Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Having a TJ Day

I've talked in the past about TJ and I occasionally having a "Mommy day". Well, for me, today's a TJ day. Dana called me at the office a couple of hours after I dropped him off this morning. He was throwing up. I wasn't really that surprised. He wasn't himself last night--not lethargic, but rather restless and edgy, actually-- and looked a bit pasty, but denied feeling sick when I asked. Maybe he was just trying to convince himself...
So I'm back at home with him now. We just finished watching the Jungle Book (his favorite movie these days, although I believe this is the first time he's had the patience to watch the whole thing start-to-finish in one sitting). He really only watches TV when he's sick or very tired. (Or, as I've mentioned before, it's The Wiggles or a sporting event-- but that's not as much "watching" TV as it "doing" TV. He does all the Wiggles' dances and can't watch a sport without simultaneously playing it.)

Anyway, The Jungle Book is over now, and he's held down about 3 ounces of Sprite and a cup of jello. So far so good. He's fast asleep on the make-shift bed I've made him on the floor of our newly refurbished bathroom on the main floor, where I can keep an eye on him as I fiddle with work stuff in the living room. Bathroom floor beds are a special treat when he's sick. He loves "camping out" on the floor for naps, and he's so good at puking into the toilet all by himself, so it's a pretty good arrangement for everybody. I make sure I'm there when I hear that tell-tale whimper which forecasts another bout... I sympathetically cheer him on and rub his back and tell him how brave he is. But he does it all by himself. Wakes up from his nap, lifts the lid, does his duty, and rinses out his mouth with Sprite afterward. (He knows not to swallow until his tummy settles back down a little.)

The day is rather fitting of these past weeks, really. My mind and heart have been so completely full of him, and we've had a lot more "down-time" to spend together as well. I mean, he's bringing me so much joy. I'm learning so much from him. He's been so happy. I've mentioned to various people lately that he really seems to have turned a corner from those "terrible threes" I blogged about a month or so back. He's hardly had any "melt-downs", and when he does start to "go there", it's only a small inkling of the magnitude of the events they used to be. He has been obedient, kind, playing well with others, and extremely lovey... Cuddly, kissy, verbally expressive... "I love you, Daddy!" Spontaneous proclamations of his passionate adoration. I feel like I could just burst with all the love that it builds inside me. The most amazing attribute of his that's really starting to blossom is his inquisitiveness. The kid doesn't miss a THING. And he has this insatiable desire to KNOW the ins-and-outs of everything his mind stumbles across. The lady sitting two tables over from us at Panera on Monday night couldn't hide her amusement with the discussion, even though she tried-- she looked almost apologetic when I caught her chuckling at us, as she was trying hard not to eaves drop on our conversation.

"Daddy, can I please have a great-big piece of your bread?" (He's got me well trained not to be stingy with my sharing of the sourdough baggette that comes with my meal.)

"Sure, buddy. Here, you can dip it in this." I handed him a generous chunk of my baguette and a little cup of salad dressing that I had served on the side.
"Is that salad dressing yummy on my bread?" He asked, tempted to try something new.

"Yes, it's very yummy, see?" I dipped a piece of my bread and ate it, with a dramatic, "Mmmmmmm!!"

"Mmm! It is good!" He tried it himself. "Why is it so yummy on my bread if it's for your salad?" He asked.

"Well, it's kind of like how you like to dip your carrots in ranch dressing. It's just made up of good stuff like olive oil and garlic and..."

"Daddy?" He interrupted, apparently satisfied with the answer to his previous inquisition.

"Yes, TJ?"

"Why do other people like to eat at Panera like us?" He was observing the growing line at the counter.

"Well, they have really good food, here, TJ. And it's healthy food, too."

"You mean like your salad and my grilled cheese?"

"That's right, buddy. Our food is yummy and healthy too."

"Why is it healthy?"

"Well, it's made up of healthy things, like veggetables and good chicken, and good fresh bread."

"Why are those things healthy?" He truly wanted to know, and wasn't asking to be difficult... even though I confess, at times my patience wears thin.

"Because they're good for you." Indeed, my patience was wearing thin, in this case, as amused as I was.

"Why are they good for you?"

"Because they're healthy."

"Why are they healthy, though?!"

"Because they're good for you!" (This is a little trick I employ whenever I've had enough of a particular topic.) Just before he got frustrated enough to call me onto the carpet for the mean little trick I was playing, we heard the chuckle from the quiet lady two seats over.

"Daddy, why is that lady laughing at us?"

"Because she thinks you're funny, TJ." I answered, as I gave an understanding smile to the lady.

"But why does she think I'm funny?"

And the conversation goes on...

...and on...
...and on...

...All day, every day. And you know what? I love every minute of it... Even when my patience grows thin, I'm just constantly overwhelmed with amazement, compassion, and thankfulness for this little person. I am so thankful for how God is providing for his needs-- comforting his little heart; giving him safe "places" to find security and nurturing that his Mommy no longer is able to provide in person; allowing our relationship to just grow in trust, companionship, laughter, and love. Still, it is hard for me not to just worry-- or even hurt for him sometimes.

I was just watching him eat his dinner last night. (Special treat-- Chuck E. Cheese!) (As an aside, it was actually an impromptu decision... an excuse to get out of traffic in Naperville on the drive home-- with all the flooding we've had, the Wheaton-to-Bolingbrook evening commute has been horrible. Just as I started to feel the road rage creep in, I saw a smiling Chuck E. waving at me from a marquee just ahead. I baled. Traded in my frustration for a headache. TJ was quite pleased with the decision, at least.) But he was just so happy, as I watched him there eating his pizza and broccoli. (I know, the sign on the salad bar says "NO SHARING"... So sue me. Or start offering some decent greens on the kids menu!) Anyway, TJ was just watching all the flashing lights and action, looking out for Chuck E. so he could give him "five" again. As "into" everything as he is-- never sitting still, always figuring something out or imagining or experiencing something to its fullest-- he just seems so content. As I said, I thank God for this. And I thank all those who have risen to the occasion to help meet his needs, by the grace of God, as I will be the first to confess I cannot do it on my own. But sometimes I just fight this deep sadness. Not for me-- that I've lost Leslie, or the fact that I can't "do this alone"-- but for our son. It's like little man has no idea how big of a deal this has all really been. It's like he'll never really know just what he's missing. It's like he's somehow okay with the fact that Mommy's in Heaven, and we can't just go see her whenever we want. We do talk about her every day. But it's as if she's just "away". This morning he asked if he could just go to Heaven for a little bit, so he can just talk to her just for a minute, as if he was trying to get me to cut him a deal, similarly to a "just one more book" request at bed-time. I told him he can pray and tell God everything that he wants to tell his mom, and she will be so happy to hear it all from God. And I told him how proud of him Mommy is, watching from Heaven. And it's weird... That all seems to be okay with him. He just goes on loving me, laughing, playing, dancing, drumming, asking questions, watching the world unfold before him.

Witnessing all of this just reminds me-- even amidst my own bouts with sorrow or worry for him-- that indeed, Jehovah Jireh, our God provides. TJ is the one thing I protect and hold onto with all that I am, all that I've got, above all other things-- far above even my own life. And even TJ is something I am learning to lay down at the foot of the Throne-- to give up into the more competent hands of our Father-- in humble acceptance of God's will and provision. Certainly, God is using me to provide for His child, TJ... pouring into me (or right through me) far more love and wisdom and "parental guidance" than I ever thought myself able to contain. But even then, the stuff that comes out of me is not enough. I just fall short. And when I have run dry and empty, God continues to hold TJ in His hand-- providing all the more perfectly in my weakness. And He doesn't stop there... God is loving and healing me through TJ. God has given me TJ to provide for me, as well. It has been truly miraculous to see Him work in this dynamic these days.

So that's been welling up in my heart for the last couple of weeks. Feels good to broadcast it to the world. Tears of pride and joy are welling up in my eyes as I watch him sleep on his make-shift bed on the bathroom floor. Such a big boy. A warrior, like his mommy. A true joy and a blessing. Thank you God, for my TJ.

(whew... I'll call it a day, I think. While I dry myself off a little... here are some candid photos I've shot this past week or so, with the camera phone...)

TJ waiting for his food at Panera.

Seconds later, waiting for his food at Panera.

Doing the high-flying balloon-bike thing at Chuck E. Cheese's.


Anonymous said...

Faith of a Child may sound trite, but here it is, displayed for all of us, in TJ. He is an amazing gift.

Erin G.

Organized Chaos said...

Thank you for this post. I'm so glad you two have each other on this journey.

Sarah said...

GOGGLES are my best friend at bath/shower time. #2 asked me one night if he could wear them in the bath to help his eyes stay dry. SURE! So they are as important to our baths/showers as soap and water.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine the tears welling up with pride as you write this post because the tears well up in my eyes as I read this post. I have a 3 1/2 year old as is TJ and I share with you the great joy she brings me everyday. The love that my daughter gives makes me stronger everyday and it is a true blessing what she brings to me. Thank you for sharing your story with us! I pray for you everyday.

Michael and Courtney Spear said...

So sweet! Your story continues to inspire me! Praying for you!

Auntie Gayle said...

Beautiful, Ty. Thanks for keeping us posted and for the pictures! I know you aren't looking for kudos but you are doing a fantastic job with TJ! You are very blessed to have each other. Little kids are so cool. Much love & hugs to you and TJ, Auntie Gayle

ann said...

It occurs to me that you are letting TJ rise to his situation on his terms, with his abilities and awareness, and make peace with his world as he understands it, not as you understand it as an adult. It must be difficult as Dad to let him 'know Mom' as he can at his age, not as you wish he could, or even as he 'should.' How awesome that God doesn't call you to that - but simply to be Dad. Our God is an awesome God.

Anonymous said...

you are simply a wonderful, loving Dad. your posts are really inspiring...and often bring tears to my eyes, as well. keep on keeping on...and know that you are doing the best you can. and it is good.

Jilli said...

TJ looks so much like you in the face! What an amazing little boy you have there. Hope he feels better soon!!!

Marisa said...

It's been awhile since I've taken the time to read your posts. Just wanted to let you know that I still pray for you and TJ even when I don't get a chance to catch up on the latest "news".

Dana said...

Mitch and I are so thankful for your blogs, Ty. You have a gift for writing and sharing your feelings/emotions. Keep leaning on Jesus. His strength is being shown through you! Hugs to you and TJ!!