Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why I'm glad my son finished last

We are a very busy family, and it seems we are always adding things to our plate.  I'm always all for the kids trying new activities, as exhausting as it may be.  For some time now, my son has been racing 4 wheelers with his friends, and has gone to the sand dunes on 4 wheeler trips, but today, he raced in his first official race.  He finished last.  And I'm glad.

Why am I glad?  Because look at that phrase "he finished last", and focus on that second word... "finished". He finished. 

Let me backtrack.  He and my husband got up and left before the rest of us.  I was running late, because I was searching for the bag chairs that our garage seems to have eaten.  I was rushing to get there by 10:30, the start time.  He was the 3rd race, so I had some leeway if I was a little late (which I chronically tend to be).  By 10:30 I got the phone call from my husband that I missed his first heat.  My heart instantly sank, I so badly wanted to be there on time to cheer him on.  Then, he proceeds to tell me that Gavin popped a wheelie, rode it out for about 5 feet, then flipped over backwards, he was ok, but complaining about his back.  The medics checked him out and told him that he would be a little sore, but would be ok.  I was then slightly relieved that I missed it, knowing my mom-stincts would kick in and I probably would have panicked had I seen it. 

When I got there, he was laying next to the truck with ice on his back, saying he wasn't going back out on the track.  There might have been a certain amount of drama involved in this, but it is hell knowing that your child is in pain, and you can't fix it.  The protective side of me wanted to say ok, and pack his stuff up.  But then I got myself in check.  I swallowed that fear of him getting hurt, and told him he was getting back on that quad, because we aren't quitters.  He was SO MAD.  He said fine, he would run in his next heat, but that this weekend was going to be his first and last race.  From now on, he just wants to ride for fun, and this wasn't fun.  His attitude continued to decline as he realized I wasn't backing down, and he was going to compete in his 2nd race. 

In all of the time that he has ridden 4 wheelers, he had never had a wreck.  We knew at some point in time it would come, and with the more confidence he gained in riding, and the faster he went, the worse the wreck would be.  I consider myself and him lucky that he hadn't gotten up to speed.  I'm glad he got that first wreck under his belt, and I'm also glad I wasn't there to witness it! But I know how easily he scares, and I knew this wreck was going to scare him from keeping on with something he loved.  If I let it.  And I wasn't going to let him quit.  Not until he at least knew what it felt like to cross that finish line.  If he still felt like it wasn't for him, we didn't have to do it again, but he was going to cross that line.

When the time to suit up came, he was so uncooperative, that my husband practically had to get him dressed in his chest protector, boots, and helmet, all the while, reminding me he wouldn't be doing this again.  He got on the quad, and rode to the gates, with words of encouragement from both of us. Just finish the race, buddy.  I reminded him he didn't have to come in first, just get to that checkered flag.  As he was lining up, I could see the nerves and fear in his eyes, and tried not to let him see it in mine.  The gates went down, everyone took off, and there he sat.  He killed the engine.  He got it started, went a few feet, killed it again.  I knew what he was doing, he was scared to give it too much gas and flip it over again.  Third time was a charm, and he took off.  Very slowly.  But he took off.  He rode around the first jump, rode over the next one very slowly, and started to pick up speed a little speed the further he rode.  By the fourth, and final lap, he was starting to actually jump some of the jumps and finally got all 4 wheels off the ground.  And he came in dead last.  By a long shot. 

And I have never been more proud of him.

You see, he was terrified to get back out on that track.  But he did.  And he did it with a huge smile on his face.  He was as proud of himself as I was of him.  He pushed through, and did something that scared him, and he didn't walk away from it because it felt uncomfortable.  And once he crossed that finish line, he proved to himself that he could do something that he thought he couldn't.  I chose not to look at it like he "lost the race".  He may not have come in first, he came in last, but he didn't lose, it was a win for him to get through it.  Not giving up paid off for him.  Huge life lesson learned.  And a pretty proud mom moment for me.  It was his first time out.  And because it was his first time out, I knew that if he didn't get out there again, he never would.  And he did it.  HE DID IT!  Coming in last was nothing to be ashamed of. 

Look at that smile, and all of that glorious boy dirt!
There was no trophy, and there was no participation metal or ribbon, but there was this:  Other riders in his heat came up and congratulated him on finishing his first race, and assured him that he did great for his first time out and for his age (he was racing against 14-16 year olds), and made sure that he was ok after his spill in the first heat.  Over and over again, he kept hearing, "But you got back out there and finished, and that's what matters", and "Good job, man!"  I think that made him feel much better, and less embarrassed about how he started out, and definitely eased the nerves about future races when he saw how nice and welcoming this racing community is.  That sense of pride, and accomplishment is better than any medal he could have gotten just for showing up.  Oh, and miraculously, his back felt so much better after his 2nd race, and he thinks he might give it another shot at the next race in two weeks.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Heeeeeere's Johnny!!!

I belong to several Ichthyosis support type groups on Facebook.  So sometimes, I scroll past some of the random posts that pop up from them.  But one day I could help but take a pause over one of the posts I saw with the cutest little puppy on it.  The owner of a rescue group in California had reached out to an ichthyosis contact of his in hope of getting help finding a forever home for a little guy they had taken into their group named Johnny, with a form of canine ichthyosis.  I read through it, smiling at the pictures thinking they would have no problem finding a forever home for this cute little guy.  I just didn't think it was going to be with us.

The picture that stole my heart
About a week later, I revisited the post, just curious to see if they had found a loving home for him.  They hadn't.  And even worse, Ashlynne had seen the post.  This was bad news for me.  See, it combined two of my biggest loves:  my ichtyosis community, and my love for animals.  It broke my heard that no one wanted this little guy simply because he had the same genetic disorder that my Ashlynne has.  So I inquired, figuring there was no harm in just checking into it, and I put it out there to Russ, who wasn't completely opposed, but he had the same question I did.  How were we going to get this dog all the way from California to Kansas?  I had just left California from the Ichthyosis conference, and he couldn't take any time off of work right now.  Unbeknownst to us, Ashlynne had taken it upon herself to inquire as well.  She had gotten the phone number off of their website, and called them herself.  She was disappointed when the man told her that just that morning, Johnny might have been spoken for.  But her disappointment turned to joy when the man on the other end of the phone told her that the man that had called asking about Johnny was named Russ.  She came running downstairs yelling that "Pops" had called the rescue group and asked about Johnny.  "He's going to let me get him!"

We explained to her the logistics of it all, about getting him here, and also the fact that the rescue group preferred a couple of overnight visits with the adoptive family to see if it was a good fit.  All of this was going to be very hard considering we were half way across the country.  She begged and pleaded, she promised she would help take care of him (I know, I know, all kids promise to help take care of the puppy they want), and he was JUST like her (her words, not mine).  And as we were discussing it, I hear from the other room, from what I thought was a sleeping Breckyn, "heeeeeeere's Johnny!".  Mic drop.  How does this kid even know that line?

So we contacted Nobody's Perfekt Dogs and pleaded our case.  We explained the situation with Ashlynne, and explained my immense love for animals, and the man decided it was worth giving us a shot. And at the end of August, he would be bringing his son this way on his way back to college, and he could meet us just three hours from our home.  It was all falling into place.  How could Russ say no now? Game over.

So on August 19, we will be welcoming Johnny, a cocker spaniel/Chihuahua mix, into our home.  I'm so excited for our next venture, and will be sharing plenty of Johnny stories with you all along the way.  I just hope Zailey can adjust to not being the only dog in the house again!  Russ and I have always said that if we ever heard of a baby that was up for adoption with ichthyosis, we would try to adopt the child.  We just never dreamed it would be a fur baby.  Johnny's skin regime will be much different that Ashlynne's, considering applying lotion all over his body, and soaking him in the tub for an hour and a half a day isn't really an option.  So we will apply ointment to his eyes, and a vitamin A supplement in his food, along with weekly medicated baths.  I will also apply Vaseline to his paws, which gave me an excuse to buy him some cute little booties.  I had decided in March, after our Hurley passed away, that once Zailey passed, I would never own another dog.  They just break your heart, they don't outlive you.  But it looks like God had other plans for our family!  I think Johnny will be the "perfekt" fit for us!

Look at this face!!  How can you resist?!
I think this is going to be one spoiled pooch!

Monday, August 1, 2016

To my sweet baby girl, as you start kindergarten

To my sweet, sweet baby as you get ready to start kindergarten,

Breckyn's pre-school graduation
It can't be time.  How can this be possible.  You are the baby.  Time wasn't supposed to go this fast with you.  I know it sounds so cliché, but it seems like just yesterday we brought you into this world.  Where has the last 5 years gone?  With your older siblings, I was excited for this milestone for them, and for you, I am just sad.  Because I look back and once they started kindergarten, time just flew by.  Everyone warned me, but you can never really fathom how fast it goes until you are in the throes of motherhood.  Now, your sister is starting her last year of middle school, and your brother, his last year of elementary school.  And before long, that will be you.  I promised myself with you, I wasn't going to make the same mistakes I made with them.  I was going to stop and enjoy the little things.  I wasn't going to be too busy to play board games.  I wasn't going to take the little moments that are fleeting, for granted.  I was going to soak up these years before you start conquering the world.  I was going to stop and smell the roses, per se.  I did.  And it still flew by too fast. 

I know you are busy, but will you please take just a second to crawl onto my lap and cuddle? Will you please just humor me?  I know you have things to do, and I know you want to go outside and play with your friends, but I just need a moment.  I want to kiss your baby soft cheeks.  I want to hold you until you fall asleep.  I want to listen to the soothing sound of you breathing.  I want to give you butterfly kisses, and hear that innocent, unapologetic laugh.  Because before long, the nights on the couch watching Nick Jr. will be replaced by sleepovers with friends, boys, school dances, and you hanging out in your room, rather than with Mommy. 

Most would say you are my karma, my mini-me, my payback.  Papa would say you are exactly like me at your age.  Maybe that's why I understand you so well, why I seem to "get it".  I want you to understand that all of those days, where I seemed frustrated, and where I was lucky to even get in the shower, I treasured those days too.  I am so grateful for every moment I get with you.  Don't get me wrong, your strong will has pushed me to the brink of insanity, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I know that some day, the house will seem to empty when I am not yelling at you to pick up your shoes, or tear down the blanket fort you have left up in the dining room for 2 days.  And the thought of those days haunts me.  For I know that it is on the horizon. 

You are my fashionista, my diva.  I know we will fight about what you are wearing, and letting me do your hair.  I know you will want to do it yourself.  I know we will fight about you getting up in the morning, and you will beg me for your signature "5 more minutes".  And I know this will continue through your teenage years.  I know this is exciting for you, and I want this for you.  This is natural.  But please be patient with me if I am a little sad.  If you are prepared, I am doing my job.  This is what I was put on this earth to do, to be a mom to you and your brothers and sister.  To prepare you for this big, crazy, sometimes very scary world.  I will try to put on a smile when you are modeling your new school clothes, and your new book bag, and at times, it will be a genuine smile.  But this is so bittersweet.  Before long you won't need me, but it is my hope that one day you will want me. 

Here are my hopes for you:  I hope no one ever clips your wings.  Fly baby girl.  You are my free spirit, my wild child.  But remember, not all who wander are lost.  Let that free spirit of yours guide you through great adventures in this life.  I hope you explore every inch of this world possible!  I hope you accomplish all you set out to do in this life.  I hope use your strong will for good.  You always seem to have a twinkle in your eye, I hope you never lose that.  I hope you always stand up for what is right or wrong.  I hope you are kind.  I hope I have set a good example of that.  I hope you are happy.  I hope you find your passion, and I hope you chase it, along with your dreams.  I hope that one day, you will experience the love I have for you, when you look into the eyes of your own baby, and see a reflection of the child you once were.  But most of all, I hope you know that I have poured every ounce of love I have, every fiber of my being, into being your mommy.  And I hope that you understand, that no matter how many years pass, you will always be my baby.   

Love Always,
Your Mommy