Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taking care of mommy

So I was sick today and by sick I do mean deathly ill. I had another bout with Mastitis, which is a horrible infection that I wouldn't wish on anyone. It hit hard and fast and I ended up completely motionless on the floor this afternoon with a very confused Chunks-a-lot inspecting me from head to toe. Mommy doesn't get sick very often and even when I do, it's not the kind of debilitating sickness like I had today. But it certainly ended up being one of the sweetest moments with my little Chunk. There I was, curled up in a ball on the rug, not sure how I was ever going to get up and walk again when I felt this tiny little hand on my head. I looked up through my squinted eyes only to see little Chunks gently rubbing her hand over my head. She craned her face into mine and softly asked, "You 'kay?". I told her that mommy had a "big boo-boo" so she quickly grabbed up her favorite blanket and held it up to my nose. I'm not sure when this started, but sometime back Chunks-a-lot started becoming obsessed with the comforter blanket in her bed. Whenever she's tired or not feeling well, she has this odd habit of cramming the corners of her blanket in her nose and ears. It's definitely weird but seems to bring her some sort of extreme comfort. So as I laid there with this blanket shoved inside my nose, I found myself almost in tears at my little girl's sympathetic spirit. She snuggled with me there on the floor for a long time, constantly rubbing my back and offering me one of her precious blanket corners. I couldn't help but treasure this moment, as sick as I felt, for it was just an awesome reminder of how blessed I am to have such amazing little people in my life. I was further amazed after I picked up Talks-a-lot from school, as he made sure I was as comfortable as possible and watched Chunks for me as I laid on the couch. He mothered her for me, kept her busy with her building blocks and kept her out of trouble. He's so mature to be so young. And as much as I hated being sick, it was a moment for me as a mommy that I know I will never forget. It was the spirit of Christ being modeled for me right before my eyes. I'm not sure my children will ever realize how much they have impacted my life. As much as I try to teach and guide them, I feel like I learn more from them than they do from me. Being a mommy might be hard sometimes, but it days like this one that make every step of the journey worthwhile. I am eternally blessed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gambling with a three year old

My husband and I were watching T.V tonight and a commercial came on for a simulated greyhound racing/gambling place called Greenetrack. They have an irritatingly catchy song at the end of their commercial that says, "Greenetrack pays you money....Greenetrack pays you MONEY!". It made me remember a conversation I had with Talks-a-lot about two years ago.

Being a stay-at-home mom with a husband who has always done whatever it takes to make life financially comfortable for his family, even if that means working three jobs at one time, we have learned the art of pinching a penny. We've worked desperately hard to instill in our son what it means to be frugal and this is not always an easy task with any child. On one such day of learning, Talks-a-lot had been begging to go out to eat for dinner. We had just finished grocery shopping at Walmart and I had already made plans for what we would be cooking for supper. He kept harassing me about eating out, pleading with me to go to a restaurant with his assurance that it was the "best idea". "But why can't we just go, I just really want to go out to eat tonight!", Talks-a-lot began. "Buddy, we're just not going to do that today. We just spent money at the store buying food to cook for dinner and it would be a waste of money to spend more on food at a restaurant.", I assured him. "So, we don't have any money left? You spent ALL the money that we had at Walmart and now we don't have anymore?", he questioned frightfully. "No, I didn't spend ALL of our money at Walmart.", I laughed. Talks-a-lot's face beamed with hope, "Then, we have some left over! Let's go to a restaurant.". Frustrated with his complete lack of understanding with my explanations, I continued, "Talks-a-lot, just because we have money left over, doesn't mean we need to spend it. If we always spent all the money we had, then we wouldn't have any money for anything. You have to save money so you can have it in case you need it one day.". I pressed on in my adventure in explaining the in's and out's of money managing and could tell that the situation was depressing my then three year old son. He seemed to conclude that we did not, in fact, have enough money if we didn't have enough to spare for eating out that night. "Well, Mommy," he began, "why don't you just go to Gweentwrack?" (this is in his best three year old verbally challenged voice). "Gweentwrack???" I began, "What is that??". "No, no, Mommy.....GWEENTWRACK!", he yelled. Seeing that I was no further in my understanding of his financial advice, he burst out into song. "You know, Gweentwrack pays you money....Gweentwrack pays you money!". I don't exactly remember how this conversation ended, but I have definitely had a lot of laughs about it since. Yes, let's go gambling. The simple answer to our financial woes from our wonderfully naive three year old.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Remembering yesterday...

The past few days have been hard, no way around it, just hard. We spent the first three days of the week couped up in a ridiculously small hospital room and, as thankful as I was to finally get back home, it seems like the drama came with us. Have you ever had one of those weeks where it seems like your children fight about everything at every moment possible? Usually, my children are very loving towards each other, with only the occasional snatched toy or unkind word, but the past couple of days have been quite different. Everytime Talks-a-lot picks up a toy to play with, Chunks decides (very suddenly) that this particular toy is exactly the toy she wants to play with. A lot of tears are shed as I cannot and will not ask my son to entertain my little chunk's every whim and desire. On the other side of things, Talks-a-lot has discovered the exciting game of irritating a little girl. Because Chunk's immune system is on the "not so existent" side, they are not allowed to have any sort of physical contact; no hugs, kisses or anything of the sort. So to add insult to injury, Talks-a-lot will act like he's going to give her a hug, which she lovingly takes this bait, only to dash away in an instant leaving her standing there with her arms wide open. I know, I know, he's five...well almost six....and he's a boy and this type of taunting is perfectly normal for his age, but it's just not how he usually is with her. So to say that things have been stressful lately would be an understatement. And the icing on the cake is that we can't leave the house right now, no Walmart trips, no playdates, no library outings; once again because of Chunk's weakened immune system. So these kids are forced to be at home with each other constantly with no outlet to the outside world. I have a feeling this has contributed to our insanity. As I was fiddling with the computer this morning during Chunks-a-lot's nap, I came across something from our days at St. Jude's. It was a note that I had written to the future "me". I vaguely remember writing it but I have to think it was God who led me to read this as it really put everything back into perspective. Here's what it said:

Dear Future Me,
Today she woke up, breathed in and out, smiled at her mommy and played with her dolls. Today she was a princess, carrying her purse around like she owned the place and it brought so much joy to my soul to see her happiness. There were moments of struggle, times of fatigue for her, but overall today was a good day because it was another day that I got to keep her and love her. I'll never know what tomorrow holds, but I'm starting to realize that sometimes that's okay. Sometimes I'm content with today because each day she survives is another miracle, another victory. Today was one of those miracles. I don't know what you're going through right now as you read this, so far into the future, so much further along in this story than I am right now, but please don't forget these things. Her precious baby smell, the warmth of her soft, balding head, the way she crinkles up her face when she's fake-crying, her penguin-like run, how much she loves to eat noodles (and calls them noonles), how surprised and happy she looks to see me every morning, the way she always tries to boss people around, her eagerness to dance to any noise at any time, the joy I see in her face when she plays with her big brother and all the other incredible and wonderful things that I've had the pleasure of experiencing with her thus far. Please don't ever forget these things, for they have served to define the precious little joy that she is. Maybe as you're reading this, you're still cradling her in your arms, or maybe you're caught up in the frustration of the everyday life of mommy-hood; regardless of where you stand today please don't forget to remember yesterday. And please don't ever forget to thank God at every day's end for the miracle of life you've witnessed once again. God is good....all the time and He has carried you through to where you are now. Keep believing, no matter how hard it might be, never give up.

After reading this, I remembered how I used to envy the day when I would get to chase my kids around again and have nothing bigger to worry about than breaking up fights and mediating arguments. I actually used to pray that this day would come and here I it. So I guess as hard as it might seem to be couped up in this house with my kids constantly picking on each other, at least we're at home and at least we're all together. I have a little girl who's fought her hardest through the most unimaginable tragedy possible and now she has the energy to spike an attitude with her brother, something so unbelievably normal that I forgot to thank God for it. I don't want to take these days for granted because I have a feeling that one day I will look back on these days and think, "Those were the good times.". So I guess I might need to wake up every morning and read this note that I wrote to myself to help me remember that as hard as it might seem, it's nothing compared to what we've already survived. She's here, she's breathing, she's happy and she's feisty with her brother....don't stop to ask questions, just count it as a miracle.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The joy that creeps in

So here we are, once again confined to a tiny hospital room, completely isolated from contact with anyone from the outside world. My little Chunks-a-lot spiked a decently high fever yesterday and, coupled with the fact that she has a barely-there immune system, was admitted immediately upon our arrival to the E.R. The rooms here at our home town hospital are a lot smaller than the ones at St. Jude's and it almost feels as though we are the only ones in the entire world. But, for some reason, that's okay with me. She is fast asleep beside me as I lose myself in the world of blogging and I can hear every breath she takes and feel every little flinch and stir of her tiny, chunky legs. I figured we would end up here when I heard that her counts were plummeting downward and was dreading it at first, and then we got here and I was quite surprised. Surprised by the peace that overwhelmed me, surprised by the patience that overcame me and delighted by the sweet spirit my little Chunks has displayed despite being locked up in this prison. We had to sit in a tiny room yesterday in the E.R for five hours and as hard as that might seem with a toddler, my little girl handled it like a trooper. We sat on the E.R stretcher playing race cars, Little People and baby dolls and had a delicious dinner of pretzels and vanilla wafers, but it didn't bother her in the least. Her constant compliancy and wonderful attitude towards life helps me to embrace things head on without fearing the insanity that might come with it. For she took something so mundane and turned it into something exciting, something fun, almost like a playdate/picnic/doctor's visit all wrapped into one. And as she lays here beside me, sleeping as soundly as she would in her baby bed at home, I am inspired by her ability not just to adapt but to find light and happiness in every situation. So as hard and lonely as it is to be isolated from everyone right now, I guess I could sneak a peek through my daughter's rose colored glasses. For here we are, she's happy, albeit a little sick, but still happy enough to play with her babies and color her puppy-dog pictures; and I guess it doesn't really matter where we are, as long as we're together. Sometimes I wonder how someone so little can possess so much strength and endurance, but if you look in her eyes, you'll see it.....the presence of Christ in her tiny spirit. I guess when you are filled with the spirit of God, you don't always have to go searching for joy, somehow it just creeps in.