Tag Archives: Parenthood

Did you cry?

I sat talking with a patient about a year ago. Her 36 year old Down Syndrome son had just tried to sneak a soda and we were discussing the challenges our children faced as well as what we faced as parents.

“Did you cry when you found out?” She asked me. “I did. I bawled for days. I didn’t know what else to do.”

I felt bad telling her the truth because the truth is, I didn’t. I didn’t cry leaving the developmental pediatrician’s office that day. I left feeling relieved.

“Honestly, no.” I hung my head. “I felt relieved. I spent 5 years feeling like I was failing as a mom that I was so happy to hear that this wasn’t my fault.”

It still sounds self indulgent.

But the truth is, by the time she was diagnosed I had cried a lot.

I cried every time I couldn’t get her to eat as a newborn.

I cried when I knew her very rigid schedule was disrupted because I knew I would spend the next 48 hours with a baby that couldn’t cope.

I cried when her temper tantrums seemed to never end.

I cried when the next one started again 20 minutes after the last one stopped.

I cried when we couldn’t get her to eat.

I cried when she would bite me and pull my hair.

I cried when we exhausted one therapy and we still weren’t “normal”.

I cried when I made the appointment for yet more therapy or to meet another specialist.

I cried a lot.

And I still cry when she struggles.

But the truth is, the tears come from struggle, not a label. These days she is a happy kid. She’s starting to make friends and finding herself in hobbies. She excels in school and radiates with her accomplishments. Her diagnosis doesn’t upset me because it doesn’t define her and it allows us to deal with the tears constructively. And that is something to celebrate.

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It gets better

When I was first pregnant with Molly and had horrible morning all day sickness, people would tell me just wait til your back hurts or your ankles swell. Then those things happened and I wished for pregnancy to be over and people would tell me to enjoy it while I can because my boobs were going to start hurting while I was breastfeeding and on and on. Then Molly came and was colicky and fussy and had difficulty eating and wouldn’t sleep. Ever. I wished for her to be older so it would be easier and I always got the same reply “It doesn’t get easier, just different”. At each stage where there were problems there was an older, wiser mom telling me it was only going to get worse. “Just wait” they would say. And I see it on Facebook now, a mom struggling with a stage their child is in and her status comment box is filled with “just wait” type of replies. I’ll have to admit, I’ve said those things, I’ve replied those things. I didn’t know any different.

Now I do.

I’m here to tell you it does get better. It’s not fair for us “veteran” moms to warn those coming up the road behind us how bad it’s going to be. That doesn’t make what they are going through any better, it just brings on impending doom. I would think “oh God, I can barely handle this, how am I going to handle it when it gets worse?”. Now, I see that look of desperation in my friends’ eyes. They are dealing with sleepless nights and 2 year olds and we say, “just wait til their 3”. What good does that do? We should warn our friends of things they can prepare for: hemorrhoids, sore nipples, constipation, running out of wipes in public when your child has a blow out, tricks so you aren’t losing the pacifier at 4am, or how best to soothe a cough. These are things they can prepare for. These are the things they should be warned about.

I was scared when I was warned that my crawling baby would become a walker. She did and she got faster, but along with her speed also brought independence. I liked independence.

I was worried when I was going to have to start table food because the kids would throw it every where. They did. It made a mess, but I also could eat a few bites of semi-warm food while they entertained themselves with how far a pea can fly across the room.

I was worried when my ever persistent 2 year old became a 3 year old. Really worried. I had a whole year to learn how to deal with temper tantrums and demanding tempers. Things became easier to deal with because with the extra year came extra patience and confidence. Or at least the ability to know that they will survive if I go into another room and leave them to scream by themselves.

So don’t worry new moms, whatever parenthood problem you are struggling with, that problem will get better. Sure new ones will come along, but that’s life and we can deal with life. Each day and month that goes by, you grow confidence and with confidence comes a much better way to deal with what you are going through. Those first nights of teething will seem horrible, but when the molars come in you will dose with ibuprofen and not even think about it. That first tantrum in the store you will sweat and turn red and be mad, but by the 15th and a year later you will walk out of that store with confidence smiling at people as you go by. Or you will walk out and cry in your car instead of the store. Either way, it gets better. And when you just want privacy in the bathroom, well… I can’t help you there, I only assume at some point that too will get better.

From now on, when your less experienced friend has woes and complaints about a trying stage in her child’s life, instead of filling her head of how it’s going to get 10,000 times worse, try lending an ear and taking her hand and putting a glass of wine in it. I’m sure she would much rather hear “I know what you are going through. Drink up” than “just you wait”.

Therapy Thursday: Expect the Unexpected

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Wow… today was a bit of a doozy. For starters we had a field trip to the pumpkin patch where Molly decided that she was terrified of picnic tables and had me hold her for the next twenty minutes. So, after being exhausted from tending to her all morning I decided for a nice quiet time activity. I’m tired and think I’ve hit the jack pot with a pumpkin painting activity so naturally there were tears (mine) and screaming (hers) and a time out (mine).

Anyone else have their 4 year old send them to a “calm down spot”? No? Oh, well, mine does. Honestly, I don’t mind the couple of minutes of quiet where no one bothers you.

I was super psyched that our social worker was coming today. I was having the internal struggle of meeting Molly’s needs and wants and feeling like I was failing big time at everything. Should I have carried her at the pumpkin patch? Did she really need fresh paints when hers mixed? Should I just have ended craft time before losing my temper??? I needed our counselor to talk me through it and keep me out of the wine. She listened then she questioned “what if this isn’t what a 4 year old should be doing?”.

Crickets chirp.

Oh. Even though I was having some concerns with some behavioral shifts, especially toileting and becoming more and more helpless, and the fact that her teacher had made more than one report home about some difficulty I was still telling myself that Molly was 4 years old. I also knew that in a lot of cases she is on par with Charlie emotionally, but it’s something else when it is put out in the universe. That looming question that I don’t have an answer for because I tend to dance around it on a daily basis. Honestly, I still don’t have an answer for it but I do know that what I have always suspected is right on. So I got over my punch in the stomach (which I asked for) and said “what do we do?”. For now we were given 3 options: do nothing and ride out this school year; have her retested through Child Find; or see the psychiatrist through our youth services bureau. I picked option 4: have our counselor talk with the teacher and observe Molly in class so we could make a more informed decision. Mostly because I don’t want to go through Child Find again and have her not qualify. The testing is long and exhausting for everyone and I can’t put us through that again and have the same outcome. It’s ridiculous.

So, that’s where we stand. Waiting. Waiting for an answer of where to go next. I have a feeling we will often be in this limbo with Molly so I should get used to it.

My Kids Eat Jelly Sandwiches

Dear Parents Magazine,

While I appreciate your monthly reading material that comes to my house, I’m having difficulty following you on Pinterest. I guess I usually just flip through your magazine, reading an article here and there and just looking at pretty pictures along the way. You always have the cutest babies and toddlers.  However, on your Pinterest page I’m forced to read your captions on Pinterest and then I realize that I’ve been missing a lot of shenanigans while flipping through your magazine. For example, this jewel of a pin you had last week:

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Now, I’m not saying that this isn’t a cute idea. I mean, probably to get my kids to do this would suck about a good hour of our day which I’m always looking for activities that occupy little hands for more than 10 minutes but I think you are overlooking a big problem in our house. My kids eat sandwiches, yes, but fancy ones? No. Charlie would’ve thrown all the Cheerios on the floor and proceeded to tap dance on them to create a nice sandy floor to roll on. Molly would end up screaming and in tears over the fact that her masterpiece wasn’t good enough and demanding that I sprinkle her Cheerios for her. Oh, and I also wouldn’t do it up to her standards so there would be more tears. This time from both of us. I’m sure at this point Charlie would be bored of his Cheerio dust and decide to mess up what Molly has been working on for 20 minutes to get “just right”. This leads to more tears, usually followed by “mean actions” and a time out. Did I mention my kids don’t eat vegetables? Charlie’s would be on the floor with his Cheerios and Molly would be telling me 800 times “I don’t like that” and insisting it be removed, then crying because her flower doesn’t have a stalk or leaves. Skip ahead through a few more arguments and time outs and we are now way past lunch time, nobody has eaten and I’m half a bottle of wine in and it’s only noon.  So, while I like your idea of fancy food, I have to admit that my kids aren’t fancy and if it’s all the same we’ll stick to our plain old grape jelly sandwiches.

Sincerely,
Jamie, mom to Sensational Kids.

A Home Without a Crib

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Today we entered the next step of parenting. The step that will contribute to flabby biceps, we transitioned to a toddler bed. No more lifting a 30 pound toddler in and out of cribs. No more cribs. For 4 years and 4 months our house has been home to a piece of furniture that defined where we were in our “family” life. But I really liked it because I could be okay with my decision that we weren’t having anymore babies since we still have baby things. Now without a crib I have to accept that we are moving on with our lives. We are moving out of bottles and bumbos and into a world that has preschool and napless afternoons. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to this stage but it’s the same insanity that makes me cry when getting rid of their baby clothes that makes me nostalgic for the times they were babies. I don’t even know why, they cried and vomited and were awake all the time. Why would anyone be sad about saying good bye to that??? I couldn’t tell you, but I am.

The only thing getting me through this tough time is the happiness in my Wild Card’s face. He thinks his new bed is the best thing ever. And technically it’s his crib, just missing a side (kids are so gullible). Tonight he cried “get out” as he was put in his bed and Stampy said “you can get out” but he never did. It was almost like he was so accustomed to protesting that he just had to do it. So there it is, both of my children are sleeping in their beds. Not cribs, but beds and I’m going to have a little wine to help me get over myself and into my bed tonight and not snuggle in and cling to my baby.

Parenthood

I’d like to thank my parents for never censoring the TV my brother and I watched while growing up. We got to watch a lot of movies good and bad (and all unedited!) such as Parenthood with Steve Martin. I guess watching it 500 times as an impressionable child allowed me to have an epiphany one day- Molly is Kevin!!! It was all so clear as I thought about it. About a week later my brother was visiting and during one of Molly’s screaming fits he looked at me and said “remember the movie Parenthood?”. Yes, Tom, I remembered. Thanks to this happening at least once a day in my house, I doubt I will ever forget this movie.