Wednesday, October 22, 2014

All in the Family, with DS

I was at an elementary school function for my fourth-grader, volunteering to count laps as they made their "challenge run". Unfortunately having the little ones at home, I only make it into the school to volunteer a handful of times throughout the year. I do enjoy going, as it's fun to meet all of her classmates, as well as meet and visit with some of the other parents. While counting laps, another mom walked up and introduced herself, and mentioned that they had just moved here this summer. I was happy to hear she had a son in my daughters class, and she mentioned that she had another daughter as well.  Soon the race was finishing up, and parents were walking away, but she and I remained talking for a few minutes. Luke started to wake up in his little car seat, so I lifted him out and held him in my arms. She looked at him with warm eyes and a sweet smile, and shared with me that she has a beautiful seven-year-old daughter with DS.  Instant tears from both of us as we embraced, and she welcomed me into the family. 

 It is so profound how God connects us with exactly what we need and who we need on our journey of life. It is so amazing and powerful.  Immediately after we got his diagnosis in utero, I connected online with families from all over the country, who were blessed with one or more of these children and their families. It's like my eyes had been opened to a new world that I did not know existed.   And going to our first Buddy Walk this year was so incredible. It truly felt like a large family, and looking in the eyes of all these other parents, you instantly knew how blessed they are, and see the genuine joy on all of their faces.  They get it. They get it!  I did not get it, even a year ago. I did not have the understanding.  Sometimes I wonder if these children are sent on this earth with special missions, rather than special needs.  Similar to the mission of an angel sent down to earth. And families with these children know exactly what I am talking about. I've seen Luke change and move so many people on his path, in his short six months of life. I have seen him bring so many people to tears, in his short six months of life. He has opened people's hearts and minds in immeasurable ways.  I did in the early stages of his diagnosis grapple with whether he was intentionally created with that extra chromosome, or if it was a result of free will, and the fall of man. I concluded early on that it was a result of that. And then he was born.  I now do feel as though that is not the case with Luke and others born with dis "abilities".  I have felt God's hand so strongly on this journey. I feel as though these little ones are so intentionally here, as they were made.  And oh the beauty in that!  God, help us to learn from them.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The art of manipulation

I know what you're thinking ... probably not the title you want to hear coming from the mouth of someone who is diligently working towards being a better version of who God wants me to be!  But if you have children, from toddlers to teenagers, the act will creep into your vision field at one time or another.  Manipulation! It enters the battlefield wide-eyed around the age of two, and manifests itself as more knowledge comes on board.  Initially it's cute, as if we can almost physically see those little wheels turning in their heads, as they find ways to get their needs and wants met.  It then usually disappears towards the early elementary years, as they turn into people-pleasing angels, eager to show us how responsible and grown-up they are in their actions.  Then, maybe to see if we're paying attention or really know anything all about parenting, manipulation tactics resurface around seventh grade, on steroids. All of a sudden we're not as intelligent as our child species (ha ha), and we are challenged with the "M" word once again.  This is the olympics people!   And I will absolutely say that some kids are born with a higher level of it, then others. :-).  I find that it has to do with how spirited, or strong-willed they tend to be. The stronger the will of the child, the stronger the parent's will needs to be.   Particularly with one of my sons, sometimes I feel as though he and I should be in a court room. Both of us pointing out a number of valid points, evidence to support it, and a very convicted passionate plea why he should get something he wants, or should not get a certain punishment that we deem fit for the action.  Sometimes I actually want to give in, just because he gave me such a convicting case!  But as parents, as you all know, it is so important to stand our ground on the big things. We all learn from our mistakes, and definitely learn to pick our battles, but it does seem that children need solid roots, and solid boundaries. This can sometimes be challenged if we are more focused on a "friendship" with them.  An older and wiser parent once reminded me that we as parents are not their friends!  Friendship will come later, when they are young adults.  I think we can look at ourselves as the big oak tree in the front yard, with deep roots, making us very resistant to being blown over as the big storms blow through.  And we have to then ask, what do we want for our children?  Do we want them to be young pine trees, with shallow roots, that fall and crash the first time they're challenged with anything hard? Absolutely not.  We lead by example.  We live by example.  In their plea to get what they want, our children will resent us for standing our ground.  But eventually, it seems that most children do eventually come to their senses, and perhaps even throw a "thank you" back.  My last birthday card from my oldest daughter included a note, thanking me for handing down my values and faith (sniff sniff). Some of those battles were worth it at least.  Now I wouldn't be honest if I said I never cave in. Sometimes I will cave in because of pure cuteness.  I was driving our three-year-old home from a birthday party the other day, where she enjoyed ice cream and cake, with a side of candy.  Already revved up on sugar, she pleaded with me to allow her to have something sweet from her gift bag. Her: Can I have a lollipop mommy?  Me: No honey Her: Can I have a bag of fruit snacks?  Me: No honey. Her:  Well can I have the snow covered chocolate chips?  Me: no honey. Her: well why can't I have any sugar?!  Me: because you have had plenty of dessert at the party already!  Her: fine then! I'm just not going to have any candy then! (Thinking she was really getting back at me!!!).  You have to admit, pretty funny for cuteness sakes.:-).  And the manipulation saga continues. :-) Stand your ground mamas! And if you ever find me in a weak spot, remind me to do the same!  Support and surrounding yourselves with like-minded parents is one of the key to successes . . .along with MUCH prayer.