Warning! Plethora of pictures!
I’m almost a month late with the Lola birthday post, but that seems to be the story of my life lately. Lola turned five-years-old on January 4th and I’m still pinching myself with disbelief! I’ve had so many emotions with this birthday and I can’t seem to figure out why. There’s something about five that says she’s well on her way to school dances, shaving her legs, screaming “I hate you” and everything else teenage-related. All right so I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but she’s getting bigger which scares the hell out of me yet makes me look forward to all of the good stuff that’s just right around the corner.
Five years ago, I was afraid for her future. I didn’t know if I could be the mother she needed me to be. We weren’t too confident in our parenting skills so adding the pressure of raising a child with disabilities felt extremely overwhelming. Would we know what to do? How could we navigate the medical system and advocate for our daughter in a foreign country? Diagnoses, unfamiliar medical terminology, medications and therapies took over our lives. I can remember holding her as an infant and I remember tears streaming down my face as I asked her to have faith in me. It was all so unknown, but if I just took it one day at a time, I kept telling myself. We knew we could love her and the rest would fall into place. Somehow, someway our lives would become our very own version of “normal”. And it did.
Over the years Lola has brought us so much joy because her good aura shines bright. And she’s also brought us many sleepless nights because she wasn’t gifted the simplest of lives. Sure we worry about her, but we know how to love her and that’s what matters. Five years later with Lola, our lives are indeed quite normal. We engage in the same old routines as most families of young children. Eat, school, play, eat, bath, play, eat, bedtime, repeat. Sure we’ve had some curveballs thrown at us over the years, but such is life. We manage to stick together as a family and love our shining star, Lola, unconditionally. Little did we know, she would guide us all along. She makes our days happier. All right — most days. She’s five and she can be a complete turd, but we celebrate her each and every day. I know y’all are sick of me saying it, but she sure makes me proud.
We’ve witnessed a drive within her that never lets her give up. She may not accomplish a task or a milestone right away, but if you stop hovering over her and give her time, she’ll do whatever she puts her mind to just at her own pace. And that’s OK. What’s that saying? “Growing up is not a race.” And it’s not. We stopped fretting over the milestones a while back. Of course we still push her and challenge her every single day, but we know most will come in due time. It’s quite empowering, as a mother, to let that constant worry go. It sure helps me to just enjoy my daughter for who she is rather than focusing on the “what she could be.” But that’s grief. It comes with the territory especially in the beginning. I’m happy to be on the other side of it now because she’s exactly who she was meant to be. Now our job, as her parents, is to help her continue to get to that next level and love, love, love her. That’s the easiest part because she’s so darn sweet.
There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not surprised with some new ability, new word or new emotion (wowzas people — there are a lot of emotions!) These days she’s fascinated with putting lids on things, stacking cups, putting items away and then quickly taking them out. It’s been intriguing to see this new interest as it’s wonderful practice for her fine motor skills. She’s begun to say three word sentences which has been most delightful to hear. I swear she has a whole bunch of words that are just trying to find their way out and they’re starting to break through. The other day I was making a coffee and she said, “More water quease,” all while holding her cup up. I almost spilled my coffee because I was surprised with how eloquently the words came out. It’s as if she had been saying it for years. She still thinks quease means please, but that’s OK. She understands the concept and that’s what matters. Her other new sentence this week is, “I go pee pee!” And she’s saying these words in correlation with her doing her business. These are baby steps towards comprehensive language, but having words with meanings is a huge developmental leap.
Lola is definitely a mommy’s girl these days! It’s as if I have my own tiny Lola shadow following my every move. It can be a bit overwhelming when mama needs a moment to herself, but Lola is genuinely interested in watching me. If I’m cooking, she wants to sit on the stool and mimic me. If I’m in the bathroom getting ready, she’ll come in with a brush or a coat because she knows the steps we take before leaving. If I’m brushing my teeth, she’ll try to find her toothbrush. If I get my shoes, she’ll go find hers. She’s learning through imitation and that’s so important! We’ve really been blown away with how much of a developmental leap she’s made this year!
And now that I’ve made you stroll down memory lane with me, I’ll wipe away my tears and get on to her birthday. When thinking of what to do for Lola’s birthday, we had to revert back to the previous year. Lola likes swimming and Lola sure loves ice cream (she can even say both words now too!)…she got both for her special day. There weren’t many pictures as we were busy enjoying, but I think it’s safe to say she had a great day!
Our little guy Sebastian turned two just a few days after Lola. Sebastian is Lola’s biggest champion and he’s also her arch nemesis. Some days they play and get along quite nicely and then the next day will be full of hitting and constant badgering of one another. They are an unpredictable duo, but that’s what makes our life interesting…or that’s what I keep telling myself while I am immersed in the chaos. Because Lola was our first child, we didn’t know how typical development took place. We still find it rather shocking how Sebastian just progresses to the next level with virtually no assistance. It was a pretty strong wake-up call as to how hard Lola has worked her entire life. The beautiful thing about Sebastian and his development is that he’s a brilliant kid and that is so helpful for Lola. He pushes her in ways that we never could. She wants to keep up with him and accomplish the same tasks that he can. We see her get frustrated when she notices that he is easily doing something that she cannot, but I think that sparks the determination within her. She will not be left behind. And Sebastian is a kind and accepting soul. He’ll often ask Lola if she’s OK, if she needs help or he’ll tell her when it’s her turn to try something. I can only hope he continues to include her in his world. It’s a critical relationship for her.
Now Lola’s language is coming along, but it sure is nice to know Sebastian’s every want and need. When we asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, his response was “Monkey Joe’s!” My mom happened to be in town from Costa Rica so we planned a low-key joint birthday party that involved jumping and more ice cream. One of my closest friends from Michigan came down with her family as well so it was a fun weekend full of birthday love for our babes.
In wrapping up this post, I’d like to say thank you to our Say Hola Lola followers for all of your support for our little girl. You’ve followed us on this journey for quite some time now. You’ve seen me in my most vulnerable state, you’ve cheered with us as we celebrated Lola’s biggest accomplishments and you’ve really watched this blog transform over the years. We feel the love and, in return, please know we are grateful. Maybe someday my birthday posts will get shorter, but if you know me at all, you know that will never happen! Happy Birthday, Lola and Sebastian!