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Friday, December 28, 2012

My Brother Has a Booboo



Before my son was born, my husband and I tried to let our daughter know what to expect.  We told her that Mommy had a baby in her belly, and that the baby would be her little brother.  We told her that he'd be born with a booboo, but that the doctors would be able to fix that booboo when he got a bit older.

When she first met him, we could see that she was checking him out, and she lingered at his lip.  We reminded her about the fact that we knew he would have a booboo when he was born, and that the doctors were going to fix it when he was a little bigger.  After a little while getting used to it, she didn't seem to care.

Prior to his first surgery, every once in a while she'd make mention of her brother's booboo, but it really didn't seem to matter to her.  She was obsessed with him, so much so that we often had to remind her to back up from him, or not to squeeze him so tightly when she hugged him.  He's been the first thing she asks about when she wakes in the morning pretty much since day one.

After he had his first surgery, she came to visit him in the hospital regularly.  At first she seemed concerned about the tubes hooked to his body and the scary, loud machines.  We explained them to her as best we could, and told her he'd be home in a few days, and the tubes and machines would not accompany him.  She asked if his booboo hurt, and we told her that it did, but that the doctors and nurses were taking good care of him to make him feel better.

The story was the same with the second surgery, only this one she couldn't see.  She was older for his second surgery, and more aware of what was happening.  She seemed less scared this time, but even more concerned for his comfort and when he'd be coming home.

Truth be told, I've been concerned that some day he will resent her.  I have worried that some day he will notice that she does not have the same "flaws" he does, and that things seem to come easily for her.   But I have to believe that we'll be able to foster their relationship, allow them to continue to grow close to one another.  More importantly, I hope we are able to instill in him how wonderfully perfect he is, struggles or not.

I do believe that she will be one of his biggest advocates and allies as he grows.  She is so loving toward him, and though I expect normal sibling rivalry and fights over toys, TV shows and other nonsense, I really hope they will remain as close as they are now.

I also believe that having a baby brother born with a booboo on his face has helped her to realize at a young age that people have differences, and that is completely normal.  She seems more accepting of people (though I think some of that is just a natural innocence with children).  One of her classmates in daycare has Down's Syndrome.  Her teachers have repeatedly told me how great she is with this little girl.  This child's mother seems to be regularly picking her up around the time that I am also there.  On more than one occasion, my daughter has exclaimed, "That's Dori!  She's my friend!"  She recognizes their differences, and helps her friend when she can, but those differences just don't seem to matter to her.

It all gives me even more hope for the person she is becoming, and solidifies the belief that she will do wonderful things in this world.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Little Man Turned One!


We celebrated my son's first birthday last weekend, and again on Christmas Eve (his actual birthday).  As I rocked him to sleep on the night he turned one, as I did on my daughter's first birthday, I cried.

I distinctly remember the feelings I had, the hospital room we were in on Christmas last year, and the first time I held his slimy little body in my arms.  As his birthday approached, I found myself dreaming of labor and delivery.

It is so fun to watch my children grow and learn, but I am melancholy for the newborn days of snuggling and middle-of-the-night feedings.  As my son becomes more independent, he's less likely to cuddle with me as he falls asleep, and more likely to fight to get into his crib, roll over and pass out.  As his world expands, I take up less room in it.

These are good things.  As his mother, I want him to grow up to be a strong, independent human being.  It is my job to see that it happens.  However, I really wish I had a way to slow the moments down.

I know those were not the last tears I'll shed for him, or for the passage of time.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Heartbroken

Everywhere I turn I am hearing about or seeing images of the shooting that happened in CT on Friday. This is not the first time a mass-shooting has occurred.  It's not even the first time one has occurred since I became a mother, sadly.  However, I find myself crying over this particular tragedy over and over again.

I had to leave work early Friday afternoon and get my kids.  All I was doing was sitting at my desk crying anyway.  Poor things probably thought I'd gone crazy when I picked them up, I squeezed them so tightly.  I am unsure of how the parents of those innocent children whose lives were stolen are even breathing.  I am unsure of how the parents of those children who lived, but who have had their innocence stolen are getting them to sleep at night.  I am unsure of what would become of me if something like that happened to my children.

There is a lot of talk - on Facebook, the media and overheard conversations about gun control, right to bear arms, mental health awareness and parenting.  It seems everyone has a solution, and if we'd only listen, this problem would be no more.  I was shocked to log on to Facebook Friday evening and see posts of people literally begging, "please don't take my guns away".  My opinion on guns and gun control aside, I found it tasteless to be begging to keep guns, when the parents in CT are begging to have one more moment with their children.

Truth be told, I don't have a solution.  I haven't the first idea how we go about saving our children from this type of home-grown terrorism.  I do know, though, that nothing is going to change while our country remains so adversarial and polarized.  I know that we will get nowhere if people are unwilling to budge from their opinion, or in many cases, even completely unwilling to listen to an opposing one.

Our goal is the same (I hope).  We do not want any more children (or anyone else) to die in this senseless manner.  I truly hope that we can begin to speak to one another in a civil manner, begin to bring real ideas for solutions to the table, and that we can begin to change the way things are going in this country.  We need to demand that our government and law enforcement pay attention to the growing crisis, and focus on finding a way in which we can stop it.

I feel helpless.  I cannot (nor do I want to) put my children in a bubble and keep them with me every moment of every day for the rest of their lives.  I have to trust the people who care for them to do their very best to keep them safe.  However, the truth is that my very best and their very best may not be good enough.  I am desperate to find a solution - a way in which we can make our country, towns, schools and homes safer places.

Until that solution is found, I intend to savor the moments I do have with my beautiful children...every smile, hug, giggle, question, juice spill and late night awakening; and pray with everything that I have that I am continued to be blessed with more of them.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Mother's Fear


When I first found out that my son would be born with a "defect" (how I hate that term), one word kept swirling around my brain: bullies.

It seems you cannot turn the television on these days without hearing a tragic story of a young life ended, or severely altered because of that one word.  Growing up I never really dealt with bullying, though someone I love very much did, and never spoke of it.  I know bullying has been around for a long time, but it seems to have gotten worse in recent years, due in part to the internet.  It's gotten so bad that young kids are taking their own lives because they have been made to feel worthless for one reason or another - over and over again.

That scares the shit out of me.

My son will look, and likely sound different from his peers.  Through no fault of his own, and not because of his actions, intelligence or what is in his heart, there is a good chance he will be teased, mocked, and worse.  As his mother I am at a loss as to how to prepare him for this, and feel helpless to stop it.

It is my hope that his father and I will be able to instill in him a sense of self worth and good humor.  It is my hope that these things will carry him through the difficult times.  It is my hope that his sister will be there for him.  She has known and loved him since he was born - with a "boo-boo" and all.  It is my hope that the children of our friends, with whom he will grow up, will stand up for him.  It is my hope that his surgeries and therapies now will lessen the differences from his peers later.  It is my hope that this world becomes a more accepting and tolerant place before he even reaches the stage where bullying is able to touch him.

Most of all it is my hope that he NEVER feel so hopeless and unloved that he feels that ceasing to exist is the best option, or even an option at all.  It is my JOB to make sure he never does.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sometimes the Kid Knows Best


Bedtime has become a battle with our oldest.  She's three.  She craves her independence and the ability to be in control of her own world.  However, we're still responsible for making sure that world is safe, secure, and conducive to her development.

She used to be the easiest child ever to put to bed.  Each night we'd go through the same routine.  We would give her a bath, get her in jammies, allow her to watch one show (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a favorite), take her into her room and read one story. Then we'd kiss and hug her, tell her we love her and close the door.

Then....one night (I honestly can't remember when it started), she asked if we'd lay with her.  When an adorable little girl asks you to lay with her "two minutes" it's really difficult to resist!  So, we started laying with her for "two minutes."  Then it stretched to three, four, and at last count she was asking for five.  We'd lay with her for whatever amount of time she asked, then tell her it was time we left, and she needed to go to sleep.

And the fight would ensue.  We'd be begged for two more minutes, or told she just wasn't tired, wanted to read more stories, had to use the bathroom, was dying of thirst, missing a beloved stuffed animal, or any other of a hundred stall tactics.

I actually began dreading bedtime.  What had formerly been a sweet and loving exchange, leaving all of us feeling better, had become a struggle, often ending in tears (sometimes hers and mine).

My husband works on Sundays, so it was just the kids and me yesterday.  We had a wonderful day.  She was more than cooperative all day, and was her usual jovial, sweet, funny self.  We did our bath time, pajama routine, and she watched her show while I put my son to bed.  When I came out of his room, she sweetly requested a second show, and asked me to lay with her while she watched.  I turned the television off and asked her to look at me while we talked.  I told her she could watch one more show, if she promised me no fighting, yelling, arguing or crying when it came time to go to bed.  She assured me she was on board.

We laid in my bed together, her on my lap, and watched Team Umizoomi.  What she doesn't understand is that I often don't want to give up that time either, and would love to cuddle with her like that for hours.  However, that's not what is in her best interest.

We headed to her room when the show ended, and the battle began.  She started crying, telling me she wasn't tired and didn't want to lay down to go to sleep.  Then it hit me....why am I fighting this?  If I give a little here, she might cooperate a bit more there.  I told her she didn't have to lay down, and gave her a few books to look at.  I told her she had to stay in her bed, and that I didn't want to hear any yelling or crying.  She has a little light/music/fishy machine attached to her bed, which is enough light to be able to flip through her books, but not so much that she can't fall asleep to it.

I told her I love her, gave her a big hug and kiss, and reminded her that she needed to stay in bed and stay (relatively) quiet.  Lo and behold.....I went downstairs and worked on cleaning the kitchen while listening to her softly talking through the monitor (yes we still have a monitor in our three-year-old's room....and probably will until she leaves home).  After about a half hour all I heard was the music from her little ladybug, but no more talking.  When that music ended I poked my head in to find her peacefully sleeping, books next to her in bed.

She knew best last night.  All I needed to do was listen to her when she told me she didn't want to lay down and wasn't ready to go to sleep yet.  She's ready for a bit more autonomy, but still needs some boundaries.

Lesson learned.  Here's hoping it continues to work.