Not A Spoken Word

as seen on www.hybridmom.com

The wail stabs the room like a fireplace poker. My precious two-year-old daughter is crying in frustration that she wants a toy the other child has in their hand. I rush across the playroom that is covered with the scattered playthings from the other kids and parents at the drop-in center. I crouch down and wrap my girl in a hug.  The other mom rushes over to apologize for her son’s behavior. I nod my head that all is okay as I rock my baby in my arms.

I wipe her tears and she races off to find the next adventure. My heart is lodged in my throat, as it has been ever since she was born and has hit her roadblocks in the world. On the dreaded milestone chart at the doctor’s she is above the physical and motor skills checklist. Her comprehension is impeccable. Her only unchecked box on the list is that she does not have the ability to speak her words to communicate to the outside world. She only coherently speaks five words. According to the charts two-year-olds ‘should’ be able to name objects and put words together.

 My mind’s eye reflects back to when my older daughter was two and her verbal excellence was to not only speak, but also monologue.  And like, every time I compare my daughters, I berate myself for doing so. Just like their pregnancies were not the same, they are different kids with different stepping stones.

In nine months I am planning on her attending pre-school. I hesitated because of her lack of speaking. After talking to my doctor and a speech therapist they encouraged me to register her.  The speech therapist told me that big babies (she was born 10 pounds and 13 ounces) with older siblings tend to speak later in life. The big babies at birth focus on one thing at a time. My girl has chosen physical and motor skills to fine tune. Next can be language.

Since she is only two years of age it is a great time to work on activities at home, and at the drop-in center to provide an encouraging environment for her to talk and socialize. My husband and I have read to her since she was in uteros. We read every day with our kids. We, along with our eldest daughter, pronounce things for her with patience.  My husband and I have never talked ‘baby talk’; we use real words in communicating with our children. Both professionals agree that that is a good thing.

My mama instinct is not worried.  What I feel for both my girls is the drive to make sure I am doing everything I can as their mom. For some crazy reason I was picked to be their mom. I question with every breath if I am doing everything I can.  There is a lot of research that proves how crucial the first six years are of a child’s life.  The therapist and my doctor assure me that we are doing everything we can at this time. Some young children just wake up one day and talk and talk and talk.

My girl waddles up to me for a hug. I give her a squeeze and she is off running again.  I know I will miss her very cute babble, and for medical reasons, she is my last child. Maybe that is why I am holding onto her baby ways. Then, guilt pulses through my veins. I wonder if it is partly my fault.  I can’t help grasping at the thought that I am not encouraging her to be more independent.

I see her pushing the play shopping cart around the room, gathering items into the basket. My heart swells. Just like her sister before her, life is going too fast. I know I will look back on today with a smile as to how worrisome I am being. 

The teacher comes over to me and asks if I am ok. I confess to her my fears and worry about my youngest daughter. The teacher has seen her grow up here. She shakes her head and tells me how much she has seen her improve. This observation warms my heart.

I figure I will keep doing, what we have been doing, to be the best parents we can be. It’s what we know.

I will never stop making sure that I am doing everything for my kids to succeed. Mama bear instinct trumps all.

Cheat Sheet on Stages of Grief

Every time that I am hit with the overwhelming power of grief, I forget that there are stages. The gives all of us the power to give ourselves permission to grief and not hold it in. This is also good for those who want to help their loved one who is in pain.

Here are the crib notes:

  1. Denial and Isolation. This stage makes us shut the outside world. It is hard to do simple things like go to the grocery store in fear of running into someone and have to talk.
  2. Anger. When denial fades away our defense mechanism takes over. Anger is a magnification of our own pain that can be aimed at those who still have their loved ones, strangers and other loved ones. Give the one in pain time and don’t fight back in anger.
  3. Bargaining. This is the ‘what if’ part that can be the hardest to get out of. ‘What if’ is normal. The best thing to do is write out your questions and observations to talk to a grief counselor.
  4. Depression. This is the slow uphill peak that envelopes you in sadness and regret. Pay attention to yourself or your surroundings if anyone has thoughts of suicide. Journal your pain. Ask for help.
  5. Acceptance. This is the stage that may never come for some living with grief. The dark and awful truth is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, your loved one is gone. They will be with you in your heart and memoires forever.

 As I said, with my many losses, I forget to allow myself to grieve. It also helps if those around you know these stages and can help nurture your feelings.

I wish you the best support. And you can always connect here with me online or many others who have lived through their hard grief.

Why I haven’t blogged this week

 As many of you know, my sister has been going through the unthinkable again. She had a major surgery the week before Christmas. She has spent the last couple of months recuperating.

One week ago, she went for a full-body scan to see where the cancer cells might still reside. For the past week we were antsy and dreamed of the magic call that all is clear. I tweeted it and facebooked it. There were a lot of prayers and positive thoughts sent our way.

Then the call came. She is not all clear. There are more tests and more waiting for results.

I tried for days to get back to regular writing. Every time the cursor flashed at me I couldn’t fill its time with warm and fantastic writing for you to read. 

Truth is I am scared. All my life since our mom died at the age of 38, I was scared to turn that age. This is the year I turn 38. All this time, I was scared to have the same fate as my mom. And it is my sister going through hell because of genetics.

Germ cells are not acquired due to lifestyles but genetics. She was born with them to no fault of her own.

This big sister feels helpless all over again. I can’t fix this by researching and getting her the treatment to cure her forever. No money in the world will fix this. She is in great medical care possible.

My dear readers, I thank you for your patience and support. I started this blog to try to write about being a motherless mother.  It hits too close to home that my only family outside my house is having to go through this all over again.

Déjà vu.

I ask for you to do one thing: hug your loved ones tight. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  You never know the last time you said ‘I love you’ is truly the last time.

I am sorry for any rough grammar errors. Thank you for understanding.

Repeating Expectations

Inhale, exhale, I repeat in my head.  My blood is pumping so loud in my ears as if to the beat of a rock metal drummer.

“Please pass me a diaper.” I repeat for the third time.

“No!” shouts my four-year-old trantrumess, who is playing with her dolls right next to the diapers.

I am six feet away from them. On the floor in front of me is her younger sister whose bare bum is watching me. I know from experience I can’t leave my two-year-old bare as there will be a mess everywhere. I curse myself for not checking if there were diapers next to the wipes. The unopened pack is sitting across the room.

Again, I breathe in and out trying to calm my tired and frazzled nerves. Then I am clear. She is four not 34 years old. She is my first child however; it’s not up to her to do mommy tasks. For as long as I can remember I always took care of my younger sister. Now that I think of it, I never was asked to take care of my sister. When our mom was sick I just had to be a mini-mom by making dinners, tucking her into bed and being the shoulder to lean on. I was never asked, it was expected. As an adult, I love helping her in any way I can. It is because I love her. And now, I am doing the same thing to my oldest.

In many ways, because of what I went through growing up, I never had a chance to be a kid.  With a more cleared exhalation, I take my chances of a mess and crawl over to the fresh pack of diapers. I peck a kiss on top of my defiant daughter’s head. I make it back in time to wrap up my toddler’s tushie. She stands up and off she goes.

Observing both of my daughters doing kid stuff, I resolve in my heart that I will no longer expect too much from them. They will grow up too fast regardless. Every child deserves a full and happy childhood. That will be a constant gift to my children.

Stolen Me Time

I am so enthralled with the new Jennifer Weiner novel that I did not hear my name being called. I close and smile at the lady who was paging me. I follow her down the pastel colored hallway to my new seat, and place my book and purse at the table next to me. She hands me some TV headphones and explains to me how they work. I thank her and settle into the chair and begin flipping through the channels.  With a thrill, I see my favorite soap opera is coming on. I kick back and place my hands on my lap to watch.

For the first time in a long time I am so relaxed. Yes, I feel a tad guilty that the reason why I am so at ease is because the kids are not here. No running around or bribing them with treats to sit still for five minutes. Right now it is just me.  The kids are with their daddy, who came home early, so I can be here alone.

I remember the times before kids of lazy afternoons, watching a movie or reading a book in its entirety with perhaps a glass of wine by my side. Times have surely changed, as I think with a smile. Now I get to watch my show in comfort with my feet up.

“Hello, Danielle. How are you today?” The masked man comes in the room, I am so raptured by the screen that I almost forgot where I was again.

I nod, Ok. He begins to explain what will be done today to help my cracked tooth, and then asks if I have any questions. I shake my answer, No.  Immediately the tray of shiny tools appears and the needle slips into my cheek. The gauze is placed.  My mouth begins to tingle where he pierced the skin. The dentist slips out of the room. I settle once again to see what is happening on the Young and The Restless.

As the numbness sets in, I laugh at the situation. If I told myself five years ago, before kids, that I would look forward to a dentist visit for a mini-vacation I would pity myself. Nowadays, I will take what I can get. After all, I can’t the last time I could read or watch a TV show just for me. For this stay-at-home mom, it is my stolen vacation.

Grief with Children

As posted this week at amotherworld.com

The tears race down my cheeks uncensored. The shock allows the floodgates to open before I realize my 4 year old is watching me.

I warble out to my husband who is steps away, “He died.” I feel paralyzed in the living room chair.

My husband comes over to me. I am staring at my iPad going through Facebook where the announcement that our friend’s 13 day old newborn had passed the night before. Baby was waiting for a new heart which never came. Being under constant hospital supervision since birth, he never got to go home to where his older siblings were waiting.

My husband holds my hand as we explain to our older daughter why I am sad. Her friend’s youngest brother passed away. I tell her that it is not fair.

“Oh, he went to heaven to see Harley?” she asks. Harley is our cat who passed away when she was fifteen months old. I wrote 2 books about him. The last one was about how he was sick, went to the hospital and passed away. Harley became an angel where he felt better and still watched over us. The books are read frequently in our home.

She looked at his picture on the screen. Never have met, she nods and says okay. I watch her go back to playing her dolls. I try to shelter some feelings from my kids. After dealing with my mom’s illness and subsequent passing, I never had a true childhood. That motivates me to allow them to be innocent and enjoy their rightful time in their young lives. I do believe in being honest with them.

Having my eldest girl appreciate and understand my sadness because of the Harley story validated that I am doing something right as a mom. As my 2 & 4 year old grow up and have their tween dramas, I hope that by allowing myself to show emotion they will be open and free with themselves. Also, to know that I am here for them any time as my mom would have for me had she lived.

I wipe my tears and close the iPad feeling a little less sad by letting myself be open in my feelings. Holding it in does not help. Despite my overwhelming need to go back to bed and stay there all day, I have to take care of my kids. One step and one day at a time is a good place to start.