Friends! Long time no see. I think when we last left off, I was sticking my foot in my mouth and saying good bye to the lump and soon, a large portion of both the breasties. Yes, that’s where we were.
It’s been almost 3 months since I updated. I’ve been wicked busy. I went through with the breast reduction surgery. And I have a new job as of the last 4 months. And Jack played soccer for the first time on a challenge team and I’m still crying about it. And I’m running a half marathon this weekend in New Orleans. So yes, lots of ground to cover.
The reduction: For those of you that know me, this has been my dream since I was 18. To finally rid myself of the saddlebags that unattractively drooped to my belly button. To get rid of my excuse why I don’t run or wear bikinis, pretty bras or form fitting shirts. And it was totally worth it. The physical aspect of surgery was the hell on Earth you would think it was. I still feel like at any given moment my Frankensteinish seams will burst open and my insides will run all over the floor. There are parts of my skin that are totally numb. I actually pulled a string out of the side boob the other day. And I’m having phantom sweats under there. (Figure it out). It’s freaky and weird and I still feel like I’m looking at a stranger in the mirror. BUT, I’d take all of that plus a double hernia before I regretted the decision. It’s hands down the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
What I would take back is the mental aspect of it. I expected to come out of surgery and be the happiest small chested girl in the world. I expected to look down at my tiny areolas and finally make my first shopping trip to Victoria’s Secret where I wasn’t just buying body lotion. Instead, the anesthesia and heavy meds made me a psychological mess for almost 2 months. I wasn’t myself. I was depressed, anxious and detached from the world. I’m going to spare you those details and proudly say that I’ve recovered, physically and emotionally, and I am walking taller, standing prouder, running fasterrrrrrrrright I’m totally kidding. But it was every bit as awesome as I hoped it would be.
New Chest New Job: (Totally inappropriate but it’s a good working title no?) Right before the initial lumpectomy in June, I landed a job. A real life grown-up working for someone I’m not related to job. And, it’s kind of a dream job. I’m working for a performing arts non-profit and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. I get to work with like-minded, free-thinking, talented, creative people and I think I may have actually found my niche on a professional level. Not to mention, I have acquired friends that I am shocked weren’t permanent fixtures in my life before.
I’ve written in the past that I’ve always let being a wife and mother define me. That it was my only purpose. And it’s a really good purpose. But adding this aspect to my life has made me a much more well-rounded person. It has helped me reconnect with the community and society that I’ve been so hesitant to be a part of. And it’s allowing me an opportunity to feed and nurture my creative side; the one that so many mothers tend to neglect. I’m grateful, proud, and extremely excited to follow this new path so I’m going to cease talking about it for fear that they will see what a donkey I am and recant.
Challenger Soccer: I have to talk about my kids for a minute. And if you don’t like it then – earmuffs. Charlie, 11 months old, is beautiful, eating solids and is the only one to laugh at all of my jokes. George, now 4, has taken a wife and named his 3 children and let me know that “even though you and daddy will go to heaven soon, I won’t be sad because I’ll have my own family to keep me happy.” Dude’s going to give a whole new meaning to the term starter wife. But in the mean time is teaching me to keep moving forward, because life will move with or without you.
And sweet Jack played his first ever game of team soccer last night.
Preface: I don’t want to offend anyone with my storytelling and depiction of how this went down. Some may find it offensive for which I am sorry. I of all people am sensitive to the sensitivity of families with special needs children. I was moved, touched, and inspired by this event and only wish to relay my experience and the impact a small game of soccer can have on a family.
Jonathan signed Jack up for Challenger soccer. And I was pissed. I’m over-protective of Jack. I know that. You don’t think I know that? I didn’t think he was ready. I thought it would be a disaster. For him and for me. But try we did.
I cried all the way to the soccer field. I tried very hard not to cry at the actual soccer field. Because you know what? People don’t want to see you cry when you look at their disabled child. But damn, I just couldn’t control my emotions on this night. To see so many kids and an even greater number of adults try so hard to do something that the 200 kids surrounding them were doing effortlessly was a beautifully sad and inspiring thing. I found myself looking around at the ‘typical’ children and families and it made me effing mad. Sad, angry and pissed off that while some parents were going to be mad that their child didn't score, I wanted to be sure that my child could stay in the confines of a 100 yard field and that he could understand not to take the ball away from someone in a wheelchair. I cannot begin to convey the perplexity of emotions that one goes through on an occasion like this. These are the moments that I dread; the moments when I am overcome with fear and desperation and utter sadness about his disorder. These moments where you want your child to have a resemblance of something normal but wonder what the cost will be. But you know if you can just hold on and make it through, then the reward will be worth it.
And it was. Jack played a game of soccer that night. He played with children and adults who had Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism; a variety of mental and physical disorders. There were many in wheelchairs and walkers. Many who were just happy to be on a team. But as the night went on, my fear and sadness slowly morphed into excitement and joy. And you stop seeing everyone’s disorders and disabilities and can enjoy and appreciate the night for what it is - kids and adults who were playing a game of soccer. Just like everybody else. Only when they scored or kicked, you cheered louder and harder, and for a very different reason. We left the soccer fields that night better people. Better parents, more appreciative and grateful than when we came. Jack changed too. It was a momentous occasion for all of us.
I’ve said numerous times that the one thing I’m thankful for in Jack’s disorder is the gift of perspective. Every small thing that Jack, George and Charlie do is celebrated. Nothing is taken for granted. No word or movement, no accomplishment goes unrecognized.
Postface: I don’t think typical children and their families should feel guilty for being able to do things that others can’t. On the contrary, I’m quite happy for you/them. My own brief feelings of bitterness are just that – my own and extremely brief. I only vocalize my emotions in the hopes of making others aware of the process for families like ours over simple things like soccer games, going to restaurants and birthday parties. The sooner society understands these disorders and the emotions surrounding them, the easier and less emotional these outings will be for us, our children and for you.
Running: Jack’s rather large feat this week will serve as my talisman as I run the Jazz half-marathon in New Orleans on Saturday. It will be the first half for my sister Sarah and the first race we’ve done together since the Gumtree. It’s also my first time in New Orleans. I heard they serve alcohol there.
I’m super excited but ill-prepared and under trained. But I'm fairly certain that I’ve yet to run a half marathon where I wasn’t both of those things. So here’s to consistency!
Am I nervous? Yes. Scared? No. If Charlie can pretend I'm the funniest person alive, if George can understand and appreciate the circle of life at the age of 4, and if Jack can rise above a disability and enjoy a game of soccer, then I can get off my fat ass and run a mile. Or 13.
I’ll do a race report and I promise to keep it shorter and less gross than reports in the past. Unless of course that the rumors are true and there is alcohol somewhere in that French Quarter place I keep hearing about. Then it might be a bit gross.
Quote of the Day:
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of It.” – Helen Keller
“I did it! I played the soccer!” – Jack Martin
Song of the Day:
Help! – The Beatles
The Firebird – Igor Stravinsky (One of Jack's first words was Firebird. It's his favorite)