She Runs A Good Race

mothering is a marathon

Still No Tears Over Sandyhook

I am surprised at my reaction to the Sandyhook tragedy.  Or my lack of reaction, in terms of tears and sadness and heaviness.

For anyone who knows me, I am a touchy-feely girl who cries at sappy commercials and gets choked up EASILY at others’ joys or woes.  I FEEL.  I LIKE TO FEEL.  I go to movies that are contrived and emotional because I like to FEEL things.

Last Friday I was in a meeting until almost 1:00 pm (Pacific Time), so I did not hear about the Sandyhook incident till after that.  I did not turn on the news.  I did not check the internet.

I saw people’s posts all over Facebook. But I could not read any articles.  I could not look at pictures.  I could-not-would-not look at anything too closely.

My defense mechanism was and is to put it at arm’s length.  I could not dare personalize the drama and imagine this horror happening at my little Kate’s elementary school or Ryan’s elementary school.  I could not think about darling little children being gunned down by an evil maniac.  It was and is JUST TOO MUCH  for me.  So I push it away.  I don’t even want to talk about it.

And although I recognize this is my defense mechanism, I feel embarrassed and kind of ashamed.  Especially when I have briefly read other people’s dramatic posts.

I still have no tears.

The jaded part of me says, “Bad things happen all the time.  There are horrors going on daily in millions of people’s lives.  We live in an extremely broken world.  This is yet another unbelievable story.  And there will be more.  I cannot let myself get dragged down, or dwell on it.”

Please don’t judge me.  I am not as insensitive as this sounds.  Maybe this cynicism is born out of experiencing crisis after crisis in my own family life.  Maybe it’s because I know this world is not as it should be, not as God designed it to be.  And Heaven will be.  (I don’t mean that morbidly, friends.)

The only article i did read was “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” by Liza Long, a freelance writer, whose piece made it into the Huffington Post.

As a mother of a son with special needs, I did personalize THAT.  Although Ryan does not have the same challenges as this young man did, I do think about the greater mental health issues of our country and the lack of adequate funding and help for all affected.  It may become epidemic someday especially if there are not proper, long-term, costly-but-made-affordable-to-most, interventions.  For all ages.  Many children and adults will Fall. Right. Through. The. Cracks.  I do not want that to be Ryan, especially if his psychiatric health takes an ugly turn.

I thought that maybe writing about this today would elicit some suppressed emotions. But it has not.  Maybe it will all be delayed.  Maybe not.

What are your thoughts and reactions??

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Just Unwrap

toyshop-pile-of-presentsA dear friend of mine says to her “special” daughter every morning as she looks into her chocolate eyes, “You are a gift.”  It’s her daily mantra.  Before the cares of the world set in, before the grind begins, before any reminders of the challenging journey she is on, before.  She has chosen to remind herself, despite the hardships of having a disabled child, that her daughter is a gift. Everyday. To her.  To her family.  To the world.

My friend’s beautiful way of facing every day of her daughter’s disability has had a profound impact on me. That I need to adopt an “attitude of gratitude” about Ryan before my day begins.  Armed with my morning coffee, I should clear my head of concerns and worries and to-do lists (so many of them!).  As my earliest riser Ryan comes down the hallway, I need to hug him, look into his watery blue eyes and say, “You are a gift to me.  You are a gift to our family.”

It sounds so sweet and syrupy and cliché sometimes.  It’s very hip and chic these days to throw around phrases of thanks and take on a no-complaining-no-whining rule.  We “say” we are grateful.  We keep gratitude journals. We say having a disabled child is a “blessing in disguise.”  We say it in our head.  It’s true in theory.  Yet when our hearts ache with the reality, and the on and off grieving we parents undergo, we quickly forget.  We can so easily get swallowed up in just how darn hard our journeys are.  And they are.

Therefore, in an effort to be proactively adopting a theme of gratitude in my head AND heart, I have compiled a list of things about Ryan that I am thankful for.  Here are some examples:

  1. Ryan is very polite and appreciative.
  2. Ryan never complains about any meal or snack I make for him.
  3. Ryan never complains about chore time.
  4. When I say its time for a bath, he says, “Can I play in there?” versus “But I am not dirty, and do I have to?”
  5. Ryan is very enthusiastic about family outings.
  6. Ryan has language and uses it.  (Yes, despite the 873 questions per day or per hour, I am thankful.)
  7. Ryan loves to go to school.
  8. Ryan never pops out of bed once tucked in. He’s asleep in 60 seconds.
  9. Ryan is fearless. (which leads to #10)
  10. Ryan loves roller-coasters, all sizes and speeds!
  11. Ryan is a go-getter at times and surprises us with great tenacity in physical tasks.
  12. Ryan is extremely thankful, for everything, even stickers from the Trader Joes clerk.
  13. Ryan hugs me and says, “I love you Mama” completely unprompted.  He says it often.

Have you ever NOT OPENED a package or present? Just left it in the closet?  By not listing, thinking about, and meditating on qualities and traits in Ryan I am thankful for, I am basically choosing to not unwrap a gift.  That would be foolish at best and detrimental at worst.  I owe it to Ryan.  I owe it to myself.  I am one of those people who, when receiving a birthday present in the mail, opens it immediately.  My husband will tease, “Can’t you wait till your actual birthday?” And I quickly and sheepishly say “No!”  I’m like a kid again on Christmas morning voraciously ripping through gifts with parents pleading me to slow down.  So how can I NOT unwrap Ryan?  He’s my sweet beautiful ocean-eyes blondie who is social, affectionate, and very complimentary.  Who, despite his many limitations and anxieties, has a true zest for life, and family, and holidays, and of course, food.  Ryan Bradley Patay is a gift, a gift I get to unwrap every single day.

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