August 7th, 2013 Dear Adri, Today I found you in the bathroom after school wetting…
I love this quote. I think it captures a tiny bit of the helplessness parents often feel, the lack of control over situations big and little. It should continue on however, to mention that that heart walking around outside your body will take a battering; will be bruised, stomped on, broken. I wish someone had given me a heads up about just how much this parenting thing hurts!
My first lesson in parenting pains came much sooner then expected when Adri was born with CHD. There is no more helpless feeling in the world then standing by while a stranger (albiet a highly trained, very compassionate stranger), takes away your freshly born baby, not just to a different room but a different building, a different city, while you have to stay behind with nothing to do but hope and pray (and cry). My heart traveled very far that day.
The lessons came fast and furious through those first months, handing my baby over at 17 days to have open heart surgery; every MRI, x-ray, ECG, echo, and intubation bruised that heart just a bit more. The toughest were the blood tests. Every day poking my precious little girl, often multiple times as her tiny veins would collapse. I gave those lab assistants, nurses and doctors such a hard time, knowing that these tests were necessary to keep my baby healthy, but desperate to save her from yet another ordeal.
Somehow we both made it through. I think unconsciously I figured that after surviving that we could get through anything unfazed. Those more seasoned parents reading this will chuckle at my naivete I’m sure. All of Adri’s continuing medical challenges have been tough, no doubt about it, but the procedures she’s faced have saved her life and continue to let her live the best, most healthy life. That makes it easier for us all I think. It’s those ‘unecessary’ trials that really test the hardiness of this mama’s heart.
I don’t know if it’s recovery from pregnancy hormones, but I feel like there have been a lot more bumps and bruises on that little heart wandering outside my body. It all started with the hair incident, which many of you have heard about ad nauseum. Next was the discovery that Adri unexpectedly needed a significant amount of dental work done. After 2 successful visits (one for a filling and one for a root canal), we had a VERY awful failed extraction. As we’re leaving the dentist my courageous little girl looks up at me with teary eyes and says “I tried my hardest to be brave Mommy”. Ouch.
There are times, like the dentist and often other medical occasions, where I forget that she’s just 4 1/2. She’s so stoic, so mature, so patient and so brave that I often catch myself expecting more of her then is really fair for someone so young. Then there are times when it is painfully obvious just how small she really is.
Adri just started Kingergarten. Being an end of December baby, she is the youngest child in the entire school, and being small for her age she is literally the tiniest kid on the playground. I’ve been so thankful that she has an amazing teacher, and all of the kids in her class seem to be so friendly and welcoming. She’s made several close friends and really enjoys school. And yet this wandering heart took another bruising on the playground after school yesterday.
Normally during school time, there is a playground reserved exclusively for the 3 kindergarten classes. After school however, all bets are off. I’m not quite sure whose brilliant idea it was to equip this playground with a single tire swing for everyone to use, but such is the case. As always, my daughter is a stickler for the rules, and waits by the post to have a turn while 3 older children swing on it rambunctiously with a 4th pushing them. I watch from the side as my normally shy and quiet girl asks “May I have a turn to push?”. She didn’t even want to swing, just push. Being normal, energetic children surrounded by more energetic children, it was loud, and they didn’t hear her. So she kept repeating herself again and again, a little more loudly each time, but staying out of the reach of the wildly swinging bunch. Over and over “May I please have a turn to push?”. After a while I wasn’t sure if they simply could not hear her, or were purposefully ignoring her, when the girl pushing the swing ran over to Adri, shouted in her face, and then continued on pushing. I have no idea what was said, whether nice or not, but the act itself seemed aggressive. The girls Mom standing right there did nothing, chatting away to a friend. My heart broke as Adri paused for a minute, taken aback and then said “May I please have a turn to push?”.
Being a parent of a child in elementary school is obviously new to me. The rules seem different then parenting a child on a playground elsewhere. Parents are less engaged. They don’t play with their kids and they don’t interfere with situations either. Its constantly an internal battle for me, deciding if I should step in and advocate on my wee one’s behalf or let her find her feet and fight her own battles. She’s just so small you see, this little one who wanders around with my heart battered and bruised and broken as it is. I want to gather it in, keep her and my heart close, safe and free from pain. I know it’s not possible, that I have to let go, and that there are tougher challenges and bigger breaks on the horizon, so for now I’ll hold her close when I can before sending her off again, wandering around with my heart tucked away with her.