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November 2005
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July 2006

Dear Little One,

Things are not always as they seem.

We were at the park the other day, you and I, and your big sister too. She is four, only a year older than you, but she can run and jump and climb. And you, completely in love with her, always laugh and clap- and share her joy. Maybe you imagine yourself traveling in her fluid body instead of resting on your own flat feet, managing your weak muscles that prevent you from walking independently.

On this day we can see the playground ahead, and your sister begins to run. My hands are on your waist, supporting your steps with a solid strength that enables you to shuffle your feet into an awkward yet productive gait. You are impatient; there are probably hundreds of tiny footsteps between you and your sister. You reach your arms up asking for help. You want me to carry you. I refuse the voice in my heart and I say “no”. I take your hands in mine and we begin the slow walk together.

Finally when we arrive at the playground, you want to climb. I hold your waist, your arms and sometimes just your hand to stabilize you as you move carefully up the steps. A little boy, almost half your size walks by you, too close -his body briefly making contact. It is enough to challenge your balance and you begin to fall. My hand quickly pulls you upright to the stance you had worked so hard to establish.

Your hands in my hands, you lead me climbing clumsily to the top of the slide.  I place you in my lap. You begin to scream loudly and I see the boy’s mother studying you and me. Your sister waits below, calling encouragement, anticipating the excitement of your accomplishment. We push off the top of the slide and you are crying in fear as you always do. And five feet later as we reach the bottom I hold you in front of me and you laugh! We are closer to the boy’s mother now, and we make eye contact. Before I can even consider conversation she asks “How old is she?” Almost three”, I reply... “And your boy?” She answers that he has just turned one, a few months back. She abandons the conversation, afraid and unable to ask the obvious questions. She turns her head and her eyes follow her son instead.

You see, little one….things are not always as they seem. When you are tired and I help you walk, when your weaker muscles need the support of my strength, or when I carry you, you may cling to me. You may even be restless or fussy. Others may see your physical size, your neediness and think I am indulging you. But things are not always as they seem, I know your needs.

Sometimes, you may cry or scream in public it is because I am challenging you. Expecting you to act like other children as we move through public life socially as a family. Others may see a tantrum; I know your special needs.

And when you move your body, quickly, repetitively, distracting or disturbing those around us, they may see immaturity, disruptive behavior. But I know you are adapting to the challenges of your environment the best that you can. I know your special needs.

Love, Mommy

My Heart Sighs

Dsc00738 I sit and I sigh. In the quiet early evening, after my daughters are tucked into bed, the house is restored to order and the lights are turned down low,I sit and I sigh.

I sigh because I am weary from the physical act of being in motion all day- spread thin between appointments, a desk buried with work, a home that needs tending and my young daughters ' constant need for hands- on mothering.  I sigh , and with my exhale I shed my memories of the tears, and cries, and frustrations from the day. I release the stress of worry and tension with a sigh so dramatic,  I imagine it is heard for miles. But really it is soundless, or perhaps it is a simple "whoosh" of air, suspended.

I sit in the silence. I am amazed that my breathing is soft and even .Within me, my sigh echoes loudly shouting my emotion.

My husband is beside me. I am tired but I reach for his hand, and he gently opens his, accepting my tight grasp. We sit like this in the quiet .His eyes follow the images on the television across the room. My eyes still and closed begin to visit the memories of us in my mind. I can see days upon days, full of lazily spent hours. Sitting in the sun, reading,and napping, creating wonderful meals from complex and precisely detailed recipes. We talked , and talked .. Wasting the words and the quiet as if we had all the time in the world. But we didn’t.

Now those quiet and open opportunities for deep conversation are rare and simple treasures. I sigh, a short sigh of pleasure, grateful for the gift of his strong hand and our physical togetherness.

Now we have our daughters. And just when Ithink they are extracting every little bit of life right out of me- they burst into the room overflowing with smiles and excitement and fill all of the empty, open spaces with joy.Just when I think that life with them will surely break my heart- I am unexpectedly showered with their love and happiness , their desperate need for my presence- so much so that my heart feels as if it may burst with fullness.

I sit and I sigh.