Thursday, September 28, 2017

grey hair

A couple of weeks ago I was at a large gathering where they were identifying three subgroups by age. Eighteen to thirty-four, thirty-five to fifty-four, and fifty-five and up. I stood for the second group a bit shocked at first to realize I was part of the middle age group. Most days I feel like my adult life is just starting to take off, that I could still use a mentor or two (or three) to help me figure out things, but in all actuality my children are closer to traditional college age than I am. This shocks me. In ten years I could potentially have one of my children out of my house either gainfully employed or in college. Ten years!

I have been thinking a lot about how much I have changed in the last eight to twelve years. My hair has grey in it, and I don't think I will color it, unless I color it something fun like streaks of purple. My body has more or less settle into a clothing size that I am not thrilled with but I am less thrilled with the idea of giving up dessert at this phase of life. I've had two babies and I don't like sit-ups, therefore I will have a pooch. I have age spots on my hands, and I had my first mammogram this summer, which will be a yearly thing from here on out even if insurance doesn't pay.

But more than the physical changes, I think of the subtle changes that have taken place over time. I have figured out a lot of what I believe to be true about myself, the world and God, but I know there is still more to learn about all of those things. I have become passionate about some educational practices and parenting styles while also realizing my passion doesn't have to be dogma for someone else to live by in their own homes and families. I think that took me longer to realize than it should have. I am still figuring out how marriage works, almost thirteen years in. We are in a really good place in marriage overall, but there is always work to be done in communication and service and humility. I am lazy enough to wish that there wasn't work to be done in any of those areas.

Moving across the country has helped me recognize some things about myself that I don't know that I would have realized otherwise. I realize I was really lucky to have fairly easy to come by friendships the first twenty-two-ish years of my life, but the last decade and a half have required more effort and patience from me. I have realized more than ever that probably one of my favorite things is just sitting in someone's kitchen or living room with a cup of coffee with no agenda other than to just converse.  I'm introverted enough to not want a party but extroverted enough to need regular interaction with adults, and because I am an INFJ small talk doesn't cut it.

I think twenty-something Amanda would have thought I would have accomplished more by this point - a book, another piece of paper stating more of what I've learned, a few local bosom friends - but most days thirty-six year old me is a bit too tired to think about the what ifs. Most days, days when I'm not asked to stand up to identify with a certain age group, it's enough to just be where I am, plugging along with marriage and motherhood and catching up on a This Is Us episode when the schedule allows. Most days I am okay with the grey hair and the mama-pooch because I know both are blessings that not everyone gets to experience. Most days I can remember at some point before the sun goes down that each day is a gift.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

a Sunday as a special needs mom

"Mom, during pickup time, G was trying to get up to come to the door and some kid called him a slowpoke. I told him not to be mean, but I really wanted to slap him for saying that."

This prompted a discussion we seem to be having more and more these days. Earlier this week it was an older lady at the YMCA commenting about G's walking. Today it was a kid in church calling names. Of course, I commend my oldest for not responding with slapping. We talk about why we get angry when people say things about Bug and the reasons why they may say it and why we should think before we speak. It is easy to be the calm and collected mama on the ride home from church. It is not easy when I finally sneak away to the shower and cry my eyes out so my boys don't hear.

Bubby didn't know the name or even a good description of the boy who said the mean thing today, which honestly is probably a good thing since I volunteer now in there. And it isn't anything about this church or the teachers in there that caused this to happen. When we were at our Missouri church a child said in Bug's face right in front of me during Awana games, "Haha! You are slow!" To which I calmly but directly told the child that he was being unkind.

I think the thing that undid me this evening was the fact that this will happen more and more in the years ahead. Not necessarily at church, but at co-ops or playgrounds or birthday parties or story times. We pick on others to make ourselves feel better. Not just kids, adults, too. I know I have been guilty of this, and being on the mama side of it makes me realize just how horrible it is.

We are still settling in here.  The kids here don't know Bug. We haven't found our mama-hen-peer for Sunday school that we had a couple of previously. There isn't Art Inspired Academy where Bug is around kids who are more like him than not, who don't care that he doesn't run and can't hold a crayon well. The parents we know here we don't know well enough yet, and so they probably haven't had the "here's how to be a friend with someone with cerebral palsy and autism" talk yet. So in many ways I am starting from square one with educating and advocating and such.

I mentioned to the other volunteer in nursery with me today about Bug's noises sometimes in church. "Well at a Reformed church those noises really shouldn't bother other people since they are coming from a covenant child. Those are covenant cries and noises." I'm not Presbyterian enough yet to completely grasp everything about covenant children, but the encouragement helped me this morning and again now as I have dried my tears. Bug is a child of God that we have promised to raise in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and therefore, church should be a place for him to be accepted and included. And he has been both at our Missouri church and our Arizona church. We have been blessed by pastors and elders who have been nothing but supportive and helpful.  But now some of the work and prayers begin again in making church a home be a more complete reality for my child.