Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's all Relative...Siblings, that is

Today we celebrated my little brother's 27th birthday. He's my only sibling, so we're pretty close. I remember growing up how we'd fight like cats and dogs and refuse to apologize to each other when our parents broke it up, but how we always had each other's backs through it all. I still joke that he's more protective of me than my husband is! He was the first person I thought of when I needed a godfather for my firstborn and the first person I thought of when I needed a pallbearer for my 2nd & 3rd. He's been my protector and one of the most important people in my life for the last 27 years.

Sadly, I realized this weekend that my kids will never have the same relationship that my brother and I have shared. I feel like Addison already misses out on so much because she's our only child at home. She'll never have the chance to get hurt doing something stupid and to look up at one of her brothers and utter "get mom"...then look on thankfully to see him running full speed to get her help (i.e., riding a calf and of course falling off or perhaps trying to pry hamburger patties apart with a paring knife and ending up stabbing yourself in the meat of your thumb...yes, sadly that was me, and my brother always ran to get me help!).  Tyler & Ethan won't have a chance to struggle with Shakespeare and have their sister try to help them study by reciting a few sentences at a time and translating (true story!). They will never experience having a sibling the same way that I did.

But after I thought about it a while, I realized that I need to take my own advice. When Addison asks about the boys, I always tell her that even though their bodies are not with us at home, their spirits are with God and since God is everywhere, Tyler & Ethan are with us wherever we go. They can see us and hear us and will watch over us always. When I reminded myself of that, I realized that my kids will have a good relationship, just a different one than my brother and I have. Tyler & Ethan will protect Addison every day; maybe not by intimidating bullies or gross guys when she gets to be dating age, but they will protect her from the big stuff. And even though they won't have a dance at each other's weddings or text message each other on their birthdays, the boys will send her signs to let her know that they are walking with her every day of her life. They will love each other the same way they would if we were all together here on earth, and that is comforting.

Thanks for Reading!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dear 2011: You Suck. Sincerely, Jen.

I put up a new calendar at work today, one that I received from a vendor with pretty landscape scenes and inspirational quotes. The January 2012 quote is "Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries." That said to me that anyone can try a couple of times, but your true character comes out on those third and fourth tries. It made me realize that I learned a lot about my character in 2011, even though to put it bluntly, 2011 sucked eggs.
Tyler & Ethan were our "fourth try". I guess the fact that we even had a "fourth try" says a lot right there - I am obviously not a quitter. But looking back in my life file, I have been a bit of a quitter in the past. I've always been one to give up on something and move on if I'm not good at it. I participated in one season of basketball and one season of volleyball when I was a kid...I wasn't a starter or even second string, so I moved on to cheerleading and forensics, which I acceled at, loved and stuck with for the long haul. But did I love them genuinely or did I love them because these things came easily and more naturally to me? I really can't answer that.

I'm obviously not very good at making babies...1 success out of 5 children is not a good statistic. So I think the reason I'm still hesitant to give it another try is that trying again and again and again is very contrary to my nature. Ordinarily, my intuition tells me that if I'm not good at something, I should move on and try something else. But maybe this is yet another life lesson that I'm supposed to learn. Maybe I've been a quitter for too long and this is another gift from Tyler & Ethan - teaching me not to give up, even when things are not easy or natural.

Needless to say, I've been thinking a lot about trying again as our one year waiting period will be up in April. For the longest time I couldn't imagine myself pregnant again, even though I've said on here in the past that I know I'll regret it if I don't try. Being pregnant again just didn't seem fathomable when I thought about it. It was like trying to imagine myself as a child again; something that I had lived through in the past, but that I would only be able to go back to in my dreams. So I asked God and Tyler & Ethan for some sort of sign to tell me what to do - should we really try again? Shortly after that, I started having dreams about being pregnant. Ok, very likely to be coincidental, given that my mind was already on the baby train...but now the last three days when I've gotten into the van to go somewhere, the song Stronger by Sara Evans is playing. It's a song about a break-up and the woman getting stronger every day, but it totally applies here as well. I think it's a reminder from the boys that I'm stronger than I ever was before and am getting better every day. If you have survived the death of a child, you can survive damn near anything.

So yes, 2011 sucked. I endured more pain and heartache than I ever imagined I could. But I survived. I didn't lay down and die; I lived to tell about it. And I'm learning from all that heartache every day. That is the important thing. Plus, being a mom to angels is a pretty big deal too.

Here's to a better 2012 for us all. I know there will be stumbling blocks, challenges and maybe more heartache, but I also know that I will survive it. And my heart will tell me when it's time to stop trying.

Thanks for reading,