Monday, September 18, 2006

Crossroads and Choices

Before our Shalebug flew the coop and grew his angel wings, he was becoming quite the little character. He could hobble about on flat surfaces, he could crawl quick as you could blink an eye and he was an expert at giving high fives. After years of watching him be nothing more than an eating and pooping baby machine, it was thrilling to watch him finally "get" things. As Boo said, it was like watching someone turn on a light switch.

That is not to say he was learning how to tie his own shoelaces or suddenly knew his ABC's. Cripes, he still hadn't uttered a word in his almost five years and I was fairly sure he never would. He couldn't put the pieces of a baby puzzle in the holes and I shudder to think of how hard it would have been to hold a pencil. All that aside, he was learning, in leaps and bounds.

And it was fun to watch. Just like it was when Fric and Frac learned how to walk and talk. Or finally master toilet training. (All though, we still haven't managed to not pee all over the freaking toilet. And it has been nine years, dear internet. That's a lot of pee to be wiping up.)

Somehow, with the Shalebug, the rewards were all the more sweeter. I think it was because I had been around this block before. I was older and wiser and more aware. And I saw my boy struggle to accomplish the very same things his siblings mastered with nary a thought. t was a hard fought battle, and victory was often denied to my boy. But when he mastered something, the world was an amazing, brighter place. For all of us.

We miss that. Not just me, but his father, and his brother and sister. We miss the joy we felt when he accomplished a small task. We miss him.

Part of the reason I took the summer off blogging was to find me. Suddenly, at 30, I found myself at a crossroads, with no visible path. All of a sudden the world was my oyster, no longer confined by the constraints of having a handicapped child. Suddenly, I was free to leave the kids, and just hire the 15 year old neighbor to babysit. I didn't have to worry about car seats and wheelchairs and feeding tubes. Medication schedules or teacher aides.

I could get a job without worrying about finding a daycare to suit my child. I could go back to school. I could do anything - except take care of my Shalebug. Which is the one thing I want most in the world.

It didn't bother me that one day I would have to let him go, perhaps put him in an adult facility. I couldn't predict the future, and I refused to imagine the worst case scenario. I refused to bind him by my imagination. Nor was I living behind rose colored glasses. I fully accepted that I would be chained to a grown up child for the rest of my days, as would his siblings.

But none of this mattered, because of the love we all felt for Bug. It was, and still is, staggering.

Leaving me at this crossroad, scratching my head, and wondering what the hell am I going to do with my life?

So, here in my piece of paradise, I have watched Fric and Frac grow and develop. Laugh, cry and argue. I have sat and spent hours researching jobs, careers, educational paths. I have been offered a reporting position at the local television news station. My career as a professional gardener has flourished into what could be a very lucrative career if I choose. The school where Bug went to has offered me an aide position.

I have options. I have the finances to pursue those options. I have more choices than I could shake a stick at. And the only thing that interests me is being a mommy.

But getting preggers again is an option that can't be placed back on the table. Which leaves adoption.

Many hours of soul searching and nose sniffling have been devoted to the idea. Could we do it? Is it fair to Fric and Frac? Would the rest of the family accept a child that didn't have albino white hair and sky blue eyes? It was a hard battle for Boo and I, to have the extended family accept Bug. Could we ask them to do it again, with a child that had none of their blood running through their veins?

Did we want to?

The answer is simply, yes.

So we have started the adoption proceedings. And our application is being fast tracked because we have applied for a special needs child. None of those healthy kids for us. No sirree. We only want the broken ones, Ma'am.

So I, the Redneck Mommy, who am not a redneck at all, am expecting my fourth child. I'm scared terrified of what the future holds for us. But I haven't been this exhilarated in, well, ever.

We have faced our critics, and been embraced by our supporters. Sad to say, the numbers are even on both sides.

No, we are not trying to replace our dead son. Yes, I'm sure I want another handicapped child.

Why? Why not? I counter. Because the love Bug gave us, and the skills he taught us was a gift I want to be able to share with the world. The strength we gained as a family unit has cemented our bonds of love. It has made us all into better people. He shaped his siblings into very special kids. I don't want to spend the rest of my life just remembering those skills.

I want to use them. As a tribute to my boy, who was the strongest person I knew. He taught us to how to love.

Thank you, Skjel. Mommy loves you.


Blogger Thumper said...

Your heart knows what it needs...doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Naysayers lean that way because they probably can't fathom themselves being able to open themselves up enough to even consider the possibility.

And truly, not everyone is cut out to raise a special needs child... those who are should be given medals and plaques and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Fingers are crossed that your fourth child comes into your life as soon as possible, at exactly the right time...

10:18 a.m.  
Blogger J. said...

Ummm ... were you TRYING to make me bawl?
I think it's very courageous to take this route. It takes special people to do this, and clearly, you're one of them.
Congratulations hon.

10:28 a.m.  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

I have goosebumps and tears in my eyes. My heart has that funny ache. You know, the one that hurts, but in a good way.

What an amazing thing for you to share with us. It is so exciting and I'm sorry there are naysayers out there. What a lucky, blessed little boy or girl out there who doesn't yet know they will be a part of your special family.

Well done T and Boo. I can't think of a better tribute to your Skjel.

10:31 a.m.  
Anonymous geena said...

the decision you've made is a wonderful decision....i hope that a new child finds its way into your wonderful home very soon

10:33 a.m.  
Anonymous Great Dane Addict said...

Congrats on your upcoming 4th child! I wish you nothing but the best, and the new addition will be nothing short of blessed.

Good Luck! Can't wait to hear more about the process and the new baby/child!

12:03 p.m.  
Blogger bubandpie said...

I found your blog through HBM's plug on Urbanmoms, and this post joins several others I've read today that have moved me so deeply because I'm simply in awe at the capacity of the heart for giving, even through the risk of pain. (Owlhaven and Straddling the Line are the two other blogs I'm finding inspiring today, Owlhaven for her stories of Ethiopian adoption and Straddling the Line for the love she's given two foster children who are leaving her now and taking her heart with them.)

12:11 p.m.  
Anonymous Meredith said...

Congratulations! Best wishes!

12:31 p.m.  
Blogger ECR said...

Congratulations! This is huge. I'm speechless. I am so excited to be able to follow your journey on this blog.

12:54 p.m.  
Anonymous Mother said...

I'm so glad for you T. I'm sure you'll keep us posted.

2:18 p.m.  
Anonymous Michele said...

Wow. Just wow. And congratulations. Beautiful.

2:19 p.m.  
Blogger lynsalyns said...

I just started reading you via Binky and I am moved beyond words.

I think you should pursue the wish inside your heart. Sending you peace and good luck.

3:17 p.m.  
Blogger Emily said...

Oh, sweetheart...never did I guess I'd be coming to your blog to have my heart swell, and my eyes drip.

I am so happy for this child, that will soon be basking in your love and affection. Whoever lands into your arms will be one of the luckiest, by far.

You make me proud to know you.

Much love, and all the best.

4:17 p.m.  
Blogger L-Girl said...

I am wiping away the tears as I type, for real. That last paragraph was beautiful, and moving. I think you should do it, because YOU want to, and because you and your family have so much to offer a child with special needs. How do you pronounce Bug's name?

5:09 p.m.  
Blogger kimmyk said...

Alright so I'm sitting here all teary eyed. I hope your happy.

It was hard to read in the beginning-the pain of losing a child is still fresh even after 15 years. That pain never goes away unfortunately, but to turn it around and open your heart and your home to another baby??? Are you kidding me! How cool is that!!! I'm so excited for you and your family and I hope you let us all join you in your journey.

Only sucky thing is-you can't like eat all that bad stuff while being pregnant and blame it on the kid. "Look, I can't help it the baby wants to eat 3 snickers bars. It's the nougat!" You can try-let me know how that goes. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

Oh happy day!!!

7:18 p.m.  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Oh wow, T., I'm so moved by this post. This is amazing news. Congratulations on your decision and good luck with all the rest of the process. I think you're amazing. Wow.

8:01 p.m.  
Blogger cmhl said...

exciting news!!

9:02 p.m.  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

There are many unwanted special needs children out there and you are certainly very qualified with 5 years experience, so to speak.
Good luck with your new journey and I hope it's what you really want.

9:28 p.m.  
Anonymous Jojo said...

I hope you know that your longest (I'd never say oldest) best friend is always on the support side. I have a pretty good idea who the critics are and you know what I think about them!! Good luck on this journey and maybe to celebrate you and the bunch can come over so I can meet the new addition!!

7:48 a.m.  
Blogger Motherkitty said...

Well, T, you are embarking on the journey of a lifetime, and I am so happy for you all. You guys have hearts of gold. Congratulations and I hope they fast track pretty fast.

You have more chutzpah than anyone I know (that means "balls" in Yiddish). But, your warm, sweet heart will open up to give this special child, whether it's a boy or girl, all the love it needs.

My question is, I have special needs too, so can I come live at your house?

12:37 p.m.  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

Damn you, I am crying now. This is so wonderful. I'm so happy for you and your family and the child who will be blessed to call you mommy, even if s/he can't do it with words.

1:02 p.m.  
Anonymous dreadmouse said...

That is an amazing gesture of love and strength. I don't think that I could do it. God forgive me, I wouldn't have your strength.

Best of luck to you. I'm going to go hug my daughter now.

2:03 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations!! I'm so happy and excited for you!!

2:27 p.m.  
Blogger ~*~ D ~*~ said...

Please count me on the side of your supporters, I pray that you will be given a child very soon! Any child that ends up with you for a mom is a very lucky child indeed.

2:41 p.m.  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I don't know what to say that won't sound banal. Your words, your story, make my heart squeeze and expand and hurt, in a good way, but a kinda painful way.

Damn, woman, you are extraordinary in your ordinary life. And your Skjel was undoubtably extraordinary, to have helped shaped this woman that you are.

That probably didn't make sense. Hell. I'm just so freaking blown away by you.

6:31 p.m.  
Blogger B.E.C.K. said...

You are wonderful, and you are doing a wonderful thing. The child who finds his or her way to you will be blessed indeed, and will bless you right back.

6:43 p.m.  
Blogger Daisydee said...

Hey T!! Good luck with the adoption. You are an amazing person. I admire your strength. You have a beautiful family. I am envious!! I'd like to steal Boo. Instead I'll just dream about finding my own.

You my dear, inspired me to begin my own blog. TOOO FAR!!!

10:16 p.m.  
Blogger jellyhead said...

Holy moley, the comments section has gone berserk! (I read your post yesterday, and felt so emotional I wasn't able to string a sentence together)

T, I'm sure you are capable of all the paid jobs you have been offered, and more. Yet the 'job requirements' for succesfully parenting a child with a disability are even more exacting. You have the skills and the compassion, and you will shine as the mother of your new addition, your fourth child!

10:24 p.m.  
Blogger Ellen, John & Sophia said...

I missed you! My husband happily informed me that your blog was back. You're the only one of my faves that he reads- must be the 20 acres (we have 17 in Maine) and the love. I can't wait to follow the adoption story. Congratulations!

8:52 a.m.  
Anonymous Rose said...

I lost my daughter at five weeks. I have tears in my eyes as I sit here and read your touching post. I wish the best for your entire family. I'm glad that you found my blog.

10:02 p.m.  
Anonymous roxylynn said...

I just wanted to let you know that I support you and your decisions 100%. You are a terrific mother and any child will be lucky to call you mommy. Like any other blogger has stated, you need to do what is best for you and your family and it doesn't matter what anyone else says. I will always be there for you in any which way I can. I love you so much, you are the sister I never had. My prayers are with you and your family every night before I go to bed. I must say it again, I love you, and your family so much. You are the family I choose to have.

6:03 p.m.  
Blogger carrie said...

Oh my, I am speechless. This is a beautiful, beautiful post.

I am in awe.

Congratulations to you and your expanding family!


1:08 a.m.  
Blogger It's okay, Sweetie said...

I should post a blank comment to signify how speechless I am. I'm so glad I read this. You should seriously consider publishing your story so others can learn about Shalebug's legacy.

9:01 p.m.  

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