I love to watch children in their natural element, figuring out the world. Wonder, curiosity, awe, exploration. There are no rules. There is no hurry. Getting dirty is good. A little dangerous is just fine too. Sometimes they try new things and make mistakes. Sometimes we stay out of it, and sometimes we step in and gently correct or guide.
You are doing it wrong, stupid. Are you kidding me?! What are you doing?! You are such an idiot. Can't you do anything right? You are an embarrassment to failure. Everyone else is doing it perfectly, why can't you?
Is that what we say? Is that how we guide them? Of course not. We don't talk to children that way. Wouldn't dream of it. Why would we expect them to know how to do something that they have never done before? And do it perfectly? So if we don't expect that from our children, than why do we expect it from ourselves? Why do we talk to ourselves that way and expect it to help us do good?
Which makes me wonder...When did our best become not good enough? Was there a moment of time? An age? The application of life? When does that mean voice inside take up residence?
When did it become not okay to learn and explore and mess up and be messy and imperfect? When did getting dirty become a bad thing? When did we stop sacrificing a little fear while recklessly trying something new and exciting and joyous- and instead, exchanging it for controlled and safe?
I always have a picture of me as a little girl nearby. Sometimes I look to look at the picture. I look into her face and into her eyes. It's so much harder to be mean to her. She is sweet, brand new, unjaded. Trying her best. I speak kindly to her. She reminds me to speak kindly to the grown up her too.
I found a notebook I kept for a few weeks when Greyson was a couple of months old. I wrote about my feelings of Motherhood and details about our day to day Life. For the love of Pete, it was unbearable to read. I want to go back in time and grab the girl writing and dramatically give her a soap opera slap her across the face. For the love of God, get yourself together girl! Stop trying so hard to control everything. Stop thinking everything is so finite. I was so worried about so many of my choices. Unglued. I doubted everything I did. I am holding him too much! He won't have any self soothing skills. But I want to hold him when he cries. Should I vaccinate? Should I not? He's not on a schedule. When do they go on a schedule?What am I doing wrong? He's sleeping in my bed. My heart says that's okay but all the books say it's dangerous.
I thought a book could tell me the right way to Mom or nurse or be. I desperately wanted to do the right thing for this amazing, sweet smelling perfect boy who wrecked me with love with every sneeze or stretch. I loved him so completely. I was so afraid of making a blunder. Afraid that one mistake would ruin him for Life. The more chaotic I felt- the more I tried to hang on with white knuckles, aching hands and clenched jaw.
I found this piece of paper folded up in the notebook. This is straight out of something from the movie A Beautiful Mind. I didn't do any of this stuff for Parker and he survived. I enjoyed his babyhood that much more because I was so much more relaxed. I made this chart before I went back to work so I could get an idea of Grey's schedule so I could tell his caregiver every single fricking detail. Thank goodness I didn't keep a poop chart with color, smell, consistency and frequency. DON'T PUT IT PAST ME!!! Everything was such a big deal. How much he ate, how much I pumped, when I pumped, how much he slept. I kept track of that stuff. And it pained me if something was off. And I desperately tried to control his perfect Universe but it just didn't work. We can't live in a big bubble of perfect and control. Oh, Friend, I know, I know, I know...I've tried. And even if you control the climate in your perfect little world, the outside world still leaks in. I had no control over autism- it busted right in and burst my sweet little naive bubble and rocked my perfect little world with my perfect little problems that weren't even problems in the first place.
I never thought it would happen to me.
Everything I thought I knew was shattered all over my world. I lost all confidence. All feelings of control. I wanted to die. My heart constantly ached. I didn't know the big glaring truth that was right in front of my eyes for so long. Was he born with this? Did it happen in the midst of a single day? Did it happen slowly? What else didn't I know? What else wasn't real? Would my life now be one big giant burden of struggle and bitter and fear and therapy? Would my heart ever stop painfully aching with each breath in? Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop. Someone, make it stop. Make the thinking stop. Make the feeling stop. Would I ever get lost in a moment, enjoy a run and laugh until my stomach hurt again? I'm so relieved that Life is good again. As far as this Mom thing is concerned, I feel like (kind of, sometimes) I know what I'm doing.
And now I try to work harder to let go, than I work to control. It's hard work, and I'm going against years of working to control, but it's important and it's worth it. Most difficult things are. But I can do this. I was born to do this.
I always thought the skills preceded the title. You go to Medical school and do your Residency and you become a Doctor. Sure, there's going to be a steep curve of learning at first- but you already know some of what you can expect. You go to law school, and after you pass the bar exam, you become a Lawyer.
There is no bar for Parenthood. Most of us probably wouldn't have passed the first go round.
Before I got pregnant I bought What to Expect When You're Expecting and read it from cover to cover. I like reading before doing. Information and knowledge have always kept me calm, confident and best of all, prepared. I saw pregnant people walking all over the place. Clearly it couldn't be that hard because everyone was doing it. It was about as natural as you can get. I took Lamaze and breastfeeding courses. I watched youtube tutorials on birthing and swaddling. I had this covered.
And then he came into my World and rocked it beyond description.
His perfection was undeniable. My love was all consuming. I was bound to screw this up.
The book wasn't enough, Friend. I had to actually do Moming to really become one. The best parts- the hardest parts- the most important parts of real life can not be learned in a book. They must be learned by doing. Doing and failing and doing again.
And with doing something new, comes imperfection. And some not knowing what the hell you are doing...
This week Frank got a City of Fresno, Employee Achievement Award from the Disability Advisory Commission.
We are proud of our Friend Frank.
I love this picture Grey's Teacher took. The crowd was too much for him, so he stood on the outside looking in. Always.
But I never ever imagined a life where it was my child who was referred to as disabled. I don't know how to do that, to be that and to hear that. It is a little painful. And I thought of all the Parents of children before me that also have children labeled as disabled. I didn't think of them before I was in this stupid club that none of us asked to join. If I had thought of them, I would have assumed once you are the parent of a child that is "disabled" you immediately knew what to do, how to feel about it and how to think about it. But I feel a little lost. And I don't think a book is going to help me with this one.
And when looking over the pictures from the day I said to Michael, I know he's got a neurological disorder that makes Life really fricking hard for him, but I just don't think of our boys as disabled. And then I started to cry, a mixture of sad and angry salty tears.
I know, me neither, Michael earnestly said with compassion in his eyes, but they just lump them in under one broad term- disabled - you know for people in wheel chairs and stuff...and then I started to cry harder, I don't think of people in wheel chairs as disabled either. I just think of them as people. And I hate- differently abled or exceptionally abled and any other band aid terms that try to fancy that stupid term up. "Disabled" is comprised of such different people with such extraordinary stories. People who are simply people. People who intimately know hard work and adversity. People who often make a difference in the World in beautiful and humbling ways. People who remind us to cherish what we've got. What if that was your term, disabled? What if it was supposed to describe you? I don't think any one of us should be condensed down into one word. A word not at all empowering.
Playing outside of Fresno City Council Chambers Building. He looks pretty darn able to me.
Yep, I'm gonna stick with Super Powers. Because by golly, if you've ever known just one of these humans- it can change your Life. Often times their heart and outlook and perseverance makes them some of the most able people I've actually ever met.
Have a wonderful weekend.
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