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Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Tea

It's crazy to me how and when Grief hits me over having kids with special needs. It happens when I least expect it. Today was Aidan's Kindergarten Mother's Day Tea. The invitations for the Tea came home about two weeks ago, so all the moms could save the date, get babysitters for younger kids, etc. Aidan came home the day of the invitations and declared that Daddy was coming to his class on May 11! I gently said, Um, I think that I'm supposed to come to your class that day for the Mother's Day Tea. He said no, he got to invite anyone he wanted and he decided to invite Daddy. He was adamant that this is the way the Tea was going to go down. I know Aidan well enough to know when not to push, but my Mommy Heart felt a little low that day because it's sometimes difficult for me to connect with Aidan and easy for Alex, and sometimes I selfishly want Aidan to want me instead of Daddy. I want him to be excited that I would be coming to school to visit him. But I tried to just understand the whole thing from Aidan's perspective and not be disappointed. 

As the two weeks wore on, I worked on Aidan and the Tea issue. I asked him if Daddy couldn't come to the Tea, would it be ok if I came instead? He finally agreed that yes, that would be tolerable. Then yesterday he was excited that I was coming to school to see what he and his classmates had been working on so hard for so many weeks. 

I got dressed up, like a real person- not a tired stay-home-mom. I remember when Jonah and Ben did this Tea in their Kindergarten class, it was a big deal. A dress up deal. Today I even wore earrings and perfume!! Grandma Margaret came to babysit Ella. I was ready. I had my big camera and my video camera and my kleenex, because I remembered that this is a sweet Tea with many Kodak Moments.

I got to Aidan's classroom and he was sitting on the carpet in the middle of 30 other classmates, and he was thrilled to see me. He was beaming that I was there, and my Mommy Heart was so happy. I was happy that I meant something to him, that he was glad I had shown up to be with him. I was so excited. I found my assigned seat and looked for Aidan to wave at him again. I saw he was upset and about to cry. I thought great, here we go...

Aidan ran through his classmates to me. He asked if there was any blood on the bottom of his lip, because it was hurting like crazy. I said no, it's a little red from where you've been squeezing it for the last 20 minutes, but there's no owie there. He was hysterical, crying that his lip hurt so bad. I tried everything I could think of to help him calm down and sit back down with his classmates who were proudly about to start their presentation for their moms. Aidan was not able to calm down and he was not about to participate in the presentation. 

At home when Aidan gets these hurt spots on his body, I've come up with two magic remedies: either a bandaid or a folded, damp paper towel will always fix the owie. I didn't have a bandaid. I didn't have a paper towel. I felt all the other moms' eyes on Aidan and me. I folded up a kleenex, got it wet in the little person-sized bathroom in the classroom, and Aidan applied it to his owie that I couldn't see. Crisis averted. He stopped screaming his head off. But he would not go sing with his friends. He refused to be part of the class and say the poems he had learned to pay homage to the mommies. 
Aidan showing me the jar of caterpillars-turned-chrysalis 
Aidan's teacher asked if he would come and sing with them. He said no. She shrugged and said ok, and I was grateful that she didn't make a big deal about it. Aidan sat on my lap, holding his damp kleenex to his lip, as we watched 30 other 6 year-olds sing and recite poetry to their mommies. I don't know why I was at the point of tears. It's really so not a big deal. My brain knows it is really nothing in the grand scheme of life. Who cares if my kid doesn't sing his at his Mother's Day Tea? Well, apparently I do. It's purely selfish and stupid, but I was so disappointed in the situation, though not in Aidan. 

I just love sappy things like this Tea, and I love watching my kids no matter if they stand in the back and softly mouth the words to the songs like Ben and Jonah did for their Tea or only know half of the sign language for the poetry they recite. I just love to have my kids be a part of these special, normal things that you do at school. I'm the loudest clapper at recitals, I occasionally let out a "WOOHOO!!" in situations where clapping alone is expected. I give standing ovations to my boys dressed in crazy costumes in the school play, even if they never spoke a word. I am that mom. Annoying, I know, but I can't help myself. I'm bursting at the seams with pride for everything my kids have become, after the tough starts they have all had. And when I see them doing things I could only dream of years ago, I just can't contain my happiness for them.

So I sat with Aidan on my lap, watching the other moms bursting with pride for their kids. And I felt so bummed that this is my life. I know it's incredibly petty. But I'm human. I felt so bummed that only my kid was on my lap. My brain understood the circumstances. I understood that Aidan was overwhelmed with the situation, that his sensitive little body can't handle even a hangnail without totally flipping out. I get it. But sometimes I just want to have the kid who stood in the front of the Kindergarten carpet today singing from the bottom of her soul to her mom. Or even the kid who stood in back and needed an Aide to keep him on task. At least he was on the carpet, singing to his mom the best he could! Sometimes I get tired of understanding so well the needs of my kids. I just want to stand up and have my own little tantrum and demand that my kids just do what I want them to do, what I hope they will do. I don't want to understand their special needs. I don't feel like being patient and calm. Sometimes I just want my kids to be like other kids. I don't have these feelings often, and they always come at moments when I least expect them. It's funny how they catch me off guard. I'll be going along just fine in my little Special Needs Life, everything under control, I feel like I'm in a place of grace and understanding where my kids are concerned, and then WHAM. It hits me. The grief of having a child who has special needs. The grief of having a child who isn't capable of doing what other kids his age are doing. The grief doesn't hang around and drag me down indefinitely, but it does hit with a vengeance sometimes. For instance during little moments like a Mother's Day Tea.
Painting tea cups
All day I've been trying to not let this weigh me down. The rest of the Tea was enchanting, and Aidan was delightful. We had the best time, he and I. We ate lovely snacks together. We went to the library with the class and Aidan read books to me that he has written and illustrated this Spring. Then we painted sweet little tea cups for each other that will be fired at the ceramics store and we can actually use for tea! Aidan was "on" the rest of the morning. I had such good time talking with him as we painted, joking with him while we snacked, taking his picture while he hugged his teacher. He is such a sweet little boy. I love him to pieces. 
Whenever the Grief hits me, I let myself feel it, but choose to focus mostly on the amazing positive moments with my kids instead of the tough ones. Sometimes I'm better at this than others. Sometimes it hits me hard at the craziest times and I have to accept the fact that my kids will always be "special" in their own ways, and that's just the way it is. When I can prepare myself for a situation that could be a land mine for my kids who have sensory issues, like going to a fireworks display or parade, I'm much better at handling life. Grief doesn't get me then. I'm prepared. But you can't always prepare yourself for every situation that might bring those "special needs" into play. I was blindsided by the fact that even a Kindergarten Tea could send Aidan into a spiral, making him unable to handle the day. And when I'm blindsided, Grief takes a little longer to dissipate. But I'll get there. And while I trudge along the path out of Moping Land, I will choose to remember the sweet, enchanting moments with Aidan today as he celebrated having me for his mom. We were both very content and happy to be together this morning, chatting and painting and quietly loving each other. I am a lucky mama to have that little boy who sat on my lap this morning.

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