September 8, 2014
by Tricia
25 Comments

Atypical (the big speech udpate)

They started with the good news. Gross motor in the 21-24 month range. Check. Receptive communication, same. They went on down the list until they got to expressive communication. I know these words now so I knew we had arrived. She said his development is atypical. She even said that if we were living in a signing community, if everyone in our world signed as their primary method of communication, we’d have no problem. But he doesn’t, so we do. And then she said it again. Atypical.

And I don’t really know what that means.

walking with son

Almost two months ago, I shared our worries about our little boy. You all responded, sharing your stories and experiences with me. We took it all in, started researching and making appointments, and walked carefully into a brand new world. And it turns out that the answer to my question of how much I’ll share here about it all is “not very much.”

One thing that parenthood has taught me, and it’s been pushing hard on this one in the past few months, is that everything is always new. Even when you’re doing something the second time around, even when you’ve walked this road holding little hands before, even when it’s just another first day at the same old school, it’s all still new. All of it. It’s still learning and growing and trying to figure out where you’re going as you hurtle down the road at top speed.

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Over the past two months, we’ve been drowning in new. New terms like speech pathologist, prompts, expressive communication and receptive communication. New signs for words we use every day like go and stop, more and again. New people, new processes, new forms to fill out. New games to play and songs to sing and strategies to try. A new perspective on development; the typical, the atypical, and the everything in between.

We’ve heard our boy make new sounds. We’ve seen a new side of him. We’ve seen pride surge out of his big brown eyes as he signs and communicates needs and wants that he couldn’t just six weeks ago. We’ve had new little conversations with him in complete silence. He can sign ‘stop’ if he doesn’t like something and sign ‘again’ when he does and so we’re learning new things about him.

boy and fountain

But he’s still not talking. He communicates without speech.

Adjusting to his timeline, progress that comes through in slow trickles instead of wild gushes, that is new for us too. We weren’t naive enough to believe that after just a few speech therapy sessions, he’d be talking up a storm and these struggles would be behind us. In fact, I’m not sure I had an expectations at all. But this waiting, waiting for things to click, waiting with bated breath for that first word to finally come, waiting and wondering what to do to make the waiting easier or shorter, this is all quite new.  Working so hard to help our child learn what comes so naturally to others, is new.

And I don’t deal well in new. I struggle with new. I don’t write about new. I write about things I know. And I don’t know this world. I don’t know if in six weeks of speech therapy, my boy has made progress. I don’t know what the next six months of therapy will do for him or for us. I don’t know if we’re putting so much pressure on him now that we’ve pushed back and away what would have happened naturally had we just let him be. I don’t know and so I haven’t been able to sit here and make myself write about this. It’s too new.

boy in swing

The feelings are new too. The feelings that I’m failing him. And, of course, her too. That I’m too distracted and not paying enough attention and not giving them enough and not focusing on them enough. Not sitting often enough and looking in their eyes. Not settling into just being with them. If I could just sit myself down on the floor for all of the hours I have with him each day, would we be past all of this by now? Is atypically developing because of me?. Like any mother, I doubt my abilities and actions all the time but this sort of deep doubt and confidence shedding is new for me. And this new is hard.

But two months ago I came here with my worry and a world of people, both new and old, reached out to lift us up and help us take the first steps. So, today, I’m taking a moment to write about the new. We have moved ahead with speech therapy. We’re getting some help now from our local early intervention program. We’re learning the landscape and the words and the signs and we’re setting goals and moving towards them. And we’re grateful for your support.

September 5, 2014
by Tricia
13 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 30

toddleronpath

spot the toddler on the path

This evening I dragged my tired tush to the library. It’s where I work in the evenings these days, after I’ve poured myself out into my family all day, I take what’s left and I pour it out here. Or there. It’s not how I thought things would be. And I both wouldn’t have it any other way and simultaneously yearn for the days when I’m not pouring out here the dregs left over from a day of drying eyes and kissing boo boos and folding laundry. And I also know I’ll miss those eyes and the honor of kissing those boo boos. That’s the push and pull of life.

But tonight there are barely even dregs to pour here. Today is Wednesday and I’m writing this post in advance because today we visited our girl’s school for her very last school Open House and tomorrow we launch into it and this weekend I’m on a train headed north. But today. Today she repeated over and over how happy she is that school is starting, how excited she is to be back, how much she loves it there. And my heart both swelled with excitement for her and broke with the thoughts that next year won’t hold this happiness for her. Next year when I drop her off at a new school while her brother heads off to her old school, today will be a very different sort of day. And I should just enjoy today and her happiness and this moment without bothering myself with thoughts of things that may come. But I’m in a weird place lately and I just can’t let it go.

Tonight as I walked into the library, the sun had set and so the air was just a touch cooler. Someone had just mowed a lawn and the air smelled sweet, just like a late summer evening should. And I breathed it in. And I remembered that even, sometimes especially, in our most conflicted moments, we find gratitude.

This week’s lovely little things.

School happiness

She is happy. She is so happy she can’t help but tell me ten times within the span of an hour just how happy she is. She’s been begging to go back for weeks and just knowing that today was the day propelled her out of bed with an energy we rarely see from her so early in the morning. For all of the pain of the first year and the surprising tears of the second year, we’ve earned this moment. She is happy. We are happy. And I am grateful to start off her big year with so much happy.

Travel

I used to dread work travel. So exhausting and overwhelming and so many hours away from the people I love most. But this weekend, I’m headed away for Women Get Social and I’m looking forward to it. A train ride all to myself, new experiences, new friends, new opportunities, and some of the old thrown in for good measure just to make it all a little more comfortable. And I’ll miss their little faces and his hugs and Sunday’s reunion will be so sweet. But it will be good to get away.

Rejection

Go ahead, roll your eyes, I deserve it. Rejection sucks and doesn’t belong on a gratitude list anywhere. Except when it does. I got a rejection this week and even though, looking back, I quickly fell out of love with the piece I submitted after I sent it in, the email stung. It came at a moment when I was already feeling down and doubting myself and my ability to really do this, freelance, live this dream. And I couldn’t shake it. I laid awake for hours, crying, and struggling with self doubt. I considered not coming here, to the library, to write tonight. Giving myself a nice, long, self-pity-inspired break. But here’s the thing. It’s one of my first rejections in a while and that doesn’t mean that I’ve been spinning pure gold over here. It means that I haven’t been trying. Taking risks. I haven’t felt the butterflies take over my stomach as I click ‘send’ in weeks. That rejection reminded me that I should be collecting so many more of those kinds of emails.

Kind words and friends

I reached out to a dear friend this week for some help. And she replied most generously, helping me with what I asked and so much more. Keep your friends close, they ease the pain of the rejection with their faith in you and support of you.

favorite words

Earlier this week, I started Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing. Apologies in advance for the next several weeks which will almost exclusively hold favorite words about writing and creativity. Her Devotion is next. Just warning ya.

writing is an act of faith

September 4, 2014
by Tricia
0 comments

Nourish Yourself

“But I know that I never revealed that I struggled with nourishment. That I hadn’t really nourished myself in years, perhaps ever. That perhaps I hadn’t been truly nourished since my own mother saw to it that I was. In theory, nourishment sounded wonderful. Food. Love. Friends. Faith. These things, I believed, could nourish a person. Sustain and fulfill. But I was 19. A rising college sophomore. Perpetually dieting. Still wondering if what I’d had with my high school boyfriend was love. Struggling to figure out friendship and faith and other deep, soul-focused questions in the emotion and self-discovery of college.”

Read more of my story at Mamalode today.

coffee art

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The theme at Mamalode this month is Nourish. That word brings me back more than a decade, to a time in my life when I struggled with nourishment on so many levels. As with so many things, motherhood changed all of that. I’d love for you to join me there as ONE Girls & Women sponsor Mamalode and this beautiful theme this month.

September 3, 2014
by Tricia
8 Comments

To my girl on her third, first day of school

My girl,

Two years ago, I sat right here and wrote you a letter before your first, first day of school. I wrote about how big that moment was. How scary but how exciting. I wrote about how I would do my best to bring you only my excitement. None of my fear.

girl with backpack

The fear, of course, did take over. We cried for weeks and struggled for months. But eventually, it faded. And then it disappeared, leaving only excitement. Every day since, you’ve greeted the sunrise with wide eyes and a bounce in your step and you’ve leaped off to school as if it is your second home. Which, of course, it sort of is now. We cry when the school year ends these days, not when it begins.

When it begins, as it will tomorrow, we smile and laugh and bubble over with delight. Today as I write to you, before your third, first day of school, I don’t have to promise you that I will bring the excitement. You have enough for us both.

But beyond all of that excitement, I am feeling something different this year. It’s not fear but what it is, I can’t exactly name.

See, this year, you go back to the same building, among many of the same people whom we’ve grown to love and trust. Following the same routine that felt awkward two years ago but soon became comfortable and predictable, you’ll head off to start a new year as if it is the same as both years that came before. And because of all the sameness and familiarity, we’ve been letting ourselves believe that this isn’t big. It’s just another year. It’s not the first, it’s nothing new, it’s just back to school.

And maybe it’s because everyone else is telling me this is big. Maybe it’s because every other mother who writes is writing about the hugeness of sending her little one off to Kindergarten right now. Maybe it’s because Kindergarten is a thing that conveys a very different feeling than ‘pre-school’ or even ‘pre-k.’ Maybe it’s because of all of the little differences that I know we’ll come across this year: work plans and more field trips and no more naps. Because this year you’ll be the big kid and there will be so many little kids to remind us that this is not your first, first day.

But I think what it is, is you. The difference this year, is you.

The difference is that three weeks ago, you walked off to summer camp with your head high, shedding not one tear, confident and ready to meet new friends and try new things, proving to me that two years is a long time and big things don’t scare you anymore. The difference is that you are no longer my little baby girl who cried at drop off every day for months. You are my big kid. My kindergartener. And that is big.

mommy shoes

Two years ago I wrote to you about fear and excitement because I knew that the moment when my hand left yours on that first day of school would hold so much fear for us both and I knew I had to bring the excitement to help you not completely give into the fear.

But this year? There is no fear. There is only excitement and these emotions I can’t name but that feel a bit like nostalgia and the sadness of sweet old memories for the little girl you were. And wonder and awe and constant amazement at the big girl you’ve become.

My girl, I wish you all the best on this third, first day of school, your first day of Kindergarten. But you don’t need my wishes or my excitement. You’ve got this.

Love,

Mommy

September 2, 2014
by Tricia
14 Comments

Summer lessons

family window

Yes, we come in at the tail end of the back-to-school season, proudly carrying our backpacks and packed lunches just as everyone else has started to drag theirs. I’ve seen the photos for weeks now, feeling partly anxious to join the flutter and partly blessed with a few more summer days.

I love summer and you’ll never convince me that there is anything better than walking around with bare feet as the sun kisses your shoulders. But I’m also a sucker for a change of season. For a return to routine and a predictable rhythm. For a moment to stop and reflect before charging full steam ahead some more.

Last year I wrote up a little list of things I had learned on my summer vacation.  Naturally, some of those lessons stuck with me and some I’ve had to relearn. But even though a lesson listed here isn’t a check mark on my life list, I still like the idea of recognizing that amidst all of the good and the bad, I’ve grown. So I’m doing it again.

Summer vacation

1. Make a plan. And then break it if you want (or need). But make a plan.

This was my #1 last year too. I’ll probably keep relearning this one. This summer, I planned all of the summer camps and activities that I neglected to plan last year. But we didn’t plan a trip to the beach and ended up craving some sun and sand. This year, I didn’t plan to leave my job or start freelancing but it happened. And from that, I learned that if I don’t approach each week, each day, sometimes each hour with a plan, then I will end my day knowing exactly what all of my friends are doing on Facebook but with not a word on a page to show for my time. 

2. Say yes.

BlogU14-2-1

I started the summer at my first blogging conference. Where every other year I’d said no, this year I said yes. Yes, I will meet the people whose words I read all the time and I will learn something new and I will take that leap. I’ve tried to spend the summer being open to all of the possibilities and opportunities, to change and new things and new adventures. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve let fear take over and I’ve said no and then regretted it. But more often than not this summer, I’ve said yes and I’ve opened myself up to new things, new people, deeper friendships, and all of those have made this summer so very sweet.

3. You need friends. And readers. Really, you need people.

Earlier this summer, I asked for help. I invited people into my words and my process before they were quite ready to be read and seen and I asked friends to read and readers to edit. And they did. And it helped me reach a goal that I hadn’t successfully reached on my own but that felt so sweet when I reached it with friends. You need friends. You need friends to talk to and write with and read to just be with.

4. Bad vacations happen and it’s ok.

They happen. They just do. People get sick. People get cranky. People find themselves dreaming of the beach as they walk around the very non-beachy streets of NYC. Not every vacation will have the magic of Disney World. And that’s ok. We shouldn’t set out to make the best, most amazing, magical vacation every single time we pile into the car or file into the plane. But we should set out to make memories. And if you come home with just one memory that you wouldn’t have made sitting at home, then it’s not really all bad after all.

highlinewalking

5. Emotions need time and space.

Lots of big things happened this summer. And lots of big things lie ahead. I try to just keep moving and running and doing and pretending that I don’t need the time and the space to unpack the big things, spread them out, understand them, deal with them. But I do. I need the space and the time. I need to give my emotions a little breathing room or they will take me over and stop me in my tracks. Look for this one next summer too but for now, as Fall arrives and brings with it the bigness of first days of school and birthdays and who knows what else, I’m going to create a little time and space.

What did you learn this summer?

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Join me over at Mamalode today too where I’m talking about wisdom from a near-stranger that has stuck with me for over a decade.

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