Lucky 21!

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You are all thinking the same thing – How old were we? No lines on our faces or worries in our eyes. In such a hurry to settle down and get started as adults. We were looking forward to adventures and children and making a home. We’ve enjoyed all those things. Not exactly as we’d planned them, but have managed to enjoy them all the same.

21 years.

Not many couples can say they’ve made it 21 years, and even fewer can say that they’ve enjoyed MOST OF those days. Thank you Dan for all of your love and support and respect. I am still that lucky girl you see in the photo who is looking forward to adventures and children (not more, just the ones we’ve already made) and making a home (wherever our next chapter takes us). Just don’t put your glasses on, and I even look about the same.

Love, Jess

Is there even a word in spanish for FUNK?

images-6How can my mood NOT improve?

My mood lately has been inconsistent. One minute I’m smiling through my day and then something will hit me – hard. It’s not that I’m buried in a full blown depression (buried in piles of laundry maybe), it’s just that I’ve been in a bit of a funk.

Once I was able to acknowledge the funk, I started working out ways to make life a little less complicated. I’m trying to avoid situations that might trigger my sour moods, I’m trying to make better choices (less wine, more kale – some days I’m better than others), and I am allowing myself to let go of some of the less-than-glamorous aspects of my life. Being a good parent doesn’t need to mean changing every diaper.

Dan and I have made time alone together a priority ever since life changed. We are determined that we will stay in the 10-20% , and being able to focus on each other for a few days (especially out of our element) helps. We are blessed that we have the means to travel and generous people who are willing to help, but I recommend that all couples try it, no matter your circumstances – even just a trip to the local Holiday Inn can allow you to reconnect;)

So, with the goal of reconnecting and to help me feel less overwhelmed about life, Dan and I planned a trip to Tulum, Mexico. We are celebrating 20 years of marriage (it was in June – it took us a while to pull the trigger). We had fun picking the perfect spot and my parents quickly offered to help out with the kids. Then, it was time to sit down and start planning being away for five days.

Ironic that a trip planned to help us relax, further proves how complicated our lives are.

My parents are very capable people. Not only did they successfully raised three children, but my mother is a PHD and has worked with The Red Cross for more years than I can count and my father is brilliant and has such a connection with Jack, that Jack starts laughing as soon as my father enters the door. It should be easy to just hand over the house keys, and let my parents dive in.

Only it’s not.

Although my folks have helped us out before, it’s been a while and the kids are at a different stage. They are teenagers. Jack is complicated and 17. It’s not just the medication and the diapers. Bathing and changing him can be a challenge – he’s strong and about as helpful as a stubborn cat. Anna is a sophomore in high school, with a busy schedule and an active social life social life. And, we have two dogs  – one goes by the name “Bad Dog”. Nothing is patricianly difficult, it’s just a lot of moving parts. Although we have our wonderful team of Jack helpers on board, it’s a lot to oversee.

I always leave a list with important information when we go out of town and this time, it’s managed to grow into a five page document. As soon as I think it’s done, I think of some other random detail about life at 26 Clinton Ave. I keep trying to walk away from it, but it keeps sucking me back.

We leave tomorrow (NOW TODAY!!) for Tulum, Mexico, which by all accounts is paradise. Five days alone with Dan on the beach is just what I need. And, as soon as our flight takes off, I’m sure I will relax, but until then I will continue to add to the never-ending list.

Thank you Nonno and Mymom for filling our shoes this week and sorry for the long list of crazy. There are really only three things that you need to remember – Jack needs his medication, Anna curfew is 11:00 and NOOOO people food for the dogs;)

Adios Amigos!!

 

 

 

we are the 10-20%

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June 3, 1995

St. Bartholomew NYC, NY

As we were preparing to leave the hospital years ago, our social worker pulled us aside to warn us about all the obstacles parents face bringing home a child with health concerns. “And your issues are a bit broader. Be careful. The divorce rate for couples who have children with special needs gets as high as 80-90%.”

I didn’t hit her, but I wanted to. I’m not sure why she thought it would be helpful to share those statistics with us – what she thought we would do with the knowledge. All it really did (other than make me want to hit her), was make those numbers ring in my ears. At that point, we were convinced Jack’s “specialness” was temporary, but the numbers still rung. As we returned to our lives, and it became clear that maybe we were indeed a “special needs” family, I couldn’t help but revisit the grim statistics. I wondered what made special needs families so vulnerable. Why families wouldn’t gain strength through their challenges and why anyone would EVER add to already complicated lives?

Dan and I got married agreeing that marriage is forever. Few things were on our unspoken list of deal breakers. My parents have stayed married, merging two cultures and two distinct family dynamics, along with a mound of issues while raising three children. Dan’s parents also stayed together through a maze of life and parenthood, until his mother passed away. Every couple has their issues, but both sets of parents were great role-models. Teaching us that if you can get through the tough days, partnership has wonderful benefits. As a couple, Dan and I have had a few friends and family members end their marriages, and none have them have done it easily. It’s a struggle to witness and nothing either Dan nor I would want to duplicate.

So why is the divorce rate for couples who have children with special needs as high as 80-90%? My only conclusion is that, like many tests in life, having a child with special needs highlights any cracks you may have in your marriage’s foundation. Dan and I seem to have an extra sturdy foundation. I think the strength comes from liking each other. It’s that simple.

When Dan sends me his nightly text telling me that he is on the train heading home, I smile. I’m excited to see him. When I tell Dan about my day, he listens. Like all married couples, we have our moments (occasionally months) of frustration/anger/your #$$%ing kidding me, but generally we enjoy each other’s company. And, we both adore our children. We also share the same values and goals and are one of the few people in each other’s lives who really understand what it’s like to live in our home. Our challenges have made us stronger.

Wednesday we celebrated our 20th Anniversary – 20 YEARS!! I feel very confident that we will continue being part of the 10-20% who choose marriage. I don’t think I could manage this life without him. Thank you Dan for being my husband. I love you more every day.

Love, Jess

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June 3, 2015

St. Bartholomew NYC, NY

(the doors were locked – we had to laugh)