Leaning in.

E has a new obsession. Pillars. The architectural type: at the library, the hospital, and the grocery store. If it is tall and holding up a ceiling she is ALL about it. When she spots one (even if we just passed 3…) she squeals, flings her arms in the air and runs to it as though she’s greeting an old friend. It’s moments like this that Ben and I are tempted to be embarrassed. As if she wasn’t drawing enough attention to herself in a bulky, bright green, squeaky walker… she’s now squealing in delight and hugging a cement pillar. She loves the pillars, she squeals and stares upward and rubs them. I haven’t had as much fun as she does with those things in a long time… We look at passersby and smile sheepishly, and at first would unconsciously lean away from her, or pull her away from the pillar. Then, she would see another and repeat…

Every time we pass a pillar and have to stop with her… I am reminded that our life has so many “pillar” situations.  Times where life makes us stop, where it’s not what we imagined: a two-year old starting full time therapy because of how low her skill level is… changing a college savings plan to a home health plan… therapy appointments instead of play dates… giving up a career path because her schedule and needs are so great… dates interrupted by g-tube emergencies… hospital admissions… a dog needed for service instead of as a pet… tantrums in the grocery store because she can’t communicate her needs…

And a lot of days I just want to lean away. Actually… I want to SPRINT away.

But instead, I lean in.

I buy a brand new lunchbox to match her backpack and take a “First Day of School” picture before she begins full time therapy. I educate myself on therapy techniques and medical terms so that I can engage with her care. I use my career in education to build a foundation of understanding during IEP meetings. I find true friends and confidants in her therapists. We throw literal parties for milestones like sitting and clapping her hands together. (I’ve already got a party theme for her first word).  Ben and I connect over emergency responding and laugh the tension away afterwards. We turn hospital admissions into mini vacations and order food in that we’d never get on a regular basis and refuse to wash dishes. He and I go to Washington D.C. to learn about legislative needs and I track down representatives at events downtown. We buy cool tennis shoes and pick cute brace designs for E’s little feet. We designed t-shirts and open our hearts and lives to anyone who cares to lean in with us. We build a community of love, prayer and support that we would have never known if we didn’t have so many pillar situations in our lives.

So we now allow E to linger at and enjoy each pillar she sees. We get down on her level and take in all that she’s seeing, we lean into her joy and awe. And that’s the point: though there are many times and situations that no one would blame us for leaning away from… there’s so much to lean in to. Joy, awe, determination, community, strength, laughter and so much love.

Lean in, friend and approach life as E approaches pillars:
with arms wide open and joy abounding.

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