05 May 2011

Pick up the pace.

The other day, whilst in Hobby Lobby with all 4 of my brood, I noticed Betsy was purposely walking slow and scuffling along to get us all to laugh.  Normally, this would have made us all laugh, but I was on a mission.  To get in and get out.  At the rate she was walking it could have taken the better part of the evening to get my 1/8 yard of fabric and 1 piece of 12x12 scrapbook paper.  Hey, if it were 1972 and legal, I probably would have left them all in the car that's how fast this stop would've been. {And, no, I don't feel bad for saying that.}

I was trying to not let my frustration show.  With Betsy, that only makes things worse.  {Normally, she shuts down and lays on the ground wherever she may be.  She weighs 75 lbs. and has low muscle tone, so you can imagine how difficult it can be.}  The other 3 could feel me about to boil over, I suppose.  Enter Pete.

He put his arm around her and turned it into a sort of game to get her to pick up the pace.  It worked.  Jake picked up on what he was trying to do, and helped in the 'game'.  Rosie loved it, too. Not only did it work, it instantly broke the tension.  We giggled and skipped through the store, and in 15 minutes {still longer than if I'd left them in the car}, we were on our way home with 1/8 yard of fabric, 1 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper, AND Skittles for all.

It is difficult to express how a situation like this one {which happens almost every day in some shape or form} makes me feel.  My normal reaction is sadness.  In many forms.  Sad for her that she doesn't understand typical social cues or that she isn't a typical kid, sad for myself because, at times, I show that I'm only human and wonder why this happened to me, why God chose me to raise a girl like her, sad for my other kids that they will not have a childhood like most children.  And then, after having a pity party, I get slapped in the face with guilt.  Guilt for feeling so ridiculous on all accounts.

We are lucky.  For many reasons, but concerning this situation, blessed beyond belief.  Some of you may not see the blessings in this story.  So, I will explain...

We are blessed, blessed, blessed to have Betsy.  Just to have her is the biggest blessing of all.  Sure my children may have more responsibility than the average bear.  It's not intentional.  We have all evolved because Betsy is in our lives.  The boys have stepped in for her so many times, when I simply cannot {think she's having a meltdown, needs a glass of water, and I have raw chicken juice up to my elbows}.   It's not like an older sibling helping a toddler: she's almost 7, she isn't potty trained {no, they have never changed her diaper or will ever be expected to}, she doesn't speak, she is extremely strong, she doesn't walk so great, she can reach things most 3-year-olds cannot, she develops much slower than a toddler, and the truth is, she may never be independent.  The list goes on and on.  And just like myself, they have learned how to 'handle' tough situations involving her by knowing what calms her down amongst other things.  They have been scratched until bleeding, taken down to the floor, squeezed, pushed, BUT they have also been hugged, tickled, laughed until they've fallen on the floor, kissed so hard it hurts.  All from that 75 lb. sister of theirs.  Their sister has made them, in a sense, blind to differences.  The notion that different IS normal.  I couldn't think of a better way to teach that lesson than with those 75 lbs.

I anticipate a time where they will resent her and me.  Possibly, go through what I hope will be a phase of rebellion when it comes to helping out with her.  And, I know it will be okay.  I wouldn't expect anything else from a hormonal, self-involved, teenager.  {My mom has said that God plucks the souls of teenagers, and gives them back when we become adults.  It's a joke, but with an ounce of truth, I think.}  At the end of the day, they will come to understand what a true beacon of light their sister is in their lives.  How just by her being there they have learned acceptance and empathy beyond what a typical kid or adult will ever know, and how they have the unique opportunity to share that lesson with others.

I will leave you with a final story...

Several weeks ago, we were all piled in our bed on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  I asked Lil' Jake if Betsy could live with his wife and him when he gets older and is married.  Very matter of factly, he told me that it would be okay with him, but he'd have to make sure it was okay with his future wife.  I thought that was a very diplomatic answer.  I know better than anyone what an undertaking it would be to take on full-time care of Miss Betsy Jane.  I assured him that was a great answer.  Pete had a different approach.  Emphatically, he said yes.  I asked him what he would do if his wife didn't want her to live with them full-time.  He said, simply, "I would tell her that Betsy lives with us, or you're out!".

His sister aside, I think Pete has a few things to learn about the ladies.

**Let me add, I would NEVER leave my babies in a car.  So, if you're new around here, and haven't gotten a handle on my sense of humor...know that.


  1. Becky MaltsbargerMay 5, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    I have been following your blog for awhile now (recommended from a couple of high school friends you may know- Kim Grebe and Tony Vatterott). I just needed to tell you that I had a difficult doctor's appt for my daughter today and that your post was just the thing I needed to read to remember that what we have is a BLESSING, not a curse. We're still in the early stages of finding out what's wrong with Amelia- she's 3 years old. Today we scheduled our first MRI and I heard the words "stroke" and "seizure" for the first time. I can't tell you how my heart hurts for my little girl, but then, I don't think I need to. You never understand a situation until you're faced with it. So, thanks today, for making it a little bit better.

  2. I love you. You are a much better person than I because I do leave my kids in the car sometimes. :)
    I also owe you a post on how much I like your mish-mash photo wall. Keep the mish-mash, you can change it later. Slowly. If you feel like it.

  3. Our son with Down Syndrome just survived a significant medical crisis and as I read your post a lot of things hit home for me. I too worry about his future and the impact on his younger sister. We just returned home Monday from an out-of-state hospital and we're all trying to get back into our normal swing of things. He's not back in school yet and as you can imagine my being gone from home for 3 weeks has left it's mark on our house. During the last couple of days when I get frustrated, I have to remind myself how just 2 weeks ago we nearly lost a child and to just breathe.

  4. I have to start by saying I really enjoy your blog and all of your photography. I love the way you have your pictures displayed in your home!! I love your story about Betsy and your other children! We have an 8 year old who was born with a heart defect (hypoplastic left heart syndrome), meaning the left side of her heart did not develop so she has just half of her heart. She has been through 3 open heart surgeries for some reconstruction and she has a pacemaker and has had countless other surgeries she has had to deal with in her young life. All of my children have to deal with everything she has been through and goes through on a daily basis. You are so right when you say there is not any better way to teach our kids the lesson of accepting differences. My kids range in age from 15 years old to 1 month and they all love her so much and help out in every way possible!! It is so nice to read your blogs and realize I am not the only one out there who has a child with differences and that we all go through some of the same things daily. I feel so blessed God gave her to us and that he trusted we could handle taking care of her. We all are truly blessed that we are mothers of all of these wonderful kids!!

  5. i'm a newer follower. and i don't know Betsy's story, although i want to. i just can't read it right now or i have a feeling my husband will come home to me glued to my computer with Kleenex surrounding me and he'll think the worst (i'm facing a medical concern) and then the evening will be filled with tension as we both think about how scary life can be. but, i WILL read her story. soon.

    i just wanted to say, i am a mama to one 3 year old boy. he's healthy. he's sweet. he's happy. and he's wild. and there are days i feel like "i can't do this". i try to keep the house clean, the laundry done, the toddler fed (nutritiously), and maintain my relationships. as a wife, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, grandaughter, etc. all while working part time outside of the home and facing some health concerns of my own. then i read something like this. and feel like a complete piece of *you know what*. it makes me feel like i owe an apology to amazing moms everywhere for some of the "i can't handle this" type of thoughts i have on a rough day in the life of being a mother. you remind me that there is always someone dealing with so much more, and my dear (bloggy) friend, i just want to say... you seem to be doing an AWESOME job at it. God Bless you and your beautiful, close-knit family.

  6. How cute are your kids? I think it is a true testimate to you that they are smart enough and caring enough to recognize when they need to step in and help!! You must be doing an amazing job!! I love your blog!! I love your cute house!! But most of all I love your "real life" stories and your ability to be honest about your life!! I am sure it isn't always easy but I am always excited to read your new posts!! Keep up the awesomeness!!!:)

  7. Your boys are too cute. I loved their honest answers just like I love your blog. Keep on keeping it real sista!

  8. First of all, I so love the picture wall. And oh how i love your stories about Betsy. I know I learn something from her (you, Jake, and your other Grebe babies) everytime I read a "Betsy" post. Just love them. And as always you know just how to word them so I am both smiling and crying at the same time.


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