An Answer for my Self-Doubt

Lately, I feel like I’ve been “surviving.”  We get through our day-to-day tasks, everyone is clothed and fed and diapered, the house is presentable (most of the time), and laundry is clean, if not folded.

But, things are busy.  Three boys 4-and-under comes with a lot of little needs that need to be met, and I’m very busy simply taking care of those needs.

And…… the “mommy guilt” creeps in  —  the self-doubt that eats at me, telling me I’m not quite good enough – not quite doing enough.  Yes, my children are happy, but are they nurtured enough?  Stimulated, played-with, taught, read-to, and prayed-with enough?  After diapers are changed and breakfast is cleared, it’s time for lunch, then naps, then dinner, then bed – and where did all the in-between time go?  You know – the time I always intend to play, to teach, and to nurture?  The time seems to have vanished, and I am left with the guilt – the wondering how I can do more for my children – especially my special-needs child.  Maybe if I just spent more time working on language activities with Matthew – maybe he would talk more?  Maybe if I just spent more time working with his picture boards, maybe he would use them to communicate with me?  Maybe if I could just do more …

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Today, neither Jesse nor Matthew went down for a nap.  Jesse slept for 20 minutes in the morning, and thought he was set for the day, and Matthew fussed for a long time in his crib, never settling down – very unusual for him.  So, I decided to load up the ‘babies’ and take them for a drive, hoping to lull them both into a restful, peaceful sleep, while giving Micah some much-coveted “Daddy time” at home.  Jesse fell asleep right away, while Matthew happily and quietly enjoyed the ride.

Using my quiet time to pray, I started to unload my heavy heart, telling God everything:

Lord, please give me the strength and energy to be the mother You created me to be.  Am I teaching Micah enough?  He is so inquisitive – wants to know everything, and learns so quickly.  He wants me to spend more time reading to him, coloring with him, playing with him … but I’m so busy taking care of other things – sometimes I feel like I can barely take care of everyone’s basic needs.  And, what about Jesse?  What am I supposed to be doing to play with and stimulate a 9-mo old, anyway?  I’m so busy with the other two…   And, my Matthew.  We’re starting to feel ‘stuck’ again.  How do I do enough for him? Do we need to add private Speech Therapy?  Am I right to pursue the sleep apnea issue?  How can I stimulate him more, teach him more?  How do I give Matthew everything he needs?

Right then, I was interrupted by words that were so clear, so definite, they were almost audible:

“I have already given Matthew everything he needs.  I gave him you.”

My breath caught in my throat.

A prayer so clearly, so quickly answered – and not at all expected.  The road was starting to look blurry … An overwhelming sense of peace.  A weight lifted from my shoulders.  The best validation I could ever receive, and an incredible reminder that He sees me, in my everyday, ordinary tasks of caring for my children; that He cares for me and loves me, and that we are all in His hands.

And, that is everything I need.

He is everything I need.

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Happy Heart Day!

Matthew,

Today feels like a celebration – a “birthday.”

Two years ago today, your heart was repaired.  This was, of course, after you had shocked us all by repairing most of it on your own, earning you your forever nickname, “Miracle Matthew.”  Still, without the incredibly skilled hand of your surgeon, you would not be with us today.

May 8, 2008 was a day I once feared and dreaded – you will never know how hard it was to send you away into that operating room, or to see you fight through your recovery – but now it is a day to treasure and celebrate!  Last year, (Was it Really Only a Year Ago?) I wrote about how far you had come in the year since your surgery.

This year: a quick sentimental look back, then a celebratory update!

Your 8-month birthday – May 14, 2008. 6 days after open-heart surgery:

Your face looks so artificially round to me – after weeks of intensive tube feedings to get you ready for surgery – to try to get you up to 10 pounds!

Now:

The scar on your chest is just a white line – still there as a reminder of all you have been through, but subtle now.

I can’t begin to describe what a blessing you are to us.  You are a gift.  A gift from God.  I love watching your personality develop and emerge, and I love the person that you are, and the boy you are becoming.  Your heart is incredible – and not just anatomically.  I’ve never seen a 2-year-old with the concern for others that you have.  If Micah is fussing or pouting, you rush over to give him a hug and a gentle pat on the back.  If Jesse starts to fuss, you run to me to sign “baby,” before giving him a hug, and sometimes a toy to cheer him up.  You greet me by running to me with open arms, giving me your own uniquely wonderful full-body-snuggle-hug.  Your hands are gentle and sweet.  You get so excited to see Daddy come home from work that you always greet him running, too.  You can sign “Daddy Home,” and it’s one of your favorite parts of the day.

Speaking of signs, you learn new ways to communicate all the time.  Sign language has been so helpful, and here are the latest additions to “the list” of signs you know and use:  Bread, Cracker, Dinner, Napkin/kleenex, Swing, Home, Ouch, Bubbi (Aaron’s mom), Shoes, Comb hair, Brush teeth, Make, Flower, Tiger, Sheep, Cow, Starfish, Squirrel, Frog, Duck, Stop, Go, and blowing kisses means, “Goodnight!”  That brings your total number up to sixty-eight signs!  Way to go, Little Love!  (You can also shake your head “no,” but I’m not sure we can count that as a sign!)  If you don’t know the sign for something, sometimes you will use something that sounds close.  You signed “cracker” for “tractor” the other day, and you use “ouch” to mean “out,” but we’re working on that.  I love the creativity and ingenuity, though!

You also have enough sounds now to make a list:  “Dada,” “Papa,” “No.”  You try to say “Go,” but it still sounds a lot like “no.”  You can “vvvvmmm” like a car, say “bah-” for “bounce,” “Hahh-” for Hot, “CCCCKKKKK” for crashing blocks or roaring lions, snort for noses, “oof oof” and panting for dogs, and the funniest squeak for a quacking duck. “Dat-Dat-Dat” is for dotting colors with markers or marching animals along. “Up-up-up” when you are climbing, “on-on-non-non-on” when you make it, and “Dow” for Down.  “Haa!” when you see someone, “Uh-oh” when something falls, “Huuu-” with your sweet hugs, and “Shhhh” for quiet time.

Your therapist keeps asking me about “pairs of opposites” that you understand, and “self-help skills.”

Well, you know a lot of opposites:  yes/no, up/down, hot/cold, open/closed, stop/go, on/off, hello/goodbye, in/out … and I’m probably forgetting some!

And, your “self-help” skills are coming, too.  You wash your hands without much help.  You take off your shoes and try to put them back on.  You feed yourself with a fork and a spoon … but this is my favorite:  You ask for a kleenex, blow your nose by yourself, wipe your nose a couple times, then hand the kleenex back!  You also cover your cough with your elbow!  … impressive for any 2-year old!

We’re so very, very proud of you Matthew.

May we never forget the miracle and the gift that you are.

It’s a bird, it’s a …. SOMETHING outside!!

Early this morning, Matthew was looking out the window when he got excited and enthusiastically signed “bird!”  I sleepily said, “Do you see a bird, Matthew?”

He shook his head “No!” emphatically, and then signed “bird” again.  Since the signs for “bird” and “outside” look similar coming from Matthew’s pudgy little hand, I guessed, “outside?”

Again, “No!”  “Bird/Outside.”

Alright – I’ll come look.  What do you see?  What are you trying to say?

We could see about 15-20 balloons from our backyard this morning!

Mother’s day weekend in Walla Walla is always the “Balloon Stampede.”  Balloonists come from all over the country to our little town, and can put on quite a show when they all take off!  The balloons can only launch if the weather is pristine, however.  Since it has been very windy all week, I didn’t have much hope of seeing balloons this weekend, but we woke up to a calm, cool, beautiful morning.

A couple of the balloons looked like they were going to land in the park close to our house, so we headed out to see:

Two balloons did land in the park, tethered and gave a few kids some short, tethered rides.  Micah decided to maybe ride next year – for now, he was happy to keep his distance from the big flame and the burner noise.  The boys loved to watch the deflating process, though.  First, they tip the entire balloon on it’s side (Matthew, with big eyes just said, “uh-oh.”), then squeeze all the air out before packing it up in a big carrying bag.

Micah had a chance to ask the pilots all of his questions:  “What is the name of your balloon,” “Why does the fire have to be so loud?” “What’s your name?” “My name is Micah.  M-I-C-A-H” – etc.  The pilot of the “Wild Goose” was very kind and gave Micah a photo card of the balloon as a keepsake, and the pilot of “Dear John” needed Micah’s help to squish the last bit of air out of the balloon:

Then, he a chance to see the basket up close before they packed it away, too.

That grin on that 4-year-old’s face is all I need for Mother’s Day this year!

Not Me! Monday

Welcome to my first Not Me! Monday post! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog, www.mycharmingkids.net to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.  MckMama also has a son, Stellan, whose heart was miraculously healed.  His story is worth reading, too.

But, just for fun today, here’s the idea:  We write about things we most certainly did NOT do … but of course, we really DID – it’s just more fun to write about it this way.  So.. here goes.  Here are the things that did NOT (*wink* *wink*) happen around here lately.

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While Aaron was out of town, I did NOT lose track of time while letting the kids play outside Saturday afternoon.  Not me.  It was a beautiful day, but we needed to get to the Saturday vigil Mass.  We were meeting my parents there, who were also taking care of my brother’s kids for the weekend.  I do NOT always arrange to go to church with my parents when Aaron is out of town … nope … I can handle all 3 kids in Mass by myself … no problem …

So, of course, I was NOT rushed to get the kids ready … because Matthew did NOT sit in the mud – and he did NOT try to eat it, subsequently smearing it all over his face.  Nope, my Matthew would NEVER do such a thing.  So, he did NOT require a bath before Mass.

I had set out the boys’ church clothes, … their cute little matching green button-ups, perfect for spring with matching khaki pants and a cute green outfit for Jesse – but I did NOT forget to set out socks for Micah.  While bathing Matthew, I was NOT yelling calling out instructions to Micah – not me.  So, I would NOT have told Micah to go look in the spare bedroom for a pair of socks.  Nope – we do NOT EVER have a giant pile of clean but unfolded laundry in the spare bedroom – not at my house!  So Micah would NOT have said, “Mommy, I can only find a blue one and a red one.”  And, in my hurry, I would NOT have yelled back, “That’s O.K, Micah.  No one will see your socks since you will have shoes on!”

Micah did NOT say, “Mommy, I can’t find my shoes,” because Micah’s shoes are ALWAYS in the closet where he can find them easily.  Yes, my kids ALWAYS put things in their place.  But I was NOT so busy with the babies that I forgot about a certain 4-year-old’s shoes.  So, when I called “Micah, get in the car!” he would NOT have figured, “Oh well, I guess I don’t need shoes today.”  He hopped in the back seat of the minivan and buckled up, just like I had asked.

As I pulled in the parking lot of the church, the car clock did NOT say “5:31,” and as I slung the diaper bag over my shoulder, placed Matthew on one hip to carry and Jesse on the other, I did NOT look ridiculous or overwhelmed.  And I was NOT horrified to see my 4-year old climbing out of the car with one red sock and one blue … no shoes.  Nope.  This would NEVER happen to us.

We did NOT make a scene AT ALL with Micah parading in front with his colorful socks, and me trailing behind with the diaper bag and more than my hands full, carrying 40+ pounds of baby between the two of them all the way to the front of the church where my parents were sitting.  Never.

In the middle of Mass, my Micah did NOT ask to show his cousins his “Lightning McQueen” band-aid, which he had earned earlier that day for a scraped knee.  Nope – we do NOT buy “licensed character” stuff for our kids … and Micah did NOT pout when we told him he had to wait until after Mass.  Not MY Micah.

So, after Mass, Micah certainly would NOT have raced out the doors to the front steps of the church, only to DROP HIS DRAWERS COMPLETELY in order to show his cousins his band-aid on his knee.  And, even if he did, we would NEVER have been so unfortunate to have his little Lightning McQueen briefs come down with the pants, leaving my Micah completely exposed on the front church steps.  No way – that could NEVER happen to us!  And I was NOT embarrassed at ALL.

And after Mass, we didn’t get ANY comments about Micah’s socks.  Nope.  NOBODY noticed.  And even if they did, they would NOT have told Micah, “It’s FUN to come to church without shoes, isn’t it?!”  And, even if they did, I would NOT have blurted out:  “NO!!  It’s NOT!!  It’s NOT FUN!!”  Because, you see, I’m calm and composed, and was certainly NOT flustered by that point … and would never contradict a sweet old lady at church.

And, my dad was certainly NOT laughing the entire time.

….. somehow nobody noticed their cute little matching outfits that day.

Oh, and by the way – this most certainly did NOT happen a full 2 weeks ago now.  I would NOT let that much time go by before documenting something like that, because I NEVER get behind.

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At our last Shriner’s appointment (which I have NOT neglected to write about … see above – I NEVER get behind), Jesse was given a cute little “Shriner’s” hat, complete with tassel.  As soon as they gave it to him, my first thought was NOT “I can’t wait to put it on Matthew while he rides his trike!”  Nope.  Not me.  I would never do something like that for a laugh.

And, just for the record, we do NOT duct tape Matthew’s feet to the pedals of his tricycle to enable him to ride it.  At least … not any more.  Now, we have stylish red velcro straps to strap his feet down, and he rides away!  And, I did NOT spend ANY time thinking about whether or not I could get some bicycle “clip” shoes in toddler size 6 … nope … I have much better things to spend my time thinking about!

And, we make sure that Matthew ALWAYS dressed stylishly and properly.  NO goofiness.

Prayers for Taylor

Please pray for Taylor and her family.

Taylor is in the hospital right now, recovering from complete AV canal surgery.  Her parents and family didn’t know she had Down syndrome or this heart defect until she was born, but they have really embraced and accepted the diagnosis.  Since they are relatively “new” to our little community, let’s surround them with prayer and support.  You can visit their blog, “One Day at a Time…” and leave your comments.

It’s been nearly 2 years since Matthew’s surgery, but I still remember the details so vividly.  I don’t know how I ever would have gotten through it all without your prayers and encouragement.  Will there be more nostalgic posts as the anniversary of Matthew’s surgery approaches?  Probably. 🙂  Meanwhile, let’s keep Taylor and her family close in prayer – they are in the midst of the most difficult part of this journey.