Tag Archives: family life

Apparently Maura had shopping plans

8 Feb

I get interesting emails from Maura’s teacher. Things like “She’s bringing home food, check the backpack!”and “So Maura brought in a white cell phone that obviously doesn’t belong to her” and “Hey, so Maura brought in some sort of wine glass and a curtain? Just so you’re aware, it’s in her backpack, wrapped up safely.”

Oh yes, I’m always eager to open up an email from Maura’s teacher because the possibilities are endless.

BTW, the cell phone was her brother’s, and it wasn’t a curtain but the fancy tablecloth – because Maura’s always prepped for a fancy dinner.

Today, an email pops up from Maura’s teacher.

Hi Phoebe, 

Maura brought a Dooney and Bourke bag with about $120 in cash in it to school today.  I hid the bag in my filing cabinet.  Do you have time to pick it up sometime today?  

Well, don’t we look all fancy pants?

This is the purse in question –


A couple of weeks ago, our local Goodwill moved into a new location, and to celebrate, pulled out all this high end stuff. My friend spotted this bag and was all “OMG Phoebe, you must own this purse!” And so it came home with me. Maura spotted it and instantly went “Ooooo….”

Last night, she ventured into my room, and came out with the bag. I was all “You can’t steal my purses!” and her response was a non-verbal “You can’t stop me!”

Now, I’m not big on different types of purses, but I realized after doing a Google search why the teachers were all “OMG, she has THIS purse here” – because it’s like a $200 purse.

What can I say, Maura has good taste.

I went up to the school to retrieve the items. Maura’s teacher retrieved the purse, which Maura instantly latched on to.

I looked at her. “Maura, you know you’re not supposed to take Mom’s purses.”

Maura just ignored me.

“I’ll make you a deal.” I said to her. “You can keep the bag for the rest of the school day, but you have to give me the money.”

Maura sighed loudly in true teenager fashion and said “Fine.” before reaching in and giving me a wad of $20s.

She probably had a shopping trip planned for that money. Meanwhile, I need to figure out who’s missing cash in the house.


In case I’m not clear, our life is a good one

9 Aug

I turned on the Olympics, the sound of the announcers voices luring Maura to the room where I was at.

“Swimming pool!” she stated.

“Yep. They’re swimming.”

Maura plops down on the couch next to me. She spots that I’m knitting. She gets up and goes over to where I keep the acrylic yarns, picks out one, goes over to my container of needles, picks out a set, and sits back down next to me.

“Are you going to knit something too?” I ask.

“Yes!” she states, then looks at me, holding out the yarn and needles. “Help Mom?”

Maura can’t knit, but I cast on several stitches anyway. “Here you go.” I said, handing the needles and yarn back to her. She eyes the row of stitches.


“Okay, then just pull them off.” I said.

Maura does. “I did it!” she announces, delighted. Then she pokes both needles into the ball of yarn, and starts knitting her own way.

This is our life together. Maura eyes everything I do, then tries to see if she can do it too. If I don’t want her getting into something of mine, I have to be more creative in tucking my stuff away, but I also make sure that there’s something similar for her to try. Because she wants to try everything. She’s like her sister and father in that aspect. It’s one of her strengths, and it’s something that I find scary as a parent. But I find it scary in her sister too. My girls keep me on my toes.

At this stage, I’ve come to embrace the fact that my life is nothing like I thought it might be when I was a single young woman in college. I thought I’d eventually move back to my hometown of Chicago. Instead, I’ve lived everywhere else possible. I wasn’t sure I’d ever meet a guy, only to end up one of the first of my friends to get married and have kids. I knew I’d have kids, but it was never on my radar that I’d end up a parent of a child with any sort of disabilities. Speech impediments? Yes. Those are a family trait. Quirkiness? Well, you wouldn’t be one of us without some quirks. Epilepsy? Never on my radar. Cognitive disability? Even less on my radar.

No, life didn’t turn out quite like I thought it would. It turned out way more interesting.

I never thought I’d have a child who would depend on me so much. My oldest, he was the most independent baby ever. At age eight, he announced “I can take care of myself Mom.” His next two siblings were also amazingly independent creatures, hitting milestones early, each one working hard to keep up with the older one. Then Maura came along. At first, I joked that with three older siblings, she had to be different to stand out.

Thirteen years later, she’s still standing out in her own way – like her siblings. And like her siblings, I have the same basic dream for her that I do for them – that she, and her siblings, are happy in life, and self-sufficient, and reach their full potential.

We joke that she’s our “forever girl” as she will need us forever. But I try to make sure people understand, we’re okay with that. It’s not the life we dreamed of, no. But my husband dreams of having a private island. I dream of being an indie rock star (yes, still). Those lives haven’t happened yet either. But I dreamed of having fun colored hair, and I got that. Josh and I dream of getting an RV and road tripping – we’ve just adjusted that dream to fit three in the RV, not two.

Has it always been easy? Nope. But parenting in general isn’t easy. Life isn’t easy. I never expected easy, even if every so often, I crave boring. I said this once to my therapist, who laughed and said “You’d be bored with normal.”

It’s true. I find normal…abnormal. I’ve never really had it.

Yes, life with Maura is more hands-on, requires more from me. I won’t deny it. But I read articles like this one, where the journalist goes out of their way to describe a life such as are full of burdens, where the mother has no care-free times, where life is a bit grey and sad.

That’s not our life.

Yet in reading the article, I see similarities. Yes, Maura will need us forever, at least, that’s the trajectory right now. Her siblings are aware that someday, they will have to take over for us, which is why for now, I try to let them just be normal siblings with her. Right now, we are pretty certain Maura will never drive a car. But she still has a love of cars that is seen throughout my side of the family. She isn’t the most communicative of people, not verbally, but still still can get her point across, make her opinions known. Yes, there are many similarities in our stories, but the attitudes are different.

I don’t look at my daughter Maura and see lost opportunities, a lost life, thwarted potential, a burden. I see this bright, amazing, individual who still likes to hug her mother, who steals my shoes, who is clever in so many ways. She’s also maddening and frustrating and stubborn – because she’s a teenager, and teens are supposed to push our buttons, it’s how they mature. She is a multi-dimensional person, just like the rest of us.

A blogging friend of mine visited us last weekend, and one of the questions he asked was “What have you learned from Maura?”

It took a moment, as my mom brain flicked through mental files of the past twenty years. I’ve learned so much from all my kids. But with Maura, what came to mind was enjoying life. She enjoys life so much. I tend to let doubt and worry hold me back, and she’s there, diving into life, laughing all the way. A lesson most of us could use.

Life isn’t easy – I never expected that. But our life is a good one.







Another light-bulb moment for mom

8 Jul

Yesterday morning, Maura decided she didn’t want to get on the bus. I was all “GET ON THE BUS!” but she was having none of it.

I didn’t know why. She’d been asking about “class” since school ended. She got all excited about summer school (aka, ESY, aka extended school year) starting. She was nothing but happiness and smiles getting on and off the bus for two days.

But day three, it all went south.

Day three, I woke up to terrible headlines and upset friends, and because I’m a human with feelings, I felt them. I was all twisted up by the news, and by friends who were saddened and upset and frightened by the news.

And Maura refused to get on the bus.

I will admit, I yelled at her as she screamed at me. “No!” I shouted. “Enough!” I had asked for words, asked her what she wanted, was bending over backwards to her whims, but she spiraled downwards and I dove in with her.

I realized after we had both calmed down that maybe…maybe my mood had affected hers.

I told this to Josh that evening. “She is an empath.” he said. He’s totally right, and it’s not news to me. When Maura has cried because I yelled at her sibling. Maura will cry at movies. Maura’s emotions are big and strong and loud and open. When she’s happy, it’s contagious. When she’s sad, it’s heartbreaking.

The thing is, I think she gets it from me. I feel too much sometimes, which is hilarious if you know me and know how close I keep my feelings to myself. Maura is an emotional volcano of sorts, bursting with feelings. I’m more of an emotional jelly doughnut. I stuff all those feelings inside, and look a bit bland from the outside.

And yet there we were this morning, one empath feeding off the other. My daughter – MY daughter – feeling my emotions. I was spiraling, and I took her with me. I was frazzled, and she couldn’t figure out why.

We spent the day just sort of laying low. She played with dolls. I read a book. We both settled ourselves. I said “Hey, let’s watch a show.” finally. She put on pj’s and climbed into bed with me at 3 pm. I laughed because she was dressed for a pajama party. She tucked me in. I gave her arm some squeezes. We were happy and balanced again.

Today I had a light bulb moment. I need to get my anxiety, my emotions, in control so that I don’t take Maura down with me. My older three, they’ve always been amazing with me. I mean, how many teens ask “Are you okay Mom?” because they see I’m in a mood. I remember one time, years ago, I had a migraine. I put little Maura down for a nap, and told the older three to behave, watch tv, I needed to take a nap myself because my head hurt. I woke up to the smell of burning popcorn. Because the older three conspired to make me popcorn on the stovetop, because I liked popcorn. I couldn’t even be mad. Sure, the house smelled horrible, and the pot had to be thrown away because it was two inches of burnt on the bottom of the pot, but dang it if I don’t smile at the thought of my kids trying to make me some popcorn because I had a headache.

In a way, because those three have been so very awesome, I’ve grown a bit lazy in the mom department. I let these moods set precedence. No, that’s not right. I guess I’ve allowed these moods to be shown more. But I’m wondering, how are they affecting that fourth child of mine, the one who is so much like me in so many ways? The one who feels all the feels, like me?

And once again, one of my kids is challenging me to be the best that I can. Dang these kids of mine, who are growing into amazing human adults. And for the record – that is not part of the light bulb moment. My kids have always amazed me. Each one of them. Maura just likes to prove that after twenty years of parenting, I still have lessons to learn.


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