Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: July 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Go Tori! Disability Awareness Day 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Save That Date!

I am planning my first WSA Northwest Region event here in town on Saturday, October 24, 2009. I have a room reserved at a local restaurant for a casual dinner and fun. You can e-mail me for details or keep your eyes peeled for a mailer.

I have also started the process of planning an annual fundraiser here for Erik's future and to give to the WSA. So far, it's either a golf tournament or a 5K. With the help of my fabulous friends and their connections, it will be difficult to decide which path to take, but I'm excited about the possibilities!

Hope to see many of you in October.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Brick in the Wall

I'm having a pretty serious bout of depression again. As I have written before, it cycles in and out of my life. I can usually feel it coming. It always passes, but it takes a little time. It seems to be mostly endogenous, not really a direct result of what's going on in my life at the moment, although certain situations can intensify things. I have barely been able to function for the last few days. I can't concentrate, and my child is becoming bored due to my recent lack of creativity, despite my attempt at outings to see friends or to play at the park. I have been trying to hold on this week, knowing Erik will attend vacation Bible school Monday. The heat is not helping me at all. After the coolness of morning is absorbed by the dry, heated air of the day, I'm spent.

Today I looked over at Erik and told him that we were going out for a while on an "adventure" to the store. I apologized to him for my lack of motivation and the fact I hadn't been a very good mother for the past couple of days. Truthfully, he hasn't seemed to really absorb much of what I say out loud in the past. Besides, I talk to myself quite often, and he has (understandably) learned to tune me out at times. In this case, I wasn't really expecting an answer at all.

He stopped in his tracks, turned to look at me, and smiled sweetly.

He said, "No, you are a good mom!"

He crawled up in my lap and cuddled with me. My eyes watered. It seemed like such a strange thing to say in the middle of his odd, made-up game he was intent on playing alone. In fact, his statement sounded foreign to me with the perfect intonation an adult would tend to use. He seemed to be channeling someone else, as I sometimes suspect he does.

He then looked up at me and said, "Hey, Mom, I have to go potty."

I almost fell over.


He answered that he did. He has never told me this before. He followed me to the bathroom and allowed me to assist him without any fuss at all. I sat on the edge of the bathtub next to him and continued chatting with him as he successfully used the toilet. I tried to contain my excitement.

I said, "Yeah, I do love you an awful lot. I try to take really good care of you."

He smiled and replied, "Yeah. You take care of me when I am spitting orange."

Again, I was amazed. The first time he remembers throwing up was after he had eaten some segments of an orange, which came up all over his hands and the toy truck he was holding at the time. Therefore, he refers to vomiting as "spitting orange." He also apparently remembers that I was there holding him while he was violently ill, stroking his hair and putting my cheek against his clammy forehead. The way he smiled telling me this made it appear as if he were relating a fond memory of a vacation or a visit to a dear relative, not violently upchucking the contents of his stomach. Strangely, it seemed to be a pleasant memory for him.

On days like today, a brick in that awful, dark wall between us crumbles without warning, and one more shaft of sunlight spikes into my world. I live for moments like this, and it seems they come when I need them the most.

Erik seems to see and hear things other children don't. These strange things in his own world interfere with what he would typically understand or learn. However, what's important is that there is no longer any doubt in my mind that he remembers all of the little things I do for him because I love him.

And that he loves me right back.

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Erik is now approximately 38.7 pounds. He let Brian weigh him on our bathroom scale for the first time.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Children's Festival 2009

Some ladies in my support group invited me to join them at the park for a children's festival last weekend. The outing itself was a mixed bag in terms of success. I was in an unusually emotional state, and constantly having to corral my hyperactive child who seemed completely unable to follow instructions at times quickly took a toll on me. While I definitely enjoyed the company of my very understanding friends and the activities we managed to do with the help of the wonderful volunteers, I still burst into a big, ugly cry when I got home. Maybe it was because it was such a big deal to do something like this on my own. Maybe I was simply overheated, sweaty, and tired. Perhaps feeling everything for once in front of God and everyone was just a really intense experience. I was frightened because I could just barely physically handle my child and keep my frustration in check. I had just enough strength to get through it, but in the end, I just had nothing left.

What took me by surprise was that being on an outing in the presence of these particular mothers seemed to substantially thin the layer of numbness I normally protect myself with, so my defenses weren't as effective as they usually are. At times it was like having open heart surgery without the benefit of an anesthetic. While it was wonderful to feel the ups and downs of being out, the thought of feeling so vulnerable frightened me as our little group made our way from booth to booth. One of my new friends seemed to read my mind and reminded me to tell her if there was anything I needed as we made our way through the celebration. Erik and I were invited to share some crepes the size of Nebraska with my other friend. Her daughter, who is largely nonverbal, looked into her eyes and very clearly expressed her feelings about Erik, followed by one of her brightest smiles. And the feeling was obviously mutual. Erik looked thrilled and laughed that hearty, open-mouthed laugh of his. Pure joy. Being in the presence of two very lovely ladies is a dream come true for my son.

Erik discovered that many of the booths were trailers, which meant they had wheels affixed to them. The couple working inside the snowcone booth stared as Erik caressed their tires for an extended period of time while I stood nearby and very unsuccessfully attempted to look casual. The silence was deafening, and I didn't really know what to say, so I cracked jokes about inspecting things to ensure that vehicle met safety standards. They laughed. After their initial skepticism about us seemed to wane, they allowed Erik to walk behind the thing where they were storing supplies to check out the back tires. I concluded that keeping Erik still and out of people's way was a completely lost cause. I shrugged, laughed, and made small talk with them until Erik began mumbling about lugnuts and moved on to the next booth with wheels. By now, we were looking more than a little strange. Mr. Snowcone stepped out of his cart during a lull in business and stood next to me, watching Erik press his lips to each wheel. He asked me with complete sincerity how long it took us to cross a parking lot.

From there, I laughed myself sick when we crammed ourselves on a rickshaw-type bicycle contraption for a ride around the park. One of my friends volunteered to run along the side of the thing and snap photos, and my face soon ached from smiling. She sprinted after us, waving and cheering, fueled by her wonderful enthusiasm, which was enhanced by the consumption of a little cotton candy. We eventually gained speed and left her behind, but she popped out from behind a tree like a paparazzo on our way back towards the festival.

Erik began to exhibit signs of an impending meltdown soon after our ride, as he was oversaturated with stimulation, and I carried him a short distance out of the crowd as he began throwing a fit. He quickly shook his head from side to side and began to cry. My arms were full of promotional items and prizes, including a rather large stuffed rabbit, but I made it back to the Jeep without losing much. Erik was furious at me but calmed down during our ride home and admitted he had a great time.

In the end, being included in something like this is pretty awesome. Feeling unsure about yourself as a parent and being scrutinized by the outside world, not knowing how to react to the queries of strangers, is so much more bearable when friends who know what you are going through are at your side. I suppose that holds true no matter who your kid is or how many genes he happens to have.

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I just e-mailed our regional WSA chairperson and offered to host an event in our state for WS families. Washington is just too far for us to travel for our region's annual family picnic, so this year I felt inspired (a complete surprise to me) and decided to do something about it.

Anybody interested?

As far as I know, Erik is the only child in town these days with WS. Hmmm. What if I threw a party and nobody came?

Ah, heck. You never know until you try. We'll see what happens. I'll just make some two-sided banners. If nobody shows up, I'll flip them over and instantly change the party's theme.

Spontaneous seems to be my middle name these days.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lugnuts N Such

My sleepy, heavy summer drones on. I am having fun here and there, but I am more than a little cranky because of the heat and the lack of a strict schedule. I am trying to remind myself I would have killed for this a few years ago! Erik is tolerating my ever lengthening workouts in the morning beautifully, and we have set our own pace. While I don't feel like I'm doing much of anything, we seem to be doing the same sort of nothing on the same schedule every day and accomplishing things in the process.

Erik's current obsessions:

1. Lugnuts
2. Things that are broken (and asking 1200 times if they are)
3. Vacuum cleaners
4. Sirens/fire trucks/fire alarms (good during the day but terrifying at night)

Yes, he is STILL asking whether or not the Jeep will start and puts his hands over his ears. His obsessions/fears are becoming more interesting to me because of his ever increasing language skills. He can now have a converastion with me about them. While the reasons for each obession remain completely mysterious, I can now ask him questions about the objects he fixates on to try to gain some insight. As the grief recedes, my fascination increases regarding how my son's brain works. He is an amazing little soul.

My current obsessions:

1. Canadian whiskey
2. Daily exercise
3. Grilling
4. Reality television
5. My Aerogarden (now with 45 different types of lettuce)

In regard to number three, I'm a Daddy's Girl for sure. In honor of this, I will share my latest tried and true recipe for you. Brian and I both gave it the thumbs up.



1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp grated lime rind
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-lb) flank steak, trimmed
Cooking spray


1 cup diced peeled avocado
3/4 cup finely chopped tomato
1/3 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp grated lime rind
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)


8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage

To prepare steak, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Score a diamond pattern on both sides of steak. Rub chili powder mixture evenly over steak. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

Place steak on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 8 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

To prepare salsa, combine avocado and next 7 ingredients (through pepper sauce) in a medium bowl.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Top each taco with 1/4 cup salsa and 1/4 cup cabbage.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size 2 tacos)

FAT: 16 g
FIBER: 6.8 g

(8 Weight Watchers points -- I also added 2 Tbsp of fat-free sour cream, which is free)

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Avery Update

My friend Amy has informed us that her daughter Avery will be undergoing surgery for implantation of a pacemaker at 7:15 EST tomorrow after an already extended stay in the hospital for gastrointestinal surgery.

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Click to play this Smilebox slideshow:

Most of the trips we take these days are definitely not a result of our spontaneous desire to get in the car and go. We would probably never leave the house if we didn't receive invitations from our friends and family members to travel with them. I am coming to realize how important it is to say yes to these opportunities, even though we don't know how Erik will eat/sleep/cope with a change in scenery. What parent knows for sure how their kid will react to something new, anyway?

Friday we headed to the beach to meet my friend and her family. On the way, we stopped at Brian's parents' house for a quick visit. We had a beautiful lunch by their manmade waterfall and pond. Erik was encouraged to feed the koi, some of which have grown to the size of salmon in their roomy habitat. Their white, gold, and orange scales glistened in the sun but failed to really capture Erik's attention. Instead, he wanted to kick at the neat layer of pea gravel or run unfettered under the trees. Brian and I traded off the sweaty duty of chasing after him to prevent him from tripping and falling head first into the pond with the fish or destroying flowerbeds. Erik did stop moving long enough to devour an alarming amount of fruit and homemade muffins.

After lunch we said goodbye and drove across one more mountain range to the coast. We wouldn't see the sun for the rest of the weekend, but the air was fairly warm and pleasant. We located the beach house my friend had rented in a housing development striped with wide, soft drifts of sand. Rows of ranch-style houses surrounded by more sand and beach grass lined the streets, most of which were empty and/or for sale, but a few families milled about in driveways around vehicles bulging with suitcases and beach accessories.

Our two-bedroom, two-bath house was relatively new and full of soft light with an open kitchen. The guys set up two small barbecues in front of the open garage door, and oysters and slabs of steak were grilled for dinner. Shaena and I baked chicken breasts in the oven and fed the kids hot dogs and pasta. By the end of the day, Erik had briefly cried himself to sleep in his bunk in our room, and his friend Samantha had retired to her toddler mattress on the floor of her parents' room. We all poured ourselves cocktails and relaxed. The guys retired to the family room in front of the television/stereo, and Shaena and I found ourselves in chairs on the front deck underneath a relatively rare coastal lightning storm playing across the sky. We talked and drank until we were exhausted and could no longer keep our eyes open.

We tackled touring the aquarium up the highway the next morning. Erik seemed only slightly interested in the exhibits. He did enjoy the creatures that were available to touch. The place was crowded with strollers and noisy children, however, and it was soon apparent he was completely overstimulated, a phenomenon I assumed was history at his age. Brian finally resorted to carrying all 38 pounds of boy on his shoulders, something we do when Erik refuses to walk any further and begins completely melting down. We hastily found the exhibits we wanted to see, briefly separating from our friends and texting each other our locations, finally meeting up in large, plastic tubes surrounded by saltwater and marine life, including sharks. By now, Brian and I were both on edge, as Erik was in a full, defiant meltdown. He whined and whimpered. He refused to walk on his own. His limbs flailed spasmodically. He yanked on our arms and refused to hold our hands.

Against my better judgment, we drove on to lunch on the waterfront. Tourists crammed themselves in shops full of gifts and candy. One of the oldest, most popular restaurants we love had a long line snaking along the front. We decided to attempt waiting for a seat, which would take approximately 20 minutes. We stood on the sidewalk in front of the tiny restaurant with strangers for nearly half an hour. Erik found one woman with spiky, bright blond hair and an easy smile unusually irresistible, and she allowed him to hold her hand. Finally, we were led into the tiny, bustling dining room and seated at a long table in the middle of the crowd. I ordered a bay shrimp sandwich with an ice-cold beer for myself and a grilled cheese with apple juice for Erik. He devoured nearly the entire sandwich with gusto. We ended up having a really nice lunch before heading back to the house. As Erik had reached his limit long before lunch, we decided the brewery we thought about visiting was a no-go.

Erik's friend Sammy invited him to watch videos with her from time to time on the leather couch in the family room of our beach house. He really took a liking to the Pixar feature called Cars. He did very well inside the house or playing with sand on the deck without the extra stimulation of strangers and unexpected noise. He interacted with Sammy in new ways and was able to converse with her a little more than he had in the past. Brian took him to the beach, which apparently went well until it was time to go. When I met up with them on my way to the ocean after a trip to the grocery store, Erik was walking down the street with Brian. His toes were bleeding very characteristically from the beating of being exposed, and he was blubbering. He told me very dramatically that he loved me, and I had to giggle. His clothing and coat were soaked with seawater and covered in a thin layer of wet sand. Through his exhausted fit, I could tell he had loved every second of what he had just done. He had apparently splashed in the chilly water thigh deep and fallen at times, explaining his condition. He absolutely loved it. I spent a little time on the beach myself, feeling the sand erode under my soles as the waves rushed back into the ocean and felt my toes begin to lose feeling in the frigid water. I stood still, feeling the power of the ocean vibrate every cell in my body. I guess I had a little word or two with God while I was standing there, too.

Sunday we packed our things and vacated the house, which seemed to be hard for all of us to do. We drove to the valley and met at Wendy's for lunch, where Erik began the familiar signs of nuclear meltdown yet again when a family with noisy children seated themselves directly behind us. He put his head in my lap and covered his ears. His feet kicked. Finally, I asked him if he wanted to go for a walk. He said yes, and we amused ourselves in the parking lot next door in front of a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican bakery, and a dark barbershop. Erik walked atop the parking curbs, sometimes requiring my help to maintain his balance but becoming annoyed when I tried to help him. When everyone else exited the restaurant and it was time to go, he had another major malfunction. He stopped short of sitting down, but his legs became heavy and extra clumsy. He burst into tears. He yanked roughly on my hand when I tried to move him along. Losing my temper, I snapped at him with a raised, impatient voice. He cried even harder.

I got us both into the Jeep and felt my emotions seep through the exhaustion that comes with packing and traveling. Tears rolled down my face silently for a minute or two, and Brian patted my knee. I was tempted to give up and go home without our scheduled trip to the amusement park at this point, but we finally decided to press on.

Up the interstate we went.

I finally spotted the large sign in front of the familiar theme park, a place I have not been to since I was small. We parked in front of a castle wall and joined our friends. Erik seemed excited and held Sammy's hand. The guys paid our admission and tickets for the rides inside the park, our optimism bleeding through once again. My sense of humor spurred me on as I read the rules that were posted on a Medieval-looking sign at the start of the trail and added my own. No outside food or drink. No toplessness. No pooping in the moat. Shaena and I giggled ourselves silly.

We followed the trail into the darkness of the park under a gorgeous, green canopy of foliage. Brightly painted concrete buildings illustrated assorted fairy tales. I entered the ones that would accommodate my adult body, peeking through windows at ancient exhibits that sparked memories I thought were lost. The audio portions of many of the featured tales were garbled beyond recognition, even for my transcriptionist's ears, but the tales were easily recognizable. Erik reluctantly entered a large rabbit hole with his father, who was on all fours, and Shaena and I ran ahead, looking for the place where they would emerge.

By the time we had come to the portion of the park featuring rides, Erik was melting down yet again. He entered a wooden door labeled "saloon" in the Wild West section. Inside was a straight, dark hall, and the floor was soft and unstable, designed to make you feel like you were intoxicated. He ran back and forth, almost frantic. He began making the incessant engine noises he makes when he is in full freakout mode. Sammy was across the narrow street, patiently allowing a man who looked like Abe Lincoln to put period clothing over her own outfit for a photo opportunity. Brian wondered aloud if Erik would hold still long enough to do the same. We quickly came to the conclusion that he would not. Instead, we watched and let our kid run back and forth.

All six of us stood in line on wooden stairs for the little roller coaster in the trees, which would be Erik's first. It had been constructed in the late 1980s and was intended to look and feel as if its riders are in bobsleds. Shaena and I decided to ride together. We crammed ourselves in one capsule with Shaena sitting between my outstretched legs and me with my chin resting on her shoulder. An opaque plastic cover with large holes in it was snapped down over our heads. I couldn't help but think of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels on that moped in a scene from the movie Dumb and Dumber. She began discussing the sign she had happened to read about getting splashed with water on this ride and how interesting it was that I had chosen the seat in the back. I began giggling, wondering if I could possibly survive this experience without wetting my pants. The ride jerked to a start and we began screaming immediately, despite the fact our car had just begun to move. I was thankful Erik's car was in front, away from our gleeful hollering. We gained speed and rocketed through the forest for two and a half minutes, our screaming gaining new volume with every violent turn. When we all escaped at the end and made our way down another flight of wooden stairs, my knees were actually a little shaky. Brian reported that Erik emitted a "YEE HAW" or two but that he quieted down as the ride progressed. However, he protested and thew a fit as we walked away from the attraction. His defiance would only intensify. We came across a tiny Ferris wheel and debated on whether or not to trap Sammy in a cage with Erik on the thing. Brian wondered aloud regarding the worst thing that could happen, and we all laughed. Erik refused to ride, however, still upset about leaving the roller coaster and mumbling about the promise we had made about him seeing a train. We kept going until we saw the psychedelic-looking kiddie train, its lights merrily flashing in the rain. Erik agreed to ride with Sammy. Shaena and I took shelter from the weather by the bumper cars, where we could watch and snap photos. Erik and Sammy were seated in the first car shaped like the train's engine and patiently waited as other children found their way to their seats. Brian yelled over the fence to the kids to push the illuminated button in the dash, and when they did, various animal and train noises blared from speakers. Erik covered his ears but was interested. The ride finally began. Lights flashed, and the cars rocked gently as the train went a few times around an area decorated with giant toadstools and tiny village scenes.

When this was over, we gave our remaining tickets to our friends, and Brian carried a now hysterical Erik out of the park through the rain. I used Ye Olde Restroom on the way to the parking lot one more time and we found our Jeep. I was kicking myself for forgetting the cord to Erik's DVD player, a device we never seem to really need until the trip home. We listened to music for a while, but Erik finally snapped at me to turn it off. Erik never really falls asleep in the car, but he finally lost consciousness, surprising us, and the ride over the mountains was fairly pleasant. We feasted on coastal fudge and salt water taffy until I felt happy and more than a little sick.

In the end, the trip was enjoyable, but I wouldn't say we had time to completely relax. I was on edge a lot of the time. I told my friend that trying things with Erik is scary but always rewarding in some sense. Even a day afterwards the memory of the disastrous diaper blowout in the driveway and the tantrums are fading. After all, we will never know what will work and what won't if we don't make an attempt. Would I do it again? Of course.

There is, however, always a price to pay.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

More to Come

We are on the way to a new adventure, and I plan on posting stories/photos next week. I'm sorry my posts have been few and far between lately. I even have a video I need to post but haven't gotten around to doing so. It has been an emotional few weeks for me for a variety of reasons. Looking back at my last posts, I am alarmed to see what I have written. Not for my sake, necessarily, but for my friends and family. I have always refused to be anything but honest here, however, and I do nothing but continue to write what comes to me.

Erik has been cracking me up lately. Today I was unstrapping him from his seat in the Jeep in our driveway when he spotted the last three pretzels I had placed in his cup holder for on-the-go snacking during our errand running.

He said, "You know what, Mom? I'm going to take these home."

He gathered them up in his hand and took them inside the house, being careful not to drop them during the process. He has such a delightful, unusual way of expressing himself which is textbook WS. It's one of the millions of things I love about him. Frankly, it's one of the parts of WS that I completely adore. I am finding myself appreciating the uniqueness that comes with this diagnosis. There is a lot to love that isn't very apparent at the beginning of this story that is now revealing itself to me.

Oh, and did I mention today that he used the toilet in a big way this morning?


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Friday, July 03, 2009

The Water's Fine

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009


The supermarket checker looked over the top of her thick glasses at me, smug and condescending. One corner of her mouth turned up in an amused snarl. I felt my mouth open slightly in disbelief as the voices in my head began fighting for control over what would happen next. Her words suddenly faded into a wave of hissing static, and the sharp stinging from this normally mundane, unpleasant transaction in my already aching heart faded beneath my ever present layer of protective numbness. Her tiny, gym-perfect body suddenly seemed weak, and, strangely, she seemed to shrink slightly before my eyes. I suddenly felt large, dangerous, and powerful. Enraged. One word reverberated in my brain.


I fought the urge to leap over the counter and forcibly push my knuckles into her face. While I have actually only needed to use force on a couple of occasions to defend myself in the past, I have never technically fought a human being and would normally avoid it at all costs. Quite honestly, I couldn't tell you exactly what this woman even said to me, but it didn't matter anymore. It was plain rude and just happened to be the very last straw for me. She was the lucky winner in the last of a string of horrible days in my life.

I turned to my left and marched to the nearest aisle, abandoning my open purse, a short stack of coupons, and a cluster of keys on the translucent counter top protecting a display of brightly colored lottery tickets. I reached past the products on the shelves, knocking a few over in the process, and pushed my outstretched arms together to clumsily embrace groups of bottles and small boxes, pulling them roughly towards me and letting them tip over onto the unnaturally glossy grocery store floor. I jerked a glass bottle of vinegar from a bottom shelf, uncapped it, and tipped it sideways, allowing its contents to glug in rude spurts onto the floor, forming an acidic lake. When this was done, I released the bottle and heard it collide with the floor. On top of that, I pulled bags of flour, boxes of cornstarch, and bottles of vanilla. I had created an amazing mix beneath my feet. An odoriferous, foaming, angry stew. I had crated total destruction in such a normally peaceful, orderly setting.

God, it felt good.

I could feel my chest fill with a fiery burn as a seemingly endless scream emptied my lungs of air. I felt as if I were drowning, and my head was swimming. Strangely, I could barely hear myself. I growled. I grunted. I made noises only animals should make. The crazier I appeared to the wide-eyed checker (whose smug look was now only a distant memory), the better.

I hurled containers using every last bit of the strength in my arms, and shards of glass sparkled merrily in the air before settling onto the floor. Everything seemed to fall in slow motion. My feet crunched through the mess as I progressed, frantically pulling more items to fall to a disastrous demise. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would feel the bite of a stun gun or the viselike grip of a man's arms encased in a black uniform tightening around me from behind, so I began moving at superhuman speed. Molten rage bubbled up from inside of me. I was full of old, unstable fuel, and something had sparked it. I was tired of smiling politely. Tired of pretending everything was fine. Tired of holding everything together. Tired of attempting perfect. I wanted nothing more than to crash and burn like a fiery comet in front of the world so that I would never have to worry about whispers or speculation or doubt from others again. I would never have the threat of imminent failure hanging above my head like a storm cloud, trailing me day after day like a faithful pet. I was tired of hiding my weakness. Tired of the secrets I was required to keep because they made the world uncomfortable. Heaven forbid I make anybody uncomfortable. In one eruption, I felt nothing but pure, joyous relief.

So this is the dream I had last night.

I actually woke up with tears in my eyes. My chest ached, and I was still really angry. What this means exactly I do not know for sure. Perhaps there is a part of me that desperately wants to tell the world about the part of me that is still really angry and disappointed to this day. About what a failure as a mother and a human being I really am so there is no longer any doubt. About how I will never be the woman or mother I dreamed of being and how much that hurts. Instead, I can only do my best and hope that it's enough. Being a perfectionist can really be a bitch sometimes.

I honestly think that I have accepted what has happened to me as a woman and a mother over the years. I have no choice. What is done is done. Accomplishing this is not a pretty process, but I have generally been successful. I am light years away from where I was when I started this blog. However, expecting to be completely okay with some things is pretty fucking ridiculous.

There are some things that will never really be okay with me. No matter what.

I am doing generally well, but I am not okay. I never will be completely "okay," although I lie about this all of the time. There are some days I want to scream at strangers. To confess my deepest thoughts and unburden my heart, but we don't do that in polite society. It's not acceptable to fail or to even hurt. We are prescribed pills to make these unpleasant things go away. And it makes people uncomfortable if a person is completely honest.

I am not brave, amazing, or any of the other kind adjectives people tend to use when they describe a mother like me. The truth is, I pretend I'm strong and hope that I will believe it someday, which actually works here and there. On many days something tiny and unexpected reminds me of what a failure I was to successfully produce a baby with all of the correct components. To even desire another baby like a normal woman should. To get through a day without snapping at people. To take care of myself the way I should. Each and every day I try the best I can. It's all I can do. The strength I do have comes solely from the endless, incredible love I have for my beautiful son who loves me despite my weakness and imperfections. Ironically, on most days, I see absolutely none of his defects and all of mine. My anger has never been directed at God. I am extremely thankful for what I have and make no secret about that. In fact, I think these days God and I have come to a pretty successful understanding of each other. He knows me better than anyone, and there's no hiding anything from him, anyway. I figure that if I make him uncomfortable, then I'm in a world of trouble.

The truth is that deep inside of me is an ember that shows no signs of extinguishing. While I can douse the fire on the surface, there sometimes remains a white-hot briquette of disappointment, despair, and rage that comes to the surface for a week or two here and there. With each passing year, it gets buried in the day to day stuff. Work, dishes, laundry, trips to school, and grocery store outings. I forget about it, but it emerges in my thoughts or even sometimes in the casual words I speak. Sometimes I sound bitter. I hate that. Sometimes it takes me by surprise in dreams.

In my writing and in my dreams I can throw things. Rage. Confess all. All while putting up a brave front during my waking hours.

I thank God for that.

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