Monthly Archives: September 2013

“Raw”

Munchkin had a seldom-seen stillness about him this morning that was especially apparent on the drive to school.  This stillness allowed for a palpable openness about him–something that I rarely get to see.  Typically, Jackson’s personalty is such that he must be in control at all times.  He is completely and unequivocally in command of his surroundings and the things he allows himself to be exposed to.  He’s a child on high alert.  Some folks tell me this is a good thing, but for me it can be disheartening to constantly be shut down at every turn. There are so many things I would love to do or experience with Jackson that he simply will not have any part of.  And while that’s completely okay, it doesn’t lessen the isolation I sometimes feel, stemming from living in a very thwarted and limited world.  But this morning was different.  Jackson talked.  I listened.  I talked.  He listened.  Did you get that?  WE talked!

This openness allowed a rawness to surface inside me that shattered my soul–a rawness that is oftentimes stifled by the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of parenting.  The utter rawness I felt while driving to school left me broken and humbled beyond description.  I get to be this child’s mom.  Me!  What an absolute privilege!  I am so underserving of this magnificent gift.  How easy it is in parenting a child with developmental challenges and special needs to mistake parenting solely as a serious responsibility (NOT burden, mind you), as opposed to the blessing it truly is.  

My prayer:  Thank you, God, for entrusting us with this precious child of yours. Guide our every breath word, action and reaction, O Lord, as we steward him through his life on earth. Give us your wisdom and knowledge as we raise this child up.  Let you Spirit direct our steps as we teach this precious little one to love you, to love Jesus, and to love all people.  Let us love him with the same love, grace, mercy and peace with which You love us.  Be glorified in all we do, Lord–especially as parents. In the name of your precious Son, Jesus. Amen.

Don’t miss this, folks.  We are blessed!  You and I are so very blessed.  

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward… ~Psalms 127:3

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My husband and I are partners in a branding firm.  When we were planning for our adoption our game plan, once our munchkin was home and settled, was to bring him to the office with us.  We were excited for Jackson to be a part of our little company.  One of the many reasons we wanted to—and were excited to—do this was so he could see us in action in the office, which would hopefully give him an appreciation for hard work.  My husband and I have always referred to ourselves as “Team D—D squared,” but looking forward, we’d be “Team D—D cubed!”

My husband returned to work within days of our return home from Ethiopia.  Several weeks later, once we were settled with a routine established, I attempted to take Jackson to the office.  I brought a bag filled with bottles, diapers and toys and set up a portable crib.  I closed my door and played soothing music.  For naptime I downloaded white noise on my iPhone, closed the blinds and dimmed the lights. I tried everything, but it was impossible to keep Jackson content or quiet.  It was abundantly clear.  Our plan to bring Jackson to work so I could return to our physical office in any capacity was simply not going to happen.  Jackson’s high energy/high octane presence was far too disruptive in the office setting.  To say it was counterproductive would be a disingenuous understatement.

I began to work from home and started to set deadlines for a return to the office.  I started with a goal of six months.  Six months became one year.  One year became eighteen months.  You get the gist.  I tried to bring Jackson into the fold, not only at these milestones but also in between, to no avail.  I honestly don’t remember when I simply gave up on the goals, but I did.  I chucked the idea of ever returning to work with Jackson as my/our sidekick.

Let’s fast-forward four years and five months.  (But hey, who’s counting?)  Last month Jackson began VPK.  He is in school six hours per day, Monday through Friday.  I finally returned to the office and can’t express in words how good it feels.  I never in a million years thought I’d be so happy to park my butt at a desk.  It’s not the work per se that has me excited.  I’ve been getting by while working from home.  (To be honest, that statement probably errs on the side of gracious.)  It’s the idea of being a part of something again.  I’m part of a team, as opposed to slaying dragons by myself all the livelong day.  And this absence from Jackson affords me a deep breath of sweet, fresh air that I definitely and desperately need.  It allows me to savor my time with him so much more than when we’re glued together 24/7.  And as an added bonus, I actually wash my face, brush my teeth and take a shower.  And this is daily, folks!  And for an added double-bonus, I get to wear decent clothes!  These are all things I took for granted pre-munchkin.  I have a new understanding of and appreciation for the idiom “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  It’s a given I’ve always been fond of this little munchkin of ours, but seeing him light up when the teacher walks him out to carline absolutely sets my heart afire.

 “Once you become the mommy or daddy in your child’s world, it is the only world in which you exist, no matter how much you fancy there is a separate world of your own.”  ~Robert Brault

 

Amazing Peace ~ Maya Angelou

Let There Be Peace

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft.   Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound.
We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war.   But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, and comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace.  We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

 

 

September 11th – Make it Matter

It’s hard to believe a dozen years have passed since a series of four coordinated terrorists attacks scarred this country’s landscape and took the lives of nearly 3,000 people.

Twelve years ago I was employed as a flight attendant for U.S. Airways.  September 11, 2001, was supposed to be the final day of a four-day trip for our crew.  We spent the night of September 10th in Boston and had an early morning flight that departed Boston’s Logan Airport, the same airport from which American Airlines Flight 11 departed at 7:59 a.m. en route to Los Angeles.  (Forty-seven minutes later, at 8:46 a.m., the hijackers flew Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.)

Our flight departed Logan on time and without incident.  After a quick, scheduled stop at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (“BWI”), our flight continued on to Ft. Myers, Florida. Shortly after flying over our nation’s capital, I was summoned to the rear of the aircraft by our crew’s lead flight attendant.  He instructed me to closely observe our passengers as he was told we could potentially have one or more hijackers onboard our aircraft.  Our flight was immediately diverted to an aircraft maintenance hanger in Lake City, Florida, pop. 12,000+/-.  It was utter chaos at the aircraft hanger.  No one knew what was going on or exactly what had transpired.  Additionally, no one was able to make or receive telephone calls as all circuits were busy.  It was terrifying.  When cellphone service finally resumed, my voicemail was at capacity with messages from family and friends who had no idea where I was and had little more information than we did.

Our passengers were shuttled by bus (then taxi, after the bus broke down) to their final destination.  Our crew remained in Lake City for three days, as all flights were grounded.  I was glued to the television, watching the images over and over again.  I didn’t sleep and couldn’t stop crying.  I literally became physically ill.

I often wonder if I would have been so profoundly affected had I not worked in the airline industry at the time of the attacks.  I also wonder if I would’ve taken it as personally as I did if I hadn’t flown out of Logan early that same morning.  I struggled with “survivor guilt” for a long time, not necessarily because it was a close call.  Instead, I fixated on the possibility that I may have seen passengers of American Airlines Flight 11 in passing.  Time and again I wondered if I had in fact crossed paths with someone on that fateful morning.  Did I hold a door for someone?  Did I let someone cut in front of me in a line?  Did I make small talk with someone or compliment someone?  Was I kind?  Was I helpful?  Did I make a difference in someone’s life?

Whether we voice it or not, everyone needs to be acknowledged.  We need a smile, a kind word, or a gentle touch.  We all need to know we’re appreciated—not for our accomplishments, but simply because we’re here.  We’re this side of heaven and not the other.  That’s why we should be valued.   Plain and simple.

Please, as you step outside tomorrow—September 11, 2013, and every singe day thereafter, please let the folks who cross your path know that you’re glad to see them—if only in passing.  You might not get a second chance.

May your day be filled with love, peace and light.

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Playground Stress

During the seemingly unending period of waiting for a referral during our adoption, one of the things I dreamed of doing was spending time on the playground in the South Florida sun with our munchkin.  Four plus years into parenting, however, I almost always find playground outings to be stressful.  I tend to avoid them altogether unless Jackson absolutely presses me for a visit.  Such was the case with a recent school holiday.  Jackson had a lot of energy to burn and really wanted to go to a nearby playground with “the dark slide.”  He really did need to get out beyond the confines of our backyard, so I acquiesced.

As soon as we arrived at the playground, Jackson made a beeline to “the dark slide.”  He’s unable to climb the ladder himself and requires my assistance in placing his feet on each rung while I tell him where to place his hands.  This also requires me to physically support his bottom.  As is usually the case, and was on this day too, the other children literally climb over Jackson, pushing both of us aside.   Jackson never, ever says a word.  Upon reaching the top Jackson had no intention of going down the slide.  He was content with the view and told me the slide was spooky, which didn’t surprise me in the least.  He would enter the opening of the slide and then come back out when a child wanted to come down.  At one point a little girl ascended the ladder to the platform.  She was slightly younger then Jackson and rather intrigued by him.  He crossed his arms and loudly instructed her to leave him alone and told her emphatically he didn’t want to be her friend, something he had been doing continually to children during our playground visit.  This little girl, however, didn’t move on as the other children had done.  She reacted by roaring at Jackson—loudly.  Very loudly.  It was sensory overload.  He jabbed his fingers behind his ears, his typical coping mechanism, and became completely paralyzed.  He began to scream shrilly and shout, “Stop roaring!”   Of course the more he did this the more the little girl roared.  Her mother, who spoke very limited English, couldn’t stop chuckling over her little girl as she caused Jackson to scream and shout.  Try as I might I couldn’t get him to descend the ladder or go down the slide.  After what seemed like an eternity (but in realty was only a few minutes) I finally coaxed him down the slide.  Blessedly he was ready to go home.

Jackson was no worse for the wear.  In fact, he never made mention of the incident again.  I’m the one with the lasting emotional scars.  I’m the one who bears the heartbreak of the day—of seeing the little boy who’s afraid of slides, who doesn’t want to play with other children, who spends an inordinate amount of time with his little fingers pressed behind his ears and is pushed aside like he’s insignificant. They say ignorance is bliss, and for all intents and purposes, Jackson is blissfully unaware—for now. I don’t know if that makes me happy or sad.   What I do know is that I simply want Jackson to have a great childhood—the childhood I dreamed of giving him during those years of waiting.