A Good Year

A good year. The title of one of our all-time favorite movies. And a sentiment that’s not close to befitting the kind of year we’ve had.  

More like overwhelmingly emotional. Excruciating. Beautiful. Soul searching. Full of extreme highs… and lows. 

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When the year started, the term “basket case” doesn’t even do me justice. I was a shell of a person, yet I had to leave my seemingly fragile first born child and return to work. We had just started therapy and added feeding therapy. How could I leave her and focus on anything else other than her needs. How could I sit at a desk and not sob daily? Only with the intense love of my colleagues did I find my way back again. Find out how to use my brain for other things other than research. I learned how to exist in two worlds- work Eloise and new special needs mom Eloise. I felt bipolar. Emotional wreck and stable, productive worker bee. 

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I had already started blogging about her on here. I had put our story out into the ethos and the bubble of love had begun to form around my heart. Protecting me from those awful appointments in cold doctors’ offices. 

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The frozen tundra of Central Park began to unfreeze just as I started to come out of my shell. As winter subsided and welcomed a New York City spring- our new life started to feel more comfortable. This is who we are. This is our life. Those words felt less terrifying.

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Until… we started planning her first surgery. Not the most major she would ever have. Not the scariest. But… signing some of those documents, watching her being taken for anesthesia. Cuddling her post-op with marker on her face and almost purple complexion. I came so close to the brink emotionally. With my family and friends’ love… I didn’t go over that edge. It was the second biggest hurdle I’ve faced in my life. The first being  her birth. Watching her thrive afterwards though was the first time I truly understood how much I was going to learn from my daughter the rest of my life. She would teach me strength. She would show me how not to dwell on the terrifying… just find the resolve to move on. Start a new day with a huge smile like nothing happened the day before. 

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By summer we truly had a routine. A life that felt natural… telling our story was second nature. I could tell anyone anything they wanted to know with full confidence. No shaking voice. No hesitation. I was certainly forever changed, but I’d returned to myself. I could focus on other things in my life. And.. upon a trip south with the family… we made a plan. We had the conversation seriously this time about leaving our city. Venturing to imagine a different life than we’d known for a decade. We chose Charleston and started madly making plans. 

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Amidst the rolling hills and winding roads, we celebrated bug’s BIG birthday in September. We gathered at my alma mater to celebrate so much. Our survival for one. Lacrosse another. And family. How our tapestries as individual families have begun to really weave together. New traditions and old going hand in hand. And I got to share a significant piece of my heart with my daughter. I dreamed of what it would be like for her to go to W&L. For her to follow in her momma’s footsteps. That weekend was the most special I had this year. It’s made me dream of Lexington ever since and reaffirmed that a smaller town was the best choice for us. It was clearly our destiny. 

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With the promise of a new life for our new family, we focused on Charleston. We told our friends. We told our jobs. We picked a date and it rapidly approached. All too soon, boxes littered our small Columbus Circle apartment and a future house was closer to a reality. Then came the goodbyes. Within both of my worlds- the mother and the worker… I had found such nurturing homes. At Clarke and at work- I had friends who helped piece me back together. I hadn’t a clue how to extract myself from such nurturing places. How to leave these people… for essentially one or two friends in my new life. I was leaving a city I loved and a decade of memories to stay for a year in a town of retirees and off season beach goers.  I didn’t want the city life anymore but was I crazy? My closest set of friends were over an hour away. But… this was a choice for Landon. For my family. For future dreams.  I didn’t come first anymore. And off we went.

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Our life here has been transformative, frustrating, love-filled, memory making, challenging and full of growth. Our marriage has been stitched back together. Our family has learned how to coexist in this sleepy town, during winter of all seasons. I feel more hopeful for our future than I ever have. Our dreams are closer to a reality. Our hearts brimming with pride over how much Landon has grown here. With freedom to roam… literally.. she’s taken off. 

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As this year comes to a close… I am in awe at where we started and all that’s happened. As we all should, I have reflected on my own personal growth. I learned how to be a warrior. I learned how to run towards the challenges. Embrace the would-be pain and turn it into love. I’ve learned to believe in myself. Trust my instincts as a mother and a wife. 

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2014 feels daunting- building our first house, building a business and a nonprofit. Building a new life in a new city. If this past year has taught me anything though it’s that we’re capable of hard things. We can succeed at anything if it’s done together. 

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So.. dear readers… our little family wishes y’all a very happy new year. I hope your time of reflection gives you peace and resolve for this next chapter in your own lives. Thank you for the love. Thank you for the support. We can’t wait to start this new journey with you.

xoxo,

Eloise

The second time around

I’ve been wrestling with something. If I’m up at night, thinking or worrying about Landon… something new has creeped into my mind. When we meet people at church, the gym or I talk to my best friends on email… it comes up.

Baby number TWO.  I’m torn in so many directions it’s hard to know where to begin.  

The struggle usually looks like this: I’ve always wanted two children. Now that I have a handle on bug, it’s probably time to have the second since I’m not getting any younger. What if.. though. What if our second child has TCS. What if it’s much more severe. What if we start dealing with two children in speech therapy, two children facing surgeries. What if. What if I have to go through another hospital experience like I’ve already had. Will I lose all sense of myself and my relationship? I just got some independence back… will I lose it completely? I still feel like bug needs me to focus on her. Will she still thrive if I’m splitting time between her and an infant?  Can I do 3 am feedings again? Oh man… sleep…. 

Bo doesn’t understand why I torture myself with questions of the unknown. What I cannot explain clearly enough is that it’s not a choice. I don’t want restless nights struggling with this issue. It just is what it is.  It’s how my brain and heart work.  I wrestle with something until I find answers or find peace. Or both. 

My friends that all have one child are already planning their second. Or they just had their second. Or they are onto their third. They don’t have these battles. They don’t know what it’s like to have this internal turmoil- to be worried and then feel guilty for the worry.  So I feel isolated in this struggle as a mother… adding to pains of loneliness in this new life we’re living in SC. 

On one hand, if baby number 2 is as funny, charming, happy and sweet as Landon… I want he or she tomorrow. I want to fill our new house with our two children giggling. Of them sharing secrets and hugs and curling up under a blanket to watch movies together. Why wouldn’t I want more of this motherhood given how amazing bug is.  I’ve always wanted and planned for two. I wanted a sibling close to my age all my life. I have also wanted Landon to be a big sister as I’ve watched her grow up. She would make such an amazing big sister. I feel so strongly that she needs a sibling also. One to help protect her heart. One to turn to if there is bullying. One to be there for her when she doesn’t want to tell her parents something and vice versa.

Then….I remember my first week in the hospital. The heartache. The gut wrenching crying. Cursing God. I remember existing in pieces. Terrified. The unknown laid out before us. I know I can do hard things. Overcome huge obstacles. I do not believe in all sincerity I could do this kind of unknown again. That.. right there… makes me feel so incredibly terrible about myself.  It’s going so well with bug… with her therapy and planning her future. Why couldn’t I then?  

Some close to me turn this into a conversation on faith. “If it’s God’s plan…” and so on.  What I’ve learned though is that’s not exactly helpful in settling my mind and heart.  I have faith, sure. I do believe that I’m bug’s mom truly for a reason.  But my faith doesn’t settle my heart always. I’m quiet and private in my faith and still unsure what I totally believe. But that’s for another blog post. 

I’m not entirely clear what I want out of this post. What the message is.  I think it’s simply to let y’all know what’s going on with me lately. What’s on my mind and what’s been hard for me to say out loud. Writing is always easier.  

For now though… it’s coming on Christmas and bug is busy carrying ornaments back and forth, from room to room. She’s climbing stairs at any given moment, rearranging the dog leashes, terrorizing our new rescue dog by chasing her with her harness, taking everything in a cabinet out and then putting it all back in on different shelves. She’s busy growing up.  I’ll try to give myself a break from this struggle at least until the new year. Enjoy the season. Enjoy my girl. 

And for y’all… enjoy a picture of bug from last year and then one after our Xmas card shoot (can’t spoil that photo reveal…). My how time does fly…

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Happy Monday…

xoxo

eloise

Seasons

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“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together”

– the Byrds

I used to listen to this song on repeat on the Forest Gump soundtrack for a full year after this movie came out. I remember my mom coming up to my attic room and laughing at how funny it was that I loved the songs of her past so much. I felt so cool singing the lyrics from the late 60’s and early 70’s. I was 14 and thought I could identify with how teenagers and young adults felt during this momentous time in history. I was a bit of a dramatic teenager.

Now, however, these lyrics and this sentiment are more accurate in describing my life than any song currently being written. The song is actually a passage from the Bible – a place I don’t usually quote from- but Ecclesiastes expresses the same thing… there truly is a time for every season of your life. And none of them are at the same time.

There is a season for raising a happy, well adjusted, emotionally secure, child with whom I do therapy twice a day every day amidst a tantrum. There is a season for a fabulous, romantic, peaceful marriage. There is a season for intense focus on a job or a lifelong dream project.  These are not, however, the same season.  You and I both want these to be the same seasons. We really do. So we try and fight and claw our way forward trying to keep all of these proverbial balls in the air. When one or all of them drop, so do our spirits. Our hope and belief in ourselves that we can do it all dwindles. We lose faith in whatever Spirit we pray to.  We forget that it’s just not in the power of heaven and Earth for all of these seasons to coexist.

I know this. But I forget it pretty much every day. If I’m focused on Landon, getting her care set up, troubleshooting hearing aids, calling appointments, driving to evaluations, googling the latest in baha technologies, talking to Cochear, reading about how to get your toddlers to finally walk, what foods should she eat to gain weight (ETC!!), I simply cannot expect myself to also be able to be the most amazingly focused wife.

Once she is adjusted, her care is in place, and life stabilizes, then and only then will it be the time for my marriage come back into season. This sounds harsh for the husbands or partners. But if you are the primary caregiver and you give and give and give to your little or littles all day…. it’s almost impossible to give that same amount to your spouse that same season. You can absolutely give something. Give love, give respect, give patience.

When it’s the season for your marriage… revel in it. Focus on it. You’ll be loving your children and focused on them enough. But focus more on your spouse. Each morning, determine what you can do that day to make your spouse’s life easier or better. Smile at them and hug them more often. Go out alone without the child, or in our case, also without your parents. Be alone and remember what it was like when you were dating. Talk about the future together. Make plans.

Seasons can be in days, weeks, months. Maybe one day you need it to be the season for you. Not be mom for a day. Go get your hair done or go to the spa. Be alone for a while. That is OKAY, mommas.  It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother. You’re not a bad wife. It doesn’t mean the time for career success won’t also happen.

The season for success will happen, even if it’s currently the season for therapy and doctors for your wee one. That success might happen next month or a little while down the line. Don’t despair. We can have it all. Just not all at the same time.  And that, my friends, is okay.

Currently, this is my season for adjusting. My Landon season of augmenting our life. It’s been wonderful and taxing, comforting and challenging. I love the peace of this place we now live, my extra hours with her. I am doing all of her therapy though myself and it’s pretty hard. She won’t pay attention; she’s all over the place. I pray daily her language and speech isn’t suffering at my hands. Therapy will start…maybe in a month. Who knows. Things move at a slower pace here and I have to fight for patience every hour.  The season for my marriage is knocking at the door though. It needs attention, badly probably. I don’t know how to balance it all. And it’s been unraveling me a bit. Keeping me up late, on my mind during my long runs. 

So this post is to remind myself of the seasons. Remind myself and anyone else going through this season balancing act that it’s alright to let each thing in your life have it’s turn in the spotlight.  I want desperately to start a nonprofit. It’s all mapped out in my head. But this isn’t it’s season yet. Maybe next week, or next month. This month is adjusting for Landon. Settling her into her new life. Getting her therapy going and doctors identified in Charleston.  And I need to be okay with that. Accept the season.

The season for my marriage is coming. I’m preparing myself for the work we need, and saying my blessings daily for my husband and all that he gives me. Once there is peace in the land of Landon…. it’s time to focus on the husband. On his needs and our needs. After that, the season for helping others and working on my non profit will emerge.  These three things will take their turns, living each season in it’s own time.

Ironic that it’s almost time for seasons greetings, isn’t it?!

Sending you love, patience, and faith in yourselves.

XOXO

Eloise