Thursday, August 27, 2015

letting go

As soon as your baby bursts into the world they teach you as their parent all about how to help your child grow. 

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You mark a chart with feeding frequency and duration while in the hospital to ensure they are being fed adequately. And then you go home and you feed them around the clock. On demand or by a schedule. All with the hopes of optimal growth and development. I can still practically feel the drain of marathon nursing sessions until my boobs were raw and I was sucked dry of energy. There were days I was scared and convinced he was starving. Each visit and weight check at the Pediatrician rested my concerned mind. But it was worth it- because my baby was growing, filling out. 

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Little round wrists and dimpled hands were the mark of a job well done. When it came to parenting- I didn't always know if I was doing the right thing, but I knew I was helping them grow.

And then we started solids. Introducing foods just as the books and my doctors recommended- single grain cereal, sweet potatoes, applesauce. For at least an ENTIRE WEEK I made baby food from organic produce. And it was too much work so instead I bought store bought and felt guilty. He grew just the same.

And boy did my baby grow. So fast I couldn't keep up. He filled out. He grew. He got longer. He crawled. It was amazing to watch their little bodies and minds that seemed to just know what to do next. It was impossible to comprehend. God, DNA, my blood, oxygen and genetics made this incredible little creature here in my arms, staring into my eyes, making to believe it was impossible that a moment existed before he came into the world.

He grew and grew and grew. He started to walk. A little drunken sailor walk that made me squeal and clap and jump up and down. He grew so good, my boy. Too fast really. I finally understood why the little old ladies would stare into my eyes and beg me to enjoy every little moment. So I tried, I really did. Even the awful ones were somehow better than the days before he was around.

And then he grew and he grew some more. His waddle walk turned almost instantly into a run. And then a jump and a climb too. He now had favorite foods- spaghetti and mac and cheese. It was so fun to watch him explore and play and eat and grow.He outgrew his clothes and shoes at a rapid pace. Every time his growth was charted and plotted at the pediatrician's office, I felt so relieved. So proud. Growing this little human was the most important job I ever had.



And now my first little baby is six years old. I've had my ups and our downs, but deep inside I've always felt equipped to do what's right to help him grow.

But there is one thing I still can't seem to grasp. Something that pains me and keeps me up some nights-- I just don't know how to let go. I'm just not cut out for it. I can't breathe just thinking about it. 

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Last week my six year old boy started First Grade.  I still feel a little lost. I'm angry that it's not getting easier as the years go by. I don't get how I'm supposed to give this moving, breathing, incredible shiny part of my soul away every single day six hours a day. 


And although I know I have to let go, I really have absolutely no idea how. I don't know what it looks like. The baby books never mentioned it. There's no prescribed ointment or pill given at the doctor that will help me detach. It feels like lost and homesick and lovesick and sad. I'm envious of the parents who are nothing but joyful at the beginning of each school year. 

I always always want what's best for him. How can what is best sometimes hurt so much?
For now I can't deny or control my feelings so I feel them. Entertain the uncomfortable bastards. I can control my behavior. I will not not rent a car and wear a wig and drive by his school at recess eleventy-hundred times a day. 


I think parenthood is a mixture of holding on and letting go. Teaching them to grow and letting them grow all on their own then. Of doing and letting them do. Teaching them- and learning from them. It's crazy- the gauntlet of feelings we feel every day. Fear, joy, anger, frustration, pain, joy so big it flies out or your heart and can make you cry. The funny thing is- watching him grow and adapt and let go of me, is helping to show me the way. 



Sunday, August 16, 2015

last day of summer

The opposite of what ails us is often the anecdote. We often try to treat ourselves with more of the same though.

I remember going through a parenthesis of hard time. I was 28 years old and recovering from a bad break up- that boy was the reason I moved from Missouri to Los Angeles in the first place. Work was so hard. Life was so hard. I felt lost and empty. So I ran more. I went out more. I was afraid to be alone. To feel alone. I filled myself up with noise and the hole grew deeper. I felt like I knew what I should do. I just didn't think I could actually do it.

Finally I did, because nothing else was working and I was broken. Instead of running, I chose to walk into my fears. Walk into the silence. Walk into the thinking I couldn't escape yet tried desperately to avoid. I booked two nights away at a shack called The Nurturing Nest in Palm Dessert- a city near Palm Springs. There were no TVs. No cell phone reception. Just a pool and hot springs that smelled like rotten eggs and promised healing properties. I was awful company- at first. Jittery and bored and anxious. And it sometimes takes so long to peel off the layers we build to cover unease, insecurity and pain. I had a tiny 1960's looking kitchenette and shelves of old books. I relaxed. I read. I hot-springed and stunk.

Although I was extremely excited and ready to drive home, I was glad I went. It did me good. And after that trip, I didn't need other people so much. I didn't need TV so much. I started to make friends with me- so I could think in length and not in hamster ball.

Whatever scares you and sounds like the worst ideas ever may be exactly what you need.

Today we adventured on our last day of Summer before school starts.

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We went on our first train trip. Jump and Flaptastic.

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The only thing more awesome than riding a train is watching your favorite little people ride a train.

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We went to a city called Hanford. It's in the Central Valley of California and is about a 35 minute train ride. It was like we were on an old set of the movie, Back to the Future. SAVE THE CLOCK TOWER!

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We visited an old carousel built in 1932. Grey rode a horse for the first time. His name was stormy- which is just so totally Grey.

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Doodle played it safe and sat with me.

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We also went to a place called Superior Dairy- a classic 1920's ice cream parlor complete with pink vinyl booth seats.

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Each ice cream dish was bigger than the next.

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It's impossible to be sad and watch kids eat ice cream

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Our friend Sawyer was double spooning it

And here is his instant reaction when his Momma said, "all done" because we had to leave to catch our train back.

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I freaking love that kid.

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The ride home felt like it was five minutes long. I wanted to stop time. Thank you God for perfect moments in our imperfect life.



I've been on a see saw all day. Heavy and filled with dread over Greyson's first day of school tomorrow. I'm not ok about it. And I'm desperate to add contingencies to make myself sound stronger than I actually feel. But it will be great! We will do awesome! I'm Annoyed we have to leave the house by 7:55 every morning. "You'll get used to waking up early once you have kids" they lied. Dreading making a lunch and not wearing pajamas past 8.

I'm Hopeful. Rip off the band aid and then it will be fine. Grey will adjust. Mommy will adjust. Beginnings are hard. Watch Grey- he has to do hard things all the time. Learn by his spirit, his shining example.
Dread. Hope.
Bad. Good.

Up and down
Up and down

Life

It's got me thinking- if letting go of the boys is this hard, this horrible... I must really need to do it more to get used to it. I shush that voice that says- BUT THIS IS DIFFERENT. They have autism. They need me.

Because the truth is, autism or not- they are growing up. They need more opportunities for independence and change. And as usual, in their ability to adapt will somehow show me the way.

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It goes by so fast...We can't slow down but we can hold on and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

life is change

Next week marks the beginning of a new school year for my favorite 6 year old in the whole world, Greyson Kelly. I'm keeping Parker out of the public school system for another year. 

Some scenes from Summer...

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Evening family walks always sound like a bad idea until we go. And then I'm amazed by the world, the hot evening breeze and the buzz of street lights. I looped Jack the dog's leash around Greyson's waist and it is a memory I hope I see again when I die. Greyson giggling and running and Jack practically smiling. Pinch me good.

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I'm teaching Parker all my best pole moves. 

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The fact that Summer is over and school is starting up again has paved every thought of mine this week. I'm anxious. I'm not ready for the whole new Teacher, new classroom thing. Change is so hard. Beginnings are hard. 

And that got me thinking- middles are pretty hard too. Yep, in fact- it's often the time in between that I struggle with the most. They take forever. Much longer than we would like or expected to wait. And heck- you know what?- endings are hard too.  All of life is hard. Which is actually kind of freeing because it takes some of the pressure off beginnings.

Because life is easy. And then hard again. And then easy and hard. Again and again. And I'm pretty sure that's exactly what life is supposed to be. We fret the hard. Curse it. Beg it to end. And when it's easy-often we don't even get a chance to enjoy the easy, because we either don't notice it - or we are nervously waiting for the other shoe to drop. We know the hard is right around the corner. 

Why do we spend so much time fearing the hard of the future, hating the hard of the present, and obsessing over the hard of the past? Why do we protect ourselves from the cascading joy of easy? 

If you are like me- you are afraid to enjoy the easy. I hunger for happiness but don't want to need it as much as I sometimes do. I don't want its absence to scare me. I'm afraid I will be wading in easy's beauty - and then BAM. It all goes to shit. I think part of that is how I'm wired- it's just me. But part of it is because of autism. Many people go through post traumatic stress when life's huge stresses threaten to break you. Whether it's a diagnosis, loss or a major life event. And you are forever changed after it- there's no going back. Ever. And you never want to feel that unguarded, unprepared and traumatized again. So you prepare for bad instead of embracing good and you work to control and plan everything.

And change scares me more than scary movies in the dark. Because when something is totally brand-spanking, top to bottom new- it's impossible to plan for each and every possible life scenario. I am at life's mercy again- just like I was with autism. And that scares me. 

My rational mind knows that a change in Teacher or job or home is NOTHING like a diagnosis of autism. Running out of fruit snacks or our grocery store no longer carrying our favorite brand of gluten free bread isn't autism. But sometimes my mind doesn't like to be rational. If it smells like change I will run if I can. And if I can't? I will be freaking out inside. Many of our fears aren't rational- but we don't know that until we talk them out. Until we place them under the light. And then sometimes when we do that, change is no longer a scary movie. It's like a Disney movie, complete with catchy soundtrack.

Change has a bad rap with control folk freaks like me. So I'm working on it sister. Change is clearly a thread throughout all of our lives. How much easier would all of life be if we learned to befriend change, instead of fear it?

What if we came up with a plan. A plan to recognize the easy and walk right into the hard. Talk/write our feelings out and remember that no matter the circumstances- we can all relate to each others feelings. 

We each have been given this special story to live. And if we don't like our story- CONGRATULATIONS. We have the skills to make CHANGE. And maybe for once, change can be a good, good thing. Admitting we can't control much but our thoughts and choices. NOT THE WHOLE WORLD.  The opposite of change isn't staying the same- it's dead. We can't be alive and stay the same. 

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We are constantly growing, changing and evolving. 


So happy to be alive with you,

Chrissy

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

hello perspective

The orange circle in this image doesn't change size. Nope, not at all. And if you are stubborn like me- it will take you awhile to believe your eyes. And then you have to measure it against something to prove it. And you finally will have no other choice but to realize it's true. Hello dizzy.



But also- HELLO PERSPECTIVE. This image illustrates everything I TRY to think and do and feel and believe in life. 

Things related to autism take up a BIG part of our day. Speech, Behavior Therapy, tantrums, lining things up, going slow, repeating directions, extreme pickiness, screaming, repeating directions, repeating directions, REPEATING DIRECTIONS... But that's just TIME. 

Autism takes up a SMALL part of our whole entire life. I think of my boys simply as my children. My stubborn, brilliant, pain in my butt gifts from God. Days go by and I don't think of autism. I try not to focus on it when I don't need to. My boys are a million different things- least of all autism. 

When I first realized autism was part of our story that damn orange dot took up my entire world. Every thought, every moment of every day, every dream and every nightmare. I realized that I couldn't do a thing to change that damn dot. And at first- that sucked more than anything has ever sucked in my life before. My heart felt like it was suffocating. But after all of that I also realized that all the other dots were up to me. That makes this control freak SO DAMNED HAPPY. The size and content of the other circles are absolutely up to me. And it's my job to make those other circles so big that they out shadow the autism. 

And here's the thing-We ALL have an orange dot in our life. Every one of us. That thing that challenges and isolates us. That rests heavy on our shoulders. The thing that we are afraid that no one else can understand or even begin to relate to. Our circumstances are different, but that doesn't matter. Quite often our feelings about our circumstances are the same- and that is really what matters most to us as human beings. To understand and be understood. And although we can't change our orange dot, we can change so many other aspects of our lives. Those are the blue-ish dots. It's up to us to make them bigger. What they look like depends on what is important to you in ACTION- not just in words. 

We must DO. Whatever you fill your blue dots with is up to you. My blue dots are: God, marriage, Mom-ing, friendship, working out + feeling healthy, daily adventure and being creative. Every week I make contributions to those blue dots to make them grow bigger. Those aspects of my life are not perfect- but they are important to me so I work at them. I fill up those blue dots up, and in doing so- make the orange dot look and feel much smaller in comparison.

The things you can change in your life are huge and important. Take a look at your circumstances is a new way, and in doing so you may just change your life.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

forever summer

Nothing living lasts forever, including each season of every year. Change is quickly inching along as we are rolling into the last days of Summer. A Summer alive with wagon rides, swimming until the kids pass out cold in between the comforting cushions of the couch, and purpley grapes growing in our yard so ripe they taste like candy. 

There's nothing quite like Summertime adventures.

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Adventuring at the zoo

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Up until this year they barely noticed the animals. They didn't pay attention to any of them. It was something I mourned, something I thought was taken by autism, something that made me jealous when I saw parents experiencing what I wanted with their children- joint attention, sharing in delight. But things change constantly, and it's so easy to forget that sometimes, that's a good thing. 

Greyson and Parker remind me to accept what is- but never ever bury hope for forever. It has a way of blooming when you least expect it.

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Hope is the best wingman.


I turn my eyes away from the Back to School section inside Target. I'm just not ready for the long days full of golden sun to be over. I'm not ready for my amazing Teacher friends to go back to school. I want one more play date, where the kids swim and we compare pooches and c-section scars and eat chocolate and potato chips and laugh.

Life is just so darn good, and sometimes it takes me writing about it to really and truly get the pause I need to remember that.

I think about Summer me and Back to School me. We are really quite different. I may hire Back to School me if I owned a business, but I probably wouldn't really want to hang out with her. She tends to be all business. Summer me is a little more tan, a little more laid back, a little more carpe diem'y, and a lot more fun. I thought about letting Summer me give Back to School me some advice. You know- before the passing of the guards. Or at least fill in the blank. This year I promise to:

I'm still thinking of my answer. I was going to say, "be more laid back", but I'm not laid back person so it's not really obtainable or specific enough to be measurable anyway. I need to make sure that I schedule time for the things I value. How do you know what you value most? It's what we spend our day doing. And if what we SAY we value and what we are actually DOING don't line up- it's time to reevaluate.

You should play along. What would your fill in the blank say? "This year I promise to:(blank). One thing is for certain, I need a daily reminder to stop chasing perfect. Most of us claim to hate perfect. But then we find ourselves berating ourselves for our complete and utter humanness. What we are saying (I hate perfect) is a lie compared to what we are doing.

I also expect others to be perfect. Let me tell you, it's pretty exhausting. Of course if you asked me, "Do you expect perfection from others?" I would say, "What?! No of course not. I love people just the way they are." But then someone does or says something and I find myself judging them or getting angry. Expecting them to do or say what I would do or say. WHY didn't they do this? WHY did they say that? WHAT makes them think that is okay?! WHY aren't they more (blank)? I wonder how much bad energy I could free up if I could just remember that they are not perfect and you are not perfect and I am not perfect either--And not just remember it in words but also in action.

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Time to turn this Summer over and shake out every last drop.

Big fat hugs,

Chrissy

Thursday, July 23, 2015

get over it

It can all change in just a second.

Our entire life and every single thing we think about it. It's ice cold frightening. Everything we thought we ever knew was wrong, or a lie- or even worse never existed.

The more we are given, the more can be taken away. Loving is a simultaneous pledge to risk the worst pain imaginable. Awful, gut-wrenching, puking, swollen eyes sobbing pain. But we still love, because it's bigger than any risk.

And pain burrows into every curve and corner of our being. And it takes up residence and space. It eats with us and sleeps with us. It drives with us and talks to us constantly. "You will never know normal again," it lies. And we believe it.

But we have to move on. We have to get over it. 

You have to get over it.

Get over it. Your kid has autism. You had a shitty childhood. You're getting divorced. Your spouse cheated. Get over it. 

No, no, no- not in a day or a week or any unreasonable fake it til you make it amount of time. There is no set amount of time you must give yourself. It depends on our specific story and what we look like on the inside. Grief is a house guest that must be entertained until it is ready to leave. It may take a month. Or a year. And that's not to say you may never hurt or feel that pain again, but it means you have agreed with yourself to move on. 

To get over it.

And I've found you must walk over the hot coals, right down the middle of your pain. It demands to be acknowledged. You can't fake it. You must hurt and feel something die and beg for it not to be so. You must hit and feel the lows. It's awful, but there just isn't a way around it except for time. 

The United States Declaration of Independence states: We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness...

Notice it does NOT say we all deserve happiness- like something that can just be delivered to us in a box. It says the pursuit of happiness. That means it's up to us- it's within our control. Happiness takes work- but it's the foundation to a meaningful life. 

The other day I reread an old post I wrote four years ago- the first time I knew...just knew it was autism. And I talked myself out of that realization many times in the seven more months it took for him to be officially diagnosed. But this is the day... the awful day I knew it in my bones. I still shake thinking about that loneliness and fear that curled up with my while I sobbed on my bed. I wrote:

"Now I get down on my knees and ask I don't know who...God? The Universe? What is real? Who am I? Who is Greyson? What will his future look like? What about his life that I've already daydreamed into existence? Where did it go? His life, complete with many friends, school, sports, love....college, marriage and babies. I want him to have that life. He deserves that life and it just isn't fair. What dream will I dream instead?"

And I feel scared remembering exactly how it felt to FEEL like that and to think those things- every moment of every day. It was awful.  And I am so grateful because it took me reading that to acknowledge- I DON'T FEEL THAT WAY ANYMORE. It's like I won the lottery and I got my soul back. Of course I have my days and my moments. Moments when the devil wakes me up at night and all I can think about is- "Who will take care of Greyson and Parker when I die?" But I have moved past that initial, awful grief. I've learned that it's best not to have specific expectations- for me or my boys. There is no parallel life where my children don't have autism. This sometimes painful life is EXACTLY the story we are all supposed to live. 

I don't even remember how long it took to move past the gut-wrenching part. Maybe a year?

Sometimes grief stays well past it's welcome. You find yourself much later still having the same pain and thoughts. Then you must kick out this unwelcome guest. That doesn't mean you like what happened to you. That's doesn't mean it isn't real or it didn't affect you. It means you've made a pledge to GET OVER IT. If it's been years and you are still focusing on what isn't- it's time. 

Get over it.


Life is not about what you get. It's not what you achieve. It's how you get over pain. How you find a way to live without what you wanted or with what was taken away.

When you cling to the past or to a life that doesn't even exist- it's impossible to live in the present.
It's time to forget. To move forward. Stop wishing for rewind or redo. We may not get the answer to "why me?" in this lifetime and we have to be ok with that.

Free yourself, truly free yourself so you can focus on the blessing still present in your life. They may not look like you imagined, but they are there. I promise.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

free therapy

I almost don't want to put words to it. To burst this rainbow prism'ed bubble and speak of it in the past tense. It was the best of times and only the best of times. A weekend get away with my dearest friends, planned months in advance and excitedly counted down to on a calendar.

Giddiness. Fear. Anxiety. Joy. Just some of my feelings leading up to the weekend. But mostly, anticipation. Having something to look forward to is therapeutic. It got me through the boring and hard days. And last week before I left, the kids must have written a memo. "Drive mom ape shit so she looks forward to her trip even more."

The evening before my friends and I exchanged at least eleven million and twenty three texts. What are you packing? What will the weather be like? 

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And in the morning, we were off. You could feel our excitement.

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Party of five, first stop: Bianchi Winery. Lush vineyards are abundant in the Central Valley of California and this was a first for me. This place was a little sip of heaven. It was cozy and comfortable and it felt like you were hanging out at your best friend's house. Your stupid rich, I have a lake in my back yard, friend. In some parallel universe I can totally picture living in a vineyard and making wine. You know- as long as there's a Target down the road.

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Just a little later we arrived to our road trip destination.

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Pismo Beach hugs the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean and lies half-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. We checked into our hotel, left for lunch and didn't return to our hotel until late that night. We were high on laughter and life. 

We laughed over absolutely everything. Like fall on the floor, my stomach muscles hurt, I can barely breathe laughing. There were no schedules or plans or stressing. We were water and we just went with the flow.This group... It's just so hard to explain. I don't know how I got so lucky. I haven't had a group like this since I left my hometown of Missouri over 15 years ago. We are just easy. These are some of the most loving, kind, fun, sensitive, fun girls in the whole wide world. I wish you could come hang out with them and you would understand. I don't do autism support groups. Years ago I tried a couple and they just sucked. They were awful and negative and felt like a bunch of people sitting around arguing about whose child was more autistic and whose life was worse. I left feeling worse. I realized that all I really needed was a way to get out the grief. I have two friends that know developmental delays first hand- they get me when I am sad or scared or angry. Over the weekend I realized- THIS, yes THIS is my support group. 

Our Monday through Friday is corseted into tight time frames and sometimes I simply must stretch. This trip was just what we all needed.

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There were moments that were sacred. Moments punctuated by tears. Moments we hugged and cheers'ed and prayed. It was everything. There was so much gorgeous intimacy and honesty and all the things that nourish me. I fell in love with every last one of my friends over and over again.

And I can't explain just how different going away for a night is versus simply going out for the evening. It's like the Eiffel tower in Las Vegas versus the one in France. It just can't be compared.

When you are gone- you get to remember every part of you. Little girl you, complete with slumber parties, candy and snacks, staying up too late and giggling under the covers.

And teenager you, talking, figuring out what life really means and realizing what's most important. What makes up your DNA.

College you, singling to music, having one too many and adhering to only the beat of your very own drum, walking along with the people you love- together making your very own band.

Until it all just clashes into the present. Who you are NOW. And you remember ALL the things that make up you. And moming is my favorite and most important gig, but I'm not just Mom. I am also Chrissy. And it's so easy to forget that the fun, go with the flow girl of the past is still alive in the present, vibrant and strong. Always.

We were only gone for a total of 36 hours. That's 36 hours of FREE THERAPY. And at my mental health copay of $40- I actually SAVED $1,440 by going on this trip. If you are like me, you can come up with a million excuses not go outside of your comfort zone. ESPECIALLY to not go away overnight. We tend to put everyone else first. I tend to want to say, "No I can't"- as my first answer.

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#wemissedyouheather


When sometimes we truly must say YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. To friendship, to taking care of ourselves and to life.

And the greatest part of the weekend? The rejuvenated Mom and wifey that came home. In fact, I didn't even yell when this happened. 


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All I could do was laugh.


So Much Love,

Chrissy

Thursday, July 16, 2015

smitten by summer

We are deep in the throes of Summer. Incredibly smitten with our favorite season and grateful it comes around every year and stays awhile. Before we blink twice I know it will be over so we are doing our very best to soak it all up.

Both boys have three hours of Behavior Therapy each day and an hour of Speech Therapy each week. We've been spending lots of time in our pool.

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Or asking to go in the pool.

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We've burned through a few zillion pieces of side walk chalk.

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Grey is OBSESSED. He draws the same five or six things over and over again.

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And I am obsessed with his drawings. It takes me asking a million times for him to tell me what each drawing is. This here is a monkey. Cutest one I've ever seen.


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He hasn't answered me on this one yet.


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And this is an air plane.

His drawings scatter and fill the entire walkway in our back yard. And when he fills it all up, we rinse it down and he starts over again. And this has been our Summer. Not crazy and exciting. Not dreadful or horrible Wonderful and somewhere in the middle. Like most of life.

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Look what happened while I was talking to my friend Wendy for seven minutes today. The funny thing is- I was three feet from him and I didn't even notice. He loved the mud so much I let him just totally go for it.

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By the time he was done, I didn't even recognize him. Friends, meet facial hair, Man-Doodle.

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Thankfully the hose and the pool brought back my cute little boy.

Yesterday the boys and I were at Bath and Body Works with a friend. The nice woman that worked there kept asking us if we would like to try their new anti-bacterial gels.

"Would you like a sample of our Honey Dew Cooler anti-bacterial gel?"

"No thank you", I would reply- then dash to the front or the back of the store.

You see- Greyson wanted to leave the store because the smells overwhelm him- so he kept running to the front. Parker loves to go behind cash registers in the back. He also loves to pick up anything remotely breakable.

"How about the Pink Grapefruit pop?" She would ask- popping out from thin air.

"No thank you", I would respond before darting off.

"The Coconut Colada smells terrific! Would you want to try that one?"

No. No thank you. (AGAIN. ummm- I'm good with my bacteria ridden hands! Thanks!)

I spy Parker in the back of the store grabbing a large glass candle and I'm off to stop the tragedy before it happens. I grab the item from his hands and throw him over my shoulder before he can freak out. I see Greyson by the front door so I start to run towards him so he doesn't leave. In slow motion I see the woman animatedly talking to Greyson as she is referring to the (SURPRISE) antibacterial gel in her hand. I hear her finishing.

"...so, would you like to try some?" She asks with a huge smile, holding the gel out towards Grey.

Greyson responds with a No. Not a regular no- a Greyson no. VERY DIFFERENT.  It sounds like this.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

It's the same way I would respond if I saw someone in significant danger- like-about to run in front of a moving bus. It's so loud it STILL scares me- and I hear it about one hundred times a day. It's so loud that traffic stops and the music stops playing and people everywhere within miles jerk their head so fast to look that they get whip lash.

The ladies eye's grow wide, her smile slowly falling off her face. "Oh my." She says in surprise. "Is somebody having a bad day?" She asks recovering her smile.

You guys- I couldn't stop laughing. And laughing. I am still laughing about it today. Greyson just gave his natural response. A response I kind of felt like giving after the third request to try the damn hand gel. Being an adult means feeling like you always have to do and say the right thing though. Sometimes it's exhausting.

Sometimes we are so focused on being polite or saying the right thing that we swallow how we really feel. We say the right thing- but it isn't honest or genuine. It isn't our truth. And we often do this a million tiny little ways each day. And here's the thing- the more we say the fake right thing, the more we don't even know what we feel in the first place. We start to lose the ability to know how we really, really feel about things. I've met people like this and they just feel like robots- conditioned after years of saying the fake right thing. We slowly injure our real truths and hearts and feelings and opinions. We mask our truth with politeness and social acceptance. And then we either turn into a blob of exactly the same as every other person doing the exact same thing we are doing- or we get pissed at others and ourselves because we don't feel like we can be who we really are inside.

I am drawn to people who tell the truth. People who express their honest opinions. People who can say, I agree. I don't agree. You hurt my feelings. I don't think that's the best idea. That shirt isn't flattering. You have spinach in your teeth. People who are polite AND honest. The two are not mutually exclusive. Why are we so scared of honest? Are we afraid that people won't like us? I have to work on telling my truth. When I don't it builds up until I explode. It's something I am working on in my marriage too. Our counselor said I need to express when I am mad - IN THE MOMENT. Not a week later when seven other things pissed me off until I finally just blow up.

We are all chalk works of art in progress.

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I prayed to God for it soon after we moved to the Central Valley of California five years ago.  Please God- bring me friends. Even just one friend who is fun and kind and honest and has a similar mothering style. Someone who shows up when I need them. Someone who lets me show up for them too. Someone who is available and who doesn't flake and texts back. Someone who makes friendship a priority. Someone I can be strong with and weak with. Someone I can laugh and cry with. Is that too much to ask, God? And it took a long, long time. And a few friends I thought were friends but just weren't. 

And I am SO excited because this weekend I'm going away for an overnight trip with friends of my very own. It took moving to a new town and starting all over for me to realize just how important friendship is to me. I can't imagine this Moming gig without it. I'm really nervous to leave the boys- but like I mentioned in my last post- sometimes living deliberately means being inconvenienced or scared. 

I can't wait to spend time with you, Annie, Andrea, Lisa and Wynema!