Friday, May 1, 2015

So, it's been a while. I've gotten all manner of complaints, but let me assure you that I have spared any likely reader from months of congregating at a blog that would be, in it's essence, a Festivus Pole where upon I air all my grievances. You see, there has been lots and lots of sickness. A virus every other week, along with the usual busy life that a good sized family might encounter, will make a person a big grouchy and whiney. So I just took Thumper's dad's advice: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I had nothing.

Today I played "Here Come's the Sun" and I felt the urge to go a write how pretty freaking fantastic we are. Which is a little bit of an optimistic spin given that I am 37 weeks pregnant, grossly anemic and unable to quench my desire for a margherita - extra tequila - as big as my face. Yesterday Mariana followed classroom routine without extra prompts. Next week she starts 4-day-a-week school. She's been all but discharged from PT because she can walk up and down appropriately sized steps without help. She is speaking more, though it has been suggested that perhaps a behavioral therapist might be of some use given her sass. (Note to all: I am the behavioral therapist without the degrees or the ability to bill insurance. I also kinda like that she can defy the "They are so sweet." protocol for people with Down syndrome. I feel it makes her an ambassador of sorts.)

Here is what I love about Mae's school. The kids in her class are hyper aware she is different, but none of them can put their finger on it. They ask me all the time if she is still a baby and why she doesn't talk, though she does talk and is simply unintelligible at this point in her development. They adore her and line up to give her a hug before she leaves. They both want to be her friend and want her to like each of them. When she is mean to one of them it is a big deal and the offended party always tells me. But they are always kind to her regardless, which is such a sweet thing for a bunch of 3 year olds. (3 year olds are mostly wretched humans with adorable voices and yummy chubby arms that hug you right as you consider wringing their rotten necks.) Her teacher expects Mae to do everything the other kids do. She cleans up her own messes, washes her own hands, with the help with the soap since she is so short, walks in line, puts her hand on her heart for the pledge, holds the flag when it is her turn, and must always push in her own chair no matter how long it takes her. Miss K. is excited about seeing Mae's successes and is never fooled by her pretend incompetence. We are the luckiest family ever to have this preschool experience right now. Things aren't always easy in our world, but God is never too far for us to hear Him loud and clear.


In other news, we had a First Holy Communion for Molly. I love this day so much and I really appreciated that it was on the Feast of the Good Shepherd weekend. I love Jesus as the Good Shepherd and I often see my children as little lambs (and goats depending on the day). It's a peaceful image to sit with, especially when one of them is seemingly beyond my help. Realizing that The Good Shepherd loves them more than even I helps me relax a little and let things unfold over time rather than running on the anxiety treadmill of "What if...."

Molly's been that kid lately. I feel it's probably not appropriate to get into details on a public blog since I do care about my kids' sense of privacy, but the specifics lead to a general problem all parents face with our kids: How do we help someone when we don't really know what is actually the issue? Sometimes I think just making an effort is enough. Trying something different can jostle a kid into a new perspective. Or maybe just having Mom and Dad put a kid between them and show that this kid's problems are both important and not overwhelming is enough. I can't say that I know the exact formula for success, but somehow just shining a light on a particular child for a particular reason and saying, "We expect and we will help." is working.

Which leads to the other children, all who have become high-need all at the same time. Magically my anemic exhaustion has been fruitful. I sit in my recliner at night in my bedroom where each child comes in alone and we get 10-15 minutes of chatting. (I prefer the image of a stately queen receiving subjects, but I resemble Jabba the Hut more closely in a visual aspect. Minus the girl in a bikini and chains, of course.) It has happened naturally, and it has been nice to remind them that they belong there in my room, that I am not shut away incubating their brother. Kate is in that adolescent place of needing me and never having enough awareness to actually ask for my help. Charlotte is in a phase of finding her siblings just awful to have around her breathing space. (Incidentally I do not blame her. I find many of the things they say to one another grating, but I'm also 37 weeks pregnant and easily annoyed.) Molly is being forced to face her weaknesses and needs extra hugs and reminders of her magical qualities. Paul needs the cuddles of his mama and to exercise his ability to make me laugh even if I'm tired and the baby is literally on my nerves. Mae needs to swipe all the baby's things out of the crib and lay them on my belly because she is the boss of this belly.

So, yes, we've been active. Things have been very challenging and sometimes disheartening. Life has not been terribly kind this winter and spring has arrived quite late given that we live in Florida. Also, I have a charlie horse that just won't quit. What can we do? The answer seems to be in that image of Jesus gathering his sheep. He is not doing much, just picking them up and looking at them in the face and letting each little lamb see that His love is big enough for all of them. And magnesium...for the charlie horse, I mean. Magnesium hasn't failed me yet.

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