At 8:55am with a car seat balancing on my bent left elbow and a 2 year old holding onto my right hand so he could go down the bricks frontways by himself, I somehow closed the front door with my rear end. Milk splatters had been wiped from the dark wood table, along with a cursory wipe underneath because I couldn’t see any on the white tile floor. I’m sure they are there. A toddler lives in the house. Tiny white pools are no doubt being slurped by ants right now who are hailing the others, “Hey! It’s organic! Take it to the queen!” Enjoy, your Majesty.
I had practiced my calf-roping skills by changing two diapers and two full outfits in less than 5 minutes. The house was tidy because 1) I have a walk-through with the owner of this rental (more to come. I can’t go into it without hyperventilating) and 2) I’ve walked into the house on appointment days in the past and thought we’d been robbed because the house was tossed. It turns out that 2 boys live in my house and I had tried out the sage wisdom , “Let the mess go. You’ll be less stressed!” Yes, heart attacks really help that stress level.
I snapped in 30 pounds of kid and safety gear onto place and then turned to buckle the 2 year old. Instead of a slightly pudgy blond boy, a spider monkey with a body 80% comprised of limbs and huge feet smiled at me from the car seat. When did that happen? As I crawled back out of the cave known as the minivan I smiled at a neighbor. With a wave I said, “We’re headed to therapy!”
I don’t remember the last time I’ve said anything so truthful and prophetic. We are SO headed to therapy. Maybe we can get a discount on matching couches.
Last week before a meeting (in which one kid pooped out and the other melted into a puddle of angst and starvation within 15 minutes) I met with a long-lost friend. As we pushed our strollers and discussed husbands, deployments, waistlines, and kids I answered a few questions about Secondborn’s occupational therapy. I explained that he is starting on foods but I need to make sure he is engaging the right muscles so that they develop correctly. This will have a direct effect on speech. His neck and core strength (from weekly physical therapy) impact his swallowing, jaw and facial muscles. We just want train the muscles to work in the best way, not the easiest way.
“When did you learn all this?”, my friend asked. I had no clue. I finally realized the answer. “Other moms taught me. For the past year, I’ve been a student of moms, blogs, books, doctors, and every stranger who knew someone who knew someone with Down Syndrome.” That’s how we learn everything, I guess. We listen, model, and adjust.
I have a dear friend that I call almost daily if only for a 5 minute check-in. Our longest dry spell was 5 days and I think we both were on our death beds. We joke that we’ve saved millions in therapy through talking to each other in an authentic, encouraging, butt-kicking way. For women especially, relationships ARE therapeutic. They stand by at the ready as we do this thing called life. “Watch my baby while I lovingly correct my child who is streaking through the playground” is a woman’s translation of the manly, “Hold my beer and watch this.”
For almost eight months my darling Second-born has been here. Since day 2 he has had some sort of therapy or medication to give him his best support. I realize now, as I am hiding in a closet and praying that my sons will miraculously nap at the same time, that I’ve been in therapy that long too. With every doctor who has said, “Great job, Mom!”, encouraging Facebook post, e-mail link to a source for finding loop-holes in red tape, person who has brought dinner, and friends who have closed the curtains and turned up the music really loudly so that I could cry without anyone else knowing are my therapists. It’s the PEOPLE who made the difference.
Sure, chocolate and Bluebell ice-cream are great momentary fixes, but once consumed there is nothing but an empty container. Those containers will likely end up on someone’s head before bedtime. It is the people who breathe life into me and repeat the words that are so precious to my soul that help me heal. Sometimes the ever-present God doesn’t feel so present. His still-small voice can be drowned out by the screaming banshees with underwear on their heads, Daddy-son fart noise competitions and clangs of never-ending dirty dishes piling into a leaning Tower of Pisa in the chipped sink. That is when I LONG for solitary confinement and white walls that don’t require vigilant stain removal.
So yes, we are headed to therapy. My writings and picture documentation of my sons’ antics will keep some therapist busy for years trying to figure out when I scarred them permanently. Sometimes I feel crazier than Patsy Cline. Therapy, Baby. Praise God for the Good Counselor who knows our hearts. “Come to me, you who are burdened and I shall give you rest.”
The best of Christ followers and the craziest among us are often the same. To all my therapists, your checks are in the mail. Please excuse the peanut butter smears.