I did it.
I started shopping for Christmas.
The last time I started this early, everything was LATE, because I forgot to mail it.
I was on pinterest (LOVE.) and found these cute as pie hand warmers.
Aren't they the best?
I immediately thought of my mom, who at 81, is forever cold. I thought it would be fun for her to warm these up and tuck them into her pockets of her robe or jacket.
AND, best of all, it fits my desire to buy handmade this year.
How about you?
Handmade? Etsy? No shopping malls? Gifts shipped to you?
Such a good idea.
So, today for the 31 for 21, I'm thinking about how Brenna, or anyone with a disability for that matter, is so much more LIKE others than not.
As in, she cannot wait for spirit week at school. Or for the football games on Friday nights. She wears her volleyball team shirt every Tuesday without fail, because it's game day for "her" girls. She likes to sing Justin Beiber songs in cooking class with her friend, Kimmie. When she walks the hall ways of her school, she says hi to just about everyone.
Brenna hasn't mastered the art of sleeping in quite yet, but I'm always hopeful.
She has asked me about driving some day.
She wants to go to the same college as her sister.
Brenna adores working in the nursery at church.
She digs going to the movies and LOVES. POPCORN.
For all of her life, I go back to what my eldest sister said about her when she was born:
"She's just wrapped up in a little different packaging is all."
So, so true.
Brenna has crushes and blushes when someone teases her about boys.
She can roll her eyes at me with the best of them.
Brenna is the most social kid I have ever seen-she comes by it naturally-and is forever asking if we can invite someone over for dinner.
She has learned to swim, ride a horse, photograph, knit baby hats, likes to paint, goes to camp, and hates doing her chores.
Pretty typical, yes?
So, why is it, when I watch her growing up, that my heart gets squeezed so hard, that I feel physical pain?
Brenna is not the first one asked to come over with everyone else. She doesn't have a core group of friends that call and make plans together. Brenna has a hard time just "hanging out and talking." Brenna likes to still play tag and Candyland...kinda not the most popular things to do. She tends to obsesson a few people in particular. Physically, she just can't do some of the stuff others do, and she tires out a lot faster than others. If my husband and I don't make plans, she doesn't do much. So we make a lot of plans.
I know many, many people go through this with their kids, whether they are disabled or not, it happens. Again, more LIKE others than not!
And truly? I want her to make friends "like" her. These will be the people she will eventually live with, socialize with and learn with. We are just in a funny period of life where I know this will pass and balance will be worked out. It's a fine line between "typical" and "disabled", and I thank God on a daily basis that there are such a variety of people in Brenna's life right now.
We also live in an area where teen groups are zero for kids with Down Syndrome. Something that needs to change....in the near future.
While this is a reality we face, it causes my husband and I to be pro-active and begin thinking of what we want Brenna's life to look like in the future.
This is where it is vitally important for me to practice focusing on the positive.
Brenna has a couple of girlfriends that are life time friends. LIFE. I actually asked one of them why she is friends with Brenna. I was truly curious. I don't think I would have sought out someone like Brenna when I was young.
Her answer was this, "because Brenna doesn't hold grudges. There is no girl-drama with her. She always, always has a smile on her face and is the first one to ask how you are doing and to say hi. Brenna is totally honest and makes me laugh."
As a parent, I have to remind myself that we are beyond blessed with people who support us. Family, friends, church, community. We have people in our lives who rise to the occasion when we say we need a time out from life. AND, while writing these posts, I am again reminded how full, how incredibly rich Brenna's life is.
The other vital thing for me to remember is what I am learning with Brenna in our lives. I am humbled on a daily basis. I take life at a slower pace. I have met people I would have never met if it weren't for my child.
I am learning to ASK FOR HELP.
This is one of the toughest things for me. Ever. I hate it. But guess what happens when you ask for help?
I remember God's grace when people respond. I remember I am not alone in this world. I meet others that I can also reach out to. I see in a profound way that we need each other. I stop feeling sorry for myself and my heart isn't squeezed so darn hard. I have pretty much spent my life putting my head down and gutting it out when faced with difficulties, and it just isn't working anymore. Little by little, I am leaning.
And guess who is teaching me?
A seventeen year old.