I’ve been thinking about progress, like how it happens and so forth.
Part of this is because I have been looking at my life through the lens of We Are Now One Year Out From Jack Leaving Our Home; part of it is because the other boys are growing and changing, too.
Behold, a few examples:
- I weigh less than I did a year ago.
The difference is enough that my knees don’t hurt anymore, huzzah. It started when I began exercising (when Jack was still in my care, but things were going off the rails). It continued when stress took away my appetite (when Jack entered residential care). It stabilized when my appetite returned, but I ate less than before. I physically feel stronger and better than I’ve felt for the last few years. Without the daily pressure of daily caregiving for a person with intense behavioral needs, I’m not in constant survival mode, and my health is reflecting this change. I see this as a good thing that came from a hard situation.
- Charlie is wowing me with his overall development.
I attended a musical performance by his fourth-grade class this week wherein students a) rapped about weather instruments, b) sang a doo-wop number about the rock cycle, c) recorded their own ambient habitat soundtracks (Charlie swung a cord around, creating the sound of wind in the desert habitat), and d) literally drummed as a whole class on bucket drums to a Bastille song. All of this was rather astonishing to me for a few reasons. Charlie hates (or used to hate) performing. Also, he couldn’t read, and struggled to keep up with his peers. But on Wednesday morning, the music teacher called three students from the risers to read an introduction to their habitat soundtrack. Charlie stood in front of a room full of his classmates and parents, held the microphone, and READ ALOUD A PASSAGE about snakes, insects, wind, and woodpeckers, at which point I WANTED TO JUMP UP AND SHOUT! This is big. Really big. Oh, and the principal of his school called me Monday to say that Charlie was in his office because HE IS STUDENT OF THE WEEK. Charlie Pickles, you are killing it, dude.
- When I asked Truman if he was going to be a good kid at school the other day, he said, “I’m always a good kid, Mom. I listen to Mrs. Peterson.”
This is true. Mrs. Peterson has corroborated this information. He thought for a minute and added, “And I finish my math first because I figure it out in my head.” I’m floored by this, as a not-intuitive math person. Innate math smarts, I’m convinced, came from my dad, skipped me, and went straight to Littlest Boy. Jeff and Henry do get math, but with a fair amount of work; in contrast, it takes a village to help me learn it, hence ENGLISH MAJOR. I’m also pleased that anxiety, rigidity, and behavior concerns AREN’T stopping Truman from being an amazing little kindergartener.
- I have booked tickets for my children to see some musicals this summer, and for Jeff, my mom, and me to see Shakespeare.
This means we are planning some road trips to partake of culturally-enriching events and I want to shout it from a rooftop, or maybe just Twitter, that MY FAMILY CAN DO THIS SORT OF THING, NOW! And Charlie and I are now ballet season-ticket holders. I’ve yearned for this: music, Shakespeare, live performances, beauty, art, transformative experience, sharing it with my family. I love all of it so much, and it was absent from my life for so long.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that since Jack left to live in a group home, we are left with this enormous sense of loss that a member of our family can’t come home. He simply can’t. His needs are too great.
But the growth and progress we are seeing in other areas is pretty remarkable, too.
I am smart enough, thanks to being tutored in parenthood by Jack these many years, to recognize that these positive changes aren’t really the result of anything I’ve done. They happened because God loves Jack and helped us know that he needed a change in care. Then He showed me what to do to find the right placement with the right people for Jack’s current developmental state. And God loves Jack’s family and wants us to have good health and music and math brains and improved reading skills. And Shakespeare (definitely Shakespeare).
So, it’s been a year. Despite being a painful, stretching experience with immense change, there is a great deal of beauty and goodness that has followed the difficulty.
There are, in essence, wildflowers blooming from the ashes of the forest fire that roared over us.
Fire destroys, but it also cleanses and renews.
We have been polished by what, I have discovered, was a holy experience.