Here's Why

Grace for the process.

Here goes.

I’m sitting on my couch with a heating pad, my laptop, and a cup of coffee. The screen door is open. I put a blanket over my legs and a podcast on the speakers.

And I don’t know what to do with myself.

The girls are napping, and Jack is at his second full day of “school”.

I mean, it’s kind of school. It’s… therapy? Clinic? Center-based services? It’s just easier to call it school. So let’s.

I’ve gotten better about writing about harder things, but I haven’t gotten good at it. This is a hard thing, and here goes.

Jack received an Autism Spectrum Disorders diagnosis this summer. I sought it out, pursued it — I knew a diagnosis would qualify us for services that Jack needed.

And I prayed and hoped and convinced myself that he wouldn’t get it.

But he did. He did qualify. And the doctor said: “Jack has many strengths. Fifteen percent of these kiddos outgrow this disorder by six-years old. If he gets intensive help, if he gets ABA therapy for 40 hours a week, we could see this go away.”

And this made me want to throw up. This made me want to punch something. This still brings stinging, mean, angry tears to my eyes. Because how dare you give me some kind of false hope, some kind of maybe.

I hate maybes.

And while this post is about Jack, it’s mostly about his mom. It’s mostly about how I am leaning in to this diagnosis.

It’s about being disappointed in myself for not learning the lesson that has been handed to me, over and over again. I get it, God. Thick skull.

You’d think I’d stop believing I was the one driving this boat.

Nope. The news broadcasted details of my divorce on the evening news. My sister went braindead even though I squeezed her limp hand over and over. And no matter how hard I “teach” him, no matter what I research and Pinterest and practice, Jack has Autism.

Exhale. Sometimes, that’s the one-way track my brain hurtles down.

I’m still going to paint my life in my dreams. I’m still going to hope and imagine and plan. I know this because nothing has ever been able to change that. This is about being proud that I know myself better these days.

But I’m also going to be honest: Right now, I am grieving. I’m feeling this, I’ve been feeling this, and this sucks.

I try not to think the hard things. Will Jack be made fun of? Will he ever date? Will he ever live on his own? Are the girls developing on pace? I try not to borrow tomorrow’s heartache. I try to give it the middle finger. Every day. Errrrr. Day.

Thick skull or not, here’s a thing I have learned: It’s ok to sit in the suck. For me, and you, and humans, it’s part of the process. It’s good to mourn the loss of how we thought it would be.

We (humans) are so uncomfortable with other people being uncomfortable. We want to fix it, fix it fast, and we go about this ‘fixing’ by telling people that’s everything is going to be ok, that they are strong, and then telling them just where their bootstraps can be located.

I am very guilty of this.

In the Autism world, this means: You are super mom! You are the best mom for him. Have you tried essential oils? Have you tried eliminating gluten? Join this Facebook group. See this doctor, he’s the best.”

I’m trying to try (it’s a thing) to practice self compassion. To give myself grace in the process. For me, like too many other people, I’ve got enough firm; I need a little more gentle. The job will still get done. Me, I’m resilient and tough and I bounce back. I will tackle the challenge, no matter how I do it. I will kick this one’s ass, too. It’s my job, and it’s my job to do it well.

But this time, I’m not going to shove past my vulnerable spots. I’m not going to demand that I instantly redefine what my life looks like. I’ll get there.

Sometimes, you plan your life out and it blows up in your face. And sometimes, no matter how much organic produce and prenatal vitamins you consume, your kid is born different.

Life is not in our control.

Dear Jesus, 

I think I’ve got this lesson down, today. But could you remind me again tomorrow?

– Heather Lynne

P.S. Jack loves school. Thanks for helping me with that one. 

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His plan is a lot better, don’t you think?

 

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Letters to My Kids, Uncategorized

Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle — STOP.

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Dear Jack,

You really, really loved the cauliflower at dinner tonight. You gave it a “Iz good” and a thumbs up — this is your official stamp of approval.

You wear a Paw Patrol hat every (EVERY) day, usually backwards.

You are two and two months.

This week, you decided to be terrified of the vacuum. You scream and cry unless I will hold you while  I vacuum. So I do. You are heavy; this is difficult.

You have lots of new words, every day.

You run into things all day, every day.

We keep working hard on changing that.

You say “OH YEAH” and clap when we go through Dutch Bros, because you know you’re in for chocolate milk with whip cream on the straw.

You just started giving me free kisses. I waited a real long time for this, kid. Also, when you see Dad give me a smooch, you tell us, “I love you” in order to join in.

You are anything but the easy way. You are loud. You are fall-asleep-behind-your-bedroom-door.

You’re as tall as a four-year old.

You love the small shovel you stole from Dad. You drag it behind you from one end of the yard to the other. And you tell it “nigh-nigh” before bed — every day.

Your favorite color is red. (Of course it is.) You will start fights over wearing a red shirt, drinking out of a red cup. You get mean over red.

You love holding hands across the table when we say dinner prayers and saying Ay-men afterwards. But sometimes, you bend down to lick the food on your plate while we’re praying.

You love Miles and JoJo and Sean and all of your cousins. You can do a somersault on your own. You are enthusiastic over everything, whether it’s EW BOOGERS or MMM DEE-LISHUSH or STEEEENKY POOP GROSH DEES-‘GUSTING. You are big round eyes and crinkled nose and crookedy grin.

We have watched way too many YouTube videos of garbage trucks.

You are the keeper of the yard; no birds will land in the grass on your watch from behind the screen door.

You are belly laughs and ugly whines, crocodile tears and backseat dance parties. Wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-STOP.

You make my heart beat faster, and not always because I’m chasing you.

I love you, Jack Michael.

Always.

Mom

 

Uncategorized

(Where I track how hard it is to type).

If it could just keep raining, I’d appreciate it.

Unlike rainy days as a teacher (where the teenagers howl at the moon), rainy days at home make for peace, especially during toddler naptimes and lazy lunchtimes and —

(One.)

— book-reading laptimes. It’s not that it’s free from interruption. It’s just that the house is a sort of almost quiet-ish where you can hear the hum of the dryer and the tapping of droplets on our porch and Carter’s breath in the chair next to mine.

(Two.)

The girls are four weeks old today. Their existence has given me a sense of something I can’t quite explain. One of those intangible somethings that I haven’t found any good words for. The closest thing I can come to is that I feel done, complete, and —

(Three.)

— full. Like I know I’m done with a part of my life, the pregnant/person-growing part of my life, and I know this is my family, my unit. Seeing into the future, just a tiny bit, has become that much more lucid for me.  This probably makes no sense. Does anyone, any parent, have better terminology for this? It’s a good feeling, a calm and solid, warm and gooey feeling. Of course I am frequently warm and gooey and wide-hearted anyways these days. New baby smell will do that to a person. It’s just that —

(Four.)

— I’ve got this husband and this marriage that I can wrap both arms around and never get enough. I have this sweet-souled six-year old with blue-blue eyes and two missing teeth. I have a deep-voiced two-year old with out-to-there lashes, the best kissin’ lips and humongous, ever-growing feet. And now I’ve got two tiny twins, each completely different and separately wonderful from the other —

(Five.)

Charlotte with her balding jet-black mop of hair, her round face and her crinkled ear. Her love for laying belly-down on Dad’s chest —

(Six.)

— and the funny way she clears her throat and grunts in her sleep. Her olive skin. Her bubble-blowing. Charlie. Char-Char Binks. Charmander.

Elizabeth? Prim and proper. Sleeps with her hands folded, tiny button nose in the air. Megan’s namesake and eerily-similar personality. Strawberry duck fluff; pursed lips. Tiniest peanut of a baby who still swims in newborn diapers. Mom-likes-Ellie-but-Dad-votes-Lizzie. Little Bit. Marmot. Squeaker.

It’s not to say life is perfect. Life is loud and messy, and we’re flying by the seat of our pants.

If I were to point out insecurities in the hopes of recording the grittier parts of reality, I’d write about how I’m still scared of having four kids. How that seems like too many. I’d write about how soft and squishy my midsection is; how it feels like puppy skin, and how this both makes me feel proud and daunted. I’d talk about —

(Seven.)

— my struggle with breastfeeding, and how small that makes me feel sometimes.

(Eight.)

I’d talk about losing my temper/mind at 3:30 in the morning, about worrying about medical bills and trying to figure out how I’m going to run this roost solo once Jesse goes back to work in two days.

We’ve got newborn twins — double blessings that keep us up all night and tethered to an insane feeding cycle during the day. Jack’s a walking accident with proprioceptive sensory issues. He’s also two with a powerful set of lungs and an Irish temper. Carter wants to play computer games with pixelated blood and is all of a sudden preoccupied with natural disasters: volcanoes, tornados, tsunamis, acid rain.

It’s a never ending juggling act around here.

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(Nine.)

In wrapping things up, I’ve got to sing praises to all of my meal-makers, my conversation-keepers, my coffee-deliverers. My neighbors, my family, my friends; my people.

When I’m about to pull out my hair — with fists, from the roots — I try to think about how undeniably joyful my life is. I think about how beautiful it all is, despite my always-sticky floors and full hampers and all the other things that don’t matter.

Hey look at that — we got through this post without a tenth interruption.

(Ten.)

Almost.