Process.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” ― Winston S. Churchill

A while back, on this very blog, I used to do a New Year’s goals list, and I would periodically report on my progress. I think I actually managed to keep a few of those goals for quite a while before I totally abandoned them. Typically I think I would just ditch the entire thing around spring or summer. I used to have unsurprising goals like lose weight, read more, or go green.

It occurred to me that the January after Mia was born that my goal setting seemed so pointless. I made one goal and that was to be more present in my life. I think I’m still working on that one. However, any other goal just seemed shallow. What did it matter if I was overweight? My daughter might need heart surgery. Who cares about books? How am I going to make it through IEPs? What’s the point of going green? I barely have time for the therapy appointments and doctor visits.

As things have been settling down more and we’ve reached a good groove with our special needs journey right now, I’ve sort of started to look back at those goals and think more about them. However, I’ve realized that my goals were literally horrible. What does “lose weight” mean when I can barely cook soup? So for the last few months I’ve been learning how to cook. I haven’t lost a pound, and I don’t care. Instead of just creating a goal, I’m focusing on the process.

It’s actually quite a bit like being a special needs parent. Sometimes you have to stop trying to work on the end game. “Get Mia to talk” is too big. Having been the mom of a late talker already, I know the process is difficult and can take years to get to real conversation and storytelling. Instead, I’ve been working on the process. Playing, mimicking sounds, receptive language – “bababa, lalalala, dadada, papapa.”

I think that is what made my goals so shallow in the past. I was so focused on the goal that I lost sight of the process. No matter what goal I tried, I always felt like a total failure when I couldn’t accomplish it. When the weight didn’t come off or I used too many paper towels or I read fewer books than I wanted, I just sort of gave up.

Watching Mia work toward a goal is like watching someone work a process. Mia didn’t just walk one day. It wasn’t a big surprise. She started pulling up at 9 months, started cruising a couple months later, started walking behind a walker last summer, started walking from one piece of furniture to another by last fall, and finally started walking independently at Christmas. It even took her a couple weeks after that to stand up without pulling up on furniture to start out. It may have taken her a long time to get there, but she got there. She worked hard every single day, and she got there.

While I appreciate each milestone and I am grateful for the progress, it’s the process that I find so inspiring. Nothing comes easy for Mia, but she just keeps doing it.

It may have come a little late this year, but I guess I do have a resolution for 2015 inspired by Mia – just begin the process, and if you fall on your face, just get back up before anyone notices. Oh and high fives and shouts of hoorays are required.

Living.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ― Robert Frost

After our prenatal ultrasound with Mia, I must have read 100 articles about soft markers. It seems silly now, reading all of those words that couldn’t offer any answers. At the time the simple blood tests to confirm the diagnosis didn’t exist, and I wasn’t interested in any test that included long needles and risks, no matter how small. I knew it didn’t matter what the test said; she was mine and I was hers and that was that. However, my conviction didn’t stop me from freaking out for the remainder of the pregnancy.

During that time, I just wished I could see something normal. I wanted to see some story about a family that just kept on going and didn’t come to a screeching halt, fall apart, and stop living. Okay, now I know that was pretty dramatic. I know there are a lot of stories about parents who really couldn’t handle the diagnosis or had children with many severe health problems and struggled quite a bit with caring for their loved one, but there are even more stories about families whose lives, even though they have had struggles and heartache, were going pretty well – great in fact.

So two years ago when I was blogging about my life with Mia, I really had no idea what was going to happen. Who was this little girl going to be and how were we going to survive?

After Mia was born, I ran across an article about Jamie Foxx and his sister who has Down syndrome. They asked what it was like to live with a sister who was born with a disability. Two years in, I realize that his answer was so true and perfect, “We don’t call it ‘living with Down syndrome’. We call it ‘living’.”

I do follow a lot of blogs written by parents with similar experiences. It helps in a number of ways – from thoughts on schools to potty training tips. One of the bloggers I follow suggested that maybe it was time to stop blogging. Now, I know that I’m just not the person to make big statements. When I need to write, I need to write. I’m with Maya Angelou when she said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

However, I realized I’m running out of “big stuff” to talk about when it comes to Mia. The big stuff with Down syndrome is harder to talk about, and I have a toddler running around my house throwing things on the floor and a five-year-old that is requesting a Pokemon game.

And in the midst of all of this, the positive is far outweighing the negative and slowly but surely we’re getting to the “living” part. Here are some updates from the Mia front:

Mia is walking now. I know you’ve probably watched the videos in my feed. I just want you to know how much it’s changing who she is. We go to Fynn’s school and she walks up to the animals and points to ask “what’s that?” She walks into his classroom with the other toddler siblings to pick him up at the end of the day. She’s not a baby anymore. I can’t wait until summer to see her play in the backyard.

She wants to be a helper. Yesterday she insisted on helping me fold the laundry. She made her own pile and tried to mimic me.

She loves books. I know this goes without saying, given my Facebook and Instagram feed, but she loves them so much. She loves to look at them on her own, and she loves it when I read them to her. She is entirely self-directed when it comes to books. I don’t even need to point her in the direction of books. She plays with them so often on her own that I just pick her up every once and a while and we read together.

When it comes to Mia, the Jerry Seinfeld quote is true, “A two-year old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”

Just like her brother, Mia is content to play on her own. If I’m busy cleaning up or working, she finds something to do. It’s pretty easy to see what she’s been doing if I follow her path of destruction. Reading and clearing the bookshelf, playing with every toy in her toy box, making sure her dolls are happy, clearing out my game cabinet, and then playing with puzzles. That’s just the living room and dining room. The kids’ bedroom is a different story. I close the door.

While she’s saying very few words, Mia talks a lot and with a lot of inflection. I know she has a lot to say and I can’t wait to hear what all of that gibberish means.

Even Fynn is growing and changing so much. He’ll be six in May and I just can’t believe how fast it’s all going. How did we get here? A two-year-old and an almost-six-year-old?

Life did just go on and my thoughts about both of my kids has transformed from “what happens when?” to “I can’t wait until.”

Have a great week everyone!