It was this time last year that our lives started to change. As parents, you fear the challenges that your children will endure, but you know they are coming. You expect the hurt feelings of others not wanting to be friends with them, not quite getting the whole bike riding thing when they're ready.....but this....this is different.
Like I said, challenges come their way, and the worst thing we can do as parents is try and fix everything for them. Sometimes I catch myself wanting to step in and help with a task, or try and talk two friends through a heated argument of who had the toy first, but realize its not the time. Challenges, specifically the way we handle them, are an intricate part of our character. If I do everything for my child...how do they grow...how do they build character...how do they solve problems when I'm not there? This....this is different.
When your child faces a challenge, or challenges, that he/she has no control over, that they can't fix on their own, and in some cases don't even understand......you stand still.....real still......and work through the maze of emotions that follow. This maze that I'm speaking of has just started in ways, even though the journey has been going on for a while.
A year ago we noticed that are second child, Leah, wasn't being as verbal as she should be. At the time she was 18 months and didn't even say mama. Our first child, Isaiah, spoke early. I knew not to compare them because all children progress differently in their development, but to us, it was evident she was delayed. We quickly heard of TEIS from others. (Tennessee Early Intervention System) It is a state program that helps children under 3 who have developmental delays. They evaluated Leah within a week of calling, and immediately told us she was delayed. She was speaking at a 10-12 month level with a slit notice of fine motor issues. We were able to quickly get her started in speech therapy, and group therapy, at the Pediatric language Clinic on UT's campus. Some of the children in her group were more advanced, while some were much more behind. It was very apparent that some of the children were extremely autistic, and to be honest, the first time I took her I cried the whole way home. My heart ached for these parents holding their children's arms and legs as they threw fits of frustration, calming their stemming with waited vest, pulling hands out of mouths so the kids wouldn't bite themselves. Why was I so worried for our baby girl when things could be so much worse.
Fast forward to the present. We've been juggling Occupational Therapy, Speech and Group Therapy for a year now. Scheduling is overwhelming, and I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, starring at the ceiling, trying to decide if I have all the times right. Did I forget to switch this week in my phone? Did I call to confirm? Is this going to work with Keith's crazy schedule? Who can watch the kids, while I take her, if my mom can't? Is today going to be a good day, or a bad day? Just sleep Jamie.....just sleep!
Leah has changed, she's older, she knows a few more words, she says mama now, yet she's still at a 12 month level. Now, I'm the mom holding my daughter when she's throwing fits, pulling her hands out of her mouth and picking up food off the floor when she decides to spontaneously push it out of her mouth with her tongue. I'm the mom....we're the parents.....who now have an autistic child....and its different, this is so very different from the normal challenges we thought she would face.
Don't assume we are bitter, because we're not. Leah is so smart, has the most infectious smile, hugs and cuddles more than a lot of kids and we are more than confident she will persevere through the journey she has ahead. We will expect great things from her. We will push her in the midst of frustration. We will not make life "easy" for her. She deserves more. She deserves her best, and we will make sure she gets there. She is Leah....she is beautifully and wonderfully made....and she is good.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Being a mom has always been on my heart. I guess you could say I am a natural nurturer. I don’t say this to boast about myself, it’s just the way God made me. Some people are assertive, some are talkers, prayer warriors, leaders, givers and so on. I like to nurture. With that being said, I knew I wanted to be a mom very early on. In fact, I remember my friends in high school joking I would be the first to be a mom…..and honestly….I was ok with that…I wanted that. Due to circumstances out of my control I wasn’t the first, but I’m so thankful that it eventually happened.
During my late teen years, and on into my twenties, I watched parents intently. I wanted to pull all the “good” parenting and “bad” parenting together so I could create in my mind what kind of parent I wanted to be. I didn’t live and breathe this idea every minute of every day, but I just observed. When I saw a parent interacting with a child I took mental notes. I would think to myself, I want to do things like that, or, I definitely don’t want to do that. My list starting getting long, and honestly, it became more of a judgment list. My thoughts turned to, I can’t believe they do that….I will never do that. Well, I’ve learned quickly that when being a parent the phrase “never say never” rings so true. I have done MANY things I said I would never do. I’ve done things I once judged others for doing. To live and learn would be an understatement.
I have a point to all this….bare with me.
While there are things I said I would never do, yet have, there are just some things that stand firm on my list. Most of the things I refuse to do with my kids aren’t so much actions, but words or phrases that hit my skin like nails on a chalkboard. No matter how frustrated, hurt, tired or whatever negative feeling that comes with parenting sometimes, you can’t take words back. I read a book once that talked about words being like a tube of toothpaste. If you squeeze a bunch of toothpaste out, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get it back in. Words sting, they hurt, they bury in our mind and heart, and they are the things we don’t forget….they stick….sometimes forever.
A few days ago I said three words I never wanted to say to any of my children. I’ve managed to not say them for over three years, and then bam! As soon as it came out of my mouth I felt that knot in my stomach. Let me explain. Years ago when the series John and Kate Plus Eight started I was immediately hooked. I liked that show. I wasn’t a parent yet, but enjoyed it a lot. Let’s face it….they weren’t perfect parents, but honestly, who is? Something stuck out to me when watching all the chaos of these two people trying to raise eight kids together. The dad “John” used a phrase pretty often with his kids that rubbed me the wrong way. It sounded so horrible to me…like walking by someone who curses and thinking, do they not realize how ugly they sound? It was then I decided that I didn’t want to say these three words that so quickly escaped my lips the other day.
Before I go on, and before the hate mail starts flooding my inbox, let me be clear that I do not consider myself a perfect parent. I do not think I have it all together and that everyone should do parenting the way I do. What works for me may not work for others. We are all different for a reason, and while these words bother me they may not bother someone else at all…and that’s ok. This is a personal feeling I have…..you don’t have to agree.
The phrase I’m talking about is “I don’t care”. I NEVER want my kids to think I don’t care about them, or their feelings. No, I’m not a push over. My kids are not allowed to do whatever they want. My kids sit in time out, and cover your eyes….they even get spanked. It’s not about making them like me all the time. I’m pretty sure I say the word no about a hundred times a day. Sometimes I feel like all I say all day are more negative words than positive. Don’t do this, don’t do that, that’s not ok, your being ugly…..you get my drift. I don’t care is different…it’s a lie. I want to always care, even in frustration. When I ask my son to clean his toys and he says he doesn’t want to, I don’t want to say I don’t care…do it anyway. I do care that he doesn’t want to do it. I don’t like cleaning my kitchen after cooking a big meal. I’m tired. It doesn’t mean he gets away with not cleaning his toys; it means I approach it differently. I can say, “I understand you don’t want to clean your toys, but you don’t have a choice. You made the mess and you have to clean it up.” It may take longer to say, but I don’t feel like I’m just cutting him or his emotions off. He knows I know how he feels. I confirm his feelings while still making him do what needs to be done.
Honestly, I just don’t like the phrase period. I feel like we use it too loosely as a society anyway. To care is to be as Christ. I want that for my kids. When I pray over my kiddos there are two things that are always included. I pray that my babies will grow to know Christ, accept Him as their savior and commit to live their lives with Him. The second is this…that they will be compassionate, loving and caring individuals; that no matter who they become, they will carry these three traits with them. To have compassion is to care. To love is to care. And, of course to care is to, well, care for others no matter what.
So there you have it….agree or not…I want my kids to know I care. I want them to care for others. I hope I don’t hear them say these three words to others, but if they do I haven’t failed….I’ve done my best…and my best is all I have.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
A lot has happened in our lives over the past few months. We found out we were expecting our third child, my dad passed away, I became very ill with the pregnancy and have been on moderate bed rest. Its not been an easy road, but things are getting better. Ive missed quite a bit of events I would normally post, so I decided to jam it into a seasonal themed post. Easter, our annual flower pics on pellissippi parkway, our Spring festival/Easter celebration at church, Mothers day and our trip to Port St. Joe Florida are what is included. We thought a trip to a beach house, with just us girls and my mom, would be good after everything we've gone through. We loved it, and literally had the beach to ourselves. The house set directly on the beach, with panoramic views from inside the house. We lived on the huge screened in porch while we were not on the beach. In fact, we ate every meal at the table on that porch listening to the waves.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Well, its been a while. To say I am not that "perfect" mom, who can post about everything in a timely manner, would be a huge understatement! However you moms do it.....props my friends. I somehow missed posting about our Christmas, trip out to Colorado and Isaiah's birthday. I may still do a quick picture post of these things, but for now I wanted to share some of our new pictures. We had Isaiah's 3 year photo session done and decided to do some family pictures as well. There are a total of 117....here are a few. Hope you enjoy!