Not a joke.

I posted about this earlier this week. The comedy special where the comedian made a joke about people with Down syndrome. And I’ve read the responses by the comedian’s supporters.

Remember how I’ve talked about taking the “red pill”? About learning things that I didn’t know that I really needed to know? For five years, my eyes have been truly opened to the just purely discriminatory treatment of people with disabilities. And how horrendous that it has actually been for people with Down syndrome. The “r” word? Yes, it’s hurtful. But it’s a red herring. It’s a distraction. It’s a thing that people can cling onto. “Don’t be so sensitive.” “It’s just a word.”

There are still countries in our world where children with Down syndrome are immediately sent to institutions after they are born. There are countries in our world where toddlers are tied to a bed because it’s easier to “control the children” with developmental disabilities. There are countries today who take these same children, when they turn four years old, and send them to adult institutions. Imagine little Mia in an adult institution. At her age, she would have already spent a year there. There are countries in our world that still just let children with cardiac conditions go untreated and die.

It wasn’t all that many years ago in the United States when doctors wouldn’t bother treating the cardiac, pulmonary, gastric, and other conditions that go along with Down syndrome, and they let them languish in institutions and then die at young ages. Fourteen was a good life expectancy.

I watched a special once about a deaf woman with Down syndrome who was sent to a mental institution because her pediatrician told her parents it was the best place for her. So at seven years old, they left her there. She was ripped from the only home she had ever known and was sent to live away from her family on a doctor’s advice. There were notes from that institution that when she asked for a box of crayons, she was told that she was “too retarded to color.” Her twin sister ended up saving her from the institution as an adult after her parents passed away, brought her to California, where she was finally loved and cared for. She became an outsider artist, creating the most beautiful fabric sculptures. But those sculptures still captured a woman traumatized by years in confinement.

A few years ago, a man with Down syndrome was suffocated by off duty police because he “resisted arrest.” Meaning, he didn’t understand their command for him to leave a movie theater because he was following the directive of his caregiver to stay in his seat and wait for her to come back. He died screaming for his mother. He died over a $12 movie ticket because the police weren’t trained to handle developmental disabilities.

It wasn’t that long ago that Mia wouldn’t have been allowed in a typical classroom, where she is thriving today. I would have been told that it wouldn’t be worth teaching her because she would never learn. Karen Gaffney (a speaker and self-advocate who swam a relay in the English Channel) told a story about how her parents were told by a doctor that she would never learn to walk or talk. And thankfully, her parents didn’t believe it.

What we have done as a society to people with Down syndrome is criminal. It truly is. The harm we have inflicted on a group of people because they happen to have an extra chromosome has been catastrophic. And the fact is that it’s still happening. There are still places where these horrors still exist. Where children are told they are too “retarded” to be a member of society.

So, yeah, I guess I’m sensitive. Because my daughter deserves better than that. Because Mia should be able to walk out of her house without worrying if someone is going to call her a name just because she has slanted eyes and a flat nasal bridge. That people will determine her value because of her chromosome makeup. She deserves to be heard. To be appreciated. To be valued. And I will make sure of that, don’t you worry. But that’s not enough.

Because I want her to live in a world where people fight less for the right to use a derogatory word and fight more for people to be loved.

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Not rainbows and unicorns.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou

Every once in a while, someone asks me to talk to a new mom with a Down syndrome diagnosis. Sometimes it’s a doctor, sometimes a friend, sometimes a therapist. I’ll be honest, before I say yes, I have to consider, “What stage are they in?” And “What stage am I in?” There are stages, you see. And sometimes I’m not sure if I’ll help or hurt.

Because Down syndrome isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. And sometimes you just don’t feel all that thankful.

Sometimes, you’re sad. Or mad. Or defeated. Or hopeless.

I had one of those weeks. Those weeks when the gap between Mia and the typically developing kids in her class felt like a chasm. And no matter how great her teachers tell me she’s doing, I think, “Compared to what?”

One of those weeks when I’ve been working on a skill with her for months, and I just think she’ll never get it.

One of those weeks when I just want a normal family. And a normal relationship with my daughter. When I just want her to tell me about her day. When I don’t want to hear about it from a piece of paper in her folder.

One of those weeks when I just stop telling friends how Mia is doing because they say something like, “Well, typical kids do that, too.” And I look over at my daughter and realize they don’t really understand.

One of those weeks when I’m afraid to say what I feel because people will think I don’t love her.

Because I do.

There are stages, you see.

Because it isn’t easy. And I think that’s what I really want to tell a new mom with a diagnosis. There are weeks when you feel like your kid could conquer the world. When you see what true human potential looks like.

Then there are weeks when you realize what one little extra chromosome can do to a person. When you see the differences and they hurt so damn bad. When you wish everything were different.

And it’s all okay. Because what you are doing is not easy. It’s actually really, really hard.

I hate the statement, “Special kids are given to special people.” Because it’s so not true. Special kids are given to plain old ordinary people, and then it’s not their kid’s potential they have to worry about, it’s their own.

And sometimes you just feel like a big failure. And sometimes you feel like you were blessed with the most wonderful human being on the planet. And your own potential for love is limitless.

Because there are stages.

Here’s to a New Year and new stages. Limitless potential and epic failures. And everything in between.

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I held on way too long. I knew it wasn’t a great idea. I knew that eventually I’d have to stop. But I loved the ritual, the closeness, the quietness of it. But Saturday, it just hit me. It was time.

I stopped rocking Mia to sleep.

She didn’t always need it. She could fall asleep on her own just fine. But she still fit so snugly on my lap, and it was 20 minutes of quiet closeness with my wiggly, busy 5-year-old.

But it had to end. She’s not a baby anymore.

But my heart.

There are a lot of really difficult things about parenthood, but I think the worst is the endings. Time just keeps ticking along, and I’m so proud of them and heartbroken all at the same time. Like one last time after another.

Tonight it hit Mia, too. She realized that we weren’t going to be rocking anymore. And her lip quivered, and I gave her a hug and said, “Change is hard, I know.”
And then from behind me, “Change is a part of life, Mia,” said brave little guy who has seen more change than an 8-year-old should.

I underestimate my kids a lot. And I don’t think it’s because I don’t trust them or I don’t think they can do it. I think it’s just because watching them become more and more independent is so bitter sweet. I want them to be independent, but I still want them to be my babies at the same time. I underestimate how much they understand, how resilient they are, and how strong they are.

I’ve seen so many big changes in Mia over the school year already. Participating in class, making new friends, using more words. She’s growing up.

And I’ve seen so many changes in Fynn. He’s adapting and growing, loving learning and reading, and helping around the house. He’s growing up.

All three of us snuggled in bed tonight reading stories. Mia was still getting used this change, and she would sniff a little, and start to tear up, and Fynn would hug her and make her laugh. And then I said good night and kissed her on the cheek and Fynn kissed her other cheek.

Change is a part of life.

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The Red Pill, continued.

Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. – Morpheus, The Matrix

Almost three years ago, I wrote a blog called The Red Pill. I answered the question, “If you could take away Mia’s Down syndrome, would you?” My answer was no.

In three years, a lot has changed in my family. I read my old blogs and think, “You should have known the tsunami was coming.” But I didn’t, and that’s okay. And in this particular blog, I wrote, “No one ever promised an easy life.”

In two days, Mia will be five years old. Since I wrote The Red Pill, Mia has been through preschool, daycare, and has now started K4. Three IEPs and therapists. Three different teachers and then daycare teachers. Two echocardiograms, a set of orthotics, blood draws, endocrinologists, a night in the emergency room because she wasn’t able to breathe during an episode of croup.

So now that I’ve walked down the path for a few more years, having to let go to different people, being immersed in a new reality both at home and school, and starting to really see what all of this means for the future. Would I take it away?

Disability is terribly unfair. It’s incredibly difficult to watch Mia struggle. In fact it just sucks. It sucks. The fact that Mia has a disability that is all encompassing sucks. There is no sugar coating it. I can wrap it in rainbows and unicorns, but it doesn’t suck any less.

There are experiences that she may never have because of her disability. College, marriage, motherhood. All of it was written before she was born. A mistake in cell division. One little extra chromosome.

Disability is terribly unfair.

But would I take it away?

I wish I didn’t have to fight so hard. I wish I didn’t have to be constantly vigilant. I wish I didn’t have to worry about her being accepted. I wish she didn’t have a heart defect. I wish that she would start talking more. I wish she wouldn’t have to struggle.

But here’s the thing. Wishing away Down syndrome is wishing away Mia.

As I said in that other blog, Mia isn’t sick. She didn’t develop a disability over time. The very blueprint that makes her who she is has a tiny extra chromosome.

Who would Mia be without Down syndrome? While her disability doesn’t define her, it’s part of her.

From her sandal toes, to her flat nasal bridge, to her trans-palmer crease, to her slanted eyes…to her stubbornness, kindness, independence, and spunkiness. Down syndrome is part of every bit of who she is. At the same time it’s not who she is. She’s a little paradox. And that’s what makes her so … her.

Because life is better with her, exactly as she is.

So once again, even three years later, I’ll take the red pill.

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A birth story. Almost 5 years later.

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”
― Leo Tolstoy

It’s Down Syndrome Awareness Month and I realized the other day that I never did write down Mia’s birth story. I did write a sort of blog announcement, but that was public relations Erin talking. The face I put on like a shield. It was a cozy place to retreat to at the time. So here it is.

Mia’s birth story starts quite a while before she was actually born. It started during my 20-week ultrasound. I wasn’t working at the time, so finding a babysitter was a problem, and we brought our squirmy 2 (almost 3)-year-old along. Our ultrasound tech was very professional, pointed out body parts and a healthy heart beat. She told us we were having a girl, and we smiled and giggled because we got to have one of each. But her face darkened. I distinctly remember that. She had a sort of grimace on her face, smiled a tight smile, and said, “[The perninatologist] will be in shortly.”

He came in briskly, sat down in the chair, and got right to work looking again. I knew something was wrong. Something felt different about this time around. And then he sighed, looked up from the screen, and said, “What do you know about Down syndrome?” I remember describing it once as someone pushing all of the air out of my chest and then sitting on it. I don’t remember a lot about what happened next. He talked about soft markers, and the only way of knowing would be an amnio, and that termination is an option, but only for 4 more weeks. It went by in a blur. I tried to get out of that conversation. I couldn’t process it. I remember asking if I could talk to my OB. I just wanted to run away. And he kept telling me it wasn’t necessary, and what she said didn’t matter. I finally said I needed to think. Nate spoke up and said we didn’t want to terminate so why have an amnio? And then he said, “Good luck.”

And then I waited it out. The early blood test was not available. I was 9 months too early for that. Prenatal counseling was non-existent. I was offered nothing. No one offered someone for me to talk to (aside from my friends), no one gave me information. No one said anything at all, except, “Well, we’ll find out when she’s born.”

It was 5 months of pure torture. Grief, hope, despair. You name it, I felt it. Instead of happily buying baby girl clothes, I would just think these dark thoughts like, “Should I name her? What if she dies?” While Nate traveled, I’d sit in our apartment researching soft markers and wondering if she’d be one of the 96% of kids who have this specific soft marker and are born with a typical set of chromosomes.

And then in my desperate searching, I ran across two websites – two mommy blogs that turned the tide a little bit – Enjoying the Small Things and A Perfect Lily. I remember the first picture I saw. The most beautiful little blonde girl helping her dad wash a car. And in my head, the world was an entirely different place. If you ever wonder why I post about Mia and write about her, it’s because that moment changed my entire perspective. Sure I was scared out of my mind, but that photo made me believe, for a moment, that life might be beautiful after all. And I think that maybe someday, someone will run across my blog or my photos of Mia doing typical kid things and drag themselves out of that dark place, too.

Even though I comforted myself with these families living typical lives, I was still holding out this hope that Mia would be born without Down syndrome.

She made me wait 5 long days past her due date. She was actually due on Halloween, but I went into labor on Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Day. It was more fitting anyways. Remember, remember, the 5th of November.

Honestly, the actual birth was easy. Easier than Fynn, even though she was a big baby, just like Fynn.

They put her on my chest and I didn’t see it. I saw her blonde hair and blonde eyebrows. I picked up a hand and looked at it, and no transverse palmar crease – because I remembered that was a thing. (It was on the other hand.) I thought, “Whew, she doesn’t have it.” And for 30 minutes, Mia didn’t have Down syndrome.

Then the nurse picked her up in a strange way, looked into her face, and turned to me, “I’m going to call a NICU nurse down.” And then the other nurse arrived and the two nurses argued about whether or not they thought Mia had Down syndrome. Then the NICU nurse walked over to us and said, “You knew ahead of time, so this isn’t a surprise, but I think your daughter has Down syndrome.” I said, “Oh, well, should we just order the chromosome analysis?”

The nurse shrugged, said, “Well, I’m telling you she has Down syndrome.” And then she left.

And then we went to a normal room. The nurse, in a hushed voice, told the nurse on duty that “This is Mia; she has Down syndrome.”

The rest of the day is a little foggy. I remember being fine. I was fine. Mia didn’t go to the NICU that day. She stayed in the room with me. I sort of kept wondering if she was going to die. Like, what happens now? No doctor came to talk to me. No one examined her. I kept wondering if I should say something. But I didn’t know at the time that I needed to take on a different role. I wasn’t just a mom anymore. I was an advocate.

But I was completely fine. I was FINE. I do remember saying that a lot.

Until about 12:30 AM. Nate had gone to get Fynn and take him home to sleep. I put Mia in the bassinet, walked into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and it was like 5 months of grief came out all at once. I can’t tell you how long I cried. So much that my eyes were almost swollen shut.

I didn’t want anyone to know I was sad. It’s the other thing people don’t prepare you for – the shame in feeling a sense of grief over your living child. I kept all the lights off in my room and wrapped the ice from my water cup in a paper towel and put it on my eyes to reduce the swelling so the nurses wouldn’t know. Silly right?

The rest of the hospital stay included being yelled at by a doctor because I wanted to breastfeed and I didn’t understand this new polycythemia diagnosis. We found out about her heart defect. I had a group of wonderful nurses and lactation consultants who took my lead (the happy face I put on so they would all start talking like normal people) and started encouraging me instead of avoiding me. The polycythemia landed her in the NICU because her blood was turning to sludge. And then…the rest.

I’ve hesitated for a long time in writing this birth story because it’s not pretty. It was not a week of unicorns and rainbows and support. It was raw and wrong. It was full of misunderstandings and pain.

But here it is. And this is why I advocate for more information. This is why I post about Mia. This is why I say yes to anyone who wants to “send someone with a diagnosis my way.” Because this birth story is not Mia’s story. It’s just the beginning, and the beginning was hard.

But then Mia came home. That’s her real birth story. When the little girl with Down syndrome became just a little girl. But you all know that story already.

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“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” ― Maya Angelou

Tomorrow Mia starts 4K and Fynn starts 2nd (how did that happen??). And aside from buying Mia school supplies and taking her to meet and greets, I’ve barely thought about it. After two years of logistics and getting kids in the right spot and then somehow getting to work, I’m just looking forward to some kind of normal.

The truth is that over the course of almost five years, I’ve gone from being completely petrified to confident that Mia is going to be just fine at school. A lot of that has to do with the many amazing therapists and teachers who have been her guides and cheerleaders for her entire life. She’ll be amazing, I know it.

But you guys, I’m tired. Like I’ve reached a profound tiredness where one day bleeds into the other. Mia’s very kind daycare teacher, on Mia’s last day, told me how impressed she was at how I’m always positive and upbeat. It was a very sweet compliment, but my internal, snarky-self thought, “It’s the years of acting. I’m very good at pretending.”

And I am positive and I do believe everything is going to be fine and I love my kids and I love my job and I’m excited about things in life, but I’m exhausted. Do you remember in college, when the end of the semester hit and you went home for summer break and you slept for a week straight? That feeling. But instead of sleeping, imagine starting another semester the next day.

Part of me blames it on grieving, and those of you have grieved for a long time will know exactly what I’m talking about. First I grieved Mia’s diagnosis and then that grief just bled into grieving my marriage, and this feeling is what happens at the end.

And then part of it is just being a parent. I don’t think many parents don’t know this feeling. The feeling of just needing a nap…or several.

And of course there’s the guilt piled up on top of knowing deep down you need a very long break from your children. Of people needing from you. I think mothers specifically feel like their identities disappear in motherhood to other people’s needs.

This year I bought a subscription to the theater. Part of it was because I miss the theater. I love working for the orchestra, but my heart is in a theater. In plays and (sometimes) musicals. Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and Henrik Ibsen and Tom Stoppard are just my people, and I miss it. But another part is that for 2-3 hours a few times a year, I’m going to sit by myself in a theater without anyone needing anything from me. I bought one subscription. One ticket. One seat.

Sometimes I think it’s hard for moms to admit they need it. They need time where they can do something completely for themselves. Maybe we’ve conditioned people to believe that if they don’t give every part of themselves to their children or to their work or significant other, then they are somehow selfish and horrible people. But over the past two years especially, I’ve realized that moms, myself included, have got to cut ourselves some slack. Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest are telling everyone to be perfect, but sometimes leave the stuff on the floor and the dishes in the sink and go to bed. Go read a book or watch a movie that doesn’t include a cartoon character. But to do something that does not have anything to do with another person, just themselves. To remember that person that is you separate from other people.

And maybe I’m writing this for me as much as for any other moms out there who feel the same way. I hope your Labor Day includes a little break for you too. And if it doesn’t, the kids go back to school tomorrow. And if you’re the mother of an infant or toddler, don’t clean up the house during nap time. You have my permission to eat ice cream and watch bad television or do whatever else makes you happy.

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Holland again.

“I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn’t matter where you land. What’s more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.” Welcome to Holland, Pt. 2, Emily Pearl Kingsley

You’ve all read or heard of the first “Welcome to Holland” short essay? I wrote about it way back at the beginning. I wrote about how it just wasn’t me. And it still isn’t. I never felt like Down syndrome took me to Holland. After Mia was born, I still felt like I was on my way to the vicinity of Italy. I mean, maybe I was landing in Greece or something. Greece is pretty nice. Still in the Mediterranean at least, am I right? There’s Athens. Beaches. The Parthenon? I mean, it may not be everyone’s first choice for a vacation in Europe, but it’s definitely in the top five.

And then I got divorced, and my plane ended up in Kazakhstan. I don’t know anything about Kazakhstan. Feel free to Google. I couldn’t point to it on a map. Lost.

I dated my ex-husband throughout college and got married the summer after he graduated (I graduated the year before). It was supposed to happen. We were in love. Looking back, it was silly. We were babies. What did we know about anything? But we did what we were supposed to do. Got jobs, both went to graduate school, had a baby.

But then Mia was born and it was like someone had dismantled our future. Two “normal” kids. Two “normal” childhoods. They’d graduate from high school and then college, then empty-nesting, and then retirement. Like a map. Then it felt like someone took a big Sharpie to our map and just wrote, “No.”

And then I sort of started a new one. Over time, I felt like I was navigating the world pretty well. Navigating this new map, this new “normal.” Then someone took a big Sharpie to my new map and wrote, “No.”

Well, shit.
Now what?

Those four words pretty much sum up my last, nearly, two years. So for two years, I’ve been trying to figure out the “Now what?” part. Because that map is long gone, people.
And I’ll be honest with you, I have absolutely no idea. I have no idea what’s next. For those of you who know me, I’m a planner by nature. I love planning. And boy did I have a plan. I mean, two years ago, I could have told you the plan for the next 20 years of my life. And now, nothing.

It took a long time to let go of that other life. I still don’t think I’ve completely let it go. I think it will always haunt me a little, just like the little girl who Mia “was supposed to be” will haunt me.

It sounds a little reckless to say this, but I think I’ve decided to stop drawing maps. My long-term planning is on hold. At least for now.

For now, I’ll plan on fireworks. Parades. Blue moon ice cream. Toddler giggles. Baseball gloves. Whether I’m in Holland, Italy, Greece or Kazakhstan.

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A hot mess.

I just figured, if I’m going to be a mess, I might as well be a hot mess, right?” – Mindy Kaling

So usually for Mia’s birthday, I write a post about advocacy and Down syndrome and what I’ve learned and all the awesome things about her. And there are tons of awesome things about her. She’s amazing and I love her. And she makes the world a better place. Just the other day another mom told me that her child cannot stop talking about Mia. Since she is the embodiment of pure sunshine, I was not that surprised.

And I love motherhood, but I’ve been talking to a lot of moms lately about life with kids, the mid-30s, and how hard everything is, and I decided to celebrate today by being completely honest about something.

I’m a hot mess.

Between IEPs, struggles finding a daycare, being back in the office, general kids in school drama, and just being a mom, I’m one problem away from spontaneously combusting.

I really want to be positive, but I’m in this funk. This enormous funk. Like the funk of all funks. Gosh I love my kids so damn much. But being a mom is hard. It’s HARD.

And I look at social media and think, “What are they doing so right? How am I such a huge mess? Why is everything so damn hard?” But then I look at my own Facebook page with the cute videos of the kids and adorable, strategically staged pictures (meaning I make sure the dirty diaper I left on the floor is not in the shot), and I start to wonder what people think about me. I wonder if I put on a good show that I have it all together.

And I think we’re afraid of admitting it. We’re afraid of saying, “I want being a mom to be awesome, but some days, it’s just SO HARD.”

So for Mia’s birthday. My advocacy is this. Hey mom out there who is struggling, who is sad, who is working her butt off but feeling like she’s going nowhere. Who looks at social media and thinks everyone is doing so much better than her. I hear you. I see you. We’re in this together. I’ll be a hot mess with you.

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Let go.

“Let go or be dragged.” – Zen Proverb

My fellow horse-back riding friends will understand this completely. That moment when your horse spooks, you fall off, and you’re still holding the reins. You have two choices. You either let go of the reins and let the horse keep running or you hold on and try to stop it. And if you hold on, you are going to be dragged. Because that horse isn’t stopping.

Acceptance is a process. When Mia was just a tiny baby, I thought about that other baby a lot. The one I was “supposed” to have. I thought about what she would have looked like, what milestones she would have been achieving, when she would have said “mommy” for the first time. She was sort of this ghost who followed me around all day, reminding me of what it all was supposed to be like. I let myself be dragged for a good long while, holding on to something that was just never going to be.

I don’t think I could pinpoint the moment when I finally let her go. I know she pops up every now and again. When I have to go to IEP meetings or when I notice the delays when she’s with children her age. But instead of spending the rest of the day upset about what was “supposed” to be, I just wave her off. I have Mia, and she is exactly who I am supposed to have in my life. And I am exactly who she is supposed to have in hers. It’s just as it should be.

But damn is it hard to let go of what was supposed to be. I remember those early days well. I put on a brave face, but I was scared, terrified, petrified. The only thing I wanted was for us to all be “normal.” I wanted it so much that I was white-knuckling those reins as if I could do something about it. But I couldn’t.

And isn’t that how it is in so many areas of our lives? I feel like I’m white-knuckling the reins of everything lately. I’m holding on to some kind of fantasy of perfect or ideal or just normal. And I’ve said it before. Life is never going to be “normal” so why can’t I just let it go?

Because being out of control is terrifying and I want to hold on to what I think it should be and control the outcome of everything. But I really don’t want to be dragged anymore. Eventually, I’ll lose my grip anyways and be in the same spot, only bloodier.

For me, Mia is the perfect example of how everything turns out “all right” in the end. I put “all right” in quotes because is it perfect? No. Is it hard? Yes. Are there days when I think I just can’t do this? Yes. But 99 percent of the time, all I can think about is how lucky I am and how awesome she is and how I am so deeply in love with this little girl that I can barely stand it. While I was letting myself be dragged three years ago, I would have never expected that if I had just let go and accepted my reality, I would be in this place right now.

“Let go or be dragged.”

Time to start letting go of the things I can’t control. It will all be “all right,” whatever that means.

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To tilt.

“What a pair we make, huh? Both trying to hide who we are, both unable to do so. Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough. But you also tilt when you should withdraw, and that is knightly, too.” Prince Edward, A Knight’s Tale

So do you tilt or do you withdraw? I’ve really started thinking about which one I do most often. So do I tilt or do I withdraw? Both. Ironically, I withdraw when the challenge disappears, but the bigger the challenge, the harder the circumstances, the worse the possible outcomes, I tilt. I think the fact is that I always tilt toward possible heartbreak, always hoping that I win this time around.

And sometimes I do. With Mia, I feel like I’ve won. Instead of withdrawing, protecting my heart, and expecting less, I tilted right toward the heartbreak. I knew that it might be out there, the tremendous heartbreak of it, but I couldn’t help myself. I ran right at it with no concern of how badly it might hurt. I didn’t feel like I had a choice. In reality, I’m still running at it.

But sometimes, I tilt toward heartbreak and lose. And usually the loss is extreme.

I can imagine myself now, lying in the dirt, wondering how I got there. The pain from the lance still searing my chest.

But then what? What should I do when that happens? Quit? Give up? Stop tilting? Do I protect my heart? What do I do in the face of a broken heart?

I plan to pick myself back up, dust off the dirt, pick up my lance, reassemble the tiny pieces of my heart, and I’m going to go looking in a different direction. I plan to find the biggest and most dangerous chance for heartbreak, and I’m going to tilt right at it.

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