Friday, August 28, 2009

Chelsea's Homecoming

Well, on Tuesday evening, Chelsea came home without much fanfare. My son dropped her off at around 7:30 pm and she had school the next day. She sat in her room watching a favorite movie for about an hour, and then asked me what time her dad was coming back. When I explained to her that she was back with us now, that her time with dad had been just a little vacation, she smiled and jumped under the covers. She was asleep in five minutes. I had no idea that he had not explained anything to her. She had not had a bath, and he didn't bring her clothes until 10:30 that night, clean but thrown unfolded in a box. Not my idea of preparing for the first day of school. That's just not how I live. I have everything ready the night before, baths over with, clothing laid out, etc. I like a nice, calm, organized morning. To make matters worse, I overslept the next morning, so it turned into a mad dash to get ready and get out the door. Chelsea took it all in stride, I, on the other hand, was a very unhappy camper.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The break is over, even if she isn't home yet

We have a few days left, but already I am preparing for school to start, getting her room cleaned, and having anxiety attacks about how I will schedule my doctors' appointments around her school schedule and the absence of anyone to babysit or get her from school if my appointments run over. I have appointments with specialists, and those can be all day events. I am worrying about how I will keep up with her laundry, because our dryer is irreparably broken and we can't afford a new one (or even a good used one). I worry about how I will take care of her if my family doctor's predictions of my final diagnosis come true. I think I am worrying too far ahead, yet I feel like I have to. They say that God never gives us more than we can handle, but I think that being 50 and taking care of a Downs child, being dirt poor, and having a possible diagnosis of MS (and no health insurance) hanging over my head is a bit much.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One more week of freedom

School starts next Tuesday, so Chelsea will be back with us on Monday evening. I have such mixed feelings about it. Already I dread the loss of freedom. Back to begging someone to watch her so hubby and I can go somewhere together for a couple of hours. Back to the morning routine of getting ready for school; gone are the leisurely mornings filled with newspaper reading and coffee drinking. There will be no more uninterrupted conversations with my husband, no more sleeping in on the weekends, no more eating dinner at 9:00 pm just because we want to. But there is also a part of me that is excited to have her back. I miss her, plain and simple. If she's here, I know she's safe. This has been a wonderful few weeks' break for us, no doubt about it. It has given my husband and I a chance to reconnect, to remember who we were as a couple. I only hope we can hold on to that connection when Chelsea comes home again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chelsea is 15 today!

I can hardly believe she is 15 years old today. It seems like just yesterday that I held her in my arms just minutes after she was born. Time goes by so fast, and it doesn't seem to matter whether times are good or bad, they still fly past us at the speed of light. When I blink again, she will be 18, then 30. We are celebrating her birthday this coming weekend, it is the only time all the family can get together. I am looking forward to it, it is one of the rare times when no one cares if she smears food all over. Her dad has a fenced yard, so the kids will be able to play and fling cake to their hearts content. In spite of all the bad, I am so grateful that she was spared the night her sister was murdered. I wish all of this had turned out differently, no child should have to be raised by old She should be where she is right now, at her dad's, playing with her brother and sister, being a kid. Not with us; we have no friends with kids, no fenced yard for her, and we're too tired to do much after working all day. She will be at her dad's for three more weeks, then back with us in time for school to start. I will enjoy and make the most of the three weeks of freedom I have left, but I will also miss her every minute of it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

For those who don't know

I often get get comments pointing out how depressing my blog is at times. I am quite certain that many find it to be a "downer" when perhaps they were looking for something uplifting. I thought maybe this would be a good time to bring to light the reason we have Chelsea in the first place, for those who don't already know. Perhaps knowing how we came to be Chelsea's guardians will explain why our experience is so different from those who are parenting a Down's child by choice. It is a rather long story, but I will summarize it.

On July 13, 1999, Chelsea's baby sister was murdered by her mother and step-father. After much emotional trauma, dealings with Child Protective Services, and two murder trials, my son was given custody of Chelsea by the courts. He was a newlywed at the time, and the combination of the murder itself and having a disabled child placed in their lives with little warning caused their marriage to disintegrate and they divorced. My son tried valiantly to care for Chelsea on his own, but amidst his grief over his murdered child and his divorce, did not cope well. Chelsea was not thriving and learning as she had been before his wife left. In order to protect Chelsea and give her some kind of chance in the world, my husband and I agreed to take her until he could get his life in order. It has been years now, and he still cannot seem to cope with her. I understand this, because I can barely do so myself.

I had only been married about a year when Chelsea came, having been happy and enjoying my life for the first time in years. Being middle-aged and suddenly have a disabled child to care for does not lend itself to happiness. I had always looked forward to that time in life when my boys were on their own and I could once again get to know myself as something other than someones caregiver. One event, on July 13, has had such a ripple effect in all of our lives, but I cannot let go of the thought that Bethanie's murder not only ripped a part of my heart out forever, it also cost me my happiness. If you really take the time to think of the emotional dynamic that takes place every day as a result of these events, you may have a better understanding of why my blog is not all about the wonders and joys of a Down Syndrome child. I will love protect Chelsea until my last breath, but I can't help but mourn the lost years of my life, just when I had started to enjoy them. For more information about Bethanie and her murderers, see my blog "Never Another Child" Thanks for reading.