A perspective on the world of disability from a mother and an educator. Follow my blog!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mother's Day 2014

You know those days that are so good you declare that it will be a hard task to ever better them? Well, that was my Mothers' Day last Sunday. It was a most brilliant end to a rather busy and stressful week.

In the lead up to Mothers' Day I was thinking about what I would blog. Initially the phrase 'bitter sweet' came to mind. This certainly isn't the motherhood I thought it would be. My life is nothing at all like I thought it would be 10 years ago when I was a newly-wed, and it's not like I thought it would be 2 years later as I prepared to bring my big girl into the world. Even though I was a month and a half off my due date my darling Bear still bought me a Mothers' Day gift that year!  16 hours after giving birth to Imogen everything I thought about becoming a mother was tossed out the window. My expectations, my hopes and aspirations for my first born were obliterated with 9 little words ' I think we need to consider Down syndrome'.

That could be perceived as the bitter element of my journey through motherhood. I try my best to not think through that lens. I believe that my big girl was brought into my life to make me a better person, to introduce me to a world that I never knew existed and to teach me about what really makes life sweet.

On Friday, at the height of my awful crazy week, my Bear sent me a text.

There was no way I could say no! Tony Robinson has been in my lounge room since I was a small child! Fat Tulip's Garden, Maid Marian and her Merry Men, Black Adder, Time Team and countless documentaries!  Despite now adding a day long trip to the neighbouring town to the end of our rather hectic week we decided there was no way we could not go. We figured we would need a telescopic lens to even catch a glimpse but you've got to be in it to win it.

Not only did we get to see Sir Tony up close and be in the front row for the filming of his latest tv series, we saw some magical moments between him and out big girl. The first moment was in between filming when my big girl called out
'Hi Fat Tulip!'

Tony Robinson turned to her to say, 'How do you know about that? You must be a very young looking 40 year old!'

To which my girl proudly responds 'No, I'm 7!'.

After the filming we went back in the afternoon to have a book and audiobook autographed. We duly waited in line and when it was our turn, I swear Tony recognised Imogen. We had our photo taken with him and as I was checking the photos and squealing with school girl delight, I turned around, looking for my big girl only to find her having her arm signed! Now that's one incredible Show & Share!

Monday at work I was totally having Tony withdrawls!

Now while this chance meeting of a childhood hero will make it really hard for my Bear to top next year, meeting Sir Tony wasn't the best part of the day.

Laying in bed first thing in the morning being showered in gifts, my middle girl gives me a card she has made at school. It contains cut outs of the 5 people in her family, plus her imaginary brother (maybe we need to have baby number 4 after all!). The message is written by her teacher but no less touching for it.  I move on to open the next present and stop half way. I turn to my big girl who is now reading the card her sister has made. A completely unfamiliar text, with phonologically irregular words. She reads it perfectly. Defying and surpassing all expectations, hopes and aspirations others may place on her.

Now that is what makes 2014 a Mothers' Day to remember!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Constructing, one brick at a time.

I'm not the only person to blog to be cross at themselves for not writing often enough, but with holidays, work-related management, garden renovations and spending time just 'being' with my perfect little family, there hasn't been time or desire to write! I'm going to try and change my pattern a bit and write while I sit beside my big girl and my little Viking's bunks while they drift to sleep. I love listening to the different rise and fall of their breathing and the inevitable snore from my big girl!

There have been so many moments of late where I have thought 'that would make a great blog entry' but before I get to write it down, another idea comes along. Unfortunately between the ideas I haven't had time or inclination to write! One that did strike me quite profoundly that has stayed me me in one form or another is the idea of constructing childhood. It started like this: we were visiting good family friends in the neighbouring town for a blissful six-hour lunch. It was one of those afternoons that could have gone on forever. On arrival our friends had planned an Easter egg hunt for the girls and they spent the rest of the day playing with the animals, domestic and farm. There was a look of pure joy in their faces and it was then that it dawned on me. They were creating memories, memories of visiting friends and sharing a meal and playing in a beautiful garden in the middle of nowhere. This memory was a direct result of a choice I had made - being that I had said yes to the invitation to lunch.

I remember the gatherings I attended as a child dragged around by my parents. My memories are a result of their choices and here I was doing the same to my girls. The idea of constructing their childhood struck me hard. Some things we actively work on, like diet and exercise, trying to construct a childhood we think will put them in good stead for life. For us, it is extremely important that they develop a good relationship with food and the idea of exercising daily is completely normal for them. We actively chose their school because of the philosophy of non-competition and character development. We choose to live in the country to offer them a simpler way of life. We choose to have them involved in all the work we do around the house and yard.

Helping their dad to renovate!

There are however, so many things that we don't get to choose and can't control. I'm working hard to try and learn to not let those things (and people) I can't control impact on my anxiety levels and general well being. Things like: what other children say to my big girl, whether or not anyone plays with her during the lunch break, what her teachers say when they are frustrated with her.  And it's not just my big girl whose childhood is constructed by others. Those times we've been at the park and my middle girl has had to stand up and tell other children to stop being mean to her sister will not only form the construct of her childhood, but also her idea of what disability means. All of these things will combine together to construct her childhood, to create the memories that will stay with her for a lifetime. The power and the influence that others have in her life without even realising it is rather daunting really. It really brings home why I need to be her voice and her advocate. Do I let the world construct her understanding of herself? Do I let the world tell my middle girl and little Viking what their sister is worth? Hell no!

Today I was blessed to start a healthy living program with a local 'wellness' center. Over the next six weeks the other participants and I are going to learn about diet, exercise and mental fitness. Like most workshops I attend, I sat there thinking, 'but I know this already', though I am thrilled at the opportunity to be challenged to really incorporate the knowledge into practice. Here's hoping I can really use the next six weeks to reflect on the way I construct the childhood and personality of each of my girls.