Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why the title?

Welcome to my foray into blogdom. I suppose I should start with an explanation of the blog title - Ten Squares, Three Squiggles.

The first part is a reference to a trip to Nepal I made alone (I know! What was I thinking?) to hike the Himalayas and trek to Mount Everest base camp. At the time I was told that Nepal was the fifth poorest country in the world but many of the people I met there seemed to be the richest souls alive. They didn't know they were "poor" by American standards. As you can imagine, I learned a lot about myself during this period of massive culture shock. One of the hardest realities to accept was how Type A, results-oriented, hurried, and materialistic I was and how that wasn't bringing me much joy. In fact, it was probably hindering me. In those magnificent mountains, I witnessed how I could get so much more out of life with so much less in nearly every imaginable way. And I discovered that I really could survive on ten square sheets of toilet paper a day. Even with a runny nose. You better believe I hugged my indoor plumbing when I returned home and yet, I didn't want to lose the peace and lucidity I experienced in those oxygen-deprived days.

As for the second part of the title ... have you ever seen your DNA karyotype? It's basically your genetic profile, a map of you at the most basic level. Most people have 46 chromosomes, divided into pairs. Those pairs are then laid out from longest to shortest and numbered 1 to 23. On paper, it looks like a bunch of little squiggles. When I was 20 weeks pregnant with Caden, I had an amniocentesis performed due to some "markers" discovered during a Level II ultrasound. The resulting karyotype had a big arrow pointing to the 21st set because instead of a pair, it revealed a trio of squiggles there. Trisomy 21. Down syndrome. I didn't know it at the time, but what was supposed to be an undesirable outcome would be one of the greatest gifts in my life. My son has taught me more in his two years than I could ever teach him in a lifetime. He's made my marriage stronger and made me a better mother and person. He reminds me to stop and savor the moment. He is happy. He loves living. Really, what's more important than that? He is my little Buddha, but with an Italian flair so more of a Buddhini.

So in the processes of traveling the world and raising a child with special needs, I've discovered that I am happiest when I cut out distractions and fully enjoy the simplest of moments. Thus the mantra: ten squares, three squiggles.

5 comments:

Kristi Mantoni said...

Very neat! I couldn't do ten squares a day!

I am a little over the top when it comes to SYTYCD. I can get that way sometimes.

Lucky Number Five said...

Wow! I love your message. I look forward to meeting Caden. I am very impressed with your insight and your willingness to share it for others benefit. I enjoy reading your postings, and was wondering about the name - that is very clever! I love it!

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

I love your little Buddhini!!!!

Anonymous said...

Jessica,
I had heard that you had a blog and just found it. Ten squares.. three squiggles. The meaning is so many things in one...adventurous,beautiful, serene, life-changing, miraculous, soul-inspiring. I only get to enjoy Caden for a couple hours, a couple days a week. I just want you to know that your son sparks something wonderful in my heart. He is such an amazing little boy and I feel blessed that I have had the chance to know him and enjoy him. We always work hard, but fun, during our 1:1 sessions.. I can't tell you how many times he just comes back to my OT area on his own... sits down ready to go.. so precious. It is amazing the things you have experienced. The love you have as a mother surmounts anything else, doesn't it. My children are 10 and 6. My son was born with a congenital heart defect and has had 3 open heart surgeries. I just want to say to you HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!! What blessings we have!

Jessica said...

We feel blessed to have you in our lives! Caden has been so very fortunate to be surrounded by such special and talented professionals. He loves school and has grown so much there which is a reflection of the people that work there. I didn't know that you had a child with medical challenges. Thanks for sharing that. Yep, our mothers' love does surmount everything! Thanks for your comments and for your fantastic work with my little rockstar.