Thursday, January 6, 2011
Reflecting and Praying!
Wow, 2010 was an amazing and again challenging year. I'm pretty sure that God doesn't want me to get bored....honestly.....a little boredom would be appreciated. REALLY...I would be okay with that.
But when I look back on the past year I have so many positive things to reflect on. When a new year begins I always find myself looking back further than just that year, I tend to reflect on the progress I have seen through the years. This crazy journey I am on with my children requires me to always reflect on where we started and to appreciate just how far we have come. That reflection allows me to remain positive and focused as I start each new day.
Benjamin will turn 16 on January 23rd and he is hot on my case to set up his driver's test. Where did the time go?? I still look at Ben and see the little boy that felt the need to use his tools to take apart everything in my house. Ben was never happy until he had taken something apart, figured out how it worked and sometimes made it work better and other times just smashed it to bits. Hmmm, funny...some things never change. I was just looking at pictures on Facebook of his Rhino, the truck he bought when he was 14 that got rolled at J & H and his current love, the monster diesel that has caused the UPS man and I to see each other more than I thought possible. I used to get excited thinking someone sent something to me or something I ordered came in from Land's End but now I seem to only get packages from www.puredieselpower.com. Don't even get me started on the dating...still taking deep breaths to get through that.
Ben as a child always had unlimited energy and a never ending stream of questions which some felt was ADHD and that medication was a must. But I never went there...although the year I homeschooled him I was tempted. Instead my mind just kept telling me we had to help him learn how to use that energy productively and I had to come to terms with the fact that I was going to hear the word "Mom" a minimum of 1,000 times a day. I needed to learn how he learned, what worked and what didn't so I could help him and those that worked with him. I still chuckle to this day when I see Ben skip across a room because he is excited...it was always like a little release of stored energy. I have been negotiating with Ben since he was three and I often feel that he just gets better at it and I get....well, more tired. Ben and I have a point blank relationship. He has never held back in letting me know what he is thinking or how he is feeling...I just wish sometimes he would curb his impulsiveness and comments so we could have a productive conversation instead of an explosive one but I understand the need to let off some steam too...it's just part of having an intense personality. I have always preferred that his outbursts be with me and not at others...because I love him, I can forgive him and I know the outbursts are often due to his feeling challenged or misunderstood. I walk a fine line with Ben trying to help him advocate for himself and at the same time motivate him to try harder.
I look at Ben and remember the frustrated little boy and the long hours of homework as he struggled to focus and as his struggle with reading, writing and spelling threatened to destroy his self esteem. We have come so far. I rarely have to do homework with Ben, we still team study for exams and I sometimes help him organize larger projects but he is doing well and has maintained his ability to remain in the regular curriculum without LD or special ed help. He is a fighter and I am so very proud of him.
And then there is Danielle, my sanity child...my ray of sunshine. She has an innate gentleness and kindness about her. She has always shined bright even when the attention on her brothers seemed to be greater. I have to remind Jeff and myself that she is a gentle soul, unlike her brothers more powerful personalities and she requires gentle persuasion. In recent years she has come into her own, able to stand up to Ben and put him in his place while getting Sam to do as she asked within a count of 3. Danielle makes me laugh, she and I are kindred souls and enjoy spending time together....of course sometimes during our road trips we all need a little space but really...who wouldn't after being locked in a van together for 10-15 hours at a time. We pick on each other and we laugh a lot. She is simply an amazing personality and I know God sent her into my life to help me maintain some sort of balance. Ummm...good luck with that Danielle.
Danielle is my sports playing, Zumba queen. She is so much more coordinated than me and I know she is going to do great things in this world and continue to be happy. Jeff and her share a special relationship since he is the driver to most of her practices and games. Don't even get the two of them started on John Tesch...they are addicted to his radio show...I get to hear so many random pieces of wisdom. Danielle was an amazing baby and toddler and she just continues to grow and develop into a wonderful, dare I say...teenager. I love you Muttsy!
And Sammy...my amazing big guy. Oh, the lessons you have taught me through good times and bad. I still think about Sam on our road trip this summer climbing mountains, hiking for hours and never ever complaining that his hip hurt...but it probably did. This little trouper went on to learn how to ride his bike, I just watched the video the other night when I was feeling a little sad. He worked so hard to achieve that goal and took such pride in showing everyone what he had accomplished. As I watch the video I can't help but notice how stiff his left hip looks...didn't notice that when we were in the moment. And now as Sam is in his 5th week in a full body brace he continues to amaze me with his compliance and attitude. I would not be this great of a patient and yet he greets me every morning with a smile and a hug. We are quite the pair in the morning, him in his body brace and me struggling to bend over for a hug because my back is so stiff.
I am thankful for the amazing road trip we had this summer, its memories have helped me get through the rough times. As I look at the pictures I smile at the happy times and relive the adventures we had. God surely set that trip up knowing what the next couple of months would bring.
The other night I watched a video when Sam was 3 or 4 and he only made sounds that we hoped would some day turn into speech. Sam still struggles with speech but he has come so far. He has tons of words now and many phrases to address his needs. I still wait and long for conversational speech, active listening and appropriate responses but I am encouraged by the steady changes I am seeing.
In Sam's 10 years he has had more struggles than most of us will face in our lifetime but he never lets that get to him. He just continues on with a confidence and attitude that all of us should learn from.
Ben, Danielle and Sam have taught me to change because that's all I really have control over. I determine how I talk, act and feel and in kind that determines how my children talk and interact with me. Ben's difficult situations challenge me to treat him the way I would like to be treated without bringing in the emotion or negativity that so often can take over our interactions. Both Ben and Sam love attention, but Sam is teaching me the power of positive attention. He requires me to place more emphasis on the things done right than what he attempts and is unsuccessful at. If I get frustrated he is more than happy to follow suit and just shut down. I am a work in progress and if I am tired or anxious I struggle to maintain my composure but I try to remember the lessons Sam is so desperately trying to teach me. I love you big guy!
I have never been a person that made New Year's resolutions...I instead make daily resolutions. I resolve to treat my children with positive attention and to be open to their level of communication. I resolve to focus on the positive aspects of my life and count my blessings. I ask the Lord to guide me every moment of every day...I can't do this life alone. I have often had people tell me I'm an amazing Mom and they don't know how I do everything I do...but if I'm honest...I'm just a regular person that has been put into extraordinary situations and by the grace of God, we get through.
This year I hope to open my heart and mind in order to continue my efforts in building community around Sam. Sam and I have been together since day 1, during hospitalizations, medical crisis, homeschooling and home therapy and everything that has been required due to his medical and immune system issues. We have been through a lot and we enjoy each other and work well together but Sam needs to learn how to interact and work with others too.
This is an issue that is so hard for me.
I get anxious when I see someone interact with Sam and he gets frustrated because they don't understand him. I get anxious when Sam won't show his skills and abilities and I worry that a teacher or therapist will lower their expectations instead of figuring out how to work with Sam. I get anxious when I see another child ignore or treat Sam differently. I get anxious that someone will miss a subtle change in Sam that is a red flag for me that medically something is about to happen. I get anxious that Sam will be overloaded by too much sensory stimulation and his behavior will reflect that. I get anxious that a child may run into and bump Sam causing him to fall on his fragile hip that has just been rebuilt. I get anxious that someone may not recognize that Sam's behavior is a pain reaction and not Sam being stubborn or non compliant. I get anxious that both children and adults will talk less to Sam because he is difficult to understand or he doesn't always answer appropriately. I get anxious that someone may perceive Sam's ability as low due to his limited speech expression instead of giving him other ways to express himself appropriately. I get anxious that someone will misinterpret a hearing issue as a cognitive issue. I get anxious that Sam will get frustrated and shut down. I get anxious that Sam will withdraw and enter his own world.
because I love this little boy with all that I am. I will end with something I found on a fellow blogger's site, thank you Debbie at Finding Normal, http://debbie61497.blogspot.com/: