Monday, March 23, 2009

Do you forgive me? Yes.

***Click this video and listen to it in the background while you are reading. I was listening to this song while I wrote this.***

I've been liking Sunday mornings a lot lately. The scene plays with Nick waking up with the kids, making coffee, cleaning kitchen and living room and I roll out of bed when when I'm awake enough to be bored. It's a nice break for me on his only day to sleep in. What a guy.

I'm feeling sentimental this morning. Nothing particular has set if off, but it may be the combination with warm coffee, new pajamas and the kids are in the bath. If it wasn't for the dishwasher and Pandora, it would almost be quiet. I'd probably be freaked out if it was quiet in here. Unless your kids are sleeping, you know that silence = coloring on the walls or washing the bathroom mirror with hand soap.

Raising kids is probably the craziest thing I've ever done. When we were dreaming of having babies and thinking of names, I didn't know that I'd have a little guy who would wake up every night and sleep with me at 3 yrs old. I didn't know that on the lowest of days, I'd be wearing vomit more than once. I must have skipped the chapter on feeding tubes and therapy sessions until I can't see straight. It's been quite the journey.

Mom's are so hard on each other and on ourselves.

With Owen, I didn't produce breast milk. Now, hear me out before you think anything. I tried everything and had a lactation consultant coming to my house to help me and no matter what I took or did, I still couldn't get more than an ounce out on a good day. We stuck it out for 3 months, but eventually the well ran dry. And so on top of being a new Mom, I had failed at breast feeding.

Of course, after the initial grief, there were some perks. Like going out sans baby once in a while and letting other people carry the burden of feeding an always hungry baby. I loved making a bottle and letting my Dad help. It helped him bond with Owen and it helped Owen trust him. They are still buddies today.

Over time and many tests and doctors later, we found that it was my stupid little thyroid that messed with my hormones that messed with my milk. My body thought I was still pregnant hormone wise, so why produce any milk?

And then Ella came. I had talked to every breastfeeding resource I could and no one saw any reason why this baby wouldn't have milk. But, I had skipped over the chapter on cleft palates and breastfeeding a "special" baby. There was milk this time, but a baby who had no ability to suck. We tried it all, again. I appreciated all the nurses in the NICU who never said that it was impossible and let me try. After 2 weeks of trying and 3 "blue spells" later, I confidently retired as a breastfeeding mother.

Thanks to a persistent Lactation Consultant and the "coincidence" of a famous breastfeeding advocate as the on-call pediatrician, we made a case for breast milk and won.

I wish I could hug her and thank her with gifts and take her to dinner and tell her she can order whatever she wants. But unfortunately, I never got her name, just her donor number. She is a mother to someone else, but for 2 weeks she helped mother my sick baby with breast milk that was donated in little clear bottles. For a sick baby, that is a gift that is invaluable.

And I wonder if you ever feel guilty parenting your children, too. Like there was too much PBS today or not enough green things on their plates. Or you didn't use cloth diapers and think you should have, or forgot to take your prenatal vitamins for what seems like most of the time. I don't know if you're like me, but doesn't it sometimes seem hard to get this thing right? I mean, these are little people we are talking about here and I know that none of us want to be the cause of lots of therapy later on, right?

I was thinking that I needed to forgive myself for being a basket case of a parent. Spring is here and it's all about new life and starting over and I thought, "What the hell, why not try for round #246 and see how it goes?"

Ella and I haven't gotten along for some time. I know what you are thinking: she is 2. She may be 2 and small, but she is a force to be reckoned with! We fight about eating and drinking all day long. I cry daily as she throws partially chewed food on the floor and I yell, "That was 7 calories!" Ella cries daily as I put her in time out. She is a toddler in every sense of the word and we are both strong-willed to the core. I was seeing no end in sight.

But, yesterday something amazing happened: she snuggled up next to me on the couch. I thought it was sweet and a fluke, but later she did it again. And throughout the day, I found us laughing on the couch-together- with no tears. Today it happened again. Instead of watching Sesame Street from her Dora chair, she crawled on the couch and snuggled with me. She points at herself and says "Ella," and then points at me and says "Mama." Such a simple communication, but it warmed my heart. It was as if she had decided to forgive me too. And for a moment, I didn't feel that it was my fault for her small size and her still needing a feeding tube to live. It was just a few seconds, but it was one of those moments where you connect with another human being in a way that is beautiful and uncomfortable and her delayed speech and purple glasses and crooked teeth and high shoulder blades were all gone. It was just a mama and a baby: the way it was always supposed to be.

I got excited tonight because I imagined Ella becoming my permanent sidekick. My shopping buddy. My paint-our-toenails-blue-together buddy. I liked the idea and I think it's worth working towards. I think there is still time for us to make up for the bonding that we missed so painfully and needed so desperately.

So, tonight as I wipe away healing tears from my eyes and listen to Jon Foreman, I hope you give yourself a break from all that you think you've done wrong and let the 63 degree weather tomorrow warm your soul. Run crazily with your children outside and get dirt under your fingernails and let your hair frizz out. Screw up and ask them to forgive you- they will. Be brave and wear shorts (!!!!) and let the March sun burn your face (it's easier to hide the tears!!!).


Sam said...

I hear ya. Sometimes it feels like I'm spending half the day quietly cursing Caeden's stubborn little butt and the rest of the night cursing my impatient, mean jerk-self.

There's nothing like a kid's forgiveness; Caeden always wants a hug and someone to lie next to him until he falls asleep. Jesus knew the score:

"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." -Matt 18:3

Good to have kids around to teach us a few things, eh? (And get us wicked sick . . . but that's not really their fault)

The Springers said...

wow...such truth! We are so hard on ourselves (and other moms sometimes). I find myself at times freaking out for just a moment...when I realize this little boy in front of me is depending on me for everything in his life, yet at the same time so strong willed in wanting to do it all HIS way...I freak out when I am cuddling him in the rocking chair at night and think briefly that these times may be gone before I know it - and I hold on to him tighter. Thank you for the reminder that moms sometimes need - that we are all human, we all make mistakes, and we are all great, loving mothers doing the best job that exists in the world - being a mom! And for reminding us all to get out and play with the kids - maybe even try being as carefree as they are, even if it's just for a few minutes! :)