Floods and swarms of emotions have over taken me recently. I have blamed the fact that two of my girls will be entering school this year is the root cause for all of these unwanted emotions. In four short days, it will be me and Lydia, alone, all day. Tears fill my eyes when I think of it. I am so excited to see Ellen and Allison take their wings and soar, but there is a selfishness in me saying I have failed them. There is a voice saying that I have not been the mother to them that I needed to be. There is a selfishness filling me saying I have failed horribly.
I think back to Ellen's first day of 4K and I do not remember it. I remember that a parent badge still hung on my clothes; that is all that I had to show that I had a third child. I remember my eyes being completely stained with tears because my other child lay in a hospital bed. I could not nurse her, I could not even take care of her at that point. That is what my mind was filled with, not the excitement and joy of watching my first born go to school. I did not even do back to school shopping with her. I sent her off to a school that I knew very little about, with families that I did not know, in a city we were unfamiliar with. It really was looked at as an activity to keep her busy so we did not have to entertain her. How horrible is that?
My memory is clouded with Lydia and my eyes were stained with tears only because of Lydia and her condition. I feel like I have been robbed of that experience. I feel like my children were forced to go to school instead of a choice. I feel like I failed them. I was not there for them as I had it in my mind that I would be. The picture perfect send off was not there. I may have been there in body, but my mind was constantly at the hospital or on Lydia. I don't have that joyous send off. I tried to be involved, but usually there was something dealing with Lydia that prevented it. I wanted to be the involved parent, not the one that just sent them to school. I didn't want them to be the one without the parent, but that was reality. While I tried, I failed at it.
Lydia is once again struggling to eat. I do believe it is mainly because of her teeth. I do believe that she has gained the skill of knowing when she is hungry and eating when needed. However, because of all of the troubles with eating, I have a hard time of letting go and seeing what she can do. I feel like a failure because I can not do the simple task of feeding my child. What kind of mother is not able to feed their child? It is a taxing duty, it is a daily chore, it is simply a horrible feeling. Being rejected time after time, but knowing how very important it is for her. Feeling completely helpless just standing back and watching. Knowing I can't force it, but want to feed her so bad. Failing at a simple task of motherhood has left me feeling exhausted, a failure, and sometimes just unable to keep going. That has lead me to feeling even more unwanted feelings. It is a snowball effect.
I have to say that I have failed several times. I would be a liar if I said that unkind words have not come out of my mouth, if actions that I have done have not been of a loving mother. I would be fooling myself if I would say that I have handled it in a loving mother-like way. Instead I have to say that I have been replaced with a giant monster, someone that I am ashamed of. My other kids have seen me act that way. Stress and anger, bitterness, and selfishness have gotten the best of me. I have failed. I have shown them how not to act. I have ingrained some horrible traits into their minds, because their mom has not been able to function as a normal adult has. I have said words that I am sure are etched in their mind that I would do anything to replace. I have let the heat of the moment get the best of me and I know that I cannot change that.
I want to be able to lay my daughter in a bed and know that she is safe. But that is not the case for Lydia. I remember getting a crib ready for Ellen, picking out bedding and making sure everything was just so. I remember laying Allison in a bed that her sister had been in. I remember picking out new beds for both of the girls. I remember preparing a bed for Lydia, perfectly by my bed. She never got to sleep there. We have never been able to have that experience with Lydia. We can't even find something that she is safe in right now. We are not able to afford a new bed, so we sit and wait on insurance to see if they can cover it. In the mean time she is not sleeping well and neither are we. What kind of mother cannot provide a bed for their child? What kind of mother puts her child in an unsafe bed, knowing it is wrong, but knowing there is very little she can do?
I know that the list of failures is long. I know that there are several other things that I have failed my children on. I know that as a mom, friend, wife, sister, daughter; I have failed miserably. I wish there were many things I could redo, undo, and have another chance at. I wish some people did not see me do some of the things so their picture of me was different. I wish that I could have conducted myself in a better manner is many situations. I wish that I could look back and not see so many failures.
But if I have learned one thing on this journey, is we need failures. Through the failures we become who we are. Each failure is a learning experience, an opportunity to learn who we are. It is a chance to take those lessons we learned and start over. I realize that they don't come without consequences that we must face; but it is a new chance with more learning power behind us!
While some of the failures are just that, each one comes with a lesson. Some are harder to learn from than others, but a lesson nonetheless.
I think one of the hardest things to accept and learn on this journey is I was not a failure in carrying Lydia. I did not thing wrong to have a child with Down syndrome. And each day presents itself with different lessons and learning experiences. I need to embrace each one, do the very best that I can and move forward.
I will always see another mother breastfeeding and have a feeling of guilt. But I need to stand proud knowing that I pumped for thirteen months and did everything that I could for my child. It might not have been the conventional way, but I did it! I did what she needed. She had some high calorie, good stuff for as long as her body said she needed it. I need to let that guilt pass and be proud of what I was able to accomplish.
As time goes by it is easier and easier to push that image of what I thought, what I expected, the image of what I thought should be; and totally accept what is, the path that God has written for me. Those feelings of guilt, loss, an experience of feeling robbed because I did not get what I had pictured, will ease with time, will get better as I learn from my failures. They will pass easier when I see that I can learn from my failures, that I need to have the failures in order to be the person that I should be. I need to fail to be a better mom, wife, sister, friend, daughter.
Looking past that picture and what I have is where I need to concentrate. I may have sent my child to school to keep her busy, in a place that we did not know. However, that place became a family for us. We made some awesome friendships. That community accepted us with open arms and did so much for us. They supported us during a time when we could hardly stand. There was always someone there with arms ready to give me a hug, a Kleenex to wash my tear-filled eyes, an ear to listen, a helping hand. It was one of the most amazing things I have been able to be apart of (well one of the many amazing things). God wrote that perfectly for our family. So while I can look at it in one way as a huge failure, I can see what a HUGE blessing it has been. There is always two sides to the story.
I can look back on things and see failure, or I can see how our entire family has grown. Yes, some of the failures are horrible ones. Me not conducting myself in a manner that I should is never fun to admit. However, I am getting better, I am making baby steps. By talking with my children, being open about it, they can learn. They realize that I am not perfect and I make mistakes. They understand the importance of failing properly. Hopefully they can be more forgiving of themselves than I have been. They can fail more gracefully than I am. But I am proud to say I am learning, I have not made those failures in vain. With every good failure come a great learning opportunity.
So I am blessed to have failed so much! It has come at a cost; both good and bad.
Some failures are not really failures too. I am not failing because I cannot provide a bed for my child. I am doing the very best I can. I do believe, however, the system is failing my child. I need to continue to advocate for her and push for what she needs. I know, never seems fair, but those are the cards we have been dealt and we will deal with them in the very best way we are able to!