Wednesday, February 28, 2018

He's Back!

Boy is that ever true when it comes to Brady P. and me.

As I drove away from that little boy last week, I felt such a relief.  Like I could finally take some time for myself.  That brought on the feeling of guilt, of course, because I'm his mama!  But I'm his mama all the time unless he's safely with his grandparents or one of the two wonderful sitters I currently have in town.

(In case you are not aware, Aaron and I are getting divorced, and he works in Arkansas for the winter.  Kind of a big thing, so I wanted my "single mom" comments to make sense.)

While driving away that day, I thought about all the duties and projects I lined up for myself back home.  And I was grateful that I had one week to do it all without my little pant leg tugger asking for attention.

Then I had another guilty thought.  "I wonder how many days -- or weeks -- it will take before I truly miss Braeden enough to want him to come back and take most of my time.  I thought it might even take months as I remembered some of the frustrating times when I felt ready to give him away.

That is really hard to admit.  But it is real.  Being a single mom of a three-year-old with an extra chromosome is very trying.  I bet that co-parenting a "normal" three-year-old is even frustrating at times.  And my sweet boyfriend will always remind me of that.

"Talk to other moms, Amanda," he will say as he holds my hand while I cry.  "I'm sure you're not the only mom to feel this way."  He assures me that I need a break once in a while, and I don't have to feel guilty.  His caring and understanding is truly a gift to Braeden and me.

So do you want to know how long it took for me to really miss my little boy?

After three days, I started looking more longingly at Braeden's pictures.  "Too soon," I thought.  "I can't really miss him yet.  I have too much left to do."

After five days I spent the evening watching videos of him before I fell asleep... with a tear in my eye.  

At seven days my heart was a puddle.  I just wanted him home.  I didn't care if I was only able to do any non-mom things during naps and while he played by himself.

I was truly ready to be a mom again.

And during his first day back, I was so grateful to have him with me.  I felt great joy being a mom.  Not just that I am a mom, but that I really enjoy it.  It feels so purposeful to raise my little superhero like nobody else is able to do.

Because right now, that's what I am here to do.  And I must always remember that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Freedom on Ice

Braeden is visiting his Grammies and Grampies... so I forgot what day it was!

As the 24/7 caregiver of a miniature superhero, a break really means a lot.  It means having time to tie up loose ends in other parts of my life.  It means digging into projects that cannot be tackled during his nap time.  It means taking my own nap when I feel gravity taking over.  It means sleeping through the night.  

And today, it meant strapping on my snowshoes, sliding my ice picks through my jacket sleeves, and trekking across the frozen harbor to Porter's Island -- a place I haven't been since Brady P. was in my belly, and place I've been longing to visit for those three years.

Since I just got back in to town, I asked a couple locals how the ice was because I am not ready to die yet.  "It's been locked in for a while now." Marty confirmed.  "I was out with Fern a couple days ago," Staci assured.

Sweet.  That was just what I wanted to hear.

The sun was blasting over Brockway Mountain, the skies were blue and the wind was whipping from the west.  I battened my hatches, slid down the Harbor Haus landing and pointed every fiber of my being to the west end of Porter's -- where the ice volcanoes sat dormant.

Here is a panoramic view looking back toward the harbor.

The south side pan

It always looks different when you put 180 degrees worth of scenery into a 2-D picture, but that's East Bluff on the left, Brockway below the sunshine and Hunter's Point on the right.

This picture doesn't even show the ice covering the branches of the trees on Brockway Mountain.  That was gorgeous.

When I rounded the corner through the gap, I saw it.  I saw the ice volcano I've been eyeing up for weeks.  I'm astonished that it was still there.

The top of the 20 foot ice volcano

Then I slid down and walked around to see this part of it shining like a wind-struck mammoth jewel!

The glistening foothill

There's part of my shadow at the bottom for perspective, but it was a pretty grand sight.  All of it was.

I was so grateful to be out on the ice.  In the sun.  Following my curiosity.  Staying above the water.  And prancing around like a little kid.

That is freedom for a mama.

So I thanked the lake and blew her a kiss.  Then I giddily trekked back to the shore, eager to tell you about my adventure.  Just like the good ol' days...

Walking back from The Gap
(The biggest volcano is not visible in this picture)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"The Talk"

Hey!  I got to give my talk about Down syndrome at the Copper Harbor school this week.  It felt great!

I held the students' interest for the most part.  And the teachers learned some new things too!

But the most surprising part to me was this: After I asked all the students what they were born with that makes them different from most people, I asked if they knew what makes Braeden different.

None of them knew.

None of them knew!

Either they were being shy, their parents never told them, they forgot or they just really didn't notice.  For some reason, I thought that at least one of the students already knew.  But they didn't notice my little boy was different than them.

Then we got a little sciency and talked about chromosomes.  We got a little serious as I talked about his heart surgery.  We got a little giggly when I told them that sometimes his body feels like a wet noodle.

I think a few things clicked for them.  Like when I told him why he still drools and why he doesn't talk yet.  And how they already know he is a cool kid and loves to have friends like they do.

The students have always been nice to him, but I think that now they have a little more understanding about some of the differences they subconsciously noticed.

Like I said before, I am not just trying to promote acceptance for my son.  I want to promote it for every decent human being on this planet.  Because we are here for a reason, and the more we are understood, accepted and loved, the more we can thrive in that direction.

I look forward to doing these talks more and more.  I'll be looking for venues in the future.  If you have an idea for me, please let me know!

And in the meantime, spread a little love today. XOXO

Here is a smile from Mr. Inspirational himself.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Chance to Teach

The teacher at the Copper Harbor school just asked me to do a talk about Down syndrome to the class.

Heck yeah!

I am fired up about it.  Thoughts, facts and things I've learned first hand are flooding my brain.  I just wrote a brief outline about the points I want to cover, so I don't forget them all.  I'm glad to get the opportunity to take some time to really think about what I want to say.

Because it is really important.

It is about my son.

But on another level, it is about everyone.  We are all different, and that is how I plan to start my talk.

Details aside, let me also say this:

It is starting.

My chance to advocate for Braeden and everyone on the planet is starting.  It starts small like this, but it is starting.  This is my path now, and I need avenues in order to get the word out.

I am excited to share my knowledge with the kids.  I hope they enjoy learning about it.  I hope they are surprised by what is possible.

And then I look forward to telling you how it went!  Stay tuned!

Do you?

Just another note about this picture.  We all came into this world with our own specific gifts, tools, characteristics and handicaps.  What we do with them, and how we view ourselves on this planet are truly what define us -- more than what we think we "gain" while we are here.

Think about that for a minute.  See you next week!