0

My Breaking Point

Another week has started off with Miss Sunshine and I both home- her unwell and myself taking care of her. And I go through the same process I go through each time she’s unwell- panic, sadness, fear- and my life stops. I should be used to this by now. I should have learnt that a minor sickness is normal, that all children fall sick, I should, but I haven’t. This is the one thing I’m not able to be rational about, despite spending my days helping people to be rational and realistic. Yet, I’m unable to.

This is a result of her experiences in infancy, from her 1st week into this world she was in and out of hospital with many common childhood symptoms like fevers, vomiting, dehydration and abdominal issues, which on their own would have been nothing to worry about, but for her ended up in a number of hospital admissions without any confirmed diagnoses. And when at 7 weeks old, she was found to have a number of allergies that led to her symptoms, I thought the battle was over because we had found the root of the problems. But despite elimination of every allergen from my diet (as she was still breastfeeding), she still kept falling sick and needing hospital admission. Miss S has a great paediatrician who was determined to find out the cause of her symptoms and I remember during her last admission, he carried out so many tests, consulted with other doctors abroad and eventually told us that they could not find anything.  I remember that day, we went home with a still sick Sunshine because the hospital was traumatizing her so much and there was nothing they could do apart from manage the symptoms, which we could do at home. And that point is when my trauma began. I stopped working for a while, and spent my mornings and nights watching Miss S, making sure she was breathing, making sure she was ok. I couldn’t understand why she had to suffer so much, I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t get a solution and I knew what true helplessness was. S has been a blessing, such a joy and loving person and it didn’t make sense to me why she had to suffer so much.

So, thank God, even without a diagnosis, Miss S recovered and the incidences of her symptoms almost disappeared. I went back to working a few days a week but would still drop everything when she was unwell. This has always been important to me because she falls sick so suddenly and unexpectedly so it’s important to help her as soon as she does. But she grew up, allergies disappeared and she was able to tolerate dairy and eggs. And I was able to relax somewhat, to stop being on the watch and just let her be. But now what happens is that when she falls sick, I automatically go back to a year or two ago, and the fear returns. And of course no one understands why I’m so afraid. I’m a psychologist, so I do, I’m still traumatized and haven’t moved past that time.

This year, when I knew we were in a calmer period of her life, she was diagnosed with asthma. And I was so angry, I remember crying for days. Not because of asthma per se. But because since she was born, she’s been limited, it’s always been her food, what she can do and can’t do. She’s spent so much time in hospital, so many unpleasant experiences and then here was one other thing added. So once again, more limitation, more protection which would be impossible for her to understand. All I wanted was for her to finally have a normal experience of being a child without lists of dos and don’ts.

Eventually I accepted it, I had to, otherwise I would also unintentionally depress her. And she started school in May, went for 2 days and had her 1st major asthmatic attack on the 2nd night. She ended up being home till the next week recovering and by end of the next week was hesitant about going back to school. I wondered why as she’d enjoyed her two days there but did’t push her to go. A few days later when she was sick again I understood why she’d refused to go, she was already probably feeling irritable and under the weather as a result of the incubating infection. The next few weeks were like that, few days well, some more days sick and when she was well she didn’t want school to come up. And I understood why, most of that half term, she was already unwell, and it feels awful to be sick. Also, her only school experience was now associated with being sick.

Anyway, this September she was back in school and she’s such a fighter she’s been handling school even with numerous infections and asthma- related symptoms. Even when she misses days due to sickness, she’s been able to recover them as she only does 3 days a week. However, even though she’s a tough little fighter, I guess I’m not. I thought I was handing it well, taking it a day at a time- taking her to school when she’s well, taking her back to the hospital when she’s not, taking time out to take care of her when she’s sick. But the truth- I’m broken. Yes, children get sick, really sick and yes, parents handle it. But right now, watching her sleeping I know that I’m breaking inside for her and I cannot focus on anything else but her and having her well. I know that’s impossible as there will always be flu and infections but I hate the tight rope- the waiting for the next time, the worrying, the monitoring, the numerous medications she has to take. I hate that at 3 years old, she knows the names of medicines I had no idea of till she was born. I hate that simple small symptoms like these can take over and cloud everything at times like these. But mostly, I hate that when my little girl is the one suffering, I can’t be stronger and have more faith, and yet she acts and plays like nothing is wrong.

But this is my humanity.

By the time she gets up, I’ll be stronger once again, for her. And I just have to accept that not everyone can understand why I have to stop everything to take care of her when she’s sick. It looks minor, but to me it’s the most major thing as she’s my world.

I love you so much Sunshine. In a perfect world, I would give you a perfect, 100% healthy life with zero time spent in hospital and medication. But this is an imperfect world so I’ll give you my almost perfect love and attention instead.

0

Liebstar Award!

The past few days have been so busy I’m feeling blogging withdrawal symptoms from not blogging. 😦

But before I post anything, I want to respond to these questions following my Liebster Award nomination by wordsandotherarts. https://donnamcmillen300.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/liebster-award-part-2.

Once again, thank you so much for nominating me 🙂

1. Where would you like to go on your dream vacation? Definitely Switzerland

2. What is your preferred genre of music? Soft classic rock and neo soul

3. What is your favorite meal? Chicken and chapati

4. What happened during the happiest day that you can remember? I’ve many to choose from but the one that stands out is the 1st time Miss Sunshine said, “I love you so much in the whole world” her version of my telling her “I love you more than anything in the whole world.” Nothing beats the joy in my heart that night.

5. What do you do for fun? Read a lot, write, listen to music and dance with Miss S, zumba, bake, knit sometimes, watch series, play with Miss S, swim…endless list.

6. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? At first I started this blog as a continuation of my journals for Miss S, so she’d be able to have a record of her early life. And it was also an outlet for me as I love writing. Now I hope to make a difference in other parents’ lives by sharing my experiences.

7. If a genie came to you and said “Your wish is my command!” you would wish for . . .? A life of travel (I’ve got the travel bug from little Miss S who already has a list of places she wants to go.)

8. What was/is your favorite subject in school? English and Maths

9. Besides blogging, what is your favorite hobby? Reading, reading, reading and music is the icing on the cake

10. Do you prefer to read books or magazines? Books

11. What’s the last thing you think about before you go to… Miss S

Picture 403

2

She’s taking the driver’s seat

Picture 673

Following a post I read today, loved and re-blogged (The Uninfluenced Mummy by lovelifeandlunacy), I’m challenging myself this weekend to let my little preschooler take the lead. That post was a breath of fresh air reminding me how the need to keep up with the Joneses doesn’t stop even in parenting. That’s probably why parents tend to keep comparing sleeping- through- the- night stories, who’s toilet trained before whom, which child has a bigger, better birthday party, who has a well behaved child and who has a constantly tantruming toddler…and it’s so subtle, we probably don’t even know it’s happening.

And couldn’t that be where most of the parenting frustrations come from? The need to be the best, when all the little ones want is us and our best. All they want is quality time playing and being attentive to them. They do not need to be spruced in their best outfits, posing for pretty pictures, being rushed from activity to activity just to give them the best. Whose benefit is it for? Us or them?

I want Miss Sunshine to have the best of the world but more than that I want her to have the best of me and the best of life through her experiences. So that means, relaxing a little bit and letting her take the lead. Following her cues. Letting her be…letting go. Yes, I’m her mama, I may be older and somewhat wiser, but in the long run she is and will always be the expert of herself. That doesn’t mean letting go of the big decisions; it just means I want to try and live like a child in a way, and Miss S is the best person who can teach me that. It’s time to stop, smell the roses and water her trees… stop, look at the butterflies with wonder…stop and notice every little thing we pass on the road as we walk…stop and just let things be without having a plan for every little thing…stop and question whatever seizes my imagination in this great big world…stop, giggle and sing at the top of my voice.

I’m following you Miss S…lead the way. This will be the start of more Yes and less No

Uninfluenced mummy…thank you!

Image
0

The Big 3!

Picture 751

Happy 3rd birthday princess!

My precious girl turned 3 exactly a week ago and it’s probably because the birthday week has been so fun- filled that I haven’t had a chance to blog.

I am filled with so much joy and gratitude when I think of the past 3 years. Miss Sunshine’s been a true miracle… When I think of her earlier years and how afraid I was because of her poor health and then I look at this robust, vocal, independent and very happy girl, I am amazed. And so thankful.

I know every child is unique, an angel and yet I feel this so wholly with Miss S. I look at her great ability to empathize and feel another’s pain and her need to make everyone happy, I think of how many times she has the ability to change my frown into a smile, I remember how many of her prayers are answered so instantly and I see how she can do anything to make the people she loves happy… Her generosity of spirit, her sensitivity and compassion never cease to amaze me. And that’s why I wish I could give her the world, because she asks for so little and is content with any little thing.

This year, her birthday had an animal theme. She has always loved animals- especially wild animals; but now she loves rabbits as well and loves playing with them at my work place. So everything, from the house decorations to her cake and activity for the day was animal related. And from the minute she walked down and saw the house, her face was euphoric; hearing her say ‘wow, God has given me so many gifts,’ was worth every hour spent preparing. For months she’d said all she wanted for her birthday was a tree, so for her actual birthday she had a flower tree from my parents to plant in a special pot; and she will still plant her trees so she can see them in years to come. Even now, I don’t understand where she got the concept of a tree from, and how that could be all she wanted. Her thoughts surprise me every single day. Needless to say, the rest of her day was perfect for her- visiting the animals at the orphanage, receiving birthday calls from so many people, seeing her animal themed cake and cutting it and having dinner with family… and still her birthday month goes on.

But I don’t mean to say that Miss S is not an ordinary pre- schooler with her own fights for independence, frustration and tantrums… she is. And I think because so often she’s so mature I tend to forget that she’s still a young child and has the right to behave like a small child. So it helps me to take time and remember that despite being mature for her age, she is allowed to just be 3. And her birthday week and birthday month give me a long time to celebrate her and be thankful for her and appreciate that I have the most special gift in the world.

So this year my dearest Sunshine I wish you sunlight as bright as you, family and friends who are as loving and supportive as you are, dreams that make you soar… I pray you are always surrounded by God’s grace, love, joy, peace and utter contentment and that you will always see the beauty in everything like you do now. I pray that you will always have a song to sing and a voice that can be heard. My dearest S, I wish you success…your own version of success… May your light always shine bright, may your voice always be as sweet, may your heart always be as pure, may you always know unconditional love… I wish you the best of everything…from my mouth to God’s ears.

IMG_201508229_0349

Blessings sweetheart!
You are incomparably loved

0

Reflecting on the past three years

The more things change, the more they remain the same…

My precious girl,
It feels like we’ve spent a lifetime together because I can hardly remember a time without you. And as I sit here I realize even though you’re growing older and so much has changed, a lot remains the same. Being almost 3 means you’re more fluent and vocal, more independent and strong willed, toilet trained, ready for school and you sleep easily through the night. And something new that amazed me about a week ago was watching you draw your 1st person. Looking at that picture makes me smile so much because it shows me how you’re steadily growing and learning so much every single minute.

Yet what amazes me even more is how many things remain the same as you grow:

I thought by the time you were this age I’d know more, be an expert on parenting…but what I’ve discovered is that even as you grow, there’s more to learn, more challenges to face, more growth. You’re growing daily, changing daily so I’m getting to know a little new part of you every day. So I’m sure, even when you’re 12, I’ll still feel the ‘newness’ of parenting.

Separation anxiety- thought we were through with that whole phase and then a couple of months ago, there it was again. One day I was getting ready to go to work and you insisted you didn’t want me to leave…and that became your usual mantra whenever I was leaving for work. For a few weeks it was so heart wrenching leaving you, it felt like we were back to a year ago. It’s so easy to forget the past until it happens again. Things are back to normal now but what keeps me going even during the periods of separation anxiety is the thought that you don’t want me to leave just because you love me and want to be with me. And as long as I’ve prepared you and you know I’ll come back, you will always get through this.

Your cries still have the power to break me. They still pierce me. It’s taken a lot of adjustment to accept that it’s okay and healthy for you to cry. To accept that not wanting you to cry is more about how I grew up, in an age when children were encouraged not to cry or told to ‘stop crying.’ I’m still learning to hold you as you cry and let you feel and let out whatever emotions you’re feeling without trying to distract you or ‘make you happy.’ I’m learning to accept responsibility for how I feel when you cry as opposed to unconsciously making you feel guilty for my helplessness in that situation. I want you to grow up knowing that it’s okay for you to feel any emotion, so as to deal with it and express it healthily.

When you were younger, you were sick a lot and you falling sick became one of my greatest fears. That hasn’t changed at all. In fact, I need to work on that. As a result of the constant sickness during your infancy, how much I love you and how helpless I felt each time you were sick or we were in hospital, each time you have even a minor flu or a recurrence of any of your previous symptoms, I’m helpless once again. My life stops, at least mentally. I go through the motions but internally I’m just suffering, trying to protect you, even when you don’t need protecting. I know that’s about me. All that traumatized me and I need to deal with that so I don’t project my powerlessness to you.

I love you so so much, more every day. I didn’t know that was possible but when I see you in the morning, watch you sleep at night, I’m still amazed that you are mine. I want you to know that I mean it when I tell you are such a special gift to me and it is an honour to be given the job to be your mama.

Your love, your warmth,your sensitivity; just grows in leaps and bounds. You have a heart of gold my Sunshine and that hasn’t changed, it just keeps growing.

You still love gymnastics and reading, but you’ve found time to nurture more passions- dancing, singing, gardening… Guess that’s why all you want this birthday is a tree. It always strikes me how you’re inherently your own person, developing interests that aren’t necessarily mine. I have little or no interest in nature but you love trees and animals. I cannot even somersault but you taught yourself that and much more. I hope I’ll always help you be the best version of yourself and not just a copy- cat version of anyone else. I love you just as you are.

You still make the biggest difference in my life. Time hasn’t changed that, I doubt it ever will. You made a difference when you were born, you still make a difference in My life. You changed and are still changing my world.

Even now, when you sleep, you want to hold my hand. That is the best feeling. Your little hand wrapped around one finger, or part of my hand. That is enough to make my day.

You still love giraffes. And you’ve added rabbits and flamingos to your animal loves.

I know there is still so much more I can’t remember right now, but the most important thing, you still are and will always be my precious baby, my Sunshine, my adorable girl and my blessing.

Happy Birthday Eve my love

I love you, always and forever

1

What August means to me

It’s August once again, Miss Sunshine’s birthday month and I’m reminded once again why I started blogging. She is the reason, my precious almost 3 year old who has been teaching me so much.

Before Miss Sunshine, I was sure of my life’s purpose- mental health awareness. I was driven towards alleviating mental distress and suffering. I thought I was prepared and knew most of what parenting would be about. Enter Miss Sunshine and I realized I knew nothing! (At least practically.) I know this is said all the time; that parenting is wonderful and challenging but I think what is forgotten is how unique and different each journey is. So since Miss Sunshine, my passion has subtly changed…I am passionate about being a gentle, respectful parent; a loving mother… I am passionate about having the best relationship with Miss S and growing with her…I am passionate towards helping her discover and reach her potential… I am passionate towards helping in creating a generation of children who have been taught that they are loved, respected, worthwhile and grow up believing this. I am still just as passionate towards mental health awareness and intervention, but now I also realize that one of the many ways to do this is to give Miss S and her generation of other little ones the best emotional start so that they have a holistic development. So, this is why I write.

As I said despite the beauty of being a parent, there have been challenges. Challenges because parenting doesn’t come with a guide book. What’s worthwhile about the challenges is what you learn from them. You learn what works and what doesn’t. So another reason I love blogging is because as I write I’m able to see when I’ve messed up and what I’ve learnt, and hopefully help others too.

If you had asked me 5 years ago, what my goals in life were, they were mainly driven by my career as a psychologist. But now, today, and as of 3 years ago, this is why I know I’m here:
To be the best mama to Miss S, to parent her with love and respect.
To always recognize how special she is, appreciate her and show her so she’ll always be aware of her self concept-her uniqueness and individuality and appreciate it.
To show her every day that she makes a difference, to me and the world.
To laugh and learn and play together as we grow.
To acknowledge when I’m wrong, apologize and make things right.
To make a difference, first to her, then to the world.
Most importantly to let Miss S always know that now and forever I’ll always be her cheerleader, always support, always encourage, unconditionally love. And that means whether she’s good or bad, smart or not, ‘successful’ or not, she’s my Sunshine, and the way I feel about her will never ever change.

And as I’m impacting the life of my Sunshine, I’ll still strive to make a big difference in mental health awareness. It’s just that she will always come first. Each and every person needs someone who will put them first, be their no 1 fan and cheerleader…and I choose now and always to be her person. I know how much it means to feel loved and cherished unconditionally. So daily I strive to worthy of the title ‘Mama Sunshine.’

My Sunshine, thank you for this momentous role!

Happy Birthday month!

I love you