Recipe For Good Mothering

Zoeflour

Standing at my bookshelf, my fingers follow the worn, familiar feeling of my books, old friends that I have forgotten. There are books of poetry, art and religion; books on growing things and making things; books on building business; books of dreams once pursued. Mysteries, memoirs and fiction that used to carry me far, far away.

I have come here now for a book of recipes, yet still, I am drawn to the now-dusty books about parenting. A shelf that started with a copy of What to Expect When Your Expecting and was filled to overflowing when the unexpected happened. Books on epilepsy and illness, advice and encouragement, books I once feverishly read my way through -- looking for answers, that only life would bring.

I find the baking book I have come for, it's sunshine yellow cover calling out to me, the vintage rose color calming me. I bring it to the kitchen where my daughter Zoe is waiting. No longer does she need the step-stool, or even for me to stand behind her. She stands by herself, leaning against her walker for balance. In middle school now, she has grown out of the little girl apron she used to wear, and favors a pink t-shirt instead. She smiles at me, her confidence and excitement radiating as she finds the page and begins to read the recipe aloud. Her supplies at the ready, she starts with slow, careful movements.

And with patience I stand back, knowing that what makes this recipe work is not my help or what is written on the page.

It is the shallow pan that will catch the overflow of flour and sugar, carefully measured by a shaky hand. It is the notepad nearby that will keep count, by Zoe's written " X's, the number of cups she has poured. It is the flattened bowl that will hold a steady surface for eggs to be cracked and pieces of eggshells extracted.

This is different from when I bake with Zoe's big sister, when it is a team effort to try new techniques, perfectly fill each measured cup and and correctly approximate each teaspoon, that puts my teen girl and I in unison. When it is her idea of what to make, her confidence growing with each new creation. Our collaboration brings us closer together.

Later, when I am alone, the recipe book still lays open, the written words worn, splattered and sometimes hard to read, this recipe replaced by real life.

I know now it is the real result that is better than the expected. It is the authentic, on-hand ingredients that deliver goodness. It is the directions we ignore, the techniques we adapt and the new processes we create that make each batch wonderfully unique -- and never exactly the same.

It is the sweetness that rises above, that masks the imperfections and the missed ingredients.

This is the real recipe of mothering.


Toss Your Checklist For Good Mothering..Trying Your Best Is Enough

I start and end each day thinking about my kids, my mothering,  and I always question if I am getting it right?  Like most other families, we have our normal moments of fun and games and everyday silliness, but we have the other moments too- when kids are tired, and stressed and there are tears. Times when we have to talk about medicine and doctors and how we are feeling, and then decide how to best handle it. 

We shouldn't second guess ourselves, but we do. We should do more of celebrating the small moments.

In our house, we get up each day and just try our best. Something I have always taught Zoe, my youngest daughter, affected by mitochondrial disease and her big sister, O - now in high school. We may not feel good at first, or we may not achieve what we hoped to achieve that day, so we try our best and we adapt and adjust.

I don't know why I never considered this philosophy for my own mothering, the idea that just trying my best is good enough. 

Yesterday was my birthday, and for the first time since her early childhood, Zoe's big sister, wrote me a letter via my blog, below.  I want to share with other Mom's of special needs kids too,  because it was written from the perspective of the older teen sibling. I want you to read her words and know that all those small moments? They add up. And that sometimes, just doing your best IS really good enough. 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM ( Originally posted by O for my birthday) 

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This is not Suzanne. This is her daughter O (don’t worry she knows I’m posting this). It’s my mom’s birthday, so this is a mother appreciation post (half revenge for the times you've hacked my Instagram/Snapchat). Funny story, my mom actually forgot how old she is turning, so she had to do the math. My mom is the best mom, in my opinion, but I’m biased. My mom has done so much for me. Ten months ago, I started high school and I came home the first day and cried about how hard everything was. She told me I’d get better and everything would be okay. She was right, like she always is. Now, those hard classes aren’t too bad. High school isn't the only thing she's helped me through. She helps me through everything, and I love her to the moon and back.

            This is actually part one of my birthday present. I think I'm going make a coupon book for hugs and laundry folding. In addition to cooking and mothering, my mother is great at spoiling shows for me. I’m sure some of you have read her “How I Can Connect to Kristina from Parenthood,” article. Well I'm on season 2 of Parenthood and she sent that article to me. Spoiler alerts were not given to me before I read it. Thanks, Mom.

             My mom does do a lot for me. She recently chaperoned my show choir trip to Anaheim. She sat through lots of sing alongs, Hairspray, complaining, and laughter just to make sure I felt well the entire time and to watch me do something I love. We also went to the happiest place on earth for the first time. She says she didn't like it, but I know she secretly did. I'm so glad she was there the entire time, especially because I was so proud to be on that stage and I could tell she was too.

On her birthday today I would like to make the point that my mom is my favorite person in the world. I'm so glad and thankful that she is my mom and I couldn't imagine a world any different.. And Mom, I love you. I hope you enjoy your special day. I love you, Zoe loves you, and Dad loves you, too.

Xoxo,

O


When Winning The Lottery And Being Lucky Means Being Able To Care For Your Special Needs Child

Babywalker

 

When Marie Holmes, one of the three recent Powerball winners sharing the $564 million dollar jackpot officially claimed her prize, she said the best thing about winning is being able to provide for her children. Holmes is a single mom with four kids and was living in a trailer. And most parents hearing her story will believe the stereotype that when she said “provide for” she meant food, housing and a secure future for her children, all under the age of 7.

Holmes has one child with cerebral palsy, which suddenly makes her not so different from me. I know what Marie Holmes meant about wanting to provide for her children. I am the mother of a special needs child, and I know the hurt of wanting to provide for your child, and also the advantage of being lucky enough to do so.

 The hurt means spending your nights clutching your sobbing toddler tight against your chest, not knowing what is wrong, when all you can offer is the comfort of your touch, then quietly wipe your tears away. 

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This is Your 64, Oh The Places You Have Been!

Thisis64

My prose is not brilliant,
My word choice just fine
Dr. Seuss, he inspired
this poem that rhymes!
A birthday gift of reflection,
A look back to when,
This is Your 64 Bruce,
Oh The Places You’ve Been!




 

“ Congratulations! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting So.. Get on your way!”
- Excerpt, From Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go.


This Is Your 64, Oh The Places You’ve Been!


When the sun has gone down
And you find time to sit,
You move fast through your years,
Asking..… “ WHAT IF?

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Tomorrow I Will Be Present.

 

Presence. 

With my children, I am present. 

The way I wait while Zoe haltingly speaks, starting and stopping before she strings her words together, until finally the garland that is her sentence is strung before me, her thought process complete . She tells me her secrets and I hold them close, I hold her close, until she is ready to move onto something else. 

I stay the course, ever present, while my teen girl travels her waves of emotion. Standing still I give her something to hold on to, I am present , if she reaches out for me. 

I am present with my husband,  as we connect in the after work hours. We sit and consider our day, filling the space of the hours we spent apart. We compare and critique and the children sneak in to our present conversation. And then we all come together again at the table for dinner. 

In the evening there is homework, and reading time and baths. Medicines and schedules, and must-do things that parents do each night. 

There is laughter and sometimes tears, and hand holding and hugs and when I am done, I am happy to be climbing into bed with my husband again. 

The bottle of Pinot Grigio I bought just for me,  still unopened on the kitchen counter.  

On my desk is the new book I want to read, still untouched. 

My favorite television show has been recorded. 

The colored threads are sorted, and the patterned muslin clipped into a hoop, where a  sharpened embroidery needle rests waiting for my hand to hold, while it gathers a fine dust. 

In the bathroom there is a deep tub , that used to only be mine,  alongside it a deeply piled grey rug to comfort my tired wet feet, after. There is also a shelf lined with bath salts for soaking,  lavender, euculyptus and green tea,  preserved to stay fresh in their unopened jars.  

In the dark, I finally sink into the softness of my pillow, alongside side my husband again, his hand is on my waist and content I can’t help,  but to fall off to sleep. 

My eyes are closed yet I can see the words I scribbled into my writers notebook today, before me, one after another. Overflowing words I need to empty onto the page.  

Tomorrow I will try harder. 

Tomorrow I will let the list of things-to- do linger and grow longer.  

Tomorrow, I  will drink some wine and pour those salts into a deep hot bath, just for me.

I will read a book sitting in our pretty room I never sit in- and then I will write the words that need to flow.  

My hands will reach for my forgotten project, and I will sit upon my couch and watch my favorite show. 

Tomorrow, I promise I will try a little harder- 

To be present with myself. 

 

Presence. 

 

 

 

 


Simplicity

I used to run right by it, before I was a Mom. Simplicity, the beauty of the simple things in the moment.

My standard pace was more of an easy run than a walk, easy to achieve with long legs that allow for leaping steps. And sometimes when my husband and I are out alone ( a sitter at home with the kids, the clock ticking) I return to this habit, when it is just he and I ."  Slow down " he tells me. " We aren't in a hurry"  he reminds me.

When Zoe began her preschool years, we started taking her walker everywhere and I learned not to ever hurry, it was unfair to rush her, so I learned to slow down even more to her speed. I would call out the flowers on the path as we passed them by, I learned to  listen to the songs of the birds in our desert. 

From our life I have gained perspective, and embraced simplicity.

The simple things, like opening the doors to our patio at Sunday dinner, because finally, the desert is cooling off. 

 

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Giving Thanks: Delight

 

Delight.

Sometimes the subtle things, they can slip by. The start of school this year brought change. So. Much. Change. My first born teen girl adjusting to high school, where everything was new; the scratchy uniforms, friends,rules, hours of homework and higher expectations. My heart felt overly full her angst and excitement, with her beauty and with amazement that my first girl, is so grown up. 

My daughter Zoe started her second year of middle school with a new sense of awareness, asking me to to fix the “ little girl “ pattern on her new wheelchair seat, so sure was she, that its pale design would make her stand out, that kids would stare at it. And so I spent hours filling in pale yellow stars with a black fabric marker, eager to erase whatever unease I could. 

And then in all of this back to school flurry, Zoe got sick. Really sick. The kind of sick that causes a kid to miss twenty days of school and back and forth calls and appointments with doctors and specialists. I felt pulled back to a time when she was little and her sickness was all consuming.  

But this was different. Zoe is older and smarter and her tear-filled eyes would meet mine and she would ask me over and over, when it would stop, ask me why she was so sick. 

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5 Facts High School Freshmen Want Parents To Understand

Girlshd

 

A few weeks ago, on our last summer afternoon, my girls and I escaped the heat by heading to our local movie theatre. As we stood waiting in line at the snack counter, my soon to be freshman took hold of her younger sister’s wheelchair, took the movie tickets from my hand, and called over her shoulder “ I got Zoe, Mom, we’ll go grab our seats”

Zoe smiled and waved while I stood stunned, watching my oldest daughter making her way to the theatre, pushing Zoe, weaving through the crowds with confidence. Once she reached our theatre, I could imagine her carefully helping Zoe out of her wheelchair and into her seat. I knew Zoe was thrilled, and I was too-This was my girl, doing what she was supposed to do-growing up and letting me know that she is ready for more.

We spent a lot of time together, sharing this summer of anticipation-that would be forever marked by her transition into high school . These are just some of the things she taught me.

1. I want you to expect more from me, and then remind me I can do it. High school teachers already know this truth, and that is why they come on so strong the first week of school, so parents, be ready. Do our teens get overwhelmed? Sure, especially when everything is new and expectations are higher. Our teens are ready for more, but that doesn’t mean they have the confidence to match. Create opportunities to build confidence, pointing out small successes whenever possible.

2. I need to stay socially connected, so don’t take my phone away. Teens experience a huge social shift as they start high school. Some friendships fade with the transition to a new school, and new classes and clubs that can leave teens feeling vulnerable and disconnected until they settle in. In our home iPhones are placed on the kitchen charger at bedtime, and the rest of the time we all try to follow basic phone use etiquette. It’s tempting to take the phone away as a form of discipline, but that’s how she connects to her peers, and teens have a strong need for connection.

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