Monthly Archives: May 2015

A Piper is Down

Today was Fishing Day for Jack’s school. I kept him home because Jack on an hour-long bus ride each way for five minutes of fishing = bad. When the bus came for Charlie, I tried to block Jack from seeing it so he wouldn’t fly off the handle when I told him, “No bus today.” 

He heard the bus and pushed against me. Jack weighs only slightly less than I do at this moment in time. I held my ground. Then the ground rose up to smack me in the face, because socks on wood floors can be dangerous when you and Jack are having a shoving stand-off. 

Face plants are funny, at least when they happen to someone else.

My sister Sarah recently said, “People falling down are funny. But not as funny as this story I’m about to tell you.”

It went like this:

Sarah and her friend Annie were sitting at the back of the room one Sunday during Young Women. Annie’s sister, Katie, stood at the front of the room speaking. Katie, a tender soul, was getting very emotional as she spoke. 

Just as she really lost it and the serious water works began, someone outside the church window started practicing their bagpipes.

Sarah and Annie shook with barely suppressed laughter. Tears sprang from their eyes as Katie talked and sobbed, and the piper blasted a loud, mournful tune at the window. The young women leaders turned and gave them the stink eye for laughing during Katie’s testimony.

Sarah thought, “Is no one else seeing and hearing this?”

We died laughing at this retelling. And then we listened to this audio clip of a radio traffic announcer zoning out in the weirdest way possible:
I dare you not to laugh. 

Mother’s Day: a deconstruction 

Mother’s Day is finished and I’m okay with that. I’ve written before about this day. It’s inevitably complicated for me because I love my children and the women in my life, but motherhood for me is simply painful.

It just is. 

Every day I go about raising my kids and feeling mostly inadequate about it. We face huge horrible struggles we can’t get away from. I’m constantly evaluating my performance and mostly feel like I’m spinning my wheels. 

So Mother’s Day feels like too much pressure. Maybe that’s my fault, for being overly sensitive about my full-time job. 

And I don’t love watching other people’s primary children sing to their mothers, because mine have too many anxieties and developmental disabilities to join in. So there’s that.

On the other hand, I like buying books for my mom and my mother-in-law, wrapping them in brown paper, tying them with purple ribbon, stopping Jack repeatedly from unwrapping them, and presenting them to my moms.

I like that the guys gave me daisies and Red Vines.

I like that we got to see Dutch’s grandparents today.

I like that eldest son gave a lovely talk in sacrament meeting about his mom and his grandmas.

I like rainy weather followed by sunny weather. 

I like watching children get older.

I like being a mom. Except when I don’t because it’s crushing me.

Is motherhood like running? I wouldn’t know because I don’t run, but I’ve heard runners say that while they do not like how they feel when they run, they love how they feel when they are finished. 

Maybe raising kids is similar. It’s all soft-lit and warm and lovely in hindsight; meanwhile my legs are burning and my lungs are burning and WHY do people choose to do this?

Anyway, it’s behind me for another year. And May is beautiful.

Balm of Gilead

Tonight at the Court of Honor, the boy who gave the closing prayer took a moment before he prayed to remind the scouts to be thoughtful about leaving enough refreshments for others. Then he prayed, “Bless the refreshments, that they will be delicious.”

Eleven-year-old scouts, Boy Scouts, varsity and venture scouts, and their younger siblings SWARMED the refreshment table, where my pal Shirley P. poured tall cups of chocolate milk that disappeared as fast as the cookies and doughnut holes. 

Swarming and inhaling.

In other news, I finished the Old Testament today. I jumped straight into the Gospel according to Matthew, which reminded me that:

1. Wow, the Old Testament can be obtuse. Lovely and symbolic, revelatory and instructive, but still. Obtuse. The clarity of the New Testament provides a striking contrast. And…

2. Jesus healed the sick, literally. 

“Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments; and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had palsy; and he healed them.” Matthew 4: 23-24.

When I listened to these verses while making the bed, longing pricked me. I wanted to grab Jack and leap into my phone and dive through the scriptures and through time to when Jesus lived on the earth and healed people stricken, tormented, with illness. 

It’s my old pal Longing. She goes away, but she always comes back. 

Longing for my son to be whole.

Longing for a break from the special needs storm surge.

Longing to have a conversation with Jack, where he can talk to me.

Longing for a little less complexity.

And for the beach. And for Jesus.

This sounds more despondent than I intended. Today was good. Tomorrow isn’t here yet. Yesterday—done. 

We’re gonna make it.

things that go away

One of the welcome byproducts of coping with my ongoing family crisis is that the superfluous things fall away, leaving only essentials.

I like this aspect of special needs parenting. There are a lot of aspects I’d be okay with flinging into outer space, but this one is good.

I’ve been thinking of the good that has come from putting away things that used to really matter to me.

Things have left during my struggle to stay afloat as a mother. Things like crafting: cards and baby quilts and home decor and embroidery—that’s all gone, the practice and the desire. I once loved it, but now I don’t miss it. My creativity is channeled these days into sentences and parenting strategies.
For a time, I hung my hat on people-pleasing, but there wasn’t room for it to stay. This is when my dormant contrariness stirred, looked around with an eye-roll and an annoyed sigh, and was all, “No. Just no.”

Doing and agreeing to do too much outside the wild demands of my complex home life used to be a major source of my inner turmoil (See previous paragraph.) I lopped it off when I realized we were dying on our own already, without taking on excess assignments we couldn’t manage.

Comparing my life and my kids to others’ lives and kids-–this one took longer to eradicate, but ultimately I believe I won. I don’t let myself do this anymore because it’s dumb and counterproductive. And when I slip and do it anyway, I want to eat all the chocolate ice cream in the world and every box of Girl Scout Thin Mints everywhere.

I used to be a martyr. Now I choose life.

If the universe wants to cull more from my life, it can consider the poop and the violent rampages. 
Maybe this list sounds like a humble brag, which it isn’t meant to be. I spent the better part of the last few days crying over the loss and pain of life with a severely mentally disabled person. Things happened that made a perfect storm of violence, hopelessness, and struggle. This morning, I woke with the familiar sense of a sucking chest wound. Sadness.

It’s May now, and cool, blossomy air breezes in my windows. The cottonwood leaves whisper. I inhale deeply. Dutch gave me a blessing, which turned out to be a manifesto of peace.

Some things go away, and it’s okay. I have to remind myself of this.

More Tiny Letters

Dear people who drive ten mph under the speed limit in front of me, and who get highly offended when I try to pass you,

What’s really going on in your life? Just tell me. It must be something rotten to make you do this.

Dear person who invented the loose, airy, wide-leg printed pants (that feel like no pants whatsoever!) that I’m seeing everywhere,

Thank you. I got a pair at Target and I plan to wear them every other day, all summer long. 

Dear mental disability that is turning my Jack into a big, violent, unmanageable person,

I hate you.

Dear family,

Thank you for instantly responding to this text:  

I went from feeling alone to not alone. When I checked my phone in the middle of Costco and saw your texts, I wept. Some guy eyed me warily on the cleaning products aisle. And I bumped into another mom from Charlie’s social skills class. All while I was weeping. Anyway, thank you.

Dear May,

I forget how beautiful you are, with your soft breezes that ruffle the cottonwoods. 

Dear 90 minutes I spent curled up in the armchair in my room this afternoon, avoiding all people and all thinking and all devices,

You restored my will to continue, somehow.

Dear Jack,

I love you.