Thursday, April 9, 2015

of poop and princesses.

Today I found myself being buried alive under a pile of children.

If there are moments in my life when I wonder how the hell I got here, this was one of them. 

Nora was up near my chest, bouncing up and down on my collarbone, Will was knocking the wind out of me as he marched on my stomach, and Owen was resting somewhere in between. 

Later, I found myself sitting on the hardwood floor in our dining room next to Nora's potty as she tried to go number two. One hand was being used to support Owen as he nursed, and the other was holding Nora's for moral support, per her request. Things got complicated when Nora started negotiating the conditions upon which she'd willingly take a poo and I had to find a way to meet her ridiculous terms less she hold that poop in forever and ever, amen. 

She wanted me to sit on her RIGHT SIDE and not her left (the horror!), she wanted William to NOT sit on his potty at the same time as her (and especially to not sit on his potty NEAR her), she wanted to watch Tangled (expect NO SCENES involving Mother Gothel, you've got to be joking), and she insisted that she must have a bowl of taco soup to eat while we waited, chips and guac on the side (you know). 
If there are moments in my life when I wonder how the hell I got here, this was one of them. 

My kids are really afraid of Mother Gothel, you should know. There's this scene at the beginning of the movie when Gothel breaks into the castle, steals Rapunzel, and leaves to go lock the stolen princess away in a tower (I think I just quoted that part word for word THAT'S how many times I've watched this movie) and Will absolutely cannot watch it without me nearby. He runs to hide behind me every single time; his tiny body pressed up against my back, his little arms around my neck, and his face buried in my long hair. Eventually, he'll peek out over my shoulder and ask the same thing each time, "what's haaaapppeening, Mommy?" And then we have to talk about Mother Gothel, and how Rapunzel isn't with her Mommy and Daddy anymore, but she'll be back with them soon, and yes, she's going to be okay, and Flynn Ryder will come soon and then she'll find them again. 

And there's this moment, each and every time it happens, that sort of takes my breath away and puts a lump in my throat. It's something about his little arms around my neck, and his little voice in my ear, and the knowledge that I'm the person who's going to protect him from her. I'm the one he trusts to keep him safe. It's that he finds comfort in the smell of my shampoo, and peace in the sound of my voice, and familiarity in my soft midsection when he lands there...

If there are moments in my life when I wonder how the hell I got so lucky, that is one of them. 

And Nora never pooped. You should know. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

to the mother with the screaming son at target.

noticed you almost immediately. We were browsing the dollar section, looking for something to put in the Easter baskets when I first heard his cries. What you don’t know was that I had fled there that morning. Constant requests and screams for a “CAR RIDE!” from my own little one had driven me to finally toss her in the backseat, buckle her up begrudgingly and hit the pavement in a cloud of stress and frustration. I was feeling sorry for myself that morning. I was wishing I didn’t have to drive all the way across Snow Canyon Parkway and down River Road just to calm her crippling anxiety. I was wishing she wouldn’t scream, and ask me for things ten thousand times in a row, and I was wishing we could just be "normal" instead.

I noticed you almost immediately.

Your son was screaming and arching his back and flailing in your arms. I noticed his dark brown hair and beautiful olive skin. I noticed the chewy tube dangling from his neck, the same one we use, and I immediately recognized his terrified eyes and the way his body was crippling and twisting with crushing panic. I could see my daughter in him. I could see myself in you. 

For a moment I thought about walking away. There were already so many sets of eyes on you, and I was sure you were embarrassed to be wrestling your distraught son into a cart while all of us watched in pity. I am sure you were embarrassed that others pitied you. I know, because I hate to be pitied, too.

As quickly as the thought to 'look away' came, it went, and then I found myself walking over to you, placing my hand on your shoulder and asking you how I could help. I told you that my daughter has Autism too, and although I didn’t know if I could help you, I felt the overwhelming desire to stand there next to you, as all those eyes watched, so they would know we were in this together.

You took his arms and I took his legs and we tried with all our might to get your son to relax his body into that seat. While we worked you spoke calmly to him. You were tender and understanding. You called him “buddy” as he bucked up against your chest and screamed, his fists clenched tightly in frustration. I know I didn’t really get to meet your son that day. I know he was lost somewhere inside himself to a place where we couldn’t reach him. I know you probably wished I could have seen the way he laughs at that one scene in Toy Story each time he watches it, or his quiet precision as he builds a tower of blocks, and then screams in delight as the two of you knock it down together. I know you probably wish I could have seen his sparkle. I want you to know that I imagined it instead.

You don’t know this, but the moment you left the store, I burst into tears for you. I can imagine you walking out of those sliding doors, carrying your son across the parking lot with all the dignity and courage your heart could muster, and then, once you were safe inside the drivers seat, I can see you bursting into tears, too. It's just so damn hard sometimes, isn't it? 

I wanted to thank you for your courage that day. I wanted you to know that I saw it underneath your quivering chin and fumbled words. I wanted you to know that I didn't see you as that frazzled mother you hate to be, but as a mother who would do anything for her child. I saw you as a mother who is doing her very best to build a beautiful life amidst tough circumstances. I saw you as a mother, just like me. 

Thank you for buckling your son into the car, and wrestling him into the shopping cart, and giving this thing all you've got. Someday I might find myself where you were, and in that moment, I will think of stepping forward to stand beside you, and I will know that I am not alone. 

With love,
Evie’s Mom