Friday, August 14, 2015

Dear Elijah,

You're kind of awesome. But, you already know that.

You've had a raw deal, my little dude. Starting out life with a significant brain injury is a rough place to start. The thing is, though, you've got this thing. Slow and steady wins the race, they say. And you, my boy, just keep on keeping on.

I've never met someone as persistent as you, Elijah. It's both awesome (because you keep going) and terrible (because redirecting you is tough). But, really, never giving up is probably the best thing about you. You don't take no as an answer (that one's tough on your mama and dada), but your determination is inspiring (even if it means you're determined to climb on the dining room table).

You had your parents all to yourself for a long time, didn't you? And then we brought some other little creatures into your life. Just like any big brother, you find your little brothers annoying and obnoxious. But, you love them indeed, don't you? They give you someone to pick on and something more entertaining to watch than your boring parents. Right? You do love them, my boy. They'll be the ones who look out for you and simultaneously drive you crazy... it's just the nature of siblings.
I'm always amazed at how your moods affect me. It's impossible to be sad when you're happy. And it's impossible to be happy when you're sad. Your joy is so infectious. Well, except for this one exception: when you laugh maniacally over breaking something or pushing a brother. Thats just mean, dude.

That smile, though. You probably have the best smile in the entire world.
If only I could live in your body for just one day. I ache to know what it would be like to be you. You experience life differently, that's for sure.

You are the only one who is you and that's pretty incredible.

We love you Elijah James, our sweet little Ligee-Lou.

You're pretty awesome. I'm quite certain you already know that. Just don't let it go to your head, okay?

Love you,

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Missed Opportunities

Our two big boys
“More God,” Oliver says as we sit eating lunch together.

“You want me to teach you more about God?,” I ask.

“Uh-huh,” he says, chewing on his sunbutter and jelly sandwich, his eyes wide and expectant.

Moments earlier, Oliver had told me he was sick, his hand clasped over his mouth. “Oliver needa bucket,” he said, his voiced strained.

“You don’t need a bucket,” I replied. “It’s time to eat lunch. Have you ever heard of the story The Boy Who Cried Wolf?”

We’re in the midst of the “Oliver do me-self” stage. We say one thing; he says the opposite. We tell him to do something and he finds a million things to delay his fate. And, he lies sometimes…a developmental (albeit sad) milestone.

Thus led to a conversation about lying as he finally sat down in his chair to eat lunch. “We don’t lie Oliver. God tells us not to and it’s not nice. What if mom told you she was going to buy you a new toy and then she never did buy you that toy? That would be a lie. You wouldn’t like that,” I said, trying to think of an example on the fly. “You shouldn’t tell me you’re sick if you really aren’t sick.”

“Uh-huh,” Oliver says, scrunching his face. And after a short pause: “More God?”

We sit and I explain more of the Ten Commandments, highlighting the ones that apply to him the most right now in his two year old life. No stealing, honoring your parents, remembering the Sabbath Day. I realize that part of the reason he’s asking so many questions is because he’s trying to delay the nap that inevitably comes after lunch.

And as Oliver and I sit in conversation, I think about our sweet eldest son, Elijah, and all the missed opportunities he’s had. I think about the questions he hasn’t been able to ask and the answers I didn’t think to give him. I think about the lies he hasn’t been able to tell and the missed opportunity to learn as a result. The guilt, oh, the guilt.

I wish Elijah could ask me a million annoying questions and I could exasperatedly answer him. How much of his disability is simply a result of missed opportunities: things he wasn’t able to see, textures he wasn’t able to touch, and questions he wasn’t able to ask?

More help, God. I can’t do this parenting thing on my own.

Monday, February 9, 2015

As It Gets Harder, It Gets Easier

I wrote the following two weeks ago and never hit publish. I don't know why, I think I got distracted and I'm not sure my head is attached to my body these days. Even still, it all rings true...


As it gets harder, it almost gets easier.

My memory of a life without kids is distant and so far away. I remember the days of sleeping for twelve hours in a row and watching TV more than I should, but the young gal who did such things seems like a person I do not know. It seems like I've lived in this pattern of sleep and no sleep and wiping and fixing and helping and cooking and serving for an eternity.

And in some ways, it makes it easier.

I've been here before. I've done this a few times. I'm confident in caring for a baby and it doesn't seem hard, but rather nostalgic in some strange way. And, so, while it can feel like there are a lot of children at my house - when really there's only three - it's somehow getting easier while simultaneously getting harder. I'm pulled in so many different directions that it seems like there could be ten children living here and it wouldn't be any harder than it is now (okay, scratch that. I just imagined ten kids in my house and my head almost exploded).

The confidence that comes from being a somewhat-seasoned parent is calming and comforting. I've been at this thing for almost eight years and I have no idea how that even happened. I blinked and the time is gone. Perhaps that is what makes it easier - the realization that this all happens so, so fast. Sure, there are hard days, but soon a new day will come. And that day might be hard too, but it will be hard in a different way and things are never boring.

Just when you think you've got things figured out, you don't. 

And, so, I sit here and try to enjoy it all. Sure, my to-do list is the same list that I had sitting on my counter two weeks ago. Yes, I kind of feel like I'm running a marathon on a treadmill every single day. And it's hard.

But as it gets harder, it somehow gets easier. Perhaps because I cannot remember what easy looks like. And, really, I wouldn't have it any other way.


And that do-to list? Yep, still the same one. Things added, things crossed off.

Friday, January 9, 2015


This week marks our return to our new normal. Elijah is back to school after winter break, Andy is back to work and my mom (who had helped us for a few weeks) is back home. So, this is my new life...

The younger kids are sleeping and Elijah is at school.

I'm truly alone for the first time in several months (because any woman who's ever been pregnant knows that you're never alone when you're carrying a child in your womb).

It's weird, this quiet that envelops the house. The only sound is the thumping of the washing machine, our fish tank, and the occasional squeaks from our new baby sleeping in his bouncy chair.

Oh wait... I'm not really alone, am I? Whatever, it's quiet and that's something.

I just found out that Elijah's school is cancelled tomorrow because of windchill, which means I will have a seven-year-old with special needs, a two-year-old who's trying to figure out how he fits in this new family, and a newborn to care for on my own. Three kids. How in the world are we going to survive?

Andy is working from home (in our basement), so if the kids try to kill me he will hear and come to my rescue. At least I hope so.

Andy helps me with lunch (oh how thankful I am for that man).

In the afternoon, Oliver naps and Theo is snuggled to my chest in his baby carrier. I ask Elijah if he wants to help me do laundry. He shakes his head no. I ask if he wants to do the dishes and he emphatically shakes his entire body in a head nod. I gleam with pride as that was an obvious yes and no, something that doesn't always happen with Elijah accurately.

We do the dishes.

And then... (sorry Elijah) the laundry.

There are two baskets of laundry to be folded, more that needs to be washed, and I have no idea what we're going to eat for supper.

But, there's quiet in my house again. Oliver is napping, Elijah is at school and a fussy Theo is finally asleep on my chest. The snow is falling gently out my window and I'm pretty sure I have the best life ever.

After Elijah comes home from school, Elijah (with the help of his PCA - personal care assistant) and Oliver sit at the table and finger paint. I hold Theo and squeeze paint onto Oliver's plate.

"This dolphin. This fish. This dog," Oliver says to me, pointing out globs of paint on his paper. Elijah grabs his paint globs and tries to throw them on the floor. His smile gleams under the paint on his face.

Oliver is sitting in my lap while I fold laundry. It's become ever so apparent that he's feeling insecure about his lost status of littlest in the family. Still, he's really grown into his big brother role. He tells me to help Theo when he cries, gives the baby kisses all the time, and puts his hand on his baby brother's cheek and whispers, "sweetie pie."

I melt.

I finish writing this while my youngest two boys sleep and try not to feel guilty for not doing other things.


This is our new normal. Apparently our life revolves around laundry.

We're outnumbered now and it's exhausting. I feel like we're running in circles just to keep afloat. It's also completely and totally awesome.

Now I'm fold a basket of laundry.
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