Listen to your children when they talk about their bodies…

IMG_2735

“Adelyne, what is your greatest fear right now,” I asked my 11-year-old over a private Italian dinner we were eating, just the two of us, following the EEG she just had in Poznan, Poland.

“My biggest fear,” she repeated the question.

“Yes, with all that has been going on in your life, what is your current greatest fear,” I wanted to hear the heart of my daughter, and I had her alone, no little brothers or sisters to distract her.  Just Ada and Momma.  Together.

“The fear of being afraid,” she replied.

It makes tears come into my eyes right now.

If there is one thing we want to do as parents, it is to protect our children.  To be their stalwarts.  To be their walls.  To be their protections.  To be their everything.

And then you realize you can’t.

Unless you lock your child in a bubble, never letting them escape the house, you will quickly come to realize that you cannot be your child’s everything.

With the very act of living, they will experience many different joys and pains.

And sometimes, in that living, they experience very scary moments.

A little over a month ago, my daughter experienced at school what she describes as a heart attack.  She then spent the next three days in a foreign hospital, hooked up to heart monitors and enduring multiple blood draws and tests to see what is going on with her body.

Then, not even 3 weeks after that, she experienced what is described as seizure-like behaviors before slipping in and out of semi-consciousness.  Once again, at school.

This daughter of mine.  It’s not that she is completely fearless—but, out of EVERYONE I know in the world, she is the bravest kid that I know.  She has traveled the world. She has surfed.  She has crossed borders.  She has been surrounded by machine guns on territory where we literally have NO voice.  And she hasn’t even batted an eye.

So for her to say that her biggest fear is fear itself, makes me, as her mom, sad.  The freedom for her to live a life of great adventure is the greatest gift I wish to give her.  And now she is wondering if she will be okay to ride her bike.  Or swim.  Or paddle board.

Will she surf again?

Can she jump off a mountain like she plans in February?

Can she jump out of an airplane, like she tells us she’ll do at 18?

Afraid of being afraid.

It’s a life-changer, for sure.

And I hold her hand and tell her that we are doing everything we can to eliminate a bunch of scary stuff in hopes that we find out she is perfectly healthy and just had some bad stuff happen to her for reasons unknown.

But that doesn’t erase what happened.  And it doesn’t change the fact that now she may not live quite as carefree.

And I need to listen to her.  I need to listen to her body.  I need to listen when she speaks.  Because she is the one living inside of her body, and she knows how it feels and needs to be able to communicate that to me.

A childhood friend of mine recently watched her son go through his third concussion.  And, with that concussion, his entire life changed.  Now, together, they are realizing that life has a different journey than the one he was walking.  And it is something he must do to remain healthy and able.

She listened to her son.  Now together they are fighting for his best life.

Here is his recent news interview, telling his story:  http://www.azfamily.com/story/36611797/chandler-hs-senior-quits-football-due-to-concussion

Here is a second story on concussions and high school sports:  http://www.azfamily.com/story/36162154/concussion-study-reveals-most-valley-parents-will-let-kids-play-football

Here is another childhood friend, Dr. Javier Cardenas, speaking of concussions and how to identify one in your child, as well as an App that can be used to teach children about concussions:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHm4RPFgwEM

In the end, all we can do is live and teach our children to do so, as well.  But, in living, we also need to stop and listen.  What is our body telling us?  What is our children’s bodies telling them?

Growing up, we learn that if you ever catch on fire, you are to do three things:  Stop; Drop; Roll.

I find myself in this same position with my daughter:

Stop.  How are you feeling?

Drop.  Let’s stop everything to figure out why you feel the way you do.

And Roll.  Let’s put out this “fire” in your life, so you can go on to live your best life possible.

It may be with a little more hesitation than before.  But it’s still living.

And, in the end, that’s what counts the most!

 

When You Are Raising a 4-Year-Old

DSC_0480

Several years ago, I was sitting in a meeting of International Women.  I was seated next to a beautiful Danish woman.  She had 2 children.  I had 1.  One 4-year-old daughter.

We bonded over that mere fact.

Being moms.

And, as we were virtually strangers, yet with something HUGE in common, we had a lot to talk about.

Okay—we had parenting and mom-ming and kids to talk about.

But it was one of the deepest conversations of my life.

We looked at each other and both of, respectively, said, “We are so thankful that we don’t beat our children.”

It’s as if we were leaning over to give one another high fives for keeping our children alive.

Like really.

We spoke on HOW difficult parenting is.  How hard it is to practice restraint.  How MUCH  you want to, well, basically, put your child in a VERY big box and shut the lid.

It was so refreshing to have an honest parenting conversation with another mom.  A mom that looked like she had EVERYTHING together.

Because parenting is HARD HARD HARD.

IT, your beautiful baby, your precocious toddler—turns FOUR…FOUR!

And you think…have I spawned the devil?

And these precious creatures we have spawned literally live to drive us bat crazy.  You feel as if you have no shred of self control left.  You literally have to physically leave the presence of your spawn.

Parenting is hard.  And I get so ridiculously crazy of these soft-spoken moms that are like “Blah, blah, blah…the beauty of parenting…AND MAKING BUTTER..” because I am all like…MY KID LIVED TODAY!!!!!

And I feel as if I should run outside and SHOUT IT ON THE ROOFTOPS!

And I feel as if they should literally make a MADE FOR TV movie about my heroism.

AND I.AM.NOT.KIDDING!

This woman.  This stranger.  She got all of that.  We talked for a long time about how people really should praise mommies for maintaining control.  We talked about parents that struggled with doing what’s right.  We talked about how much help we need as parents.

We need help.  The good parents.  The bad parents.  THE PARENTS.  We need help.

Because our job is the biggest in the world.  And it’s the hardest in the world.  And we have little little little people that trust us for safety and protection and life—as they should—even while they are trying to snuff that VERY life out of us.

Right now I am raising my second 4-year-old.  I say second, because my daughter was my first and she is now 10.

And she is the FINEST decade gal you will ever meet (decade gal is what she calls her 10-year-old self).

She is funny and kind.  She is smart and hardworking.  She is silly and fun.  She is outgoing yet shy.  SHE IS THE BEST!

I couldn’t ask for a more amazing child.

Yet when she was four—I thought she was the she-devil herself.  And I could hardly see straight because she drove me so insane.

And I PRAYED that we would BOTH live through that phase.  That phase of her being 4.

Stubborn.  Screaming.  CRYING…PUBLIC HUMILATION.  Up the wazoo.

I felt ashamed every time I walked in public with her because of her meltdowns and fits and tantrums.

I wanted to return this child I prayed so hard to receive.

And I thought I would never make it past this phase of being the WORST MOMMY EVER!

Yet here she sits at 10 as the BEST version of any kid I could imagine building on my own.  Like, literally, if I could design a child, this child would still not come out as great as my decade gal.

And so I have chosen to write this post today for me.  For you.  For every HONEST mom out there that is pulling her hair, just trying to survive.

I write this for the solidarity of US!

We do deserve high fives.  We do deserve made for TV movies.  We deserve honor and recognition that our children are alive despite the fact that we are now bald.

You are doing a fine job.  Maybe some days you want to cry because you feel like you are the worst.  But take a deep breath.  Go in the other room.  Cry.  And then breathe again.  Because your 4-year-old will not be a 4-year-old forever.

One day your 4-year-old will turn into your decade gal…and you will be able to look at your child and see that you have made it.  You have survived.  And you are doing a darn fine job of it.

Drink a coffee…Eat dessert.  And breathe.

Because the teenage years are just around the corner.