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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thankful for the Important Things

I know it's been awhile since I've updated. It's been hard to stay on top of the basic requirements of daily life these days. Extra stuff like blog posts get shoved to the bottom of my mental to do list. Work is busy for me, and this is good thing with all the expenses and new purchases that have come with our new home and five acres. We planted four new trees in the past two weekends. It's taken two weekends to get them in the ground as we had to slam through two to three feet of near solid rock with a pick ax to get the things in the ground. Hopefully it will be worth it in the upcoming summer when the trees should begin producing just enough shade to give hope for the following summers. Dear Husband and I have made the informal goal of planting four largish trees every year from now until we feel "wooded" enough.

It's gotten very difficult for me to manage the portion of my "career-by-a-thread" that requires me to manage all my own administrative duties, and to do it from home with a four-year-old and almost-23-month-old under foot. They are both quite demanding of my every second of time and have an uncanny way of getting themselves worked up into some form of crisis whenever I have to be on the phone with a client or case worker or insurance company for more than thirty seconds. Trying to stay on top of Daughter's homeschooling on top of the rest has gotten difficult. Many days I feel like a failure in every arena. If I put work aside for Daughter's school, the stress builds up and the work piles up and I can't get back on top of things. If I put Daughter's school aside for work, I feel neglectful, despite the fact that she is barely four and not even required to be enrolled in school yet. She likes school and thrives on the intellectual stimulation. She can write the entire alphabet, capitals and lowercase, and numbers through 50. She can count to 50 (obviously, if she can write to 50) and read simple stories of primarily three-letter words. She is beginning simple addition, and she loves the nature and plant science units we've been doing. We are also studying dinosaurs and space (planets, stars, the moon) and ocean science because she is fascinated by them all. Her vocabulary continues to explode and she typically spouts interesting facts at random. Today she informed her Sunday School class that the human body is made up of primarily water. At least I know she didn't get this from SpongeBob as we were talking about it just the other day. As we left Church this morning, she announced that she was "in the mood to do something more exhilarating," and a week ago she woke up one morning and immediately began telling me all about how she's had trouble falling asleep the night before and had to "banish" the dreams from her head in order to sleep. I interrupted her to inquire if she knew what "banish" means, to which she appeared a wee bit annoyed (she doesn't like to be interrupted) as she matter-of-factly stated that "banish" means "to get rid of" which she informed me in a tone of voice that echoed the sentiment, "don't you know ANYTHING?" before she returned to the story she was originally trying to tell me. I'm not sure that "banish" is a word even I would use in casual conversation, but leave it to my precocious daughter to weave it into her everyday preschool jabbering.

Son is going through a thing where his daddy, The Chosen One, is even more preferred and chosen than before. Last weekend when both Husband and I got up with him on Saturday morning, Son snuggled up to his daddy on the couch and ordered me to go back to bed. This is the thanks I get for packing on 50 pregnancy pounds with him and ultimately developing a thyroid condition that makes it hard not stay fat, being unable to sleep for more than three hours at a time for nearly a year throughout the pregnancy and first few months of his life, going through several hours of labor that made me wish to die before ultimately having to repeat the process of having my abdomen sliced and pried open to pull his nine pound body through, and then enduring seven months of breastfeeding that was not just about being the only one who could get up all night to feed him, but was also akin to nursing a high-powered shop vac. That kid had some wicked suction and liked to do his thing in 10 minutes flat from day one. I only gave up at the point that I developed a clogged milk duct and the standard advice to continue nursing through it lead to pain and bleeding that once again made me wish to die. There's also the daily intensity he puts me though while his daddy is blissfully at work and unaware, which could be soothed a bit by being "chosen" even every once in awhile. Husband reminds me every so often that Daughter stuck to me tighter than Velcro for the first two and half years of her life. I often longed for the break I never got with her. You'd think I'd just enjoy the "break" now. Yet the rejection of my own child is painful. On the flip side, Daddy, being the "Chosen One," gets to be the one that soothes Son back to sleep lately as he is going through some sort of thing where he is waking up nightly again in the wee hours.

Dear Son has also reminded me of my status as an "Old Mom" when I was enjoying a nice snuggle time with him a couple mornings ago (his daddy was at work--that's when I get the snuggles by "default"). He was studying my eyes and then pointed his little finger at the side of my right eye and stated, "Mommy...eye...tracked!" "Tracked" means "cracked." All his hard "k" sounds come out like "t" sounds right now. I was a bit puzzled at first until I realized he was calling the wrinkles around my eyes "cracks." And so I am not only a rejected mommy, I am an OLD rejected mommy with wrinkles as deep as cracks in my face.

I have to finish, though, with the perspective I gained at the end of the week when I was invited to participate in a fund raising event for a child in our community who recently died of an untreatable brain tumor. She died last month, less than three weeks after her third birthday. I read her entire web journal, written by her mommy, describing the trials they went through beginning with the clues that something was wrong when the child was 16 months of age and began having tremors and oddities with her gait. From this point until several weeks before her death they went through countless blood tests and transfusions, MRI's, different types of chemo, at least two brain surgeries, and routine trips hours away to receive care at St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and watched their daughter suffer unbearable physical pain and more hell on earth than anyone, let alone a child, deserves to go through, only to ultimately be told that the tumor was continuing to grow despite it all and that there was nothing more that could be tried. She was given weeks left to live. And then they watched her die. I weeped as I read, and as my own children's faces passed through my mind. I weeped when I held my baby boy the next day when he wanted me to snuggle him to sleep in my arms. As I felt his little body relax and slip into slumber, I tired to imagine what it would be like to hold my child this way, knowing he would die, and I couldn't. I tried to imagine what it would be like to bury a child and to continue living in the emptiness and quietness of the home we had shared (she was this couple's only child). The pain of the mere attempts to imagine it overwhelmed me, and I wept some more. I lingered a little longer that day with my dear son asleep in my arms, and when I finally laid him in his crib to finish his nap, I lingered awhile and looked at his precious little body sleeping peacefully. I then rushed to my daughter and held her as I cried some more. I was unable to explain to her what I was crying about. The best I can do in response to the impact of this family's story on my life is to hug my children tighter and tell them every day how thankful I am to have them in my life. This is something I did regularly even before, but now the intensity and urgency of it is greater. Simply having them in my life to kiss and hug and laugh and play with makes all the rest not nearly so significant. And it puts a spirit of thankfulness in my heart that is quite appropriate for the season.


Student of Life said...

(exhaling very deeply, trying to read the screen through a thick fog over my eyes...)

I can't even begin to imagine that kind of grief. I don't know how I would go on living.

millcreek said...

Those emotions, all of them, define motherhood.

**operation mom**
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Tracy said...

That's the way I've felt since reading Racheal's about the loss of her daughter Hannah over the summer due to a drowning accident. I've gone to her blog every day since she passed and I think of both Racheal and Hannah every day. It's helped me to realize that every day could be my last with my precious babies and I should look at it as a gift instead of a headache.
Could you put the link to that blog that you mentioned? I would like to read about the child that you described. Thanks for the cry. I think I needed it today.

MGM said...

Here is the link to her journal:

I read Racheal's blog that you referenced and was horrified about her experience of losing her daughter. Talk about perspective!

Tracy said...

Thanks for posting the address. You're right about Racheals blog. I can't imagine going on a vacation with your family and coming back without one. She has really been through something. And it sounds like the parents from this one have too. So sad.