June 3, 2010

Jumping into Deep, Deep Waters

I have written before about why it is that I blog.

At first, I had to have an outlet to express anger... and hurt.

The anger is being replaced these days with acceptance.

The hurt is still there, but time really does ease the suffering, even if it doesn't completely heal the wounds.

I am surviving, but my need to write is just as strong as it was several months ago.

The traditional, hard-bound journal would meet that need, I suppose. But there is something so wonderful about "meeting" new people through this medium. I am meeting two groups of women with whom I have so much in common: (1) those who love a child with autism or other profound challenges, and (2) those who struggle with the demands of single parenthood when their children are so very young.

I even have met a mother who, at one time in her life, struggled with the demands of single-parenting a profoundly challenged child.

My therapist recently pointed out the privacy concerns with blogging. They are legitimate, no doubt. But I know me -- I know that a traditional journal might very well get lost in the chaos that is my life. And I know that, one day, I am going to need to look back on this past year of my life -- I am going to need to look back at the suffering, as well as the memories of people and things that managed to get me out of bed each morning.

I turn 35 in little more than a month. I look back at my life and realize that big, HUGE chunks are missing. It is as if someone took a giant eraser to more than a decade of my life. My twenties????? I could give you the basics. I could run down the years I graduated from what schools and the degrees I received. I could give you the details of my employment history, from back in the days when I actually received a paycheck.

I could tell you my children's birthdates, their weights, and their Apgar scores, of all things.

But I think the REAL memories, the meaningful stuff, is buried somewhere, lost behind the layers of sadness and disappointment that have made up the past few years of my life.

The birth of my babies ..... the most meaningful moments of my life... REALLY? Can I really remember so very little?

I just cannot take the chance that I will lose the memories of the things that are happening right now -- the many wonderful things that are happening alongside the difficult and the damn-near impossible.

If I don't write them down, the magnificent images and memories, I am afraid they could be gone in weeks, if not days ...

With that being said, I need to note just a few of the simple, extraordinary moments of the past few days of my life:

When I picked my son up from school today -- from the school for children with autism that he has been attending for just the past three days -- he wrapped his arms around my waist and hugged, and hugged, and hugged. He has always been a fairly affectionate kid, but he is getting close to seven-years-old, and the tender moments aren't as numerous as they used to be.

But, today, for some reason ... he wrapped those arms around me and buried that gorgeous face into my stomach and held on like I was the most wonderful mother in the world (even though I am nowhere close).

When I walked through Wal-mart a few days ago -- moments after taking both children to the bathroom only to discover that my buggy had gone missing and I needed to start my shopping anew -- I had a conversation with my daughter about strawberries.

"Eeewwww. I don't like them," she said.

"But you have never tried them," I said, "and they are delicious."

"And healthy," I add. (There are children in third-world nations whose diets are healthier than my daughter's.)

"But I don't like them."

"But you've never tried them."

"I don't like them, Mama, and that is just the way God made me."

OK, hard to argue with God.

And here is the best one -- the most fantastic memory of the past week. Over Memorial Day weekend, I took my kids to the indoor swimming pool in my hometown -- a huge, Olympic-sized swimming pool that both kids LOVE. The pool boasts two springboard diving platforms. My son managed to conquer his fear of diving boards last summer, and I was so very, very excited. My daughter, who has ALWAYS been much more cautious and timid than her brother, has never shown the slightest indication she would one day take the plunge.

Until last Sunday .....

I suggested she walk out on one of the boards, just as I have suggested numerous times before. But, this time, she didn't flatly refuse.

She asked if I would go with her, and I told her the board was too narrow for two people, but I would walk out on the other.

So, off we go. I walk down one board; she walks out on the other.

She wiggles, she squirms, she hesitates, she tells me she is scared.

"Do you want to watch me? I can go first," I say.

"Yes," she says.

And so I jumped, anticipating the dreaded wedgie that comes with the leap, never really expecting Olivia to follow.

I surface and look up at my little girl standing at the edge of the board.

"Stay right there, Mama, and catch me if I need you."

And BOOM, just like that, she is in the air.

I could barely process what was happening.

Really???? Just like that??? She has abandoned this fear that held her back, that kept her from even setting one foot on the board???

In just a moment, she decides to let go ... of the fear, of the hesitation, of the unknown.

And before I even have time to think about it, Olivia is flying through the air, arms outstretched, look of determination on her face.

Oh, GOD, how I love this girl.

She comes up, eyes-wide, disbelief on her face.

"OLIVIA, that was AWESOME," I tell her.

"I KNOW!!!!!" she says to me.

"That was the coolest thing EVER," I say.

"YEAH, IT WAS," she says. "Let's do it again.

Yeah, it was.

And I won't ever forget.

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