to be truth.

Yah. What she said.

My little man with Down Syndrome, my Amos - he continues to be a catalyst for change in me. In being his mama, I am becoming aware of how God wants me to not necessarily weed out my heart and mind, but instead to fertilize the good stuff - to nurture and focus on and pour my energy into the good that is in me. And in the man He has joined me to. And to our precious children.  

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help then to become what they are capable of being.
-Goethe



Of course, we may have to go through a few more days of cold, but once my flip-flops are out and my heart is changed? They're not going back, baby.

Happy Weekend to you.
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