Saturday, January 25, 2014

What isn't missing

It's a running joke in our family that we have only boys. I have four amazing sons, and six nephews (soon to be seven). I have been shopping with my sister as we slowly pass the baby girl section with longing and wistful looks at the christmas dresses with tulle and ribbons, and we have to skip the aisles of rows and rows of barbies with golden, brushable hair smiling from their shiny boxes. We say "Oh we would have LOVED this as a kid..." Currently, I know all about Bey Blades, and species of dinosaurs, and Skylanders Swap Force.
     One day a couple years ago, Elliott (now almost 7) had his first play date. It was this sweet little girl named Ava from his preschool class. I was more excited than he was as I pulled out a rubbermaid tub of my little ponies, and my precious shoe box of sea wees. See here if you are not a child of the 80s.
This adorable, pig tailed girl showed up, and I left them with peanut butter sandwiches at the counter while I went to dig out more vintage treasures. I came back out to Elliott and Ava "eating" my sea wees with Elliott's dinosaur collection. My face fell, and I went back to reminiscing over my sticker books...
Everyone says "Girls are drama, you're lucky", at least you didn't have to buy all new things, etc. etc. It doesn't help. I LOVE being a "boy mom", it makes you tough (like when you step on legos), you get to be a cheerleader at sports, my teenager plays guitar and plays chess like a boss, and except for the roughhousing and fights, they are mostly sweet, especially when my little Sawyer who is 5 still comes up and says "Mommy, you are so beautiful". And I know they will be fierce protectors of Chandler. I already miss the days when Luke used to catch frogs in the field behind my mom and dads house fourteen years ago. I see my 2 year old nephew Jake drive a "bus" (monster truck) across the floor, spitting as he makes truck noises and it reminds me that I won't see that anymore. My babies are boys now. (Elliott was climbing the rock wall at the Y for Cub Scouts today!) But every once in a while I get little glimpses of what I missed by having only boys. Today I took my boyfriends daughter dress shopping for a formal. She is in a fashion show at school for children with special needs and their mainstream peers. What a cool concept. Kids that might not get the chance at a "grand march" and parents that feel that pain of looking at prom season in the stores knowing that their child won't be going. It hurts. It's the cycle of grief that never stops. Reminders of our children's differences. The kids that take part in this, that want to increase social inclusion are amazing. I am glad to see the future leaders and the inspiring teens that do this.
     Walking into the dress store, she piled her arms full of dresses. Lace, sequins, ruffles, beads, flowers....I played with my phone, and sat on the floor drinking coffee. I began to look around. Thinking back to school days, and prom. Dress fittings for my sisters wedding. I watched mom and daughter pairs come in the door, one after another. The girls came in and out of the curtained rooms draped in layers of soft, shiny fabric. I suddenly wanted to play dress up. One after the next was tried on, and Sam and I laughed about some "NOT even an option, Nicole, I hate these ruffles", contemplated some, admired some, and finally decided on this beautiful black and sparkly one with a corset back. Stunning. She looked so pretty and we agreed this was "THE dress". I was blinking back tears thinking about what I get to do now. I may have missed out on my own daughter, but this is a close second. Sometimes we are too focused on what we don't have. What is missing. There are daily reminders in my life that nothing is missing. Things are as they should be.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Making sense

There was this young woman driving erradically. She cut a few people off. Sunglasses on, iphone in her hand, she was reaching behind her repeatedly. Her kids were bouncing up and down in the car, misbehaving. Her car was filthy and she was drinking Starbucks. She slammed on her brakes at the stoplight almost missing the red light, and the old woman next to her shook her head in disgust. The young woman lowered her sunglasses and the old woman could she had been crying. Her eyes were puffy, tears were making mascara run streaming rivers down her cheeks. The old woman stopped shaking her head. This young woman, she hadn't time to think about washing her car this week. The coffee was dinner. Her son with autism was the one constantly bouncing and he was whining hearing his mom cry. She was repeatedly reaching for his hand. On the phone was her sister and they were discussing their mothers options. Her mother doesn't have much time left. The past few months have been a constant strain on her siblings. She wants to fix it. There isn't any fixing it. That young woman was me. Just a couple days ago.

Some things I just can't make sense of. As human beings we have this need to control the things that are happening around us. When we can't it is frustrating, and hard to understand. I don't have any tears left. I can't make a lot of sense of anything right now. I watched something amazing yesterday. I took the boys to see my mom in the hospital. Chandler is terrified of all that is medical. Lab coats, scrubs, medical equipment..sends him into a panic. We pulled into the parking lot of the hospital.  He used to go to speech at this hospital on the bottom floor, when we got there I told him he could stay in the car with Sam. He began to cry this sad, tearful cry I don't often see, so I told him "Chandler, you can come. But it isn't speech. We are here to see grandma, and she is sick." He took my hand. On the the third floor, he began to whine, and as we got closer to her room it began a full out anxious cry. I didn't have the energy to fight, and I wasn't annoyed. I simply said "If you want to stay in the hall, you can. Mom is going in. Grandma is in this room. You can stay here by the wall. It's okay." And he froze. Then he did something incredible. He clenched his fists, and he put his head down. He did a very deliberate run/walk into her room. A quick scan told him she was indeed in here, and he plopped down in the chair. She smiled at said "Chandler! I'm so proud of you!" And so was I. Proud of him. Proud of her for seeing the things in him that I do. Wondering what he understands.

I went back alone to the hospital today. I talked with the doctor and found out I do have more tears. I sat with her for a long time. She can't say much because of the pneumonia. In a few days when she is back at the nursing home I will be able to understand her better. She wants to go home. Even for the day so she can see her house, her things, her bird feeders that sit outside the window and attract hundreds of birds even in winter. She asked me today if my brother Justin could put a bird feeder outside her window at the nursing home. I told her I would ask. It made me think she probably wouldn't see another summer. Do not wait for the things you want to do. Don't wait another second for the things you want to tell people. Don't say "I'll go tomorrow. I'll call next week." Do it now. And don't judge other people based on what you think you see. Be good people, pay it forward. A few months ago I was annoyed when I saw my mom was calling me again for the fourth time in one day. God what I would give to have more time. Make every day count.