Monday, February 19, 2024

Lady, get your sh** together

As the notebook flew across the room, I saw several people glance our direction, but most of them were kind enough to avert their eyes or even offer me a sympathetic smile as I picked it up. Lochlan had started throwing a fit about 5 minutes earlier while Brooklyn attempted to do school with him in the coffee shop. We are so blessed that the employees all know us and love us and support us, so at least we don't have that added stress. 

We are trying to get Lochlan exposed to various situational scenarios, new environments and we are trying to give him the opportunity to encounter new things that could potentially create stress so that he can learn to successfully navigate through more in life. It comes at a cost to the rest of us, though. He was doing well until he encountered an unmet expectation which he failed to convey to us until later. By that time he had fully unraveled and we were working backwards at a gallop. 

At one point I had to exit him out the door to go to my car for a chat; on our way out he was frantically yelling, "HELP!!!" much to my horror. Thank goodness everyone in the shop had watched enough to know that it was indeed Brooklyn and me that needed HELP. The notebook was not the only thing he tossed and I lost track of all that he screamed. 

We did manage to end on a good note, which did my heart good. A couple hours later, I was in the grocery store when I recognized a man who had been sitting in the coffee shop for our full song and dance. I was holding onto Aberdeen who was navigating Lochlan quietly through the store when the man brazenly marched up to me, pointed a finger in my face, then waved it toward Lochlan and said, "Lady, you need to get your sh** together!" I crumbled. Inside. I managed to not tear up until I was through the checkout line, but I don't think I made it out the door. What I wanted to say included a great deal of profanity. 

First... NEVER point your finger at me if you want the conversation to be amicable. 
Second... if you start out with "LADY", the conversation is dead before it starts. 
Third... you have NO IDEA AT ALL. This kid has been through hell and back, he is fighting to be unlocked from the prison of his own mind, he has had the world throw itself against him at every turn, he has fought to learn, grow and understand; and I've been alongside him the whole dang journey. This journey has included so much fear, darkness, heartache, exasperation, hopelessness, anger, frustration, and unanswered questions.  

If the world understood... but it can't. I get it. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Tears of the Forest

Sitting in a coffee shop trying to do school with Lochlan... the agitation. Fists clenched. Deep voiced, guttural outbursts, mostly yelling specific phrases like movie titles. Eye rolling. Licking the chair. Throwing his napkin. Yelling again. Knocking over the chair next to him. Everyone is staring at us. I wither. I need to get over it. I tell myself I don't care what people think or say, or how they judge me. But, every glance, every sigh, every look of irritation, and a tiny part inside of me crumbles. I am operating on less than 3 hours of sleep from last night, and so is he; it sets our rotating world on a tilt. 

We're at the coffee shop waiting on a doctor's appointment. It's a new avenue that we're pursuing, a tiny hope for changes, even if they're small ones. I couldn't sleep last night. I prayed, cried, rolled onto a different side in bed, listened to my book, prayed some more... my brain couldn't turn off, even in the moments when Lochlan was quiet. The anticipation. Trying to hold the hope at bay. Wanting to see improvement more than almost anything in the world. 

This past week has been a tough one with Lochlan. He hasn't wanted to focus in school, and even when he tried to watch a movie, he could only concentrate for about 60 seconds before wanting to turn it off, or start a different movie. There have been a lot of midnight outbursts, mostly yelling out a movie title repeatedly, or screaming at the highest pitch attainable. We detoxed him from all electronic use except for the video he needs in school and took him outdoors as much as possible. The sledding seemed to help the most. He loves to sled and now awakes each morning and immediately puts on his snow gear. On several days we've just started the day on the sledding hills.  

Allie, Lochlan's speech therapist has worked with him for so many years now. She started with him when he was just grunting or screaming at us, if he communicated at all. She has ridden through all the fixations with us, documenting improvements and restructuring/tailoring his path forward based on the direction he is taking, mentally. His progress has been remarkable. Allie has accepted Lochlan completely, and he knows that he is safe with her. It has been so interesting to see how he responds when he thinks he is misunderstood or disrespected; he rages and cries, displaying nothing short of a broken heart. He knows that Allie loves him. She's had to work with him when he's completely checked out, making almost no eye contact and being almost completely unwilling to comply. And she's worked with him on days when he's fully engaged and surprising us with what he knows and comprehends. I'm incredibly thankful for her perseverance with Lochlan, her dedication to his improvement, her perspective and how it has encouraged me (for years now) to press on and not lose hope. 

His teacher, Brooklyn, is such a gift. She patiently sifts through his antics each week and draws out the things he knows and guides him into learning the things he needs to. She waits upon his correct responses, laughs at his humor (which is present, but hard to identify sometimes), repeats the phrases that he insists that she repeat before he will move on in the process of learning. She has worked with him for over 1.5 years now and she knows WHO he is. It's so special. 

So, I know that I am richly blessed, in and through the challenges and obstacles of being Lochlan's mom. I find myself drawn into the forests and up my hill to be renewed, to be reminded that my world is, well, tiny, in the grand scheme of it all. As I reached my tree, I knelt and cried, frustrations pouring down. I stood up and the phrase, "they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary... " was in my mind. I said it out loud, and looked down to where my truck was parked. Below me was a bald eagle circling the little valley I love so much. I watched it for 5 minutes and felt the change in my heart, again, as I was reminded that there is so much that is good and beautiful. I leave my tears in the forest, time and again, and I am given wings as an eagle when I think crawling may be the best I can do. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

The mountains are lost

The mountains are lost in the snow this morning. The sun is struggling to show itself through the thick winter clouds that are blowing in; I almost wondered if it was just going to opt out this day to show itself and light up our world. I woke up entirely too early as the wind howled past our little stout round house, throwing rain against my (already very dirty) windows. It was completely silent inside, except for Aberdeen snoring next to me. Everything in the creation around me shouts of the incoming storm, but inside the eight walls of this place we call home, it is warm and comforting. 

There are reminders all about of the wild places I love: the lamp I built out of a stump found on my hill, the wall art of my beloved tree, the volcanic rocks lining our indoor garden, the wildflowers in the indoor garden that came from seeds I collected from my hill. I may brave the elements and go to the wild places this morning before the storm is fully upon us, just to SEE and BE. :-) 

We are all slowly recovering from our viral nuisance. Declan just returned on Sunday from his first solo (without brothers) ski trip with his Ankie Tae in Wyoming and yesterday we celebrated 14 years of Madigan. In the past week, the love that these boys have for each other has been so evident. While Declan was gone, Kelton and Madigan talked about him almost constantly, called him everyday to just hear his voice and told me at least 45 times how much they missed Declan. Lochlan fussed a lot and had trouble sleeping every night Declan was away. When we were planning his trip, Declan's primary concern was to make sure he was back in time to celebrate Madigan's birthday with him. 

Celebrating a 14th birthday is a bittersweet event for a mom - the tiny human that was placed into my arms just yesterday (😁) is one step closer to manhood. These markers in life are important because they remind us that time is marching forward and that we are changing in step with it. How do we successfully go from holding them in our arms almost constantly, tending to their every needs, savoring their tiny humanhood in all that it represents, to standing them upon their own two feet to be all that they are intended to be? This boy/man  does not belong to me though he will always hold my heart completely; my responsibility is to build into him the tools that will allow him to become whom he is to become. The love is complete from the beginning and yet it grows greater and deeper with each passing day, month, year. Another miracle that cannot be explained. 

So, today, I marvel and I will reflect on all that I behold. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Going Viral

 It's like a potluck. This virus went all out for us. It took a smattering of all the worst viruses combined and made one big tossed salad of horrible for us to enjoy. Just when you're finishing one course, it's on to the next hellish surprise. 

My ride on this train started 9 days ago and I have a tiny hope that I might regain my energy and all the other things I've lost in the process in another few weeks.  10 days ago, I was hiking through the hills. That night, the chills started. Violent chills - the kind that shake you to pieces. Then, the aching. Four days into the aching I felt like my everything was just pulling apart. I wasn't able to sleep both because my fever was uncontrollably high, but also because the aching simply prevented anything except wishing I was no longer alive. :-) 

Bumpy was an incredible nurse, never leaving my side. Several times she climbed onto me to make sure I was awake. Each time my temperature had risen dangerously high. I'm not sure how she knew, but she did.  Aberdeen took care of the whole family. She dutifully worried about each of us and was available for cuddling 24/7. There's something incredibly comforting about a soft body snuggled up as close as it can get. 

My parents were the unsung heroes of this story. My mom made us countless meals and it was absolutely critical. My dad helped keep the A-frame stocked in pellets for the fireplace and he even came and cleaned out our filthy horse pens before the encroaching storms arrive. I simply do not know how we would have made it through this without them. 

The absolute worst part of the whole ordeal has been watching the kids suffer and being almost entirely helpless to assist them. They didn't have as severe of a case as I did, but they were suffering incredibly. Kris also got it, but his case was mild, thankfully. 

After facing fevers, body aches, chills, chest congestion and subsequent coughs, diarrhea, vomiting, exhaustion, loss of appetite, taste and sense of smell, and then the loss of all energy, we are all finally, slowly turning a corner. We're not ready to take on any marathons yet, but I was able to brush my hair today. So, you know, there's that. 

It's viruses like this that make us paranoid. We heard of it hitting those we love all over the country from Virginia to Oregon, but we were holding out hope that maybe just maybe we'd dodge the bullet. Alas. 

Here's to goodbyes... saying goodbye to this virus will be a joyful event for each of us. We're ready to begin wandering again. 

Monday, January 01, 2024

Dog food in my trebuchet


The vulnerability of motherhood begins before we even know we're pregnant. Then, throughout the pregnancy we are left to wonder - all the things. Living as a mother feels like taking out your heart and holding it out into the wide, broken world without protection and leaving it utterly vulnerable. The considerations that are most likely to keep me up in the wee-morning-worry-hours are always about my boys - these creatures I helped usher into the world. How shall I keep them alive? How to keep them healthy? How to train up their hearts in the way that they should go? How to protect them from the things that this world will throw against them? How to help them understand and be capable of love? How to help them navigate the impossible? How to guide them to be strong and courageous and simultaneously humble and kind? How to teach them to not bite each other, not eat their boogers, not pee all over the toilet seat, not be too loud, not be too rambunctious, not be dinosaurs in all the ways... 

Madigan made a trebuchet out of popsicle sticks and successfully launches dog food from it, much to the delight of the canines in our midst. His mind is constantly in the works, creating, improvising, improving upon and imagining projects. And his projects are without exception, remarkable. He has a lot weighing upon his heart and it is sometimes hard to know how to help him navigate it all. 

Kelton woke up and came to chat with me in bed. He said, "Mom, I think I have a crush on you." Well, that won't last, but it's precious. We've been listening to books before bed every night and he makes us tea, grabs a blanket and snuggles close, leaning his head against my shoulder in utter contentment. I treasure these things in my heart. 

Lochlan has been a blur of energy, whooshing about the house in his fluffy cape, often at a full canter, smile upon his face. His screaming has been replaced with laughter for the past several days, which translates into a lot of laughing all night long. Though the relentless wakefulness is slightly agonizing, the laughter is musical in it's way. Tears replaced by joy are a welcome feature. Praying for answers, always and forever. 

Declan is practicing his littlest brother's patience with adept accuracy. However, it's beautiful to see their friendship blossom as it has these past several months. They (MOSTLY) set aside their ability to be the thorn in each other's side, very much due to Declan's leadership on that account. They seem to work consciously to build up one another and encourage each other. Declan is wise and discerning in so many ways and his ability to see into the hearts of others is humbling. 

We're off to explore again this gloomy, winter afternoon. I am thankful I have been given this day, with all that is vulnerable in it, with all that hurts, with all that has been abundantly beautiful and filled with joy. We are going to go see my tree as it silently escorts in another storm. Over the past couple of months, I put together an art project in honor of my tree and my hill to sit in our living room. On the days when we are not able to wander, we can look upon it and be thankful for the excess of what we have been given. :-)