Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Three Sons, a reintroduction/refresher

I honestly intended just to post a few pictures of my boys. But then I started typing and my fingers just threw up all over the keyboard. Feel free to skim, though I can't promise you won't miss something funny or poignant. lol

I have three sons.

Andrew is four-and-a-half. He is smart as a whip, has a type-A personality, speaks with a British accent a lot thanks to Kipper the Dog, and his strength lately is interrupting. He's perfecting it to an art. Though he's exhausting, he's so fun to be around and has a very active imagination. He can already read, and I like to show him off like a circus animal.

Benjamin is two-and-a-half. He has Down syndrome. We didn't know until he was born, and it was the most life-changing moment ever. He has had open-heart surgery and a serious intestinal surgery. He is doing great physically, but struggles verbally. He is very sweet, curious, and has transformed my life in new ways I discover every day. He has made me re-examine everything in a new light. And I mean everything.

Thomas is five months old. He is BIG. And he is the happiest baby, so smiley and pleasant. He eats well and sleeps well, and is in one word: joy. If I never get my daughter (Katherine Elizabeth), I can tell that Thomas will be my kindred spirit. My bosom buddy. My Diana to my Anne with an "e."

I am married to Matthew. We will celebrate 10 years of marriage this November 19. We met in college, were friends in a large group for almost a year before he asked me to go on a date. I really didn't think it would go anywhere, but I said yes. After our first date, I could have gone either way. But somehow I fell for him. Quickly. In three months we were talking marriage, we were engaged in two more months, and married nine months later. He is my best friend. He is most definitely my better half. He is the best father. So patient, kind, and funny. A hardworker, and just one of the good ones. Ladies, you know what I mean. There are two types of guys. And he is one of the good ones.

We are very close to my family: my parents, two brothers, sister-in-law, cousins, aunts/uncles, etc. But we don't have contact with Matthew's family anymore. His parents especially. (We do talk to his brother on occasion.) I won't say much about that except that it was our choice to cut them out of our lives. But we did it to protect our children.

I am Angela. I'm 33 and I stay at home. I used to teach school, but now I run this crazy household. I am home all day with my three boys and my two FAT cats, Frank and Nancy. We have a nice house. God has blessed us immensely. I love my minivan Swagger Wagon. I am a homebody. I am not the mom who gets out every day, or even every week. My kids are not in daycare or playgyms or music groups. There's nothing wrong with those things, and we have done them in the past. But it is just not our thang. I like being at home. It's comfortable. It's easier than getting out. I am a type-A-scheduled person. My younger two boys have naps at set times every day. That time is sacred. Thomas naps three times each day. So my window to get out is small. And I don't really have anywhere to go. It's too hard to take them anywhere and keep up with them. Benjamin is very high-maintenance, and his diagnosis definitely complicates things.

Matthew and I always wanted four children. But since having Thomas, I think we might be finished. Well, to be honest, Matthew thinks we are finished. I go back and forth. I'd love a daughter. Not for the pink or the frilly clothes. Heck, my daughter would wear blue, most likely. But I want a daughter so that I can have what my mother and I have. I am very close with my mother. Being the only daughter with a brother on each side, my mom and I have always been friends. And now, as an adult and a mother, that relationship is very sacred to me. I know sons can be friends, but I just don't think it's the same. And I'm sad to think I might not have that in 15-20 years.

Having three children is hard. But having three children, when one of them has special needs, is super hard. Benjamin is just SO much work. Having a child with Down syndrome just changes things. It makes even just the normal things (running errands, going to church, going on vacations, going out to eat, playing in the yard, swimming in Mom's pool) more work, more complicated, and just plain difficult. Throwing another child in the mix would obviously make it more complex.

Plus Matthew's work schedule in the spring/early summer is CRAZY with travel. It was next-to-impossible not to lose my mind this year. I am hoping that he gets another job in a year or two, and that after B & A are in school that things will calm down and Matthew will want to have a fourth. Or I'm hoping we just "accidentally" get pregnant. And that it’s a girl. I almost think having another boy would be harder on my heart than not even having a fourth. Just being honest.

I still struggle with the Down syndrome. And to be even more honest, I kind of feel like a (self-imposed) outcast in the DS community. I feel like most of the other moms out there are sick of hearing my whining about how hard it is. About how I'm still struggling with the fact that this is my life now. I'm not an advocate. I don't do the Buddy Walk (to my credit, we have been out of town for every single one since B's been born). I don't go to the conferences. I don't boycott the celebrities who say the dastardly "r-word." I am not ashamed of the Down syndrome. I am not ashamed of my son.

It is just still too raw. Too painful. My heart just can't comprehend it all fully. I don't necessarily enjoy reading all the success stories about children/adults with DS who are graduating from high school, scoring touchdowns, being crowned homecoming queen, even getting married. I feel like I should enjoy reading them. It should give me hope. It should make me proud. But it doesn't. It just makes me sad. Discouraged.

I try not to dwell on it. I am generally a happy person. I enjoy life. I love TV and music. Matthew and I just went to a Maroon 5 concert last week, and it was nothing short of AMAZING. I like food, though I've just lost 18 pounds, and am working on losing 30 more. I like to be organized, and to keep my house straight and clean. But my heart is still broken. And I need more time.

I just felt the need to share that. Not for sympathy. Not for people to say, "Oh, you're doing so well, etc." Just to share. To let you know I'm human. We all have our struggles. No one is immune. Life is hard. God is good, though, and I know that He is in control.

I do love my family. I adore each and every one of my boys. I thank God for them, and I pray that He will help me sort through all these things so that I can fully embrace the life that He has given me. (Yes, I'm considering counseling, for those of you might be wondering...I'm working on it.) :)

And now, to reward you for reading all that blabber..........PICTURES!

I love Barney, and so do my boys. Don't judge!

Different day, different clothes, same routine. I love it.

I am *not* kidding. I took this from my shower. It's hard to get a break!

Getting all three in a picture, especially when I'm alone, is hard!

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit T
(Yes, Bumbos on the table...don't lecture, please.)


I love my life. I really do. I struggle with things, like all of us do.

I have bad days.

I have self-esteem/self-image issues.

Somedays I don't shower. And not because I don't have time; I just don't wanna.

I sometimes talk bad about people when I shouldn't.

At heart, I'm very lazy.

I'm bossy; just ask anyone in my family.

I'm not the sweetest person, honestly.

I can count the number of my *good* friends on two hands. Maybe even one hand.

But I'm a sinner, saved by grace.

And I'm thankful for each day.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

----Lamentations 3:22-26----


Steven Hrpopolis said...

I needed to read that tonight. Love you! Thanks! :)

Mel said...

Well. I LOVED the Anne/Diana thing- took me back a LONG way :) I have 3 too, similar gaps, though boy, girl, boy (DS). I wanted 4 too, once, before I had 3. LOL! Three is hard. And sharing the attention is hard, especially when one has special needs. I feel lucky to have a daughter, but nothing is guaranteed. Anything could happen tomorrow, I know that well. What if you had twin boys next??? Or twin girls for that matter?! Scary!

Hallee the Homemaker said...

Kaylee's middle name is Anne with an 'e'. Even though my middle name is Ann without an 'e' - I just always thought that the name was more complete with it.

You are amazing, my friend. And you're beautiful.

I love that I have you in my cyber-life. Another homebody, type A mom with scheduling issues. heh.

God bless you, girl.

Carrie said...

You are one of the sweetest people I have ever met, Angela. You are very welcoming and kind (not to mention you make me laugh!). We all have our struggles but you are beautiful inside and out and I am blessed to have you in my life. You aren't just Justin's sister to me. You have become my friend. I love you!

Shannon said...

loved reading this post... being honest is an amazing ability. we all have different lives, and have our families are filled with different personalities and we are trying to do the best we can with what we have.

i love the pictures... so funny!!! i am amazed by andrew's reading skills... so awesome!!!!

thanks for the update... i love your blog, and you are a great friend.

p.s. yes, matthew is one of the good ones... lucky lady!!!!

Katie J said...

I hear ya girl- no preaching or any words from me today. Just wanted you to know I had missed your updates!! Love, love, love the Anne with an E note- That whole series is my favorite. If we ever have another boy (2 currently) I am considering the name Gilbert, because let's face it, he's one of the good ones too! Beautiful boys!

Lindsey said...

Really nice post, Angela. Your vulnerablity is wonderful. I think of you often, and I think you do a great job at helping me understand just a glimmer of what you live every day. Much love to you all.

Branton Family said...

We are so very much alike...I like just how you are, and am happy to call you my friend!

Verna said...

I am so glad you updated. I missed reading your blog...

Honesty never hurt any of us... You at least are being honest about the fact that it is very hard for you.

I believe I should take and learn a lesson from you and sometimes be more honest.

All your sons are beautiful young men, and the time you get to spend with them very precious...enjoy every minute of it.

TwolittleN's said...

It was so nice to learn about your family. I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and one of the reasons why I was drawn to it especially was because I loved watching how you managed with three children. I have two boys around your children ages and my second son also has DS. We are now trying for a third, but I have to say it is quite scary wondering if the third will be healthy. Although I have gone to buddy walks, my heart hasn't fully grasped the entire DS thing either. Oh, and by the way, your house is SO clean!!!

Mary Jo said...

Love you Angela! As usual, your raw honestly is so inspiring and real.
I've always loved that verse you quoted, especially the 1st line. Because of His love we are NOT consumed..... it has always helped me when I've felt overwhelmed and, well, about to be consumed in whatever might be going on in my head, heart, or surroundings. Because you are real with your feelings you are able to be vulnerable and depend on the Lord that much more. (And I love the part about being new every morning becaus dang it, I'd hate to carry this beaten-down-by-the-kids-feeling into each day :)

The Wood Family said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the post and especially the honesty. We all have our days/weeks/months. There is NO SHAME in admitting we aren't perfect. It is actually quite freeing to admit to others, but especially ourselves, that we don't have to try to appear to have all of the plates spinning or glass balls juggling in the air. Kudos to you for sharing the "raw" version of your emotions.

When my third baby was only 12 weeks old, I started having severe PPD (not saying that is what is affecting you), but if you feel like you need extra help...get it girl!

I fought it and fought it feeling like as a Christian, I should be able to tackle my emotions or at least let the Word and prayer make me whole. Although those things are important, I didn't fully get back to feeling like "me" until I saw a licensed counselor AND took an anti-depressant for a few months (while breastfeeding) to get my seratonin back to an even keel. GET THE HELP YOU NEED.

Probably should have sent this privately but just wanted to encourage you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and YOU ARE NORMAL and YOU WILL MAKE IT!!!!

Love you friend.


Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and wanted you to know that I have been where you are. Frankly, I still have feelings like that sometimes and my son is 14! He's amazing and wonderful and yes, I still wish he didn't have down syndrome. For him, not for me. It breaks my heart to see him struggle, just as it would with my other child. People say that they wouldn't change a thing about their child with ds. I know God created him exactly the way He needed him to be, but I don't think DS makes him the person that he is. I think it is okay to feel bad sometimes. You are him mama and you are human.

Patti said...

What a sweet blog!

Cuddles and Chaos said...

Thank you for sharing and for being real.


Ginger said...

I love the honesty. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You and your family are amazing- I hope I get to meet all of you someday! As I've followed the lives of each of your 3 boys, I've admired you as a mom more and more.
P.S. Don't rule out a fourth quite yet...

Maya said...

Delurking to say thank you for your honesty. I've read your blog for some time and I feel the same way as you a lot of the time. I struggle with the fact that everything *is* harder (my son with DS just turned six).
Just, thank you. You are certainly not alone in your feelings.

mlfont said...

Angela - I have "checked out" of blog world for awhile, I understand completely how you feel. Not at home with this DS thing and I am sure my friends and fellow bloggers get tired of reading my whining. I am scared that it gets even harder rather than easier as the boys get older. Thanks for the honesty, makes me know I am not alone, know you aren't alone either my friend! The boys are adorable, growing up so fast!!!

tarynddavidson said...

I just got little goose bumps when you said Dianna/Anne (with an e)!! Oh my stars it's my fave!
It's a little alarming how alike we are!! Ha!

It's perfectly fine not to be happy about your "situation" all the time. I think it just means we are human.

Donna said...

I just found your blog. As a mom to three sons with the youngest having Down syndrome I can relate. I love your honesty and humor! God bless you!