Monday, October 26, 2015

Have you ever stood in the middle of a crowded place and felt completely alone?  Sometimes the memories in your head are so vivid they drown out the rest of the world. Sometimes the memories are welcomed thoughts and sometimes sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Last week I packed up my merry band of misfits and headed out on a grand adventure. We'd planned and saved for months so we could go to Disney World.  We're sort of self proclaimed Disney experts so I thought of everything, hotel, meal plan, perfectly selected magicbands,  and dining reservations painstakingly made 6 months in advance. I spent a week making lists and packing for 4. I spent hours in Pinterest looking for ideas to keep 2 kids occupied in the car for 14 hours. I was ready for the magic to begin.
We spent 14 glorious hours together (I might be exaggerating  the glorious part) on our way to the  happiest place on Earth. The kids were so excited. Emma is a Disney pro but Jax had no idea what he was getting into. I couldn't wait to see that look in your kids eyes when they experience everything Disney.  It can only be described as magical.
As soon as we saw the famous Disney World sign a flood of memories hit me in the gut like a ton of bricks. This overwhelming sadness creeped it's way into my brain. So many wonderful memories have happened at this place. This was the first time we've come back without her. This was her place. This is where she wasn't just a handicapped kid.  She was princess Madison in this place and everyone she met seemed to recognize that. You could feel her demeanor change when she was in Disney World. Her smile and laugh were contagious everyday but in this place they were electric. I never thought that visiting her place without her would be so hard.
Everything Disney was covered in her memory. Even boarding the bus at the resort reminds me of her. Standing in the regular (non-handicapped) line,  not uprooting half the bus to strap her wheelchair in, not hearing her laugh when the bus takes off.  Why was this all so emotional?  She's been gone almost 4 years. I walk through my house everyday,  the house where she took her last breath, and I don't feel this crushing sadness at home. Maybe I've just learned to pretend better at home.
Stepping off that Disney bus to our first park felt like time stopped. Walking the path to the park entrance tears welled up in my eyes. I tried not to show it. Thank God for sunglasses!  I didn't want my kids to feel my sadness. I wanted to keep out vacation happy. Every place we went, every  thing we did I felt crushed by her memory. I don't mean that in a bad way. I just felt her memory weighed very heavy on me.
I think the hardest part of whole trip was on "It's a small world."  That was her ride. We used to ride it over and over again I'm the special wheelchair boat. Typically on our trips they didn't put people in the boat with us. It was like for a moment the entire ride belonged to us and in those moments life was perfect. Boarding the regular boat with other people was a huge punch in face from reality. Some of our magic had been taken away. I let my tears fall just a little on the ride. Perhaps a little bit of healing in those tears. I laughed a little when Jax laid his head on my lap and fell asleep. His  sister never would have let that happen. She would have laughed and "talked" all the way through the ride.
The week did get easier and I did really enjoy the time with my family.  It's just like everything in life after you lose a child, you have to get used to your "new normal".  I didn't see this waive of emotion coming but I'm glad it did. I miss her so much every day. I enjoyed being in her place and  feeling her presence with us so clearly.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When your almost 7 year old is wise beyond her years..

I rarely find time to blog these days.  It turns out that raising these Rosebushes and working full time consumes most of my time.   Something happened last week that I didn't want to just tell the world in a Facebook post.  

Emma's 7th birthday is coming up quickly.   Really quickly.   I thought they were only supposed to come once a year,   there's no way it's been a year.  Right?  We originally told Emma that she wasn't going to have a big party this year with all her friends.   We are taking a trip to Disney shortly after her birthday so I didn't want the stress of getting vacation ready and planning a party.  Emma didn't seem super upset by this but she did ask very politely if maybe I'd reconsider and let her have a taekwondo party with her classmates and friends.   I don't know why I reconsidered.   Maybe it was because I felt bad she was in a new class without her BFF'S.  Maybe it's because she caught me on a good day.   Maybe it was a full moon.   Most likely it's because my kids are really really spoiled.  Whatever the reason, I caved in.   I arranged a party at our taekwondo place.   It's fairly cheap and they clean up so what did I have to lose.

Now this is where the birthday party gets interesting.   Fred and I were asking what she wanted for her birthday.  She named a few things but said she just wanted to buy a few things at Disney.   She then says that she wants to do something to help people for her birthday.   Hmmm.. like what?   She says that she has a lot of stuff and doesn't really need more.  She said she doesn't have room for more stuff.   So she asked if she could donate stuff to Make-A-Wish.   I was so moved my this.  How can this selfish little creature be thinking so unselfishly?   Where did this come from?   I wasn't sure but I did not want to discourage her.   I suggested that maybe she tell her friends to bring toys for Make-A-Wish or Kosair Children's Hospital instead of gifts for her.  I thought for sure she would scoff at the idea.   I mean what kid doesn't want presents for their birthday.   Heck, I still like presents on my birthday!   Her face lit up.   She got very excited and said that she would love to give toys to the hospital. WHAT?   Who is this kid?  She said that sometimes kids get stuck in the hospital and that's not much fun.   Since she was healthy and having a fun party she wanted other kids to smile.   She looked at me and said "Mom, I have a lot.  I do fun things all the time.   I'm going to Disney.   Some kids don't get to do that. "  I really fought the urge to cry.   How can this kid be so wise?   I agreed to let her do this if she wanted too.  I thought for sure she'd change her mind.   Fred thought she was nuts.   I just let it go.   I didn't mention it again until she asked if it was really ok to do it.   She started telling people what she had planned.   She helped me write a letter to go with her invitations so her friends knew what she wanted to do.   I looked up a list of things the hospital wants and can use and also included it with her letter.   She is so excited, giddy really.  I can't wait to take her to the hospital to drop off the stuff.   It warms my heart to see her giving so freely.  If she can sacrifice so much for an almost 7 year old what can I do?

Now before you nominate her for sainthood I want to mention that she wad very clear that her gift donation does not include the things that her parents or grandparents give her.  I mean the kid has to have some presents right?

Her party is October 10th and I hope she gets a good haul for the kids at the hospital.  Maybe she'll inspire other kids to give back too.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Kindergarten Graduation

It seems like just yesterday that Fred and I were sitting the principal's office at Christian Academy telling my high school guidance counselor (now the CAL principal) why Emma should go to CAL. I cried that day!  We'd been there for 2 years already in the preschool program but now we were talking about Kindergarten.  Kindergarten....seriously...real school.... I think I was in denial at that point.  Kindergarten was a far off thing, certainly not something that was going to really happen, and graduation from Kindergarten was not even a blip on my radar.  I guess we were convincing that day because they let her in and I was forced to prepare.  We did our summer reading.  We bought the uniforms and the supplies.  We met the poor soul that was going to be in charge of my wild child for 7 hours every day.  Bless Mrs. Curtsinger's heart!  We prayed just a little for the summer to slow down and for my baby girl to stay a baby just a little longer but without fail August came and so did Kindergarten.
I put on my brave face on that sunny August morning and dressed blondie in her uniform.  She was so ready for this new adventure.  She was so eager to learn to read, write, make new friends, and grow up.  This momma on the other hand was not ready.  It was really just yesterday that the doctor handed Fred and I this fat cheeked, blond headed, bundle of baby.  How did we end up here again????  I walked her in.  I took some pictures.  She kissed me goodbye and took her place at her big kid desk.  We were really doing this and I was the only one of us that seemed bothered by the day.  
Over the past 9 months I have watched her grow so much. She's not only grown physically, proven by the shortening of uniform pants, skirts, and shirts, but she's grown in so many ways.  She's grown spiritually.  She prays daily.  She sings about Jesus.  She loves to read her Bible.  She's become so independent.  She's learned to read.  This one happened overnight, literally!  Okay, maybe not literally, but it felt like it.  She reads everything, including my text messages!  She's gone from my little baby to this grown up little girl in such a short time.  
Tonight my grown up girl put on her little cap and gown,  the first of several in her future I'm sure, and she graduated.  She made it!  We both did!  We survived Kindergarten!  The kids sang songs and recited scripture and were really too cute for words.  As the kids got their "diplomas" the teachers read aloud what each child wanted to be when they grew up.  The answers ranged from teacher and doctor to wrestler and jockey.  My daughter said preacher.  She wants to be a preacher when she grows up because she wants everyone to know about Jesus.  Cue the teary eyed mommy!  We shall see how that changes as she grows but I'm glad that even at 6 she has a heart to serve others.  
This kid pushes my buttons on a daily basis but I am so very proud of her.  I am thankful that I was chosen to be her mommy.  First Grade here we come.  
I've decided to share a few pictures from this school year.  They are in chronological order from August through now.  It's amazing to watch the changes in all the kids.  

The class at the beginning of the year.  


Twins Day


BFF and Partner in Crime Macie
I hope we get to take a similar picture in 12 years when they get to high school.  

BFF and also partner in crime Ellie
These two kids are already running cons on me.  

Mrs. Curtsinger - She also survived the year!  

Mrs. Carson the Principal and also my high school guidance counselor.  
She said I made her feel old.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day

It's been awhile since I've posted a blog but I feel like this post is something that I need to say.  I promise I will start to post again on a more regular basis.
 Yesterday was Mother's Day and in the last 3 years it's become a day that I have mixed feelings about.   Don't get me wrong I love my mom and my step mom.  They're both great and I'm so thankful for them.  My feelings about Mother's Day have more to do with my own motherhood experience.
You see I became a mother 15 years ago.  Wow,  writing that seems super unreal.  I was never prepared to be a mom.  I had no idea what to do with a baby.  I'd barely even changed diapers!  I'd never expected to leave the hospital with a baby when Maddie was born thanks to the grim prognosis of nearly every doctor I saw.  I once heard someone say that having a child is like feeling your heart beat outside your body and I think that is true.  I  knew as soon as I laid eyes on that little girl that my heart would never be the same.   Three days after she was born I was packing up a special needs newborn and leaving the hospital.   Thank God for my parents because I'm certain I wouldn't have lasted 30 minutes alone with her.  That little girl taught me more about life and unconditional love in her lifetime than I will ever be able to share and she never spoke a word.   She gave me purpose in life.  She changed me in ways I can't even put into words.  She made me a mom.
Since her birth I've been blessed with two more happy, healthy,  headstrong and beautiful children.   They are amazing and everyday with them is an adventure, but if it wasn't for their big sister I don't know if I would have been ready to love them like all children deserve to be loved.
It's hard to celebrate Mother's Day without a third of your heart.   A piece of me is forever missing and sometimes on Mother's Day that hole in my heart feels as big as the Grand Canyon.   Inevitably on Mother's Day a stranger will ask the question I hate most in the world, "How many children do you have?"  This question is so hard to answer,  if I say 2 I feel like I've forgotten about my baby girl.  If I say 3 then I have to explain where #3 is and deal with the awkward moments that follow.   So usually I just avoid that question altogether.  
On Mother's Day I received well wishes from lots of family and friends and largely ignored them.   That's not to say  I don't appreciate them.  I just feel a little sad on this day because my first born is not here.   I know that's probably sounds selfish but that's where my heart is.
I'm sure Mother's Day is difficult for many women out there, not just me.  So please if you read this stop and say a prayer for all those out there who struggle with Mother's Day.   It's just another day but it can stir so many emotions.