Somehow, with just one, I was quickly overwhelmed.
It's laughable now, actually.
The projectile poop, just as you were about to walk out the door.
Is he going to choke on that single cheerio in the backseat?
He is crying. Should I pull over?
Wait. How do I shower?
How do people carry the baby bucket and get groceries?
Just the newness itself caused anxiety.
I remember these questions and countless others. They seemed valid at the time.
Now, they are a distant memory as I hastily schlep my boys in and out of necessary errands, dragging one arm, water bottle or snot rag in the other hand, with another 40 pound toddler on my hip - somehow coercing them not to stop for that shiny penny because the slightest shift in weight would throw all of us to the ground.
I know it isn't pretty.
But we all do it.
We make it - somehow.
That alone deserves applause.
And then you throw in a sibling, and another. Holy cow, your world is rocked. I actually just think the ideology of being the perfect Mom with the perfect child is shattered. Instead of reading to prepare for the 'next stage' (solids or sleeping or discipline), you just start surviving.
Now, try adding a child that has extra needs... extra equipment... extra time... extra appointments...extra worries.
Inevitably, ALL Moms - all of us - are running ourselves ragged between school, work, little league and the daily demands of life. But I'm talking about these Super Special Moms.
These Moms that remain present at soccer practice, after just leaving a three hour neurology appointment that delivered devastating news. I'm talking about the Moms that are hosting friends and have an extra long O2 extension cord for their child, so she can participate. I'm talking about the Moms still in isolation, TWO years after their child was born.
These Moms aren't better, they are just special (and fierce). They ask little, complain even less and somehow emotionally and physically manage.
Here is a smattering of some of the important appointments my son has in the next few weeks:
- Neurosurgeon- ENT (follow up from recent illness)
- 3 year well check
- Occupational therapy (1x/week)
- Physical therapy (1x/week)
- Orthotist- Rehab
- Nutritionist (We are educating ourselves about brain development and supplements = fascinating)
- ABM (4x/week)
- Aqua-therapy vs Hippotherapy = undecided (1x/week)
- Dentist (total disaster)
- 2 hour, painful/sobbing eye exam
- And my favorite: The Aerodigestive Clinic (where Shaw will be evaluated by a Pulmonologist, Nutritionist, Speech Therapist, ENT and Gastrointestinal Doctor at the same time. It's brilliant to have all these minds in the same room simultaneously to ensure we are on the best course for Shaw. Thank you, Denver Children's!)
These are just my son's appointments. Others have many, many more. And they are balanced between working parents, recitals, school conferences and tball games. It is amazing to me, when I stop to think about the mountains these Moms move for their children - all of them. Turning the emotion off and on, when appropriate. Being present for one and consumed with worry for the other simultaneously.
Last week, our boys' school had 'Special Friends Day'- what a beautiful concept, right? Each child can pick a special friend to join him at school for the morning (a neighbor, a friend, a grandparent, etc). The kids can give their special friend a tour - show off their cubbies, favorite toys, art projects, etc.
In essence, it's adorable - except when you just moved to town and the only 'special friend' your child knows intimately is a doctor.
Even worse, on Nash's Special Friend Day, Shaw had an appointment - a really important one about his eyes and the retina interfering with his shunt. We have tried to secure this appointment for months and the only day available (and 30 minutes away) was on Nash's Special Friend Day.
Our school is so amazing that I when I take the boys to their respective classrooms, the parents/siblings are allowed to engage in the classroom the first few minutes of class. This so wonderful on so many levels because Nash can show me an art project that is still drying or Shaw can point out his favorite book or introduce me to a new friend. Nash and Shaw also get to see what the other is often talking about and it generates real interest and conversation between them. It is also a great way for me to stay connected with the boys, teachers and other Moms at school. It is a wonderful gift.
I could have lessened the 'Special Friend' blow if Shaw and I could have stayed and played with Nash, as we usually do. But of course, this is the one day... this damn appointment.
Teary eyed, I entered class with the boys, after letting Nash know that his "Special Friends" (Nonnie & Papa) would be coming in next week from the east coast and will tour the school with him then. Nash immediately raced off to greet a friend (who also didn't have a buddy) and they were totally oblivious - TOTALLY oblivious. (Honestly, he could have cared less about Special Friend Day).
Meanwhile, I cried the whole way to the eye doctor (two counties away), sweating and praying Shaw and I would make it back in time to pick up Nash. The eye appointment would take exactly two hours. With a half hour down and back in the car, this left EXACTLY two hours for the appointment, in order for me to return to school for Nash. And, I couldn't be late. Not any day - but especially not today.
I was a mess by the time I arrived to the appointment. I was crying because I felt like I had cheated Nash, but also for having to take Shaw to an appointment I knew would be painful, scary and evoke infinite tears. I felt like I deserted one only to cause pain to the other.
A Mom's guilt can haunt the deepest places within her heart.
Reality check: I KNOW Nash will be fine and I also know this is needed for Shaw.
Still, it sucks.
Fast forward through the screams from the appointment and the white knuckled return trip to pick up Nash on time (Thank God!): Both boys are fine.
Fine sometimes translates to me as: "This is our only choice." or "We are officially sucking it up."
Nevertheless, the intensity is overwhelming. The pressure to not disappoint, to not cause resentment between siblings, to distribute time and energy, to explain appropriately, to protect and advocate, to encourage, to do all the therapeutic homework.... I think every Mom feels these pressures, but these Super Special Moms, they do it with.... (searching for the word).... grace. Sometimes, their hearts are heavy, filled with guilt or dread or worry, but they focus. They survive, ironically with a light heart and steadfast love.
We all have our battles. Everyone has struggles. I would just like to honor those Moms that are balancing far more than they should - trying to press on, be present, love intentionally and relish the simple moments. God Speed, Ladies and the utmost respect.
Prayer Request for the Mighty Meg and her family battling their two year old son's Leukemia relapse. Prayers, dear friend. Faith and prayers.
|So tough and brave at his eye appt|
|Nash on the lift with his Dad. Yay Nash!!|
|'Pooped out' after swimming (such great therapy AND FUN)|
|Shaw, you AMAZE us every single day.|
|Happy Anniversary to us! (Aspen)|
|Team Richter in Vail with Nana|
|Thank you for the stashes, Aunt Jen. An undoubtable hit!|
|Shower Art (PS - still scrubbing)|