Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Castle In A Land Not So Far Away

I am completely on edge today.  I’m not sure if it’s been the frenetic pace of the last few weeks or a much deeper, closer to the heart thing.

The month of May has been rough.  Fundraisers, scouting events, end-of-the-year activities, preschool graduation…  It seems as if I have had little time to let my hair down.

When you have kids in school, May is not about living… it’s about surviving.  It’s the Mom (or Dad!) in the Minivan who is the ultimate Survivor… and we don’t have to eat bugs to do it.

We get through one day after another, one packed lunch at a time.  Rarely do we have a chance to quiet the chaos.

But today, I took some time for myself.  I left the scrunchy at home and literally let my hair down.  I went and got a haircut.  My friend has done my hair for the last 20 years.  She is well worth the half hour drive north.

Ashley, however, had little patience for mommy’s pampering and couldn’t wait to get back home.

In fact, the entire return trip she sat in her car seat and whined and cried. 

It was when I drove up the off-ramp of the expressway and said, “Ashley, look… castles” I realized that I was re-living a Sean moment.

We dreaded taking Sean anywhere in the car when he was younger.  He would scream and scream. 

Baby can’t sleep?  Oh, take them for a ride in the car …

Yea, right.  NOT!

Having him face backward in the car was equivalent to torture – for both of us.  I remember sitting next to him and trying to breastfeed him while Rich drove. 

We were desperate and would try anything….

When he was old enough to be turned around, we thought he’d calm down.  Sean could now look out the windows and we could spend quality time in the car playing I Spy or looking for cars that were blue or red….

Ummmm…. Not so much.

Most times it was unbearable. 

Nothing soothed him.  Sean didn’t want the music on.  We couldn’t even talk.  Our time in the car was all about being quiet and getting from Point A to Point B as fast as the law would allow.

The “castles” became our first glimmer of hope.  They are the cone-shaped buildings where our village’s salt supply is stored and are the first things you see when you come up the expressway off-ramp on the way home.

“Look!  The castles!”

Then one day, Sean looked.

And he quieted down.

A running commentary of landmarks began to build.

IKEA, the old library, the junior high…  all meant to assure Sean that our journey home was soon coming to an end.

But none meant more than the castles.

Even though they are a couple miles from our house, they always meant “home” for Sean.

They were the first things that he recognized.  For years as the crying continued, they were the bastions of hope to which we clung to – drove to - for the calm that would result.

I don’t know why Sean disliked the car so much.  Was it the vibrations, the noise, the other cars whizzing past so quickly?

Who knows?  But it’s been awhile since I called out to those castles to save me from a crying child.

Until today… when they not only caught Ashley’s attention, but also reminded me of how far Sean has come.

He was so far away from us for so long. 

But now he’s almost home…. 

We can see the castles. 

Sean, you’re almost home.

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