Archive | August 2016

Last official day of summer

I’m ready for summer to be over.

Normally, I try to stay present, enjoy the stage that we’re in and not rush things.  But this summer has been kind of sucky.  We were really, really struggling financially, after Sam’s accident.  We’re so lucky that we had great health insurance and don’t have any medical bills – but the time off from work for both of us, and the reality that I had to cut my hours by 2/3 permanently was a brutal blow to our budget.  Add in some massive car repairs (we ended up having to replace three tires and a broken axel on the van), and the reality that we are down to one car, plus the limitations on Sam’s diet… we didn’t DO anything really.  We went to ocean once.  We went to the lake a few times, but only hit the pool down the street once.  We went out for frozen yogurt a few times, but we weren’t able to do the drive-in because he can’t see the screen.  We didn’t do the star gazing, because he can’t see the sky.  We didn’t DO a lot of things.

I’m ready for summer to be done.

I think the fall will be better.  I think once we settle into a routine of girls back in public school, Sammy homeschooling, Marc working in his new office, apple picking and pumpkin pies, Jewish holidays and Halloween and Thanksgiving, – it’ll all be easier.

 

New Stages

I took the kids for a walk yesterday.

In and of itself, this isn’t that remarkable.  They required a little incentive, but a $1 ice cream from the dollar tree was sufficient to get everyone dressed, shoes on and out the door.  So off we set, wandering down the hill, going the “tricky way” around the restaurant and into the shopping plaza.  We talked about poison ivy and why the pool wasn’t that crowded today, and whether or not it was a good idea to go swimming tomorrow.  We talked about school and homeschooling and what we liked about this summer and what we wanted to do this fall.

I was struck, as we walked down the hill, and then back home, by how OLD they all were.  Sam lost patience with how slow we were going (because I had to literally drag Lucky back up the hill – he kept trying to lay down) and snagged my keys and walked ahead.  Julie and Jessie alternated between race walking and then resting until I caught up.  There was no carriage to push, nobody begged me to carry them home.  This was an entirely different experience.

I used to walk with the kids all the time.  I walked when I had just Jessie in the super expensive pram that I had to have.  I laid her in the bed, and would push her all over the place while she slept.  I walked with her in baby carriers and then in bigger strollers.  I walked with Sam in a sling, Jordyn and Harrison in the double stroller and Jessie trudging alongside.  I walked with Jessie in the stroller and Sammy using his little monkey leash, and I’d pull on the tail to keep him from falling over.  I walked with Julianna in the pram and Sam running along beside me.  I walked in the rain and sunny weather, with kids sobbing and kids laughing and kids sleeping.  I’ve walked more with my kids than I’ve done anything else.

But now… we’re going for very different kind of walks.  I take a kid with me to walk the dog, and we talk about stuff.  All kinds of stuff, about politics and nature and street signs and what the future might hold.  I’m not doling out snacks and water bottles and goldfish crackers, I’m not insisting on hands before crossing the street.

I’ve really struggled, this summer, with coming to grips with the family I have.  With accepting that there will be no more babies, that the children I have are all that I’ll get, and that’s perfect.  That my job now isn’t so much to be creating a family as it is to be raising one.  It’s not easy, I don’t think I’ll ever not miss the idea of another child.  But I’m learning how to find the beauty in just these three kids.  In Jessie’s height and grace and intelligence, in Sam’s sense of humor and resilience and his ability to survive, in Julianna’s sweetness and sarcasm and style.  In the reality that I don’t have little kids anymore.  I have three kids, and our adventures are different from what they used to be.

Home Stretch

Two weeks left.

I don’t think this summer flew by.  I think it went by at a reasonable rate.  It wasn’t necessarily a summer I’d like to do again – but it got the job done.  We’re in a much better place, all around, than we were in May.

I’m excited about the fall, I’m looking forward to easing into home schooling with Sam.  I’m happy about Jessie starting eighth grade, and I’m cautiously excited about Julianna starting first grade.  I feel like she’s going to end up coming home with me eventually as well, because I feel like homeschooling is going to go so well – but for now, she likes the idea of going to public school and seeing her friends.

I want apple picking and homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Hot chicken soup and cuddling up under a blanket.  I want the dog to stop shedding so much.  I crave structure and stability and routine.  I want high holidays and halloween and Thanksgiving.

I’m ready for the end of summer, not in a bitter oh-this-summer-was-horrible kind of way, but in a this-summer-filled-it’s-purpose-and-now-I’m-done.

 

This is…. so much better

It’s not that my life is simple now.  It’s not that it’s a walk in the park, or that I have no problems any more.  But it feels that way.  The truth is that when you’ve gone through what we went through, one of the only bonuses is that you get a sense of perspective.  Things that used to be so hard suddenly seem insignificant.  One example is head lice.  We got head lice back in May, and it… just wasn’t that big of a deal.  I did the shampoo, did the laundry, did the combing, and when it didn’t seem to go away, I got an rx from the pediatrician and did it all again.  It wasn’t a big deal, because at the same time, I was also dealing with brain surgery, and a little boy who was terrified and a team the best doctors in the world who couldn’t decide on a way to fix it.  Head lice just wasn’t that big of a deal.

Sam diet is still a mess.  He still eats white rice and pancakes every day, and very little else.  And I don’t care.  I mean, I care.  I encourage him to try new foods, and cook him whatever he’d like.  But you know what?  When  your child has gone two weeks, literally, and ingested no food whatsoever – picky eating is such a silly thing to waste your time on.  He’s got food he’ll eat, and I just let go of any power struggles or emotional attachment.  He’ll eat something, and he’ll take vitamins occasionally.  We don’t ever argue about food anymore.   I used to get all invested on making my kids eat the same thing – I wasn’t going to be one of those moms who made a special meal for anyone.  But now?  I whip up pancakes at parties, because I know he’ll eat it.  I keep white rice and tri-color pasta in the fridge at all times, just because it works.  And once you start doing it for one kid – well, why not do it for all three?  It’s a good meal when I can hit two of the kids at once with a meal – but I don’t make a big deal about it anymore, because Sam can’t eat it too.  Making a big deal about everyone eating the same thing makes it harder on him – he can’t eat what the other kids are eating, and I refuse to make him feel badly about it.

Things are still a bit challenging.  I make little concessions all the time to accomodate the injury.  I don’t make him pour his own drinks or get his own clothes, because he can’t see that well.  I buy more take out chicken than I’ve ever bought before.  I don’t force them outside to play, because he overheats fast, and can’t see well enough to feel comfortable running around yet.  But all in all, this time in my life is so much simpler and easier than it was.  These problems, these are NOTHING compared to being in the hospital, to seeing him in so much pain, to knowing that your daughters are missing you and need you and you can’t do anything to make it better.

I’m happy these days.  I’m grateful.  It’s not all sunshine and roses, sometimes I’m bitchy and irritable and I think if I have to do one more load of laundry, I might just lose my mind… but overall, it’s so much better than it was.

 

Realizations

I thought I was pregnant the other day.

This, in and of itself, isn’t that remarkable.  As Marc has said in the past, I’ve successfully predicted 37 of my past three pregnancies.   It wasn’t that remarkable that I’m not either, we use birth control, and I’m in my early forties.

What was remarkable was that I didn’t really want to be.

Every other time I’ve convinced myself I was pregnant, I’ve wanted it.  Every other time (except for the three time when I was, in fact, pregnant), there was a part of me that was disappointed when I wasn’t.  This was the first time that I just didn’t want to be.

I spent all day, trying to figure it out.  What was different?  Sure, financially, it would be hard, but no harder than it’s been other times.  Yes, Julie’s pregnancy was brutal, and each pregnancy got progressively tougher, so you’d have to assume that this one would be even harder.  Marc and I are both older now, more tired, and less patient.  I’ve got three kids, all of whom NEED a lot.  I’ve got Sam, who’s going to need a lot of additional time and effort because of the injury.

But that wasn’t it.  There were all these perfectly logical reasons why a pregnancy would be a horrible idea, but that wasn’t it.

It was that another baby would make me that much more vulnerable.  Another baby would be another baby who might get hurt.

I love these three kids.  So much.  And I let them outside, into the world, every day.   I have to, I want them to be all that they can be, but I walk around, every day, with the knowledge that at any time, at any point, out of nowhere, they could be horribly, horrible injured.  It’s not in the forefront of my mind.  It’s not even something I’m conscious of, but it’s there.

I don’t know if I could do it again.

I look back over those six months, from January through June, and I am terrified of doing it again.  Of watching him suffer, first with the crippling anxiety, falling deeper and deeper into a cycle of fear and terror – and not being able to stop it.  Then the accident, and the pain… oh my God, the pain.  Watching him hurt, hurt so much worse than I’ve ever felt, and not being able to fix it.  Seeing him so afraid, holding him down for bloodwork and anesthesia, searching for answers and not knowing what was coming next.  Watching his vision going dark, trying to balance out saving his sight with saving his sanity – because I legitimately didn’t know if he’d survive another hospital stay.  Being in that place – when your child is suffering so much, and you can’t fix it… I don’t know if I could do that again.

I love these three kids, so much.  And I’m so grateful for them.  I can let them out into the world, and live their lives, because there is no other option.  I send Sam off Pokemon go-ing in the afternoon, drop Julie off at tennis camp, and send Jessie off to Harvard for Model UN camp.  I encourage them to go, to do, to not hesitate and achieve whatever they dream.  But somewhere down deep, in a way that I don’t think about and have a hard time articulating… I’m scared all the time.

I can do it.  With these three.  Because the alternative is unthinkable.   But starting all over again – with another baby, with a greater statistical chance of down syndrome or autism or a million other challenges that being an older mom with an older dad presents… the thought of it is terrifying.

I’m not pregnant.  For the first time in my life, I’m relieved.