Thursday, October 30, 2014

Counting tissues or counting cuddles.

There is very little in life more worrisome for a young Mama than a sick baby...unless of course it is  three sick babies!

February 11, 1999 -- "Benjamin is just teething I think. He had a fever this morning and was real lethargic. But not too sick to name his family....or say BJ and Barney after reading the book his Grandmar sent!"

February 18, 1999 -- "Bless her heart....Claire was up at 11pm. I wasn't in bed yet so I went and got her and tried to rock her to sleep. She was getting restless so I put her back in bed after I gave her some Tylenol for the fever. I listened to her moan, 'Mama, Dada' forever...."

Aug. 17, 1999 -- "Ugh, my poor babies! We have acquired some sort of stomach virus....Mason spiked a fever yesterday....pray this ends soon!"

I had to put a lot of dots in those messages. Some details that young mama me was willing to share in her exhaustion might very well embarrass the teenagers that live at my house. :) But I'm sure you get the picture.

See,  just when I would get caught up in thinking about what the future might hold, a baby would start teething, or a virus would hit our house and knock me flat out of speculative worry and directly into real-this-is-happening-now worry!

The little boogers were relatively healthy. No earaches at all until their fifth birthday. But they did that one right. ALL THREE required antibiotics. We were traveling south to live in Florida for three months while Dad completed rotations there. The first morning we awoke in Florida, Wade had already left for work. He didn't have a cell phone. And his pager would not be assigned until later that morning. I had no way to contact him. (That is going to be important.)

Mason came walking into my bedroom complaining that he was itchy. I rolled over and turned the light on and my son, my precious son who had looked completely normal only hours before, was covered in red splotchy hives like I had never seen before from his head to his toes. 

And then I did what all smart young mommies do when their guy is not available: I called the next best guy I knew, our pediatrician in Minnesota. Dr. Fischer calmly talked me through what might be happening. He calmly told me what to look for that would send us flying to an emergency room. And he calmly assured me he would find a person for us to SEE in Florida. He did and we loaded up and went. And Mason completely freaked them out to the point that they took photos and the kid graces the pages of a textbook somewhere. Of course. Turns out he is pretty horrifically allergic to amoxycillin. Who knew?

Oh  yes, there have been quite a few fevers, runny noses and tummy viruses in this house. We've stayed in our pjs and eaten soup and watched Arthur on TV. I kind of cherished the time when they had a normal sickness. Does that sound odd? Not tummy viruses -- I'm not that crazy. But the little colds, with a slight fever, that made them miss school and want to cuddle on the couch for hours. I liked those days. 

Oh I could count hives or ear aches. I could count all the things associated with a tummy virus. Or maybe just the number of times I had to wipe little noses. But I'd much rather count cuddles and days spent with my children where their little fever prevented us from doing one thing away from the sofa.

And isn't that the lesson? We were created by a creator who desires to sit with us. To be. Oh, He is absolutely  there  for our big stuff -- He is ready to hear our cries when times get hard. But I think sometimes, He would like us to slow down just enough to cuddle near and just (deep deep sigh) be.

Today, I'm counting the cuddles. And I'm using them to remember to slow down and just be.

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Counting memories and an S or two.

It is not a secret in this house that if you need me to do something, you MUST write it down. Wade can ask me to do him a favor as he leaves for work but by the time I get to a "favor-doing" place in my schedule, it has long since left my memory. Once before Cate could even write well, she drew me a picture of a task she needed me to complete. Like I said, it is not a secret!

The emails from my dear friend Carol have been such a balm to my spirit. I had forgotten so many of the sweet moments and will be forever grateful that she had the foresight to save and print my emails as a way to jog my memory years later...just when I needed it most!

December 16, 1999 -- "The kids are soooo much fun this year, Carol. They talk about Santa all the time and they have quite a list for him! It is so cute. I just love being their mommy. Maybe it's the holidays but I'm in one of my 'overwhelmed-with-gratitude' times! I'm so blessed. Little tidbits from the Shrader house: Benjamin calls Rudolf -- 'Rudolf, my doggie' and he has a stuffed one that he drags with him everywhere!  Claire sings 'Oh you'd better watch out, you'd better not cry' at the top of her lungs these days -- not always in appropriate places either!  And Mason does NOT want to sit in Santa's lap because 'Canta Cause cares me.' Oh the joy!!"

I think my favorite thing about this email when my trio were two and a half is that not once did I talk about their Cerebral Palsy. As a matter of fact, there are many of these emails where I talk about our days, talk about my friend's days and talk about our amazing kiddos and never once mention Cerebral Palsy.

And perhaps the fact that I was feeling blessed and overwhelmed with gratitude is a bit sickening sweet to some of you. Perhaps it is akin to today's "hashtag blessed" that gets so much ridicule. Maybe.

But I will argue that it was simply a frenzied young mama using a coping skill that she wouldn't even recognize as a coping skill for almost a decade -- counting the good life offers rather than counting the woes.

I will argue that sitting down to type to my girlfriend every day kept me healthy in ways she probably did not even understand. I desperately wanted people to know how wondrous my children were (are). I would type negatives, I did. But I so wanted her to know the joys of these kids that I far more often focused on the positives. And with that, I redirected my own thoughts toward the positives.

Years later, a famous talk-show hostess would do the same when she encouraged her viewers to keep a gratitude journal. I had beat her to it. I had been emailing my heart out to my sweet friend for years -- counting every single good thing.

Counting every single good thing is a win. 

But so is remembering the year Mason couldn't say his Ss....that Canta Cause Cares Him!!! I count

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Counting availability.

We are on Day 28 of my Write 31 Days challenge. I am still here but I would not be being completely honest if I didn't confess that I am relieved this is the last week. (Sorry Markeitha....I know you have enjoyed the journey and I just love you for that!)

Today I am thinking about how many times God has closed a door that I desperately wanted him to open.

January 28, 1999 -- "Have I told you that Benjamin's big thing now is answering questions with 'no' or 'OK'. I"m not sure why he uses OK instead of YES but he does! Well, tonight he was soooo tired...he hadn't napped well at all and it was dinnertime so he was past ready for sleep. He was crying at the table and I said 'Benjamin, do you want some more xxx? And he would just keeping crying with everything I asked. Then I said, 'Well, would you like for Mommy to get you some ice cream?' He looked up at me with a big smile (in mid-cry mind you!) and said, 'OK!' It was so  hilarious."

This apple did not fall far from the Mama-tree. As a matter of fact I am pretty sure God feels with me almost daily the way I felt with Benjamin sitting in his little high chair before he even turned two.

"Carol, let me give you things that are good for you -- trials, challenges, hardships."

I kick and scream and cry like crazy.

"Carol, here is a easy task. It won't grow you, or strengthen your walk. It won't make you the woman I know you can be. But it is sweet, easy and completely palatable."

Me, mid-cry: "I'll take it, Lord."


Parenting has taught me more about my relationship with God than anything in my life. As adorable as my one-year-old was asking for ice cream, I don't want to be a petulant child.

Grow me in the areas that count, Lord. Take me where YOU can use me. Place me in situations that test me, change me and serve you -- even if they taste like green beans to a baby.

I am ready. I am willing. And I know I serve a God who counts my availability way more than my abilities.

Carol - The Blessings Counter