Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thoughts on Motherhood and Being a Daughter of Heavenly Parents

I love this girl....
Its hard to believe that she is on the verge of 10 months old. She is getting big so fast. I think that her rapid growth is made even more apparent because I have this girl not so far ahead of her.

I think having 2 babies under the age of 2 really has a way of highlighting just how fast this life really moves.

I have been so grateful for the chance to watch them grow and meet different milestones.

I am so grateful for Phillie, who has met so many milestones early and in a roundabout way, has helped her sister. Phillie's early speech abilities were one of the things that finally got people to agree with me when I said that I just felt like something wasn't right with Faith.

Slowly, but surely, I have been blessed to watch how the love of a sister/best friend for life can transform a person.  Through watching Phillie, Faith has made some HUGE strides recently. She still doesn't say mamma or daddy, but she has learned how to say "uh oh" and, through watching Phillie's ability to be able to get down from her high chair by saying "I'm done,"  Faith has started saying "Dah" (done) and giving the hand gesture that I have been trying for MONTHS to teach her to do.  I know that she learned it from Phillie, because the first time she did it was right after Phillie did it and I was in the middle of taking Phillie down from her high chair. Faith shouted "Dah", did the hand sign, stood up in her high chair, and tried to crawl down all by herself (almost giving me a heart attack as an almost 4 foot drop wouldn't have been pleasant for either of us....we've since learned that we say we're done and WAIT for mamma)

I've also watched Faith in this last week or two spending more time in our world as opposed to "her world"...the place where she doesn't make eye contact with us, doesn't want attention, just wants to be left alone to do her own thing...

We stayed in Idaho Falls with my sister for about half a week and that helped a lot. Faith has started trying to participate when we watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVDs. She doesn't say the words, but she will chirp out different vowel sounds. For example, Mickey will say, "Let's count ___________" and proceed to count something. Faith will, right on cue, chirp out "uh, uh, uh" as many times as there are numbers to count. This is also encouraged because Phillie has started to participate with the shows as well. This morning I was gobsmacked when Mickey asked "Do you wanna come to my clubhouse?" and Phillie excitedly shouted "OKAY!"  and then she tried to say "Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!" (the magic words to make the clubhouse appear.  Faith giggled the whole time and then tried to get Phillie to count with her when they were counting the muffins that Minnie had made...

It has been so fun to watch as Faith comes out of her shell more and more to spend time with and enjoy her baby sister. I find them doing this a lot lately:
(Of course, they had to turn to look at me taking the picture, but they were happily playing with their wooden block, maze toy Christmas present we could have gotten them last year, that is for sure. They LOVE it.)

Faith has also been starting to open up with me a little more as we've been pushing a little bit to get her to to pay attention to the fact that we are in the room with her. I have spent a lot of time on the floor over the last month trying to interact with her and teach her things. I think it may be starting to pay off.

On Friday, as I carried her down the stairs after her morning nap I gave her a kiss. She was looking away from me, off in her own little world. I patted her back and said ,"Hey Faith, I love you. Do you love me?" She never made eye contact once, but she also didn't skip a beat. She leaned in and gave me her first "real" kiss...not one of those ones where her mouth was wide open, but one where she actually puckered her lips and kissed...but as fast as the moment came it was gone. However, I was so grateful for the moment...a moment where I was able to see that she does understand some of what I'm saying to her. It melted my heart, and for the rest of the day I cherished every fleeting moment where she would look up at me and smile, or even just come to sit in my lap while she did her own thing.

Today I have been thinking a lot about our Heavenly Mother...we know that we have one. I have to wonder how often I make her feel like I feel when I'm trying to take care of Faith. How often am I not relying on her and Heavenly Father? How often do I forget them and that they love me and want to talk to me? How often do I stay in my own little world, not realizing or thinking about them there, waiting for me to tell them what I need?

I thought of how I have been handling the hard times with Faith...I know that she is learning. She is just slower than other kids to recognize certain social signals and she does try to communicate, but sometimes she is so frustrated that she is just crying and crying and doesn't remember what she wanted in the first place.  Its at those times that I just pull her in, give her hugs and kisses and try my best to calm the storm.

I think our Heavenly Parents are like us...that's the reason we get the blessing of being parents in this we can understand our calling for the next life.

They remember that we're learning and growing, and hope that we will learn to come to them before we're so frustrated or lost that we don't know where we first needed assistance...

Maybe parenting is a lesson to learn to be more patient with ourselves? Maybe we are blessed with family units here so that we can become more aware of our relationship to God and Heavenly Mother?

I know that as I've thought about it today, I can think of times even in the last week that I should have gone to my Heavenly Parents to communicate and ask for help sooner...and I can think of times that I went to them right away and I was blessed with what I needed...

I hope and pray to be as wonderful a mother to my children as my Heavenly Mother is to me. I'm sure she is there, conversing with Heavenly Father, making sure that we get the love and comfort we need.

A friend of mine once said that maybe the comforting presence of the Holy Ghost is our Heavenly Mother whispering in our ears...

I'm not sure if that is the case, its definitely not scripture, (especially because we know that the Holy Ghost truly is a personage of spirit...)  but it is a nice thought. Its nice to think of our Heavenly Mother bringing us a sense of peace and comfort, as sure as our earthly mother's arms surrounding us in a big hug.

All I know is this: If the smile of me and her other children brings my Heavenly Mother as much joy as the smiles of my girls bring me... I should be making more of an effort to bring those smiles to bring the comfort and peace and joy to others that our Heavenly Mother cannot physically bring on her own right now as we are in this mortal existence.

I also know that I need to be more patient with surely as I know my sweet babies are a work in progress and that they are learning all they can, as fast as they can, I can be gentle with myself and remember that I too am a work in progress... if we were supposed to be absolutely perfect in this life, then we wouldn't have needed a Savior.

I am slowly but surely learning how the Atonement truly works as I parent my children...maybe one day, I will have it a little better figured out...

All I can say is that, as I have thought about myself as a daughter of our Heavenly Father and Mother and contemplated how I'm doing...I know that I still have a lot of work to do...but isn't it nice that there is time.

Yes- its fast...too fast...the rapid growth of my two babies only marks that fact even more...but if they have time to learn how to walk, talk, how to read social cues, how to tell right from wrong, and commune with their Savior and Father in Heaven, then I certainly still have enough time to get better at the last few things and try to master them before my time on this earth is done. If they can do hard things like learning how to walk and talk, I can do something like learn how to make my prayers more meaningful and how to forge a relationship with my Heavenly Father...

Something to think about...

Hugs and Loves until next time darlings...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Art of Being Alone...

Jeff had to leave on Tuesday afternoon for Rock Springs, WY to start his new job for the oil company Schlumberger...

We're on day 2 of my life as a not single, single mom.

Yesterday wasn't too bad because I was INCREDIBLY busy. I sold one of our cribs (much faster than I thought I would) so that we wouldn't have to take it with us when we are all able to be together again.( Side Note: Faith has been ready for a big girl bed for a while, and we do have one for her, we just couldn't put it up because the girls have been sleeping in my mother in law's sewing room and we didn't feel it would be safe or smart to let her have the new found freedom of being able to get up and down from bed all by herself in a room filled with pins, sewing needles and other goodies that could hurt her quite a bit... ) and I also sold all of my NB to 3-6 month baby clothes. (We definitely want another baby, I am ready now...but since I'm not pregnant and we have no clue when or if we will be blessed again, I didn't want to cart all of the baby clothes only to have to find a place to store them for who knows how long.) and I taught voice lessons. Later on in the day, I went through clothes, did laundry...

When I was busy I was fine...but its when I have a few minutes to sit down it was hard not to wish that Jeff was going to come walking through the front door at 5 PM to give me a big hug and kiss and ask me what was for dinner...

Its sad that its taken only 2 and 1/2 days for me to realize that there is a real art to being alone.

I had it mastered, once upon a time...its hard to believe that it was only almost 3 years ago that I was a master in "aloneness"...(if that's even a word) It seems like light years away. I have taken a lot of time in the last few days to wonder how I did it... I know I am dealing with two totally different situations. A single young woman who is trying to chase a dream is much, much different than a mother of two babies under the age of two.

I have come to the conclusion that I just didn't take time to stop... I was teaching at the university, I was singing with opera companies, I was taking voice lessons, I was heavily involved in school opera productions, I had a private voice studio and I was taking time to cook culinary masterpieces...I just kept going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny...

The BIG problem with trying to utilize this fantastic art in a new way?  Well...I like to call those problems the Little Diva and the Divine Cupcake...and, let's be honest, they aren't really problems...they are the two sweetest, most adorable baby girls on the planet.

I can't "Energizer Bunny" my way through life because if I keep going and going, I won't take time to stop and enjoy those little moments that I can't get back...moments when my girls are being so incredibly sweet and adorable that I just can't stand it.

For example, I was incredibly disappointed that yesterday in all my "Energizer Bunny-ing", trying to get everything done, I almost missed a huge milestone for the Cupcake...she has now started saying "thank you" when you hand her something she likes.

When she started doing it yesterday morning, I kind of thought it was a fluke. I saved her sippy from Faith (who decided that she ABSOLUTELY had to have both of them) and handed it back to her and she chirped "tankoo"...I was kind of taken aback..was it real? Was it random babbling that coincidentally sounded like she was thanking me?  I decided to sit back and watch. If she was really saying thank you, she would do it again...

Sure enough, she said it 4 more times...Of course, I was kicking myself because I wasn't able to sit and gush and fawn over her and how proud I was of her for learning a new trick...I had to teach voice lessons, I had to take a crib apart, I had to do laundry...

Ultimately, I am learning that I need to relearn how to be alone when I'm not alone...if that even makes sense. I need to be able to keep busy without sacrificing those sweet moments with my girls...I need to figure out how to take care of everything so we can move and still have time for them...

I guess I didn't have it mastered after all.

In the end, I am comforted by the knowledge that Heavenly Father is going to make up for my lack of mastery of the art of being alone. He will provide a way for me to accomplish everything I need to before Jeff finds the right place and decides that its time for us to join him in Rock Springs. He will also provide those moments to ground me and pull me back so that I don't miss too much of the sweet things my girls do while I am learning how to handle this new situation...

We are opening a new chapter and we are adjusting to it. Life is a constant adjustment. We are constantly learning, changing and growing- that's what we're supposed to do.

I figure, as long as my girls stay healthy and happy and my marriage is strong, we are successfully navigating the bumps and obstacles that life throws at us.

I won't lie. I have been SPOILED to have such a lovely, wonderful man in my life. Jeff has made it possible for me to be able to be home with my girls. He is such a good daddy. We ALL miss him right now.

Poor Phillie has been asking for Jeff constantly since yesterday afternoon. She crawls around and calls out "daddy"...and all day today when she has been crying and distressed she hasn't been calling for me, she has been calling for him. Since Faith isn't communicating verbally right now, I'm not really sure how she is dealing with missing her daddy. She seems her happy self, but she definitely has been more of a little monster when it comes time to go to bed and she has been trying to do things that normally daddy would nip in the bud right away.

and I find myself getting a little weepy whenever I have time to sit down and think about how much I miss him.

The bright side: Jeff did find an apartment and we technically should have the money to move in right away...however, we are weighing our options because Jeff wants to be sure that he likes the job and that it is worth moving all of us there for. The other problem is that Jeff isn't supposed to get a day off until the 19th of July. If we tried to move right away, I would have to do it all myself and make all the arrangements to get all of our stuff from point A to point B...

We need to figure out if its going to more stressful to be apart or more stressful to try to deal with one another being cranky so I can move right away (and we would likely be cranky because I would be stressed and Jeff would be cranky because he would be stressed, since I'm stressed and there is nothing he can do to change it.)

We're going to give it a week and then decide (at least that is the plan as of last night...this morning we were talking about me moving next week when his dad will be here and able to help... we will have to keep you posted on that one. LOL)

All in all, life has been interesting and boring and crazy...just like its supposed to be.

Now I get to begin the struggle of balancing my "Energizer Bunny" self with my "mommy and wife" self...should be an interesting experiment.

Hugs and Loves until next time darlings!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Gift of a Friend

Today I finally got a phone call from my state's early intervention program. We finished the first part of the evaluation last Wednesday, and hadn't heard back from them after their meeting on Thursday like we thought we would. I had been left feeling confused and frustrated. The evaluator had seemed concerned at some points on the interview but for the most part, it was hard to read anything that was going in her head from her expressions and I was left wondering if I was taking crazy pills again and that I was being overly concerned for my Little Diva...

Well, the  results were less than stellar...overall Faith barely eeked in the the 3rd percentile- they prefer kids to have an overall score of 15th percentile to 85th percentile...her biggest trouble areas being socio- emotional development (not even scoring in the 1st percentile) and communication (again, not even in the 1st percentile.) They are coming back on Friday to do one more round of evaluations to check her sensory perception and adaptation skills and then we will know more.

Overall, dealing with getting the help we need for Faith has been on both ends of the spectrum to the very best to the very start to doubt yourself and your intuition as family members and friends seem to say over and over again that you're just being overly concerned and kids will do things on their own time. While I have been grateful for their opinions and experiences, I knew that what I was dealing with was vastly different than a child who didn't start using words beyong mamma, dadda, yes, and no until they were well after their second birthday...I have been dealing with a child who desperately wants to communicate with me and just doesn't understand how to do it...I've never heard her call me "mamma", or her daddy "dadda", she doesn't say yes, or no, she either tries desperately to get herself what she needs and then has a melt down because she isn't tall enough or strong enough, or has a meltdown because she is trying to signal what she needs and I don't understand right away...its also been hard to watch Phillie learn how to do these things (say  mamma, dadda, yes, no, I'm done...etc.) and know that it truly was that Faith just didn't "get it".

However, what can be said is that this evaluation, and the evaluations we will have in the future as we reach for a possible diagnosis of what is causing her delays, is that it doesn't change anything. Our Little Diva is still the same sweet, lovable, curious, stinker little princess that you will ever come across. She still loves me fiercely in spite of not being able to call me "mom", and she still wants desperately to do things that "big kids" do.  What will change? What will change is me and my husband...through this experience I am looking forward to becoming exactly the parent that Faith needs in order to be as successful as she can be no matter what...

Who knows, 6 months down the road may find us in a much better place with Faith finally able to communicate her needs verbally, and it may not...but no matter what down the road holds- I love her and any medical diagnoses and labels that she may receive will not change the fact that she is a child of God, and, while she is here on earth, I am lucky to have the chance to  be her caretaker and advocate against a world that seems to be getting crueler and harder by the minute.

This morning, after I shared the test results with him, Jeff made a statement that has been in the back of my mind and a point that brings me peace...he said, "Well, we can do everything we can for her, but I think a lot of the progress she makes is going to be because of Phillie."

My sweet Phillie doll, my Divine Cupcake...she wants so badly to be a part of her big sister's world. She has become a daredevil in the past few weeks, all because she wants to be where Faith is. She wants to smile at her, she wants Faith to recognize that she is there. Last Sunday, her attempts landed her in the ER with a dislocated elbow- that's right, our sweet little 9 month old chunk of sunshine is willing to risk bodily injury to do what Faith is doing and to be close to her...
(P.S. Notice Faith's new "do"...she decided that  marshmallow would be the perfect hair accessory. In spite of my best efforts at using EVERYTHING I could to get it out, I ended up having to cut it out, leaving me no choice other than cutting 3 inches of hair off and giving her a cute little bob...Jeff says she looks like a mini Kindergartener, I somewhat agree. I was happy that she sat still so I could cut it myself. Its not a perfect haircut, but its even and looks halfway decent, so I can't complain. We just didn't have money to go and pay for someone to do it.)

From the minute I found out that Phillie was unexpectedly on her way to join our family, I looked down at Faith's sweet little 2 month old face and wondered how I was going to be able to do it. Surely, this was a mistake...but that thought was fleeting...God does not make mistakes. I came to understand as I dealt with the hardship of being heavily pregnant and having to pick up and carry around another baby that there was a bond, a special connection that my girls had. That they would need one another more than I would ever know.

Over the last few months, as I've been reaching out to try to get Faith the help she needs, I have been able to witness that bond- even if it has seemed one sided and that Phillie was the only one interested in forging it here in this earthly life...Phillie's close age to her sister and her fierce desire to be her best friend and companion are truly a gift from God. During the last few days, Phillie has had some successful moments where she has been able to draw Faith out of her own little world and into a world with her.  She will babble or say a word and Faith will smile and say it back or try to babble back the sounds Phillie is making. Phillie will smile and get excited, making her noises like a monster and Faith will giggle...while these moments are fleeting and short, I treasure them because I know that Phillie is going to be the key to reaching Faith and communicating with her.

I know that seems like an awfully large responsibility to place on a 9 month old, but as surely as I believe that Faith accepted this trial of being delayed in certain areas of development, I fully believe that Phillie asked Heavenly Father if she could be here to help her and support her through her struggles, and God, being a good father, accepted that request. There is no doubt in my mind that they were best friends in their pre-mortal existence and they did all they could to make sure they would be able to continue that bond and help each other navigate through a tough world.

What a blessing it is to have the gift of a friend from day 1 and an innate desire to serve them and associate with them.

One of Faith's favorite movies is Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure. Throughout the movie, as Tinkerbell journeys to find the lost Mirror of Encanta, she realizes her shortcomings and what true friendship really is- that its more about what you can do for one another as opposed to what people can do for you...the theme song to the movie describes my girls and their relationship so perfectly.

"The world comes to life, and everything's right 
From beginning to end 
When you have a friend by your side
That helps you to find
The beauty you are when you open your heart
And believe in
The gift of a friend."

How blessed am I to be able to witness something so special? I love my girls and I am eager to move forward, start the next chapter and become a better mom for them.

Hugs and loves until next time darlings.