Birthday Revelations

I turned 30 a few weeks ago.  For years I can recall family and friends wallow in sadness about leaving their twenties behind; about how everything would so different. Gone would be the days of pulling all-nighters and slacking off. Although that is exactly what I did the night before my birthday, and I paid for it many days over.

It seemed that turning 30 was the official mark of adulthood; no more screwing around. Then there was this lingering expectation that people around this new age would have their lives in order at that point. I was genuinely puzzled by this.  Who made these rules? No, seriously who?  I have a few questions. I expected to feel something similar as my twenties came to a close. But I didn’t, which makes sense because I have never mourned the passing of another year.

I was excited for my birthday, and I would tell me friends that “I am going to own my thirties.  They’re going to be some of my best years.” They would look at me with disgust for my eagerness to reach a new decade, wondering how I could feel excited about getting older. For the past ten years, my life shifted and transitioned more than I was ever prepared for. There are many things from my twenties that I am not proud of, but there were also invaluable experiences that I am so grateful for. Within those years were monumental, life-changing moments that shaped me into the woman and person I am today; the good, the bad and everything that falls between.

The months leading up to my thirtieth were very challenging.  During those months, I spent a lot of time focusing on where I was at in my life and what I wanted to doing that I already was not. I was facing big, ugly stuff and overcoming endless hurdles. Challenges that forced me to dissect many smaller facets of my life. Which led me to this blog, this place I hold so dear to my heart, and how it became one of the main areas I devoted my mind to during that time. And it is funny because I spent basically zero time blogging while this was all going on.  I’ll explain.

Since I started blogging, I have genuinely enjoyed it.  It has been the gateway to my scattered thoughts and has healed my worried heart many times. Blogging was something I never thought I would do.  Hell, I was not even real positive about what a blog really was until I had Tessa.  But here I am, nearly six years later, pouring my heart into my little piece of internet real estate.

If you have been a dedicated reader here, you know that much of what I write about or to is Tessa; the motivation behind the blog.  I had not experienced the lows of writing until I learned that my blog was ticking some people off.

Hmmm…maybe I am a real writer after all…

Things were said and assumed about me and my character; but it wasn’t until my thoughts and words were being used against me or shared negatively in other blogger groups or posts as examples of how not to write or rather what not to write about surfaced, that I stopped writing. Fear of opening my heart, sharing too much, saying the wrong things and having my words policed in other forums held me back. I retrieved from blogging and withheld my desire to journal until I could figure out what I was ever really trying to say in all of this writing.

I know that it is impossible to please everyone and that is not the reason I write in the first place.  I am a big fan of a little idea I like to call don’t like it, don’t read it.  However, I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me think about things. So bravo haters, you win.

Dr. Seuss always gets it right.

I had a lot of “come-to-Jesus” talks with myself.  Perhaps it is not my place to share things about my daughter’s life with the rest of the world the way I have been doing it.  Does this make me a bad person?  Does this mean my character is flawed? I don’t really think so. As a mom, I was simply reacting to what my heart felt like it needed and wanted to do. And selfishly, I needed lots of healing and blogging provided that for me.  Especially before, during and after my daughter’s battle with leukemia.

As my blog grew, I caught myself writing just for the sake of writing; hoping to meet arbitrary deadlines. Most of the time I was trying to promote advocacy and inclusion for my daughter, but I walked straight into seriously unfamiliar and rocky territory.  All I wanted to do was shout out to the world, “Love my kid and accept her,” but–if I am being honest–the world doesn’t owe me or her that. Clearly my intentions have been misunderstood a time or two. In advocating for her, I somehow put boundaries up around her without knowing it.  We do not need to prove anything about her, nor does she of herself.

I guess maybe it took confronting myself through ugly times to reevaluate the end goal here. In these revelations, I have decided to shift the tone of my blog. Down syndrome and cancer have held a huge place in our lives, but they aren’t our entire lives.  There is so much more to me than those two things.  It took a lot for me to realize that I can write about other things, too. For instance, I can go on about how I shamelessly pin things about raising chickens on Pinterest (there is some interesting stuff out there by the way).  Or I can talk about the exhaustion of being a working mom or about health and fitness.  I can spill for days on the perks of country living or my daily struggle with anxiety and PTSD. And that is exactly what I plan to do. Who knows…maybe a new blog name in the future.

There will still be days where I talk about extra chromosomes and cancer and how they have impacted my life, but I will not apologize for my personal feelings or experiences regarding either because I do think it is okay to speak for ourselves and share our stories.

The day before my birthday, I walked to the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta while on a work trip.  I paid $43 (ouch) to walk around the aquarium by myself and watch the animals do their thing, trying to get plenty of pictures to take back to my girls.  There were at least twenty different elementary schools there with their students, and I looked like genuine creep taking a selfie with a penguin…but YOLO!

While I was there, I sat down in a massive viewing room. I thought a lot about the direction I hoped my blog would take and what I truly wanted to write about in the future as I stared into the big blue wall of water. I also thought a lot about the direction I hoped my life would take, but fully accepting that my plan is already in place. I am really just along for the ride. The rest of the aquarium was rather noisy, but I sat among the crowd in total tranquility as an enormous feeling of gratitude washed over me.

Turning thirty showed me that I do not exist because of the approval of others. It opened my eyes to the idea that I can feed my soul in more ways than one, and that the most meaningful relationships I will have in my life are happening right now. Most importantly, it provided me with fresh perspective and the chance to wipe my slate clean once more.  Cheers 30.  Let’s do this!

Dear Tessa…

Dear Tessa,

I know.  Where have I been? We last left off with me trying to desperately save our beloved cat Jack that we had for a mere two days.  Then I left you to sit with that cliffhanger for a really long time; which was pretty uncool of me.

Here is how it went down for Jack…

I went out to check on him at 5:30 the morning after I–ok fine, Dad–had given him his vaccine.  And let me tell you, Jack looked terrible.  It was clear that he was not going to make it so I left him there to pass. After I got you on the bus at 7:15 a.m., I went to put Kendal in the car.  I decided to check on Jack one more time.  He was gone.  I picked him up to move him to a proper resting place, but was horrified to find that upon picking him up, full rigor mortis had set in–like straight through his tail.  I can’t un-feel that.  There is nothing pleasant about that.  I had a stiff cat in my arms (*shutters*) that I was trying to shield from our resident cat-loving three year old.  A dead cat is dramatic enough for me without Kendal’s knowledge of it.  So back into the box he went until Dad could come home and help me out later that day.

I admit it…we straight up lied to you about Jack’s whereabouts after that. We told you that he went to cat therapy at the vet so that he could get better; hoping that one day you guys would just forget about him. Cat-freaking-therapy. It worked for a while.  But your sister, with her exceptional memory, brought Jack’s name back out the other day and we had to come clean…well, sort of. We said that Jack was so sick and the therapy just was not helping him which led to his unfortunate death.

Oh and remember how I said there would be no more cats?  I lied about that, too.  You will come to realize one day that we have told many white lies throughout your childhood.

R.I.P. Jack.  The end.  You and your sister are both fine, and I now realize that I went to great lengths to shield your hearts from something you were both okay with in the end.  Boy when I am on, I am really on in this motherhood business.  But other times, I am so far off.

How is everything else?  For anyone else who asks, I use many phrases that involve swear words to describe life as it has been the last few months.  Take that for what it is worth.  There have been many ups and downs, and most days feel like we are just entering a boxing ring with a defending world champ.  But we battle on because that is what we do best.

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Kendal’s face is all of us right now…

I can’t believe I almost forgot this–you have glasses now!  I mean you definitely hate them, but they sure are cute.  So far they have only had to be repaired once, which isn’t too bad considering how much you detest them.

In other news…you have a brand new baby cousin who is too cute for words, we had our first snowfall at the new house and we spent some much needed time as a family in the Dells last weekend for a family Christmas gathering. You gave us quite a scare when we had to get your labs drawn unexpectedly the end of last week, but all was well with your results.  Always full of surprises Miss Tessa Jo.  wp-1481308607512.png

Of course there is so much that I did not cover.  In time, though.  Right now we are playing a never ending game of catch-up in everyday life while trying to get ready for another beautiful Christmas.  More to come soon…

Love, Mom.