Monthly Archives: November 2013

Well, that was fast.

We were able to get surgery scheduled for Levi yesterday, so the two of us arrived at the hospital at 6:00 in the morning. Okay, it was 6:10. But nobody yelled at us about the ten minutes. Everything started right on time, and the surgery was in fact shorter than anticipated. In addition to another pin, there’s now a screw in there. Let us hope this does the trick.

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Levi actually usually enjoys his time in the hospital. Where else do you get to lie in bed and eat pizza while watching cartoons? And order as many slushies as you can drink? And there’s always a supply of nurses to stop by and tell you how cute you are. (Oddly, this last service does not extend to me.)

The staff wanted Levi to have eaten something and kept it down before we took off, and to make sure the oral pain meds were working before we took off. That was all accomplished late in the evening, and we got to go home to sleep.

I wasn’t thinking, and had packed a pullover sweatshirt as Levi’s coat. That wasn’t going to work with the splint, but Papa is an innovator.

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When we got home, Paul said he’d stay up and get everybody settled in bed, so I kissed them all and went to sleep. I woke up ten hours later. I don’t even remember the last time I did that. I felt like a new woman.

We had a family Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration tonight. Thanks to my sister-in-law Ruth, I didn’t have to cook anything (she took over my food assignment as well as her own), and thanks to my sister, The Incredible Auntie, I didn’t have to wrap any presents.

I don’t know if I believe that we are given trials for a specific purpose – I think sometimes bad things happen and there’s just really no good reason. But I do believe we have a choice about how we respond, and how we allow them to change us.

I realized yesterday that I think I am losing my arrogance. I tried to think of a nicer word there, but I think arrogance is the most accurate. I’ve spent a good deal of my life refusing to accept help because I was too proud to admit that I needed any. I’ve been ashamed to admit that I couldn’t, in fact, do it all, and that some things were going to slide. I’ve been reluctant to accept favors because I couldn’t stand to think that I owed anyone anything. Even gratitude.

In the last year, though, I have accepted help for things both mundane and huge, and said “yes please” and “thank you” and been grateful to the depth of my soul. I absolutely cannot do this life thing by myself, and I’m so thankful for people who are willing to help.

I’m kind of a slow learner. Maybe I’ll finally get this one, though. Here’s hopin’!

Pity Party

The boys and I loaded up and went up to the hospital again this morning for more x-rays on Levi’s arm. I think the right side of his body is going to be glowing soon.

The news was not good. The doctor has never been thrilled with the rate at which the bone is healing, so it’s not a total surprise, but still unwelcome. Rather than knitting together, the bone actually seems to be drifting apart again. They’ll have to open it back up and see what needs to be done. Maybe a screw, maybe a pin. Maybe both. Maybe they’ll bake four-and-twenty blackbirds in there.

My attitude leaves much to be desired. I know that we have much to be grateful for, and many people are in much worse situations. I know that my two most important senses – perspective and humor – will snap back into place soon, and I will organize a babysitter for Elias and make a packing list and start cracking wise. It will all be fine. Levi will be fine. I will be fine.

But for now, I am just frustrated, and angry, and sad. The doctor (late 50s? early 60s?) said he’s never had a break like this not heal; he’s never had one that he’d already operated on and had to open back up. I know there’s no point asking why us (and could I possibly be more whiny?), but I can’t help feeling like we keep drawing the short straw. I mean, really. One? In his entire career? And it has to be Levi? Because it’s not like he doesn’t have to put up with enough garbage.

It’ll probably be scheduled for Friday, and I’m sure by then I will have pulled myself together. For now, I feel like this:

pity

 

I am not getting my way, and I don’t like it.

So. I’m having a pity party. You’re welcome to join me. Please bring a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Or a burger from Swenson’s. I’m not picky.

You First

Long enough ago that they didn’t have to wear shoes or coats, my little darlings were headed across the property line to the community center next door, with my sister. I’m told this happened:

Elias: Don’t touch the fence or you’ll get shocked!

Levi: No, you won’t. The fence isn’t on.

Elias: Yes it is!

Levi: No it’s not! Look, I’ll go touch it. You’ll be ‘pressed with how brave I am. <pause> But you touch it first, okay?

Taking a Moment

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Maybe even a lot overwhelmed. I’m doing my best to keep an even keel, mostly by doing what’s right in front of me and not thinking about what things are going to look like tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Sometimes by stopping, closing my eyes, and taking long, deep breaths that start way down in the belly. Sometimes by taking a moment.

This does not always go as planned. Yesterday, I was working on something in the office when Paul released the boys from their bath. They stormed in, and they were so cute in their matching hooded towel wraps that I decided it was a moment. I tried to take a picture to preserve it for posterity, or maybe for that embarrassing slide show at the wedding reception, and I asked them to stand together nicely and smile.

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It went very well. Not. (Seriously, though, I love how entertained Elias is by his big brother.)

Sometimes, though, it turns out better than I could have hoped. Today was plotted in 10-minute increments from beginning to end, with no wiggle room anywhere. Everything had pretty much fallen into line as expected, and right before I left for a meeting this evening, I suddenly found that I had nothing to do. Supper for everyone was in the oven. The boys were – at least in that moment – playing happily together. My bag was already in the car.

So I took my mug of tea out onto the porch and breathed in the cold clean air, and looked up the hill at the sun streaking red and gold all over the steeple and barns and silos (my favorite part of our house might be the view outside it) and took A Moment.

It’s not a week at the beach. But it’ll do for now.

 

Ah, memories.

When we went on Levi’s wish trip, everything was just pristine, everywhere. Disney’s dedication to perfection is legendary, but honestly, it was the same at Give Kids the World, at Universal, and at Sea World. Everything is immaculately groomed.

Understand that my standards of cleanliness have degraded somewhat in recent years. Mostly I’m just happy if my socks don’t actually stick to the kitchen floor. For example, I know that I could stay up tonight and clean the stovetop and mop the floor. But I’d much rather sleep. Besides, the minute I get it really clean, someone tears a bag of quinoa or draws on something with a paint marker that Paul brought home in his pocket after work. What’s the point? I’m just going to power wash the house when they’re both 25.

So the level of care we saw in the parks down there was both impressive and intimidating.

And the day we went to Sea World, we were walking around admiring everything as we decided what we should go to see next. People, they have a little garden thing with killer whales sculpted out of shrubbery. Color contrast and everything. That is dedication.

And all of the sudden, I didn’t know where Levi was. He wasn’t hard to find, though.

I looked over my right shoulder, and there he was. Pants down around his ankles, hindparts bare to the world, urinating into the perfectly manicured pansy patch.

I took a picture:

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Just kidding. I didn’t take a picture. I turned to Paul, and tilting my head to the side, I said, “You see your son over there?”

And as his face broke into a gigantic grin, I hissed, “YOU deal with him,” and I walked away and pretended I had never seen any of them before in my life.

And I was thinking today about that day, and my reaction, and how I might change that reaction if the same thing happened today. And you know what I would do differently?

Not a blessed thing.

Progress!

Levi is cast-free for the first time in six weeks. He has mixed feelings about it. He’s really been looking forward to it, but his arm no longer feels quite like his arm, and there’s a scar on the elbow from the surgery. He’s a little freaked out by it. He even asked the doctor for another cast, please.

At home, he’s walking around holding his right arm to his chest with his left one, and wailing if I walk by too quickly and create a breeze. He asked to take a rest on the couch with a blanket and a pillow.

20131111-153800.jpgDoesn’t he just look delightfully pathetic? He’s determined to get his money’s worth from this experience, and I’m indulging him a little. I’m far too cold-hearted for it to last long.

(And lest you think I’ve really gone too far this time, I’ll tell you that he had an amazing recovery when I asked if he felt well enough to play MarioKart for while.)

The doctor still isn’t thrilled with the way the x-ray looks, so we’ll be going back in a couple of weeks for another. He did tell us about a patient once who didn’t quite heal for six months. He had to have surgery (though he hadn’t had one originally). Bleah.

Knit, bones, knit!

Can I see a picture of her?

Still chewing his pancake (“Close your mouth when you chew, sweetie” is the refrain of my life right now), Levi asked, “Hey Mama, whose belly was I in again?” This is a conversation we’ve had often, and he knows the answer. I think he just likes to be reassured that it hasn’t changed. So I answered him again. And this time he had follow-up question.

“Can I see a picture of her?”

I met Paul’s eyes across the breakfast table, and I knew he was feeling the same way I was. A little bit like I’d taken a gut punch. Because the answer is no. I can’t show Levi a picture of his birthmom.

I think I can understand why she made that choice, not to give us a picture. I don’t know what that experience was like for her, carrying a child in her body for so long, and knowing she would not raise him. Meeting the people who would, and hoping against hope that they really are okay. Not crazy, not mean. Not too strict, maybe. (Oops?) But not being able to bear glimpses of that future life, even if they were on offer. Because how painful would THAT be? I don’t know, but I think I can imagine a little bit. And it might feel a little weird to have a picture out there without being able to “see” him back. So this is not a complaint about Levi’s birthmom, and I don’t want anybody to think so, especially Levi, should he ever read this.

It’s just me saying ouch. It hurt a little to tell him no. He was disappointed. And there will be more little disappointments in the future, as he has more questions and not so many more answers. And that’s hard to understand, even for grownups. I’m afraid that those little disappointments will roll up into one big ache that I can’t fix, no matter what I do.

But I told him what I can. She is shorter than me, like this (hand held about at my eyes). She has hair about the same color as Miss Beth’s hair* but curlier. She loves you very, very much, and she always will. Just like me.

I hope it is enough.

 

*Hey, Beth? You might get some questions about that. Just so you know.