The few tiny lines on our family Christmas card wasn’t able to adequately provide you with all of the information I could have shared about our past year so, again, I wrote an honest letter. One with the good, the bad, and the wild. It’s important for me to share all of our year- because that’s what I know. That’s what I can write about. The ins and outs of living our life, ordinary (and not-so-ordinary) as it i
There’s not a day that goes by that she doesn’t challenge me in a new way. This girl, you guys… all sass, attitude, and HUGE emotions. She’s got the low lows and the high highs. And late at night, before we fall asleep, Devin and I giggle about how wonderful she is. She’s smart, kind, brave, sweet and so terrible. Imagine the chuckle we get when strangers- heck, even our own family members- watch her in all of her glory. That “she’s so cute, but I’m glad she ain’t mine” chuckle.
I don’t blame them. Ha. I would do the same.
But HOLY COW I love this child. I love her through the challenges and sleepless nights. We share the same soul, her and I. Maybe it’s because we’re the babies of the family and second daughters. Maybe because I understand what it’s like to feel all the feels and feel them so strongly. Whatever it is, I have the strongest, strangest and most wonderful connection to her, more anyone else in the world.
It’s this sameness that we share that keeps me sane. Because I’m certain that as she ages, not only will I understand her, I think someone will finally and fully understand me.
I love her laugh. I love her passion for art, movies, and having fun. I love her for always looking out for her sister (her “brudder”). She never chose to be the little sister of a child with a disability. She didn’t ask to fall behind Lucy. And though I believe these issues will continue to grow as the girls get older, the amount of love she has for Lucy is indescribable. I foresee understanding and compassion for Lucy, always defending her right to be who she is.
Eleanor’s 2016 highlights: Lots of writing, drawing and painting. First week of VBS and “Sunday” School. Turning three, and more importantly, acting three.
It’s impossible to compare her to anyone else and thank God I don’t have to. Because she is who she is. And I love living each day with her, telling me who she is and who she will become.
Turning six felt relieving. Five was hard. Five had anger, frustration, and a lot of new things (which means new challenges). But we got through it. Lucy has found a peace she’s not had until now. She is realizing that life is more than simply happy, sad, and mad. She has really improved at understanding how each of these emotions feel, aiding us in helping her through the feelings.
Kindergarten. I have no idea how in the hell we made it… but, again, Lucy wouldn’t be Lucy unless she constantly surprised everyone. Her November conference turned into a memory I will hold in my heart for a lifetime. “The kids are kind to her. They want to play with her. She wants to play with them. They like what she has to offer.” She is testing out at grade-level for the first time in her entire life. She’s learning. CONSTANTLY LEARNING. She writes words, she reads words, she counts to 100 by 10’s. She plays with kids on the playground. She receives very little para support. She took her turn during Star Week, speaking into the microphone in front of her entire class without hesitation. She participates. She loves cold lunch. SHE SANG AT HER CHRISTMAS PROGRAM! She’s doing this on her own.
All the while at home she tells me she cries every day at school. By Friday nights she’s already nervous about going back to school on Monday morning. She tells me every.single.day how much she dislikes school. And I hate getting the bad side of it. I hate that I can’t watch her flourish in that environment. I hate that I have to hear the screaming and crying and pleading. But each day is getting better. And I will never, ever take for granted her small, even tiny, steps. I will never forget where we could be at this point. I will never forget her teachers, paras, and everyone who has helped us get here.
Because early intervention changed who she would become and her future successes in life. And I am eternally grateful for the lessons she will teach us all.
I love being her mother. I love picking her up from school. I love being the one she needs to sleep with each night. I love her complex and odd questions. I love her joy and happiness. I love watching her grow.
Lucy’s 2016 highlights: Kindergarten! Becoming an amazing swimmer. Meeting Eeyore at Disney.
Of course Devin remains the most boring of the family. And by that I mean he’s the lowest maintenance. But more importantly, he’s the consistent glue that holds us all together. He’s irreplaceable. He’s amazing. Devin blesses all of us in more ways than one. He’s everything I want (and more!) as a husband and father.
He lets me be irrational and ridiculous. He listens to me endlessly talk Disney and never tires of hearing my grandiose Disney plans. He lets me be in charge when I need to be, but fills in when he sees where things are lacking. He wakes up with my children every single day and never complains. He loves them and he loves me- and it is so evident. I am beyond grateful to laugh with him every single day. And to take life one day at a time with him as my partner.
He works hard every day. He makes it look easy, but he does love his job and I know first-hand how meaningful that is. He fits right in with the all-encompassing nerds that make up fun.com. To top it all off, he’s good at it. So I beam with pride watching him do well because I’m amazed that I married a man that can “do it all!”
Devin’s 2016 highlights: Star Wars, getting mentioned on USA today’s website, remaining sane in our crazy family.
I can’t forget to mention that 2016 was the YEAR OF DISNEY. Our first visit with the girls in January, accompanied by my parents (whom we couldn’t have done the trip without). The second trip in October was for a wedding (and hurricane) of two beloved friends. I was humbled to be asked to officiate this ceremony, the first and likely last I’ll ever perform. And finally, this month, I snagged 4 days of my bff’s life, dragging her through Disney so we could celebrate our 30th birthdays.
This was the year of the beginning of self-discovery and self-assessing! Resting assured that while dealing with a “mental illness trifecta shit-storm,” I can choose to become better and wake up with new chances every single day. This was the year that I so deeply understood how I can change the way I feel about myself. How I can change the shame, guilt and disgust little by little, remembering that this darkness does not have to overcome me. This darkness does not have to define me.
I have been reminded so often how important it is to speak up and speak out about mental illness. I’ve been humbled by the huge amount of love and support my family and I receive each day.
I held onto moments a little differently this year. I used them to fuel my passions- for learning and loving and living. To fuel the fires of my hopes and dreams that have never been revealed to me. I was thankful this year.
This was the year of loving my family- especially loving this new job as “aunt.” This was the year of being insanely proud and in love with my friends- some having babies, some making babies. Some getting married. Some finishing Master’s and Doctoral Programs. Some moving and making huge changes. This was the year of being totally indebted to their love and support, which I couldn’t live without!
My 2016 highlights: making the most of the last year in my 20’s! Getting Lucy’s Kindergarten picture.
To sum it up…
Life is really shitty sometimes. It’s not always beautiful. We’ve had a handful of those moments this year. But sometimes I think we’ve figured this out. Maybe not everything, but we’ve figured out that even when life gets really shitty, we make it work. We learn and grow and push ourselves. It’s about what we do in our lives during the shitty parts that make us who we are. We are responsible for our own happiness. We are responsible for our actions, how we treat other people and how much love we give. We have faith that God will provide and guide us. We take opportunities and enhance them, we embrace change, we trust and we push the limits. Most importantly, we love our kids. We do the best we can. And I think that’s pretty damn good.
May God bless you and those you love this Christmas. Have a happy, healthy and loving new year.