Safe and Sound

Gizmo
We had a major scare and a miracle here this week.

I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails, riding the hormonal roller coaster, and I’ve gotten into a bit of a rhythm. I’ve discovered that if I take a sleeping pill at 8 and then take a 2 hour bath, I can actually fall asleep and get through the night. That’s really what it takes. After two solid months of weeping on the shower floor at 2 in the morning, I’ve cracked it.

But because I am hard headed, I keep thinking that I won’t always need that much caretaking just to fall asleep through the hot flashes and night sweats. So I decide to skip the sleeping pill, watch an extra couple of shows, and then I’m staring at the ceiling and hating everything. And I have to just stop trying to overachieve in the hormone endurance race and just do what it takes to get through it.

During all those long nights of thrashing around and exasperated sighing and whimpering into the shower tile, my fat boy cat Gizzy has been my companion. He’s not as demonstrative as my dear departed Cheetara was, despite all my work he won’t let me snuggle him while I sleep, but he is steadfast. When I can’t lie still he perches at my feet, keeping watch. When I finally collapse he saunters up the bed, plopping himself down between me and Bear like a jealous child trying to ensure there are no future children taking his place. And when I wake up in the morning, his fluff is the first thing that greets me.

This big dumb lunk is a longhaired gorgeous persian mix. I am always trying to hold him down to comb the mats out of his fur, and yet he won’t be deterred: he thinks he’s an outdoor cat. He wants to play outside with Atti every day and typically I let him. He never ventures far, he just rolls around in the dirt and suns his belly, and when I call them to come inside they both come grudgingly. But Friday night, Gizmo didn’t come in.

There have been a couple of other times when he went on a bit of a walkabout, so I tried not to panic. We live in an area where there aren’t many places he could go and not a ton of traffic to worry about, the real threat would be from other animals and I just wasn’t going to think about that. So I tucked Atti and myself in bed and told myself we’d hear Gizzy whining for breakfast in the morning.

But he wasn’t there. We checked with the neighbors, we drove through the neighborhood, and he wasn’t there Sunday. I was calling shelters and monitoring websites and he wasn’t there Monday. By yesterday, Bear and I were trying to resign ourselves to the thought that he was gone.

Yesterday a dear friend of mine had to say goodbye to her dog after a long illness and deterioration. I could barely offer her sympathy because I was working so so hard at being in denial about Gizzy. I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t face losing my sweet fat dummy in the middle of hormone hell, but there was nothing left to try.

Then last night I asked Bear to go out to the shed to grab some scrap wood for a craft project. After a minute I heard him scream my name in a way I’d never heard before. I thought I needed to call an ambulance. But instead of some bloody stump, Bear comes in holding a ragged and shellshocked ball of white fluff.

Somehow he had gotten himself locked in the shed. And he was trapped there for three or four days. In heat that was over 90 degrees, with no food or water.

We don’t know how he did it, we don’t even go over to that side of the yard very often so it’s not like we shut him in there when we weren’t paying attention, and Atti can’t get over there so it’s not like he did it. Maybe he found some little entrance he could get into but not back out of? Maybe the wind blew the door shut? But I don’t think the door was open in the first place? It’s a total mystery.

Also a mystery? How our sweet Gizzy managed to survive four days without food or water in a sweltering shed. I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t needed that scrap wood. We never get over there, it’s nothing short of a miracle that it all worked out the way it did and Gizzy was returned to us, thinner, dehydrated, skittish, but whole.

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Sprout

Sprout

This was my Mother’s Day present from Atti, and it’s a pretty fitting metaphor for what I’m up to right now.

Remember when I talked about Therapeutic Boredom? And how being forced to slow down because of all the crazy hormones was forcing me to learn stuff? I had no idea.

I work really really hard at being emotionally healthy, I think that’s clear. And most days I feel like I’m pretty on top of things in that department. I know when to rest and when to push and what cues to listen to, and I make it a real priority. That’s how somebody can come from my kind of background and wind up as the person I am. A lot of really hard scary emotional work.

And other than what it takes to live with my mental illnesses, I feel like I’m pretty sorted. The stuff of my childhood doesn’t grieve me like it used to. Entire weeks will go by without me thinking about what used to cause me tremendous pain. I didn’t see a breakthrough coming because I didn’t think I needed a breakthrough.

But apparently I did. And forgive me for vague blogging again, but for once it’s too personal to blog about. I didn’t think I would have a limit, but what do you know? I do!

It’s actually all great news. Once upon a time I would have come up against something that brought the grief back and I would have taken to my bed for a week. This time, I actually feel better. I feel like a literal weight is off of me. I feel proud of myself for being strong and brave enough to face hard things, and proud that I can use the tools I’ve acquired to take care of myself. I’ve been meditating, and taking long baths, and seeking quiet and candlelight, and making myself as physically relaxed and comfortable as I can be so that I can do the hard interior work of facing the worst, darkest, most terrifying corners and scrubbing them clean.

This might sound twisted, but I’m actually enjoying it. My body is not healthy enough to let me use it to feel powerful. No marathons or unassisted births for me. But this? This feels powerful. I am healing myself with the power of my own mind. I am sorting through old scripts, beliefs that don’t serve me, things that other people believe about me that I don’t, casting them all away, and watching as it’s so effective I feel it physically.

I don’t know why it is I seem to need hard horrible times to learn lessons, but I do. At least I can be grateful I’m learning the lessons. Maybe then I’ll never need to go through this again.

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Monogrammed Button Bracelet

Button Bracelet
Mom’s Day crafts aren’t always simple. Sure, they’re not as hard as Father’s Day, but it’s still hard to strike the balance between honoring the holiday and making something that looks like a school project made by a Kindergartener. You could just make something pretty, or you could make something sentimental. Or you could make this button bracelet, that’s both.

The buttons make it a charming vintage looking bracelet, but the subtle dyed monogram makes it touching and sentimental without looking like you’d have to be touched to wear it. It’s the best of both worlds.

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Atti goes Boom

Atti in the fountain

Atti and I were out running errands together, and like any six year old boy he was testing my patience. We were in Bath and Body Works picking up some presents for Bear’s staff, so I had him in his wheelchair and had the unenviable job of trying to shop, listen to saleswomen, keep an eye on my kid, and block the doorway against a sudden sprint to the parking lot. Imagine a six year old with the bodily experience of a toddler. That’s what I’ve got. Experimenting with independence, learning consequences, asserting his will, but with twenty extra pounds and wheels.

One of Atti’s early therapists drilled it in to me that I can’t treat him like he’s made of glass. His body is no more vulnerable than anyone else’s, he just can’t control it. In fact, he’s actually MORE impervious to pain than a typical kid because of the way his nerves don’t talk to his brain. This kid bounces.

So it’s a running joke with all of my mom friends that I blithely sip my cocoa while they’re nervously hovering afraid he’s going to fall off his chair. In the words of that therapist: “:shrug: Then he’ll learn not to do that.”

Of course, the rest of the world didn’t get that memo.

At Bath and Body Works I was loading the car while Atti was in his wheelchair on the sidewalk. I was talking him through watching where he was going, looking out for the curb, being patient until I could help him, but like most kids, he didn’t listen. He saw the wheelchair ramp and decided to try and do it all by himself, but one of his wheels went off the curb and he fell forward into the parking lot right on his little face.

Experienced moms know, this sucks. When you’re talking skinned knees and not blood or broken things, it sucks way more for mom than it does for the kid. You have to console your child, you feel the typical “I let my baby get hurt” guilt, but since it’s just skinned knees and everyone’s fine it becomes one more pain in the neck hassle you have to deal with in your day. If it was serious you’d drop everything and run to the doctor. But since it’s not serious it’s just aggravating.

But when your kid is in a wheelchair, the world thinks that every fall is serious. When Atti fell over he started crying, but I knew it was an angry cry, not a hurt cry. So because the day had already been long and there were still four more errands that had to get run I was frustrated. And then I saw the people running and I had to put on my show for the public. People were sprinting from across the parking lot, a lady ran out of the store with her basket she dropped in the middle of the sidewalk, all because a kid fell from a sitting position onto the ground. The wheelchair makes it look scary.

Let me pause here in case I sound totally callous. Atti’s fall was roughly the equivalent of a kid sitting on a swing not in motion, and falling out onto their stomach. This happens on playgrounds everyday so frequently that notes don’t even get sent home about it. I asked my mom friends what they do in this situation and they said, “I say, ‘whoops! hop up!’ so they know it’s no big deal.” I’m talking your typical kid learning how to use their body and not paying attention kind of fall. And since Atti fell in his chair, the chair takes most of the impact.

But to people who don’t see wheelchairs every day, it’s terrifying. So then it becomes about their emergency, not my son’s.

Atti was pissed off that he fell over. He was mad he didn’t navigate the wheelchair ramp by himself, but he was WAY MORE upset that a crowd of people were standing around gawking at his humiliation. So he’s screaming and crying because he’s embarrassed, but the crowd of people think he’s crying because he’s hurt and want to help the little disabled boy and his mom, and I want to tell them all to shoo and let me tend to the hurt feelings of my little guy. Atti won’t stop crying until they go away, and they won’t go away until Atti stops crying.

In that moment I feel the burden of representation. That’s my show for the public: the educator. The charming and approachable advocate of disability. The adorable little boy who makes disability not so scary. And in that moment when I want to tell them all to go away I think about my little friends whose disabilities carry disfigurements that make the world not so kind to them. I think of the kids without parents who can force a path in the world for them. I think about all the people with disabilities who are invisible to the rest of the world, who are pushed aside, who are unwelcome in public, who are vulnerable, and I think that doing a little education is not such a burden.

So while my child is crying I’m explaining Cerebral Palsy to the crowd. I’m helping them understand Atti’s speech and that he’s telling us how mad he is he fell on the ground. I’m showing them his chair and how lightweight it is. And inside I’m torn between wanting to respond to these people’s kindness with kindness of my own, and just shoving them aside to tend to my child.

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Singed Flower Headband

Headband

My organza flower tutorial is, still, one of the most popular things I’ve ever done on this site, and every time I see another link to it I chuckle to myself, remembering that it was a total accident and not what I intended to make at all. There’s little I love as much as a […]

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Seen Elsewhere

Quilt Inspired Bib Necklace

My slow down here at the blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating. I mentioned I’ve been working on my Master Bedroom, but I’ve also been working at a new gig as part of the Darice design team at Live.Craft.Love. It’s kind of a dream job. Every month I get to look through the extensive […]

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Year of Pleasures: Donut Love

Donut Love

  Bear teaches Early Morning Seminary, which is like Sunday School for teenagers, but it’s every morning before school. He starts class at 6 am, goes to the gym, then work, home in time for food, plans the next days lesson, and then falls asleep on the couch while watching television. On top of everything […]

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Feeling Rebirthed

Easter 2014

We had a quiet Easter over here. Just the three of us with a no-frills ham dinner, matching clothes courtesy of Old Navy so I didn’t even have to work at that, the first hour of church and then a visit to Bear’s work to check in on the patients and spend the holiday with […]

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Year of Pleasures: Miss Fisher Mysteries

Miss Fisher's Mysteries

While I’ve been coping with all my body’s craziness over here, exacerbated by periods of high emotion and the colds my generous germy son keeps giving me, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to be still. Which is always a major battle for me, no matter how bad I feel. A major help […]

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Ordain Women, again.

Sisterhood

Photo by Katrina Barker Anderson I spent this conference weekend in Utah, attending the second Ordain Women event asking to attend the Priesthood session of conference. I was planning on still being there today to meet with people who worked for the Church to have discussions about how to help the women of the church, […]

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