Stop and Pick the Blueberries

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This is my favorite way to start my day.  It was a beautiful rainy chilly morning on the last day of August and it was perfect. My robe was just warm enough, perfect fall weather. Which is a pretty common occurrence in Seattle aside from the heat wave this summer. Kids running circles around me by 8 am. Quiet, relatively – beside the laughter. A warm vanilla latte and a little reading to start my day.  Peaceful. This is usually my time, no matter what is on the schedule. I try to always get myself prepared for the day properly. My days are long and exhausting. I like to tell people my family is “the circus” and I am the ringleader that has to attempt to tame it all. Today was different than any other day. This day was special. Lillia became a 3rd grader .

Still coping with this one. I am not sure how this happened. They grow so fast! It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that I was falling asleep with her on my chest and spit up in my hair. I know every Mom says this, but it is said because it is true. Over time, they grow and your memories slowly fade. Before you know it you aren’t able to remember the comforting baby smell or how they felt in your arms. The milestones become some what less exciting and more of just a fact of life. Then, comes the longing. You miss every stage. You remember times when you could not wait for them all to begin school and are out of your hair. Or you cannot wait for them to become self-sufficient or potty-trained or sleep through the night; But when the day comes no matter how relieved you are initially you begin to grieve that stage of your life.

Lillia was my miracle baby. She was a heterotopic pregnancy and I was only 19 and with major health conditions. Our relationship is even more special because of that. She fought that battle with me. Every pregnancy scare, heart trouble and pre term labor – through it all – it was her. She’s the only one who never left me through it all. I think for this we will always have a special bond. After Lillia was born, I was fortunate enough to stay home from work with her for the first 18 months. She hit every milestone early. She loves learning and her favorite subject is science. She could not wait for summer to be over and to be back at school. She was up before everyone, fully dressed and watching Animal Planet. Her first few days went really well. She LOVES Bellevue School District and I have to say I do as well. They make, what can be the most stressful part of the year so much simpler. Their system is fool-proof. You are even able to buy school supplies directly through them (a portion goes to the school) and they deliver it straight to their class. We only spent $50 per kid. Which I think is pretty good and there’s no late night initaling all of their things or kids carrying bags bigger than them on the way to school. Next month she will be testing for the gifted and talented program and she wants to start playing a sport. I am so happy that she is happy.

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This school year is also different because I also have a Kindergartner starting this year! He begins the day after Labor Day on September the 5th (which is also the same day I started Kindergarrten in 1995). I am so happy and excited for him. He was so nervous at first,  the day Lillia started he was shaking when we were talking about him starting. This week though we got to go see his classroom and meet his teacher. I think that helped so much. He still wanted to whisper to me instead of talking to his teacher but he was grinning from ear to ear. He got to explore his classroom and there were so many new things to play with and sensory activities as well. If there was one of my children I was most worried about leaving me for school it would be Noah. Noah has Autism Spectrum Disorder and is very high functioning but has trouble with his speech some from a tongue tie and trouble picking up social cues. He also sometimes will meltdown and scream, be violent towards himself or take off his clothes. We can barely make it through Target, how is he going to handle a new environment, new people, new routine? I did feel better after speaking to his teacher, she understood me pretty well and will make sure he has the assistance he needs. She didn’t seem put off or uneducated on how to handle kids like Noah . After the meeting he was polite and did so well cleaning up after himself. He was a lot more excited after our orientation. It always amazes me how much kids know. The school is only a 15 minute walk so we walked to orientation, which I love to walk even with the pain. To my surprise I did not have to use GPS once to get there, Noah guided me the whole way. He knew every turn and every hill. Kids know and understand so much more than we give them credit for.

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(Noah is always on the move! I will post some better photos of him and his handsome self next week)

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Orientation, definitely helped calm the both of us. Until, I got home and it sunk in, next year all of my babies will be grown enough for school. I have enjoyed the baby stage so much and I miss it. There is something so comforting about holding a baby. I even miss being pregnant. I loved being pregnant and being a new Mom, all 3 times. I miss smelling their little heads and feeling the tiny weight of them on my chest. I miss those little sleepy smiles and belly laughs. I miss all of it.

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In my case, I am finished having natural born children. I have Endometriosis, poly-cystic ovarian disease, pelvic congestion syndrome, lupus, fibromyalgia, anklyosing spondylitis, and other forms of degenerative arthritis. When my OB did my last C Section she also brought it to my attention that my uterine muscle was paper thin. She said she could see sweet little Arianna’s eyelashes through my muscle, so I’d say thats pretty thin for muscle. I think at this point it’d just be too difficult for me if we didn’t conceive right away, and we are definitely not at the right place in our life for that. To be honest, it also makes me worry that I might have to make a decision I wouldn’t want to ever have to make if it became unsafe. Even more so, I love how close my kids are in age. Lillia is my oldest and she is almost 9, Noah just turned 5 in the spring and Arianna turned 4 last June. I come from a big family and my sisters and I are all within 15 months of each other. We are closer than close. They are an extension of myself and I feel every pain, sadness, or joy that they feel. There is not a single thing I would not do for them and there is not a single day that I do not think of them. They are my best friends and my Mom always told us that we will always be best friends and always have someone no matter what and she was absolutely right!

I keep telling people, if I’m this tired at 28 what will it be like at 38? I am just not built for pregnancy so maybe I should just count my blessings.

I was definintely made to be a Mom though. I love every miserable and beautiful second of it.

Before we knew it Labor Day had approached. With that came that fear and anxiety that I was initially feeling. I know Noah can handle this and make it through the day, but could I? The night before was a night of me trying to prepare and get Noah on board. He didn’t want to shower, was refusing to take his clothes off  to be cleaned and became extremely irritated the more we pushed it. I really needed his clothes washed though, he has ONE pair of shorts he is willing to wear and they needed cleaned. Don’t ask me how I did it but I finally did get him in to the shower (which I was then able to snag his clothes to wash). After his shower he calmed down a lot and we found his Dino pants so he was happy. As I began telling him what to expect and pack his backpack for him, I could tell that excitement was creeping up on him. Everyone was up a bit later than we should have been. The kids going to bed around 10 instead of their normal 8pm.

When we woke the next morning, Lillia and Noah were already downstairs watching animal planet and waiting patiently for us all to rise. Boy did we think we were doing good. Everyone was up and got ready without a hitch. No issues dressing, no issues leaving. There was just one thing. Mom misread the bus schedule and as we were approaching the stop as the bus was passing us. I really thought I had ruined it all. Now, Noah would miss breakfast which means he wouldn’t get the chocolate milk we had promised him. With no other option we began the trek up the “mountain” to school. Yes, mountain. I say that because it is a steep winding road all the way up. When I say steep I mean STEEP. With the wildfires the air quality is complete shit. I could barely make it up the first hill, wheezing,  holding my hips, hunched over, but I did it. I made it up the hill and going down it is just as difficult but we survived. Although, I was still upset at myself for missing the bus on Noah’s first day I was kind of excited to see him walk into class and get those photos.

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Once, we got to the school, he wanted nothing else to do with us. He wanted to walk in all on his own. I started to open the door and follow behind but Noah promptly held his hand up and told me “No, I can do it. Go home!” So I waited, but just long enough that they wouldn’t notice me in the crowd of new kindergarteners, parents and teachers. Lillia did amazing, she walked him straight to class, let go of his hand, knelt down for a kiss and a little pep talk. As she talked, Noah nodded his little head along. I was so proud and decided not to interrupt and go for one last hug and kiss. Instead, I just hung back and watched and took a few photos. Miss Atkins, walked up to Noah showed him his cubby with his name on it and then took him around the room to find his seat with his name on it. She would say “is this your name? Does this say Noah?” After walking around a few tables he found his name. He pulled his chair out and sat done. He began looking a little nervous but a little girl named Lilly started talking to him.

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My biggest fear with Noah was him getting on the bus/off the bus and behaving on the bus. I remember just how riled up we got on the bus and how kids egg each other on. At 4pm standing at the entrance of our subdivision we anxiously waited to find out how his first day was. When the bus arrived and the doors open he was about the 5th or 6th kid to come out and they were hand in hand again. We called their names and Noah whipped around and ran at us with his arms wide open and happy as can be. We didn’t even have to ask how his day was. He couldn’t help but share it.

“Mommy, mommy I got to color!”

“Miss Atkins read us Pete The Cat. Then I got to color Pete!”

“Mom, mom I sang songs too. I have music and art now just like Lillia!”

I was overjoyed .

Then in the middle of his story he says “But, you know I’m not going to go tomorrow, okay?”

I knew the following days would be rough, he will have to get used to this routine and being at school. I can already se such a huge difference in him socially.

The start of the school year makes you think. When the house is quiet and you suddenly feel more alone than ever. I only have one little left at home and she is going milk every moment of it and I am totally okay with that. My family has been through a lot in the last 3-4 years. Even if we hadn’t been through so much, life still happens so fast.

We get so wrapped up in the day to day life. Especially if you are both working parents. Most of our relationship ( going on 10 years) we always worked opposites. We were the couple that could make it work because we were a team, where he faulted – I excelled. No matter how much you try it does get to you. It is not easy. I feel most of Noah and Arianna’s little lives have been such a blur. Between being exhausted all the time and just normal life stuff its nearly impossible to stop and be present. Now, being present requires a lot more work. No one really works 9-5 anymore. And the world expects so much of us. We are on the go constantly. Living our life looking forward to tomorrow just to get through today and be over with it. They grow so fast and with us both working and being sick it is so easy to miss the little things you enjoyed so much with your first.

With Noah I went back to work when he was only 4.5 weeks old and I worked 12 hour shifts with MRSA in my fresh c section incision. After Arianna was born was when my lupus symptoms started presenting. What I wouldn’t do to go back and experience it all just once more. Or to hold them just once more.

I think when you lose a parent it is a life changing event. It changes you, maybe hardens you a little. Whatever it does, you are not the same person once they are gone. Everything suddenly feels less safe and you feel more alone. You long for the time lost. My mother’s passing taught me so much about life. Most importantly it reminded me to slow down. My priorities changed. Suddenly I was the Matriarch and I feel like you lose so much time just trying to live to survive. I don’t want to have to long for any time lost and I don’t want my kids to long for that either when I am gone. I want them to look back on a life full of love, happiness and give them every thing they need to be successful in this life.

I don’t want my children to look back and just remember the times that I didn’t have patience or remember me only ever being sick. My Mom made me strong enough for this life and now it is my job to do that for them. They don’t need to have memories of expensive vacations and by next Christmas they really won’t care about that toy they are playing with. What they will remember is the time they came to work with Mom, a photoshoot. And even though we were all exhausted and I ready to go home, we stopped. We stopped to play  through the fields of blueberry bushes.

They will remember picking blueberries.

And I will remember their smiles.

There isn’t a lot you can do about time lost or less than pleasant memories, but what you can do is replace them with beautiful happy and new memories.

And you can pick blueberries.

With Love,

Alexis

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2 thoughts on “Stop and Pick the Blueberries

    1. We miss you and Cale also! They would have came, but we honestly want to save a little and do the next Trip right and make sure we can see everyone we want to and do everything we’d like to. Just have a few more things to get behind us and then everyone will be able to come out regularly and we’ll be able to help with flights to get people out to see us too. Love you!

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