Today is not my tomorrow

My minion alarm went off this morning at 4:53am.  It was too early, and he is too loud.  After a quick shower, I rallied a smile for my little men, and started the day.

While sitting with my coffee in the dark, my mind was already on all that I had to accomplish.  Making mental notes, talking to myself, and moving from thought to thought.  It seemed like as soon as it began, I was already longing for the day to be over, and for some rest.

I am over committed, and exhausted.  I apologize often.  I have 4303 emails in my gmail inbox.  That is with filters ON that file away things like coupons, recipes and purchase receipts.  My to do list ALWAYS includes going through my email to make sure that something did not slip in that requires attention.  I cannot ever seem to get past the daily fires to get to most things on my list.  I actually confess to people often, that if they need to reach me, they will need to hunt me down.  I give people permission to stalk me.  How sad.

The last year and a half has been a blur.  I am grateful for the fuzzy memories, as I know in the deepest parts of my soul that this season has not been filled with my most shining moments.  I was not the best mom, wife, employee or friend.  I was just surviving in each role.  I humbly AM still just surviving in each role.

At the beginning of the year, we were consumed by worry about Trevor’s developmental progress.  Both language and motor delays had us running from assessment to assessment, and doctor to doctor.  The Google machine on my computer was also working overtime.  The choices, the appointments, the home therapy meetings, and the hours spent in the waiting room chasing Lucas are finally starting to wind down.

It is hard to truly know what made the most impact on his development, but this swamp is slowly drying.  Was it the group speech classes, the individual speech therapy, the holistic therapies, the elimination of chemicals in our home and food?  In all honestly, I do not care.  None of the things we did  caused additional harm.  I am over the obsessing.

As a mom that is prone to worry, it is hard to see light.  It feels so lonely to carry the burdens of the minutia of running a home and little lives.  Couple the worry with lack of sleep, and it really does feel like whatever milestone you are trying to reach will.never.come.

Raising littles is a series of groundhog days.  While it appears that each day is the same, and I will never emerge from the weeds, I have to believe that new days come.  In the moment of crisis (or perceived crisis), the situation seems so very permanent.  I remember thinking my kid will never sleep through the night, will never walk, will never talk.   Logic gets lost.  Time S L O W S.

I need to really believe that it is all just a series of seasons, and remember that each new day brings hope of milestones met.  I need faith to believe that today is not my tomorrow.  After all, we are overdue to begin potty training and at some point we will have to move Trevor from a crib to a toddler bed.  Just pray.

My Race – Lessons in Perseverance and Priorities

My house keeper comes every other Wednesday.  I greet her each time with a lengthy apology about why my house is in its current state.  Embarrassed, I leave her money on the counter and sneak out with the boys.  We come home an hour later, and her team has erased weeks worth of filth and grime.  It is a miracle.  Every time, it is a miracle.  Just a few short hours after we get home, when the smell of our botanical cleaning products has faded, it is hard to tell that she was ever here.  By the time the boys are in bed, the only evidence left is a master bedroom with a made up bed.  Everything else is a sh*t show.

Many well-meaning peeps have tried to comfort me by mentioning that this toddler phase is hard.  You are “in the weeds” they say.  It will get better they say.  I have even heard that I will MISS this time.  Yay?

Our brand of weeds seem to grow tall in cycles.  Just as we mow down one large crop of them, I can see more growing again, and we enter a new phase.

My current dream is to get to the stage where the boys can both get in the car on their own.  I imagine saying…”Ok boys, go hop in the car,” and having them be able to follow those direction and execute the command.  Leaving home on my own with both boys is a dance of grabbing one, and pushing the door closed on the other to prevent escape. Then, I go back in to rescue the one that has fallen to pieces on the floor because you clearly left without him.  While I am out, unless I bring the gargantuan double stroller on every errand, one of the two of them can/will RUN away.  They are fast little minions.

Just the other day, I did not have the stroller, so I popped Lucas in the ergo to run in and pick up Trevor from school.  So here we come out the school doors and Trevor takes off.  I run as fast as is possible with a kid strapped to my front and grab him. I am quickly faced with a decision about how to get them into the car.  I tried to trap Trevor in between the car door and my body while muscling Lucas out of the ergo and into his seat.  I realized after two jail breaks, that I should just get Trevor in first.  I walk around and use my leg to sort of scoop Trevor’s bum up while lifting his arms.  The whole process was crap, and I was sweating once they were both buckled.  If anyone witnessed…

Speaking of Trevor, his speech is coming along.  Slow, but steady.  He is also making progress in his gross motor development.  At a few months shy of three, he went down several stairs this week without holding someone’s hand, or a rail.  HUGE win!  If we just keep doing the next best thing for him, he will get there.  Trevor graduates out of his group speech class at age three, so we will have to transition him to a regular pre-school.  SOB.  I am still looking into which one.  SHHHHHHH, I know that I should have already decided.

Dave is traveling this week, and work has been crazy, and my nanny was unable to come on Monday.  Since it is now Thursday, it must mean I survived the first few days.  I have no memory of the specifics, with the exception of the clean sheets yesterday.  I remember those.

Overall, I am feeling out of balance.  My real food adventures have finally started to get easier, but they do still require more time than I seem to have available.  I have a few commitments outside of the home as well (besides actual work), and I am trying to fit those in.  It took someone asking me if I was ill for me to finally go buy clothes that fit.  I just did not have time to go shopping alone.

I read an article last week about being balanced as a mom that also works.  There were several tips that stuck out, but here are two of my favorites.

  1. Determine what is most important.  The mom suggested gauging your priorities by asking: “Will this be important in 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 years?”  If it will be important in 10 years, make that your first priority.  (Needless to say, I finished setting up college accounts for our boys that same week.)  I loved this so much that it is written on my white board at work.  I need constant reminders to have a long term focus.  Facebook, you are SO 10 minutes, Pinterest meal searching, you are pretty 10 days, but my faith and my family’s wellness (time with my boys, our health – including what we eat, and paying off debt) are the epitome of 10 years and beyond.
  2. Choose something to sacrifice.  It is clear to any visitor (including the aforementioned cleaning lady) that I am sacrificing the state of my home.  My close friends will also attest to my lack of response to phone calls, text messages and even emails.  I need to be stalked.  I am SURE that the author was not intending to indicate friendships should be sacrificed.  So, I guess I have to get honest about what else needs to go in order for me to focus on the things that fall into the “10 year” category.

I sat this week in the evenings while Dave has been gone, and reflected on priorities, and sacrifice.  It makes me misty, and so frustrated that my “want monster” keeps whispering lies.  His influence has led to my wants overpowering my needs.  It is causing the unbalanced feeling, and it is a daily or hourly choice to have a long term focus.  It is all a choice.

My periods of calm are merely water breaks in life’s race.  It is not the finish yet.

This is my race.  The one I was meant to run.  It is exhausting, and dirty, and it is hard to see the finish.  But it is mine.  I have everything I need.

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”    Hebrews 12:1 – The Message

He talks!

In the last few weeks, Trevor has begun putting two and three words together.  He consistently tries to say new words, and really seems pleased to be able to communicate.  It is so very cute to witness.

It all started with his first official two word utterance, “Big toot.”  Let this be just a small window into the life of a mom with three boys.  (Of note, I always count Dave as one of my three sons.)  T wakes up in the morning and from nap time jabbering away in his bed.  He describes things in his room or just plays, “Trevor ‘wake!” on repeat until we come to rescue him.  At night before bed, he lets us know his plans for the morning.  “Cars a morning,” “Books a morning,” “Train a morning.”  Ca-ute!!!!

Two weeks ago we began individual speech therapy.  This explosion of words may have just been coincidental, but progress is progress.  Dave and I knew we he would get there, and that one day it would just click.  The waiting though…not fun at all.

Our new challenge with him is getting him to eat enough.  He has always been our tactile sensitive boy, which means meal time is a chore.  Anything crunchy, is his favorite, but how many non-fried things are crunchy?  We give him waffles in the morning that are a bit on the over-done side, toasted pb and honey at lunch time, and uh….crackers, rice cakes and chips (found some that are just OK) for snack.  If you are wondering what else this kid eats….right.

We are able to squeeze in some rice and beans every now and again, the occasional banana and avocado, and he still LOVES his green juice.  Honestly, not sure we would get any veggies into his belly without that juice.  Also started giving him some mango flavored omgea smoothie supplements.  He actually asks for more when the spoonful is gone.  Thank the Lord for some semblance of nutrients.

I am learning that some seasons are longer than others, and patience and prayer need to be my focus.  Next week, he may be eating us out of house and home, so I will ride this wave in stride.

Being present

Last week Dave and I finished a 13 week course called “It takes two to talk”.  The course is for parents of kids with speech delays, and it is designed to give you skills to help encourage language development at home.  There were five other couples going through the course with us.

The very first week of the course, we discussed how to “OWL”.  It emphasized the importance of Observing, Waiting and Listening.  The premise is that we need to give kids a chance to initiate language.  We need to WAIT on them to communicate, and take the time to really understand what they are trying to say.  Sometimes, this means playing in silence until they have something to communicate, while still giving them cues to take their turn.  It was such a departure from what I knew.  I thought you were supposed to fill the void with words and descriptions, and sounds.    Of every lesson we learned…the very first is still my biggest challenge.  The other topics were equally valuable, but weaved throughout every single class….the speech therapist would remind us be OWLing at home.

On the 10th of May, we went for a six month follow-up appointment with the developmental clinic that originally referred Trevor to speech therapy back in December.  It was a LONG appointment with tests, and questions, and other gross and fine motor type activities.  During the appointment, while I was encouraged with much of Trevor’s progress in his gross motor skills, there was a noticeable delay or lack of response to many receptive language exercises.  Also, he is still not joining two words together consistently.  I left the appointment feeling pretty mixed.  It had been officially six months since we began all of the appointments and meetings, and I had hoped we would be farther along.

Just a few days  later on the 14th, we finished up our “It takes two to talk” class.  Dave hung with the boys while I attended solo.  Good thing he did, since I was a hot mess.  Because it was the last night, we spent some time watching videos of the kids, and parents shared about successes we’ve had as a result of what we had learned throughout the course.  It was really hard for me to hear about the strides everyone else was making, while it appeared that we were not much farther than when we started.  This, combined with the assessment a few days prior, was crushing.  I stayed a bit after class with the teacher, expressing my concerns through tears.  She was very gracious, and helped me understand that the going can be quite slow, but we WERE making progress.  She pointed out that Trevor is saying over 200 words now, and was only saying about 80 when we started the class.  Even though he is still not joining words (which typically starts when a child reaches 50 words), she thinks that he has come far.  I left there feeling better, but I still cried all the way home because she again reminded me to OWL every chance I get.

My dilemma…  I am SO VERY distracted.  My co-worker once said that her husband wins arguments by throwing balled up foil in her line of sight.  That is ME!!!!  I was ADD before it was diagnosed.  With work, and home stuff, and cooking, and my sweet Lucas doing things like this….

Lucas

…I do not give Trevor the time he needs.  I am not fully present even when I am physically with him.  My phone buzzes, or the timer goes off, or someone just drives by on our street (for.the.love) and my OWLing is over.  He gets a partial presence at best most days.

It would be easy for me to say this is how I have always been, or give some other excuse about not having enough time in the day, etc.  Life leaves me little time to just observe, and WAIT for him to point out what he sees, or what he wants to say.

But I need to remind myself that it is not about me.  It was never about me.

I can see that Trevor wants SO very much to speak to everyone.  He looks right at you, and you can see him try to find the words.  Often, I end up asking him to show me what he is trying to communicate to reduce his frustration.  Sometimes, the struggle is really hard to watch.

My “Operation Presence” plan is not formed yet, but maybe I do not need a plan.  (Wait…does Pinterest have such things?!?)  I digress.

Maybe that is the issue.  All of my planning is leaving me with little unplanned time to get on the floor and play.  To walk aimlessly at the park with his favorite truck (aka cruck) while daddy plays with the teeny guy.  With no agenda.

Tiny

I know he is making small strides.  And I LOVE to witness the joy on his face when he repeats a new word, or when he does utter the rare two word phrase.  The little victories are encouraging.

Until I invent a device that allows me more than 24 hours in a day, our future might look a little like: less time in front of the TV, less faces in cell phone screens, less comparing to other kids.  I see more one on one dates, more legos, more train chugging, more previously cooked meals pulled out of the freezer, and more PRAYER!  For those others out there that pray, send a few our direction.  We need unity, endurance, patience, and most of all, we need to not allow discouragement to creep in.

Thanks for loving us.

~S

Personal space invader

Being a mom is something that I believe changes you to the core.  It is not just physical changes, but character and personality changes emerge as well.  You are no longer the same on so many levels.  These changes are both fantastic and severely challenging for me.

Some years back, I took a Myers Briggs personality test in a effort to better understand my tendencies.   According to the test, I am an ENFP personality type.

“ENFPs are initiators of change, keenly perceptive of possibilities. They energize and stimulate others through their contagious enthusiasm. They prefer the start-up phase of a project or relationship, and are tireless in the pursuit of new-found interests. ENFPs are able to anticipate the needs of others and to offer them needed help and appreciation. They bring zest, joy, liveliness, and fun to all aspects of their lives. They are at their best in fluid situations that allow them to express their creativity and use their charisma. They tend to idealize people, and can be disappointed when reality fails to fulfill their expectations. They are easily frustrated if a project requires a great deal of follow-up or attention to detail.”

That description is SO me, but I contest the E in ENFP.  It stands for “extrovert”.  While I am outgoing in familiar social circles, I cringe at the thought of making new friends, or really any unfamiliar environment.  Always have.  Extroverts are said to get energy from others, while introverts get their energy from being alone.  I feel like I get more energy from being alone.

Alone time.  What is that? As a mom of two tinys, personal space and alone time is limited.  Even when they are asleep or when I am physically away from them, I lack sufficient time to reboot.  I am constantly in a “prepare and do” mindset.  Dishes, food prep, laundry, budget, shopping, and don’t forget my actual job duties.  I long to sit alone and read a book (that is not about cooking or parenting), or to get a massage, or just stare at nature.  With no agenda.

One sweet bastion of sacred alone time has always been the shower.  It is a place where I can literally stand under the water until it runs cold and just release thoughts.  It is not uncommon for me to emerge from the shower with my back looking very much like I spent too much time in the sun.   It is loud enough to drown out crying (sometimes) and time often stands still.  When serving for a week in Mexico on a mission trip, my one mid-week shower honestly kept me sane.  I cannot even talk about the value of my two, post c-cection showers.

Of late, my sacred space has been invaded.  This invasion may happen for other parents much earlier than two and a half, but I have tightly guarded this arena, and not allowed Trevor to enter my space.  Last week, in a momentary lapse of judgement, I gave in to his clambering to get “IN IN IN IN” while he tugs on his jammies to come “OFF OFF OFF OFF OFF OFF”.  In an attempt to silence the incessant requests…it began.

spaceinvader

I can no longer turn on the shower without tiny footsteps running down the hall.  What if this lasts for years?!?!?!

Is it possible that I long for alone time because it is non-existent, or is it because I have fundamentally been altered and am now truly an introvert?  Did I get my energy from people in my younger years simply because I was not as comfortable in my own skin?  It would be interesting for me to take the Myers Briggs test again to compare results.  Would I still test the same in this phase of life?  I doubt it highly.

This motherhood thing is an adjustment.  A wonderful, fascinating and hard adjustment.  It splinters us.  The portion that is left for me is smaller, and that is OK.  It is my current challenge to maximize that portion, and allow it to be used for renewal to fuel the other portions.  It will level out I hope as the weeds keep getting shorter.

How do you carve out time to fuel your portion?

Growing

Trevor

 

Over the last several months, we have gone through a handful of evaluations for our son Trevor.  Doctors confirmed what we already knew; Trevor would require a bit of assistance in the areas of expressive language and gross motor development.

We are very grateful to have been presented with multiple options.  Our insurance was willing to cover a traditional therapy route of individual speech, physical and occupational therapy.  We were also fortunate to have been granted coverage through the government’s early start program.  Lastly we looked into holistic, neurological stimulation.  While any one of the options would have really helped Trevor, and would have produced results, we decided to combine a few of the choices that we believed met Trevor’s needs best.

On Tuesday of this week, Trevor began classes at a school in Redwood Shores as a part of the early start program.  This small group of 6-8 kids is led by a speech therapist, and consists of play-based language stimulation.  They rotate through stations, and transition with songs from one station to the next.  There is also a gym time which will stimulate his gross motor movement.  We picked this particular class because of the subtle language influence, and because they have peer modeling in place.  The location also has a pre-school, and kids from the preschool will cycle through Trevor’s class to model normal peer language skills.

When I dropped him in class on Tuesday, I had to STRONGLY fight the urge to tell the teachers all of the words and signs (or sign variations) that he uses to communicate.  I mean, how else would they know that “cwrass” means that he wants a snack?!?   I wanted to hang back a bit and make sure that he settled in ok, and help him make friends.  I was clearly the one with the hang-up, because Trevor turned around as soon as his shoes were off and said, “Bye Mom!”  I was the one that cried as I left.

I came back when class was over to pick him up, and had to strongly resist the desire to request a parent/teacher conference right there in the hall.  “So…when you say he did “great”, what is it that you really mean?  Like…did he learn stuff, and make friends, and participate in circle time?  Or…great…like did not cry and run for the door kind of great?”

Trevor’s development, and my anxiety have created a perfect storm of “helicoptering”.  I hover.  I anticipate his needs before he can try to verbalize.   I am only really beginning to understand the impact this storm is having on him.  How am I inadvertently holding him back?  He does not know or care that he is different.  He does not know he does not move as fast, or as well as other kids his age.  He does not know that he is difficult to understand.  These are labels that I am using to describe him, and  I have to wonder if he understands what it means when I tell other people that he is unable to do something, or that he is “delayed”.  This does not define him.  He is so much more than these labels, and he needs a Mama that is his biggest fan.

Here is the deal.  I have been entrusted with two tiny humans.  I am capable of being exactly what they need.  I know Trevor will do just fine.  He is, and will continue to thrive.  I may need to let him fall.  I need to get out of his way to let him grow.  Clearly, it is going to grow us both.

Back in high school…at the park

Crushing confession: I am not overly friendly unless we are friends. This is an ugly, do-not-shine-the-light-on-this-area, kind of confession. I avoid eye contact, do not initiate conversation, and certainly do not frequent situations that push the boundaries of my comfort zone. Somehow I feel like this is out of my control. Old anxiety tapes play in my head, and it just makes me so dang uncomfortable. Did I just say something DUM? Do I have food on my face? Did I remember to brush my teeth? Wait…do I have a bird in the sky!?!? My heart races and it envokes a flight response. Hurry…make an excuse…get out.

My dilema becomes a painful reality when I take my kids to the park. I scan the area almost as soon as I arrive. Where are the other moms in dirty yoga pants and a baseball hat? (My go-to staples) Where are the frazzled, clearly did not get a shower, looks like she got maybe 40 minutes of sleep kind of moms? I might stay longer if I found a park full of these moms. I want to relate to the ones that are all showered with their knee-high boots and long super cute sweaters with chunky scarfs. They are usually chatting with other a-dorable fashionistas, and there is ZERO chance that I would muster the courage. Ugh…Why do I feel like I am back in highschool when I take my kids to the park?!?!

The time is coming when T will make friends. I will be forced to talk to moms that I do not know. Maybe I will make new friends. Maybe I will find a community. Maybe if I look up from my little world view I will find other moms that are looking for the same thing. Maybe.