It's supposed to rain later today and my left arm is aching. I broke it in two places, two different times in my childhood and now sometimes when the weather changes it aches, either up near my shoulder or in my wrist; the places it broke.
The ache reminds me of those times; the agony and pain, the fear of being in an emergency room as a child, spending the night for the first time in a hospital, getting attention from classmates and extended family, people signing my cast, 'Get well soon!'. Me trying to itch the inside of my cast with a hanger, not being able to swim for half of a summer because I couldn't get my arm wet. Being a bit doped up on the medication to ease the hurt.
At first my broken arm was my whole world. How could it not have been when the pain was so great, so instant, so overwhelming. At the time there was no way of knowing that wasn't going to be my new normal. As a child for all I knew I could have been like that for the rest of my life.
I went to the hospital, got help, the excruciating pain eventually turned into a dull ache and then only, a flimsy itch.
Life went back to normal and I was found splashing around in the kiddie pool within eight weeks.
But the dull ache comes back every now and then.
And I am reminded at one time I was broken.
This week I went to four parent-teacher conferences for my kids in two different schools. I was prepared to discuss each kid, I thought. But when I sat down with Polly's teacher I was surprised to read on the report that she hasn't met her goals for this year; after a whole year at school Polly still can't figure out the centers procedure, how you have to take your card with your name on it and put it into that center's envelope, that if there are already three kids in that center you have to go somewhere else.
Basically the teacher said that although she's cute and everyone loves her, Polly still just walks around making messes in the classroom.
And the dull ache; the fact that I have not one but two children with Down syndrome started up again.
Polly's birth shattered me. I teamed up with Jesus and Serg to put myself back together but much like that pesky jigsaw puzzle you've almost completed, a few pieces were lost in the mix, and now I walk around with empty spaces.
Most of the time the space is used for good. I have more compassion for others. I understand grace better. I relate to others through my brokenness. And sometimes it feels really good.
But I want to say that there are other times when it breaks my heart my girls are so far behind their peers. I want my kids to be rock stars in the Down syndrome community, but alas, they are only Marchenkos.
I am OK with Down syndrome. OK enough to add Evangeline to our family, to seek out others in the special needs community, to go to my kids' classes to talk about inclusion and acceptance of others who are differently-abled.
But there will always be days in my life where the rain will come.
And because I've been broken I'm going to ache.
It doesn't mean I love my kids any less or that I wish my life was different.
It just aches.
And that's OK, I think.