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Monday, July 18, 2011

His Life in Pictures

"Oh, and, just to let you know---and you'll probably forget this because you are old and old people forget things---but my Snivey just evolved into a Survine." Our younger son was up to his usual chattiness this morning.

"Hey!" I said indignantly. "This is the first time you've called ME old!"

"Sorry," he said. He said it in a tone that wasn't apologetic for saying something wrong. He was more apologetic for my perceived regretful stage of life.

Parenting is very humbling.

I mostly tune him out as I set out to straighten our neglected living environment. Life has been so out of hand in this house, and it shows. I would be so ashamed if anyone saw how we were living. Literally, every waking minute has been spent caring for kids--just breaking even. Forget about a beautiful house, manicured lawn, a clean garage and the laundry being current.

Bravely entering the room which houses our older son's countless vacuums, I find pictures dumped all over the floor. There must be hundreds of them, a lifetime captured in images over which he pours. He has baskets and bins and containers and albums filled with pictures. Pictures of his childhood. Pictures of trips from long, long ago. Pictures of our old dog who is no longer living. Pictures of him carrying old toys. Pictures of our house before and during remodeling. Pictures of favorite places. There are just pictures upon pictures upon pictures.

And, when his own pictures don't catch his fancy, he'll turn to magazines. He has carousel magazines. Pool magazines. Anything that catches his fancy, and he'll tear out the pages and carry them around.

Whatever the favorite image of the day is, you can usually find it held in his left hand. He'll take it to school, in the car and also into bed with him.

We've lost the favorite picture of the day before. Our son has mindlessly set it down and then frantically realized that he doesn't know where it is. Then, we become frantic for him--the wrong way to handle it--trying to find his comfort item at all costs. Fortunately, my husband has most of these pictures on the computer. Printing another image is usually easy.

Accepting a new image, one without the wear and tear that only comes from being loved, isn't always so easy.

As I pick up the pictures and return them to their basket, I look at some. I see an image of our older son when he was about a year old, red faced and full of pimples. I remember the doctors had us put him through an ultrasound because of his complexion, thinking he had a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Nobody had suggested maybe we should stop giving him milk, since milk will break out the skin of people who are intolerant to it. Our son was/is. It took way too long for us to figure that out.

I also see a picture of me at one of my friend's houses. There is a birthday cake in front of me. It was just two weeks after our older son had been diagnosed with autism, and our younger son was a month old and had a paralyzed arm. I was literally depressed and didn't know it. I had just wiped away tears from my face for the picture to be taken.

Another picture was of two little boys in a double stroller down by the Erie Canal. We had bread and were feeding the ducks. I remember that day. I had both boys and way too much time on my hands before my husband was to come home from work. Our older son never stopped running/getting into things, and I didn't know how I was going to manage both of them alone. So, I strapped them in the stroller and took them to the canal. I was tired. Those days were pure grunt work.

Well, here they are in this basket. My son's memories. When I look at them, they sure aren't the most positive things a person could imagine, are they? Please, Lord, oh please say that I have been able to fake it enough in life to make things seem happy for our kids!

Truth be known, my first thought with a lot of things is, "Ugh, yuck." But, then I shove that out of my mind and say, "Yay! Can't wait! This will be FUN!"

Am I believable? I hope so. For their sake, the task before me is to make it a quick and effortless transition from "yuck" to "yay." Hey, I'm going to still think the "yuck." I'm only human, and I'm tired. But, mommy guilt weighs heavily on me.

Our kids only have one childhood. I want them to be happy and to know that they are loved.

Happy Monday to you all. May your "yucks" turn to "yays" without effort!

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