Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Peace, not perfection

I never tire of the holidays.

I have no max input of twinkly lights.

Buying presents does not exhaust me.  I could wrap for days and days.

I love the endless onslaught of Christmas cookies.

I have no fear of the rush to move from house to house, visiting with family and friends, enjoying coziness and cheer and gingerbread house making and ALL OF THE HOLIDAY THINGS.

(I have probably grown tired of the Trolls Holiday Special but that is beside the point.  Those creatures are annoying.)

I am sure that much of my love of this season stems from the fact that I have two love languages: gifts and quality time.  The American Christmas Season was made for people like me.  I mean seriously – all we do from Thanksgiving through New Years Day is what I love – buy things and love on each other through endless holiday gatherings.

Sometimes where I falter is in reminding myself that the American Christmas Season was not made for all of the people I love.


For example, about a week ago, my parents took me and the rest of the ladies in the family to an afternoon performance of The Nutcracker.  I imagined a magical afternoon with my girls, their faces lit up with unbridled excitement at the costumes and the music and the dancing.  As the performance drew nearer though, I began to have some trepidation of how Tessa would respond to the theater environment.  In general she has struggled in concerts, performances, and other events where there is clapping and lots of sensory input.  In the name of including her, we forged ahead with the day, and I was hell-bent on making this a great experience.

Until it wasn’t.

Before the curtain even went up, it was apparent that she was going to sob her way through the performance (I suspect in fear of the moment that applause would break out).  It didn’t matter if I covered her ears or found some other way to block out the noise, she was not going to have it and my magical day with the girls suddenly felt heavy and sad.

I’ll be totally honest – when I ran out of the auditorium and into the bathroom with her, I cried in anger for about 15 seconds because this beautiful experience was so hard for her.  It felt really unfair.

And then, as I sat with her in the lobby and waited for John to take her home so that I could watch the show with Ellie, I thought through all of the hard things that people deal with in the holidays.  I gave myself an internal stern talking-to and reminded myself to calm the **** down.  Because seriously, this is a molehill compared to the hurt that people struggle through during what should be a sweet and festive time.

My struggle with perfection has come to head this season as I have seen my eldest start to navigate the very real irritation that I also feel when things do not go as planned.  She is as I am.  And to help her function in our world, I have to consciously choose peace in the imperfect, not in perfection.

It is not easy.  I have wanted desperately to rearrange ornaments, or people’s choices in meal times, or my child’s psychological brain function…. it’s not realistic.

Peace is not perfection.

Peace is not perfection.

There is still so much to be learned. ❤


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Four beautiful years of joy.

There is no other way to describe them really, not in a word. Certainly we experience fear, frustration, sadness, hope, exhaustion… but in every moment, also a great joy in her presence.

I always get emotional at this time of the year. It’s not the stress of the holidays, nor the deadlines that loom when wrapping up a semester grading period. My breath catches in my chest each and every time I think of her birth – of the moment when I finally held her in my arms, listening to my doctor calm our rattled brains… My mind travels to the mundane… helping our visitors to the hospital scrub into the NICU before seeing Tessa, eating our cake on the night before discharge, child-free, trying to hitch a ride to the hospital to see her, not able to drive quite yet after having an epidural.

I think about the emotions of having two children and not being fully present for either one. The crying quietly in the shower, desperate to be able to be all of the mom that Ellie needed through the holidays, and all of the mom that Tessa needed to heal enough to come home. The fear that we would not be enough for her, or for either of them really. And also being completely enamored with each little finger and toe of this little stranger… that feeling, above all else, I feel like it was yesterday this time of the year.

I have felt simultaneously like the years are flying past at breakneck speed, while also creeping along in blessed slow motion. With Tessa, there is time to savor, to drink in every phase for all of its good and all of its challenges. It feels peaceful.

It also feels wild.

She is high energy – walks fast talks fast dances and moves and runs fast. She can’t do some of the things that four-year-olds can do. But she can do some things that most people will never be able to do in their whole lives.

I don’t know precisely why Tessa was sent to us, but I know that we are more complete with her. Her presence has been a gift that our family needed… that I needed. In her life, there is purpose, there is hope, there is love – and joyfully, we celebrate four years with our sweet little girl.

Happy birthday, Wild Lady. We love you so much!