Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just Keep Swimming

This morning was tough, but only by my own design (hey, I am a designer after all). Outwardly, everything was great: Bronwyn slept well, was cheerful in the morning, and we got off to school without a hitch. But inside, there was anxiety brewing. It was picture day at school today. We missed the first go 'round because Bronwyn was sick, so today was our last chance for a school picture (the re-take day). I don't know why it feels so important to me to get a nice school picture. I have a camera, and I have reasonable skills with it, but somehow, getting a school picture feels like an important part of being "normal" in life.

Weeks before picture day, I talked with Bronwyn's teacher about the best way to go about the physical part of photographing her: Should we keep her in her wheelchair? Should we try another type of seating? How much time do we have for the shot? Do I get to participate? Her teacher assured me that the photographers were used to taking photos of kids with special needs, and that they were very patient and accommodating. I backed away from the cliff a little.
Upon arrival at school this morning, we went straight away to the photo session.
There was a long line.
Bronwyn got crabby.
It was our turn.
Bronwyn couldn't keep her head still.
She had a seizure.
She cried.
The photographer said she didn't have time to let Bronwyn calm down and try again.
We didn't get a picture.
DEEP BREATH: I put on a brave face and when we returned to the classroom I said that it was okay, but I was having a hard time not crying! I felt so devastated... why???
I went to the gym and got some exercise. I reminded myself of what is really important.
I told myself that I had put too much emotional energy into something that wasn't really a big deal.
But my heart didn't want to listen. Maybe I just need to have an emotional day; sometimes it's just the thing. Life's a sea of emotion, and it's best to keep on swimming through.

Today's photos are of the new pinnafore that I made for Bronwyn for picture day. She sure does look adorable in it, even if I can't show you with a picture of her wearing it right now. Today's Song: "No New Tale to Tell" by Love and Rockets. Click ont the icon on the right hand side of the blog to hear it.


Pam Corwin, Business of Crafts said...

What a beautiful and honest post.
And of course you were emotional! School pictures are important, they're a marker, a memory, part of every parent's scrapbook, and I think a sort of symbolic event every year of a kid's life. To be dealing with so much every day as you do, and want this so much, to go to efforts to make sure it will go well and then have the kind of problems you wanted so much to avoid, would be so hard. It probably just hammers home that the little things other Moms take for granted are harder for you and Bronwyn - every day.
I love you, Colleen. You are such a beautiful, strong, wonderful woman and I love that you shared this with all of us. Thank you.

Colleen MacDonald said...

*sniff* Thank-You, Pam. I appreciate your loving support.

julia moore said...

Oh Colleen. Thank you for sharing this story. You are such an amazing Mom, and Bronwyn is amazing too. Whenever Bronwyn's body allows for a formal portrait in her beautiful swimmers pinafore, please post it on your blog with big fanfare so we can all ooh and ah. Some kids will have school photos, but few will get school-blog photos! Love, Julia

Stephanie said...

Colleen! I feel for you and can totally understand why you wanted this to go differently. But I just know that you & Bronwyn will have a beautiful home photo shoot to make up for it, better than any bland yearbook backdrop.

Susan said...

I'm so sorry for your pain! It's my experience "normal" occasionally tries to sneak in and then slams us with reality. Your post is beautifully written, touching and reminds me how lucky I am to have you next door. Take good care of those tears - they are important too.

vadjutka said...

I remember the picture days in my school - everyone had to dress up nice and smile, and I felt so stupid in my "beautiful" white shirt, because I HAD to look nice, had to look happy ... etc etc. In the end, I never felt myself happy and nice while the shooting.

Maybe little B felt this unspoken pressure, that she "has to" behave...and she is a good girl, she wanted to behave...
I dont know, I am just talking, and talking...I hope I did not hurt anyone.

And above all: there are so many so called "normal" people ... why shall we stand in the line? ;-)

(I was talking about you to my BF the other day, that how I admire the way you conduct your life :-) )

Colleen MacDonald said...

I totally think Bronwyn picked up on the pressure of the situation. Of course I told her, "it's okay, honey. We can take pictures at home." but inside I was tense and she is SO observant. Plus the photographer was tense and actually shouted at her, "Bronwyn! Bronwyn!" trying to get her to look up at her. Not helpful at all. We all wanted to cry afterwards. I think I can come up with a much better solution than this!

I love you all for your amazing support. Today is a much calmer day.

Victoria said...

Dear Colleen, my heart breaks to think of how that photographer showed such a lack of compassion to Bronwyn and to you. I can see easily how this yearly rite of passage and ritual would be so important to you. You are a mother who loves her child to the depths of her soul. I am touched by the grace in which you showed outwardly, when inside your heart was ripping, and feel for you the pain you must have felt. (If it is any consolation, those school photos rarely come close to capturing the essence of the child. My youngest detests having her picture professionally taken, and since I have started photographing her, we are both happier with the results.)

Hold dear in your heart the fact that you are an exceptional mother. I admire you deeply. Hugs to you and Bronwyn. xo

inaluxe said...

Hi Colleen, wow... I think everyone pretty much said what I would have said - but here it is. That was an amazing read - so moving, and really very beautiful in a very tender way.

I think you're incredible. And I bet Bronwyn is incredible too. xo

lots of love...
you're the bestest!

The Mayberry Sparrow said...

Such a candid post! Sounds like a rough day.
It's hard when things don't go as planned for our children, the way we want them to, it's in our instinct to make sure that they have the best, and have everything we had, every opportunity, and then some.

Picture day seemed important to me too. It's actually one of the very few things that I struggled with when I decided to homeschool my boys..."oh no, what about picture day??"
We've found ways to make up for the little things that they miss out on in school, including picture days.
We make it special in our own way.

With her lovely new dress, and your handy photography skills, i'm sure you can pull off an awesome school picture.
(and in hind sight, none of my school pictures were anything stellar...some I think I may have even burned!!)
She'll probably be her honest self for you, and her soul will shine through.
That's something that a pushy school photographer probably couldn't catch on film anyway;)

picciolo said...

oh Colleen, what a day for you, sometimes things just don't go to plan do they? I hope you are both ok. And I wanted to say thank you so much for the lovely feedback you left me too