Calling all Parents…

If you are ever going to read anything I write… I implore you to read this one. Sit with it for a while. Digest your emotions and what you will do if this is your child. How will you respond to a teachable moment?

As Landon stumbles into the restaurant, she veers left knowing that’s where the booster seats are parked. Smiling all the way, she throws her little body upwards, climbing into the seat all on her own. Bo casually strolls behind her, beaming at how self sufficient his little girl is. As they settle into their table just outside the playroom, Landon busies herself with reaching for things, looking at the slide in the playroom and asking, as always, for Elmo.

Most children notice Landon. It’s a natural curiosity when they see the hearing aids, the headband, her ears. We’ve grown accustomed to it. Even a while back when I described the silent staring teens, it was just staring. What happened next is the first of its kind in our world. The first time the world was cruel to my baby’s face.

While waiting patiently for their food, a commotion erupted a few tables away.  Bo heard him then.  A boy, 8 or 9 saying something about our girl. As if in slow motion, the boy walks right up to Landon with another girl in tow.

“Ewwwwwww, look! How disgusting is she?!”

The words hung in the air, he said, as rage filled Bo’s body. “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!?” he shouted at the young boy.

Fumbling for words, realizing that my husband’s tone meant trouble, the boy backtracked physically and audibly to explain he used his words wrong. His mother, sensing something must have happened, came over and quickly ushered him out of the place. They left and the altercation was over for all that had overheard. It was over for everyone else except Bo and his parents, who sat quietly and let what happened wash over them.

The encounter, that I didn’t even witness, has found a deep, dark hole in my heart and is resting there. One day this may happen and she’ll understand his words. She’ll know what names are said and that she’s being treated badly by a perfect stranger who knows not even her name.

So far we’ve lived in this bubble of silent stares yet nothing worse. The kids that play with her at her camp adore her. They rush through church and the gym to greet her. They save her favorite book for her and hug her when they see us in town. It’s the happiest bubble that protects our hearts. 

This is a game changer in my endeavor to share our story with the world. This is the moment when we need to change the conversation.

What would you say to your child if he said that?

What would you do if your child asked you what was wrong with that baby?

I heard a story that the author of Wonder is a parent of one of those inquisitive kids. She told this reporter how she was eating ice cream with her child and someone just like Landon and Auggie walked in. Embarrassed by her inability to articulate the differences in another child, the author rushed quickly out of the store and avoided eye contact with the boy or his own mother. She later reflected on how poor of a choice that was for her and wrote the book as a tool and way to celebrate differences. Well since we’re not all authors…

I think it’s important to recognize these awkward times when your child asks something innocent and honest of you. When they ask questions about a child like Landon, I believe the BEST thing is to be honest and kind. Tell them that that child is beautiful and God makes us all different on the inside and outside. What’s most important is seeing the beauty in everyone. Treating everyone as we’d like to be treated. Embracing differences because we ourselves are very unique as well. If you’re so bold, ask if you can introduce your child to the other kid. Meet the mother. Look her in the eyes. Smile. It’s hard to form those words sometimes as you rethink if you’re saying it right. Saying them at all…is all that matters.

Most importantly, find a way to address their comments or questions any way that suits you. Have an open heart. Talk about it instead of shoving it under a blanket statement as in “don’t say that”! and leaving it there. You’ll get so much farther shaping their ability to accept and not bully by going the extra mile to discuss.

And to the little boy and his mother from today…. you should count your lucky stars I wasn’t there. I will pray for you tonight- that you should find manners, grace, kindness and the ability to learn to accept others into your hearts.

Love,

Eloise

When in Doubt… Shout it outloud

Every now and then I read a post on some site like Huffington Post or a friend of a friend’s blog about how overexposed kids are these days with the internet. One girl posted how upset our kiddos will be when they’re older and see what ridiculous pictures of them were posted online when they were little. “Naked bath pictures! Ugh! Struggles with relationships?! Don’t you know your kids will read this some day?”

It always makes me stop in my tracks.

Well… hell… I am the guiltiest of the guilty when it comes to super-imposing bug’s picture on the internet,  Instagram, Facebook. You name a site and I’ll find a way to show off my kid. Those that proclaim “they would never” or look down their nose at those of us that over-share… I want to tell you that I choose to do this very deliberately. I choose to share Landon and our story because I want everyone to know how proud I am to be her mother. I share our story because I want other struggling mothers to see her, read our story, and say “hey, we’re going to be great.” I share everything to show very earnestly and honestly the evolution of a family.  The good and the bad. With or without special needs, raising a family is HARD. Being a wife is HARD. I felt sincerely that not enough of us were being honest about those two facts. We women like to pretend it’s all rosy in our gardens. As if admitting otherwise would make others judge us instead of embrace us.

At the start of Landon’s life, I was a struggling mess. Blogging helped keep me sane and the influx of love kept me going. It probably was selfish back then. After two years there has been a shift. I endeavor to reach those that need to hear that their rough starts to parenthood will work themselves out and that they can do very hard things.

I have thought long and hard about what it truly will be like if she reads this blog some day. Will she be upset? Will she be frustrated and hurt that I was SO open about our lives, her little life, our marriage, raising her and our triumphs and low points?  I deeply considered stopping blogging all together as my guilt ridden brain cannot fathom if these people are right.

Then…

I received emails from other mothers. Mothers of children with Treacher Collins, Down Syndrome, hearing loss, women with post partum, mothers of children born missing a limb or with malformed hands. I received emails from grown adults with TCS or kids in college. They say that my writing changed something for them. There was a healing element to the honesty they read. They reassured me that they themselves share my fears and it’s nice to have someone be so open. Some have been so bold as to tell me my writing will help Landon always remember the support and love that surrounds her.  God I hope so.

I have made this choice to share her and our lives with all of you, believing that our story has a purpose to help others. To connect us all as we fumble through parenthood and adulthood.  After reading the wonderful response to my last post, I’m now more confident this little place online has this purpose.

From here on out, when I doubt, I will shout it outloud. This imperfect mamma is here doing her best. Showing up in motherhood, as a wife and hopefully a guide to connect other mothers on their own unique journeys. Reminding y’all to choose happy.

love

Eloise

Run. Breathe. Pray. (Drink Wine). Repeat

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Blogging is a complicated business sometimes. What if I want to be a private person yet still reside partially in this public space? There is a portion of my heart, my pain, my experiences that I do not share here. I don’t put out into the ethos for my friends and readers to know. That piece of myself is struggling right now. I’ve had to remind myself several times in the last week to breathe. Breathe in deeply and let it out. Just like my mother taught me long ago. Breathe in the good, breathe in the happy, let go of the pain.

I’ve spoken before of struggles I’ve had to overcome & obstacles here and there. I derive so much from sharing my life on this blog. New friends, reconnecting with old friends, learning of other women’s struggles & all they do for their families. Learning that I help some of you. It’s a gift to hear that.

Yet still, I’m not strong enough or brave enough to share all of me on here. So I dance around it.  Sorry…. but it’s all I can do for now. Know, however, the struggle continues. My fight to choose happy, as some of you see from my Instagram page continues as well.

Friends of mine who know darkness & know what I mean when I say darkness, whether it’s children that have suffered or are suffering or marriages, have asked me before “why do you think God chose us for these battles?” Or “why me?"  I have a variety of answers depending on who is asking. We’re chosen because of the strength of character we possess. The grit, the ability to rise above. Because of the families we have to help shoulder the struggles. Because we… are… capable.

In this moment I know and see clearly that God gives us opportunities. Gifts and faults alike are also given and it is our choices that make up our lives. I’ve chosen this man, I’ve chosen to say my vows. I’ve chosen to raise my daughter a certain way with our hearts open and our heads held high.  My choices. These choices are complicated of course by what other people we love choose. They are tested by strangers comments and stares. Again, it’s what we do next that defines our character.

As I mentioned, I’ve written about my decision to choose happy on here and on Instagram. It’s a grammatically incorrect phrase…of this I am aware. That’s on purpose, friends. Anyway… this decision, this admission and this statement came about during this time of particular struggle. These things happening around me and in my heart led me there. I have to consciously choose happiness these days. I have to push through things and cast off frustrations and make this choice. This is not a 100 happy days campaign. This is not something forced either. It’s my decision to see my glass as half full…. even now. Even when I’m struggling. It’s the hardest thing ever. EVER. I ran this morning and when a sad tale was sung by Blind Pilot, that’s all it took to unlock the tears. I stopped. I shook my head. I said outloud… choose happy. And I kept running.

The truly gut wrenching hands that some of us are dealt are tests. From God, from fate, from whomever or whatever you believe in. It’s what we choose to do with these tests that define us. These battles are also meant to be shared. If you’re fighting one now and want to share, please don’t hesitate to email me. Reach out to someone and let them know you need a friend. We women are able to connect and find beauty in dark times together if we share in it.

Without detail or context, I ask for your continued prayers for my strength. I ask those friends that I know and have yet to meet. I love all of you.

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xoxo,

Eloise

It’s always something… and an effort to choose happy.

I say this phrase almost every day. When people ask how I am. How we are. What’s the latest with Landon.  It’s always something. As I lay on my exercise mat this morning, avoiding an ab workout, I thought… no phrase has ever defined me so much as this one. And I don’t like it. In fact, I’m down right fed up with it. Why the hell does it HAVE to always be something with me…. with us?

As I surmount one hurdle, another one rears its head. I find myself telling people I’ve just met here a mini synopsis of our life and it sounds absurd. Most of the time, they stare and say “seriously… that’s ridiculous and down right stressful, honey.” Or they try to hand me a cocktail. Our life is always peppered with this one phrase.

This goes back to before Landon. Before marriage. To avoid reopening old wounds, let’s just say “it’s always something” has hung around my neck since my early twenties. With my parents, with my father, and then with Bo.  To resurrect some humor during my darkest hours, I’ve said this to others. To let friends know that I saw the absurdity in just how bad things had gotten. Or that I could see my way out of whatever it was.

After we became a family, it was something that should have been put on a needlepoint pillow. We had this incredible girl and she has a rare syndrome. It’s always something. We took her to specialist after specialist. Waiting rooms, long subway rides. Therapy and not meeting goals. Breastfeeding or the lack thereof. It’s always something. While still in New York, as a couple, we started failing each other and being less of a team.  It’s always something. So we moved. We started over. Living with his family and trust me… around here it truly is…always something. But now, as we build our house and see this dream out there… almost within reach… Bo lost his job.  It’s always something. I’ve now gone back to work from home full-time. It’s exhilarating to use my brain more often and with adults (!!) but now Landon prefers someone else reads to her. When I run into the room after working all day to pick her up from her grandfather, she cries when I take her.  It’s always something. And the highs and lows as you work together to find jobs, find insurance, keep up with Landon… there have been many somethings. And these things keep getting in our way of just being happy.  Just being anything other than put-through-the-ringer exhausted.

 This new normal is not just a life with a child with special needs. This new normal is riding on a roller coaster. I stop and think some days that surely all of these tests are preparing me for some unbelievably hard thing that’s coming. Surely there is a larger plan at work. God has this road map that I am following.

And this morning, as I lay there, I reminded myself that even if He does have this plan for me, my choices matter each and every day. My choice to be be warm and supportive to Bo instead of cold and challenging sets the course for that day and sometimes that week. Making more of an effort myself to leave my phone OFF or in another room when playing with Landon is my choice. Saying something truly positive when someone asks “how’s it going?”… my choice.  My choices can offset this “it’s always something” attitude.  That phrase is actually negative. “Sure this sucks and I’m in pain but this happens all the time to me, what’s new?!” It’s gross.

I want to break this habit.  I want to make choices that break this habit. 

I want to choose happiness and light instead of complaining or casting emotions aside. I want to stop assuming something else negative will come our way, because acting like “it feels like it sure will” isn’t helping anyone.

And today especially… all I wanted to do is come here and rant and rave about how frustrated I feel. How mad and sad and annoyed I am that it’s always something. But, after writing and thinking and writing some more… I’m choosing another route.

I am always preaching “choose kind” from the book Wonder. I promote the Kind Campaign on social media.  So now… I want to choose happy. This will be my hashtag (and mom I’ll explain what that is later).  No matter what someone else is doing, what energy they are throwing my way… I will choose happy. It’s not easy. I’m not saying it’s as simple as deciding. This choice will require a paradigm shift in how I think and interpret what’s going on in my life. There is darkness in this world and things are unfair, but dammit… this is my goal.  I am plain old tired of being frustrated and feeling like I’m cursed. My choices have led me here after all.  I’m a mother to the world’s most special child. I have an amazing family and husband.

And I… choose happy. 

Who’s with me?!

xoxo,

Eloise

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