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.

 

The Battle Of Holding On and Letting Go

Knowing when to hold her hand and knowing when to let her fly.  I find myself conflicted between the two more often than not–like a constant battle of whether or not I am making the right choice with either option.

My daughter is ambitious and driven; and I will happily take some credit for that with her dad.  Even though this is sometimes worrisome, I marvel at her will to try new things.  After all, this is what we have been pushing her to do since her first therapy sessions as an infant after we learned of her Down syndrome diagnosis.  To face obstacles with courage while slightly nudging her outside of her comfort zone.  All in hopes to encourage and inspire her to rise above life’s challenges; to show her what she is truly capable of accomplishing.

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The tide is shifting now, well, for me anyway.  Where I was once reassuring her to make her leap, she is now looking for me to let her go.  She is getting a little older, a little more brave and definitely more vocal about her wants or needs.  With that comes the tightening of my grip when all along I have been promising to loosen it up as she got older.

This little girl, my first born, is so curious about the world she lives in.  Yet I sometimes catch myself holding her back from experiences because am afraid for her.  In stark contrast to everything we have been preparing her for, allowing her to further explore her independence feels more difficult than ever.  It comes with the territory. Being a mother to a child with a disability causes the emotional tides to change in different phases of parenting her.

While these phases are unpredictable, they usually offer a unique vantage point.  One where I can look out and evaluate where we are together. Perspective might hit me at a doctors appointment or when she is standing on the edge of a diving board; places that prove how far she has come or how much ground we have yet to cover.

It doesn’t escape me…the blessing of her being able to have these opportunities, the option to choose things for herself and the chance to see who she is becoming as she turns another year older.  I am undeniably grateful for that.  She is getting ready for kindergarten this fall and going to her first friend birthday party next week.  These are wonderful and amazing things. Things I once worried about for several other reasons.

I guess that is the most beautiful part of this journey; knowing we can still do this all right alongside her, while keeping adequate enough distance for her to seek and inspect experiences for herself. Knowing even more that if we allow her to keep trying new things, she will only continue to learn and grow tenfold.  And, finally, having the revelation that parenting a child who happens to have Down syndrome isn’t so different from parenting a child without it.