The Four Squares

So, I’ll admit, a class assignment has brought me to the blog tonight.  (Thankfully, we are crazy busy living “normal” life these days.)

Mary Clare has a clothesline timeline to complete.  With only four small squares to document and illustrate her life, I turned to the best (only) journal I have,

You know me.  I could write an entire book on all that she is and has achieved complete with dramatic-mom vision-details and lengthy anecdotes.

We have four little squares.

The assignment asks for four major milestones.  A sentence to be written about each with her age at the top.  Simple enough, I thought.

Until I actually thought.

Milestones.  Wow, does she ever have them.

Everyday I struggle with wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, “She’s different, you know!  She has accomplished more than most can or ever will in a lifetime!”

Sure, she’s having difficulty with reading, potty training and focus.  She has fine motor “issues” and gross motor “issues” and still has her paci.  Trust me, I’ve learned so much about patience with others who just don’t get it.  I bite my tongue.   I hold my opinions.  I smile and know that I’m probably the only person who will ever get it.  She’s my Mary Clare and like every other mother out there, I’ll go down defending and fighting for her til the bitter end.

She’s at an age where she’d rather not mention her surgeries.  Maybe she’ll grow out of it, maybe not.  Either way will be her way and I’ll respect that.

As we brainstormed her first square, I suggested she draw a picture of herself as a baby with her little half heart.  She could write, “I was born on June 27, 2007 and had heart surgery at 5 days old.”

I promise, I try REALLY hard to keep out of projects and school work.  I do.

What she did next is no surprise to me.  She did as only Mary Clare will and told me to back off.  It’s her project.

She would prefer to write about going to school with her cousin Reese.  Receiving her Barbie Dream house, playing with neighborhood friends at the pool last summer and taking her crown to school for show and tell last week.  Those are her 4 timeline ideas and that’s what we’ll go with.

My crafty mom heart just broke a tiny bit.

As she colorfully illustrated her lifeline, her way, I scrolled through the blog, my heart ached.  She has been intubated, paralyzed, sedated, on heart lung bypass and that was at only one week old.   She has endured surgeries, seizures, enough medication to make a grown man sleep and yet, she is held at the same standards at all other “normal” six-year-olds.  And you know what?  She does it.

I’d love to complete the 4 squares for her and plaster them on billboards.

1-I saw her beating, stitched, pieced-together heart in the flesh at 6 days old when her chest was kept open 24 hours for swelling.

2-I held her arms down while she screamed as three 1 inch tubes were pulled from her chest after each of her three open heart surgeries.

3-I held her blue body in my arms while she seized for the longest 10 minutes of my life.

4-I have watched her run and gasp for air as she struggled to keep up with her friends at 80% oxygen levels.  (Try running around your house three times holding your breath.  That’s what that feels like.)

But those are my squares.  Those are milestones for me.  Thankfully, she doesn’t remember any of those.  So, as profound as those memories are for me,  they do not define her.  Ironically, they are more about me.

So, crowns, and friends, Barbies and Reese it is.  I love my little Rock Star and all of her own little sassy, glittery milestones.



cici  on March 18th, 2014

I love this post. You are right where a good Mom should be and Mary Clare right where she belongs. Happy, Sassy and Glittery! I think she knows you carry her real milestones for her right now, she will be back to collect them someday. Until then…
{Big Hug for you}

Tammy  on March 18th, 2014

You are wonderful! I am crying thinking about all that you have been through. She is lucky to have you for a mom.

Judy Brown  on March 22nd, 2014

Dearest Kerri,

I am very pleased to see your posts again on the life and times of the Pennington family. I always come away from reading each one in wonder and awe of your parenting skills and PATIENCE with your family and with the rest of us who CANNOT possibly really understand what it has been like because we haven’t “walked a mile in your moccasins”! You know when to stick to your guns and when to let the girls fend for themselves, whatever the issue might be. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew exactly who to make the mother of these girls and He gave you all the skills and wisdom and guidance you need to parent them in His will.

Thank you from the bottom of my old, but “normal” heart for sharing these lessons and insights with us. Just keep on keeping on.

I love you as do countless others do, also!


chaarlow  on March 23rd, 2014

You amaze me. You should shout everyday of all she has accomplished. More than anyone can understand. She is precious! Seeing life through her eyes is just amazing! Barbies and glitter is what life should be for that sweet girl! Love reading your blog!!

kate  on April 17th, 2014

she’s amazing, and she got that from you!
I love you!