Tag Archives: Parenting

The Monday List: Things that fell out of my purse at a fancy boutique

This happens every day.Greetings, Fly folk. It’s a new school year, but not a new me, apparently.

I love shopping, and I love shopping in fancy shops. It is a gift curse that I am able to pick out the most expensive item in any store without looking at the tag.

Last week, I was in a super fancy boutique. It attracts a curious mix of injected-face matrons and impossibly thin and glamorous 20-something-looking women who inexplicably always have at least three or four children. The salesgirls moonlight as yoga, pilates, and barre teachers. It’s that kind of place.

When I go in there, I always, always feel disheveled, poorly groomed, and afraid that I might get something sticky on one of the outfits. But I keep going back, because I want to shop for the life I wish I had rather than the life I do have. (And if the bizzarely glam 20-somethings can have 3 children and look like that, so can I! Right?)

Anyway, I found some jeans that were a good upgrade from my mom-ish jeans I’d been wearing for a while, and I was feeling very glamorous and sophisticated for buying designer jeans in such a chic shop. That’s what it means to be a grown-up, right? To be able to stare the scary salesgirl in the eye and buy something with your own money?

I was feeling great until, as I was searching for the credit card that is never in my wallet, my purse fell onto the floor. And the purse’s contents spilled everywhere. This would not be a problem if you were a reasonably organized person, but my purse is a terrifying vortex of sticky disorganization. Here are some of the items that scattered over the floor of the shop:

  • Two sizes of diapers, for James and Baby Girl
  • A half-eaten granola bar
  • Multiple airline frequent flyer cards that I continue to carry around even though I fly so rarely that I’ve become that person that needs a “talking to” from the TSA agent because I forget to remove my shoes
  • One juice box
  • One lipstick that’s been smashed beyond recognition from Baby Girl using it on herself, and then using it like a crayon everywhere else
  • Keys to a safe deposit box that I’ve had to have re-keyed twice because I keep losing them (This is not a cheap or easy process, I assure you)
  • “Princess Baby Night-Night,” a glittery, painful-to-read book that Baby Girl insists on reading at least once a day
  • My wallet, which is empty of credit cards and any other normal wallet contents, but is somehow full of yogurt raisins
  • One necklace, beaded by Big Boy, necklace making being his activity of choice instead of doing something “sweaty” in the gym at church
  • Stamps (with Christmas designs)
  • A bottle of water, that leaked into my purse and immediately begins to leak onto the shop’s floor
  • Approximately 1,000 receipts. For what, who can say, because they are all crumpled. And wet.

So much for chic and sophisticated. Points for trying, though, right?

And yeah yeah, this is God or the universe teaching me a lesson about not trying to feel better about myself through shopping, or trying to get an identity through “stuff.” I get it. I still like shopping.  Even when it ends badly.

 

 

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Did We Ask God for a Child with Special Needs

Big Boy is a smart kid. He’s book smart and just smart-smart. He’s starting to ask questions and say things about James that can unmoor me in an instant.

This morning, from the backseat of the car, we were discussing what we should have for dinner. As our fridge is broken (Because we need one more thing to deal with right now. It was making a hideous grinding noise that we first heard upon opening the door from being out of town for the weekend. The crime scene fridge-side was gory in the extreme.), I told him that dinner would at least be bacon. Because we had a package of bacon that partially thawed when the freezer shut down, and now we needed to cook it.

Bacon for any meal is never a bad thing chez Fly, so we both happily pondered this for a moment. Then, Big Boy dropped the bomb.

“Mommy, did you ask God for James to be special?”

I stammered an incoherent response about how we asked God for all of our children and that we didn’t know James would be special in the way that he is and that Daddy and I love you all and weren’t we glad that we were having bacon for dinner and wasn’t having to clean out the freezer kind of fun?

And then Big Boy asked me, “Well, Mommy, did you ask for Baby Girl not to be special like James?”

And as I drove in silence, I thought about truth and lies and the things we tell ourselves to protect ourselves, and the things we tell the ones we love to protect them, and I didn’t want to lie to my son.

After that beat, I said, “Yes. We asked God for Baby Girl to be just the way she is. She’s special, but not special like James.”

From his backseat booster of wisdom, Big Boy said, “Well, God knew that James couldn’t play with me and I really needed somebody to play with, so he had to make Baby Girl like me.”

I asked him if someone had told him that, and he said no and asked me why I asked that. And I told him that it was just a mature thing to say. (And then I tried to explain maturity, which is kind of an abstract concept. I had to boil it down to “acting like a grown-up,” but that’s not wholly accurate. I wouldn’t say that explanation went as badly as the whole “God’s magic thing” on Easter, but it was close.)

What I didn’t say at the time, and I wish I had, is that I am so thankful that he and Baby Girl have each other, and that we all needed her, and that the sibling bond has been one of the great joys of my life, and I hope they are close for their entire lives. I should have said that I am renewed and delighted and filled with hope for the future when I watch them play, or when, last night, she reached out her arms to him and asked for a kiss.

But that’s all probably a bit heavy for a Tuesday afternoon car ride. There is bacon to eat, after all.

The Family Fly loves bacon.

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On Pride

Those of you that follow us on Facebook know that I promised you a happy post. I told you we were having some good days. And yes, that was true. Unfortunately, we’ve been struggling a lot more recently with James’ health, his GI system in particular, and this overtook us before I could properly revel in the good days. I fully appreciate how unfair this is.

One of the most difficult things about parenting a child with special needs is seeing the good times when they are in front of you. There is an undercurrent of sadness and anxiety in parenting him that I’m not sure will ever go away, and so when things are good, sometimes it is hard to recognize that. In this instance, we saw the good time, but the bad thing swept in and I was surprised. Again. You’d think I’d be used to this ebb-and-flow of joy and sadness after the past (almost) four years, but I’m not. I may never be used to the surprising and unexpected new challenges that crop up when we least expect it. 

But, let’s go back to the good days. James started sitting up by himself (generally in the bed or on his mat at naptime), and this is a big deal. A tremendous deal. It’s been a long time since he’s passed any sort of milestone, and we’ve even seen some regression this year as we’ve dealt with his health problems.

So, imagine my delighted shock to walk into his room and see him sitting up in the bed, looking at me like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. 

I asked Mr. Fly whether he’d sat him up, and he said no. Still confused about what was happening, I laid him back down on his back and told him to go to sleep. Just as I was walking out of the room, however, he did it again. He sat up. By himself. And he looked at me again as if he knew all the universe’s secrets and was giving one of them to me right then, pressing a sweet into the palm of my hand. 

I cried, shouted to Mr. Fly to run and see this, and of course we videoed this for posterity. There were more happy tears at school when he repeated the same behavior. It is thrilling and unusual to see James able to control his body, and we are all so proud of him.

Pride, however, is not a simple feeling. My mother used to say of me as a child, as I often insisted on wearing some uncomfortable headband or pair of shoes, that “pride knows no pain.” Perhaps that’s true, but as a parent, pride feels exactly like pain. It is both sharp and aching, sudden and deep. It is a cliche of working with special needs children or parenting them that the joys are all the sweeter for the sadness and struggle that comes before them. I guess that’s true. The pride is sweet, all the sweeter for the high price we pay to feel it. But the pain is there too. 

I haven’t seen James sit up in a week or two. I don’t know if he is still doing it, or if he’s decided that it is no longer interesting. This happens sometimes, where he will master a skill and then drop it, as if he simply couldn’t be bothered to spend his energy on this anymore. We hope that if we can make some progress with his stomach issues, he will feel better and come back to himself a bit. 

My pride knows pain, but I will surely cheer again the next time I see him sit up. 

Thanks to all of you for your support and sweet thoughts over these last few difficult weeks. 

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New Life: Why Easter is my favorite holiday.

Peonies in our back yard. Peonies die to the ground in the winter, and two weeks ago these were only a cluster of fingers peering out of the dirt.

Peonies in our back yard. Peonies die to the ground in the winter, and two weeks ago these were only a cluster of fingers reaching out of the dirt.

Is it weird that as an adult, Easter has become my favorite holiday? Those prone to opine about such things as favorite holidays always seem to focus on Christmas, or maybe Halloween if they are a little more of a dramatic-type. Mr. Fly’s favorite holidays are Fourth of July and New Year’s because “neither requires gift giving or obligatory time with family.” But to me, Easter is the day.

Easter combines less pressured and overwhelming gift giving than Christmas, less candy (and better candy, Reese’s Eggs, anyone? And I’ll see you one Reese’s Egg and raise you a Reester Bunny!) than Halloween, better weather than any other holiday, and one of my favorite church services of the year. At our church on Easter, the congregation sings the Alleluia Chorus from the Messiah at the end of the service, and Mr. Fly and I belt it out like no one’s listening (or everyone’s listening. Mr. Fly loves an audience. We also have our own personal Messiah scores. Don’t judge, you know you’re jealous.)

And the clothes! Easter calls for church goers, at least in the South, to trot out the best-of-the-Sunday-best, especially for the children. I cannot resist a baby boy in a smocked bubble, a little girl in a bonnet and gloves, or a little boy in a seersucker suit.  Bow ties and suede bucks come out of their boxes for the day and we are all a more colorful, reborn version of our sad winter selves.

These seemingly superficial trappings of gifts and beautiful clothes allow me to show the gratitude and joy that I feel inside, as we spend this day worshipping with family and friends. I give gifts to my children because I want them to feel the importance of the holiday and my gratitude that Jesus died for me and for them. I want my entire family to be wearing color-coordinated, absurdly fancy outfits because this is not just any day of the year, this is EASTER, and it is spring, and Jesus is reborn, we are reborn, and the world around us is reborn.

In my over-excitement about the holiday during breakfast yesterday, as we ate cinnamon rolls and the kids emptied their baskets, I tried to explain the story of the resurrection to Big Boy. There’s got to be a primer for this somewhere (his children’s Bible does not even include the Easter story), but lacking one, my version ended up with “And then God brought Jesus back to life again with his magic.” I doubt this will win me any theology awards, but that’s what it feels like we are celebrating on Easter. God’s magic, and His power to bring hope and joy to the bleakest and darkest of times.

Somehow my house still stands even after the explosion of candy, Easter grass, love, children’s laughter, and joy it held yesterday. Today I feel both exhausted and exhilarated, and my voice is hoarse from belting out hymns, songs of praise, and sharing food and fellowship with friends. I am trying to get back into my normal routine, but everything outside calls me to continue to celebrate spring and the new world God has made for us.

In this new world it is spring, and the world is on the cusp of new life and we are in the middle of it. All this seems like a miracle, an absurdly generous reprieve from this winter and the life we’ve been living over the past six months.

I am grateful that yesterday was a raucous celebration of joy and beauty and life.  I hope I can hold fast to the spirit of this celebration until it is time once again next year to fill the baskets, plan the outfits, buy the Peeps, make the cakes, and sing until our voices are merely whispers, to shrug off the darkness and doubt that I know will come. For now, however, I will enjoy God’s magic in the sunshine.

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On grace.

I don’t talk about God or religion much here. It isn’t that I don’t think about them (or Him), but I’ve never been particularly comfortable talking about faith in the abstract or my faith, in particular. (Hey, I’m Presbyterian. We’re called the “frozen chosen” for a reason.) I’m not sure I understand what faith truly is. But what about grace?

Like no doubt many others when confronted with a major life struggle, I had those “Why me? Why my son? How could God let this happen to my perfect, perfect baby?” moments. I still do.

I had one of those moments on the way back from Thanksgiving when James had a seizure in the car.  This was the holidays, it was supposed to be happy, we were supposed to be thankful for our blessings.

But what do you do when one of your blessings has a seizure, when seconds before you were thankful he was peacefully napping? When you thought he had outgrown his seizures and that wasn’t part of your life anymore?

You cry, you wail, you gnash your teeth. Your husband pulls the car over, and he cries. This is a man built of people who are salt of the earth, warm and solid Midwesterners. He rarely cries–he gets things done. When he’s feeling feisty, he gets shit done. But that Thanksgiving weekend, you cry together, even though the seizure is over in a matter of seconds and your son just looks at you afterwards with utterly peaceful eyes.

And your older son asks you why the car is stopped, and why Daddy is crying (he doesn’t bother to ask why Mommy cries, because he knows it is simply an essential bodily function for her, like her soul has to pee every day), and you have to explain to your infinitely innocent five-year-old that his brother had a seizure. It’s a word this precocious child heard every day of his life for a year after his brother was born, and yet it is a word he has never uttered. To hear him speak it is to feel the devastation of your baby’s diagnosis all over again.

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The best of times, the worst(ish) of times

To reference the great Tale of Two Cities: it was the best of times, it was the worst(ish) of times.

You probably noticed that you haven’t heard from me in a while. Did she run out of inane, embarrassing stories about her life, you ask? Did she move to Morocco?  Did she fall down a well, like baby Jessica? (Note: this is only okay to say since they found her. Obviously.)

I haven’t not posted because I have nothing to say. (And, the prize for the most negatives in a sentence goes to ME!) Rather, I haven’t posted because I have everything to say. I have oceans, reams, encyclopedias of things to say to you. It’s boiling any of that down into readable and non-overwhelming form that gets difficult.

As a family, we find ourselves in a peculiar place right now. We are deliriously, madly, absurdly in love with Baby Girl. Every day is a new milestone, a new moment of cuteness, and minutes and hours of pure, unbridled joy. We love Big Boy and James equally as much, but even our awe at Big Boy’s developmental period cannot match what we feel as we watch her grow. We marvel at how easy things are for her, because we see how difficult almost all things are for James.  Continue reading

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I fought the kale, and the kale won.

 

Subduing the Green Monster

Subduing the Green Monster

Those of you following us on Facebook know that to celebrate the fact that someone, anyone, besides my mother was reading this blog, I bought some kale.

And you know how I feel about kale.

Thus, in the spirit of celebration and in the spirit of trying to resemble a grown-up, which I hear can be defined as a person that (1) eats fancy vegetables and (2) makes good financial decisions (hey, since I gave number one a try, maybe I’ll get there on two and will stop trying to spend our money on what Husband calls “trinkets,” but let’s not get ahead of ourselves), I found myself with a big, bristly bunch of kale.

Husband put money on the likelihood the kale would go uncooked and uneaten, rotting in silent judgment in our fridge. Because all of you were so sweet and supportive, however, I figured I should at least try to cook it, and even if I didn’t eat it, James would. (To be clear, Husband is also very sweet and supportive, but he has known me for a very long time and his skepticism on my likelihood of cooking this kale was well-founded in past experience.) The child will eat ANYTHING. Which is kind of its own problem, but more on that later.

So, I did. I am not organized enough to look up a recipe ahead of time and actually purchase the groceries needed to make it, so I had to improvise based on what I remembered from some of the recipes you suggested.  I’m having trouble writing this, but. . . it wasn’t awful.

Here is the key, however: I browned two pounds of Italian sausage I got at Whole Foods first. This was the most gorgeous sausage I’ve ever seen. (“That’s what she said!”) But really. This was sausage made from pigs that slept cuddled up at the foot of someone’s bed. I have no idea what was in it, but it was beautiful.

I browned the sausage first, then I cleaned most of the grease out of the dutch oven and then sauteed the kale in a mixture of the sausage drippings and olive oil. Then I dumped a bunch of other things in the pot, like garlic, carrots, onions, cannelini beans, chicken stock, and the aformentioned sausage.

I could still tell there were actual green vegetables involved, but the boys (Husband, James, and Big Boy) all loved it. The moral of this story, to me, is that there is little that two pounds of beautiful, organic, cuddled and coddled sausage can’t make palatable.

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