(Written Tues 5/8)
Gardens have a funny way of surprising you. You fertilize and cultivate and plant and water and wait. Sometimes you see the fruits of your labor almost immediately; others it seem s like nothing is ever going to grow and you resign yourself to the fact that your plantings didn’t take root. And you wonder, “Did I give enough fertilizer? Did I water it enough? Too much? Did I plant it in the wrong place?”
Eventually, autumn comes and all hope of seeing growth is rendered moot by the layer of newly fallen leaves, then frost, then snow as the seasons change and the suns light no longer warms the sweet earth. You forget about the plants and focus on keeping warm inside, maybe some new project to carry you through the winter.
Seasons change yet again and the warmth of spring beckons you outside to the garden where the miracle of rebirth and new growth awaits. Where you once thought your special plant had withered and died, it now shows signs of soft green shoots and abundant life. You smile and bask in the warmth of the sun’s kiss upon your face.
That is how I feel tonight. The garden metaphor has been on my mind since I spent some time in the yard today, weeding, as Nik played happily inside with Daddy. For the first time, I actually enjoyed the opportunity for quiet reflection. Where I used to only see patches of incessant weeds to be pulled and shrubs to prune, today I saw the “bones” of my landscape and the possibilities they hold.
It’s like that with Nik, too. I try never to take for granted how much potential he has and try to focus on all the wonderful things Nik is and does. But sometimes, like my garden, I plant seeds and tend them so carefully and see nothing. It’s easy to let myself accept that “X” (whatever thing it happens to be at the time) will not happen for Nik. Showing affection, responding to the sound of my voice —those are two things that I realize tonight that I had given up on; Nik has never done them. I’ve tried all sorts of coaching and coaxing and even bribing with a favorite toy held near my face in an attempt to get Nik to look me in the eyes. Nothing.
Since Nik has been put on a new enteral formula, which is food-base AND has less dairy protein than his previous formula, Niksdad and I have noticed some changes in Nik. His attention span seems longer and he now seems to pay more attention to his surroundings than he ever has. The other day when I came home from the gym, Nik actually stopped what he was doing and came to greet me at the kitchen gate. He didn’t look me in the eyes but he held my hand. I was in heaven!
Tonight, Nik has been “chatty” —babbling all sorts of spontaneous, happy sounds, as he had dinner, then afterward as he played before bed. He’s taken a few short steps over the past couple of days —usually when I pull my hand away from his as he is already in motion. Tonight, though, Nik consciously let go of my fingers and stepped away from me. He walked three steps and sat. He looked up at me with a glorious grin that said all that needed to be said between us. Yup, THAT was cool!
We have a bedtime routine that includes brushing teeth before holding onto Daddy’s hands to walk up the stairs to bed. I have a silly little song I sing to cue Nik that it’s time to “Brush, brush, brush your teeth” (tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat). If Nik isn’t ready to go upstairs yet, he will not come to me. I tell him he has five minutes to play then it’s bedtime. Usually, Nik will scoot over to me in his little crab-like crawl (he sticks one leg out to the side and won’t use his knee). He always sits on the floor between my legs and I pick him up and put him on my lap. (It is one of the rare times I can get Nik to sit still long enough to get some “snuggles” in!)
It’s been a long few days with Nik home from school with his upper respiratory infection; we’ve been with each other 24-7. I figured he’d be pretty sick of Mommy. Apparently not.
When it came time for the “brush-brush” song, Nik scooted across the room so fast I thought he wasn’t going to stop. Tonight, as he settled himself in between my legs, Nik put his hand on my thigh and turned to look me right in the eye. Then he lifted himself off the floor and climbed right up onto my lap and leaned against me. Yeah, I couldn’t see to brush his teeth after that.
Soft green shoots and abundant life. Everything feels pretty rosy tonight.