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     I fear that if a professional were to do a mental status exam on me this week, I'd fail. I know there are stages to grief. I know there are ups and downs. And I even know that me and my family will probably feel a lot worse before we feel better about life once again. But all that "knowing" isn't exactly making this any easier! The day after Isaac left from his first visit home with us, I thought to myself, Hey, I think I can do this... We will get all our chores done during the week, get lots of sleep, and spend more time with the other two kiddos. And then on the weekends we'll focus all of our attention on Isaac. It's not ideal, but it may just work out.
     The very next day, I found myself sobbing in the corner of Dollar General because I passed the baby section and saw one of the bibs that Isaac wears hanging on the shelf. A Bib. I'd like to say the rest of the week perked up, but I'd be lying. I ran into Bear's biological father 3 times last week through my job, and twice this week (so far!). All five times were unexpected and left me gasping for breath as my heart felt like it was going to explode right out of my chest. And God bless the clients that ask me how my kids and baby are doing.... They don't know. They're just being friendly. But I'm terrified that I may punch one of them in a moment of weakness. (Ok, I don't think I'd punch them for real, but there is a huge likelihood that I'd dissolve into tears and make quite the fool of myself, as I am not a pretty crier. I'm the girl with the red, blotchy, mascara-stained face who has a trail of snot streaming from her nose to her upper lip, face contorted the entire time.)
     And it's not just me. Pat is snippy and angry. Taylor is weepy and emotional. And Cameron is literally not able to remember a single rule because he is so focused on the sadness going on inside of his little boy mind. By the time Isaac came for his second visit, we were all exhausted from grieving our good-bye from the weekend before! And it broke my heart, but my baby boy actually took a couple hours to warm up to us fully and to seem like himself again. But we loved on him the best we could Saturday, and we battled our hearts as we prepared for the third good-bye on Sunday. Pat recorded him singing with me in church this weekend and I've almost worn out my phone listening to it over and over and over again.
     So, I asked God for some much-needed distractions to get my mind off things. And then I was almost in a car accident, my transmission in my car went bad, my husband and I had a ridiculous fight, my phone now drops every call, and PMS came to show me that it's very possible to cry over things OTHER than losing my baby! I quietly looked up and raised my hands in utter defeat. What do You want from me? I'm trying my best... I'm trying to trust you and to hold it together, and to help my family through this, but I'm failing.... I don't know how much more I can handle!
     God often talks to me in lyrics. Yesterday He chose the honest words of an broken artist. "My heart can't see, when I only look at me. My soul can't hear, when I only think of my own fears...." 
     And I understood His message. Eyes off me, eyes on Him and others. I have looked at my situation every which way from Sunday, and the fact of the matter is.... there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. And I don't want to miss out on answers because I'm too busy looking at the problem. I don't want to miss out on Love because I'm focused on fear.
     So, as a happy distraction, I helped my kids focus on the first day of school. We picked outfits, packed lunches, and readied up the book bags. I gave Taylor a mani-pedi, cut Cameron's nails, and cleaned their ears. I even helped them both scrub up (rather vigorously) in the tub to make sure that we could separate the dirt from the bruises. It was during bath time that I found another distraction. I realized that, despite my thorough and repeated instructions, my kids have no idea how to bathe themselves.
     Cameron sloshed away from me as I grabbed his foot and went at it with the wash cloth. "Since when do we have to wash between our toes??"
     "Since when HAVEN'T you had to wash between your toes?!? It's right up there with washing your elbows and behind your ears!"
     "We have to was our EARS, TOO???"
     This conversation also informed me that Cameron sometimes only brushes some of his teeth.... you know, just the new ones. What in the world..... ?
     Another distraction came at 3:30 this morning. In my benedryll haze, I was pretty sure I heard a tearful "Mommy!" coming from the direction of Taylor's room. I realized that all the lights were on in the upstairs and that she had woken Cameron up because her ear was hurting her. He sleepily informed her that he was not a doctor nor was he a mother and that he should wake me up instead. So she did. I sat on the edge of her bed as she hiccuped and cried. I asked her what the pain felt like and this is how she described it to me: "Mommy, my ear is beeping."
     Beeping? "Honey, I don't know what that means.... let me give you some ideas and tell me which one is closest. Does it itch, ache, throb, sting, or burn?" This was as descriptive as my brain allowed me to be at 3:30am. "Uh, noooo. I said it's BEEPING." Well, I don't know what the crap that means, but she didn't have a fever and she really seemed to want me to answer questions about school, so I thought that perhaps her nerves had manifested themselves in the form of a beeping ear. My daughter... the one who wore her back pack around the house for "practice" the other day.... is nervous for her first day of Kindergarten. Being the dutiful mother that I had just hours before determined to be, I laid with her for almost 45 minutes talking with her about her classroom and what she will get to learn this year. We prayed for her ear and her school day, and then I tucked her back into bed.
     At 6:00am, Taylor began to cry again, telling me the beeping was back. I told her that I was sure her beeping would go away by the time she got to school and realized how much fun she would have learning with all of her friends. She looked a little tired, but then again, she was up quite a bit throughout the night. And she was slightly pasty... and she didn't have much of an appetite for breakfast. So I'm pretty sure the Kindergarten nurse took away my Mother of the Year award when she sent my daughter home just a couple hours later with a fever and an ear infection. "I TOLD you my ear was beeping, Mommy!" Ok, so maybe I got a little too distracted by focusing the kids' on the first day of school. Lesson learned! And we will try again for tomorrow.... assuming Taylor's ankle doesn't start honking in her sleep tonight.