Monthly Archives: March 2016

Dreaming in Chocolate

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but this blog has unofficially become my Dream Analysis Blog. And also the Spiritual Journey (yes, I know—there’s that loaded word again) Blog. I’m simply saying I recognize this. It’s happening and I’m going with it.

With that preamble, let’s get to it.

The other night, I dreamed I was eating an enormous brownie topped with a dollop of whipped cream. I really love a good brownie—dense and chewy. And rich.  In my dream, I tried to stretch the whipped cream, because you know, whipped cream. I always want more.

Then I noticed that on the same plate, right next to the brownie, was an enormous mound of surplus whipped cream. The extra whipped cream was larger than the brownie itself.

If you’re analyzing my dream, as I always do, then perhaps you will come to the conclusion that I am indulgent with sugar, dairy, and chocolate. All of these assumptions are correct.

Nevertheless, it’s a bad idea to assume things about people. They might surprise you and be completely different from your assumptions.

Anyway. Brownie dream.

I came to a different conclusion, which is:

God loves me. He gives me figurative brownies.

When I am quiet and still enough, I can see a decadence, a richness of good gifts in my life.

There is a surfeit of strength. A profusion of solace.

I dreamt of chocolate because God knows it’s my love language.

Dutch. Our boys. Jack’s new Man Therapist, and Lacey, our behaviorist, who both take literal hits from Jack and keep coming back. Our respite sitter. The psychiatrist and pediatrician. My listening friends. My Savior.

So many people in my life are the brownie.

God whispered in a dream that the whipped cream in my story is resilience. It’s acceptance, humor, and discernment. He’s giving all of this to me.

There’s enough and to spare.

  

He is Risen

I am sitting in a quiet house, wrapped in a blanket, writing. On a Saturday afternoon.

This is a miracle, for numerous reasons.

Jack went to his new respite center this morning, which feels like a major miracle, years in the making. We walked in—Jack’s first time there—and he got right down to vacuuming. He was completely unconcerned about Dutch and me leaving. We high-fived when we got in the car. Jack with a happy place to go of a Saturday? Heaven.

Jack is napping now, which he is wont to do on weekends. No complaints here. My policy is to NEVER argue with naps.

Saturdays have been my bane, basically forever. I have forgotten how to look forward to weekends because they’ve been my weekly death march for so long.

Today is different.

It is sunny and bright and cold. This is the day, per Holy Week, when Jesus was in the tomb, when his family and followers wept and mourned. Tomorrow is Easter, the day we celebrate that he is risen.

But Easter has already happened here.

I’ve wept and mourned these last eleven years. I knew Jesus wasn’t in the tomb, but it felt like I was there. I philosophically understood that God loved me and Jesus lived, but I didn’t intrinsically feel it.

The stories in the Gospels of Jesus healing maimed, possessed, and diseased people used to make me sick with longing. I wanted his healing power for Jack. Yet it seemed that my lot was to just endure.

I’ve always known Jack will be whole after mortality, that our trial will be finished and our happiness unspeakable. My sorrow lay in coping with the still-present daily challenges in the meantime.

Recently I’ve undertaken a spiritual journey. Yes, I just used the word journey unironically. I know.

It’s personal, what I’ve uncovered. I can’t express what happened in words, because they aren’t enough, which is saying something, because I really love words.

This is what I can write from my current vantage point:

I’ve left behind my sorrowful bags. I’m hiking with a tiny day pack of essential burdens. Comparatively, they’re featherweight.

I am less connected with earthly woes. All of this stuff around us is merely a means to an end.

There is power in submission. It’s only taken me my entire adult life to truly understand this.

God speaks to me in dreams, and my recent dreams have been vivid, detailed, and instructive. He gives me gifts that bubble up from my subconscious mind, rising with clarity to my conscious self. And they tell me what I need to know.

I understand what is true about myself, and what is warped perception.

My sorrows are not final.

Jesus is not here, for he is risen.

I am risen, too. Hallelujah.

Hermitage

Dear Everyone,

This is just a note to say that I am taking a sabbatical from the blog.

I can’t say for how long because I’m not yet sure.

No calamitous event precipitated this self-imposed time out. It’s just me, being restorative to my self and spirit. 

That’s all.

I’m still writing, but at a more personal level. 

If you’d like, visualize me retreating to an hermitage. One with a crackling fire, a view, ambient woodland sounds, creaky beams, quilts, crusty bread, hot soup, and perspective.

Much love,

Megan

  

Mindful Saturday

The sky was pale yellow this morning on my walk, with a big cloud overhead the color of a bruise. In front of me, the clouds were pink. The mountains were blue.

I’m practicing mindfulness, and you guys, it’s working. I am utterly relaxed. I can’t even work up a curse word when Jack pees all around, but not in, the toilet. Mindfulness. It’s like magic.

I drove Henry to merit badge pow wow. I picked Henry up from merit badge pow wow (last one, yippee!). I took out the kitchen garbage, twice. I Windexed. I swept. I moved laundry.

Dutch cleaned up the poo room. Henry made eggs. Charlie picked up the toys. Truman whined. Jack did angry tongue face.

The boys ate happy meals. Dutch cleaned the leaves out of the garage. Charlie got a giant Star Wars birthday balloon and banners. I worked on my Sunday School lesson.

Dutch and I went on a date.

We watched The Finest Hours, and I unwittingly compared my life to a sinking oil tanker. Not in a depressing way, but in an I Am Being Inspired By This Inspirational Turbulent Ocean Rescue Movie Because It Kind Of Reminds Me Of My Life kind of way.

If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil anything. I’ll just say that there is an oil tanker that sustains major damage and the shiz gets real.

I watched it, happy, because Chris Pine. Also, because I felt like that torn-up tanker was an apt simile for my family’s life. It’s a falling apart mess. It’s cold, wet, and blowing. And we are stuck here.

But the tanker was what they had. It was where they were. It wasn’t their forever home, but a vessel to take them in between places. And for all its cracks and damage, it held them until something better could.

The same is true of life in my house with my people.

Grown Up

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a grown-up.

I thought that I put aside childish things when I was 27 and Jack was diagnosed. But now I’m 38 and feel like I might be finally getting somewhere.

My boys didn’t even realize they were being raised by an amateur.

An actual grown-up can do things like forgive people when they say dumb things and can set reasonable boundaries for children spinning out of hand.

A real-life adult knows when to shed guilt and shelve fear.

True grown-ups value sleep, kindness, and a quiet house with basically clean floors.

Adulthood leaves behind people-pleasing and wearing heels when you don’t feel like it (which is usually).

It’s into listening to other people and eating only the really good chocolate.

Jack Goes to the Dentist

We took Jack to the children’s hospital dental clinic today. It went well for a number of reasons:

a) We have a handicap parking tag and parked literally ten steps from the hospital door. Less time for Jack to panic and less opportunity for him to accidentally run into the path of a car.

b) I had help getting Jack into the elevator (he finds them scary).

c) The staff at the dental clinic are perfectly fabulous about understanding and helping a nonverbal child with sensory/behavior issues and intellectual disabilities. PERFECTLY FABULOUS, YOU GUYS. They act like it’s no big deal. They’re patient and flexible. They find solutions to problems and don’t make us feel like weirdos. This is why I love them.

d) Dr. Kristy told us Jack didn’t need to be sedated this year for a cleaning. She examined his teeth and, with four people assisting, varnished them with fluoride.

e) Jack had taken a long morning nap on the couch before the appointment. There wasn’t any school today and Jack spent it the way parents can only dream of spending a Monday when the kids are home. He was pretty darn relaxed.

So I’m taking a moment to celebrate the fact that Jack doesn’t need to go to the OR for sedation dentistry.

And Downton Abbey ended and I loved it.

And tomorrow is going to be great.

 

Keep Trying, You’ll Get Be-e-tter!

Dutch put the trampoline up yesterday, which means that spring is here.

When Jack can walk outside with his big bare hobbit feet, we breathe deeply. It’s like someone removed the shackles of winter we’ve been shuffling around in for months. We can stretch and move again.

Something clicked in me the other day. I decided I’m tired of being depressed. I’m sick of having no energy. I’m done with things as they always are.

I proceeded to put away the dark chocolate (after eating some, of course). I worked out. I baked cookies for the guys. I read part of an actual book. I tripled my daily scripture intake. I took Truman on a walk. I talked to my friends at church. They gave me hugs.

I also cleaned up an obscene volume of urine in FOUR different rooms of the house, because Jack lives here, and just because I’ve decided to be happy, it doesn’t change the crazy-town dynamic of our household. I can resolve to be cheerier. I can also continue handling the daily crap all the day long, because it doesn’t go away.

While I sat in church today, I thought about the little gifts—of friendship and kindness. Of people asking questions and trying to understand. Of books and stories. Of movie dates. Of respite and therapy helpers. Of sleep. Of watching Henry’s basketball games. Of families sticking together despite centripetal forces working to pull us apart.

March is a gift. It’s brown outside, and somewhat soggy, but it smells clean. The air is fresh. It’s warmer. It will probably snow again, and I can’t muster any anger about it.

Jack will empty his bladder on the couch and the bathroom floor. He will stuff half an uneaten banana behind the cushions to turn black and slimy. He will shred paper, photographs, and packages. He will have a meltdown about gum and going in the car and basically just Sunday in general. In fact, he is recovering in his room from this very episode, right now.

That part is the absolute worst.

But the meltdown isn’t where this post ends. It isn’t where today ends.

Whenever Truman or Charlie start to shriek because something isn’t working out right, Dutch and I quote a ditty from Daniel Tiger on PBS. “Keep trying,” we sing, “You’ll get be-e-tter!”

They hate it.

What they don’t realize is, I’m mostly singing it for myself.

Spinning threads

Jack’s new man therapist is revolutionizing things.

He rides along to the appointments at the university, which means I don’t have to fear for my life when I drive Jack to see his specialists and Jeff doesn’t have to take a day off work to be the car bouncer.

Jack is tired from walking, bowling, and swimming every afternoon and falls asleep an hour earlier at night. He’s busy doing fun, engaging things, so he is distracted from eating constantly.

We are able to leave the house and go places.

Jack is doing his work without fuss. Well, sometimes he makes a fuss. Nobody’s perfect.

But he is vocalizing more and is generally happier.

And we are taking care not to overwork Jacky’s feet and legs so as to prevent relapses with the non walking.

Once again, yay us. Yay new man therapist.

Sometimes all the threads I’m holding and spinning come together briefly. Occasionally I inwardly glimpse a life with more calm and less chaos. I really do believe that one glorious day I’ll see the pattern of our experiences woven purposefully together.

Jack will be complete and I will have a perfect understanding.

I needed to write this down so I can revisit it when the threads I’m holding are snapped, frayed, and unraveling.

It’s written now, so I can return to it.

 

Consider the Lilies

I am in full PTSD mode following Jack’s week of not walking.

I do not wish to recount the details. What remains is my exhaustion. I have little energy. I am obsessed with dark chocolate. When I have a quiet moment, instead of reading or doing something enjoyable, I stare at the wall. Or my phone.

It’s a pattern that follows any traumatic event with Jack. I know this now, so I recognize it. I’m not sure how to make it go away more quickly.

When I was in the early throes of stress, I kept thinking about this blog. To be honest, I wanted to drive it into the desert and leave it for dead. I also wanted to burn my house to the ground and throw myself into a crevasse. So, there’s that.

PTSD, yo.

But, about the blog. I truly couldn’t:

a) see the point

b) muster the will

c) say anything wise/funny/insightful/delightful

d) care.

This was when I realized I was not in a good place.

The sad part for me is that we weren’t even IN the hospital for any extended period of time. We simply went to the ER and then had a nightmarish week. Medical moms go through harder stuff with their kids’ health all the time.

The problem is we already live precisely, exactly, and completely on the edge with Jack. His mood, his behaviors, his sleep patterns, his stomach/potty issues, his aggression, his meds, his routines—they all require me walking a fine line between disaster and survival.

This is why last week did a number on my emotional health. It’s also why I second-guess the writing, because it feels like whining.

Long story short, last week, I:

  • felt acute spiritual pain.
  • questioned my competence.
  • dwelt in doubt and desolation.
  • revisited hopelessness.

All of these topics feel desperately sad to explore. So I will simply say, I had a hard week.

In the midst of it, Fred and Shirley brought me doughnuts. Chris went on a walk with me and gave me chocolate-covered cinnamon bears. Dutch massaged my scalp and shoulders and took me out for curry.

I prayed, mostly the short, direct prayers of a person in pain—the kind of supplications that are stripped of wordiness. Bare. Direct. Urgent.

I’m starting to feel better. But I have to stay away from thinking about my life in general terms, instead focusing only on right now.

During one of several Sunday drives to occupy Jack, Jeff asked me to read these verses from Matthew 6:

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Jeff declared it our family motto.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Take no thought for the morrow.

Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need.

They shall be added unto you.

Shall he not much more clothe you?

 Consider the lilies.

Consider.

Ponder in a state of PTSD.

Toil not, neither spin.

Only consider.