TWO HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN…the trenches of parenthood

“Good morning sweet pea…I love you too! No you cannot have the Ipad. Please go peepee on the potty…yes I want you to go peepee on the potty…should mommy put you back to bed, cause you aren’t being a good listener right now…very good…thank you for listening…big girls go peepee on the potty…are you a big girl…yes you ARE mommies big girl. Yes I am getting ready to make your cinnamon raisin bagel, just like we do every morning. Cecilia, please be patient…I can’t do everything at once…I am making your bagel, and can you say that magical word that makes mommy happy…oh good girl…yes we say please don’t we? No Daddy went to work remember? Yes daddy works in our basement…yes daddy is downstairs…yes daddy loves you. Here’s your bagel…yes I’m getting your water, please be patient and say that magical word that mommy loves…very good… Thank you. Yes, I will let you have the Ipad, if you’ll let mommy watch some news…thank you. CC, can you please turn it down, it hurts my ears, it’s too loud…yes it’s too loud. No Cecilia, you cannot go upstairs to wake your sisters up…Cecilia, I said NO…No CC!…ok now your sitting in time-out…yes I see that your crying….your in time-out because you didn’t listen to mommy, remember…that’s right, you weren’t listening, you need to listen, mommy and daddy are trying to keep you safe and happy. Yes daddy is downstairs…yes Abby is still sleeping…yes she is upstairs…Yep, Phoebe’s up there too…oh you love Abby…you love Phoebe too don’t you….Of course you do…you can’t forget about Phoebe…do you know who mommy loves….that’s right, Daddy, Abby, Phoebe and CC….no, you cannot go upstairs to wake up your sisters…Cecilia, what did I say. Okay, do you think you’re ready to listen…you can come out of time out now….but only if your going to be a big girl and listen…are you going to listen…I hope so…big girls listen Please turn the Ipad down….turn it down or I will take it away…Excellent, yes, thank you for listening. No Busha is at her house…she is at her house with Grandpa…No Busha isn’t sleeping here, remember, she’s at Grandpa’s house…yes we will got to see Busha and Grandpa very soon. Of course mommy loves Nana…Nana is mommy’s mommy…that’s right she is mommy’s mommy…yes you love Nana too. Yes mommy and daddy love Busha and Grandpa…you cannot have both the ipad and the t.v….no that’s not fair…yes mommy is drinking coffee…hey CC, can you go get a new pair of underpants and put them on without waking your sisters up, please, and thank you…no this is mommy’s coffee…I love you too CC…are you mommy’s girl…yes daddy is downstairs…no, we aren’t taking a bath this morning, you took a bath at Nana’s yesterday remember…no CC, it’s too early for crackers and you just had a bagel. Cecilia, you turned your Ipad up again…Please turn it down…yes, turn it down or mommy gets to take it away…no, it’s too early for crackers remember. Yes I know Uncle JB…What did you say…oh, wow yes, Scout is a sweet dog…I can’t believe you remembered her name…good job…No, remember, this is mommies coffee…Yes, where is Nana…that’s right….Where’s Busha…and Daddy…what about Abby and Phoebe…your so smart…what about Mommy…where is Mommy? Uh Oh, I see a little girl who needs to be TICKELED…tickle tickle tickle…yes yes yes…tickle tickle…ok I’ll stop…uh oh, tickle tickle tickle…oh don’t cry, mommy was just playing…oh the couch hurt your leg, you mean couch, don’t you hurt my big girl CC…mean couch”…

I recorded our dialogue for 45 minutes this morning. It is roughly the same every single day.

Just a glimpse at the first 45 minutes of every morning of my life. Because I know you are just DYING to know.

Sometimes, I can’t believe I am the same person who was once planning on a career in theatre. I don’t know what happened, but I just didn’t want to hear myself talk anymore.

And here I am…talking..talking…talking….ALL THE TIME. It never ends. I mean, this is just a guess, but maybe this repetitive conversation has something to do with the reason I turn my brain off around that 6:30 witching hour. Oh that’s funny, did I write 6:30? Of course I meant 5:30.

Fast forward to this afternoon when I treated the girls to a Wednesday matinee. As usual we were waiting in line and I put Abby in charge of CC. As Abby chased her around the theatre lobby trying to make her listen and stand still, I felt so warm down in my body. All this running around after her takes away from spending time with Abby and Phoebe. Is it too much to ask to be able to go out to a public place and just enjoy being with one another?

I feel like it is sometimes.

Fast forward and somehow, amazingly enough, we made it through the movie. As we are leaving the theater, the shit hits the fan and all cecilia wants to do is run away from Abby and myself, scream when we come near her, hit us, and stiffen her body so I can’t possibly pick her up.

I’m getting all these stares from other families, and the “pouty” lip from adults who clearly pitty us. I don’t want people to see her like this. She’s such a smart little girl but when she acts this way, no one sees that.

I was so deflated and disappointed. I just came home, locked my bedroom door, sat on the edge of my bed and cried. I needed to release that pent-up energy and frustration. As always, after a good honest cry, I felt ready to try again.

I was thinking about how to convey my two conflicting emotions; complete adoration and unconditional love along with frustration and of course anxiety sprinkled in there for extra measure.

My sister-in-law once asked me if it was difficult raising a child with special needs…Cecilia at the time was a mere 3 years old.

She was so tiny, so sweet, funny, still wanted to be carried everywhere…wanted to please me and her daddy…wasn’t really into voicing her own opinion and her protestations manifested themselves in the form of the cutest pouty lip I’ve ever seen.

So, at the time, I answered as honestly as I possibly could, “It’s just like raising any other child…I am not doing anything for her, that I woudn’t do for my other kids.”

I would probably have a different answer today.

In so many ways, it does get easier. For example, she is now all about dressing herself, going number 1 on the potty all on her own, she can now nap without a diaper, she goes to the grocery store with me and pushes her own little tiny cart, randomly tells me she loves me, gives me kisses of her own free will.

She is able to communicate her needs, she can turn on her own music and dance and sing whenever the moment strikes her, as long as it’s within reason, although we frequently discuss how, “early morning is not a good time to blast Joan Jet’s ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me There’ on your iPad” especially at it’s highest decibel and by the way anything at it’s highest decibel is never a good idea…unless of course, it’s mommy’s music, and when I tell her this she makes the correct adjustment per my request.

She can brush her teeth by herself and frequently chooses to do so at various times of the day.

She loves to help with laundry, dishes, and cooking. She loves to help me put the clothes into the wash, dryer and then the clean basket. With the dishes, (because we don’t have a dishwasher) I’ll dry the silverware and she puts them away.

And cooking pancakes is her most favorite Saturday activity.

Her maturity has really allowed her communication and therefore her independence to reach another level. And she likes to talk. A LOT. I love getting to know who she is and how she sees herself fitting into our crazy family dynamic.

There are so many more positives I am confident I am forgetting…but sometimes all the wonderful little nuances to her little being, become overshadowed by the things she still struggles with…

Like playing independantly for more than 10 minutes. Let me restate that, she has trouble playing independantly in a NON-DESTRUCTIVE way for more than 10 minutes. I know why, but it makes it hard when I have two other kids who also want to talk to me about… e v e r y t h i n g.

When we are in the grocery store and she is pushing her own cart, she is awesome for about 15 minutes…and then she begins acting out; running away from me, running into the shelves or other people with her little cart, randomly walking off, not listening when I demand she put ALL of the items back on the shelf after she has either pushed them off or put them all in her cart.

AND of course, and this is a big one, taking advantage of me when I cannot devote all of my attention to her. The word D E S T R U C T I V E just doesn’t seem to cover it. And it’s not always convenient or realistic for me to adjust my time or schedule based on her 15 minute time period.

I feel like I have to keep going about my daily life and she has to learn to adapt or the consequences are a stressful parent/child relationship.

Who wants that?

As soon as she hits a mile stone, we check off a goal on her list and replace it with another one.

So, in a lot of ways, as she gets older it does get easier. And in other ways, it also gets a little more difficult.

Ebb and Flow.

Here is my hope, and I am only basing this on the fact that I have experience with two other children who are becoming mature. I know she has special needs and though it may take her a little bit more time, She will always be able to scaffold her knowledge…and her opportunity for growth is far reaching.

Like every parent, I want what’s best for all of our kids. But more than that, I want a true relationship with her. I don’t need to be her “best friend” but I do hope they all confide in me.

I want to get to a point where we can walk the isles of the grocery store together. Enjoy a movie and popcorn with each other. Walk calmly, side by side in a store. Walk into her therapy waiting room and be able to sit with one another, while waiting for her sessions to begin. I would probably pass out if she actually walked side by side with me in a parking lot, but I would love to do it just the same.

I know one day I will look back and read this post and think to myself, “I should have just relaxed, not been so stressed out, put my trust in time and faith, enjoyed every minute, kissed her little chubby cheeks, scratched her back more, and recognized these moments for what they are…fleeting.” It seems I have to constantly re-learn the lesson that time really will bring answers to my questions and also peace.

I’m working on that.

It’s just hard right now because I’m in what I like to call the “Mattel and Fisher Price Trenches”. I’m right smack in the middle of just trying to make it from one day to the next in a healthy, productive way. One day it will get better. I know it will. I’m just in the middle of the parenting trenches.

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE…fruit and poop randomness

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This gallery contains 19 photos.

Little Phoebe and her sentence structure is really blowing us away. She stomped her way into our bedroom bright and early and proclaimed, “Guys, I had the worst dream last night.” This perfect sentence from our 5-year-old. At 3 this … Continue reading

NINETY-FIVE…new dreams

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This gallery contains 7 photos.

We have turned a corner at the Spranger house. Cecilia has adopted a personality and she wants everyone in this house to know.  The above picture is a moment captured in a day in the life of Cecilia.  If Cecilia … Continue reading

THIRTY-THREE…my day was ‘craptastik’. How was yours?

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This gallery contains 18 photos.

The day is ending the same way it began…disastrously. This morning I got upset with Abby for knocking over her juice at breakfast. Five minutes later, Greg and I are talking about something. While I was using my hands to … Continue reading

EIGHTEEN…what are we doing to our kids?

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This gallery contains 9 photos.

sweet heart…our power went out at the beach house tonight. It was super windy and rainy all day…we should have seen this coming. Greggy went to pick up a movie and of course like clockwork, 5 minutes after he left, … Continue reading

One…us

I met my husband Gregory Kenneth in 2003 in northeastern Tennessee. We were both working for a small private college. He was a Professor in Computer Science and I was an Assistant Director for an Arts Outreach Program. We were the only two SINGLE people younger than 30 in the small rural bible belt town.

Luckily we hit it off and ended up glued at the hip, despite our default status.

Our first date was pretty amazing…I convinced him to ride along in my jeep Cherokee for 45 minutes of real mountain driving, otherwise known as BACKROADS!

I am a shoulder hugger which doesn’t sit well with middle-of-the-road drivers like Gregory Kenneth. I wanted to take him to the Smokey Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Driving in a car for 45 minutes with someone you have never spoken with could have been nerve-racking. But from the moment he opened the car door, I felt completely at ease. We didn’t stop talking until he was safely returned to his Jeep 4.5 hours later. We had beer and apps, we listened to some great music, walked along the streets in downtown Gatlinburg, and stopped at an arcade so I could ‘school’ him on a civil game of air hockey.

I WON of course!

He doesn’t remember it that way, but when it comes to air hockey, I always win!

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A year and a half later we eloped on April 1, 2004 in the oldest courthouse in Tennessee. Afterwards we ate crab cakes, fried green tomatoes and sipped on cold chardonnay in a quaint little restaurant.  Greg paid the bill and we were on our way. Until the nice waitress ran after us to hand me the marriage certificate I had forgotten at the table. …and I headed back to my part-time job as a front desk clerk in a hotel.

Thus began the quirky story of our little family. After a year of marriage, we decided we were ready to grow our little family. A dog was the perfect addition to our family and would allow us to practice our parenting skills. We decided on a Golden Retriever puppy and chose the name Bear (due to the abnormally large size of his butt in comparison with the rest of his tiny furry body).

In 2004, I began a Master’s program for Early Childhood Education at ETSU. I was two classes shy of my degree when my husband applied and received a position at a state college in northwestern Nebraska. Yet another small rural town.

What is it about us and small rural towns?

We were interested in an adventure, so we packed up and moved across the country. IMG_0041

He was loving life in his new position and after a semester of teaching Kindergarten, I found a job that suited my degree and goals a little bit better…a Director of an Early Childhood Program.

We were fitting in so well into our new surroundings, getting to know everyone in our small town, visiting the park 2 blocks from our house and our New Year tradition of visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

It was in this rural northwestern Nebraska town that we welcomed our first daughter Abigail Leigh on November 6, 2006. We were smitten, nervous, anxious, protective and overwhelmed with love right from the start.

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After Abby was born I had a strong desire to stay home with her. So, Greg went into the computer industry…which meant he was going to travel, sometimes for weeks at a time.

For a year, our little one car Subaru Forester, family drove together to take daddy to the airport sending him off to the big world only to pick him up a week later. It was an hour and a half trip one way. We wanted another child and were quickly growing out of our 950 square foot home as well as my coveted Subaru Forester.

We ditched the cool urban car and went for the mini-van. We searched the area for new homes, but decided with the amount of travel Greg was committed to, we would move closer to my family until we could find out ‘where’ we wanted to live.

Our first rental in TN was in a growing city in northeastern TN. The neighborhood was a little scary and the house was ok. Not completely desirable, but it was a step in a direction. 2 months after moving, I was pregnant with our second child…another girl.

On November 5, 2009 we welcomed our second baby girl, Phoebe June Spranger.

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Our little family was getting a little bit bigger and I was hormonal and growing impatient with our living situation.

My mother had a condo in a neighboring town that was rather large and currently unoccupied, so I persuaded her to let us rent it for a small fee and promised I would make small repairs on the home so she might have better luck selling in the future.

I think now might be a good time to mention I grew up in this condo…all the way from 5th grade to senior year in High School. Here we are, my husband, dog and two daughters living in the home I grew up in.

Low and behold, 8 months after moving in I found I was pregnant yet again.

On July 29th, 2011 Greg, Abby, Phoebe and I ….and Bear, welcomed Cecilia Rae Spranger into the world. Our third girl. I had always hoped for 3 girls…and now my dream was complete…IMG_0316or so I thought.

6 hours after Cecilia Rae was born we were told the on site pediatrician who was observing her suspected she might have Down syndrome.

My body felt like a furnace that had just been lit. Heat began to rise in my body from my feet all the way to the top of my head.

In the hours/days that followed I came to know what the definition of ‘marriage’ meant to me.

The pediatricians suspicions were correct, she did have Down syndrome. I have shared her birth story in another post, but for now…2 months 1 week and 5 days later I am completely consumed with love for this beautiful little girl who continues to surprise us with her development and her emerging personality everyday.

We are SLOWLY getting into our groove as a family of three beautiful, happy and healthy little girls.