Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to a sweet friend and fellow momma, Kate. She has three gorgeous girls, a husband she adores, and she knows all about the beautiful craziness of raising uniquely gifted kids. When we received the first of my sons’ diagnoses, Katie stepped in and immediately offered to help. One of my favorite memories of Katie is sitting in her kitchen, completely tired, frustrated, anxious and overwhelmed, watching her bake bread. As she worked, she spoke words of encouragement, humor, and grace – moving with an assurance and confidence that I desperately needed. Plus, it smelled delicious.
Read her precious, vulnerable story below. Please be encouraged and uplifted by her words and understanding.
The mojito has become one of my all time favorite summer drinks. The bright green leaves intoxicate me with the fresh zing I need at cocktail hour. The slice of the lime pools its juices on the cutting board as I mix, stir, and shake my way towards a refreshing moment. The only way to ensure that it continued is in purchasing a mint plant. It’s so darn expensive to buy that little plastic container of mint when it can grow like a weed in the backyard.
I was out running errands with the girls one afternoon and decided today was going to be the day to make sure “mojito moments” lasted forever. We went to a local garden nursery, I scanned the plants, found the best, healthiest mint plant and rushed home to make dinner. In the chaos of dinner making the girls were outside playing and I asked my eldest from the porch to get the shovel and plant the mint. I didn’t wait for a response but in my hurried state, went back inside to check that I wasn’t burning dinner. Not wanting show any lack of trust, I didn’t ask whether she did it or where she put it. (She’s 10, quite the responsible child, and has always acted beyond her age.)
It wasn’t until days later that I remembered about the plant. I walked out to the patio and asked her what she had done with it. Her eyes narrowed and she pointed to the place I had left it. I’m sure my shoulders slumped a little and I asked her what happened. She didn’t seem to understand. “I don’t remember you saying anything to me, Mom. If I had known I would have done what you wanted.”
The now very dead mint plant staring up at me reminded me that this was my fault.
My child has a Critical Processing Disorder. Unless you make direct eye contact and physical touch during communication, she will not necessarily understand or process what you ask her to do. My husband and I discovered this three years ago, and we’ve made a lot of progress since — we understand how she needs to be communicated with, and work hard to make sure that she gets what she needs. But moments like this remind me of where I am. I forget, don’t communicate clearly or effectively, and leave my daughter feeling poorly for something I didn’t do properly. I didn’t get angry or yell at her, but her gentle heart knew that I was disappointed about my dead mint plant.
This sobering moment brought me back down to reality. I’m still dealing with a child who daily faces challenges in connecting with others. Our life is sometimes a barrage of audio/visual/social stimulation — Sunday school, overnight slumber parties, home-school co-op classes, a ride in the car with two younger siblings and the radio on — moments like these are the daily ins and outs of our life, but it all contributes to her struggle. If she can’t hear what’s coming in, she can’t possibly share her heart, opinions, thoughts or ideas with others.
It’s been a wake-up call for me.
We all have places in our lives that we wish were normal. We all wish that things worked a certain way, that certain things just did what they were supposed to do. But the reality is that they don’t.
All of us have dead mint plants in our lives, somewhere — and what I am realizing is that I need them. I need them to remind that life is imperfect. My children are imperfect. I am imperfect and no matter how much I strive towards perfectionism, I will mess up. Parenting is an exercise in “not getting it right” — we discipline when we should hug, we shout when we should whisper, we do too much when we need to do less.
I need to recognize those moments, acknowledge them for what they are, and recognize that I can only do so much as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc. My Father will take what I cannot in His infinite wisdom – and sometimes a dead, easily-replaceable, $3.99 mint plant, brings about a softness, a grace, and a love like no other.
I’m a free-spirit achiever, originally hailing from a rustic Native American beach town in Rhode Island. My writer/director husband and I have lived in the City of Angels since 2002. I’m passionately committed to encouraging women in various walks of life, serve as a respected leader of several communities devoted to inspiring hope in the hearts of single women, wives and young mothers. A mother to three girls, lover of all things food and nature, and an amateur photographer, I presently write for Darling Magazine (www.darlingmagazine.org), She Is More (www.sheismore.com) and my personal blog (www.ahollywoodwife.wordpress.com).