Monday, April 25, 2011

Things that make you lose it (and you're not sure why)

Tonight, I got home from work and decided to flip through the kids' baby albums with them at bedtime. They are getting big, fast, and I felt like reminiscing about their babyhoods. The three of us cuddled on Sabrina's bed, and first we looked at her baby album.

"I was soooo cute!" she said, at least ten times.

Oh, yes, she was.

Then we looked at the two baby albums I have for Max. "How come I don't have two albums?" Sabrina asked, as I knew she would. I couldn't exactly say that after I had her life got too busy and I didn't make her a second baby album. So I said I stored all of her photos online, which is the truth. I am good at coming up with truths that don't exactly address her questions and one of these days, she is going to call me on it. For now, safe.

Max's album had his newborn pictures, including one of Dave and me holding him in the hospital. There were also lots of photos of friends holding Max. So many stopped by in the month after he was born to hang with us and cheer us up after the hell we'd been through. I wasn't sad to see any of these pictures; they were Max's history. And Baby Max was just delicious. And, yes, he did have a bit of an orange tint. And, no, it wasn't self-tanner. Max couldn't get enough of sweet potatoes.

Sabrina had a ton of questions. "When Max was born, where was I? Is that kid in the picture older than me? Why is Max older than me? Oooh, Max, don't you think you were cute like me?"

We had a really memorable evening.

After they were asleep, I hung out in the kitchen. Dave's been away on a boys' trip for a few days (I owe him for those blog conferences I've gone to), and so I had a girly dinner, string cheese and yogurt, the kind I used to eat when I was single. Then I sat down to check email.

The subject line read Love That Max.

The message was this:

Hi, Ellen. I don't know if you remember me, but I used to be a teacher's aide for Max. I do know this comes as a complete throwback, but from time to time I wonder how he's doing as he was one of my "favorites" (though I'm probably not supposed to admit that!:) ) I recently caught up with a partner aide during the Max era, and we found ourselves talking about how much we loved Max's smile. I couldn't help but look you up in this tech-savvy world to find that you have a blog dedicated to Max and your family! It was wonderful to see a recent picture of him—that smile just makes me melt.

Anyway, I felt that I couldn't hold back and had to email you to let you know that Max is truly an amazing child (but you know that already!). He left such an imprint in my heart and I'm obviously not the only one.

I cried. Sat at the kitchen table for a good five minutes bawling my eyes out. It was so nice to hear from this woman; I felt a rush of gratitude for her and all of the other teachers and therapists who have been there for Max.

But for the life of me, I didn't understand why her email made me weep.


  1. And this post just made me cry... Such a wonderful message to receive. Definitely a special evening indeed xo

  2. How do we ever explain the squish/squash of emotions that overcome us from time to time when we think about our kids and the path that life has taken them on? I can't explain why in some cases I'm completely matter-of-fact and other times I cry while writing a blog post.

  3. as a cryer, i understand why! because we wouldn't know what we would do without these wonderful people who help our children grow and develop! it makes me cry right now, thinking about it =)

  4. I haven't checked in for a long time, and am glad to see Max doing so well. That kind of message would have made me cry too. It just shows you that you're raising an amazing boy who's leaving imprints everywhere he goes!

  5. I know why--you got some validation. Someone else saw what you see. And they TOLD you so in no uncertain terms. You know you're not imagining it, or your Motherlove meter is malfunctioning. Max does have a profoundly positive effect on people.

    It's real.

    It's obivious that you've been worrying a lot about the perceptions of others about Max from some of your posts recently. Like I always say about the meanies, ya can't fix stupid. But when someone sees what you see, and so nicely takes the time to let you know it, it makes up for a lot of the indifference and cruelty in the world. It's a relief to know that it's not just wishful thinking on your part. That's worth a happy cry, I'd say.

    Now, you'd better wipe away those tears of joy and get to work on that second photo album for Sabrina. That's one sharp kid--she doesn't miss a trick, does she?

  6. Ellen,
    You are touched because she "got" Max. Through all of the goals and therapies and things to work on, instruction, she saw the amazing person Max is - what you are trying to help the world see. And she did this without your "guidance." It was all Max. I hope that makes sense. It is so touching. Congratulations. I found myself crying at this post. It is a familiar feeling but definitely something to question and try to figure out the emotions behind it.

  7. Sounds like you had a really nice time with the kids. I can confirm that they were totally adorable babies!!!

    The email from Max's former teacher's aide brought tears to my eyes because she paid such a wonderful tribute to you and Max, and because what she said was so true. Max has a way of making lasting impressions on people.

  8. I have got to close the laptop and pay attention to my own boys now, but first want to say Thank You for this blog and all your writing here.

    My older sister Karen has CP. Her brain was damaged with the use of forceps at birth. That was back in 1966, so my mother's story is a very different one. Karen, my sister, is a strong and bright 40 yr old now, and I am grateful to have grown up with her.

    But I would give anything to have grown up with a mother who was able to talk about the situation, who was able to laugh or even cry about the cruelty of others or the rollercoaster ride. I would give anything if she had been able to read a blog like this during those early years when she felt so alone and depressed.

    I don't know if that is why reading your many posts this morning has made me weep, but I'm so glad things are different today, for both the child and the mother.

  9. This reminds me of a young man who worked at our son's daycare. Mr. Alan was working there while he attended the first two years of college. Our son Max LOVED him and so did we. One day Mr. Alan told us that he had finally decided what he wanted to major in at college - Special Education. He said that Max had really opened his eyes to how amazing kids with special needs are and that he wanted to work with them as a career. Wow! To think our son - who many people believed would do little in life - had inspired a young man so much. I knew then that Max would make a difference in this world. Max is 12 now and it's not uncommon for people to tell us now how much Max has changed their view of people with special needs. Our kids are making a difference and we should be proud.

  10. Yogurt and string cheese? That's my favorite dinner! (but you forgot the goldfish crackers and merlot). They really round out the flavors.

    How wonderful of that teacher to take the time to email you! That note would have made me bawl like a baby too. Honestly, things happy and sad related to my boy make me cry. I get teary at every IEP meeting and every parent/teacher conference, even if not a negative thing is uttered. Actually, it's the good stuff that turns me to a pile of mush.

    Everything with our guys is just "loaded." That's my only explanation. And it's not a very good one. But I completely relate.


  11. I've had those moments too. It's overwhelming to be in situations when you realize how many people have been on "Team Max", working as hard as he is to help him make progress. I actually have video of early therapy sessions which I watch and often cry over, thinking how far my Jordan has some. Be happy, it's a good thing.

  12. Man, it made me tear up and I don't even know you or Max!

  13. Because of all the emotions that that time had for you that came back. For the gratitude you have/had for everyone that has loved Max and helped him along the way. Don't worry about crying and not pinpointing exactly what it was for, sometimes we just need to flush the tears out. :) I know I do.

  14. What a lovely email. It would have made me weep, we become touched by simple expressions of feeling honestly stated. At least, I do.

    Both your kids are and were very cute.

  15. beautiful truths can make you cry.
    emotions that are too big to be contained in your self can make you cry.

  16. Well, that would have completely done me in, too.

    Knowing that other people find your child as wonderful as you do, knowing that he has been a "favorite" is just so meaningful when you are busy worrying that your child will some day be making his way in a world that may not always be so loving and understanding; when you are worrying about bullying and teasing and living in fear of the day he gets a teacher who just does not "get" him and sees less where you see more.

    It is validation and so much more. It is a reminder of the love in the world that has been, and hopefully will continue to be, directed toward your son.

    And that is totally worth crying over.

  17. These comments were totally illuminating. Thanks, all. I don't well up that much about stuff related to Max, and when I do, I'm usually bummed out about something. This time, I wasn't seemingly sad, so it took me by surprise.

    Leigh-Ann, I so loved your Max/Mr. Alan story.

    Deirdre, you're welcome. I wish I'd had a blog earlier on in Max's life.

    Maya, I used to cry at IEPs. Now I just open my big mouth and demand more therapies!

  18. I'm a life-long weeper--happy, sad, moved by beauty or tragedy...doesn't matter. I've not made it through a single IEP meeting for my Jack without crying because the teachers and therapists tell sweet, funny stories about him and share their huge affection and loyalty to him without reservation. They give me hope that the world won't be all mean and teasing and exclusionary for him.

    I just found your blog today and am putting it in my google reader. Thank you for sharing your journey...and Max's.


Thanks for sharing!

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