Friday, April 23, 2010

My left arm aches when it rains

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.


  1. they are superstars in our eyes!!!! and so are you!!! love ya!

  2. Gillian, I think this thought is critical:

    "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."

    The ache reminds us of the initial trauma, but it also reminds us that we have lived through it, and that we can survive and deal with it victoriously ... in all areas of our lives in Christ.

    Bless you.

  3. Yes, it is completely OK. I am praying for you.

  4. I absolutely love your heart. Pay no attention to what "goals" they have accomplished in the classroom, your girls ARE rockstars, so role with that my friend. Let them shine!!!

  5. Thanks for putting this into words. I feel that ache every time I go to parent teacher conferences. As you say, though, the ache isn't because the teachers don't care about them. The ache makes me sad, but only for a little while and then I get back to the reality of what needs to be done every day.

  6. As a teacher, if a child has failed to meet their goals then something should have been changed - the teaching method or the goals- before this point in the school year. You never allow a child to continue to fail to make progress on a goal. I hated the meetings when I had to be the one to tell parents that their child was not making progress on a goal and we needed to reevaluate and figure out what skills were needed before the goal could be mastered. Yet I always was able to share positives accomplishments - every child learns and grows and develops. I am sure Polly has made progress this year, just not on the goals or in the ways they were measuring. She is a rock star and so is Evie. And so are you as their mother.

  7. You rock. Thanks for putting into words what so many of us are feeling in our hearts.

  8. My love, hugs, smiles, heart, support and prayers are right there with you. I wish I had your skill of sharing in words... you always touch me and my inner thoughts when you express yourself! love you.

  9. The teacher doesn't know how many parents Polly has inspired. That little girl was my first thread of hope about a year ago. I think she's a total star and I will be her fan for life!

  10. I think you are the best advocate for your children. Our son with ds had a teacher who said he couldn't learn graphs. This was in second grade. We went home and I got out the Legos. In ten minutes he had mastered graphs. That teacher only knew one way to present things.

    I hate having to "teach the teachers" but sometimes it is the only way. You're a great mom! Your daughters will achieve so much. Just don't let the teacher's limits define your children. The teachers may need to learn some new ways to teach.


  11. Gillian - such a beautiful piece of writing, a beautiful glimpse into your life, even the hurting parts.


I'd love to hear from you!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.