A woods abencher
I was sitting in church a few Sunday's ago when the speaker said "Mr. Pants is happy when he is with his dad"
. The service was a celebration of the children of our church and they had asked the kids the question "What makes you happy?" My heart skipped a beat hearing his answer and tears came to eyes. I was bummed that Daddy was working that day and he didn't hear it for himself.
A week ago when Plum was in the throws of uncontrolled asthma, I broke down and cried. I felt helpless. And damn, I hate hate hate not knowing what to do. When I gathered myself and returned to the living room I found Plum in the calming embrace of her daddy. "She's going to be ok, Mama
", he said to me. Sometimes I just need him to say that and he knows it.
Every night when we put the kids to bed, we ask them "What was your favorite part today?"
Two nights ago Pants answered, "I go on a abencher (adventure) with Daddy"
. I felt that fullness in my chest that happens when your heart suddenly grows a little. These kids, they are so in love with this guy. And their mama is too.
I'm leaving today for a three days away from my family. I'm going to commune with my sisters
for a few days and fill up my tank a bit. I could be worried about leaving them. Lord knows I have stressed about it the years before. I haven't gone for the full weekend away since these two were born. But this year I am. Three whole days. Away.
And these three? They will be just fine.
Emotions can be a minefield for anyone. But for Mr. Pants they are still pretty confusing. I don't talk about his sensory processing or development here on the blog much anymore. Not because his struggles are gone, but because they are just normal for us now. If you are new to reading this blog you may not know that hisexperience of his senses
is different from yours and mine. His processing and integration of them is different. Unique. Designed for him, by him. And I gotta say, he's kind of nailed it. He is mostly a very comfortable kid.
Recently, though, he has become increasingly stressed by new, loud or busy situations. The upside to his discomfort is that he is finding ways to deal with it. It's an upside because life is big and noisy and change-y. So he needs to discover for himself how best to cope with it. And as his parents we need to allow for him to explore the possibilities without pushing too hard. Instead we gently nudge him out of the comfort zone so that he can do the work he needs to do. We don't force him into uncomfortable situations that don't matter in the long run. Ya know, like a monster truck show. I'm not gonna take him to one of those. Because there are plenty of uncomfortable situations that he does have to figure out. Like gym class. Or coffee hour between church services (see below).
At his I.E.P. meeting
last week they once again told us that he is a solitary little guy and won't initiate play with the kids at school. And I know why. It all comes down to those pesky emotions. It's because he likes the predictability of playing alone. Playing alone allows for him to control the environment and for him to feel safe. Playing alone is not confusing. See he needs to be able to predict as much as possible especially if he is away from his comfort zone (our home). He is still trying to read our emotions and fully understand them so it's too much for him to try and read the kids at school all at once, too. Heck, he's still figuring out his own
emotional responses to life. He needs alone time and he takes it whenever he needs it. He's amazingly self aware for an almost 4 year-old.
But don't get me wrong, he is not disconnected at all. In fact he is all kinds of attached to his family. He expresses his emotions beautifully to us and others he is close with. I just think that he is not ready to share that part of himself with too many other people (and he may never be).
So emotion is still confusing for him. But he's on the case. He attempts to discover how our feelings are working several times a day. "Mama, you happy?"
he will say when he sees that I might not be. "Mama is frustrated right now, bud. But it's ok." "Mama, you be happy soon? You be happy tomorrow? You be fusstated now? You feel hot?"
If I'm reading something and I laugh out loud. "Why you be funny, Mama? You get tickle? You happy? Why, you be funny? Why?"
If he does something funny and I laugh. "No be funny at me, mama. You be happy. No funny!"
If I stub my toe and cry out he will come running (as long as it's not actual crying. That makes him run and hide. Hands over ears). "What happen? You get so mad?" "No bud, I hurt my toe. But I'm OK." "So you get happy now, mama? Oh, you sad? You not happy. You scared, mama?" He's not upset when he asks these questions
. He's even keel. He's almost clinical. Investigating. Like he is socking away reasons, gathering information on how long it takes to be happy again. Then he will go on his way, returning in a few minutes to see how I'm feeling and ask more questions. Often he even stays to quietly observe the change in emotion if it's a new emotion he has yet to get a handle on. It's kind of amazing to watch, really. I call him the research scientist. He is always thinking. Taking notes. Comparing outcomes.
This kid. I used to be afraid for him but I'm not anymore. He shows me every single day that he can figure this life out as it unfolds. It may take him longer. His methods may be unconventional. But hey, if coffee hour between church services is too loud and crowded, who am I to force him out from under that chair? He knows what he is doing.
Coffee hour is too busy and loud for this dude.
Monday. April 15, 2013
When I heard about the bombs at the Boston Marathon on Monday, I felt some of the things I imagine a lot of people did. Shock. Horror. Sadness that turned to anger.
Why did this happen? Who would DO something like this? I hope they find this/these depraved human/s and slam justice down on them. What is wrong with people?
My heart beat faster.
So I started to breathe. I recognized that I was about to spend hours watching live news feeds and scanning through pictures of the carnage. It was at this moment when I whispered to myself. Don't. You don't have too. It's ok. And so I stopped and I did the only thing that I could do. I took you by the hands, walked away from the computer and back into your lives.
I left the sink filled with dirty dishes. The dishes won't be changing the world or helping to heal it in their own small way. And sometimes on days like yesterday things become so very clear to your mama. There is so much that is right with people.
For the rest of the day we played. All four of us. We giggled. We hugged. There were extra bubbles in your bath. There was no frustration when your snack hit the carpet. There was no rush to bed. There was no rush to do anything beyond being together. Oh, loves you are so young and thankfully there is no need to explain this awful thing to you today. But there will be a day when we do. I imagine what I say might sound like this...
We are all connected. All of us. When we hurt, others hurt. That is why we feel so very sad when we see others are hurting. When we love, others love. That is why our hearts fill up when we see love roll out across the country. When we practice kindness, we send kindness out in to the world for others to feel. Today that balance was thrown off. But only for a minute, my loves. Because you will see kindness and love swallowing up the hurt as people help each other heal. Human beings rise. They rise up and they hold up the grieving and they hug those who are hurting. Those are the people that we are. Love is always stronger.
Pants and Plum, it pains my heart that there will be more tragedy in this world as you grow. But I promise that when it happens, I will not turn my back from you. I will not be swallowed into news feeds and slideshows of carnage. Instead, I will be still. I will be present with you. And we will work through our fears together, coming out the other side of them, ready to love this world that much more. Shining light into the darkness.
That is how we will change the world.
It's that wonderful time of year, when we all reflect on the things that we are grateful for. Of course I think this is awesome. I am a hippie, you know. And a Unitarian Universalist. So I am basically in a constant state of gratefulness. Unless I'm really tired. Or on my period.
I'm all about spreading the love, the Karma, the gratitude. I love it. I love love love it.
Of course I am grateful for all the usual suspects. A loving family, amazing friends. These plump and gorgeous babies that I live with. A dashing husband. I am grateful for the food we eat and for the roof over our heads. I am grateful to have the support of awesome people and this list could go on for ever and ever and ever because I try and make it a daily practice to be grateful for every blessing in my life.
So because of that I need to pare this down and pick a category. How about I tell you about the some of the people and things I am grateful for that do not make everyone's top ten list? Ok.
I am grateful for drive-thru banking. While I am sure this was more of a self-protection move for the bank industry it has made my life easier and less sweaty.
I am grateful for the person that designed the grocery cart car thingy. In fact I would kiss that person if I could. I would kiss them forever. And so hard. In the rain.
I am grateful for Dawn dish soap. It cleans everything. It is a miracle.
I am grateful for Tater Tots. Tots are a staple in this house. They will always be eaten. They will always be loved. They are delicious little compact pieces of shredded potato heaven.
I am grateful for the lessons I've learned from my children. Like how it's fun to add the words "scratch your butt" to every song we sing. You know, Twinkle Twinkle Scratch Your Butt? It's a great song about a star in the sky. Precious really. The star needs to scratch his butt. And then there's also the song The Itsy-Bisty Spider. Wouldn't you know that that spider just wants to scratch her butt? Well she does, poor thing. The itsy-bity spider needs to scratch her butt. And that's funny.
To anybody in my life who has ever offered to take the kids off my hands for a few hours. I am so grateful for you.
Cereal bars. That's right. I am eternally grateful for cereal bars. They are the answer to Mr. Pants' war with breakfast. They are sent from heaven and made of magic. They are to be respected for the peace that they bring in this house. I love you cereal bars.
And this. I am so grateful for this...
And finally, I am so very grateful for all of you. It makes me feel all warm and gooey inside that you are reading along. I wish that I could plant a kiss on all of you. An awkward and sloppy kiss. You have opened doors for my family just by coming here to read our stories. Every time you read, share a post or comment, you help me to establish a readership and that helps me find writing jobs. It's because of you that maybe just maybe I can really make this writing thing stick. So please do me a favor and lean into your computer. Don't be scared. Since I cannot kiss you all individually, I shall kiss you collectively. So go on. Lean in. Even close your eyes if you want.
Because Mama wants to give you a kiss....
What unsung heroes are YOU grateful for?
*Quick shout out to Mr. Ocean for owning that title phrase until the end of time. I mean, you know you started singing it.
I haven't written in a bit. I'm going to just let this flow and not edit myself (sidebar, I just came back up here to add the part about not editing myself which is itself, an edit. Oh boy). It may not make a ton of sense but there is so much on my heart today. These last two weeks I have been running on empty. I keep hoping that at some point things will just fall into place and make sense. That I will suddenly know how to be a stay at home mom and maybe even start trying to keep house a little. If you know me at all, you know that housework aint my bag. And now that I have two little humans, it falls even further back on the list of important things. But I digress. And then there was Daddy. He was sinking too. But for different reasons. Depression, anxiety, and a daughter 3000 miles away are his beasts (don't worry, I'm not an asshole. He knows I am writing this). The idea that my babies' emotional and physical health is being held in mine and his shaky hands is a topic that is often circling in my heart. I have a feeling it is for many parents. So these last few weeks we have struggled. A lot. With finding peace again. And also being grateful for what it is we have instead of lamenting what it is we don't have. We are hoping to find our Christmas spirit stat. Every time Mr. Pants sees Christmas lights while driving in the car, he exclaims "ahhhh!" while pointing at the spectacular sight his little eyes are experiencing. And Plum's delight in crawling under the Christmas tree while trying to make sense of the mystery that is tinsel. These things bring me back to what I believe in. The meaning of all of this. My purpose (cue dramatic music).
So when I drove past the sign in front of my church the other day to see that the service for Sunday was titled "Living with Purpose", well you know I had to go. I hadn't been to church in weeks and I knew I needed it. And so did Daddy. So we scrambled the kids, dealt with a diaper explosion at the last minute and Mr Pants' desire to run naked and not get dressed. Come hell or high water, I was getting my family to church. Period. And I am so grateful that we made it.
For both of us, the tears began to flow almost instantly. We've both been wound a bit tight lately. I've talked before about the emotions I feel when I sing. Well, that held true this morning the second I began singing the doxology..."From all that dwell below the skies, let songs of hope and faith arise; Let peace, good will on earth be sung through every land, by every tongue". Tears. Tears that had been waiting to come. Needing released. And they didn't stop there. By the time the service was over, I had been touched on just about every level. From the story of "Sloppy Joe" about a kid that was a messy mess (hey! I got one of those!) to singing the children out to their classrooms, "You've got the light of love inside you, go on your way in peace...", to meditation, to praying for peace and love to rise up for the Hubs and I, to the sermon. That's the Readers Digest version but you get the point. I sat in church this morning and I cried. Tears of release and anxiety followed by tears of beauty, then tears of sadness as our minister shared a devastating truth. Then tears of release again, rounded out by tears of hope. Hope that no matter what comes at us in this life, there is always healing. There is always love. Even in times of sadness and pain when we feel like we can not trudge through another day. Love waits on the other side.
What I came to understand this week is that I have to be willing to do the work. And this shit is hard work. But the work has to be done. You have to go through the muck to get to the love that waits. The struggle to be our best self is a daily challenge. At least it is for me. And while I get it right a great amount of the time, sometimes I just don't. Or Daddy doesn't. And on rare occasions, we both miss the mark at the same time. But we made a pledge to each other a while back that we would love each other through these kind of times (I think my vows even stated clearly, "even if I barf them out all over the internets"). The cool part is that we both put a ton of stock, sweat and belief in those promises. And when we have these times and we need reminded, there's this little dude and lady that remind us that this family we created is amazing. Mr. Pants' mission is simple. To experience this life and squeeze out every bit of awesome (and ranch dressing) that it has to offer. I want to do that too. And wow, here I am blogging about love again. You are no doubt rolling your eyes and thinking, "Oh great, here she goes talking about how love is all there is." and I will refrain from saying that in this post in an attempt to be less repetitive. Just kidding! Guess what? Love is everything ;)
I have never been one who prays. I had always believed that praying meant that you were locked into the idea that someone was listening. So the skeptic in me just decided that I didn't pray. I have been through so many things in my life that were pray worthy too. I've lost loved ones, had scary medical issues and was petrified that I wouldn't be able to carry my growing baby to term and yet I still did. not. pray. Nope, not me. That was for The Believers not The I Have No Idea What I Believe-ers. Sometimes I'd light a candle and whisper my thoughts into the air. Or I'd lay down on my floor and imagine my body being slowly filled with sand and then when it was time to let the sand out, I'd release whatever it was that had me worried or sad and ask The Universe for strength or calm. Other times I'd sit and cry in my car and talk to myself. What I came to realize recently is that I was praying. I think I have always been praying. The conflicted "what does it all mean" Unitarian Universalist in me kept putting up smoke screens and giving it names like meditating or sending good vibes into the Universe. For me the act of praying is letting go of the idea that I have total control. Praying for me is an excersize in humilty, honesty, release and faith. Yep, you read that right. Faith. I do actually have some faith! I even surprised myself with that one. My faith is all over the board though. So I have decided that in my 36th year, it's time to hone that. But I know myself well and while I will dedicate myself to the journey, I will most likely never get to any kind of difinitive "this is what I believe" place. But that's cool with me.
I could gone on for eons about what I don't believe. Starting with Godzilla. I don't believe in Godzilla. But since that list is longer than time, I have decided to place my focus on what I DO believe. I believe in love. I pray for love. Does that sound hokey? It probably does. But love does amazing things doesn't it? Even in times of horrific tragedy. Even when we think we can not go on, we do. Because of love. When I am in pain or struggling, love comes around to wrap me up and hold me tight. It comes in so many forms. My love for others, their love for me. It comes from adults and children. It seems to me that everyone knows HOW to love. Even the tiniest baby can do it. Even my completely self obsessed toddler at risk for autism can do it. And even my completely silly, obsessed in general adult self can do it.
The other night something beyond the realm of pain happened to someone that I love. The pain that was unleashed that night rippled through every cell in my body. I was consumed. My tears, beyond tears of sadness, became heaving grief and fear and I retreated to Mr. Pants' room to hide and sob. Loud crying has always been very confusing and even scary for Mr. Pants. He is unsettled by complex emotion and struggles to understand. So I hid. But he saw me go. He sauntered into the room and looked at his mama sitting on his bed, eyes swollen and broken down. He ran out. I assumed he was uncomfortable with my tidal wave of emotion and was grateful for a moment that he didn't seem scared. About a minute passed and he came back. He was carrying his wubby. It's a little pillowcase that he carries around and rubs between his fingers when he is stressed. He came over to me and softly laid the wubby on my lap. He looked me straight in the eye as though to say, "Here you go Mama". Such an act of love from my baby boy. And he quietly walked out, turning to look back at me to be sure I was ok. That night I prayed. I prayed for my friend and for my children and for myself and daddy. I prayed that we will continue to love. That we will seek love and give love without hesitation. I prayed for love to continue to rain down on us. I asked that, should we begin to forget, love will remind us of it's power. I prayed for peace for my friend. Then I climbed into bed next to my sleeping baby and as I watched her sleep, I prayed that my children and yours will always know love. And that love will carry them through this life all the way to the end.
I still don't now what is beyond this life. I have some ideas but I suspect that I will never fully commit to one. But what I do know is that I feel those that have left it. I feel my aunt hanging out with us when our family gathers and I can hear my friend Bo's voice guiding me just about every single day. I feel them, I talk to them and I am still comforted by them. It's not sad at all either. It feels good and often gives me a kick in the pants to be better and love more (sometimes Bo just talks me through plunging the toilet though). That's an awesome legacy. So I'm out of the prayer closet. I totally pray, dudes. And it helps. Even if just for minute. It helps.