Chapter 6.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ― Anaïs Nin

I’m not a naturally courageous person. I’ll tell you what I am. I’m the truest definition of an introvert, and my Myers Briggs test tells me I’m an INFJ. Feel free to look it up. Let’s just say I spend a lot of time living in my head. So it takes a lot for me to tell you all that I’m on Chapter 6. I’ve started a novel, and I’m on Chapter 6. Now, you’re probably thinking that it’s a novel about Down syndrome, but it’s not. I just don’t think I’m ready to go there yet. I still feel very new to this journey, and I want to get a few more years under my belt before I even consider that possibility.

But I’m on Chapter 6. See, the thing is that I’ve never been on Chapter 6 before. I’ve started so many novels in my life, and I always stop right before the story starts to take shape. I usually look back through the words and think, “This is the worst piece of crap novel ever written.” Then I give up. It’s much easier to give up.

But you see, I’m on Chapter 6. The story has already taken shape, and instead of stopping and rereading and deeming it an unworthy piece of crap, I’m still writing. I’m writing it in my head, on extra pieces of paper, on my computer. I’m still writing.

When I started this blog after Mia was born, it really was to just get all of these feelings that were in my head out in some way, and if someone read it along the way, then so be it. Honestly, when anyone brings up this blog to me, I still feel a little embarrassed. I feel that way because I imagine writing this and sending it out into the abyss. I still forget that people actually read this sometimes.

I really liked writing for public relations, but I think I liked it because I’m not a naturally courageous person. There’s no by line in public relations writing, and I get to remain anonymous behind words that are not really my own. Sure, I figured out what to write and maybe crafted a message, but I could easily say, “This isn’t me. This is for someone else. I’m writing their words for them.” There was something very anonymous and comfortable about P.R. for me. That’s probably why I still do it here and there.

Just under a year after Mia was born, a friend of mine who happens to be a newspaper editor e-mailed me to see if I would review a book by a mother who wrote about her son with Down syndrome. I’ll be honest, my first instinct was to run. I’d have to put myself out there and write something that more than my handful of friends online would read. I’d have to put my name on it. I was terrified. I said yes, but I was terrified. After I’d written it, and he emailed to tell me when it would be in the paper, for a moment I thought about changing my name and possibly moving to a new state. Of course, it all turned out just fine, great in fact, and I’ve done more reviews, though I still get a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hand them in.

I’m just not a very courageous person. But you see, I’m on Chapter 6.

Mia has inspired me in so many ways. Not just because she has to work harder than everyone else to reach the same milestones, but because being her mother has made me rethink every single part of my life, and it’s made me think about big, scary things that I’ve never had to think about. I’ve had to learn to be brave. I’ve had to learn to stand up for her and be her advocate. I’ve had to learn to be brave because I’m her example. She’s going to look at me as her role model as she grows. How can I show her how to be brave in the face of the harshest challenges when I’m not even brave enough to put words on a sheet of paper? The truth is that I have to be brave. I have to have courage because she needs me to have courage.

So guess what friends? I’m on Chapter 6, and right now it may be the worst piece of crap novel ever written, but giving up doesn’t feel like that great of an idea anymore.

Potty training.

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The quote above may be a little “on the nose” when discussing potty training, but there you go.

So this week we’ve started potty training Mia. I am happy to say we have it all figured out and she’s going on her own.

Ha! No. Just no. Let’s just say that it is quite interesting potty training a non-verbal child who may or may not have any idea what I’m asking her to do. I literally put her on the potty every 30-45 minutes, and if she goes, I jump up and down and give her high fives, hugs, fist bumps, and she pretty much looks at me like I’ve gone a little crazy. I walk her over to the sticker chart and she puts a sticker on it, which I’m pretty sure she believes is a completely separate activity.

So why do I bother? She’ll get there eventually, right? Why not wait until she’s three or four? I decided to do this right now because she is showing signs of readiness. I’m also doing it now because I was waiting for all the wrong reasons. Let’s just say that for all of my “no limits” talk, there are still times when I come from a place of “she can’t do it.”

We actually just got back from a two week road trip to Minnesota, South Dakota, and finally Colorado. It was a really great trip. The kids did surprisingly well in the car, in restaurants, and at activities.

One afternoon, we took the two kids for a walk around the lake that was near the condo where we were staying, and at the end of the walk, there was a park. Fynn, of course, ran off to find some friends, and we walked Mia to the toddler section. She played there for some time before she started making her way to the biggest slide on the playground.

I could feel myself getting a little anxious. She’s not quite three! She’s so small! She has low tone! She CAN’T do it! I could hear it all in my head. I could see her whipping down the slide, screaming in terror, and banging her little head on the slide. Panic. Thankfully, Nate was there and did the dutiful father thing and walked her to the top of the slide and let her go for it. Granted the first couple of times I sort of “caught her” until she slapped my hand away. Then, she did it all by herself. No blood, no screaming, no tears. Only happy giggles.

It occurred to me that maybe I was the one actually holding her back. She can do it. She really can.

Potty training. I decided that I can’t let my own anxiety of this not working get in the way of letting her try. Sure, she may not be ready, but I can’t determine that without giving it a try. As long as she’s happy and willing and I can keep my patience, why can’t we give it a go? The truth is that Mia is going to do it when she’s ready anyways, no matter how many times I take her there.

So here we go! Day three. Wish us luck!