Thursday, August 25, 2011

Holding Close & Letting Go

I always knew that becoming a parent would mean loving my children.  The kind of love that is more like breathing... it happens without effort.  But I really had no idea how much the biological need to protect kicks in... physically, emotionally, spiritually... wanting with every fiber of my being to always hold them close & shelter from all that is potentially harmful.  As infants & toddlers we put foam corners on sharp edges, plug electrical outlets & block access to all that could cause injury.  But as they grow & begin to experience the world without my presence, it is so much harder to protect them.  No foam corner can protect Quinn from being teased on the playground, or Remy from not being chosen to play a game at the park with the bigger boys.

And so begins the letting go... one of the hardest things I have encountered in parenting so far.  Harder than middle of the night poop-explosions or sleep-deprived-zombie living of the early days.  Teaching them to shoulder rejection, disappointment, teasing as part of living in the world.  Instilling in them the core knowledge that, no matter what, they have value & no one else's words or actions can take that away.  How do you teach a child a strong sense of self-worth?  To arm them with a tough-enough exterior to take the inevitable knocks of life & yet still keep their little egos from becoming too bruised.  Finding the balance between letting go enough to grow & still keeping safe, seems to be our latest challenge.

First day of school.

We reached a big milestone at our house... Quinn started Kindergarten.  Weeks ago when talking with a friend about this momentous day I was sure that I would be celebrating this transition with high-fives & big smiles.  When the morning arrived to deposit him at his classroom & walk away, not knowing exactly what his next five hours would be like, I was a blubbering mess.  Yes, I was THAT mom.  Thankfully he is not yet old enough to be embarrassed by my very existence, let alone by my crying in public.  We are so very proud of our little guy.  He is the first child with Down syndrome in our school district to be in a regular Kindergarten class in nearly 20 years.  So far things have been going really well.  He absolutely loves going to school.  We are slowly learning to navigate these new waters of big kid school and have high hopes that he will continue to do well as the school learns how to support him & we learn how to make sure he has what he needs to be successful.

Checking out the playground.

Yep, red puffy eyes indeed!

Modeling his new big boy glasses.

More letting go...
A few weeks back I was able to make a very brief trek north for hugs & to say bon voyage to Uncle Ed, Aunt Erin & Dylan.  They are spending the next year living in Quingdao, China.  We will miss you guys so very much but are also so proud of you and excited to hear about your many adventures. 

Nephew hugs are the best!

Holding close to a new tradition... time again for our annual visit to the county fair with the Grandmas...  

The corn sandbox was a big hit again.

A very proud Remy rode his horse all by himself & was not scared at all this year.

One of my new favorites of Quinn.

Also in the letting go category was allowing Remy to try out this adventure...

It went against all of my natural instincts of "don't let the baby play with a plastic bag"... but the kid was determined to try it out.  So we let him go for it.

Mostly he just bobbed around watching everything from his little bubble.  He was definitely a bit scared, but we were really proud of him for seeing it through.

A few days ago I rounded the corner to find this...

Not one of my best protective-mama moments, I let him stay like that long enough to take a picture & for William to see.  Of course it was only a matter of time before he fell.  Oops!  Luckily he was just fine.

Helping Daddy with his tools is his favorite thing in the whole wide world.

Quinn in a time-out.  I had to turn away I was laughing so hard at his contemplative look.

Little one in my belly continues to grow each day.  I ended up joining Jazzercise a couple of months ago to try to keep up with all of this expansion.  I feel a bit as if I have joined a cult... everyone there is so very nice.... and watching me you would never have any inkling that I studied dance for almost 20 years.... but I am enjoying moving the old body on a regular basis.  (I should probably be less concerned about how I look & more worried about how jaded I must have become if mass-niceness makes me wonder what I have gotten myself into.)  I really do love the wide mix of people, ages & ability though.  Now if only I could keep up with the ladies from the senior center... those gals can shimmy!

Getting into the rhythm of the school-year... almost ready to welcome fall in all of its apple, pumpkin, crisp mornings glory.  But just a little bit more summer would be really great too.

Friday, August 12, 2011

There will be more Mama...

I woke this morning & the air feels prickly & still... the residual of a just-before-bedtime argument with the husband.  The kind of minor squabble that arises out of nowhere and acts as some kind of release valve, allowing steam to escape... the inevitable build-up from living & working so closely.  In the morning light it is hard to remember what was so important, leaving just the sense of something slightly unpleasant.  The way the details of a dream fall away as you wake from sleep, but the vague feeling of it remains.

I think I have sat down to write at least a dozen times in the past few weeks... always something pulling me away that needs my attention more.  Or I end up with a mish-mash of mid-pregnancy brain dump that doesn't make sense, even to me.  It really is true that I tend to get mommy mushy brain from the extra hormones... my attention span even shorter than the 3-year old of the house. 

Lately our days have been a busy mix of late-summer fun & preparing for the beginning of school.  Quinn has endured a full round of annual visits to the many specialists who monitor his progress.  We received a clean bill of health from the pediatrician, new glasses from the eye doctor (lighter prescription), a passing grade from the audiologist and great news from the immunologist that while his memory B cells are a bit lower than normal, his immune system is functioning just fine.  Last stop is at the ear, nose, throat doc next week.  Am realizing now that I really should have gone to medical school to keep up with it all... or at the very least paid better attention in science class.

As kindergarten start date approaches, we are equal parts excited and apprehensive... bracing for any conflicts or issues from the choice of full inclusion for Quinn.  He is ready, so ready, to be back in the structure and bustle of a school day.  New backpack, bigger size clothes, practicing his teacher's name... yes, counting down the days.

Remy moved up a level at his swimming class this week.  Got a ribbon & everything.  He thinks this means he should be going to kindergarten as well, that 3-1/2 is plenty old enough.  His preschool doesn't start until September and I am looking forward to having special time with him alone before he goes back.  He cracks me up these days with his attempts to make the world bend to his will.  At the end of his favorite video, or a particularly good snack, he likes to announce "There WILL be more Mama."   Or tell tall tales like "A moose drank all of my milk, I need more for me now."    His exuberance both thrills & exhausts me.  I know that someday soon his quick-thinking, devilish nature & incredible memory will unite & be used against me to get what he wants... my sleep-deprived brain unable to keep up.  But for the moment, his sweetness & silly sense of humor balance out any attempts at world-domination.

We enjoyed a wonderful week with Grandma & Grandpa awhile back.  Their visit was a perfect balance of adventure & getting projects tackled.  Among other things, we went out for the requisite cioppino, saw the animals at the zoo, installed a new dryer vent, picnicked at the beach & photographed the new load of club chairs.  We sure wish we lived closer to all of our family... but are grateful we are able to get together as often as we do.

Attempts at a decent group shot thwarted by cranky 3 year old.

Same cranky kid trying soooo hard not to smile.

Crankies be-gone!

Enjoying these last days of freedom... gearing up to start the next chapter.