Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jalen and the pool and on solid ground....

Deep breath. Okay, I... we made it. I am blogging from California right now where I haven't visited since I was 15. And that time it was a redwood forest in Northern Cali, not the Junipers, and flowering plants all over the desert landscape, its beautiful here. The campus is large and airy with a great room that has a huge selection of movies, a giant coffee maker, and even a wii for the boys to play when they wish. It's like a big house with lots of rooms, just that I have put away our weekly groceries, Chandler is breathing in and out in a deep sleep next to me in bed.
Rewind to last night....I didn't want to make today a bigger production that I knew it would be, so we drove to Minneapolis and stayed in Chandler's favorite hotel. He was in heaven jumping around the zebra fountain and piling up bubbles in the hot tub. Three times I had to dive into the cold water when I thought he was getting too deep, but then an amazing thing happened. As I jumped in the third time I could see he was treading water. Really treading water and holding his head all the way above the surface. He was making a frantic noise but he KNEW this time. Don't let your face go down! He grabbed my wrist and hugged me tightly but he was smiling. Smart boy. You're just practicing! Enough with the anxiety so I pulled him over to the hottub. He sat by me, again piling up the bubbles, and I could see a little boy about four watching him with these dark curls and huge eyes. He turned his head to the side and said "Why doesn't he talk?" I explained to him the best I could about autism, but at four they have a different understanding. He nodded and said "So he doesn't say I love you?" My eyes filled with tears, but I still smiled because this boy was so adorable. "He does sometimes," I said. I got Chandler to say hi to him and he promptly sat down in front of him like a little instructor, "Chandler?, he inquired seriously, "Can you say nose?" and Chandler began to softly copy a few commands before wandering off to the splash pool. "My name is Jalen, " he said "and I can do my name in letters too!", and he drew them in mid air. He was so very interested in Chandler and why he was the way he was. Moments like this make life brighter.
After some very tearful good byes, getting on the plane was suspiciously easy, even security. New TSA rules allow small children to keep their shoes on, but Chandler chose to take his off. We sat on the floor and ate pop tarts and chips. He peered down the tunnel to the airplane door with a scrunched up face. Luke and I pushed him along, and he began to get upset as I buckled the seatbelt. He calmed to almost "normal" and watched several planes pull away from their gates. He smiled and relaxed. Sigh. Then OUR plane taxied down the runway...his eyes got huge when we started the ascent, and it was like he was asking me why the ground was getting so far away, and he did NOT like it one bit. After a few minutes of tears and some terribly constant stimming, and refusing to even look at the headphones I tried to give him, or the games I had on the IPAD, he put his sweaty little head with flushed cheeks down on my shoulder and fell asleep. He woke up long enough to push away the complimentary soda. Once he realized he could pull the window shade down, he did, and when I heard the captain announce we were over the mountains, the grand canyon, and other landmark beauties, I tried to open it enough to steal a glance. "NO! he yelled, and slammed it down. I almost giggled, but I said "Okay, Chandler, okay." Once we landed in San Diego, he cried, less furiously this time, and then galloped out of the tunnel to solid ground.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Everyone has a way they respond when they are trying not to cry. I don't mean the kind of crying that happens when you watch Steel Magnolias or a hallmark commercial at christmas either. I mean the kind of crying when your body heaves with sobs and you lay down on your bed and bury your face in downy scented pillowcases. You know that hot feeling that creeps up around your eyes? I try rapidly blinking, then I try opening my eyes up very wide and puffing out my cheeks as if that will help. Then I scrunch up my nose just before the tears break the levy of my lower lids and pour down my face. I breathe deeply so the shudders won't turn into sobs. This has happened too many times this week.
A dear friend told me these are happy tears, that our lives will change dramatically soon. In 8 days, Chandler I will be leaving on a plane (Now John Denver is playing in my head, sorry if it is in yours too) to meet his new best friend. Oh, Chandler, you have needed this for so long. A friend to be by your side when no one else knows how. Maybe we will all sleep a bit better, breathe a bit easier. Maybe my heart wont break every time I see a child turn away from you at the park. The potential here is enormous, but after the happy rush fades, it gives way to fear. A deep, dark terror that refuses to relinquish its grip on me. I want to do this, I need to do this. But I am having flashbacks of my flight home from the autism conference. Will the engine noise send you into a tailspin? Will we get through security? After we get to California, will I get you back on the return flight? Can I do this alone? Most of my life I have had someone by my side, and I followed. Now I need to do this without help, without reassurance. Again, I am jumping into the deep end of the pool hoping I come up for air at least a few times. God help me, I am gonna do this. And everytime fear comes back I will look at your face and know that you would tell me "Mom, I need a friend. I need you. We can do this."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Against the wind....

I was thinking about blogging this morning. If I had, my mood would have been thoughtful, calm, and serene. I was walking down the corridor at Meritcare with a birthday gift for my mother, a birdfeeder, under my arm. She has MS and cannot attend to hobbies as she would like. I am not speaking to my father right now which makes me sad. I want to move away yet I want to visit my mother at the same time.
I am now at the computer in a dirty transformers t-shirt, shaking, with tears streaming down my face. Chandler is mid meltdown. I am creeping closer to my own. In psychology they talk about correlation not causation. Is his meltdown my fault, or mine his? Maybe a bit of both. I am never sure how personal to get in blogs. But they aren't just stories, they are therapy. I need this, so again, holding breath, jumping in....
I don't why Chandler has had a tough week. The weather is screwed up, our household is screwed up. I am mid divorce, and everything came down like a domino effect. I made some choices, he made some choices. Mostly poor. It's funny how when you need your friends and family the most, when you mess up, you look around and you are standing by yourself. Some make lovely excuses, some just turn dark like storms and assault you with fallout. You may not agree with my choices, but I remember times I stood by you as a friend, a sister, a daughter. It shouldn't matter. You should be able to see that I'm hurting. My decisions may not be the ones you would make, but they are mine. The worst thing you can say to me is "Think about your kids". (screaming) THATS ALL I DO. You don't see me with the piles of paperwork trying to write a new IEP, you dont see my crying and signing to Chandler over and over, and doing math for the 20th time today. You don't see me crying when I have called my children thirty times and he won't answer or let me talk to them. You say I do it for attention, but no one puts themselves through the hell I do everyday for attention. No one steps into the fire as much as I do trying to make a better life for me, for my kids. I think whats even worse is when I reach out to you, and you turn away. You will never understand how you added to this, how you let me down. You will say, "You deserved it", "I cant trust you", "You lied to me". Being there for someone involves forgiving someone, and sometimes doing it again if they screw up. I cannot BELIEVE the amount of selfishness I have encountered over the past few months.
*pause* chandler takes two seconds to come over here, sees I am crying. He climbs onto my lap and faces me. I say "Im sad", he giggles. He points at my Transformer shirt and says "Yum". Not sure what that means, but I lean into his hug and he starts counting...11...12...and tilts his head waiting for me to join in. I do and I breathe. Lucky Chandler. He will never understand grudges, or hate, or any of the social psychological games people play. I love you baby.
The wind is relentless today....I can't stand the pain anymore. Of wanting to say what I feel, but wondering if people know how short life is. I guess maybe its time to let go. If you can't love me for who I am, then don't be my friend. My family.