Saturday, August 09, 2014

Small Talk

This morning, while standing near the dairy case contemplating whether to buy 3 or 4 gallons of milk, I was surprised to see an old friend from our public school days.  She stopped and we chatted, asking the usual questions moms always ask when running into one another.

"How's your son?  How's school for him?  What are you doing these days?", we ping ponged back and forth for the first 3 minutes.

Then it came, the inevitable lull when you have little in common to talk about other than a former life that little resembles the one you live today, and you know you ought to be saying something but you can't dig up anything else to ask or add.  This was a mom I was genuinely quite fond of, and I left feeling a little melancholy, wishing I was good at small talk, that I was more able to stand there for half an hour chatting about this and that.  I was struck again by the fact that no matter hard I have tried, I have spent the majority of my Mommy Years being very, very alone in my motherhood journey.  I also realized something else...

I don't do small talk.

I am not practiced at it, I am not comfortable within its realms.  What other women pull off with ease is, in some ways, pure torture for me

Instead, what I am well versed in is Big Talk, you know, the kind that moves from shallow to deep end of the pool in the time it takes to draw a single breath.  I have spent years living in that realm, where hearts with ragged, torn edges are exposed.  I don't ask for these conversations, they just seem to follow me, and it is not just within the confines of our family.  We have an inside joke that every time I invite a random mom to come hang with us at the local swimming pool for an afternoon and visit with me while her young'uns play, sometime during our time together, she will end up in tears as she shares concerns.  This has happened at least 6 times, and if I meet someone new there, I will be seeing the kids watch from the sidelines to see if the mom friend is crying.  I am glad I can be a resting place for someone, a safe place where things can come out that might have been long buried.

We've had an incredible amount of Big Talk around here lately.  There are things being shared that I am not going to openly write about at this time, and there are concerns that are easy to be open about.  Let's just say that nothing is simple right now.

Big Talk this week centered around Matthew's visit to Shriner's Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, where he was evaluated for  ongoing back and orthopedic issues.  It's been about 2 1/2 years since our last visit, and Matt has been diligent about following instructions for activities not to participate in.  We ended up taking Josh along with us.  The original plan was for everyone to stay home, and just Matt and I make the trip.  Kenny and Angela both had work to do with Dominick, one at the restaurant and one pressure washing, so Olesya and Joshua would be home by themselves.  Late the evening before we were to get on the road, Josh came to me trying his best not to cry, telling me that he just didn't feel comfortable being home alone with Olesya and "no big kids or parents", and asked if there was some other arrangement that could be made.  He said he didn't want to hurt Olesya's feelings, but it just didn't feel good to him.  We totally feel Olesya is competent to be home with Josh, but we realized they are too close in terms of school work, etc. for him to feel she was "older"...and thankfully Olesya graciously understood as well.  It was decided that Josh would go with us instead.

What a beautiful, lovely drive we had!  I had pre-loaded some podcasts on my iPad for the desolate, long drive, and yet never touched them.  Instead, the boys and I visited and sang our way through the Utah desert, talking about life, music, faith, and futures.  The older our kids become, the more I enjoy my time with them.  They are such interesting people!

The next day, Matt and I found ourselves alone for a bit in the exam room as we waited for the doctor.  We giggled and played with the kids toys in the room, and laughed over a silly book about a grandma taking her garbage out.  When the doctor arrived, all laughter stopped.  Looking at the new xrays that had just been taken, it was obvious that surgery was now a reality.  I was very proud of how Matthew handled himself, and saw immediately how much he has matured since our last visit there.  This time there was no prodding necessary as he answered the MD's questions fully, providing details and explaining how much pain he was in most of the time.  We discussed what surgery might be like, and it was quickly decided that this would be the best course of action.  Matt was given a choice, and he bravely opted for it, as he knows it will do nothing but get worse over time.  After some conversation, we all agreed to let him play volleyball, return in November for another follow up and schedule surgery for after the first of the year sometime.

The drive home was much more contemplative than the drive there.  Matt admitted he is scared, and he knows this is not minor.  We talked out the pros and cons of waiting versus moving forward, and he was firm about going ahead with it, which I think is very wise, but I would have understood if he had elected to put it off.  We were told it would be a 6 month recovery, and probably a second surgery as well to go in and remove hardware after healing.  That was a lot for him to take in, and when we arrived home it was a lot for everyone to digest.  Everyone spoke of how Matt would have to come first then, and everything else would have to be second on the list.  As we talked with the family, Matt laid down and put his head on my lap, something he hasn't done in a long time.  I reassured him that it would all be fine in the long run, that he was getting the very best of care from folks who knew how to keep the pain at a minimum and really knew what they were doing so he could have a better future.

I barely had time to consider it all before moving on in my mind to preparing Angela for repeat root canal.  Everything went fine, and she was thrilled with the dentist we found who did my crown recently.  That made a world of difference because she came out saying she was no longer terrified of dental work, as long as this dentist did it.  He is very kind and considerate as he is working, and so we have solved on problem for all my dentist-shy kids.

We have some heavy stuff going on around here, fears about the future abound.  Next weekend we are going camping for the second time in our new-to-us trailer, and I think we are all long overdue for a breather. Despite all the concerns, we are able to share our feelings and be open with one another about fears.  That is the killer for families, when emotions get buried and there is an unwillingness to draw upon one another for strength.  We have no idea what the coming months will look like for us in all kinds of areas, but we are together, we are strong, and we are facing every challenge with an entire loving Team behind us.  That's all that really matters.

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