maybe it’s not really a problem.

Eleven years ago today we heard the word Adrenoleukodystrophy for the first time. Part of me feels like it was yesterday and part of me has trouble remembering life before that day.

Our family has certainly been through our share of challenges during the last eleven years. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve been surprised that I’m finding it so difficult to deal with the relatively small challenges we are facing these days – Anna preparing to head off to college, friends moving, an oil tank reeking havoc in our front lawn, deciding when/where to move, our rat-dog’s new haircut. My body didn’t betray me eleven years ago when our challenges were grave, why now? I have my theories that I won’t bore you with, but for now I’m trying to tackle what I can before I get swallowed whole.

My first test was last Friday. I spent a week preparing for a two mile drive – The Delaware Memorial Bridge. Trying to explain my new fear of bridges is impossible. There’s nothing rational about my explanations and it’s often made worse because I walk away from an explanation feeling like I sound not just fearful, but kinda crazy. Then, I worry about being crazy and what people must think . . .

I was dreading the drive to Baltimore and the huge bridge I would be facing, so when Jack and I got in the car on Friday I had a post-it note with a magic number firmly stuck to the dashboard. I was planning to call a “bridge escort”. I was not going to judge myself for it. It was the right decision. Safe and responsible.

The drive was going smoothly and I was relaxed thanks to my “safe and responsible” decision. Jack and I listened to good music and I caught up on some phone calls. I was on the phone with Mymom when suddenly I was faced with the bridge directly in front of me. It came out of nowhere. I was in the middle lane and frantically trying to figure out how I could pull over, “Mom, I’m here. I don’t know what to do. Oh my GOD – I’m ooooooonnnnnn the BRIDGE!!!”

Mymom was in the delivery room when I delivered both Jack and Anna and I swear she used the same words with me on Friday, “You can do this Tates. Keep your eyes on the prize. Just keep going. You’re almost there.”

By the time I reached the other side of the bridge I was soaked with perspiration, but I had done it. I felt overwhelmingly exhilarated. Adrenaline and pride is a great combination (and knowing at almost 50, Mymom can still be my cheerleader is pretty awesome too).

After a lovely weekend at Hopkins, I insisted on driving home so that I could face the two miles again. This time I managed to keep a decent speed and didn’t even sweat through my shirt. I can’t say that I’ve conquered my fear of bridges, but I’m not going to let a bridge stop me from moving forward – and certainly not stop me from visiting my girl next year.


Sounds silly, but I do feel like I’ve taken a huge step forward. Last Thursday a father of one of Jack’s classmates said something to me that’s been helping, “If you can fix it, it’s not really a problem.”

So simple and just what I needed to hear. There’s plenty in our lives that we can’t fix and I no longer want to give strength to the crap we can. A weekend at Hopkins confirmed that it’s going to be a great place for Anna and it’s not too far – and the bridge won’t kill me. The oil tank is gone and our yard is getting fixed soon (money and time won’t destroy us). We are planning fun trips with our friends who are moving. We are prepping our house so that we can move when we are ready (months, years, who knows, but we are in control). Even Finn is working on growing his hair. If we can fix it, it’s not really a problem.

Eleven years ago I never imagined that we’d be living this life, but here we are. We can’t fix everything, but we will do what we can and take one bridge at a time.

Love, Jess


Never easy.

Jack turned 17 this summer. 17 is the magic age in New Jersey when you’re granted the ultimate symbol of independence – a driver’s license. His birthday had come and gone without much thought of what he was missing, but lately I find myself driving down the streets of Maplewood, horrified as I see familiar faces behind the wheel of large SUVs. Faces of children who’s diapers I changed.

Not only does it seem dangerous to trust these kids with cars, but it’s another reminder that Jack is no longer moving at the same pace as his “typical” peers. He will never drive. He can’t even sit in the front seat of our car (that’s not a safely thing – it’s that he changes the radio station and loves playing with the heat warmers).

So, I’ve been feeling a little melancholy with this added reminder of Jack’s lack of independence, and then on Friday I got hit with the other side of things.

Further proof that I live between two worlds — Anna has just completed Driver’s Ed. She walked in from school on Friday and announced that she “passed the test”. I tried my darndest to sound happy for her, and I am. I’m looking forward to a day not filled with pick-ups and drop-offs. I’m also excited for her to gain the freedom that a license can provide. But, when I think about handing the keys of our car to our perfect little girl. I start to panic.

Life is never easy. I’m both sad for my son NOT to get his license and I’m freaking out that my daughter WILL.

Luckily, we still have some time before Anna can get her license. Even after passing the test, she can’t even get her permit until June – thank goodness we live in New Jersey. I need a little time to prepare for this next stage of worry for this mama raising kids in two separate worlds.

Love, Jess