Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This Job Is Hard

Sometimes I have no clue how to do this parenting thing. I was just putting T down for his nap which is quite a production. He tries to draw it out for as long as possible, Z and I have come up with an order of events and we work hard not to deviate from them no matter how much he whines/sobs/pleads. We got to the second drink of water portion of naptime prep (no, I'm not kidding) and he said, "I'm being Molly!" and he went limp in my arms, head back, mouth open, tongue out.  My breath caught in my throat and I started to cry.

"Molly" is the not-real-name of one of the little girls in T's preschool. Her developmental issues are so severe that she is unable to sit up unassisted, she is blind, she does not speak, and from what I understand it is unclear if she will ever be able to do those things. She is the youngest of 3 or 4 kids and I think she is the only member of the family with developmental issues. Every time I see her my emotions cycle so quickly I have whiplash. I hurt for her and her family, I rail at god for being so unfair, even though I know it isn't useful and her family probably would resent me for it I pity her, and the small, selfish, shitty part of myself feels fear. I want another baby. I'm 35 now, we have two healthy boys. Would I be temping fate if we have another? But ultimately I'm happy she is there. I'm happy she has qualified professionals with her at school helping her to participate and enriching her life. I'm happy she has a caring family.

T's school partners with an awesome preschool in Syracuse that has been educating "typical children" and "special needs children" in the same classrooms since 1975. There are trained special needs teachers in each class. I love it. Kids who need something extra are quickly identified by the wonderful teachers and the school facilitates getting those kids help. I also love the idea of T growing up with special needs children as a way of de-stigmatizing them. It is so easy for kids to fear or reject "different". I want my son to be the kind of kid who accepts all kinds of people and who will help others who need it. Pretty lofty goals, I know. But exposing him to all kinds of kids and making them part of his normal seems like a great start.

So when he started mimicking Molly I didn't know how to explain to him why he shouldn't do it. I like to think he's a pretty smart kid, but he isn't quite two and a half. I understand he is just "trying on" what he is seeing and that it is normal. There certainly wasn't anything malicious behind it. And I asked him to stop. I told him that Molly isn't playing, she actually can't sit up and needs to be held. So it isn't nice to pretend to be like her because she would love to be able to talk, and sit up, and play with the other kids. I don't know. Was that the right thing to say? Am I expecting him to understand too much? What is the correct way to handle that situation?

I handed him the cup of water and held him tight and said a prayer to the god I'm not sure I believe it, thanking him for my two perfect boys, begging him to forgive my selfishness and send me one more, and asking him, "How could you? How could you do this to Molly and her family?"

The guy at our local firehouse are so awesome. T loves to watch them work on the trucks and they are kind as can be to him, he always comes home with a hat. 

So I realize this looks like he is leaning on the chair, but I swear he wasn't. Dude is sitting up by himself! 

This might look like just some stick from our yard, but I assure you it is not. It is a mighty magic wand! 

He just disarmed me. Expelliarmus is one of his specialties.  


  1. I think you did the right thing. T doesn't know what he's doing and this will happen.

  2. "I'm 35 now, we have two healthy boys. Would I be temping fate if we have another?"

    Jesus Christ, I hope not -- considering I'll be less than two months shy of my 39th birthday when I have my first.

    In all seriousness, its fertility that is the bigger problem -- and even that is an individualized situation that can change on a dime. Moms in their late 30s are more standard than ever, and that lowers risk.

    So (try to) worry less about the what ifs and more about the do I wants. The rest will sort itself. xox

    1. Wonderful Stacey Red, your little peanut is going to be perfect. And my doc told us it would be totally safe to have another. After two healthy little guys I'm more worried about tempting fate. I've been given so much in the kid department, it feel selfish and greedy to want even more.

  3. First of all, you had me at "this job is hard". It really is difficult - not only being a mom but also being a stay at home mom. Secondly, I think it's great that T's naptime has an order of events (rituals if you will). I've read that helps and I hope that over time, T's routine helps naptime to be easier on you!

    As far as your fears, I completely share them. If I got pregnant today, I'd be having my second at 35. After having a premie for our first, I feel so much anxiety about being high risk and/or having problems.

    I work with young adults who have disabilities and in the past, scoured their reports about life history to try to figure out what events could have happened to cause the disability. I think it's a natural tendency to wonder if it really is just as simple as 'testing fate.' I can tell you that many families with a child with a disability have experienced more love than families who are 'typical'.

    I personally think IT'S AWESOME that T's preschool allows him to be exposed to people who are different than he is at such a young age. I think explaining Molly in the way you did - and continuing to make her 'normal' and part of life when you talk to T about her - is perfect. She is simply different and that's all.

    The hardest part for me is the part about God's role in Molly's life. As you know, I do believe in God. He literally came and got me out of a horrible, unhealthy life full of self-destructive behavior. Without Him, I would be lost...I owe everything to Him.

    That said, He gives all of us the sense of what's right and wrong, like a moral compass. And when we look at Molly, it's normal to wonder why He would allow this. It seems so WRONG. I remember railing at God the first time I stayed in a third world country. How could He allow people who love him to live in such abject poverty...scraping by, by my standards.

    Molly won't have the same quality of life, maybe, as T & C. She won't have the same depth - probably won't get married and probably won't have children of her own. But that doesn't make her life worth less than anyone else's. Our standards are not God's standards. It isn't fair based on what we can see with out eyes, but it doesn't mean that God doesn't have His ways of making her life special...helping her and her family in unique ways just for them.

    All of this is so hard to convey with writing. I hope it doesn't come off as self-righteous. It's an attempt to say you are absolutely correct in how you feel about Molly and how you're teaching T to love Molly just as she is.

    1. R-Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. If you guys decide to try for a second I will be cheering you on from facebookland.

      And I really appreciate your reassurance about explaining Molly because of your work.

      The god stuff is hard. I'm glad that you have gotten comfort and are in a better situation because of your beliefs. I respect your point of view. And I agree that Molly's life is not worth less than anyone else's. I'm so sorry if the post made it sound like I though that. It is hard to write how you feel, and I never meant to imply she was somehow less than because of her developmental issues.

      But god and organized religion are still really hard for me. For a lot of reasons. Maybe it's time to write a post about that.

  4. This post reminded me of a lady at work who found out very early in her pregnancy that her fetus had major problems (I'm not going to remember all the technical terms) and had to make the difficult decision to carry on or abort. She is Catholic and of course decided to carry on. Her premature baby girl was born last November and has yet to be held by her mother. She has already had one surgery and they are waiting for her to be big enough for 2 or 3 more. Her chances for survival are very slim, yet they continue to get surgery after surgery and are hoping for a heart transplant too. ???? Is it so wrong of me to think this is abuse? I realize the parents have been brainwashed with their religious BS their entire lives, but how can they look at this itty-bitty baby and think the right thing is to torture this helpless little thing with endless surgeries that probably will not work. They had the option to abort in the first trimester? If this was 100 years ago the baby would have never survived 1 day after birth. So does Catholicism now include to control the actions of the Jewish Doctor that is keeping her alive?
    The whole situation is awful. I cannot even look at the pictures that the Mother is emailing around of this tiny skeletal baby with various tubes running from every orifice of its little body. If this is Godly, I want nothing to do with it.

    1. J-That story breaks my heart and I don't know if I feel worse for the mother or her baby. And I don't know what the right call is. I'm 100% pro choice. But I can tell you that if I was in that situation I don't know if I'd be strong enough to abort even if I knew it was the best thing for my family and for the fetus. My miscarriage was so emotionally harrowing for me, and one of the very hardest parts was the D&C. Now the embryos had been dead for weeks by the time the D&C was performed, but somehow I felt like they were safe and loved while they were still inside me, alive or not. I know that sounds crazy. But the reality of them becoming medical waste, of being thrown away was too much for me to bear. I had to take a lot of chill pills to get through it.

      With all of the information we have now when it comes to procreation, I don't know what the right choice is. If it was my pregnancy and there were severe medical issues with the fetus I'd want to know if the baby would be in pain for every moment of his/her life if s/he was carried to term. Because that does seem cruel to me. But I guess the thing about being pro choice is accepting that people who have different opinions and ideas from you get to make choices too.

  5. For the record: I am very sympathetic. It is an awful situation, that I have trouble even comprehending. Sounds like hormones, religion and modern medicine can be a dangerous cocktail.

    1. I hear you. I think the thing that bothers me about hard line stances is life just isn't black and white. Unfortunately rape and incest and horrific medical complications are real. Situations where carrying a baby to term will kill both the baby and the mother (who might have other living children who need her) are real. Modern life is messy.