Sunday, February 26, 2012

Control

On a warm summer evening in 1988, my older brother Jason and I rode our bikes into the small town of Deer Park. Our Grandma and Grandpa Ajer lived less than a mile away and often served as the destination.  I do not remember much about that night.  Things seemed quiet and like anything we would expect.  What we did not expect was it was the last time either of us would interact with our grandpa.  We would never hear his voice or see him about his business.  He died the next morning.  A heart attack.

When I woke that morning I had to seek out those who were awake.  Jason and our older brother Craig were outside playing basketball while my dad sat or stood holding one of our youngest siblings.  Maybe it was Chrissy who would have been about 4 months at the time.  David?  He would have been 3.5 I think.  When you have 6 siblings it is  hard to remember the years they were all born.

Our family was turned upside down.  Well, I was anyways.  I was about 8.5 and I knew then what death could do to a person.  My heart was torn open and will never be as thick or strong.

I remember the night of Grandpa's wake.  I could not stop crying.  The pain was worse than anything I ever felt.

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I recall my grandpa's death this morning because I learned a little more about it this morning.  I learned how crippled I am over this event.  I guess I've always known.  Isn't that the thing with tragedy and hardship?  We always know about it in the way it adjusts us, even if it is just a notch.

I felt no control over the situation of my grandpa's death.  I wanted to.  I once dreamt I fed him a carrot and he came back to life.  My grandma liked that story.  She repeated it to someone.  I do not remember who, but I remember the feeling when I told her.  I wanted her to make it happen.  Someone, anyone.  Maybe I had a new idea.  I knew it didn't work that way, but I wanted someone to make it happen.  Erase the pain and bring him back.

Since then, I am afraid to feel a lack of control.  I associate severe pain with it.  Pain that no one can make go away.

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Sure, there were other things in my childhood that added to my disability.  An uncle succumb to alcoholism. And there was my grandma.  She became a victim of her own addiction and suffered through lung cancer.

The thing about my uncle and grandma and so many of the rest of us is we struggle with the same disability.

This disability of mine is labeled as anxiety.  Not by a doctor.  By myself.  I feel it at times.  It is not treated by a pharmaceutical.  I treat it with a clean house, organized rooms, schedules, questions, and much more.  Ask Joe.  Ask him what I am like when I don't know what the plan is.  It is a psychological plan of my future.  It is dangerous.

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Calvin was awake at 11:30 and 1.  I laid him back down at 1 with the knowledge that he has a fever.  Just like Nolan.  Both are coughing their way through the night.  Nolan has had a fever since Thursday morning.

When a child comes to your bed in the middle of the night, who otherwise stays put, his parents know 'something is up'.

This 'something' is about the worst cold Nolan has had and I admit I am fighting a fear.  I am afraid of what it is going to do to Calvin.  Hell, I'm afraid of what it is going to do to Nolan.

You know though, my fears are greater at night, when it is dark and I am all alone.  I am not much different now than when I was a child.

Nolan came to my bed again this morning around 4:15.  He coughed and coughed.  I gave him some water and helped as much as I could and I left.  I closed it up tight and ran my 6 miles.  All the while I thought about how horrible I was feeling.

Anxious really.

Then, in anxiety style, I analyzed the crap out of it and wrote most of it down.

Here is what I learned about myself this morning.  I learned that I have learned a lot in life.  I have learned a lot in one morning!  I learned that calling this anxiety is like calling a band aide 'peach-colored'. It is not peach-colored that defines it.  It is not being a band aide that defines it.  The wound underneath the band aide does not even define it.  Is it what caused the wound that defines it?  That is where I am at this morning.

(By the way, I did like philosophy classes in college.  It just wears you out because there is no beginning and no end.  Just one big loop.)

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As I wrap up this page of my book (not literally) I am reminded of my morning's lesson.  I feel the need to control things in my life.  To be successful.  I need these to drown out my true lack of both.  Sure, I am successful at some things.  That cannot be argued.  But if that were what really mattered, then I would not feel anxious this morning.  I am not even sure it is the lack of control that matters either.  The cruel joke about control is we never really have it.  It is just that sometimes we do not feel the need to exhibit it, or 'pull it out of the closet' so to speak.  I realized that is why I was an 11 at the time of my last post and a 4 today.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Simplify

While basking in the morning sun and cold winter air during yesterday mornings run, I rated my feelings on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing a large amount of feel-good feelings (happiness, joy, relief, peace, etc) and I came up with an 11!
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I decided this week to quit the 'photo-a-day' challenge.  I am not a quitter.   However, as I get older I am learning to accept my feelings and support them in a way that fosters peace. 

This is exactly what is happening with my roles as a wife, parent, and person with many interests.  The fact is, when you add something to your plate, you must take something away.  My plate is overflowing.  It is as though I am at the Who's Feast.  I have eyes larger than my stomach.  Simple enough.

I will never forget the lesson I learned when I read Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicolas Sparks.  In it, I learned a valuable lesson.  Simplicity leads to peace.

This week I scrubbed my carpets and deleted a couch and toy bin from the living room.  This summer I am hosting a garage sale and I am going to sever the emotional connection I have with some material items (I am not ready to part with the baby stuff yet though!).  I am going to sort through toys, books, cupboards, and closets.  I want less 'things' in my life so I have room for peace and focus on people and my new adventure with photography.  

I cannot, or more fittingly do not want, more to manage.  Fitting in this category were the 'photo-a-day challenge' and Calvin's therapies.

It was merely months ago that I was feeling like Calvin needed more.  He did.  He was not developing at a rate I was satisfied with.  Part of my issue had to do with blogging and this online atmosphere.  I would read blogs and take notes only to compare where Cal is at next to a child his age or even younger.  

It hurt me.  It was tearing me down and coating me with a reeking layer of guilt.  Thanks anyway devil, I do not have room for guilt.  

The problem with comparisons is: there are so many outlying factors that do not line up with those other kids I was holding Calvin up to.  It was like trying to merge 2 puzzles together as one.  For one, the pieces do not connect and two, the pictures are completely different.

So, I have, together with Cal's therapists, decreased Calvin's therapies.  He will see his occupational therapist every other week alternating between here and daycare.  His speech therapy will also decrease to every other week and maybe once in a while at daycare.  That way I can have a real break from work and other appointments.

Going back to work has been a blessing in disguise.  It has forced me to look at this phenomenon and also gave me a reminder that Calvin's disability is one that I have no business stressing over.

Much of this post brings me back to my first ultrasound with a cardiologist (not Dr. Sutton whom we work with now).  When she asked if we had genetic testing and went on to inform myself and my mom that there is a high correlation between Ds and the heart defect Calvin has repaired, I looked at my mom and asked what I was going to do.  I wondered how I was going to live!  She said I would just do it because I am 'type A' AND she said that of all disabilities, Down syndrome was going to feel okay.

This post is exactly about that.  I am 'type A' and I need to let go.  And, as I am back at work, I see many struggles that people go through and I am reminded that Down syndrome is really no big deal!  My life will go on.  
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

35:366 (MOA)

Evan has eczema.  He has it in the winter and has since he was a baby.  I started him on a dairy-free diet to see if that would help and his reward for hard work and no complaining was a trip to Lego Land at the Mall of America.  We went and spent some nice time together as a family.  Evan picked out a lego set that dubs as his birthday gift.  We had a fun adventure.  I love spending time together as a family (my love language).PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket
The second of a half-dozen 'Cal admirers'.  They are everywhere, so sweet.
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Joe asked if he looked dorky posing for this photo.  Well, duh!  However, a man walked by and told me his wife always thinks he is dorky when he is in this store!  Men turn into boys.
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Photo made out of legos:
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Evan likes singing along to "Walk On the Ocean".  This is a good Sirius station!
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34:366 (Star Spangled Banner)

Evan was amongst about 60 kindergarten kids who sang the Star Spangled Banner for the varsity boys basketball game:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

I think he was proud. I sure was!

33:366 (oops, I did it again)

I forgot a pic again.  However, I think I'm okay with that once a month or so, cuz I'll post a pic from last year during this month.  A way to gauge how far we've come :)  Like, sort of sitting:Photobucket
Or, bitty head shadows:
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Or, brothers so young:
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Or, discovering feet:
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Or, Evan wearing his shirt backwards:
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32:366 (makes me smile)

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When I look through my pictures and decide what to present here on the blog, I inevitably have this inner smile.  I love looking at the photos. PhotobucketPhotobucket Sometimes I feel the stress or negativity of a moment, but rarely am I running for the camera during those times of life.  Instead, when I hear a giggle or the joy that is being shared, I want to always remember those times and I think "camera"!  Photos have a way of reminding us of the good times and that is exactly how it should be.  Because it is good. Photobucket
Thanks for the mirror, Auntie Chrissy!
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You've got a little something.  Right there.