A Letter to Myself - 7 Years Ago-
I see you - hunched over your computer in the middle of the night in the dark corner of the house. I see you googling and "researching" and reaching out. I see you desperate for anyone who has walked this road before to come alongside you and reassure you that you will survive. I see your tears and your smiles and your fears as you place your heart - your child - out there for the world to see.
7 years ago, you began to write this blog in large part because you don't scrapbook and this seemed like a happy medium to record your family's history without having to scrapbook it all.
(Seriously -it's time to print this out. Then you can call the printed out version a "scrapbook.")
6.5 years ago, you learned your child would be born with limb differences and the blog suddenly became a community. It became your therapist - for free. It became your place of processing and venting and a safe place because you could get all those feelings out and never even hit publish if it was too raw. It became a way to guard your heart and emotions - you could type out here the latest doctor update or prognosis and then family and friends could see it without you having to go through the emotional roller coaster of repeating the news over and over and over again. Later, it would become your cheat sheet - your way to share photos and stories with family in one easy format. It's like letter writing without the whole letter writing part.
You needed the readers - those who emailed you or called you or commented. You found you have great joy from walking alongside other moms figuring out how to navigate this world of parenting kids with differences. What an honor to have prayed for so many babies around this nation and to have talked to and cried with their mommies.
You grew greatly from those who challenged you in the comments and made you stand firm in convictions or possibly rethink your position. You needed the affirmation from those who assured you it would be ok. And you craved the companionship from other mamas. How in the world did moms for thousands of years who found themselves in unique parenting situations of kids with differences survive the loneliness? How grateful I am to have had this community - the internet has allowed me to know mamas parenting kids like mine all over the world.
For most of the last 7 years, you needed this blog. You needed the outlet to process all the feelings. You needed the format to share news or ask for prayers without being on the phone or crowding people's email inboxes. You needed the community.
Oh dear one,
can I share this with you?
I don't think you need this blog quite the same way anymore.
You know that big fear you had from the very beginning - right about the time your baby was diagnosed? The one about what your new "normal" would look like?
Let me tell you - your life looks a lot like any other mama's parenting 2 kids. You drive a lot. They go to school and your son, the one missing his fingers, writes the most beautiful cursive. He reads books on a fifth grade level. He devours books, really. He still cuddles you in the same position he has for 7 years every single morning. He plays tennis. He plays it well. He has friends. Wonderful, compassionate, loving, sensitive, funny, typical little boy friends. He asks great questions. He's the lead role in a play this fall. He plays pretend and wears capes and carries a sword or nerf gun at all times. He doesn't care or know that you took the epidural. (Quit beating yourself up over that, already. Good grief. It doesn't lessen the birth experience and you know what people remember of your birth experience of a child with significant limb differences? They remember the joy and laughter coming from your room. Thanks be to Jesus and the anesthesiologist who brought you the epidural. You know what else? They don't give mommies epidurals to numb the heart and mind when you hand over your child for surgery and you've done that 9 times so far - totally "natural" & no breathing plans or epidurals. So there.)
(Note to children's hospitals - mommies need "silly juice" too to get through surgery hand off.)
Oh that boy of yours, mostly his life is pretty "normal." Sure, he takes a daily shot and he sees lots of specialists and he has to be really resourceful and creative to figure things out but somehow, that doesn't seem as scary or significant to you as it once did. In fact, it feels normal and right and good.
Here's a little fun glimpse into your future - that boy of yours will one day start giving you insight into the man he is becoming and watch out! Those moments - they are holy moments. God is doing something big with him and wow - I don't want to spoil it for you yet but you are going to have some powerful glimpses of the man he is becoming.
And that daughter? The one you were told was probably going to die? The one who shouldn't have survived the pregnancy much less be 4? The one you so desperately depended on the blog community because you couldn't talk to one more person and share your heart quite like you could on here?
She's just lovely. She's graceful and hilarious. She dances and twirls and sings loudly. She's a little mommy - strangers even notice her nurturing spirit all the time. The girl nurtures her babies and has been known to mother leaves and sticks and animals when no babies are around. Her heart is amazing.
She is very sensitive and compassionate. She laughs loudly and cuddles nightly. She's your shadow and though she is your daughter, I have great hope she will become your best friend. She's a joy to be around and fun and interesting. This is good because you will spend a great many hours together every day.
Your need for this blog will change. The emotions still come sometimes and you certainly have hard things but often those are more like hard hours instead of whole entire "pit days." The hard things too are changing - they are more private. You can't always share those with the world because your children will get to the point where they need hard things to stay between them and their mama. They don't understand the internet (except Amazon - they understand Amazon and Apple from infancy, I'm afraid.) Something in your mama's heart just knows that now you keep quiet. Now, you keep these stories and heartaches to yourself. Maybe someday you will share them and maybe you won't but you won't need the same sort of processing format like you once did.
Let me tell you this, Me from 7 years ago -
it gets better and easier and it's good. It is so so good. Your life is far from "normal" but it is better than you ever would have imagined. Hang in there. You are doing great.
-The Older Me
But I've missed writing here. I've missed processing although I'm still trying to figure out how to do that as my kids get older and our hard things are a little more private and personal - or at least I'm not sure it's something they would want to read online when they are older. So I may be more cautious going forward in that.
I still haven't figured out the timing of when to actually open the computer and blog. When do you bloggers out there find the time? For the record, we aren't morning people so that's out. With a 7 year old now in full time school, my long quiet afternoons of everyone napping are over. I haven't quite figured out when to be on the computer.
I've missed sharing our stories and posting stories. I always do that thinking of those moms who may be just beginning on this road of parenting a child with differences - it is my sincere hope and prayer that you may see our pictures or read our stories and that you will be filled with hope. I pray that seeing my child swim or run or go to school will reassure you with what I so desperately needed to know back when we first got diagnoses in 2007 - this will be good. You will have a good, joyful life. Your new normal will be great. You will laugh and smile and your kids will amaze you and drive you crazy and change you and grow you and complete you.
So I'm back. I may be slow to return but I'm here. I'm figuring out what blogging will look like for me and how I can best tell our story. We are well. Thank you to those of you who have reached out - even from as far away as Israel this week!! Coming soon - a summer recap, a fall recap (how did I get this far behind?!?), that moment when I glimpsed the sort of man my boy is becoming, a first pair of custom shoes!!!, and more!
Thank you for reading again -
I so appreciate you and the soft place you have given me to land-