Child Schools Parent

Here’s a story:

Yesterday was one of those days. For a tedious insurance reason, our normally awesome physical therapist was having to do the dirty deed of stressing all the ways in which Fiona is delayed:

The fact that her delays don’t just cause slower development but atypical compensation.

The fact that they aren’t just “delays” but manifestations of a serious condition.

The fact that her delays are “significant,” the PT said, which she emphasized by spreading her hands far apart, indicating just how far Fiona is from a usual 20 month old. In width, about a foot. In months, I know that’s about a year.

I nodded. Yes I knew this, and I agreed with the PT, and I understood why the insurance company needed to hear it.

But this was tough stuff amidst some rough feeding days. I spend upwards of five hours a day feeding Fiona — holding her bottle, offering her spoonfuls of this and that — which is fine when she actually consumes enough to sustain a toy poodle, but deflating when she fights me for mysterious reasons and refuses most of it. She’s been refusing most of it for two days straight, knocking down even the most basic of achievements off my mothering to-do list. Girl sure knows how to hand it to her “must-always-get-A’s” momma. In the subject of Caloric Intake, my daughter and I have been getting D’s at best.

So flash forward a few hours, when Justin arrives home and we all sit on the couch together and I take up my usual coping mechanism after mildly shitty days: I vent. I vent like a steam train barreling down the track. Which goes something like this, “And I’m upset about this, and I’m upset about that, and this, and that, and she won’t even hold her own bottle, and….”

At which time Fiona lunged her body from Justin’s lap, held out her hand, and grabbed at mine. She brought my hand toward her. She held it firmly. This is not something she does normally, and it was enough to stop me mid-steam-train. She looked at me and cocked her head. In those sapphire eyes of hers I got a message.

You might expect that the message was, “It’s okay, Mom. Everything will be alright. You are great.”

But that wasn’t quite it. Instead, the message I got was: “Woman, get over yourself. You’re forgetting what’s awesome. Like me. And this. Now shut your trap, and let’s hurl ourselves into the sofa cushions.”

At which time I shut up, and teared up, and my daughter lunged her lean, wobbly body toward the back of the sofa cushion, where she buried her face into the plush gray upholstery and giggled.

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4 thoughts on “Child Schools Parent

  1. Weeks before Denise’s fourth birthday I was making plans for that day. I was going to have many colorful balloons for her to see when she opened her eyes in the morning. I wanted that day to start in a super exciting way for her – she loves balloons! I hadn’t shared my plans with anyone yet, but every time i was thinking about it, about her pure joy and excitement i was feeling absolutely happy. One Sunday afternoon she woke up from her nap and looking at the ceiling said “a lot of balloons!!! Mom, have birthday!!!!”
    I was stunned. I still had not told anyone about my bd surprise but she knew. Somehow she saw this in her dream and knew. Later that day i was sharing this with a friend of mine and she said “See? You can only think of good thngs for she knows. She feels you and she knows.”

    Coukd her eating strike be because she’s teething? Denise’s teeth were so slow ro come out, and she had those periods when she would refuse to eat for no apparent reason, and a week or so later we’ll see a new tooth has cone out.

  2. Heather, I love your ability to reframe and pull yourself out of those moments of…what should I call it? Anxiepity. I know those feelings well, but they are as often brought about as the result of my 14 year old as they are my 3 year old. Like you, I have always been somewhat of a perfectionist, so having daughters who not only struggle with every aspect of basic living that we all take for granted, but whom I know will never share in those mother-daughter moments I envisioned so many times over the years…not to mention the inability to envision what the future will hold for them–a future that seems still so uncertain and murky…makes me overwhelmed in ‘anxiepity’. I wish Kaylee would show me a sign that it would be okay; Fiona seems so much more alert and aware of you and what is around her than she is. Developmentally, as far behind as Fiona may be, she is miles ahead of my daughter, who is double her age. Sigh… I think I need some real help in getting to that place of peace– where when I see my child, the message I hear is to “get over myself,” for more than anything, I know I am my own worst enemy, and Kaylee deserves better.

  3. Heather,

    Thank you so much for sharing this as well as your other stories. You are an amazing writer and have a wonderful way of putting your thoughts and experiences into words. Thoughts and experiences that I, for one, have often. Thank you!!

  4. One day I was so beside myself bc my daughter would not eat (she was about 9 months), that I took her to the hospital when my husband came home from work. Now 20 years later, I have to watch her caloric intake as she has a chubby tummy. Sometimes, we just have to let the worry go (easier said than done, when you care)
    Roxanne

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