Bracing for Catastrophe

Well this is awkward, but maybe in a good way? For a very long time, Mother’s Day has been complicated and challenging for me. Claire would normally have a seizure at the Hallmark store picking out cards, which would push Jared closer to a break down and we just didn’t celebrate after that because we were wrecked.

I love how there is a lot more awareness around all the complicated emotions connected with the day. There are memes centered around all the different difficult mom relationships. Discussions around child loss, adoption, parent loss, and infertility issues seem more common and on the top of peoples minds.

In anticipation of an incredible amount of depression around the day, I booked a trip to Barcelona to see friends and celebrate Chloe’s birthday. Perhaps I could hide from the day and trick my brain into forgetting, foolish I know. You can imagine my surprise when I didn’t wake up grief vomiting on Mother’s Day. In fact, I woke up with a full heart, thankful for the life I am getting to live. It wasn’t just that I had managed to hide from difficult feelings, they just weren’t there.

It is awkward to brace for a catastrophe that doesn’t happen. After years of barely coping fast enough for the mind fuck that trauma parenting is and the painful transition to grief when it all ended, I just assumed I would be working on healing forever. But here I am, walking around Barcelona, enjoying my life like a person who’s life isn’t controlled by PTSD or grief. What is really wild is how I feel like I am some how doing grief wrong, like I should be sad forever.

As much as we have worked to bring awareness to the incredible pains in life, can we now work to normalize getting through it and living? Can we celebrate when we put in the work to release trauma? Can we talk about how weird it is to live in a regulated state, where we can be present and enjoy the now because it is so foreign? Can we own our growth?

I realize this season of peace is only possible because of an incredible amount of effort that’s been invested in healing. I don’t want it to sound like if you sit and listen to water for a while, all the stuff just goes away. The last five years have been an aggressive fight for myself. I’ve been in therapy, yoga, sensory deprivation and all sorts of other things to move all of the crazy out of my body, so that it could also leave my head. I hope to talk more about that soon. For now I am going to sit back and enjoy the afternoon, and walk my dog in the forest because staying in this state is important to me and my nervous system isn’t going to regulate itself.

I am sharing more frequently on Instagram @the_adventures_of_colleen if you want more of my perspective, please join me there.

Made a Wish

Claire had a pretty hard time being 4. Just as her sister started to do all of the things that she had lost, the trial for her eye gaze computer ended and she lost her voice for the 4+ months that it took to get insurance approval. Our doctor suggested it was a good time for a Make A Wish to get Claire through so that is what we did. Claire wished to meet Ariel, her kindred spirit that can’t speak and has wobbly legs. You can read about that adventure here. Fast forward a few years, Chloe is super into the princesses and loves to look at the pictures of her sister with them. She has heard us tell people about Claire’s wish and the fun she had meeting Ariel. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Chloe announced that she was ready for her Make A Wish trip. I explained that it was only for kids who had to go to the doctors a lot to which she replied, “I go to the doctors a lot.” I couldn’t argue with that logic. I explained that mommy and daddy would have to pay for her trip so it would take us a while to save up. For months she asked every day if we had saved enough money yet. When we were out and she wanted things she constantly heard that she couldn’t have it because we were saving for Disneyland. So I wasn’t really shocked to her response when we finally told her it was time to go. “You have enough money! Hooray!” Like most things on the typical side of our life it was all pretty amazing. Chloe anxiously gathered up everything she needed; her Belle dress, her blankie and an Ariel doll. The drive down was easy thanks to the ipad and some Tinker Bell movies.

 We arrived shortly after my parents and headed out to Downtown Disney for a little shopping. Chloe thought she was in heaven. It was obvious we don’t get out much as she was star stuck as the shopping center alone. Both the girls were in heaven in the huge Disney store, if I had known that I wouldn’t have bothered with admission to the park.
 After shopping we celebrated Chloe’s 4th birthday at Goofy’s Kitchen, it was so much fun. Chloe wasn’t super excited about the ‘creepy’ characters but she was pumped for the peanut butter and jelly pizza and copious amounts of fresh fruit.
 Somehow Chloe had a hard time falling asleep after all the excitement so we let her sneak out of bed to watch the fireworks with us from the balcony. As great as the fireworks were it was breathtaking to watch her enjoy them, to remark about the colors and shapes and see her jump out of her skin when she saw Tinker Bell fly around the castle. That’s the stuff that can’t be taken for granted and Jared and I soaked up each minute of it.
 This was one of my favorite moments. It was 8am on Mother’s Day and I had two smiling, happy children that were excited for a day of fun. Not going to lie, it was a huge stroke to my ego 😉
The first order of business in the wish making process was to go see the fairy godmother in training.
 Then all that was left to do was enjoy the magic and watch her soak it in for the first time.
 It sure helped that Claire was having a blast too. She loved all the fun and extra loving she got from her daddy.
 Pixie Hollow was pretty much a dream come true for Chloe, she was star struck by Tink.
 Claire and I almost went on Splash Mountain but she got so excited she stopped breathing as we got in line, as she recovered Chloe was there being the compassionate little superhuman that she is.
 While Claire slept off the crazy we managed to have fun waiting for the parade.
 Chloe was beyond excited, she named off every character as they danced by us, the anticipation as the princesses got closer was almost more that she could handle.
 After all the fun she was eager to get back to the hotel and so were we, all that was exhausting.
 Day two we did California Adventures with our friends, friends that we had never met before, that’s normal right? I met Laurie in New Orleans when I crashed dinner that some of our mutual friends were at. We discovered that our little seemed a lot alike and I have dreamed of getting them together ever since then. So glad we did, it was so much fun and Chloe and Claire have new friends for life.

While we waited for them to arrive Jared and I took turns going on California Screamin’ the fast roller coaster. Yes, at 9 am I made my children wait in the shade while we rode the roller coaster and it was the best decision. It was eerie how relaxing it was to be thrust upside down, a good reminder at how crazy my world is, I have to go upside really fast to come down from the stress of my life, that might be something I work on in the future.

 All of the girls had fun with the princesses at Ariel’s Grotto and we enjoyed being inside and having food served.
 Once it cooled down we went for a few rides and had a ton of fun with our new friends.
 That night the girls cuddled up under the magical fireworks on the wall and quickly drifted off to dream land. Mission accomplished, we had made Chloe’s wish come true.
 Before we left we managed to get a little swimming in and by swimming I mean jumping.

We had breakfast with some friends, Chloe made a great cup of tea for Claire and the Mad Hatter.

Like that it was time to go. So glad we went, it was exhausting but worth it!
 But it was also good to be home.