Taken our first night camping...we were all awestruck.
Such views are healing for the soul.
Home. Unpacked. Laundry being done...well, let's face it, it's never fully "done". Walmart run completed and groceries in for the week, maybe two if I can stretch it. $419 and two carts full. I wanted to gag a little, it always feels that way after we have emptied the fridge prior to a trip. Nothing but food, and only 4 meat items purchased. I laughed out loud recently when someone asked about our food bill. I offered the explanation like this: "Well, if I buy a single bag of apples, there are usually 7 or 8 apples in it. That is one snack for one day." That was greeted by a stunned silence as the realization set in. No one I know wants to trade grocery bills with us.
We had a total blast, really enjoyed our time in Durango, and all the beauty of the southwest. I am sharing photos randomly on this blog post, just because :-) We ended up coming home on "Color Weekend" through the mountain passes in Western Colorado, when the hues of yellow and orange were at their most show-offy.
PS: All these photos were taken with my tiny little iPhone camera, as an experiment.
What do you think?
I know my last blog post sounded a bit like a Pity Party for Cindy, and I regretted posting it after I closed up the iPad that night. I mean, my life is far from awful, in fact, it is down right beautiful in all the ways that count. Seriously. I don't make anything up here, I have too many "in real life" friends who come visit me here on the blog and they keep me honest! Hahaha! Our family genuinely IS very, very happy. We DO laugh that much. We DO deeply love one another. And yes, our kids DO actually get along that well. I am not faking it when I post about the moments...you know the ones...because that is how we live our lives. I take no credit for it, aside from making sure God is as present as we can manage, and though I know many don't "get it", that changes every.single.thing. It really does.
But I long ago vowed that this blog was for us, and because of that, I had no reason to hide anything or sugar coat it. As time passed, and I realized there were more people reading it than my 2.5 friends, it became even more important to be as articulate and open as I could possibly be. As I was preparing myself each and every time we adopted, it seemed everything I read was either a Fairy Tale or a Horror Story. I knew it was neither, and that folks were just too uncomfortable to share their truth....all of it. There are things, out of respect for the kids, that I don't share. They know I blog, and they will sometimes say, "You won't post that, will you?", and of course I won't. However, they all know what a challenging road we travel as a family, and they have seen first hand and heard from many, many others who have explained how much it helped to read things I have written through the years, so our kids see our blog as a ministry of sorts, and are supportive of us reaching out in whatever ways we can to help others see things more clearly.
My regret about posting my Mini-Mama-Meltdown was completely wiped away when I received this comment today:
" I've never left a comment here, but I always looks forward to your posts because I truly feel that we are living very similar lives, although my kids are a few years younger than yours (13. 11. 10. and 5). I have searched and searched to find other blogs or other moms that can understand what I'm going through and your blog is the ONLY one I've ever found that seems to parallel my life. I just wanted to tell you what a blessing today's blog post was to me. You articulated so many feelings and fears that I have. In fact, I was just out on the back porch talking to myself (because, you know, NO ONE else understands, so you end up talking to yourself.. a lot) and I expressed the same feelings that you're feeling right now. I don't have any advice or really anything good to say, but just wanted you to know that you're not alone in this. And can I tell you how much I appreciated knowing that I'm not the only one who explains the same thing over and over and over again, even after a very logical explanation? I really thought it was just my family. Thanks again for your blog. It keeps me from feeling that I'm alone in this."
I have often said, both in person and in my blogs, that no one should ever have to feel alone. It is one reason I am incredibly passionate about the company I am working behind the scenes to create, which will hopefully offer some level of support, encouragement, and resources for families like ours, and like my fellow mama above. We shouldn't have to feel this way. We shouldn't have to talk to ourselves, we shouldn't have to cry alone, we shouldn't have to fight every step of the way to convince professionals that we are not idiots and something is very wrong with our beloved children. We shouldn't have to research it, present it, and beg for testing...that is THEIR job. We shouldn't have to feel that crushing sensation as we look around and realize there isn't a single place to turn to for understanding and help.
We should NEVER be alone in this. Yet, we are.
I may sometimes feel that alone, because our circumstances are different and others have no experience with it, but I am inordinately blessed with friends who listen, who care, and who offer tangible help when they can. Even with that, I still feel deeply isolated at moments. I think all special needs moms do. That's why I try to write with honesty. Those who have followed us for a long time, hopefully, see that reflected in my posts.
However, the funny thing is that most of the time, I actually forget I am, indeed, a special needs mom. Dumb, huh? I mean, isn't it obvious even with Kenny? Let alone the fact that every single one of our kids has some sort of diagnosis? (No, I am not a "diagnosis" junkie, but we've needed to know so I could find great tools to teach with...and to know when to press and when to let go.) Well, if you knew our kids in person, you might better understand why it sometimes catches me off guard. They are indeed, "uniquely developed" or "Limited Edition", as Angela has dubbed us. They ARE bright, they ARE deep, they ARE smart!
That, in a nutshell, is why it can be so disheartening and hard...because they ARE so many things other than a label.
LaJoy Men...Strong, Good, Awesome!
After much reflection, I realized that part of what erupted for me was grief stemming from the growing realization that I think we might be dealing with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or some related disorder with Kenny, and likely with the girls as well. Of course, we know that is highly probable with the girls, as we have a history that includes incredible alcohol use. We are undoubtedly fortunate that it isn't much, much worse with the girls. With Kenny, it is a big unknown. Surprisingly, not a single specialist has ever suggested it with Kenny, and I am not sure why. In reading more and more about it, a light bulb is going on for me. He has such a myriad number of issues, all of which could be independent of FAS, but together seem to point directly to it.
And with each new level of understanding, with each new layer uncovered for our children who are in many ways complete enigmas at moments, it is as if I have to take a deep breath, and allow myself time to grieve the latest understanding.
So much damage done...so very much that was 100% avoidable and unnecessary.
Tonight, here alone in the quiet with nothing but my keyboard and my thoughts, I marvel at the path God has encouraged me to walk. Having talked it all through, cried it all out, and handed it over to Something Bigger Than Myself, I am better able to be and feel all I need to be and feel. It builds over time, all of "this", and it needs to rise to the surface. How grateful I am, though, for all that Team LaJoy is together. For all our "failings" in the eyes of the world, for all that doesn't work the same as it does for everyone else, for all that is frustrating and aggravating on a daily basis, there is one thing I know for certain:
We are never in it alone. We, the seven of us, are there forever for one another. We have ALL healed and have scars, we have ALL overcome, and we are ALL going to make sure that everyone makes it. Sometimes I need to look back a bit, and see just how far we have already come. We have such a "Two steps forward, one back" kind of life, that it can be hard to measure the true distance traveled. Oh man, have we made it a long, long way. How could I ever forget that?
Josh was listening the other day to some music, and on came the song I used for the adoption slide show I created for the girls. We have come to think of as "the Girls' Song", popularized by Rascal Flatts (Broken Road), though we used the version by Selah, which is far more beautiful. Josh started humming it mindlessly, or so I thought, until he glanced up at me and said, "Hey mom, this song is really about our whole family. God really did bless the broken road that led us to each other."
Straight, perfect roads are highly over-rated. I'll take the broken one, anytime...it has more to offer my heart.