Thursday, May 30, 2013

Endings...and Beginnings

As predicted, the end of Lucy’s school year was not easy.  I knew it wasn’t going to be good when one of her teachers told me--on her second to last class--that Lucy was acting differently that day (willful, disobedient).   If there is one thing I know about Lucy it is this:  she does not do well with change, specifically when it has to do with separation.   She has been this way since the first day we met her.  It doesn’t take much analysis to figure out why this is, considering all she went through in the first eleven months of her life.   But as I was thinking about all of this, God’s most divine plan became that much more crystallized for me.  

See, I was the same way as a child— saying good bye, leaving, transitions---all difficult for me.  I have vivid memories of the time I first started going to a neighborhood day care, after staying at home with my Mom for the first 4 years of my life.  I remember weeks of crying every night in my bed, not wanting to leave my mom the next morning, before my parents eventually removed me from that child care.  Even to this day, departures and good-byes tug at my heart.  

So, is it coincidence that God gave me a child who shares some of these same characteristics? It all seems providential in some ways to me, in that I very much understand this side of Lucy.   I understand why she acts out or cries or is irritable when she is separated from someone she has become attached to. 

Making gold stars (her idea) for her teachers for the end of the year.

On her last day of school, as all the other children were making their transitions quite gracefully, my little girl wouldn’t quit crying.   Her teachers:  “what is wrong?”  “Lucy, what is it?”  I didn’t need to ask her;  I knew. I didn’t feel like explaining to others.  I just understood and quietly empathized and cried with her.  Even though I can understand the emotion, I know I will never understand the circumstances behind the deeper memories that are probably being triggered. 

So, as the end of her first school year has now come to a close, I look onward with an array of mixed emotions to all the new beginnings that await us… new teachers, new classmates, new friends.  And with these things, all the good-byes and separations that will eventually follow.  I remind myself of my own limitations in preventing difficulties that will inevitably enter into Lucy’s life.  But I find resolve and peace in knowing there are a few things that I can do.  Embrace my daughter for who she is and what her history means to her. Change and grow as the circumstances dictate.  Know that as the transitions continue to ebb and flow in her life, she will grow to trust we will continue to be there for her, in our own limited ways.  And most importantly, find peace in trusting that she will gain the confidence she needs, through each experience, to believe in herself and her abilities to manage the ups and downs of this complicated thing we call life.

Happy end-of-the-school-year to all you Mom’s out there!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beautiful Butterflies

The science project taking place in the Barnes’ residence these past few weeks has been quite interesting. In addition to providing hours of entertainment for Lucy, growing our butterflies has pushed this mom a bit out of her comfort zone.   So, when you look at these pictures, and see things that are looking like something from another planet, rest assured, it is all just part of the project…God’s intricacies of creation in all their glory. I have been a bit queasy with some of the different stages. Like the smells, or the weird shaped chrysalis, or the gunk that the caterpillars were eating, or the substance that looked like blood when they came out of their chrysalis….  Let’s just say this project has confirmed what I already knew:  I am not a bug/creature/science person.  But I will say this: the end result made it all worthwhile.  Lucy has loved every minute of it.

Giving them names.  (They had just come out of chrysalis.)

Eight days later...time to set them free.

kiss. kiss.

Giving them food for their first night out in the backyard.

Bye-bye butterflies!

The butterflies: beautiful. 

And watching Lucy name, nurture, feed, and talk to her little friends: priceless.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Who She Was

It had been five days of complete misery.   Bed ridden with a high fever, loss of appetite, lethargy… I didn’t even have a taste for my daily coffee.  She finally convinced me:  go to the doctor.   So I did.  Mustering every bit of energy I could, I headed to the professionals to find out what was wrong.

Pneumonia.  My second bout with it in 30 years of life.

Being who she was, she convinced me that she was coming to get me.   The idea of her daughter, living by herself, dealing with this alone…. well, unacceptable in her mind.

Two hours later she was at my doorstep.  She had left her home in Carmel and made the trek to Cincinnati almost immediately.  I remember her helping me walk to the car, as I had so little energy and could barely do it on my own.

Even though I felt like I was on my death bed, she managed to make those next few days-- spent mostly resting in my childhood bed--memorable and comforting. So much so that here I am reminiscing and writing about it today.

She baked and cooked…whatever I wanted.  I remember:  “whatever sounds good to you, Karen.”  I remember Easter bread (a family favorite during the Easter season, even though it wasn’t Easter) and homemade vegetable soup and milkshakes.  I remember rented movies from Blockbuster.  I remember my Mom at her best.

Slowly I gained some semblance of strength and health. She drove me back to Cincinnati. 

It really was a small window of time in the big picture of my life.  Yet, it has such significance now.  Not only because of the memories it gives me, which I treasure.  But also because it is a clear reminder to me of something about her:

These were the ways she knew to love best:   nurturing, giving, caring, helping.  Being selfless. 

I am sure any of you who knew her could offer a similar story of my Mom. To know her was to have experienced this from her.    

When others were in need or hurting, or at their worst, she was at her best.

It is just who she was.

 Thank you for all the years of selflessness and being there for me, Mom.
What an example you were.
Happy Mother’s Day.