Sunday, March 27, 2016

Right Before My Eyes

Not yet edited.....

I caught myself today.  Well, I"m trying to catch myself.  From falling all the way down.  I keep tripping myself up all the time in this journey of parenthood and wondering where I"m going wrong.  But today, this Easter day, I nearly crashed.  Or maybe I did and I just pulled myself up out of it.  I still feel like I've failed.  I just KNOW it.  I'm not in denial.  I'm not faking it.  I just don't know how exactly I'm going to get out of it.

My kids are old enough now that it's really tough .... to please.  To get the wow factor out of them.  To impress them and get that wonderful feeling every parent when they used to see you as the King or Queen who provides for them, protects them, and  brings them all their happiness.  When a kiss used to fix all their mishaps or imperfections.  Those days were the easy days.  I wish I had known that then.  Maybe I would have relaxed a bit, or enjoyed it even more, if that was even possible.  I loved those days.  I thought I enjoyed them as they were happening, I really did.  I took pictures, I took video, I laughed, cried, walked and talked with them.  It was wonderful.  But I blinked and they became teenagers.  Well, two of them are at least and I'm wondering where time went.  Did I form them into the young people I hoped and dreamed they would be.  Are they gracious and thankful, polite and courteous, loyal and respectful, helpful of anyone that needed help....Those are the questions I am asking.  And though I doubt myself all the time because that is my nature, I am almost always comforted at the end of a challenging time that they are the kids I laid the foundation for.  Yet I am beginning to see the paradox in parenthood of our generation clearer every day.

We want the best for our kids and always will, just like our parents did.  We want to give them more than our parents gave us or could give us.  But it seems somewhere along the way, our striving for perfection became self-fulfilling.  I'm constantly trying to do a better job than I did yesterday or last year or last kid or last birthday or last holiday.  It's exhausting.  Somewhere along the way it became so very physical and materialistic and about things, not feelings.

I did it this Easter.  I have been thinking/stewing about it for two weeks and in my denial of how quickly the days were passing, soon it was the weekend and the next day was Easter.  My sister had come to visit and it seemed like it would be much easier or more comforting or funner or perhaps enabling (lol) to do the Easter rush with her.  It was.  All of that.  And we even shared a bottle of wine and watched a movie during easter bunny preparations until the wee hours of the morning.  But I never stopped wondering if what I had bought for my kids for their baskets was good enough or equal or appropriate or sentimental enough.....or just enough.  Given the snow covered ground this weekend, we had no choice but to hide easter eggs inside the house this year.  For 9 kids.  Four of them 16 or older.  Owen is 5 and it's really fun at his age because he's still at the age that anything will make him smile.  He is so lucky to not have any expectations.  He is just happy to get something.  I don't think he cared what it was.  But the older kids have expectations because they get stuff every holiday, every year and lots of it.  And the older they get it seems the more expensive it gets.

And then I see myself and wonder how did I let this happen.  Why do I feel like I need to do this and have to try and do better this time than I did last time.  Because the harder it gets, the more I don't feel like I'm try to outdo myself, but rather keep up with myself.  I fear more doing less than I did last year....because I'm tired, because it's too expensive or I just don't get it all planned out well enough.   And I don't have help.  Patric helps by providing the money to let me do their baskets, but the rest of it is on me.....fitting it into the budget (or not and then stressing about that) and then the time to prepare and each year I feel like I fall short.  And this year I got to do this and share the stress with my sister ;-) but staying up all night did not do me any favors.  I was short on sleep and when the kids woke up to find the eggs, I was about half way into my necessary sleep time.  I was exhausted.  And when the kids walked around our small house searching for nearly 100 eggs, the comments from the hard-to-please crew started landing on my ears about how easy it was to find their eggs and baskets and the lack of thankfulness or gratefulness just started to get to me.  The exhaustion setting in and lack of patience taking over as I worked on our holiday meal continuously all morning.  It got to me.  It caused me to crash.  As I was waiting for rolls to rise, I found myself in bed. trying to hide under covers and fall asleep for some peace and quiet as half of our crowd went to church.  My mind racing trying to figure out where I had gone wrong.  Why I felt like my kids were so demanding and inconsiderate of the effort and care and love that I put into this holiday for them.  I was trying to hide from it.  And I realized this....but I also realized I don't know what to do.  I feel myself in this rat race and I need to get out of it.  I want my kids to appreciate the things we give them.  I want them to be respectful and courteous.  I know they are all of these things.  But I want them to see the difference between needing things and wanting things and whats most important.  I want them to be helpful when they are guests and leave things they borrow in better condition than they found them.  I want them to be able to cook for themselves the basics and offer to cook for others and clean up after them.   I know these are things that my kids are capable of even though they may not do it all the time.  I want to have as much faith and confidence in my parenting as I do in them that  this is how I have raised them and am raising them and that when not under my watch, they continue to behave this way.

It's a constant work in progress.  It's a constant battle and a constant act of living by example which I am not the best at either.  I just want to instill in my kids that things have value and that they value them appropriately and intelligently.  These are things I'm not perfect at.  But I am trying and will not give up.  I will continue to tell them the things I want them to know and believe and trust.  And how much I, and most importantly God, love and value them.  These are the things I can do.   And I will try.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Happy 6th Birthday, Chase Allen Pearson

We celebrated you on Tuesday and I have to be honest, we were quite sad.  There is never going to be much happiness in celebrating your birthdays and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  We drove up to the mountains and bought the most perfect balloons six balloons.  We each wrote you a message and we found the most perfect place to let them go.  But it was hard.  It's always hard letting go and I feel like I have an eternity of it with you.  The wind carried the balloons and it was hard to tell where they went before they were lost in the blue and white colors of the sky.  Reese was sure his balloon got held up by a treetop and popped and it absolutely crushed him.  His heart broke…for you…for him…for his balloon.  It was out of my control again and all I can do is watch, and love with all my heart, the kids that I CAN hold in my arms.  We miss you Chase.  Our hearts ache every day because you aren't here with us.  But we hold you in our hearts and will never stop remembering and loving you.  And we continue on only because we all know that we will see  you again someday.  And we will hold you and hug and kiss you and there will be so much love.  More than any of us can even fathom.  Here are a few pictures of our day celebrating you.  I hope you got our messages and maybe you can somehow let Reese know that.  And hopefully you had a cupcake with us, too.  Happy birthday sweet boy.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

What 6 years feels like

If you would have asked me what it feels like to have a six year old before Chase was born, I would have told  you, that it is such a long time.  Six years old is so big and I want them to be 2 again!  But Chase came and my perspective is completely different.  Most likely due to circumstances, but six years seems like yesterday.  I remember it clearly.

Chase's birthday was yesterday.  He turned six years old in Heaven's arms.  Not mine.  And it has been hard.  I had been thinking about this day for the past week.  My pregnancy with Chase kept popping into my head.  Him moving inside of me.  That I had read that his DNA is still in me.  That I was such baby for not being able to carry him longer.  That he was born five days before Reese's birthday and he should have been born five days after.  Still, my life would have been crazy planning two parties so close together, but it should have been the other way around.  Patric and I were fighting on Easter and it reminded me of the big fight we had on Easter the days before Chase came.  Deciding to tell Emma about the Easter Bunny because I needed help.  I was such a big baby.  And I went to bed the Monday night thinking about the night before Chase was born.  Crying myself to sleep because I was taking God's work into my own hands asking for an induction so I wouldn't have to endure 12 more days of the discomfort.  Why couldn't I have just rode it out?  Hugging Owen a little tighter as my tears and fatigue set in, I finally slept.

I looked at the clock Tuesday morning and saw 7:21am.   I felt a punch in the gut as I thought of 7:21pm that day six years ago and the madness that ensued.  I remember what seems like every little detail of the horror that unfolded.  Why didn't we just demand a c-section earlier?  I knew somewhere inside of me that all that blood I lost all day long was not right.  I knew it wasn't.  Why didn't I call him on it?  And when the baby's heart beat was lost, the fear in the doctor's voice as he said we were going into surgery.  NOW.  Those details, the little ones, that I so often block from my mind as they try to resurface.  I was trying to recall every single one.  I wanted to let everything come back.  It felt like yesterday and I could see it in my mind all so clearly.  The out-of-body feeling that haunted me so heavily after Chase was born...I let it come back.  The feeling of floating around the room hearing the voices...then the cosmic blackout.  And re-awakening.   Knowing/feeling not pregnant anymore. Wanting to know....was it a boy or girl?  Where is the baby?  How is he?  And seeing him the first time.  When they wheeled his isolette into my room so I could see him before they life-flighted him off.  Those eyes that looked at me and my voice that sounded so comforting, even to me, when I spoke to my child for the very first time.  He was mine.  But what happened?

I'm shaking even as I type these words.  But I remember being in a state of shock for the next several days.  Not knowing how I was even living under all the stress and worry and fear.   And so many more little details that happened over the  next few weeks continue to haunt me...but I feel like stopping here.

Because I'm realizing again that I'm on my own right now.  This journey is a lonely one.  No one who has not lost a child knows your life or how your thoughts are controlled.  The new normal that six years ago, I thought would eventually grow old.  But it doesn't.

Several  years ago, way before I had kids, I had a friend where I worked who became very close to Patric and I.  She was almost like our adopted mom in some ways.  She had lost her son to a drowning accident when he was 2 years old.  I remember her saying it the first time and thinking how horrible it would be to lose a child.  I don't remember her talking about it much at all but I do distinctly remember her telling me that even then, it was like it had happened just yesterday.  And her eyes welled up with tears that she struggled to keep in.  Of course I didn't know what to say to her and I don't remember it coming up again.   But I have thought about her a lot since I lost Chase.  We don't keep in touch anymore but as I am now six years out, I know that these memories will never fade.  I still think about Chase every singe day if not the first thing when I wake up, then he is the last thing I think about as I fall asleep.  And several times in between.  That will never change, for the rest of my life.

I guess what I was reminded of this year was that this journey is solo.  And by that I mean for me and my husband and my kids.  Only we celebrate Chase and think of him as much and deeply as we do.  No one else does, even in mine and Patric's own families.  My community of BLM's support me every year and give me comfort because they are on the journey too.  But no one else does.  At a point of my life when my relationships with my own siblings and parents have become distant and broken, I am reminded of this again.  That I am in a club I was not invited to.  A place that I can never leave.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A moment in time

I'm just trying to freeze time here….but I had to post this picture.  It's the end of the year and I have been posting more to the kids' individual blogs recently and not this one and I felt this was totally worth taking the time to write about for this space.

The kids are out of school and we have nothing going on today…just four days out from Christmas.  They've all been doing their own thing and I've been playing with Owen but asked the kids to play with him somehow….and this is what I got.  A long time family tradition of theirs.  They started this years ago when Reese was probably Owen's age.  Actually, the girls played this even before they started including Reese!  But they "divvy" up their stuffed animals and give them names and characteristics and play.  For hours.  The stuffed animal pile has certainly grown over the years and it was so fun listening to them dump these out and remember things about them.  Telling stories where they came from or something that had happened with a certain one.  This is something they get pretty serious about and what means the most to me is that they are doing it together…even Owen.  (We'll see how long it lasts!)  THey'll have memories the rest of their lives about this time together.  I just hope they keep doing it so that Owen will have memories of it, too.  I love seeing my kids all together and I always imagine Chase in the middle of it all.  I know he would be loving it.  

These are the times.  Times I wish I could freeze.  I listened to Owen ask his sister to sing the Jingle Jingle song to him this morning and when she did without hesitating because she totally adores her little brother, I saw a flash of the future.  I saw my kids sitting down talking at a dinner and saying how they loved how cute their little brother was and how much fun he was.  And I can see Owen saying "yeah, right" and not remembering what they were talking about because he was too little.  They will continue to make memories I know, but they won't be like these or like the old ones.  I can't make Owen remember our life before Colorado, those will be memories just for the older three.  I'm afraid I'll be sad that he won't be able to recall those times like they will one day, but I know there will be many that he can from these days forward. 

Such is life.  It moves on.  Time never stops, no matter what one hopes for or wants.  I'm just thankful for these moments that I can freeze a memory in a snapshot…one that will spark conversation and recollections years down the road when they are adults. And we will all remember when….

Friday, October 3, 2014

Making mistakes

I've never claimed to be perfect. I'm far from it quite honestly.  But when my actions/behavior doesn't provide the kind of example I wish to give my kids, I try to be honest with them and let them know where I have failed them.  If they don't see me fail and try again, how can I expect them to do so.  And if I have expectations of honesty and ownership from them, they need need to know they should expect the same from me.  

This came about when I posted a picture on Carly Marie's #captureyourgrief for Pregnancy and Infant Loss month and stated that I had two miscarriages between Reese and Chase's births.  Both of my girls were hurt by this because I had not told ever them about the miscarriages.  They felt this was private information that I had shared in a public way and they were hurt I hadn't confided in them before doing it publicly.  At first I was focused on explaining to them how I use the CYG project to post and read other's sharing of their experiences.  I thought they misunderstood my use of the social media tool and was trying to explain my intentions.  And I also felt that them not knowing about the miscarriages was a result of their age appropriateness on the topic and when they were old enough I would have told them, though I may have been too late.  At first I didn't see the implications of my post.  But after hearing from my oldest about it immediately after I posted and then later seeing how upset my second oldest was, I thought long and hard about it.  

And I felt horrible.

I couldn't believe that I was so thoughtless as to not have the piece of mind to make sure they had known the information I was posting about.  It was insensitive and stupid on my part and I should have known because I, too, have been hurt by learning personal information about loved ones in such a public forum.  I knew I owned them a heartfelt apology. Any further explanation of my use of social media or intentions for the post were futile and insignificant.  What they needed to hear was that I messed up.  Big.  And that I should not and will not post something that they don't know about without telling them about it first.  I couldn't believe I had done that--something that I was so angry when I had been "treated" that way both someone else.  

But that wasn't the end.  I am so thankful that it wasn't because what I learned during the rest of our conversation was probably one of the most important things I needed to know as their mother.  

Karly was upset because she said I have always done that…posted things that she didn't know about Chase.  And while I was again, focused on explaining how the miscarriage information was not related to our experience with Chase at all, I was missing the boat.  She said that we don't talk about Chase at all.  

That was a pivotal moment--because we talk about Chase all the time.  Even Owen knows Chase's name and that he's his big brother and will say "hi Chasey" when he sees a butterfly.  But what she meant is that we don't ever talk about what happened with Chase and how all of that….the whole tragedy happened.  And she was right.  I had been waiting til they were old enough and ahd questions to explain to them what happened.  About two years ago I had a long talk with Emma in the car after she asked me some questions and I told her what I thought was too much.  Partly because I didn't want her to be scared for me and partly because I knew she wouldn't understand the medical side of it all.  But she asked and so I told her as best I could.  We cried and talked about it for some time until we were able to move on.  Karly is now that age and I told her that I would answer any questions she ever had and that I don't mean to NOT talk about it and that there is nothing I would keep from her.  But the thing is, Karly's not the type to come right out and ask the questions.  And I told her talking about the events surrounding Chase's birth and death are all very painful so it's kind of like catching both people in the same mood at the same time in order to start the conversation.  But it opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to make sure and take the time to fill in the blanks for her and explain some things.  Part of me feels like a complete failure for not doing this for her but part of me is so completely thankful for the fact that I know this and we had this conversation and I have the opportunity to do this right…..not letting this past and never talking about it and then when she's 30 years old being upset with me for not feeling like she was ever told why or how her baby brother died. 

 When I was much younger than her, my parents were divorced and my step dad stopped picking us up for visitation.  Since we lived in a new town, my mom made us keep it a secret (that we spent weekends with our dad) and lie about it to anyone who asked, like she was trying to extinguish all of our memories like the ashes of a smoldering fire.  And eventually anger rose up inside me at her for trying to act like none of it ever happened.  I don't want my girls feeling that way about what happened to Chase.  I don't want there to be any secrets from them.  They deserve to know the truth and what happened and now they are old enough to handle it. I want them to feel like they can ask me anything.  I asked Emma how much she remembered of what I told her two years ago and she said not much really.  I told them that's because it's pretty complicated and as you get older and learn more it will make more sense.  And more questions will come up at that time and again, I'll be here to answer any of them.  

We talked about some of the things but we didn't go into all of it because it wasn't the time or place.  That was a talk that needed to be started at the beginning and what we were doing at the time was throwing snapshot memories out at a time.  I started to realize how different their memories were than mine….even as fresh as my memories seem.  They were so little when Chase was born; it's just so hard to believe it.  And quite honestly I want to be sitting down and prepared when I hear what their specific memories are because it's a lot for me to handle, too.  Karly told me her worst memory and it broke my heart--when she walked into the kitchen and found me on the floor by the trashcan crying.  This conversation was about letting me know that they are ready for more information and want to hear things about the day he was born and I am so SO thankful for that.  I know Chase is part of this and helping me through this every day and making sure I handle this right.  I almost feel like if this hadn't happened tonight that we were headed down that path…..of not talking about "it" and that leading to never talking bout it and then them being grown adults and never knowing.  Because they didn't ask and I didn't tell.  Maybe that wouldn't have happened but nonetheless I had a wakeup call and am grateful for that.  

My girls are awesome.  I am so lucky to be their mom.  I hope and pray every day that I don't mess this up.  Because of my shaky relationship with my own mom, I work so much harder on mine with them.  They already know I make mistakes.  But they know I will fix it and be honest with them and that's all I can do.