Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend with a Child Recap *EDITED TO ADD*

It's honestly been very hard to write this post, and I've been writing, tweaking, changing, adding, deleting, and trying to write it all down over the past 3 weeks. But I cannot begin to fully explain the whirlwind of emotions that have been swirling around in me since we watched Parker for the weekend. The 2-3 days after he left were some of the most confusing, conflicting, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching days of my life.

It was hard.

So instead of dwelling on any of that, I've decided for those of you who really want it and have been asking for it, a full recap you shall get! :) {warning, this is not short....}


Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about having a little child in our house all weekend and being fully responsible for someone else's child! But let's just first say, it went off really well and we had a good time!

I picked up Parker after work on Friday. Monica passed him off with ease and a wee bit of sadness after switching his carseat over to my car. The car ride home was seemless, while I did little things to make Parker giggle, giving myself ways to not be overly focused on "oh my gosh, there's a little child alone with me in the car, and I'm fully responsible for him, wow oh wow oh wow....".

But pulling into our driveway with Tim hours from being home yet... the anxiety set in a bit. I felt overwhelmed suddenly and just prayed quickly for God to give me strength. And then - I just kept moving. Things to do, a quick snack for him since I knew I wasn't near ready for dinner when he usually has it, needed to get him settled and adjusted, and found ways to entertain him before dinner {i.e. some of his favorite things: like watching a bunch of YouTube train videos, and hey... when you're the auntie/spoiler/non-parent, you can do things you know you wouldn't necessarily always do as a parent, like let him watch a bunch of videos the first night he's in a new place without mama & daddy because it helps comfort him}. :)

Then we had dinner {some quick & easy frozen pizza & blueberries}, more entertainment and time hanging out/playing with me, and then his bedtime routine which was pretty confusing to him at first. Even though I've helped put him to bed many, many times at his house, the different bathtub threw him for a loop and immediately caused him to pipe up "mama?"

Thankfully Parker is easily distractable with the familiar - familiar routine, familiar books, familiar stuffed animals, familiar sippy cup, etc. The pack & play definitely was something he wasn't too sure about at first and looked perplexed. He kept rubbing it and pointing at it and questioning "bed?" So cute.

Tim arrived just in time to help get his nighttime milk because I'd forgotten it until I was putting on his PJ's {it was all so different to me too--so used to the routine at their house, not mine!}. So Tim to the rescue! And it helped appease Parker to see him and get a good night hug from his favorite pal Tim. {He says Tim's name constantly.}

I laid him down in bed, said the usual good night & I love you, and closed the door with a prayer that he'd fall asleep quickly and without too much trouble despite the new environment. Now let me clarify - Parker's a great kid, he sometimes has a little trouble falling asleep even at home but not in a screaming/fit kind of way usually. He talks to himself and his animals, and just entertains himself well. More often than not, I've heard him fall asleep fully within an hour and he generally sleeps for 11-12 hours without too much of a peep. Thankfully, despite a couple of minor peeps, that first night, surprisingly he fell asleep quickly. Whew. 

I didn't sleep well, but it could have been worse. I woke up 2 hours after going to bed and I was in a all-out sweat from the nightmare I'd just had that Parker had busted out of the pack & play and seriously hurt himself. After that, I woke up every 1-2 hours with other dreams, and I was wide awake at 5 a.m. ready to hear him at anytime, and fearing for some reason that I might not hear him.

Crazy, right??

He slept soundly until 7 and I let him keep talking to himself until 7:15 or so when he started getting louder and more restless. {The general rule is when he's contently talking to himself, let him keep doing so and he wakes up a little more slowly before you get him out of bed.} Then I got him up and into a new diaper, and into our bed with Tim to watch angry birds on Tim's phone {he loves them}. I left them to keep hanging out while I started making breakfast, but a few clanks in the kitchen and Parker came running "Shell....!!!" So cute.

We had scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, and grapes for breakfast. Tim was great with helping keep Parker occupied for a bit so I could tidy up and get ready. We took it slow and easy, and it was really nice seeing Tim & Parker have some slow Saturday morning hang time together. So very precious.

Then Parker & I were ready and it felt like we waited on Tim for forever ;) before we finally took off shortly after 9 for Tim's mom's house about 25 minutes from here. I felt bad though as I was getting Parker ready to go and he said "Go, mama?!" After telling him earlier in the morning where we were going and what we were doing, I'd hoped it wouldn't be an issue, but of course that was silly of me. ;) I reminded him what we were going to be doing and he seemed fine. The car ride was good but this time he was really quiet and looked worried the whole time, while clinging tightly to monkey. My heart went out to him and I wished I knew what was going on in that little head.

There's lots of open space at Tim's mom's, two more kids to play with, two dogs, and oodles of toys to occupy Parker. Tim carried him into the house since we weren't sure how he'd do with the dogs. The big dog freaked Parker out too much upon arrival {lots of barking} and we put him downstairs. Once comfortable, Tim put Parker down and while walking around slowly, it wasn't longer before Parker was feeling at home. Tim's mom helped a lot with that, she has such a natural ease around kids and such good ideas of ways to get them playing and enjoying themselves.

The small dog Cuddles and Parker got along perfectly. Parker was so sweet and gentle with him {and Cuddles is nothing but insanely sweet with kids}.

It was really fun & special to watch my niece & nephew playing with Parker and seeing them all come together like that. I don't have any good pictures of them playing together and it doesn't come across well through the camera lens, but trust me it was all good. It was really sweet to see Parker's sweet, sharing nature and how that helped give way to Ashdyn being a bit gentler and sweeter with Parker as the hours went by.

It was fun for me to also be the one in charge of making sure I had everything Parker needed for our time away. I know I'm really good at organizing that sort of stuff and always having extra things on hand just in case. But still, actually doing it was really exciting for me. I'm such a nerd. But Parker was well taken care of and even though Tim's mom's house had extras we could have used, we didn't need anything outside of what I brought. I couldn't help but pat myself on the back. It's the OCD organizational side of me that just gets all giddy over stuff like this. :)

Toward the end of our time there, I sat down in the entry between the kitchen and family room to watch all the activity, and it wasn't long before Parker joined me. As we sat and talked with Tim's mom and sister, in my head I just kept thinking how special this all was and how much it meant to me. It was neat to feel like a "parent" and see his family reacting to our interactions with him, telling him no, encouraging him when he shared, him being so sweet and kind and obedient, etc. I was oozing with pride and love, like a true mama bear. It was seriously wonderful.

Tim was great about helping get Parker in and out and about. I appreciated his help so much!

After we left their house at 11:30, we headed straight home to get there by 12 to feed Parker lunch. We had yummy sandwiches & peanut butter crackers, and Parker had salami, cheese, a bit of bread, a few crackers, and blueberries. Then a bit of quiet playing, and it was Parker's naptime at 1.

It's funny how I knew it would be a good break for us to rest and get some things done, but resting is all we ended up doing. I wanted to keep moving, but I had to stop and listen to my body, I needed to rest. Besides we were a bit nervous that if he heard loud noises in an unfamiliar place, it'd startle him and he'd have trouble sleeping, so we didn't risk it. I almost fell asleep, but by the time I'd let myself relax enough to fall asleep around 2:30, Parker started screaming bloody murder. I came running but also still hesitated just in case it was a bad dream or something and he could soothe himself. But I could tell within a minute it was not going to easily go away, so I slowly walked in, lovingly rubbed his back, told him "Aunt Shell is here and loves you, you're safe", kept rubbing his back until he quieted, and just kept reassuring him until I quietly snuck back out and closed the door. Through all of that, at first I couldn't tell if he was waking up for real or if he was trying to fall back asleep, but I'm glad it turned out that he slept for another hour and a half!

Parker is always amazingly sweet and excited when you come in to get him. So after my own bit of resting, when he woke up I was glad he'd slept a good amount, and he was bright & chipper when he got up.

Our standard wake-up conversation became:

Me: "Hi Parker!" {or "Good morning Parker!"}
P: "Hiiiii!"
Me: "Did you sleep well?"
P: "Yeahhhh!"
Me: "Do you need a new diaper?"
P: "Yeahhhh!"
Me: "Did you have fun sleeping in this different bed?"
P: "Yeahhhh!"
Me: "Do you want to come out and play with Tim & I?"
P: "Shelllll! Timmm! Play!"
And more exciting conversation would continue....

After getting him up that afternoon, I got him some yogurt and an apple for a snack. And we popped in the Jonah VeggieTales movie, which he tolerated for about 30 minutes, and really enjoyed the music.

Then we set up a little doggy tent in our living room that Tim's mom had sent home with us, and arranged Parker with his toys so he could play for a while. He played okay on his own for a bit while I got some things done and then considering my exhaustion, Tim ran to pick us up something to eat at Panera.

Parker was starting to get antsy, so I gave him a change of environment by showing him our basement, which unfortunately is still torn apart by construction. So we wove our way around some landmines and kept him occupied with random things he could find... like a tic-tac-toe beanbag game, and a piece of equipment technically for exercise but in Parker's mind it was definitely more for play! :)

After all that, we headed back upstairs and shortly thereafter we greeted Tim coming back with our food. Parker demolished his PB&J in no time, and while he usually loves chips, he instead went for my mac & cheese. {And admittedly I enjoy sharing my food with him, it makes me feel special. :)} Then we played and watched some Ice Age before it was time for Parker to go to bed.

{He also got a kick out of playing with our wooden back-scratcher.}

We slept a bit better Saturday night, and worried a bit less. I heard Parker making some light squeaks shortly after 6, but he didn't really start talking to himself louder until closer to 7. When I got him up, I was feeling anxious, thinking about taking him to church. I got him ready and then got us all some cereal and grapes for breakfast. Then it was angry birds time with Tim until I was mostly done getting ready and we traded off.

Parker & I talked about going to church, learning about God & Jesus, and playing with new kids. I tried to prepare him the best way possible while also trying to help him understand this was a different church - that he'd be going to Tim & Shell's church. The moment we walked in the door, we all felt a bit overwhelmed. Parker was sweet and said hello to people. Thankfully upon entering our large foyer we saw some old friends of ours and their 4 kids, 1 of whom was in the same class with Parker. Julie helped make sure I was going in all of the right places {even though having served in our children's ministry before, I knew basically where to go, but it was still very different bringing our "own kid" in}, and she talked to me about a few basics while we headed over to the check-in counter.

Upon arriving at our large children's ministry check-in counter, I saw two familiar faces and felt more at ease, but still a bit uncertain of how this process would go. Thankfully it was really easy since we attend the church and our information is already in their system, so Parker was logged in as a guest under our information with just his basic info added. After we got the print-out tags for him to wear, for us to keep to turn in when we pick him up {and so that we'd have the code in case they had to put it on the small digital screens at the front of the auditorium if there was an issue or emergency with P}, and also to put his info on his diaper bag & sippy cup. It's a very efficient process, for which I'm very thankful. The whole time I knew Tim was talking to someone but until P was totally checked in, I didn't realize it was my coworker and his wife. Ironically Monica used to work closely with this guy, so we chatted and I introduced P to them and said "Dallas used to work with your mama!"

Given that P was looking particularly worried and skeptical at this point, I knew I shouldn't have reference mama the moment the words escaped my mouth. He said "mama?!" in a scared kind of way, and my heart totally went out to him. Tim helped keep him distracted as I talked with my coworker and his wife, who also helped make sure we got to the right room, which was thankfully just steps away. At this point, I was flustered enough and concerned enough about how P was going to do that I rambled on for a couple of minutes with the lady in the room about stuff P might need, what he likes, etc. Tim said later he thought the lady looked at me kinda funny, but seriously I couldn't care less, I just wanted to make sure she knew stuff she might need to about Parker since he'd never been there before. Tim set P inside the kid's room, and since his back was to us as he looked around, I bolted. I wasn't sure I could handle a tearful goodbye or anything of that sort, so since he wasn't looking, I got out of there fast.

I'm really thankful our church has a seamless process, especially considering that it's so large and could be really overwhelming and confusing. It gave me a perspective into how a visitor with kids might feel and it was insightful. I was glad to personally know so many people who were so sweet and helpful though! In the moment I wasn't seeing straight and felt flustered and overwhelmed, so I sent them all thank you cards later because I didn't think to say anything at the time. They were so sweet and such a God-send to me!

I must admit it was hard to focus on the sermon in church. But I got through it {somewhat emotionally}, and then was really excited to go get Parker picked up. I hesitated for a moment because I didn't want to be in the crazy crowd of people getting their kids right away. So just a couple minutes later as we walked to his room, we realized he was the kid we were hearing crying at the top of his lungs. *Gulp*

It was so sad. He'd just tripped over another kid and while he was technically fine, of course it sent him into tears. Loud tears. Once I had in my arms though, he saw me, and I sang his favorite little song into his ear, he was quiet and asking for water. Then piped up "Go?!" So sweet. We gathered our wits about us and joyfully left.

{In looking back there are parts of this process I really wish I'd done differently - you know those moments you replay constantly in your mind and wish you'd slowed down and thought through it more? Church was that for me that weekend. Like stopping to say thanks to the friends who helped me and the ladies who watched him in the classroom and realizing that he'd probably had papers for a craft project that we could take home....}

We headed straight back home, where we had a nice little snack of pretzels and grapes. We played around in the tent and with some toys for a bit. Then Tim very kindly made us a nice lunch of hot dogs and mac & cheese.

But because our church gets out a bit earlier than Parker's usually does, I think he was feeling a bit thrown off time-wise, and so while we were watching a little football on TV before naptime, Parker gathered all his nap items and laid down on top of me. It was a very sweet 15 minute cuddle time, and I enjoyed the relaxation and special time with Parker.

Another half hour or so of playing and it was time for his nap. We rested some again but also got a little more housework done that day while he napped.

He woke up a bit earlier than we'd hoped, but after I got him up around 3:45 I gave him a yogurt snack and then we all hung out and played.

Brian & Monica arrived practically on the nose of 4:30 to pick up Parker. And then things really got interesting. Monica had talked about how he's always good with other people but melts down or hypes up upon coming home or seeing mom & dad....

I said to Parker "look who's here!?!"

Parker walked up to the door and got a concerned look on his face, and as they came in, he started shaking his head, and said several times "No, daddy, nooooo!!" and ran down the hallway back toward "his room". After some consoling, talking him into giving hugs, and some more interaction, he slowly loosened up.

After all of that, he did pretty well for a while. We talked, played, caught up on life, and Tim & Brian ran out to pick up pizza.

Then we ate pizza and about halfway through pizza, Parker started losing it. And then, from my point of view, it was like a light switch went off and he had a complete meltdown. He'd be consoled by mama, get up to play, and within seconds meltdown again and run to mama. Shortly thereafter, they all left, and upon arriving home, it sounds like he did really well. It was just time for him to transition back home and know that he was safely back with mommy & daddy and that they weren't leaving him again. While at our house it was just too confusing and he wasn't sure what to expect or what was going on.

As soon as they left with him, I sat on the floor in his room and bawled. When it hit 7:30--his bedtime--I looked at the clock, said "it's Parker's bedtime" to Tim, and I cried.

For days I could still hear his giggle, his cry, his squeals throughout the rooms of our house. His pleas for wanting this or that. His sweet way he has about him. Our hallways echoed his voice for days. And during those days, I was pretty sure I might just go bonkers because I was hearing his voice in my head constantly.

I gave myself until Tuesday to see him. I could hardly stand the wait, but I also felt like we needed time to get back to normal. Apparently he couldn't stand it either. It was a sweet reunion.


We learned a lot over the course of that weekend.

Being in a position of "parenting" for 48 hours really does give you an entirely new perspective on the ins and outs of raising kids, even kids that you are around on a regular basis. I cannot imagine having done this with Parker if I wasn't completely familiar with Brian & Monica's child-rearing techniques, discipline, routine with him, tricks, etc. It was easy in that sense, there were no real guessing games we had to figure out.

It still amazes me how unfazed kids are by certain things that fluster us... and they are totally unaware. I'm very thankful for that!!

It also raised an awareness in me of just the kinds of things they really do notice. Like saying words you say. After that weekend he was saying "booyah", "whoopsie daisy", and "oh my goodness" a lot more! In fact the morning after he left our house, Monica texted me and said he woke up saying "booyah!" LOL!! Tim taught him that one, and then not long after that I said "booyah!" and Parker said "Tim?"


I think Parker enjoyed his time with us. No, I know he did. In his little 2 year old mind, I'm guessing he didn't fully understand it, but he also knew he was safe. That he was with his buddies Shell & Tim. That everything was going to be okay no matter what. When he got hurt {by falling chin first into something at our house}, he was safe in my arms. When he was at an unfamiliar church and fell, he was quickly safe in my arms.

He enjoyed new sights and sounds. New toys. Some of his favorite things while he was here were our green pillow/seat, vibrating bear slippers, vibrating/rotating/ lighting up/back massager, the exercise/rolling thingy, and the exercise ball.

I'm really thankful for even just those special little things. Those quiet moments of togetherness we had. The morning routine. The reading to him before bed. The sweet hugs and kisses. The saying please and thank you. The sweet way that kid has about him. The absolutely adorable looks he gives when he really wants something.

Tim had special time with P too and really seemed to enjoy having a little buddy to play with and be entertained by. It was amazing to watch.

And yes, let's be honest, we had those moments. Those "parenting" moments and disagreements of how things should be done. But alas, we made it through in one piece.

Well mostly one piece... with a bit of our hearts now officially missing.

Our house was better with child-filled happiness, giggles, sounds, and cries.

Even if said 2-year old is going on 4 and half my height. ;)

Our house seemed fuller. Different than when our house is filled with family - adults & kids together. It's different when you're taking care of the child on your own for two days.

There's a heartache and deep joy that wasn't there before.

Let me clarify something here too that I don't think was made as clear as it should have been:

We absolutely LOVED and DEEPLY ENJOYED our time together with Parker and this wonderful opportunity. We couldn't have felt more blessed to be given the responsibility and entrusted with his care. I don't regret it for one millisecond! We learned what it truly meant to be exhausted but to also have the deep reward for the sacrifices made during "parenting". That while tired, it was all incredibly worth it. That while there were moments I didn't know how I'd keep going and pushing through the Fibro stuff, they weren't as challenging as I thought. God got me through it all and in such a deeply rewarding way. I'm very, very thankful and overjoyed to have had this time with Parker. Loved, loved, loved it!! *


That weekend I felt like my life had meaning.

Ever since then, I've felt like a piece of my heart has been missing. 

It's not just about Parker, despite how much I absolutely love & adore him. But thankfully I see him all the time. We have a very special and unique bond for not being family. He has me wrapped around his little finger. It's wonderful.

That's not the issue. 

And I can't even begin to put into words all that I feel about all of this kid stuff. The heartache and cries out to God that I've had these past few weeks. 

So I'm just not even going to try to explain it right now and just let it be what it is.


georgia b. said...

i understand the heartache. i'm praying for many things for you. keep trusting that God is sovereign. it's so very hard to do when you long for something. but God put that longing there. keep trusting {or "learning to trust"}.

love you, friend.


blueviolet said...

I can feel your pain, sweet friend, and I'm praying that you won't have that emptiness for more time than you can bear. Big, big hugs.

Rachel Jones said...

Awwww love your post!!! What a unique, stretching, learning, growing, joy-filled, tiring weekend. Sounds like you guys really have a special bond with that little man. Thanks for sharing all that!!!

don and sara said...

Praying for you, friend! There are lots of complicated emotions in there, but the Lord knows. He sees you. He loves you. You are precious to him and you are within his care!