March is one of my favourite months – the clocks jump forward an hour giving that extra stretch of daylight hours into the evening, there are the first proper signs of spring, with a heat to the sun if you’re lucky and daffodils and tulips, St Patrick’s Day and our wedding anniversary. In 2013 we added World Down Syndrome Day to my reasons to enjoy March. Now WDSD is one of my favourite days of the year – a day when my social media feeds are full of pictures and stories from families like ours. Stories about siblings or uncles and aunts but mostly children of people I now count friends. People whose lives have been made better by an extra chromosome 21. This year with the Carpool Karaoke video that went viral it felt even more like a celebration (more on that video below). I reflected on Facebook that Down Syndrome is not something to be feared. Not something to eradicate. It is a wonderful part of the diversity of humankind that should be welcomed, valued and celebrated.
Although every year in March it snows (this maybe be hyperbole) this year was something else with the Beast from the East. Daniel’s school stayed open throughout which was great as he hates when routine is disrupted, particularly with no notice. We’re currently spending the Easter holidays talking about when he’ll get back to school…! Here's what else we've been up to this month.
I started reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I’m really enjoying. I’ve also been rereading a favourite of mine from last year – Loved, Called, Gifted. It is so good I actually ordered a hard copy as I only had a kindle version before now, hence the reread. Plus now I’ve had baby three I’m now doing the whole “What am I going to do with my life?” thing. Will we have more children? I don’t know. Will I go back to work? I don’t know. If I do go back to work, what type of work? I don’t know. Basically I’m having a mid-life crisis. Hence the teal blue highlights in my hair. And talk of a tattoo…! Anyway, back to the book. It’s a really practical book full of questions to make you think about what God might be calling you to do with your life and what gifts you may have. Of course, I can’t find the notebook where I wrote notes from my first read through. Reinforcing how any job requiring attention to detail is not for me. So, not accountancy then!
Can I pick the Loved, Called, Gifted book again? I’m learning so much about myself and my personality. Sometimes I despair that so far in life I’ve wound up doing things I’m not very good at. I am not a finisher, hence why whoever cleared my cupboard out at work after I left will have found things that definitely should’ve been filed somewhere other than “that shelf” and I hated all the finishing off tasks working as an auditor. And now being a homemaker I struggle with the mundane tasks my days are filled with. I spend my time dreaming up a New Way to Clean, like a different plan will suddenly help me get on top of housework. Anyway, I can see what gifts I have – I’m an encourager, I’m enthusiastic (so if someone has a great plan, I will jump on board!), confident and a good problem solver (hence all the new cleaning plans).
Masterchef. I am not a fan of the latter rounds when they go into the professional kitchens. Those professional chefs are normally so pretentious and self important I tend to fast forward the whole way though, but I love watching people develop their skills through the series and am always fascinated by the exceptionally high conversion rate of Masterchef finalists from their old careers to a career in food. Very few seem to not have a complete change in their professional life afterwards. And when you consider how many come from professions such as medicine, pharmacy, airline pilots, I think that makes it more fascinating as they have much to lose moving from secure high paid and highly skilled jobs.
And the carpool karaoke video... https://youtu.be/Biex1XR_mpo
In March I finally started to get some work done in the garden. I’ve got a quote for one of those garden companies to come and treat our lawn and scarify (whatever that means) so we can actually use it. It’s been rough and full of weeds and moss for years so I’m hoping their promised miracles come through. I did some work clearing flowerbeds and have bought plants for them. Not trying to grow a garden from seed or bulb though as I’m just not dedicated enough to the garden for that!
Aside from that I’m just finding a new normal with the household routine with a new baby in the house and no child free time to clean. The plan was to spend Monday mornings blitzing the place (I told you I like making new schedules) but I’ve discovered Rory and I both go a bit mad if we spend too much time in the house so that may change!
We got accepted onto a study looking at the impact and outcomes for families on a course for children with learning disabilities. We don’t know yet if we’re in the control group (i.e. we wouldn’t get to do the course this year) but part of the study involves filling out VERY detailed questionnaires about our family and our parenting. It’s made me realise my problem solving skills have helped a lot with Daniel. I’ve been honestly able to say that I feel confident in my ability to parent him and to find ways to solve the problems that arise.
The latest of which is potty training. Poos are proving a challenge as they take Daniel by surprise due to medication he’s on, but we are doing well so far. After a few days though we realised he has zero communication skills around toileting. In fact, his only communication was to deny poos, and say no to trips to the loo. I introduced a PECS visual support system with little cards around the place to exchange for a trip to the loo and that’s been working well. I’m very nervous about how we’ll transfer the skills at home to school next week though so if you’re the praying type, prayers would be appreciated.
We were married ten years last week. Big round numbers are a good time to reflect. We had a hotel break with just Finn in tow (what bliss!) and I realised that those ten years had been much different to what I’d anticipated. Nursing my husband through a number of difficult periods of health from the early years of marriage, having a child with Down Syndrome, having children at all to be perfectly honest with you, and deciding to leave work to be at home full time.
Life often doesn’t work out the way we think it will, or hope it will. But for us we can look back over the last ten years and realise God has been faithful through it all. I know that Daniel was the child I didn’t know I needed. I can already see that God was softening my heart, making me a kinder and more tolerant person by giving me a child with extra needs. That’s not to say I know why everything has happened – why Colin has poor health for example – but I know that God is in it all and the peace knowing He has it sorted makes for a much easier life!
How was your March? Here’s to a warmer April (not starting off that way though, is it?!)