The Twilight Zone

Well, well, well…it appears I have missed November’s letter and am on the fast track to missing December’s as well.

Where have I been?  I have been in a hectic and chaotic, yet strangely peculiar place that can only be described as some sort of twilight zone. A place where days (and months) blend together, where the joys of parenting are equally matched by the frustrations and where the extreme demands of our livelihood are always just out of reach. Yes the clean and dirty clothes scatter among even the strangest of places and innocent toys turn into midnight landmines. Chicken nuggets here, chicken nuggets there, mandarin oranges everywhere.  There is an angry teething one and a half year old, an independent three year old, a strange dog carrying around someone’s underwear, somewhere there is a ten year old and possibly a husband as well. The mornings begin around 4:30 and the day closes well after 10 p.m. Where am I? I have no clue…probably running around with a crooked pony tail and two-day-old leggings.  Yes, two days.  

 Don’t ask me what normal is.

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Yeah right.  My dryer says “regular,” and I don’t even use that setting.  Normal is almost laughable in this house.  I had an unmarried, childless girlfriend say, “I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you do it all…you’re like Super Mom!”  No, no, no, my dear.  I am indeed not Super Mom.  I don’t know how I do it either, but there are a lot of people like me out there.  Now if I am anything, I am more like Crazy Mom on some sort of hyperactive drugs.  Do people still do drugs?  I wouldn’t know out here in the twilight zone. No I am not Super Mom.  I am just little ‘ol me doing the best I can in this crazy, crazy beautiful life; and I am definitely not winning any “Mother of the Year” awards anytime soon.

But this is what happens, right?  We grow up, meet the love of our life, get married, have babies and skip through three years of life unknowingly, raise wonderful children and somehow maintain a sense of who we are through all of it.  Or do we?  Do we really know who we are in those early mothering years?  Do we really stay true to ourselves after marriage and kids?

Of course, as parents, we make natural sacrifices for our children.   But do we ever make a point to get back what we let go of…no matter how big or small.  Let’s not downplay those sacrifices–they are a big deal. Yet there is this stigma that doesn’t let us talk about how hard it can be to make those sacrifices. There is an equal amount of pressure on moms and dads to work hard, stay healthy, be fantastic parents while being admirably in love and maintain composure like politicians all at once.  Ick.  I don’t care for that.

At what point do we give so much of ourselves before we end up hurting ourselves?  Now before anyone comes to slay the dragon, know this:  I would absolutely do anything for my kids and my husband.  I live them, breathe them and love them endlessly.  See here is proof…

Credit:  Kelsey Jean Photography

Credit: Kelsey Jean Photography

Nice touch, right?  

But there are definitely days, and many of us mamas know what it is like to put ourselves last.  We have to know first, that it is totally okay to feel frustration and defeat.  Second, that we owe it to ourselves to do something just for us.  And that doing that is totally fine!

I feel like I am at rally full of woman (and men, too), all run down and tired and there I am like “If you hear me, put ya’ hands up!”  And then we have this big epiphanic moment.  

Good lord.  I really have lost it.

Hey, I get it.  I am just here to say that I certainly get it.  And kudos to those who have it all together, but here in the twilight zone I am losing it. But I am learning.  I am learning the ways of the curve balls and the change ups.  I am getting better at taking breaks and finding time for me. Yes, that’s right…ME TIME.  Because I deserve it and so does everyone else.

Someday when time and life allows me to express and live the dreams I have for myself, I am going to do just that.  And that is definitely something to hold onto.

Sisters

These two…

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Anymore it is starting to feel like we have twins in this house.  They are practically the same size with matching temperaments.  They play together, sing and dance together, watch Dora the Explorer together, they fight and make up two minutes later and I am convinced that in the middle of the night they meet up to conspire against their mom and dad. They have mastered knowing exactly what strings to pull, and with what smile, in order to sway us to see their side of things. They are sisters and this is just the beginning.

my girls

While I was pregnant with Kendal, I envisioned their relationship to be like so; but there was a darker point in that nine months where I began to realize the part of their sisterhood that in time, I would not be able to avoid nor prevent.  My doctor knows me well, so I knew she was able to read my fears a few months into the pregnancy.  “Are you worried about this baby passing Tessa [in development]?  You are, aren’t you?” (My husband would disagree that I am totally transparent, but I am and my doctor knows it.)  She was right.  It was true, and I was torn between pity and shame and a whole mess of other pregnant emotions .  It was also inevitable.  At some point I knew that Tessa’s baby sister–still growing in my belly–would catch her and eventually pass by her, doing things ahead of Tessa without slowing down.  To be painfully forthright, I couldn’t bare the thought of it happening because it isn’t at all what I knew or what I was used to.  It just made me uncomfortable and upset, bringing up the parts of Down syndrome I had long tucked away in my “For Later” file in the back of my busy brain.

During that pregnancy I got a taste of what it might be like.  I remember Tessa’s younger cousin crawling, pulling himself up and eventually taking his first big, beautiful steps long before she did. Despite my happiness for him, I remember each new and glorious milestone of his crushing me and desperately wanting all the same for Tessa. Little by little I watched him catch and pass her by.

On the surface I know that comparing one child’s development to another is rather catty and meaningless; but to a parent of a child with special needs it is so much more than a comparison.  Because we want so much to see our children achieve the same natural milestones as their peers.  We want that same kind of “natural.”  We want them to succeed.  We want them to do the things that maybe we were told they may never do.  So we push them hard and support them every way we know how, and we wait–sometimes what seems like forever–for our kids to strike gold.  And when they do, Lord look out because there will be celebrations!  Sometimes, though, it just does not happen.  I know that beauty runs deep–in this case far past the typical ease of development for which many parents take for granted.  Rightfully so. I would be the same way except I have learned to behold her long-awaited milestones for their beauty.  Thankfully so.

I know what makes Tessa unique and extraordinary.  I also know her weaknesses and I witness her setbacks.  There is nothing about Tessa that I would change; however, if I could make her route through life a little easier I absolutely would.  But I just can’t.  Along that route would be the part where Kendal’s development surpasses her older sister’s–the part I once paid more mind to.  As close as Kendal and Tessa are in age, size and development right at this moment, I find myself worrying less.

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I love watching them play together–their little minds quickly creating play scenarios and acting them out together.  Sometimes I just sit and watch without them noticing; and if I am lucky, I can get away with it for quite a while.  Tessa dutifully instructing Kendal on how to bathe her baby dolls and make them dinner.  When the babies are left to dry, Kendal helps Tessa put her puzzle pieces together or assists her up the stairs.  Then back down the stairs they come to a stack of books where Tessa points out the colors and Kendal repeats them.  Back and forth they go without a care in the world, without knowing that they are each other’s greatest asset.

Photo credit:  Little Britches Photography - Judi Carey

Photo credit: Little Britches Photography – Judi Carey

At the start of each day Kendal blows Tessa a kiss good-bye from the car as I take her in to daycare.  Before they go to bed at night, they give each other a kiss and say “I lub you!”  I have learned to love them as individuals and how to love them together.  What they don’t know is what they are they are teaching me in the process of being their mama.  I am thankful they were set to each other…and to us.

When the time comes (and it is near) where Kendal will jump ahead of Tessa in development I will again quietly grieve that part of Down syndrome that I wish could be different–without a doubt.  I know the sting will fade as their relationships carries on just the way it is now. The little savory sisterhood I once envisioned for my girls is now our reality, and now I get to dream up what the next future will look like for them as sisters.  All I know is that it will be filled fiercely with love and tons of laughter.

These two…

Defining love.  Precisely defining what it means to be sisters.

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