“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent van Gogh
Like so many of you, as much as I tend to be the “Hub” of our family unit, coordinating, scheduling, planning, anticipating, worrying, rushing, and managing chaos, I also sometimes allow these activities to be my routine. All of these things serve me quite well as it relates to keeping things orderly (by this I mean scheduling, not aesthetically as that would involve me not walking around with baby vomit on my pants, or everything in the house being put away in its place which just isn’t going to happen), but what it does sometime do is put me in a routine. In some ways it can make me a passenger in my own life and in my relationships, as you just go with the routine. Get up, give kids medications, get bottles ready, feed Q bottle, play with E, Q finishes bottle, get Q dressed, shoo Max the toddler cat off the bed so Q doesn’t pull his tail ending up in Max (5) – Q (0), Q goes in play pen so as not to have him come crashing off the bed with his giant head taking the lead, get E dressed, feed E, and get ready for work. Seems all quite orderly and well planned (doesn’t it?)….so this morning as we followed the routine and Q went into his playpen just after trying to pull Max’s tail, we started to change E’s diaper and get her dressed. Once done with that, I started looking around for Q’s spatula (his new favorite toy, seriously, why do we buy all these toys when he just wants our cooking utensils and the dancing monkey? ) to keep him happy as his molars poke through, and E is lying on the bed waiting to be fed as KSP checks his email. The next thing you know, E has somehow gotten ahold of her bottle and started feeding herself! It was crazy and I think both KSP and I did a double take as we watched her, both holding our breath to see if she could hang on to the bottle. Because of E’s neurological issues often she cannot hold onto an object for longer than 30 seconds. But this time, she laid there and held her bottle (open hands mind you, also very new as more often they are in fists) and drank an entire ounce by herself! She broke the routine! As we sat there, KSP and I, like we do so often, had an unspoken conversation between us that usually goes something like:
“Did you see that?”
“She did it”
“Can we now be hopeful that she will be ok?”
“Do you think she will do it again?”
“Do you think it’s a one time thing?”
“I am so relieved at this moment I can barely speak” – wait I am not speaking”
“She might just be ok”
“Yes, another reason to think that everything will be alright as she gets older”
“I love her so much”
And then the silence breaks and we both lean in for a kiss and hug and a “good job, baby girl, we are so proud of you”.
The fantastic part of her breaking the routine is that we had been trying to build to that moment for months and months. Countless times we would be feeding her and try putting her fists up to the bottle and sometimes she would open one hand but usually she would keep them balled up and then jerk her arm away. More recently, she would open one hand and put it toward the end of the bottle while keeping the other balled up toward the collar of the bottle. But today, after so many small steps, she had both hands open, around both sides of the bottle and it was beautiful. It was not an impulse for her because, I believe, in her mind, it was deliberate, she was hungry, wanted her bottle and decided she was able to hold it. For us, as you know by now, it’s not just about the bottle, it’s about everything and the hope that E will one day be able to play like other kids, and hold toys like other kids, and that she won’t have to endure the pain that comes along with being “different”. But even as I type this, I think of her today as her smile lit of the room (her therapists actually compare to a lightbulb), and I know it will be ok if she doesn’t do all of these things the same way that Q does, but as a parent you hope that everything will be as easy for her as it can be. I always say she has known a lifetime of struggle in her short life, and yet she still fills a room like the sun. I suppose it should be me learning from her, so today, to break the routine, I am inspired by E to take more small steps toward trying to embrace whatever the future may hold, not worrying as much and knowing that we are creating the series of small things that will eventually come together in some way that we don’t know yet, but no matter how it comes together, we will be just as we should be when we should be. And because of that I wish you a series of small things that will help you break your routine even in some small way to be inspired to feel how you want to feel and today can be a ‘newfavoriteyday’ for all of us.