Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Know You're In There…..

I've heard of Alzheimer's, dementia, memory loss…. but like many things, until these words become your reality, they are just words. I've had friends experience this with their grandparents, but I couldn't relate at the time.

When these words happen to someone close to you, and you read things like, "not reversible," incurable," and "degenerative"…. it becomes a different story, because someone close to you is becoming a different person. 

This is a letter I would want to give to my Grandma….

Dear Grandma, 
At times, I know there is clarity, and that's when the tears start. Yours on the outside, mine on the inside. Your words stop as quickly as they start because they don't make sense. I try to guess what you are trying to say, but your frustration stops me. I try to make the conversation light when I see you, because I feel guilty. I can drive, walk, punch in the code to the elevators in your building….. to leave. So many things you can't do. Behind every laugh and comment I make to you is a wanting… a wanting for the old Grandma to come back, just for a minute. 

You had nail polish on yesterday. Bright, coral, summery polish. In your 93 years of life, I've never seen a picture, or in person, painted nails. It made me feel sad to see your nails painted because, I'm sure someone asked you, and you nodded, but you didn't know what they were going to do. Maybe you look at your nails now and are sad because you don't know how to take the polish off. In the memory care unit, there aren't cotton balls you can use. They don't even have tissues out in fear of patients eating them, or real silverware for meals. Maybe I should look at your nails and be happy someone took the time to paint them, and make you feel good. To me they are a reminder of one more decision made for you, and at one time, you were so strong willed you made all of your own decisions. 

When I walked into your room yesterday and you weren't there, but a man who had stripped down to only his underwear was lying there, I wish I could have told you how funny that was, and you could have made some hilarious comment about the situation. But the truth is, he thought it was his room, so it really wasn't funny.

Despite all of that…..

I know you're in there Grandma. When I'm talking to you, it's as though you are another person, but I know you hear me. I know a piece of you has to remember. Behind those sad, brown eyes, that stare ahead, I know you see me. I see the corners of your mouth turn upward every time I say, "I'm Natalie, don't forget Grandma," while I squeeze your hand. 

I see you use your hand in a "shooing" away motion to other residents when you've had enough of them talking to me, or you say "goodbye" when someone is irritating you. I know you're in there. 

I see you calling after the man with the white hair and flannel pants, "Sam, Sam, get over here," because that's what you used to say to Grandpa.

I know you're in there Grandma, and that's what keeps me coming back. 

I love you,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


I've always thought optical illusion pictures were very interesting. 
Take this one for example:

Every time I've seen this picture, I notice the girl looking away from the camera with a babushka type garment on her head. But, other people see the older woman with her face down in her coat. What do you see first? 

The other day, I stumbled across this cover from a Disney classic….  and what was either a coincidence, or a sneaky cartoonist behind the scenes.

Who knew for so many years as I stared into Mufasa's face, I was possibly staring into some stranger's butt cheeks? What you see depends on how you look at something, or someone, in this example.

I've been thinking about perspective with being a mom, and a woman, and just in general. How I see something, or someone may be completely different than another person. What I think is right, may not be in someone's eyes. I may use completely different styles to parent, organize, clean, prioritize, etc. It doesn't make one right and one wrong, it just is.

I used to think that one of the biggest parenting mistakes I've made (to date) has been to lay with Samuel every night at bedtime. When this first started I dreaded bedtime. "Here it is again," I thought, "another long night where I don't get to do what I want in the evening because of this long process." Bedtime should be "me" time. I've given my all to this kid all day, he should just go to bed, that's it.

But, I changed my perspective….

This parenting "fail" started the first night he had to sleep in his big boy bunk bed. The crib was no longer an option because it was disassembled on the floor when we moved a few summers ago. "I'm scared, please lay with me," he said. How can you say no to that little voice? Josh and I took turns the first week or so, who would comfort Samuel in this new bunk bed to make him feel okay. This wasn't five minutes of comforting. This was anywhere from five minutes to over an hour, depending on how long it took him to fall asleep. It felt like a waste of an evening. It felt like we were losing/had lost a part of parenting, and the same loss would come again….the following night.

We both felt frustration and torn that we were doing something right to comfort our little boy, but wrong because we were giving in, not being firm with bedtime. So for the past, um, 2 years, every nap, every night, this is the routine. Two books, prayers, bed, MacGyver style moves getting up without waking Samuel. This is especially hard while nursing. This is even harder when you are getting out of the top bunk and nursing, while trying not to wake your toddler, or baby. I feel like I can take on the world after I close his door and both kids are sleeping, even if one is hanging off my boob.

We've accepted that this is our bedtime routine. Some may disagree, some agree. Some parents let their kids in bed with them, some close their kid's door at night, and that's that. I'm not judging what anyone chooses to do. This works for us. If you asked me a few years ago, I'd probably sigh and describe bedtime as a "nightmare" and "not fair," but it's actually okay now.

I knew my perspective had to change. Even though I'm a SuperNanny fan, I don't have it in me to do a Ferber-ish method of going in his room at spaced out time intervals, until eventually he gives in and sleeps. I'm sure if we did that for a week, this routine would change, and he wouldn't "need" us to comfort him to go to sleep. I don't judge anyone who uses this method or is a stickler on bedtime. To each their own, to each perspective to be changed, your call.

What helped me change my thinking was…..

Anytime I needed my mom to lay with me if I was scared, she did.

This won't last forever.

It's nice to recap the day and talk about our favorite things from the day. 

The conversations and comments he makes to extend the night even more, are hilarious, even when I'm exhausted. 

Before, I felt by admitting this is our routine at night, we "gave in" at bedtime, I was admitting I failed in (one aspect of) the parenting world. I'm okay to mess certain things up, but with kids, this is one thing I want to get as right as I can.

But, I'm finding that everyone sees things a little differently, and shares their own perspective. What are your thoughts on how you used to see something one way, and now you've changed?

Wonder what he would say?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Multiplying Love

"Your heart just grows; doubles in size," people told me before I was a mom of two. How is this even possible? Skepticism took over and this piece of mom advice was not well received. After settling into the world of more than one kid, I was prepared to feel bad that I loved one kid more. You have to love one a little bit more. I mean your heart can't split the love you have for your first, so it's equal; it just doesn't work that way. People who tell you the love is equal just love one kid more and can't admit it.

I don't like being wrong, but I will admit when I am… Your heart does grow. I have so much love for these two little ones, it's amazing. One of my favorite times of the day is when the house is silent at night. Of course I love this time because it's peaceful and I can have some "me" time, but I love to think about the day I shared with these little ones. The tears, laughs, comments, moments, memories, that made our day what it was. Before this though, even better, is checking on these two and praying over them. Praying that they will fulfill the purpose God has for them. Praying that sickness and disease will not affect their bodies. Recapping the day as I stare at their little sleeping bodies… the moments of what the day brought; good and bad.

Looking at Jonah and wondering how he could be so pleasant all day without sleeping for more than 10 minutes at a time. Thinking back to when Samuel accidentally hit him with the end of the broom as we were sweeping the garage and how his one minute of wailing seemed to never end.

Looking at Samuel and remembering when he offered me his last bagel chip from his Chex Mix snack bag. Thinking to the tears when he hit Jonah with the broom. "I was just trying to help."

This is what is important. These little faces. Being a mom is such a journey, and I'm so grateful these two are my passengers. #momlife #bestlife


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