Good Gifts

Have you ever had the feeling that the clouds are figuratively parting, the sun is bathing you in light, and now you can see for miles? That instead of wind and sleet and basically life in general hitting you in the face, there are actual rainbows and butterflies fluttering around your head?

I’m not sure that I have ever experienced before what I am currently experiencing. This feels like the first time, at least in recent memory.

It’s a lightness of being. A molten center of peace. I think it might also be described as an absence of fear.

Whatever I am calling it, it is wholeness and wellness and I honestly haven’t felt this way since before having children and possibly not since I was a little girl when I woke up early every day, uninhibited and enthusiastic, to watch both Inspector Gadget and Jem and the Holograms before walking to Crestview Elementary in my stretch pants, oversized ’80’s sweater, and high tops.

This post isn’t to say that everything is perfect. I still have the occasional headache from lack of sleep. I still feel the tightness of stress creeping up my neck from my shoulders sometimes.  Life is a little bit the same, but also a lot better.

We still have the same interminable issues, but we have more (and better) solutions. Jack still gets ear infections and attacks people when he is in pain and has fluid sloshing around behind his ear drums. Truman still wails about lots of things that aren’t going according to his inner ideal paradigm. The couch is still a giant revolting used-Kleenex/soiled-napkin that doubles as furniture.

These things haven’t changed and may never change.

I’m different though, in little and big ways. My molten core of peace is the result of the combined efforts of a) my spiritual journey (you knew I was going to say it), and b) the fresh miracles that God has straight-up handed us in the last two months.

If I’m being sort of vague and nebulous about this “journey” of mine, it’s because it’s been essentially indescribable. Also, personal. I ponder it all the time, and I want to share pieces of it. But I want to relay it meaningfully, so as not to diminish its power. I’m still thinking of ways to write about it.

And if it’s uncomfortably cheesy for you to hear me talk about spiritual things and my “journey” to understand them, you can always think of the band Journey and envision “Don’t Stop Believing” playing vehemently as you read my posts. That’s an option too.

Let me paint for you a couple of vignettes, not in the glorious manner of Louise Elisabeth Vigée LeBrun, who I frankly love and whose paintings I see not infrequently in my Instagram feed (it’s a pleasant outcome of following @metmuseum), but instead in the manner of my obstreperous life.

Marie_Antoinette_and_her_Children_by_Élisabeth_Vigée-Lebrun Self-portrait_in_a_Straw_Hat_by_Elisabeth-Louise_Vigée-Lebrun Élisabeth-Louise_Vigée-Le_Brun_-_Madame_Vigée-Le_Brun_et_sa_fille_(1786)

(A sampling of Vigée LeBrun’s self-portraits and the most significant painting of her career—her portrait of Marie Antoinette and her children; rock on, Madame Vigée LeBrun).

First, picture Jack and I at the pediatrician’s office. The bubble wall enchantingly changed color in the waiting room. Our exam room featured photographs of different-colored jellyfish. We went several times this week, fortunately with Man Therapist, whose name happens to be Junior. 

I can’t keep calling him Man Therapist here. It’s too weird. He’s Junior, and he spends thirty hours a week with us, so get used to hearing about him.

Anyway, pediatrician’s office. We kept going back due to the fact that Jack was biting people at school. Because ear infection. And more lingering ear infection. Also lingering head-banging on tables and walls. Because ear infection. 

Junior comes along for all the doctor’s appointments and acts as pal/therapist/bouncer/second-helpful-adult. He also helps Jack with essentially everything, from requiring that Jack pick up his backpack and shoes which he throws on the sidewalk while getting off the school bus, to picking up Jack and carrying all 150 lbs of his dead weight upstairs to his room for a time out when Jack starts throwing punches.

This is what I mean when I talk about miracles and so forth. Instead of Jack hitting me or his brothers when he is upset, he swings at Junior, who catches Jack’s fists and gently helps him down from his angry precipice.

Now, picture me communicating weekly via text with the director of the second respite facility we have recently added to Jack’s list of Places He Can Go When There is No School and He is Going Stir Crazy at Home. This means that even though one center can’t take him during the long weekdays of Spring Break, the other one can, and we are thus living in a state of shiny, silvery blessedness.

These story vignettes don’t look anything like a Vigée LeBrun painting, but they feel alike to me. These miracle stories have a similar quality of textured reality. 

God gave Louise Elisabeth Vigée LeBrun the gift of creating beautiful works of art. He is giving us the customized tools necessary to help us raise Jacky.

They are good gifts. Just like Jacky. 

(Junior and Truman watching for the boys’ bus)


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