Monday, September 18, 2006

Crossroads and Choices

Before our Shalebug flew the coop and grew his angel wings, he was becoming quite the little character. He could hobble about on flat surfaces, he could crawl quick as you could blink an eye and he was an expert at giving high fives. After years of watching him be nothing more than an eating and pooping baby machine, it was thrilling to watch him finally "get" things. As Boo said, it was like watching someone turn on a light switch.

That is not to say he was learning how to tie his own shoelaces or suddenly knew his ABC's. Cripes, he still hadn't uttered a word in his almost five years and I was fairly sure he never would. He couldn't put the pieces of a baby puzzle in the holes and I shudder to think of how hard it would have been to hold a pencil. All that aside, he was learning, in leaps and bounds.

And it was fun to watch. Just like it was when Fric and Frac learned how to walk and talk. Or finally master toilet training. (All though, we still haven't managed to not pee all over the freaking toilet. And it has been nine years, dear internet. That's a lot of pee to be wiping up.)

Somehow, with the Shalebug, the rewards were all the more sweeter. I think it was because I had been around this block before. I was older and wiser and more aware. And I saw my boy struggle to accomplish the very same things his siblings mastered with nary a thought. t was a hard fought battle, and victory was often denied to my boy. But when he mastered something, the world was an amazing, brighter place. For all of us.

We miss that. Not just me, but his father, and his brother and sister. We miss the joy we felt when he accomplished a small task. We miss him.

Part of the reason I took the summer off blogging was to find me. Suddenly, at 30, I found myself at a crossroads, with no visible path. All of a sudden the world was my oyster, no longer confined by the constraints of having a handicapped child. Suddenly, I was free to leave the kids, and just hire the 15 year old neighbor to babysit. I didn't have to worry about car seats and wheelchairs and feeding tubes. Medication schedules or teacher aides.

I could get a job without worrying about finding a daycare to suit my child. I could go back to school. I could do anything - except take care of my Shalebug. Which is the one thing I want most in the world.

It didn't bother me that one day I would have to let him go, perhaps put him in an adult facility. I couldn't predict the future, and I refused to imagine the worst case scenario. I refused to bind him by my imagination. Nor was I living behind rose colored glasses. I fully accepted that I would be chained to a grown up child for the rest of my days, as would his siblings.

But none of this mattered, because of the love we all felt for Bug. It was, and still is, staggering.

Leaving me at this crossroad, scratching my head, and wondering what the hell am I going to do with my life?

So, here in my piece of paradise, I have watched Fric and Frac grow and develop. Laugh, cry and argue. I have sat and spent hours researching jobs, careers, educational paths. I have been offered a reporting position at the local television news station. My career as a professional gardener has flourished into what could be a very lucrative career if I choose. The school where Bug went to has offered me an aide position.

I have options. I have the finances to pursue those options. I have more choices than I could shake a stick at. And the only thing that interests me is being a mommy.

But getting preggers again is an option that can't be placed back on the table. Which leaves adoption.

Many hours of soul searching and nose sniffling have been devoted to the idea. Could we do it? Is it fair to Fric and Frac? Would the rest of the family accept a child that didn't have albino white hair and sky blue eyes? It was a hard battle for Boo and I, to have the extended family accept Bug. Could we ask them to do it again, with a child that had none of their blood running through their veins?

Did we want to?

The answer is simply, yes.

So we have started the adoption proceedings. And our application is being fast tracked because we have applied for a special needs child. None of those healthy kids for us. No sirree. We only want the broken ones, Ma'am.

So I, the Redneck Mommy, who am not a redneck at all, am expecting my fourth child. I'm scared terrified of what the future holds for us. But I haven't been this exhilarated in, well, ever.

We have faced our critics, and been embraced by our supporters. Sad to say, the numbers are even on both sides.

No, we are not trying to replace our dead son. Yes, I'm sure I want another handicapped child.

Why? Why not? I counter. Because the love Bug gave us, and the skills he taught us was a gift I want to be able to share with the world. The strength we gained as a family unit has cemented our bonds of love. It has made us all into better people. He shaped his siblings into very special kids. I don't want to spend the rest of my life just remembering those skills.

I want to use them. As a tribute to my boy, who was the strongest person I knew. He taught us to how to love.

Thank you, Skjel. Mommy loves you.