Five Minute Friday: Belong

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I know it’s late. It’s not even Friday. Kind of apropos I suppose. When I saw the word ‘belong’ I couldn’t resist. You know what it feels like to be left out of the bubble of (new) motherhood when your (first) child has additional/special needs.

Even after Tallula was born I still didn’t belong to that typical mom bubble. I didn’t belong with those new moms who talked about things happening ‘on time’ or, gasp, ‘early’. Like sleeping through the night. Grasping. Sitting up. Crawling. Walking. Talking. I hated being next to these women in doctors offices and clinics, so giddy with excitement at their baby’s first anything. Bragging. Complaining. ‘She never stops talking. She gets into everything! Makes the biggest messes. She runs in and wakes me every morning. She eats all the time. And with such ease.’ Ok, I added the last one for effect. It was difficult being around those first time moms.

Unless their child had a disability too. OR Unless they had a child with a disability too. That’s where I belonged. Even though now, I too, had a baby that could possibly do all of those things listed above. Early. On time. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter when Tallula did anything. We got excited about everything and anything but mostly we were filled with a sense of awe and wonder. Because we knew what it was like to wait and hope and believe. Then we knew what it was like to accept. To understand. To acknowledge. And move forward.

Tallula and I attended a babies group this year one morning a week at Sebastian’s previous nursery school. The class was filled with new moms. Some moms were like I was with Sebastian. New to diagnosis. Or an unknown/no diagnosis. Scared. Tired. Overwhelmed. Some moms were the moms I never wanted to be around. Except they weren’t. Because they were there. Mixed in with the rest of us. The class was a mix of typical and non-typical babies and their moms and sometimes their dads. Some moms had other kids and some this was their first. Some of the babies had a diagnosis and needs and some didn’t.

I watched Tallula help those that needed helping and challenge those that didn’t; sharing a toy or taking one away. I watched her make friends with everyone. I watched myself open up to moms that didn’t know what it was like to be one of us, the mom with the exceptional child. And I listened to moms that were just learning and finding their way in this new type of club.

Tallula and I. We belonged. And it felt wonderful. All because of Sebastian and his pure, exceptional, awesomeness.

Easter Seals Regatta

Just over a week ago we had the opportunity to attend the Easter Seals Regatta. We were invited to ride a boat in the harbor and participate in some boating fun with a BBQ afterward at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. Several other Easter Seals families were also invited and matched up with other boats to enjoy an afternoon on the lake in the sun.

Toronto firefighters greeted us at the ferry to lift Sebastian (in his chair) onto the ferry which took us to the Toronto Islands RCYC where we met our Captain for the day. We were paired with a lovely couple and their dog who took us out in a sailboat! The kids sat on our laps in their life jackets and Seb’s chair went below deck. We went right close to the fire brigade boat and got partially soaked. The sun was shining and the air was warm. It really was the perfect day.

At the BBQ afterwards we sat with some new friends we met through Seb’s hippotherapy classes. They have two girls, one just a year older than Tallula. It’s always nice to make connections with other families and a bonus when the siblings can connect like she and Tallula did. We also met up with a family that I’ve mostly connected with online. Meeting in real life is always so fun. Her daughter is also in Tallula’s swim class! Sometimes the world feels so big and sometimes it’s just the perfect size.

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Thanks Easter Seals for a lovely day out. Thanks to all the firefighters who volunteered to make the boats accessible for our children. And thanks to those that gave their time to sail and boat our families around. Hopefully there will be even more next year so more families are able to participate. The event raised funds with both a silent and visible auction at the BBQ. In its 24-year history, the Toronto Easter Seals Regatta has raised $4.5 million for Ontario’s children and youth with physical disabilities.

The Week that Was

The Week that Was

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Sword fights with sticks and umbrellas.
Laughter until your belly aches.
Round and round.
Arms up then down.
Side to side.
‘On guard!’
Cousins and memories and more.

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Walking hand in hand.
So big and so small.
Swinging slowly in the shade,
arms around my boy.
Cousins and love and more.

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Walks in the forest.
Sun shaded by the tall trees.
Snake across the path.
The city boy jumps and laughs nervously.
Discussions about the Michigan Rattler as he slithers into the cover of tall grass nearby, suddenly uncoiled by a strangers’ steps on his own path.
The boys point out snake holes as we continue on the path and we contemplate where our recent encounter may live.

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Smoke then crackle.
Wood from the pile.
Folding chairs in a makeshift circle around the fire pit.
Sticks at the ready, pointed ends. Marshmallows. Chocolate. Graham crackers.
We lick our lips in anticipation.
The kids delight in something new.

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Dune buggies bouncing over pot holes and uneven patches of grass.
Helmets on; contemplative thoughts
was that really fun
or not.
Too loud and bouncy
for Mama and Seb.
The Mule will do just fine
for the two of us next time.
I used to be brave take more risks.
Like riding on top of buses in Nepal
while the Maoist Rebels watched the roads at night.
Brave.
Or just carefree.

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Climbing ladders to nowhere
Baby attached in a permanent hug
Walking together
Discovering water
Ice cold from the well
Fresh from the earth
To drink
To wash
To swim
To cool
Running. Jumping. Laughing.
Through the kiddie pool sprinkler.
Summertime.

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Make-believe moments
With cousins
Cuddles and exploring
With grandma
Smiles and kisses and hugs
Pictures in sunshine
With Aunt Shannon and Uncle Bill
Family.

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Ice cream stops
at the only corner shop in town.
Butter pecan for old times sake.
Chocolate because it’s a staple.
Pink (strawberry) for Tallula.
The heat melts it just standing there.
Sticky fingers.
Pink and brown clown faced smiles.

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Lake swims with life jackets.
A big, strong daddy to toss each kiddo into the air.
Catching just before the dunk.
Seb laughs until he nearly holds his breath.
Tallula shouts ‘higher!’
And ‘more pease!’
Fish nibble our toes and Ethan catches one in his hands.
The kids swim until their jaws chatter and lips turn purple.
Take a break
but not for long.
Sunshine warms us quickly
and we head back in for more.

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Blanket of stars.
Cassiopeia. Little Dipper and Big.
Like a warm comforter from my childhood
keeping my thoughts company.
We miss Joshua.

23 Months

June 20, 2014

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Dear Tallula,

You are almost 2! And you know this. Now when people ask you how old you are, you already say 2. When they ask your name, you say Tallula. You know Sebastian is 6 and although you mostly call him Abeese you sometimes say Bastian. You are growing big and growing fast.

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I’m watching you in Babies Group. You navigate among your peers effortlessly. You know I am there but you aren’t afraid to go out on your own and you never worry when I leave the room. You take toys from friends that you think could stop you, but don’t. And you tell them to ‘sit here’ next to you, so you can play together. You take toys and shakers to the kids that can’t reach for them on their own. I see you watch after them, and I already see who you are and will become because Sebastian is your brother. Your heart is so beautiful.

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You’ve taken dance party to a new level and are now in charge of making Seb and his Red Racer dance around the room. Spinning in circles, going forward and backwards, I have to watch to make sure his feet don’t get clipped. You still like to climb up and sit on his tray or even his lap to twirl with him too.

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You listen to the music in the car and bob you head, clap your hands or raise them in the air, depending on the song. Recently a Serena Ryder song came on and I looked at you in the review mirror and you caught my eyes and said ‘Nice’ and started moving to the music. Twice in one day, same song. Nice.

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You know your favorite color and you want it for everything. Pink treats. Pink (birthday) cake. Pink dinner. I’m getting very creative.

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You are really excited about your birthday. You’ve already requested a pink cake. Of course.

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You love riding on the back of Sebastian’s bike but you are rest for your own. You like working out daddy’s bike lock and seeing him come home riding his bike. You get so excited to see him I think his heart must burst every evening when he arrives home.

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You take risks. You love climbing and you are getting taller so you can reach more things. You pull yourself up and try to stand tall in things it’s not entirely safe to do so. But you learn quickly with just one tumble. You like to do ‘high jump(s)’ off of everything. Often waving your had out, demanding ‘hand!’ so that I will hold your hand to give you a little bit of support as you take the plunge.

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You love the park. Sometimes you mumble about ‘slides’ in your sleep and you want to go ‘higher’ in the swings. You hug new friends and happily play with their toys. Other moms are surprised with your language skills and your ease at making new friends. You are very social. You remember your friends names and talk about seeing them again.

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You fall asleep most every night without nursing. You let me know when you are done and lay down, now on one of your little baby pillows. You sometimes pull your tag blankie or your baby blankie on top of you and say ‘blanket’. You cuddle with one of your dolls or furry friend. You ask for many drinks of water and guzzle it down. You hold my had until you fall asleep. You come into our room in the middle of the night/early morning. Most times you fall back to sleep with nursing but like to cuddle to morning.

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You try to let us know when you need to go ‘tootie’ (poop) and may need several tries on the potty before you can go. Sometimes you just go in your diaper but also let us know straight away. You prefer sitting on your potty seat upstairs to the Elmo seat in the downstairs toilet. And you are sporadic with peeing on the potty. You amaze me with your communication skills. And you got pull-ups! Dora. Which you love. We are still working on why we have them. So far they are easy for me to put on and off when out and about. But you aren’t always keen to get on the potty at home.

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We like to notice all do the amazing and even not so amazing things you do. The things you like to learn about and discover. We are thankful for any and all of it. Your daddy and I look at each other, eyes smiling, not allowing our jaws to drop, in pure wonder and amazement. Life with you is joyous. You make us laugh, all of us. Some of my favorite moments are spent watching you on your own, using your imagination, or spreading love to those around you. Your heart is so big. From the friends you watch over to including Sebastian in ways we don’t even think of. If you get a special treat well then Abees needs one too. We love you Lula Lu and we can’t wait to celebrate number 2 with you!!!

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