Thursday, May 9, 2013

World's Best Grandmas

First, when people tell me that I'm strong and dedicated and a wonderful mom, all I can think is, "Aren't all moms?" (And those who are trying to become moms, and those who, for one reason or another, can't be moms.) When someone tells me about a bad day they're having but then apologize because they have no room to complain because my day was probably worse, I try to tell them that just because my day was bad doesn't mean that theirs wasn't.

Left is my mom, Glenda and right is Chris' mom, Robin

But my twins, they have a couple of the hardest working, and most patient, grandmas in the business. My mom, Glenda, has shown me how to sacrifice all that I can to make sure that my family is safe and taken care of. Chris' mom, Robin, has taught me about the importance of listening and being available at all times. But just because my mom has taught me about sacrifice doesn't mean Robin hasn't taught me about sacrifice, and just because Robin has taught me about being there doesn't mean my mom hasn't.

It's because of these grandmas that James came to be diagnosed. These grandmas, along with Chris, are the reason I haven't crumpled onto the floor bawling my eyes out or run away to live in a cave in the woods.

Grandma Robin

34 days old in the NICU with Grandma Robin

A day when Robin forced me to let James on the
driveway. He did try to climb in the car and go
 joyriding, but there was no running into the street.
We live in my in-laws' basement, which means that Robin sees my twins every day. Robin is able to know what is happening day-to-day with James' therapy. Robin went through the same things that I am going through now with one of her sons (James' uncle). I can't say enough about how lucky I am to have such a direct resource. And she is honest with me. When James is doing badly, she tells me, which makes it so much more meaningful when she tells me about how well he is doing.

Robin also helps me to enforce things when I just can't do it. That means giving James a bear hug while I try to have him eat a bite of food, so that I don't give up. Or making sure that I take James outside even though I'm paranoid he'll run into the street or fall into one of the window wells because James doesn't understand what danger is.

Seriously? Are you guys seriously making us sit here?
Without Robin I don't know if I could be as nice to my kids as I want to be (and try to be). When I call her from the basement frantic for some reason or another she takes the twins--or Lily--so I can zone. And she tells me that it's okay. And that woman listens to me rant about anything and everything and puts up with my sarcasm and cynicism, which makes me downright bitchy and angry sometimes, but she's still there.

Robin has made my husband the man that he is. He is so patient with me, and he doesn't judge me for the feelings that I have, and Robin has taught him to be that way. When he's home, he's there for his kids and for me. Robin has told me that she tries to be there for "the crossroads," those little times in between that mean so much. I am so grateful to have him and to have her—I definitely lucked out on the mother-in-law front.

Aww, Robin loves her baby, aka My Man

Grandma Glenda

New Year's Eve in the NICU with Gramma Glenda

And, oh, my mom. Everyone thinks their mom is the best one, and I think that about mine. You read all those quotes about how you wish you knew when you were younger how stupid you were being because you didn't listen to your mother's advice—nothing could be more true in my case. I was one of those rebellious teenagers who blew my mom off and took her for granted. I could write for hours about the five weeks she spent in the NICU with me every day or telling me that it really is okay to go to the bathroom just to get a minute, or that I'm not a bad mom for giving James his iPod in public to stop his tantrum, but what I really want to talk about are the differences she's made when it comes to James' autism.

James has trouble taking baths anywhere but our tub in UT.
This is the visit when James got diagnosed. My mom literally 
had to hold him down in the tub for us to give him a bath.  
 Before that it was sponge baths & skinny dipping in the pool.
My mom has 7 grandkids now (with a new one coming any day!) and never once have I felt that James was an extra burden. I've said that if I ever need a babysitter I would need two, the regular one to take care of James and Lily and then an extra one to take care of James. That the extra time it takes to give him a bath when we visit isn't a hassle or that taking James to the barn means being there twice as long is a pain. He's just her grandbaby. He's not his autism, he is hers. She's open about who he is and will ask anyone who she thinks can make a difference for their advice.

My favorite story is a time when my mom and dad were coming back from the barn with James and they stopped to feed the goats. James jumped off the buggy and ran straight for the pool. My mom ran after him jumping into the pool fully clothed with her cowboy boots and all. With my mom in the pool in front of him and my dad out of the pool behind him, James was fine. And then my mom went swimming with him (after he got a life jacket on).

James trying to drive the buggy with Gramma and Daddy
My mom is able to notice the big changes in James. When your kids are growing, you see them every day so it doesn't seem like they've changed that much but then you turn around one day, and they aren't babies anymore. The programs in therapy are such small steps, and with tantrums thrown in, it can seem so daunting. But then we see my mom or talk to my mom and she can tell me about this new little person she sees in him. Knowing how worth it it was to wait during four tries to have him say, "Happy Birthday, Grandma" on the phone, knowing that it's just not the words that he was saying but that he was chaining them and by repeating what we ask him to, he's interacting with us.

My sister-in-law titled this photo
"Grandma Heaven"

The Award

Nothing is better than Grandma kisses (except maybe daddy kisses)
The World's Best Grandmas awards go to our moms because of all that they do for Lily. It's easy to forget about her in the car or at the store or during dinner when we're all trying to help James stay calm and get through things. But they always talk to her and make her feel special; make sure that she knows that she's just as important as James. 

It's so easy to get excited over the little things for James, like eating a whole hot dog, and Lily's little achievements aren't always noticed. They let Lily know that her accomplishments are just as important James', even if people don't always say it. She knows that she's our Little Lily, and we love her (even when she's a brat).

When Lily laid her head down on the horse she said, "Home."

I can't say enough about these grandmas except that I hope that every kid is as lucky as mine are. And as oogey-gooey it is to say, I love them and I wouldn't survive without them.


I'm sure I'll write about the grandpas another time but they are also
 wonderful and help so much to keep us from giving up.
(On the left is Chris' dad, Jeff, and on the right is my dad, Win)

A small update: On April 24 Chris graduated from BYU, and we are now facing the giant step of what to do next in life. Thanks to wonderful, wonderful family and friends who have fundraised, donated, fed us, and found ways to get the therapy materials we've needed, we will be able to take a little time for Chris to find the right position, in the right state. We won't have to accept the first thing that comes, unless it's the right fit. It almost feels like Christmas.

We love our therapy program, our therapists, and our therapy program director and would love to find some way to stay in Utah. I am so hesitant to take James away from something that we know is working but then so many other thoughts creep into my mind. If we stayed here, we would have to live in Chris' parents' basement (which I know they don't mind), we would essentially have no assets when James finished. But we would have James. Fingers crossed that Chris could get a job good enough that we wouldn't be living off of our family and friends, but they love us and would love to see Lily play with James and get hit by a snowball from her best friend.

Being a grown-up really stinks sometimes, another one of those times that reminds us that we really had no idea of all the things our parents did for us and gave up for us. Thank you mom and dad (all four of you), we wouldn't be where we are without you.