Tag Archives: Sometimes I’m Serious

Segue into…

I hate abrupt changes of subject. Not so much the change in topic…maybe just the tone.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all about the tangent. So that’s fine. But one minute crying about serious matters – the next minute laughing about inconsequentials? It just doesn’t feel right to me.

So before I get back to my typical blog posts about my children and my wrinkles, I wanted to create some kind of bridge between last week and this week.

I won’t be writing about my friend Anna anymore. And I feel like I have to say something about this because I did write THREE posts about her. I wasn’t planning to do that, but one was a first reaction, the next was an attempt to do something supportive and the last was basically a letter to her. Each had a different purpose, but now there is nothing left for me to do or say here.

Feel free to add a link to the “For Anna See” post at any time – it’s there for everyone. And don’t feel strange about your own sudden change of topic. I know that you still care. Because I do.

Sometimes I really hate that saying “life goes on.” But it’s true for everyone. And as much as I will be emotionally invested in this for a very long time, my blog is not the appropriate place to talk about it.

So here? Life will go on. Just like it does everywhere else. I’ll talk about silly inconsequential things. I’ll even complain about my children. And I won’t feel guilty about it because that’s just something we do. It’s okay. We all know that none of that takes away from the bigger picture.

We all love our children. And we all die a little inside when we hear about a child lost. Because it could have been ours. It still could be. It’s terrifying.

But here is what we do… We cry. We feel sad and scared. We try to help. We feel so lucky that this time it didn’t happen to us. We accept that it could in the future. And we feel very, very grateful for this one more day with our children. Because they are all so precious – days, children, days with them… We know. We appreciate that.

And then we change the subject. Because life goes on. There is a time and a place for everything. And this is no longer the time or place for grief.

I will never stop caring. But I will stop talking about it here. I’ll be silly and irreverent and I’ll even say things that sound ungrateful – because I’m not. I’m very serious about how grateful I am. For everything that I have – for this one more day. And I know that you are too.

For Anna (From "Me – Kate Hood")

It’s time for me to write something too.

Oh – I wrote about “loss” last week…and I wrote about “support” a few days ago… But I haven’t really written anything to my friend. And that’s mainly because I don’t even know where to start.

Or where to stop.

I can’t possibly tell her everything that is in my heart. It’s too much – a never ending, stream of conscious-mess:

SadAngryHopefulSorryIncredulousHorrifiedDisbelievingTerrified…

So I’ll just have to just pick one thing. And the one I keep coming back to is simply, Love.

I love Anna.

I’m serious – that’s it. That’s where the buck stops. Just Love.

And I’m not talking about some weepy, emotional, hyperbole-induced kind of love. I mean the mundane, regular jane, “my friend is so cool” kind of love. You know…like when you think about someone who has made you laugh more times than you can count and you say, “I just love ______.”

That’s it. That’s where it started and that’s where it ends.

Because as deep as friendship can be – it’s also so very simple. And that’s the lovely thing about having a friend like Anna. It’s easy.

And it’s fun. She’s really fun, you know.

I always wonder how I first found her blog because from what she tells me, she wasn’t really commenting on that many others at the time.

But one day, I did stumble across An Inch of Gray and the most recent post was about her mother. I loved it so much, I added her to my list daily reads (which at that time I could count on two hands).

This was sometime before I started my own blog in June 2008. And one of the first things I did as a new blogger was to leave a comment on Anna’s site.

I just went back to her archives to see when I did leave that first comment and I am DYING – it’s so funny:

Hello, my name is Kate. We have much in common and I would be greatly pleased if you would consider becoming my new blogging friend…” The formality is killing me. And I have NO idea how I managed to say “block” instead of “blog” since you know I read that letter of introduction at least three times before hitting publish.

And her reply comment (you know – IN comments) makes me laugh too. “Hello weird, stalkerish commenter. You seem like you might NOT get your hair cut like exactly like mine, start wearing my clothes and then try to steal my husband… Perhaps I will read your blog for a little while, and if I feel it’s unlikely that you will try to hold me hostage or ‘disappear’ me into a furnace…then I might add you to my blog roll. Thanks for the encouragement!” [Please tell me you caught the Single White Female reference in that.]

So that is how we “met.” Later we discovered that we actually live near each other, and have had the opportunity to see each other “offline” as well.

But Anna’s blog is such a big part of my friendship with her, that I always refer to her as a “blogging friend.” There is so little time in the day and we have so many responsibilities…it’s inevitable that we would only get together once every two or three months. Time literally flies. But I always know what Anna’s been up to. All I have to do is visit her blog.

And that’s how I’ve gotten to know her family. That’s why I can say that I “know” a little boy I’ve only met in person a couple of times.

Blog friendships are real. And this one means the world to me.

And she’s so damn funny. Even when she doesn’t mean to be. Two examples of this can be found on her blog, right this very minute.

Anna may be one of the only bloggers I know who has had her site for several years, but never learned how to update her sidebar. That pretty design she has? Is not new. She did that a looooong time ago, yet you will still find this on her sidebar:

That cracks me up every time I see it. But it’s also so indicative of who Anna is as a blogger. She wanted a pretty design, but she spends more time writing than updating her sidebar. She never went to the trouble to come up with a “best of” list.

She’s never cared much about branding herself or monetizing her site. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those priorities – they’re just not hers. She loves writing. She loves telling stories about her family. And she loves making connections with other people and hearing their stories.

And she has always prioritized her readers, even when there were just a few of them (including her sister and some college friends). I remember her telling me that she was concerned that people had a hard time figuring out how to subscribe since the button was all the way at the bottom of her web page. So for a while, she included this helpful note at the end of each post:

I spotted that when I was looking for my first comment and it made me L.O.L.
I love that Anna makes me laugh even when she’s not trying.

She laughs at herself too – and at me. And she encourages me to take myself a little less seriously. This is an area where I need as much help as I can get.

A couple of days ago, I sent her a text asking when I could call her – since I didn’t want to intrude on her time with her family – and I ended with “Love you!

Now, I should mention that I’m not much of a texter and I had to add her number to my iphone contacts before I could send the text. And shortly after I did, I worried that she might not have my number in her contacts either. And if that was the case – she would have this random text from an unknown phone number asking for a good time to call and declaring “LOVE YOU!

That could be awkward.

So I thought I’d better clarify things and texted “Oh! And it’s me – Kate Hood.

I guess I was in her contacts because she responded “I know who you are!

I don’t know if I actually made her laugh. But I’m pretty sure that she was laughing at me in spirit.

It makes me sad to think that Anna isn’t laughing very much right now. If at all.

I wish I could make her laugh and forget for a little while. But that would be impossible.

I wish I could have written something beautiful about the service I attended – like her friend Glennon did. But I couldn’t even begin to capture it.

I wish I had some expertise in grief management. But I’m at a loss – I have no idea what would constitute a “right thing to say.”

I wish I could make it not have happened. But we’ve already been over that…

I wish I could make any kind of difference at all. But all I have are words. And meager jokes at that.

I have so little to offer my friend – when I want to give her everything…

So I’ll just have to come back to the same place I always do. I love Anna. It could never be enough. But guess it’s something. Something I do have to give.

Lucky

I tend to think of myself as a very lucky person.

I didn’t see things that way for a long time, but at almost 40 years old, it’s become very clear to me that I lead a rather charmed life.

Things always work out. No matter how bad something may seem at the time, it always offers that promised silver lining. And I’m always handed the opportunity for hope.

Every bad day (or let’s be honest, every bad week or even month…um, year – life can be hard sometimes) is followed by one that takes my breath away with its beauty and potential. Like someone’s saying, “see – I told you to stick around…and now don’t you appreciate it even more?

So yeah – I get it now. If we don’t have any bad days, we won’t truly appreciate the good ones. While it doesn’t make that awful feeling of despair or depression feel any better, I always have that window out. I know something better is coming my way, and I just have to have faith in that. To focus on hope.

I spend a lot of time hoping. I think all parents do.

I remember being younger and hearing people say things like, “the most important thing is that you have your health.” It’s only as I get older that I’m finally starting to understand this. To not see it as a trite string of words that miss the point (duh – that’s obvious – doesn’t make me feel any better). But really – it is the bottom line.

This is why I’m so lucky. Because everyone I love is healthy. Or at least getting through whatever health issue they face. And I think that counts.

My mother has had three different kinds of cancer over the past fourteen years. She was in remission for nine and then had to do it all over again – twice – in the past three years. That’s a lot of fighting – and many would have given up. But she didn’t. And she works, and has friends and looks for the good in every day. She enjoys her life and is thankful for it. For her health. And I am so lucky for all of that.

My oldest son is one of the healthiest people I know – despite his refusal to eat anything but variations of cheese on bread. He also has developmental delays. And as he gets older and continues to have them, I get scared. I worry about the future. I do everything I can to try to help. I throw all the money that I have (and don’t have) at therapies that aren’t covered by insurance or offered through our school system. I spend almost every day actively refusing to do anything but hope. And the fact that I am even offered that luxury makes me very lucky.

I have numerous other people in my life who are going through all kinds of physical and emotional challenges. They range from minor to severe – life threatening to soul crushing. And I see them all fighting. Getting through it. Finding their own silver linings. They inspire me to keep hoping. They remind me of how lucky I am to know them. My lucky pennies.

Last week I noticed a strange lump on the back of Eleanor’s knee. It’s huge and it scared the hell out of me. I took her to the doctor and was given an order for an ultrasound and an x-ray. When I found I couldn’t get an appointment until the following week, I was assured by the doctor that it wouldn’t matter. A week wouldn’t make a difference.

I asked questions about whether I should be worried. And was told that it was probably just a benign tumor. But of course no one can tell me what it is with absolute certainty. Instead of focusing on the scary possibilities, I chose to assume it’s fine. To make plans for how we’ll prepare her for the idea of surgery (because benign or not, it will have to come out).

The past week has flown by. I’ve kept myself distracted and only allowed the “it’s nothing” thoughts any air time. And I really do believe that this will be okay. I have hope. I may be scared, but not enough to get in the way of hope. And I know how lucky I am to be able to say that.

When people tell me that I have my hands full (usually when they see me stuffing all three of my wild children into a shopping cart and handing them doughnuts to prevent any escape attempts) I often make the joke that I have a special needs child, an “explosive” child and a girl. This is true. They are a handful. They are not easy and they drive me absolutely crazy sometimes. But god, am I lucky to have them.

Right now – this very minute – I can say that I have three healthy children. I believe in my heart that they will be okay. I can have all the hope I want.

I’m so lucky…

UPDATE: It looks like Eleanor just has a bakers cyst. I’m not sure if it will have to be removed or if it will eventually go away on its own – but I’m SO relieved…

Hell Hath No Fury…

…like a woman watching her special needs son have a nervous breakdown in his adapted aquatics swim lesson because the instructor was 18 minutes late.

For a half hour class.

On the first day of class.

But first let me give a little background about me and fury.

I rarely have any.

I am one of those people who just doesn’t get very mad. Or if I do get mad it’s short lived and quickly dismissed if there is a good explanation on hand. I hate feeling angry. I’d rather things be pleasant. It’s not that I’m this sunshiny type who thinks every day is a big ice cream sundae party or anything (and I have the prescription to prove it) – but anger and drama just exhaust me. Kind of like walking around Home Depot. It sounds good when I first walk in, but then I get overwhelmed and want to run back out the door.

I have a good friend who is married to a British man. She jokingly complains about how exasperating he can be with his emotionally detached way of avoiding or ignoring tension and conflict. And it makes me think that I’d be very good at being British… Or even just a WASP. I could totally do “let’s just pretend it never happened darling – be a love get me another cocktail, will you?

Alas – neither has been my lot, and instead I am married to a very emotionally evolved and passionate sometimes-hothead and have three children who operate on levels ranging from unpredictable to full on CRAY-CRAY. So as you can imagine, I spend much of my time looking like a deer caught in headlights.

Then I just “keep calm and carry on,” good Brit that I am.

But back to my fury. It does happen sometimes. And it almost always has something to do with one of my children. This time it was Oliver, my six year old.

Two Saturdays ago, he had one of the worst first time swim lessons I could have possibly imagined.

Here is why it shouldn’t have happened:

1. Oliver LOVES the water. He is a natural swimmer and taught himself to dog paddle and swim under water last summer. He leaps in without any floatation devices and would be thrilled if you threw him in (he’d be happy to push you in as well – for future reference). He has no fear when it comes to the pool.

2. I took Oliver and the twins to the rec center where his lessons would take place several days in advance. Since he wasn’t used to that pool, I thought it might be a good idea to make sure it was familiar and had good memories of fun times with his family. I probably didn’t even need to do this as he was practically IN the pool by the time I had stripped down to my bathing suit.

3. I spoke with someone at the aquatics center to learn more about how the lessons were handled. And I was assured that unless parents felt they needed to be present, it was always best to just hustle the young students in and then quickly disappear. Since Oliver does best with authority if I’m not around to confuse matters, this sounded perfect to me. And I could go upstairs to watch from an observation room.

4. We arrived at the lesson five minutes early so I could chat with the instructor – give her a little background on Oliver’s communication delays and his current level of ability in the pool. Since she wasn’t there when I arrived, I gave my speech to the assistant manager (a.k.a. one of the people with clip boards) and then to the volunteer, who showed up right around the start time of 11 a.m.

5. Oliver was lying by the side of the pool and literally rolled in when we told him it was finally time to start the lesson. He barely glanced in my direction as I gave him a brief wave and said I’d be “up there” watching.

6. For a full ten minutes I watched my water baby splash happily around with kick boards and other teaching aids. He was having a great time. He didn’t miss me or feel the least bit threatened by the notion of a lesson or wary of the new people and other little girl sharing his class time.

This should have been a fabulous start to his swim lessons this summer.

It wasn’t.

Here is why:

1. The actual instructor was late, so the volunteer had to try to keep the two students busy in their one small area until the class could start.

2. Ten minutes is a long time for a special needs child to stay content in a small space with no structured activity. My son is not sedentary. And he likes to do his own thing. So if he’s in a teaching environment, it is absolutely imperative that there is an authority figure with a plan running the show. Fifteen minutes is far too long to wait for that.

3. The above describes pretty much ANY special needs child.

4. The above describes pretty much ANY CHILD.

5. When Oliver did try to swim out of the official lesson area, he was pulled back and essentially told that he needed to stay put. This would make no sense to him and would inevitably be perceived as aggression.

6. ….aaaaannnd that’s when he would start looking for me. The last person who was obviously in charge. And I wasn’t there.

I was in the observation room. Watching Oliver being dragged back into the water again and again by the kind volunteer. And as he became more and more agitated, his confusion transitioned into defiance and then frustrated tears, AND THEN body shaking sobs like I’ve never seen before (he hardly EVER cries). And I slowly transformed from proud mommy to concerned parent to horrified onlooker to absolutely furious mother who wanted to charge downstairs, pull my wailing son from the pool and demand to know what the fuck kind of special needs class this was?!

But I stayed put. Unlike Oliver, I understood that I had to stay in my small designated area.

He is young and still learning the rules, but I am old and I know them all too well. While he needed to wait for the instructor in the area of the pool assigned to his class, I needed to stay out of the way. To let the professionals do their job. And if they had a rocky start, I still had to let them try to pull it together. They had to win his trust without any interference from me. The minute I appeared, Oliver would learn that if he cried and made a scene, mommy would come and save him. And they would lose all credibility.

So I watched.

I watched the instructor arrive and try to engage with my hysterical son. After a few minutes, it was obvious that he wanted nothing to do with her and she moved on to work with the other (easier and more compliant) student.

I wanted to hug the volunteer – she stayed with him the whole time and I could see the concern and sympathy on her face from my perch one floor above.

Fifteen minutes later at the end of the half hour lesson, I walked stiffly into the pool area to collect Oliver. I could barely talk to the clipboard people, but somehow managed an incredulous, “what happened?” I don’t think I even heard the apologies or excuses about being understaffed and assurances that this particular instructor is NEVER late.

You know what? I get it. Mistakes happen. People have personal emergencies and get stuck in traffic behind ten car pile ups. Volunteers are left alone with two students and do their best to keep them entertained as long as they possibly can. Management calls cell phones and leaves messages on voice mail and starts to put on their own bathing suits to fill in for the missing instructors.

But in the fifteen (by my watch, eighteen) minutes that all of those good intentions transpired and/or were thwarted, my son – my beautiful, incandescent son with his all consuming love of swimming – suffered.

And that made my blood boil.

I asked the volunteer what happened and then told her exactly why it shouldn’t have. I also thanked her for doing the best she could – but that didn’t diminish my all consuming anger. My fury.

Then I held my son for a while and comforted him. I calmed him down. I promised him a visit to Dairy Queen. I suggested that we might try again next week. I told him that I was proud of how well he did. That I watched him when he was swimming and I was so proud. I agreed that he could get changed and that we would leave.

I silently cursed the whole comedy of errors and its seemingly inept cast for ruining swim lessons for my son in less than 30 minutes.

While waiting for use of the family changing room I talked to the assistant manager, got more information about what happened (little more than I already knew – that this particular instructor had never been late before) and pointed out that this was the worst time to be late – on the first day of swim lessons for special needs children.

As Oliver calmed down and became more interested in the ice cream I promised and less concerned with the drama that just unfolded, I also found myself relaxing. I was still mad, but I didn’t feel like actually throttling anyone.

I wasn’t furious anymore. I was weary. I wanted to turn back time and go get my bathing suit – even though I didn’t think of it until the last minute and we had to leave immediately in order to be there a few minutes early to talk to the instructor. I wanted to be able to get in the water with Oliver while we were waiting – to help the volunteer keep him busy until the instructor arrived. I wanted him to have a fun lesson. I wanted him to leave the pool smiling – not sobbing.

I wanted to pretend that it didn’t happen. To just carry on and make things pleasant.

I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

And at that point, there wasn’t anything more I could do. I got mad, said everything there was to say and saved my child from misery. What else was there?

Only one more thing. I walked Oliver back to the pool to thank the volunteer and say goodbye. I thought they both needed that.

Later while watching Oliver finish his ice cream cone, I realized that I wasn’t furious anymore. I still thought it was a complete disaster and wasn’t at all happy about it…but I was already thinking along the lines of damage control.

I knew that we had to go back to that pool as soon as possible. To make it fun – a place where he would want to go. And I would have to get in the pool with him for the next lesson. To make it feel safe. I would have to interact with the instructor who had filled me with rage less than an hour earlier. I would have to make it work. For Oliver’s sake.

And I did.

We did visit the pool as a family the following day. And we made it fun. Then I brought Oliver back for his lesson last Saturday. And I wore my bathing suit.

When we saw the volunteer, he looked at her and (miracle!) said, “do you want to swim with me?” Then we all got into the pool together. I chatted with the instructor and told her about Oliver. I didn’t mention the previous week.

I watched Oliver have a wonderful time and then moved away to the whirlpool – where I could still see him, but have less of an obvious presence.

And it was fine. After 20 minutes, Oliver said he was tired and wanted to leave, and we all decided to call it a win and not enforce the full 30 minutes. Next time we could firm. This time it was better to just end on a good note. Which we did.

Frankly, I was amazed by how well it went – that Oliver was so easy going about everything and needed very little coaxing from me to get in the pool with the volunteer and the instructor.

But that’s kind of the way he is. His drama is brief. He recovers quickly. And he moves on without lingering remorse or grudge holding.

Maybe he’s like me. Maybe he just wants to keep everything pleasant.

If that’s true, he’ll be a better person for it. He faces so many challenges now, and there will be plenty of others later. He doesn’t have an easy path to follow, and an even temper may serve him well.

He may also find life somewhat wearying because of it…I know I do often enough. But he’ll innately know how to put the best face on things, keep moving forward and not sweat the small stuff.

He’ll be a survivor.

At best? He’ll be happier than most. At worst? I’ll just move to England with him and we can be emotionally detached expats with the rest of the Brits. Hopefully we can find a place with a pool.

Because…

“Why do you always ask me my name?”

Because he’s trying to communicate with you. He knows your name, but he wants to ask you a question. To have a conversation with you.

“Why do you always try to talk to me like that on the bus? It doesn’t make sense.”

Because he understands what he’s trying to say and hopes that you will too. He wants to be your friend. And to him, this is what is sounds like when friends talk to each other.

“Why are you speaking another language? I don’t speak that language.”

Because it’s the one he created when he couldn’t speak ours. He’s learning ours, but he’s far more fluent in this one. Nobody else speaks this language. It’s entirely his. And that can get lonely.

He never asks me my name. He doesn’t have to try so hard to communicate with me. I always listen to what he’s trying to say and I understand. I don’t speak his language, but I don’t have to.


Because I speak the universal language that mothers have with their children. He never feels lonely with me.

As much as want him to be able to communicate with the world, I hope he never forgets our own language. This is the language of my heart.

Broken English (Alternatively Titled: Fixing Oliver)


When our children are first starting to put sentences together and use multi-syllabic words, we are gifted with hours of amusement and endless family anecdotes. My three olds make up words and butcher syntax like any other kids their age, and of course we think it’s all hilarious.

Within the past hour, George asked me if a knife was “only for peoples” (his way of saying grownups), and after ranting at me about something, claimed that he didn’t scream, he just “yellowed.” Eleanor doesn’t just wear dresses – she wears “ballerinas.” And for a long time, she would announce in her best ring master voice, “ladies and Jaqueline!” Sorry Jaquelines of the world, but I think my daughter just called you a ho.

From George’s vehement, “YES I are!” retorts to Eleanor’s newest addition to the dictionary: “lasterday,” we revel in their audacity – their uninhibited assault on the English language. And we never tire of recounting these stories to both doting grandparents and graciously indulgent friends alike.

She is something else…

He is quite a character…

But I’ve realized that we don’t tell as many dialogue-related stories about my oldest son. And this isn’t surprising since his delays have made him much slower to experiment with language.

Where the twins, like other children, fling new words like confetti, five year old Oliver holds them close, tucks them into pockets and puzzles over them like foreign currency. The concept of language is understood, but the values attributed to the various elements still elude him.

Of course, he has made us laugh over the years with his own grammatical missteps and mispronunciations. In fact he charmed me just the other day by telling me that I “misappeared.” But these moments have been fewer, farther between and always overshadowed by the worry over what the future may hold.

I’ve been thinking about that more and more as I see the unbalanced ratio of blog posts dedicated to the funny things my children say. Oliver is not very well represented – and that makes me sad.

Because he is just as much of a delight to me as my twins. But who would know it?

I guess we just assume that others won’t appreciate these stories as much as we do. They don’t know how hard he works for what comes so easily to other kids. His funny stories would be more common to children two years younger and don’t seem quite as cute in the context of a boy his age. For those of us who know him well and love him just the way he is, there is no difference. We laugh and beam with pride and find him just as entertaining as his siblings. It’s like an inside joke that only we understand. So why bother?

But that’s not fair to him at all. Especially since there actually are other perspectives or contexts in which anyone can appreciate anecdotes about Oliver.

For a long time, I’ve likened his more unusual social anxieties and his tendency to disengage at times to that of a tourist who doesn’t speak the local language. Or at least not well – possibly due to dialect. He may understand a little of what is said, but the nuances might give him the slip. He doesn’t feel safe much of the time. He doesn’t know what people want of him and what their intentions are. New people could seem nice but really have nefarious plans for him (hello, good natured lab technician who performs pediatric blood tests!) So often, when he feels unsure of himself or the situation he’s encountered, he’ll wander off – withdraw into his imagination.

I’ve frequently remarked that it sounds like he’s speaking second language – like he’s a tourist or recent arrival here. His conversations are more stilted and formal. There are more pauses and confused expressions. And much like an Ellis Island alum, he communicates through rather imperfect English. It’s not baby talk and his diction is quite good, but he mixes up his prepositions and tenses like an immigrant mixes his metaphors.

Just today at the pool when the the lifeguard called “Break!” he looked at me and said, “time to get out Mom, the pool is breaking.”

I imagine Cousin Larry Appleton and I could share many a laugh over these little gems. It’s funny! It’s adorable. And it’s worth documenting and remembering.

He’s something else.

He’s quite a character.

Now don’t get me wrong. We are doing everything we can to help him improve his communication skills so he’ll eventually catch up with his peers and engage in more intuitive, spontaneous conversation. And he’s making some amazing progress with both existing and new therapies this summer. But we’re certainly not in a holding pattern, waiting for the results.

We enjoy every day with Oliver. We think he’s spectacular. We couldn’t imagine life without him. Exactly the way he is.

“The way he is” has changed quite a bit over the past year and continues to do so at a rate that even I – the eternal optimist when it comes to Oliver’s potential – wouldn’t have dreamed possible. And just like a parent does with a typically developing child, I’m simultaneously thrilled and grieved by his advances. Probably a bit less of the latter since these changes are triumphs that can’t be taken for granted. But what can I say? I’m a mother. I miss my babies as much as I admire the people they are becoming.

Because we really do focus so much on helping Oliver gain skills, this is a common topic of conversation with people close to our family. And in that conversation, people sometimes say rather thoughtless things.

I typically try to hear these things as they are intended and don’t take offense – but I have to admit to one exception. On several occasions, different people have made a reference to “fixing Oliver.” As in, “once we get him fixed…

I KNOW that this isn’t supposed to be degrading to my son as a person, but I can’t help it…it upsets me. And I can’t just say “ah well – semantics!” and move on. Because I know that on some level these same people do consider him defective. Broken.

And I’m not faulting them for that because technically, they aren’t entirely wrong. But I don’t take the same broad perspective. I don’t see him as needing to be fixed – I see delays or disconnects that need to be addressed. He’s not broken, but he’s different. And it’s holding him back. And we can help him.

But I don’t think we help Oliver by seeing him as a thing that needs to be repaired. Because there is one area in which he is incredibly advanced. He is very aware of how he is perceived. He feels our disappointment, our dissatisfaction, our displeasure. He knows when he fails – even if he doesn’t know why. And the wounded look in his eyes tears my heart to pieces.

My son is not a vacuum cleaner or a DVD player. He’s not useless until repaired.

Even if he didn’t make one single advance in therapy this year, he’d be just as precious – just as loved. He is kind and intelligent. He’s funny and full of charisma. He challenges us and teaches us. And he makes me a far better person than I ever would have been without him. He’s helped to heal many of my own broken pieces. He’s mended cracks and made me feel whole. And I would never dare to presume that he is any less for his differences.

So I marvel over what a beautiful boy I have and enjoy big belly laughs over his quirks and crazy English. And I hope that even if he does get fixed in the end – and no one would ever know that he was once “broken” – he’ll still retain some of his otherness. Because it’s the nicks and cracks – the rough edges and battle scars – the unique imperfections – that show our depth of character.

The Worst Fear (Alternatively Titled: Oliver’s Grandmothers Probably Shouldn’t Read This)

Since I’m fairly certain said grandmothers have not heeded my advice, I’d just like to put it out there that everyone is OKAY.

With the exception of maybe me… Though my robotic ability to shut down emotions when they threaten to render me unable to cease crying for the rest of my life did kick in about five minutes into my nervous breakdown. So that’s good.

This talent of mine serves me well because at the core, I’m a very fearful person. I worry about everything. When I was little I would worry about tidal waves and twisters. I worried about nuclear war and my parents dying. I had night terrors and no matter how irrational, I couldn’t stand next to my bed after dark without imagining a hand reaching out from under to grab my ankle. The world was fraught with danger and I was keenly aware of every awful thing that could possibly happen to me. I saw shark infested waters – both literally and figuratively.

So now, I disconnect. I just don’t think about it anymore. I simply don’t have time. I have too much to juggle and it’s made me very practical. I’m a good person to have around in a crisis. I’m calm and analytical. I wait to hear all the facts before forming an opinion. And I don’t consider the worst until the truth grabs me by the neck and slams me against the wall. Even then I’ll hold it together. For me, it’s a matter of survival.

But we all have our breaking point. And I hit mine yesterday when for about five to ten minutes in the late morning, I lost Oliver. Meaning, I searched my immediate neighborhood and I couldn’t find him anywhere.

One minute I was walking in my front door to get Eleanor a cup of water and the next I was racing around our block, frantically calling his name.

When I left him, he was sitting about ten feet away from our house in (of course) a patch of dirt. He was drinking the first cup of water I brought out for Eleanor since he drained his own so quickly that I just gave him hers and ran back in to get more.

When I stepped back outside, I found George engrossed in turning on the water for the garden hose and the absence of Oliver. A yellow plastic cup lay on its side on the patch of dirt. No spills – no mud. He drank all of it.

Ignoring Eleanor’s constant chatter behind me, I asked George to turn OFF the water – he knows that he’s not allowed to play with the hose – and WHERE did Oliver go.

My younger son pointed vaguely down the block and said, “down the hill.” It was obvious that George had no idea where his brother went, but I started walking in that direction. It was as good as any other.

Oliver tends to wander off. Never far, and typically to predictable locations, but I always have that brief pang of “what if?” The one that we barely register since it borders on unnecessary drama and fully crosses the line of unlikely. And by the time it could possibly gather momentum, the child appears – blissfully ignorant of the big bad world and its predators lurking behind every theoretical corner. Then we yell or hug or get distracted by another child. But the resonance of that pang stays with us long enough for a glimpse of perspective. What truly matters in our lives. Those lost earrings become a welcome price to pay – the trade off for this moment of relief. So lucky…a charmed life I’m living, really.

But when I reached the end of our townhouse row and turned the corner, my child wasn’t there.

And when I turned the next corner, he still wasn’t there. Or the next corner. Or the next. And suddenly, I was back where I started.

I looked at the strange men doing landscaping and noticed for the first time that they all drive vans. Then I asked George again, “WHERE did Oliver go? Is he inside?” Before even hearing his answer, I crossed the street to look in the good climbing tree. Then I doubled back to try the path to the bridge where we throw rocks in the water. Our neighbor was walking his dog there and said he hadn’t seen Oliver. So I went up another set of steps that would lead me back to the area behind our house.

Then I quickly returned to the front and ran into the house, still calling for him. Eleanor said he wasn’t there but I kept calling. At the door to the basement, I heard how hoarse my voice sounded. I didn’t notice that I was still holding Eleanor’s second cup of water until I hurled it down the stairs.

Back outside. More searching.

Too much walking and running and calling “Oliver…Oliver…OLIVER…OLIVER…OLIVEROLIVEROLIVER!” The twins echoed my calls and I realized that they were now both on the front lawn, trying to aid me in my search. Within minutes they would be lost in the neighborhood too, so I pushed-dragged them to my friend’s house two doors down, and barked, “stay there I don’t know where Oliver is stay THERE!”

We had all been at this house earlier for a casual brunch, and several other mothers were still there. My friend asked if she should call the police and I think I said yes – but I may have just showed her the yellow cup in the patch of dirt. Because he was JUST there a minute ago.

But more than a minute had now passed. Many minutes. Too many. And with each one, the vapor of “unlikely” continued to gain substance. I ran back across the street and through another cul de sac, distantly aware of other voices calling my son’s name.

It was only when I was looking down a hill at the nearby creek that I heard my name. Someone (or everyone) was calling for me. And that meant they found him. It never occurred to me that it could have been anything else. Anything else would be unbearable.

As I rushed back up the street and my house came into view, I saw another neighbor helping Oliver step out of my car. MY CAR. He was in my car.

Me – the city girl who once never left her car unlocked for a single minute. Not even to run into the house for forgotten sunglasses. Because leaving a car unlocked meant that strangers could get in. Maybe steal it. At the very least, pilfer the meter change hidden away in the glove compartment. That city girl, now lulled by her quiet suburban neighborhood and distracted by multiple children let locked car doors fall off the radar. Constant vigilance was reserved for boiling pots of water on the stove and cleaning fluids locked under the sink. Not the car.

And my five year old son climbed into a black Ford Expedition with tinted windows and child safety locks in 90 degree weather.

If one of my friends hadn’t seen a flicker of movement, who knows how long it would have taken for me to find him there. And what that could have meant.

Let’s play hide and seek mommy! Where’s Oliver…

That is real fear. The vampires and sharks of my childhood look like Smurfs and Care Bears when pitted against the fear of losing my child.

I barely said thank you to the people who helped me search for Oliver as I silently led him into the house. And the minute the door closed, I burst into tears. I was SO scared. I couldn’t find you. You were LOST.

I could have yelled or spanked him. I could have sent him to his room for the rest of the day. I could have held him tight and asked if he was okay, told him everything would be alright. I’m here now. Mommy’s here.

Instead I sat and cried and said I was scared. So scared.

At first he laughed. The nervous laughter we’ve all experienced when faced by something impossible. It wasn’t just a crack in his mother’s composure. I dissolved before his eyes. I fell to pieces and I couldn’t help myself.

But I think this probably made more of an impact. If he was scared while locked in the car, he didn’t show it. He has his own walls – his own habits of disconnecting with reality. But he too has a breaking point, and apparently, it’s me. We both cried and said we were scared. And said we were sorry.

Then joined by the twins, we fell into a teary, sweaty heap in front of the TV and decided not to leave the house until it was time for Oliver’s therapy appointment.

I sat with all three of my children and basked the luxury of knowing that they were safe. Nothing bad could happen to them in that moment – I could protect them with four walls, air conditioning and the tedium of passive parenting. With my physical presence. As long as we could see each other, nothing could touch us.

Hours passed, therapy was received, and commuter traffic was endured. And when we returned to the slower speed limit of our neighborhood, the last traces of our anxiety dropped away. I opened the windows and turned up the radio. Warm air rushed in to remove the chill of fear.

In my side mirror I saw Oliver putting his hand out the window to feel the breeze. Part of me thought, “keep arms and legs in the vehicle at all times…” but I remember pushing my own palm against the wind when I was his age. No tree limbs or other cars ever came close enough to hurt me. I never worried about that. Earthquakes maybe…but not losing my hand to swerving motorcyclist.

So I decided not to worry about it now. I put my own hand out the window and felt the pressure of wind. My own flesh and bone, solid and invincible against the blast. With a little tension and concentration, I couldn’t be moved. I could even push back.

The what ifs will never go away. They linger on the edges of our every movement, decision, omission… And sometimes they catch up with us. There is always a terrible story to hear. To simultaneously feel sorrow for others and immense gratitude for our own luck, grace, karma.

I once read a brilliant line about what it means to become a parent. While the source left my memory long ago, the sentiment stayed with me – that someone’s child was born and “fate took a hostage.”

Every day I feel the truth of this. And it humbles me. I have to take responsibility for my power and accept my powerlessness and ultimately just hope that my luck will hold.

And I do that every day. I guess we all do.

It’s a charmed life I’m living. Really.

Coach Kate’s Play Book – the Good News and the Bad News…

My week’s experience in the world of sports has certainly lived up to “the agony and the ecstasy,” as described by some famous person I would know if I wasn’t completely clueless. There have been some very promising days and some disheartening ones…

So I’ll start with the good. Last we left off, Oliver’s first Blast Ball practice was “okay” and he only hated it about 90% of the time. So I was feeling positive about the future.

I thought it would be a good idea to get him used to the field by having some of our own practices each day. I was only able to fit in two before the first game last Saturday, but that seemed to be adequate.

Our first practice was Wednesday morning and after a brief hesitation, Oliver saw the empty field and was thrilled to play with his new batting equipment. The twins were too since they are three years old and get excited about everything from lady bugs to Target runs. Everyone was happy.

I set up our tee and used an old magna doodle for the base (there is only one base in Blast Ball). First I tried to get the twins to stand in the “outfield” while Oliver was at bat. But they were having none of that. Everyone wanted to hit the ball, so I gave up and just had them focus on that. I could teach fielding another day.

Getting them to run to the base and back was easy once I established some terminology they could understand. Hit the ball! Now drop the bat! Run to the base! Now stomp on it! Now come back come back come back! No this way! Over here! Run over here! Good – you’ve got it! Now stop! Stop! Stop! N0 – seriously, come back! I yelled the entire time we were there. To anyone passing by, I must have sounded like one of those hard core sports moms. I’m not kidding – I was hoarse by the end.

They improved very quickly, but once the novelty wore off, some new distractions complicated things. Oliver discovered that he could climb a tree about ten feet away from where we were playing, and insisted on doing that whenever it wasn’t his turn. Then Eleanor kept wanting to play with the base and George was terrorized by the cloud of gnats that descended upon our shady spot.

Things degenerated after about 20 minutes, but then I did some ball chasing with them like Coach Keys’ drill and figured that we had a great first practice. It was time to quit while we were ahead.

The next practice a couple of days later was less successful – but it was all George’s fault. He had a melt down because I didn’t bring the bat he preferred and during this hysteria, his gnat phobia took on epic proportions. He screamed and swatted at the air as if he were in submerged in piranha infested waters. I had to pick him up to calm him down and this interfered with my ability to help the other two with their batting form. So after a few runs to the base, Oliver played in the tree, Eleanor had a snack and I talked George off the ledge.

At this point, I was a little anxious about Saturday’s game. While Oliver enjoyed playing with his small family, I knew that he would be intimidated by the bigger group of strangers and all of the cheering noise. Pushing him up to the tee would be much like sitting him on Santa’s knee at the mall – depending on his mood and the crowd, it could go either way.

And here is where the bad news comes in. The game was a complete disaster. Instead of taking place on the patch of grass that was now so familiar, we were on a different, more official playing field. And it was ten times more loud and crowded than I had expected. Oliver was terrified.

He didn’t mind sitting and watching – but the suggestion that he join his team sent him into a panic. He wanted nothing to do with it and refused to wear his new shirt and hat. There was crying and even a little screaming when I tried to bring him over to bat. Even Coach Keys’ adorable older son wasn’t able to get Oliver to come out of his shell. He had pretty much shut down.

All parents know their child’s limits and this went far beyond what I knew he could handle. Between his sensory issues that amplified the din of the crowd, to his inability to make sense of the rapid fire directions from the coaches, the entire situation was a recipe for failure.

And while I want to encourage Oliver to try, I’ll never set him up to fail.

So a decision now needs to be made. Do we push through and hope that he warms up to it? Or do we remember that we embarked on this adventure with the attitude that if he wasn’t ready, we’d just drop it? If we quit Blast Ball, does that make us quitters? Or people who do what is best for their kids regardless of personal feelings? And what is the “best” thing for him?

Coach Keys offered to let Oliver just come to practices since that seemed a bit more doable for him. But when I tried to get him to wear his Rattlers shirt yesterday, he ran in fear – like I was trying to drape an actual rattle snake around his shoulders. I have little hope of getting him to put it on for practice today.

Then of course, there is the more practical complication of who will watch the twins while I take Oliver to practice at 5:30. Chris’ injury makes it impossible for him to do public transportation and his driving commute is twice as long. Even if he left early, he’d never be here in time. While I had originally thought I’d be able to bring them with me at this point and just sit with them on the sidelines, that’s not looking possible.

So maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. Maybe it was a good idea, but ultimately not going to work out right now. Maybe our very limited experience was enough. It gave me some incentive to put aside my own distaste for games and put on my coach’s hat. It’s provided me with inspiration for games I should be playing with my kids this summer – ones that will help get them ready for the sports that will be part of their school experience.

As much as I hate the idea of quitting just when I was feeling so committed, I have to remember why I was doing it. This was for Oliver, not me. And it’s looking like he may not be ready. He’s come so far, and I know that he could do this if we went out with his team every day and really worked at it. But practice only takes place once a week – and even with our family practices, that’s not enough.

So unless I can find someone to watch George and Eleanor this evening, I think that we may be leaving this Blast Ball season before it really even started. And for what it’s worth, I’m proud of everything we achieved. Both Oliver and me. We faced some demons, we had some fun and we learned a new game.

Personally, I realized that coaching my child in sports is no different from every day parenting. You provide them with rules and guidelines. You encourage them and praise them. You teach them what you know and learn from them in the process. And you put your own fears and hang ups aside to help them succeed.

And at the end of the day, you throw away the play book. Every child, every family and every day is different. And the old sayings don’t always apply. You often hear that quitters never win, and winners never quit. This is usually a good motto, but I don’t think that’s true for us today. Because I know my team better than anyone else. And a good coach always knows when it’s time to take a player out of the game.

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ELSEWHERE:

On Wishing True

Thank You Notes to the universe

Elva Fields glamour

A Little Bee and a Giveaway

On Style Key West

Seaside Inspiration

Ballerinas Don’t Wear Pants

I haven’t been writing that much lately. And it’s largely due to the fact that I’m so fully immersed in life and plans and worries and even kind of enjoying myself right now – that when I do have a free moment at the computer, I feel like I have nothing to say.

And how is this possible? Oliver is starting Kindergarten next year and I’m looking down the barrel of a new IEP. AND I’ve done the unthinkable and taken responsibility for initiating sports activities for him. (This, from the girl who would willingly be the first one out in dodge ball just so she didn’t have to play.) Even if I didn’t think he’d spend the entire time rolling in dirt, it would be a bitter pill to swallow.

The emotional roller coaster involved in everything having to do with that little boy could give me a book’s worth of material – both funny and sad. Yet when I start to write about any of it, my head flops down in exhaustion at the idea of actually hitting keys and making this more real than it already is. I’m a realist by necessity but an escapist at heart.

So I don’t want to write about that. Nor do I have the desire to journal every funny story from my life at home with the kids. There are many – and I do sometimes share, but the truth is, I assume that it’s all been said before.

You know how when you start reading blogs, you die laughing over hilarious potty training stories and you send links to non-blogging friends beseeching them to drink the Kool Aid? Then after some time passes, you start to notice that you’re reading the same stories over and over – just from different people. Not that this makes you any less of a fan – in fact it makes you feel even more connected to people all going though the same things. But… When it comes time to write your own blog post, you start to feel rather unoriginal. Personally, don’t find that very motivating.

And I wonder if this is where people who once had so much passion for their writing start to feel a little lost. It’s a bit of a crossroads – a mid-life crisis. What next? Do I continue with my Little Engine that Could enthusiasm for stats? Or should I just write whenever I feel like it?

It’s a boring, dowdy phase, this blogging plateau. Mom jeans to the new-blogger mini skirt. Which is actually an apt metaphor for me since I went through years of preferring skirts and dresses to pants.

There was even a summer in my twenties when I wore nothing but short sundresses. Everyone in my beach house (Dewey Beach – holla!) seemed to have this preference as well, and a guy we knew began calling us The Sundress Brigade. And it sounds ridiculous really, but I kind of miss that. Being known for my feminine fashion choices. Being seen as someone who wears cute dresses and not practical workout clothes, you know – since I’ll be going to the Y later anyway. Someone who makes some effort with her hair in the morning – even if it’s just a low ponytail – instead of forgetting to brush it before leaving the house.

I miss not being a mom.

And that sounds terrible. Because I wouldn’t change anything about my life right now. Well – maybe some slip covers for threadbare couches that the children are slowly and systematically destroying…but nothing about being their mother.

It’s not an actual “crisis,” this thing paralleling my mid-blog life. Just nostalgia mixed with the ever present question of, “but then what?” The one many of us consider when we realize that in just a few years, they’ll be off doing their own thing, “and then who will I be?” Add one cup of sleep deprivation, a sprinkling of Target runs, and a heaping teaspoon of triple action eye cream…voila! You have a busy mom coming up for air. Breaking the surface to gasp for breath and notice a new beach looming on the horizon. Another one without any kids…but not much of anything else either. Just miles of sand where you can build any castle you want. But I’m not sure what I’d want that to be. And where’s the snack bar? Maybe I should bring a book…

So that may be part of this writing malaise. I’m rethinking who I am, who I want to be and how the hell I’m going to get there. Here is nice. But it’s temporary. And since looking forward always makes me want to climb into bed and pull the covers over my head (and Oliver’s head and Eleanor’s head and George’s head since they like nothing better than messing up my nicely made bed), I find myself looking back.

I’d like to feel that sun again. The sun of my youth that was a benevolent provider of tanned legs and the cure all for acne – not the harbinger of skin cancer and the spotlight for crows feet. I miss thinking I had a million things to worry over but easily forgetting them long enough to meet friends for cocktails.

The recent warm Spring weather inspired me to chop off my hair, which was sorely in need of a cut. I felt the need for less. And possibly for some incentive to pull out a brush every once in a while. The first time I had this style was the second summer of sundresses. I had rocked a shag and gone super long, but this flapper inspired bob was something entirely new. I pull it out now and again when I need a change and it never fails me. Just like a dress, it instantly grabs attention and makes me more aware of myself and of my identity as a girl. Not a young and cute girl now…but still that feminine, girly girl who likes to feel the swish of her skirt in the breeze.

My three year old daughter shows flashes of this to me – her future of dresses and tan legs and infinite time. She spins and laughs and reminds me of how it felt to only worry about myself. And to have minor concerns at that.

It will be at least ten years before she becomes the girl that I remember from my own youth. Right now, her preference for dresses is simply based on a love of twirling. She calls them her “ballerinas” and refuses to wear anything else. “Ballerinas don’t wear pants.

As much as I’d love to join her in this conscientious objection to practicality, I really can’t wear a dress every day. Or even most days. My legs aren’t that great anymore. And I don’t have quite as much time for twirling.

But I will wear a ruffly top, put on some lip gloss and opt for a flirty haircut. This makes me no less of a mother, but it nods the girl that I will always be no matter what. And when I walk into Oliver’s IEP meeting, walk the aisles of Target and run in circles on the track at the Y, I’ll feel the swish of breeze in my hair and I’ll know that deep down I’m still the same girl.

I may have more responsibility and less freedom to stroll on beaches, but I can always find time to dance with my daughter. And remember.






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On Wishing True

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Tiny lovelies from Handmade by Christine

Rosie Campbell belts

Page H. Laughlin

On Style Key West

A Knack for Reinvention

Inside Out and Backwards

Oliver is turning five at the end of March, and I kind of can’t believe it. Maybe it’s because he was my first baby, but I still think of him as a little guy. Well – little in spirit, since he’s roughly the size of a very short middle school child…


And truly, he’s so far from toddlerdom, I can’t even pretend anymore. He doesn’t need me nearly as much as he used to. He can get himself a snack – typically not the kind I would have selected for him…but still. He can turn on lights (yeah – electric bill!) and the television. He can even dress himself although his apathy for wearing clothes makes for some rather incomplete outfits – usually missing pants.


And he never ceases to amaze me with his talent for putting on any shirt inside out and backwards.

Anyway – I can’t help but think about how the apron strings still firmly knotted through his belt loops just keep getting longer and longer. Now, when we play outside, he’ll often disappear from my line of sight. Something that would once have been the source of a panicked sprint in the direction I last saw him and possibly some pre-hysterical yelling of his name. Now I lean toward a much calmer mosey and unconcerned yoo-hooing for his return to the fold. Of course, that’s typically followed by some bellowing about notdoingthatnottouchingthatnoteatingthat… But that’s another issue altogether.


When he was a newborn, we lived in a third floor condo apartment. The trash chute was only four doors down from ours, but for the life of me, I could not bring myself to leave my tiny baby alone for five seconds to take out the garbage. I was convinced that I would one day lock myself out while my son lay trapped in the apartment, wailing from fear and hunger.


So I did what any other concerned mother would do – I took him with me. And holding Oliver in one arm while I used my other hand to carry that one trash bag was pretty easy. Even opening the door to the trash room was simple enough. The complications began when I had to open the chute.

It opened in much the same way that a mailbox does, but there was a latch that needed to be held down in order to pull the handle. Most definitely a two hand job. While I could open the chute with one hand, I still needed to hold it open so I could lift the bag into it. And this presented an entirely new venue for my mania.

Since my other hand was already in use for baby detail, I had to look to other body parts for assistance. Unfortunately, the chute was located too high on the wall for me to secure it with my foot or my hip. So left with waist up options, the only feasible candidate was my elbow.

The process was that I would first open the chute with my right hand. Then, holding that down, I’d press Oliver to my chest with my left arm and rest that elbow on the open door. Then, as I cut off his oxygen supply, I would say approximately five Hail Marys while I let go with my right hand and used it to pick up the trash bag, even thought I’m technically not Catholic and hadn’t been to Mass in years. Then I dropped it in the chute, and the minute it left my grasp I would wrap both arms tightly around Oliver and say prayers of thanks to God for not letting me drop my baby with the trash.

Every day.

You would think I’d pull out the stroller for this – but what can I say? A mother’s love and paranoia go far beyond reason.

As the year went on, I took the CA-RAY-ZEE down a notch and relaxed a bit. I could watch my toddler run around on the grass and not worry about every stumble and scraped knee. While I hated the idea of him being hurt in any way, I knew that the falls were inevitable and all part of learning to stand, walk, run…grow. Like all other mothers, I knew that I had to let go a little. And the apron strings lengthened.


Having the twins when Oliver was still a baby himself probably helped. I simply didn’t have the luxury of time for unnecessary worry. I embraced the old adage that children bounce and just held my breath (and said a few Hail Marys) when I saw him doing something perfectly normal that still made me nervous.

But I’d be lying if I claimed to take everything in stride. There was always a resonance deep below my love and pride for my children that screamed, “DON’T…STOP…DANGER!” And sometimes it was pretty hard to ignore. I could turn myself inside out from the fear that anything could happen. That every step they took away from me could lead them into forces beyond my control. What if Oliver tripped on the stairs and broke his neck? What if a rabid squirrel attacked him? What if a big crack opened up in the ground? The possibilities were endless.

Fortunately, I am not a complete psychopath and never take this beyond ordinary watchful wariness. But the irony of the situation is that my big beautiful boy who has never been seriously ill or hurt in his life continues be a constant source of worry for me.

No – not just worry…fear. Bone chilling, stomach churning fear of the far more possible what ifs. What if he still can’t hold real conversations by the time he starts Kindergarten in the Fall? What if he’s so awkward that the other kids are cruel to him? What if he starts to realize that he’s different…an outsider…?

I put up this strong front of not caring what anyone else thinks, and I actually don’t – for myself. But I do care for him. I care so much – too much, and it tears me up inside to imagine him feeling any less than a bright, sensitive boy so full of potential.


But those apron strings aren’t retractable. I can’t stop him from falling. All I can do is be at the ready with bandaids and open arms. They’ll always be there as long as he’ll have them. Which won’t be forever…but again, that’s another issue altogether…

Please don’t comment with the “you’re such a good mom” pats on the back, because the truth is – I’m not. Or at least, I could be so much better when it comes to this oldest child of my heart. I hate research…I’m terrible at schedules and structure…I have of yet to discover effective punishment for bad behavior… This doesn’t come naturally to me – this mothering of a special needs child. I’m good at the love, patience and acceptance part – but not so good at the “work” involved.

But I’m trying. I sit with Oliver and help him practice his pencil grip. I encourage him to work on the things that would be easy for him if he just tried. I wheedle him into trying the things that don’t come so easily with baby steps and little pressure. And I watch as he dresses, no matter how long it takes, reminding him to stay focused. I show him how to make sure his shirt isn’t inside out and correct him when he starts to put in on backwards.

And he’s learning. His shirt is now rarely inside out and backwards.

For a few years now, my heart has felt inside out and backwards. But I’m learning too. And with a little time, I think I’ll get it right.

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ELSEWHERE:

On Wishing True

Interiors in Art from Mariska Meijers


Beautiful Bangles from Kate Spade

On Style Key West

Outdoor Living