Before posting this picture, I knew I would be setting myself up for all kinds of reactions and comments. Some positive (wow, cute baby bump) some negative (wow, you are naked. Why would you want anyone to see that. Perhaps you should peruse the Strength of the Youth pamphlet on modesty) I am not posting this picture for a reaction at all. In fact I am posting it for myself.
Over the last year and 1/2 I have spent a great deal of time feeling burdened by my body. It does not seem to want to function at MAS (minimum acceptable standard) or anyone else MAS. As you know (and if you don't know you need to update your calender) Oliver had his 4th birthday this last week on the 6th. I was having one of my regular Lupus/Sjogren's Syndrome days where I just wanted to sit in my room and cry. Cry over the loss of what should be. I should be down stairs with a smile on my face. I should have spent more time wrapping his presents in prettier paper instead of leftover randoms. I should have made him a cake from scratch instead of a boxed one. I should have had 10 of his best buds over to trash my house in celebratory elation. "I should have" was stuck in my head all day. I did my best to look presentable (I even washed my hair), hung the decorations, made the cake, put the Thomas the Train conductor hats on Oliver and Hazel's little noggins and breathed a sigh of relief when Jenna and Drake arrived. There was no criticism, only happy faces eager to engage in the festivities. I brought out the cake. The most important thing to Oliver for his birthday, the most important thing in the whole world was that I made him a Thomas cake. I rounded the corner holding my breath. If he hated this cake I just could not live with myself and my Lupus ridden body for another moment. Keep in mind I had the best intentions of making some fondant 3 tiered masterpiece but this was all my hands could accomplish. Just laying the sprinkles out one at a time to spell his name was difficult and painful, as silly as that may sound. This. was. it. I knelt down next to Oliver on one shaky knee and said "Do you like it buddy?" He said...
"Oh. My. Gosh. (gasp) It a Thomas cake. I LOVE IT!
Oliver's love changed me. Much like God's love, it healed me.
Now back to the naked picture lol. Here is the purpose of this blog post. Today I realized some very important things. First of all, children don't care how much money or perceived time you spend on them, it's the time you spend WITH them that matters. Some days we may spend a few hours on the couch because mommy is having a hard day but I will now choose to view these obstacles as a blessing. I have my children to snuggle with and to read books to. I can still play dolls and build Thomas a track. My body may have failed me in some of the obvious ways, but I was blessed with the ability to carry two miraculously perfect children. Straight from God to my arms. (And I must say I am one sexy pregnant lady...just sayn') My body granted me the gift of natural feeding for the first year of life. I was given the gift of holding my babies close to my breasts, knowing that I was doing something that would benefit them for life. There is no shame in loving your body. Even with imperfections, it is a gift.
God has also blessed me with a loving husband and a large loving family (Pitcher's and Wheatley's I'm talking about all you guys!). Chronic illness affects more than just the patient. Loved one's suffer right along with us. Just like I have had to learn how to have Lupus, Matt has had to learn how to have a wife with Lupus. Through it all, I know he loves me. His strength and ability to move forward and stick to his schedule is a strength to me. A consistency that helps me feel as though the world has not stopped because my immune system has gone haywire.
One more thing to be grateful for, if you have to be stuck on the couch from time to time. Who better to be stuck with than my Snuggle Buggle. Mr Oliver Dean. Professional snuggler. Thank you for being in my life. I am forever changed.
Happy Birthday Oliver. I love you.