Sweet moments

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sol's been working late these past few nights, which means the crazy hours between 3 pm and whenever he gets home (post-school and pre-bedtime) have been a bit crazier than usual without his extra help. That said, somehow, miraculously, the kids have been pretty well-behaved this whole week.

Well, there was that one evening, around 630 p.m., when the kids still hadn't eaten dinner, and I was sitting with Lila in the living room (who looked like she was about to fall asleep) when I realized that HJ was being unusually quiet. As a mom, you know that means something's going on.

I casually asked HJ what she was doing. "Eating chocolate bread," she replied.

That "chocolate bread" was the freshly baked batch of fudge brownies we had made, which I had told her we were saving for dessert, but which had obviously proved to be too tempting for HJ.

"I only ate the edges," she added, only a little guiltily.

Then, while I was in the kitchen, assessing just how many "edges" she had eaten, and pouring her a glass of milk, I realized that now there strangely wasn't a peep coming from the living room. I returned to Lila to see her sitting on the couch stuffing her cute little face with a bag of swedish fish she had found. As soon as she saw me and my shocked expression, she spit out the candy and said, "This Mommy's? This Mommy's candy?"

I just had to laugh, because first of all, I realized my kids were starving and I should just feed them dinner before Sol came home, and secondly, I realized I was really going to miss these moments.

With Lila turning two and HJ starting kindergarten in the fall, I know that these times aren't going to last forever. And for all the moments I've thought about the "freedom" I'll have when HJ is in school all day, I'm getting a little teary thinking that maybe I've forgotten to appreciate these days of chasing the kids around and seeing the look in their eyes when I catch them with smears of chocolate on their cheeks and guilty smiles on their lips.

With Lila being the youngest and growing up way too fast, I'm doing my best to try to slow down and enjoy the little moments with her. I'm sad some of those moments have already passed me by with HJ, but when things get crazy these next few months, and I know they will, with Sol working late nights, and HJ being out of school for the summer, I'm going to remind myself to just laugh, and enjoy them, before I close my eyes and wake up and suddenly they're teenagers telling me they don't want their mom hanging around anymore.

For now, I'm thankful that they're still little enough for me to scoop them up and smother them with kisses. Although when I do this to Lila these days, I've noticed she's starting to squeal and say, "No!!! Too much, Mommy!! Too much!" It's already starting, the inevitable growing up and away, and as much as I want them to be independent, now that it's actually happening, I'm sad! Please, Sol, remind me of this next time I wake up in the middle of the night and find myself sandwiched between both our girls.

Maybe I've forgotten...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It seems I've forgotten in the past few weeks that HJ is a child with special needs. How can that be, you may be wondering, since it seems that everything I write about on this blog is related to the unique and "quirky" things that HJ does and says... I guess it's not that I've really forgotten, but maybe I've just started hoping that those special needs have lessened or even gone away in some ways. Which now that I think about it, is really as ridiculous as it sounds.

On one level, I know that I'm constantly thinking about HJ going to the full-day special ed kindergarten in the fall, and I know that we just came out of an IEP meeting where we discussed her apraxia and her low muscle tone, and her social-emotional issues, but for some reason, I think I buried that all underneath the idea that she has made a lot of progress.

But really, it's only taken a couple weeks of setbacks for me to realize that things are not always as rosy as I'd like to believe.

We had quite a few meltdowns in the past week.It all culminated with a small group meeting at our house where HJ had several meltdowns related to other children playing with her toys, the house not being "in order" anymore, too much stimulation, and general anxiety and inability to regulate her emotions.

It made me realize that in a sense, she's not just going through a stage where she has to learn how to share, but it's a serious anxiety and fear that she has about situations that are unfamiliar and things that are out of her control. In a word, it's debilitating.

But in a strange way, this also makes me less discouraged. It kind of resets my expectations for her, and softens my heart to what she is going through internally. It makes me have compassion instead of only frustration and anger. And it makes me rethink once again, our daily schedule, and the activities and commitments in our lives.

If she was physically disabled, I wouldn't so conveniently forget and wonder why she can't run or jump or do things that other "normal" kids can. But, I would still want her to be able to experience and enjoy everything as much as possible, just with the right assistance.

With this whole anxiety and sensory processing disorder, though, it's just not as clear-cut for me. How do I make accommodations for her, without making excuses? How do I know what is due to environment and over stimulation, and what is due to bad behavior? Most of the time, it's just really confusing. Sometimes I start to wonder, maybe she needs even more help that we're giving her. Does she really need meds, or more frequent therapy, or more testing to see what other diagnosis we might be missing?

On the other hand, although I know that we cannot have our lives revolve around HJ's issues, I realize that life is just better for all of us when we make even the simplest accommodations for her. For example, after the meltdown debacles we had through the week, we had a relatively quiet and stress-free weekend. And not surprisingly, HJ did great at Sunday school, slept well, ate well, and was ready to go to school on Monday.

A happy moment from the past month (visiting Daddy at work)

It's time for me to remember this, and accept it, and not just wish that HJ didn't have these issues. It's time for me to admit to God again, that I really, really cannot do this parenting thing without His help and strength every single day. So please help me, God, be a better mother to HJ and love her unconditionally as You love us all the time.

Simple Revelations

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

So today was finally our back to normal day. The hectic activity and fun of spring break had come to an end and we were back to our daily routine.  And although it happens after the conclusion of every weekend, holiday, special occasion, or vacation, I'm still surprised each time by how much HJ thrives when she knows what to expect and she feels secure and comfortable once again.

She had a good day today. She woke up happy, after a relatively good night's sleep, and she did her best to be nice to Lila pretty much all day. There were a few tears, a few would-be tantrums, and a little bit of "I don't want to go to school, Mommy!" -- but it was soon overcome by reminders of seeing "all her friends" and her favorite teachers Mrs. G and Mrs. S.

She was actually doing so well this morning that she was happy and willing to go to what Sol and I have been calling the "play place" aka child care center at the gym, and actually ok with Mommy going to exercise while she stayed with the new teachers and Lila.

It seemed like every other stay-at-home mom and their toddlers and young kids had the same idea after spring break, because there had to have been close to 30 kids running around in the child care center. Honestly, I was panicking when I saw how many kids there were, knowing that the potential for conflicts, meltdowns, and over stimulation would only be heightened with that many kids. Plus, it was HJ and Lila's first time being dropped off there, and as I clearly remember, though wish I could forget, one bad experience like we had at the Y last year, could easily mean the end of ever going to the child care center again for HJ...

Thankfully, all went well to my amazement. I kept waiting to hear them calling my name over the speakers... And I couldn't really concentrate on the treadmill as I kept picturing various scenarios of how it could all go so badly with that many kids and HJ in an unfamiliar place. But my worry, at least for today, was unfounded, and when I went to pick them up an hour later, HJ proudly told me how she "took care of Lila," and kept Lila's Minnie mouse thermos safe from all the little boys trying to take it away. It figures. That shouldn't surprise me either. When HJ has a job to do, like protecting her little sister, nothing is going to stop her from getting it done!

I was really proud of HJ today. The other night I was telling Sol how I just wished we could make it through a day without any tantrums. And he reminded me that although I may not be able to control how HJ reacts in every situation, (and believe me, there's sometimes nothing I want more than to minimize every possible scenario for a tantrum!) I can always control how I will respond to those tantrums. I mean, it's so obvious, right? But for me, it was good to hear that. It made me feel at peace... Knowing that no matter how rough of a day HJ has, I can still choose to respond with love, with God's help of course... It's not always going to be easy, but I was trying my best today not to yell, lose my temper, or get agitated with every little crisis that was about to erupt during the day... And it gives me hope... Hopefully things are looking up again for us. It's been a long, long winter...

HJ was all smiles after school today, talking about their new unit on flowers and springtime. She's also been asking Sol about planting flowers in the garden and setting up the princess pool in the backyard... This girl is definitely ready for a new season...And so am I...

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