I was going to write about my vacation. Really, I was. I was going to tell you how blissful it was to be completely and utterly secluded from the bulk of civilization. I was going to proclaim the virtues of vacant beaches unmarked by hideous tire marks (who drives on a beach?!?!). I was going to gleefully recount how joyful it was to be without a telephone, a television or internet service. I was going to paint a picture of my idea of a perfect beach trip: nary a chain restaurant, kitchsy shop or taffy pull in sight.
But then life intruded and here I am, thinking instead of Oliver and sighing one of the deepest, heaving sighs I have ever felt wrack my body.
Your children should move you to tears. It is their right. They are beautiful, and blessed, and adorable beyond words. They are amazing creations handed over to you for a time; neither an extension or yourself nor a completion thereof--a distinct entity of their own. But still, somehow, a connected piece of your senses that hits you in the soft places and moves you to emotions you can't quite muster otherwise. It is heart stuff, this. It is tear-inspiring.
Until this morning, I have never, ever cried because of one of my children. I have cried for them, with them, and, oh yes, I have cried out to the Lord on their behalf. But never have I surveyed a moment and felt myself shaking with the kind of desperation and fear that I found myself awash with this morning. Never.
Last night, Oliver flooded his bedroom. How it happened isn't important. All you need to know is that he overpowered two obstacles and worked his toddler magic on three separate childproofing mechanisms to get to the toilet and manage this feat. Mr. Blandings and I awoke at 1:30 in the morning, put things to rights (no small task) and spent the few remaining dark hours with one ear towards the room where the mischief had been made.
This morning, after fitful, restless sleep, I found my way downstairs, the incident still on my mind.
How, Lord, can I parent this boy? Show me, Father, because I am flying blind here. He's never done this kind of thing before. And he's not even three yet! This is going to get worse, isn't it? Help me, Jesus. Help me be his Momma.
And with that, I opened the door to my garage and stepped out into my flooded schoolroom.
My schoolroom, people. My schoolroom.
There are few things in the world that I have a sense of connectedness with. Strip me of my house, my car, my favorite black Old Navy t-shirt. Take my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. Burn it all. I don't care. I could walk away from it all and feel nothing but a lifted weight.
But my schoolroom? My books?
The tears were real and they were painful. My feet tread the soggy carpet as I took stock: our entire Core 5--with some of the books that helped cement our call to Nepal--was completely awash. My used IG's, which had been destined for reuse: limp. Our beloved, much-used copy of Usborne Time Traveler ... so wet that the once-hardback cover had disintegrated to mush. This doesn't even mention all of my books, my treasures--the ones I was saving for special read-alouds with my kids--that are now molting in a box on the curb. My beaten, highlighted high school copy of To Kill a Mockingbird will not be passed in the hands of my own high schoolers, it seems.
And amid all of this: oh, Oliver ... what does the future hold?
Oliver has FAS. I have said this before. What I have not said, what I have not had to say until now, is that the primary hallmark of FAS is a complete and utter inability to learn from one's actions or to control one's impulses. FAS, in a nutshell, is brain damage. And friends, you do not grow out of brain damage.
Oliver is loved, adored, and cherished in our home. He is a valued member of our family, inseparable from us. His place in our hearts is not at risk. But, nonetheless, our hearts break. Because we know that this is but the first taste of what we will experience as we watch Oliver grow and yet still remain, in many ways, the toddler that he is today.
I can't replace our books. The cost of buying them all again is simply too much. But, praise God, Oli is safe. This time, he did no damage to himself. This time, he came through unscathed. And that is far more valuable to me than any SL Core could ever hope to be.
But my heart knows there will be a next time. And I'm praying now--constantly--that God's hand hovers over him, and pulls him back from the falls and scrapes and dangerous places.
So today, I cried because of one of my children. But I also learned a whole new way to pray. I learned the kind of total supplication that one must enter into when the odds are impossibly stacked against you. I have, I think, come to the point of total, utter dependency on the One who chose the members of our family by birth and adoption. If the cost of all that is merely a few boxes full of book, ought I not be grateful?