Welcome to Living in Left Field, where living with chronic illness, raising three boys, having a child with Asperger's Syndrome, and raising children in general, means that I'm seldom on the same playing field as everyone else!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Sanctity of Life

Seventeen years ago around this time, Shawn and I were preparing for a wedding we hadn't been planning on, because we found out we were expecting a child we hadn't been planning on, at least, not at that point in time.  Both of those life events were part of our 5-10 year plan, not something we were expecting at 23 years old.  We were poor, had no long-term plans or savings or well-earning jobs (and we were slightly stupid).

At 23, we were really weren't much older, and I won't even waiver at our maturity level, than Maddi Runkles is now at 18.

If you haven't heard, Maddi Runkles is the teenager making headlines because her Christian school won't allow her to walk with her graduating class.  She has a 4.4 GPA and had a place of honor in student leadership.  She's never been a problem student.  So, why isn't she being allowed to walk as she graduates?

Maddi is pregnant.  And, as her school states, she is being punished for being immoral--even though she was already suspended for two days, and stripped of her student leadership.  The school maintains they are not punishing Maddi for being pregnant, but when we get right down to it, isn't that what's really going on?

As Maddi has stated herself, if she had killed her child through abortion, the school would be none the wiser, she would be forgiven by Christ for her sins, and she would be walking across that stage to receive her diploma.  As it stands, she's asked forgiveness for the sin of premarital sex (immorality), and as our Father promises, she has received His forgiveness.  Yet, the school refuses to grant her the same.

Folks, this young girl has bravely chosen life.  This is a black and white issue--the school wants to make it one because of the code of conduct she signed, stating she would not engage in immoral behavior. That's not the reason though.  The black and white issue is choosing life over death; yes, Maddi sinned in sex, but sinning further in abortion would not have solved this.   Maddi is choosing to raise her child with the help of her parents, and will continue her education through a very well known Christian university's online program.  This young lady is a world changer!  And yet--she's still being punished!  Let's just paint a gigantic scarlet letter on her!

I'm in fear for the Christian community, and quite frankly, the future of Christianity if we continue down this road.  This is most certainly NOT a part of Christianity I want to be a part of, and I'm embarrassed and ashamed.  Yes, I said it--embarrassed and ashamed by my fellow Christians for their behavior.  This is not what I want to be known for!  No wonder we are looked upon as a crowd of hypocrites!  My prayer is this school realizes just how wrong they are, and they can open they hearts and their minds to some wisdom and discernment.  My prayer is they will beg forgiveness.  In a time when Maddi needs support and love, she is being met with the harsh and unforgiving wills of those adults she was told she could trust.

In this one incident alone, what are we teaching our children, and the rest of the world about our beliefs?  God help us, what are we teaching any current, and future pregnant teen girls about the sanctity not only of their babies' lives, but of their lives?

Just like Maddi, Shawn and I chose life for our child--for Noah.  In our family, we stand for life.  In our family, we stand for Maddi, and we stand for the life of her precious child, and the lives of the many precious children to come.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It Is What It Is, But It Isn't What It Has To Be

Recently, I've had several opportunities to talk about our early experiences with Noah and his diagnoses, how he's doing now, and our more recent experiences with Avery and now, with Ezra.  I often think God gives us these testimonies to give hope to other families.  It's one of the reasons I'm so obnoxious vocal.  I tried the victim card, and it really didn't suit us (I was talking with a friend just this morning about the one time--and only one time--our kids said, "But I'm autistic, I can't." ONE TIME! They both got the finger in the face lectures and everything! They never tried that excuse again!  Now, I do have another child who uses Every.  Single. Excuse. He. Can. Think. Of).  So here I am, displaying the mother-warrior-don't-give-up card instead. Yes, it's difficult some days (there are times you completely understand and embody the exact definition of the word 'weary')--but wow, the other end of the tunnel is Just.  So.  Incredibly.  Amazing.  When your child looks back and says, "I survived that--No, I didn't survive, I tackled it, I beat it, I let my freak flag fly and I'm a warrior. I'm exactly how God made me to be and I'm proud of it"--folks, that's just--WOW.

I will admit this did not come easy--as I said, I did try the victim card.  I begged God--why me, why them, why us?  Go pick on someone else's family!  I literally screamed at the injustice. I cried.  I wanted an easy life for my kids; it looked, and felt, as though everyone else's kids were having it so easy when my kids were just struggling.

I had a choice to make.  What kind of example did I want to set for my children, and what sort of life did I want to lead?  Did I want to blame God, or lean on Him?  Did I want to be angry at Him, or trust His plan for my--HIS--children?  Did I want to teach my children to be comfortable in who they've been created to be, and how they've been created, or did I want them to grow up thinking something was wrong with them?  Perhaps most importantly, did I want my boys growing up safe and secure in my love for them, or questioning why their mother didn't believe in them and didn't like them?

I also had to consider what I wanted to teach my children about facing adversity--do I want them to give up?  Do I want them to learn to keep going?  Or, do I want them to challenge adversity, and not view it as such at all?  It's just another day in left field, after all.

Obviously, I want them to challenge it, not view it as adversity at all, and keep going.  As I've said in previous posts, everyone has differences.  Our different just happens to have names.  Our different just happens to take a little (lot) more effort sometimes.  Some days, our different just needs a lot more cheerleading. And an early bedtime for everyone.  And a whole lot of humor.

There are still days I want to throw in the towel.  Only several times a day. And there are days my kids do, too.  But that's life for you.  It's not always sunshine and happiness.

I saw this quote from Michael J. Fox and I feel--I hope--as though it embodies what I'm trying to teach my kids about growing up different.

"Acceptance doesn't mean resignation.  It means understanding that something is what it is and there's going to be a way through it."

Wow.  Yes!  

Acceptance comes in all forms, most of them forms of moving forward and not giving up.  Acceptance tries one more time, and celebrates victories.  Acceptance is focus and (positive) response.  Acceptance tries to keep a sense of humor.  Acceptance says, "See ME, look at all the things I can do, look at me the person, not my diagnoses!"  Acceptance is living by cliches such as "Why fit in when you were born to stand out," and "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." Resignation comes in defeat and victimization, it comes in being defined by your diagnoses, not by who you are.  Resignation comes in not moving forward, in giving up, and using your diagnoses as excuses.

Our biggest lesson in acceptance versus resignation has been that God is in control.  He has to be, because we can't do any of this on our own.  Without God, we truly are resigned to our own human-ness and our diagnoses.

I want my children to accept how God created them, because I know He has His purpose behind it.  I believe I've already seen that purpose several times in Noah.  I want them to be comfortable with who they are, and not worry about what others might think.  I want them to accept their diagnoses, but I do not want them to resign to their diagnoses.

These boys have been, and always will be, tremendous blessings to me.  They are gifts I am able to give back to the rest of the world.  In that turn, I want our family, our stories, to be the light that keeps others moving forward.



Bootstraps

I'm in the middle of writing a get up and go, hopefully-inspirational-"you can do it, special needs mamas"-post this week.  I've been feeling pretty good!  I've been uplifting others, sharing our adventures, and it's been good for the soul!

Then the latest paperwork for Ezra's speech therapy eligibility and what I'm hoping will be OT for sensory issues, and if necessary, early intervention preschool in the fall, arrived.  I sat down, ready to tackle it.  I am Mother Warrior, hear me roar!  I was ready to fill it out, pen in had, when it hit me like a load of bricks.  I saw that box checked "developmental delay," and I just folded.  I fell apart.  There are tears now as I type this.  

I know life isn't supposed to be easy--how else will our children learn anything?  But I really just want things to be well, alright--easy--for my kids.  When we found out we were finally pregnant with Ezra, we joked he was our Obi Wan--our last hope (to raise a neurotypical kid, haha).  After his heart defect scare and after his heart healed, we told him straight up, alrighty sweet boy--you've given us your scare, that's the only one you're allowed!

I knew this was coming, though.  I knew this was our reality before I even took him in for screening.  Our pediatrician and I have been watching him before his 1 year well check when I realized he wasn't 'on schedule' with a few things.  Because of Noah, I watched Avery, and now Ezra, like a hawk.  Perhaps I watch a little too closely (I've been told so more than once by more than one person), but that's how you catch things early.  So, having two kids ahead of Ezra with similar issues, it's possible I knew more than the experts.  I could say it ("There's a delay..."), I could talk about it ("I think we're looking at some delays with Ezra..."), I could describe it ("He had a few words at 12 months, but stopped using them, used vocalizations only until a few months ago, and has fewer than 15 at 25 mos, which is below the 100-150 words most two year olds have, and we're also seeing a lot of sensory issues...."), but seeing it all there in writing just knocked me to my knees.

You'd think I would be used to this by now, right?

That same afternoon, Noah and I were talking about the other blog post I have been writing.  I told him about it, and said, "You know kid, you really shine quite a light, I hope you know that."  He winked at me, and told me he's had a lot of help from a really great mom.  Yes, you know what happened next.  I burst into tears and asked him if he really thinks so.  "Mom, why else would God not only give you two more kids everyone else told you weren't possible, but two more kids with needs like mine?  Because He knows you're a great mom too, and He knew they would need a great mom to stick up for them."  This kid.

Thankfully, this delay is not something that defines who Ezra is, nor who he will be (something else I've learned from Noah).  It will not confine him to a certain sort of life or restrict which doors open for him, and which doors stay closed to him.  I would never allow that. I know what I'm doing so either get on board or get out of my way.  I will also continue to fight for whatever Ezra needs, for as long as he needs it.  Mother Warrior.  Roar.  I will celebrate every victory and push Ezra just as hard as I've pushed his brothers. In fact, that very morning we'd had a huge victory with the hair dryer!

I know Abba is in control.  I don't know His reason, but I know there has to be one for all of this.  I also know we caught this delay and these sensory issues early.  I'm grateful we live in a society where we have access to early intervention, and that Ezra is able to receive it.  As I've learned with Noah, and as I'm learning with Avery, I know everything will be okay with Ezra.  God is in control.


Monday, May 22, 2017

The Unsung Hero: The School Bus Driver

I put Avery on the school bus this year.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I've made as a mom, but between Ezra's naps and my health, standing in the pick up line at school was becoming less and less of an option.  Allowing Avery to ride the bus was much to his childhood delight, and most definitely to my maternal fright.  That first morning, he was so excited, he was at the bus stop twenty minutes early.  My second grader looked so small waving to me from that school bus window.

Before I made my decision, I stalked followed the bus around its route to watch the driver and her driving habits.  Was she worthy of my trust?  I prayed and prayed and prayed. We prayed at my mom's group.  I sent out prayer requests to friends and others I knew would pray with me.  I asked God for a driver who would care for my child the same way I do.  I asked God for a driver who would drive with the same care, caution and attention I drive with, with my children on board.  I asked God for a nice person with a sunny personality, a happy person who likes young children and knows what to expect from them, and knows they can change with the weather, with the holidays, and just day to day.

God answered those prayers, and more, with our beloved Miss Dottie.  One day I forgot it was an early dismissal, and was out running errands when she dropped Avery at home; she called the school from the bus, who then called me--and I couldn't have been more grateful, as I had planned to be out for at least another hour!  She smiles every time we see her.  She waves to Ezra, who LOVES that big yellow school bus!  She's cautious and careful.  She's taught the children how to wait for her to stop, how to board the bus, how to disembark and cross in from of her so she can see them.  Last month, with a bad storm approaching, she instructed the children on what to do so she could them all home quickly, safely and carefully before it hit (and they listened!).  She knows they get louder the higher the temperatures get and the closer the holidays get (no kidding, recently I heard the children over the diesel engine when she was still several stops away).

What I hope Miss Dottie knows the most though, is just how grateful we are for her, and how much she's blessed us (I may or may not have called the transportation department already to make sure we'll still have her next year).   Not only has she given my legs a break from standing in the pick up line, and given Ezra the chance for nice, long 2-3 hours naps, but most importantly, she has relieved my anxieties and fears.  I know Avery is safe, and I know he's happy with his neighborhood friends.

As the end of the school year approaches, everyone remembers to thank the teachers, the principals, the school nurses and the administration.  Please remember to thank your school bus driver, too!  Quite possibly, they have the most important job, getting our little ones (and big ones!), to and from school safely every day.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Calming Tea and Escalators

Avery had an appointment in the 'city' early yesterday morning, so I did something I seldom do... I declared a day of hooky.

Then I did something I never do.... We took off for the two story mall...  Without. The. Stroller.

I started out like this.
Oh, the littles were so excited!  And yes, it was fun--it really was.  We rode the escalator countless times--until Avery declared his fear conquered and himself a pro--but first we had to watch it and study it, because that's what we Furrs do.  We watched the timing of the steps, how people stepped on and off, if people walked up and down while they were on the moving steps, how they held the handrail.  Then, we were ready.  Oh, wait, not quite yet... Okay, yes!  And... We're off! I mean, on!  And twenty minutes later, we were escalator riding pros!  And we had to ride every single one we saw after that!  

We also rode all the open elevators.  Perhaps just as many times as we rode the escalators! It was fun to watch their little faces, watching the scenery as we rode up and down, their faces and hands glued to the open glass.

One thing I know we did more than both of those things combined was chase Ezra.  My goodness, that child can take off like a shot and RUN.  He did very well holding my hand, but really, who wants to be tied down all the time?  A few times I allowed him to roam free, and then he took liberties, of course, because he's two and that's what two year olds do.

I can't imagine what I must've looked like by the time we reached the final stores (like an idiot I tried to actually accomplish a little shopping).  I'm sure I was frazzled, and it's even possible my head was spinning (but I promise I was still having fun!)!  In the last store, the very nice clerk offered me a cup of tea to enjoy while I shopped.  "Would you like a cup of chamomile tea?  It's a lovely calming tea."  She seemed to really emphasize that it was lovely and calming, with a sympathetic hand on my shoulder.  Was it my children running circles around me?  My hair standing on end?  My exhausted face?  WHY DID I LOOK LIKE I NEED A CUP OF CALMING TEA??????

I ended the day like this.
Maybe just take the tea.  And the stroller. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Missions Work and Motherhood and Cellulite and Wobbly Bits

I was so excited when Noah asked me to go with him to Jamaica this year.  I really couldn't believe it--my son wants me to go with him!  International missions work!  Oh my gosh!  I was jumping up and down inside my brain while trying to maintain control of my body because you know, geez Mom, get a grip. OH MY GOSH MY TEENAGE SON WANTS ME TO GO TO JAMAICA WITH HIM, EVERYONE!!!!  AHHHHHHHHH!!!!  

Those were my first thoughts.  It took a few weeks for my heart and mind to settle down from that total elation.

Then my mind switched gears.

I'm afraid to admit my second thought was just a *bit* more superficial:  Oh my word, I'm going to have to wear shorts--and a bathing suit.  See you have to understand something--my legs have not seen sunlight in at least 22 years.  It's possible I have some body confidence issues, but that's another blog post.  When the Freshman 15 and Mom 45 caused my waistline to increase, they also caused my self confidence to decrease.  No one wants to see these legs!  I won't described what's going on--we'll just leave at 'wobbly bits and cellulite.' My clothes became baggier, and my skirts and pant legs became longer.  And, I believe, the last time I wore a bathing suit, someone unnecessarily called an ocean wildlife rescue phone number while attempting to haul me from the poolside to the oceanside, yelling, "BEACHED WHALE!"  True story, I swear.

So, there's my trepidation.  I don't want to scare any Jamaicans, right?  I mean, we'll be there to help and not hurt, after all.    And yes, I know how silly and stupid it sounds.

Noah's been after me though, and I love hearing the excitement in his voice.  "Oh Mom, dude (why, just once, can I not be Dudette, or just Mom? But I digress...), if we go to the blue hole, YOU ARE SOOOOO. GOING. IN!"  Now, I've seen this thing from pictures--I'm not sure that I would go in, even fully clothed.   I'm sure my freaked out imagination has blown it out of proportion, but there's something of quite a drop, after you've climbed up quite a ways, and you just jump, or swing out on a rope and drop down into this amazingly blue water--the choice is yours.  Yeahhhhhhh.  But, according to my teenage son, I do not have a choice.

There are other things too--like the children I'll get to work with.  The buildings I'll get to put nails in.  The little 3 year old with special needs at the orphanage I'll get to rock to sleep at night, and sing to during the day while we play games and I teach her about Jesus.  The memories I'll get to make with my son, working alongside him.  The growth I will get to see in him. I've been praying for a freedom from myself while I'm there.  I can't wait to see what God does!  It makes me giggly and dance-y and excited and just already amazed!

Here's the thing--Noah does not care about my wobbly bits and cellulite.  And these thoughts of mine, nor my hesitations, are not the things I want my children to remember about me.  He just wants me there beside him.  He just wants to make memories with me and spend time with me.  Neither of us know for sure if this will be our last opportunity for something like this before he leaves for whatever God has in store for him, so yes, I'm jumping (or dropping, or being shoved with my eyes shut tight)--God help me--into that blue hole, and I'm wearing shorts and I'm going to dance and laugh and clap and praise God and hold children and nail walls up and just be free of myself.  I'm going to hold on to my boy as though my life depends on it, and I'm going to cry (I mean come on, y'all know me well enough by now...) and just LOVE.

I don't know what those Jamaicans will think of this crazy emotional, sensitive American woman wearing shorts for the first time in 22 years with wobbly bits and cellulite, but one thing I do know--I hope they see Jesus in me.  I hope they meet him through me.  I hope I leave them better than I found them.  

Monday, April 24, 2017

And the Mother of the Year Award Goes tooooooo.....

As a mom of boys, you learn quickly that at some point during the diaper years, you're bound to get peed on.

With Noah, it happened before we even left the hospital.  He hit the wall, he hit us, he hit just about everything.  The nurse laughed, and showed us how to properly change a baby boy.

We were faster with Avery, and dodged his streams.  Ezra proved us more out of practice however, and even found Shawn with a handful of poo in the pediatrician's office at just a few days old.

Today was one for the books though, I'm sure.  It felt that way, anyway.

Ezra was constipated, so I plopped him on the potty, as that has helped him in the past.

I kneeled on the floor, held him around his waist, and we sat, forehead to forehead while I talked to him in a soft voice, and sang for a few minutes while he worked his problem out.

Then I felt it--a warm stream, right in my face.   Pee.  And lots of it.

I didn't even drop Ezra in the toilet.  I didn't flinch, and I managed to keep my composure.  Go me.  

Ezra pooped, and we both left the bathroom proud of ourselves (after I washed my face).

Mother.  Of.  The.  Year.