eyesight, good grief, loss of parent, mommyhood, self-discovery

Progress

Full Speed’s eye testing today was phenomenal. It is the best I have ever seen him do. He was rattling off tiny letters like he had been doing it his whole life (which he has not). I finally broke down a little in the exam room. It still hasn’t totally connected in my heart that his vision has improved significantly. I keep waiting for someone to jump out and say that it’s a joke and that he still is considered legally blind.

There are no words. There are no words that a mother can say to properly describe the overwhelming desire for her children to have clear vision. My psyche cannot process that this day of clear sight is finally here. Both my boys are on track for excellent vision. Unbelievable.

Today even T.Puzzle wowed at his regular check-up. We had scheduled it months before Full Speed had his surgery so we piggy-backed Full Speed’s post-op with this  appointment. T.Puzzle was identifying letters like a firecracker. The nurse of course was impressed that a two year old knew his letters so well (thank you pre-school and Sesame Street!) and fawned over him when he said the letter ‘F’ as ‘efp’ (it was pretty adorable).

It felt like I was in another exam room with different children (and thank you to my Mother-in-law who accompanied me and supported us today). This was the first time the eye tests were a breeze for both of them (as we have finally pinpointed T.Puzzle’s prescription and what a long road that was!). I felt like I imagine a majority of the population feels when they take their kids in for check-ups and the doctor has them read the simple eye-chart. I felt like of course they can identify a tiny letter ‘B’ from across the room. That’s just what kids do. And now, it’s what MY kids do. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.

The progress for my boys is remarkable. I feel like I also made some progress on my own path towards healing. Today I purposefully chose to wear a necklace that my Mom had given me a couple years ago. It is flowery and blue which happen to be two of my favorite artistic components of expression. I did not feel sad as I placed it around my throat and hooked the clasp shut. I felt empowered and loved. She had wanted good vision for my boys as badly as I do. I embraced what I felt to be her presence and I smiled. I am doubly thankful that now my boys will be able to see their Mommy’s smile clearly.

My prayer is one of thanks today. Some tears have fallen, but they have been tears of gratitude and deeply felt love. Whether it was seen, felt or heard, love was all around us.

good grief, loss of parent, self-discovery

The Cheese Stick and a Hug

I have been struggling lately. I am sad more days than not. It’s been about six months since my mother’s death and I feel I am deep in the sadness part of my grief process. I have no more denial to protect me. I must move forward through this raw, biting pain that sits on my chest and weighs my movements as if I am submerged in water.

Today has been particularly rough. No rhyme, no reason. I have this overwhelming sadness that feels so powerful that it’s like carrying around another full-grown, helpless person.

I am home today with T.Puzzle. This is the first day in a long while that I didn’t have a million and one things to do. I have time to be still. I hate it. I can’t run anymore. I have to face the fact that my Mom is never coming back. She is gone forever. End of story.

I have to admit (and not proudly), T.Puzzle is watching a lot more television than I normally allow. I don’t have it in me to be ‘Mommy’ today. At least it’s stuff like Sesame Street so it will hopefully reinforce his letter recognition and won’t be a total wash.

He can tell I feel off today. He’s not fighting me at every corner. He’s been more gentle and loving which I appreciate. It’s amazing the intuitive nature that children possess. I hope he always keeps that.

I was sitting on the couch staring into nothingness and feeling downright sorry for myself. T.Puzzle came over and climbed on my lap. It’s surreal that feeling you get when you are holding one of your children. You sort of lose where you begin and they end. It’s like the physical boundaries of the world melt away and disappear into the love you have for one another. It felt good. I liked the weight of his body pressing into the sadness that sat deep in my gut. I didn’t hold him for too long. I understand that my grief is ultimately a solitary process. It’s not up to a child to fix an adult’s broken heart. I have to sit with it and come to terms with it all by myself.

I lifted him up and gave him a snack, a cheese stick of all things. He ate it with hearty enthusiasm. I went back and found my position on the couch and began my pity party all over again.p9173290

T.Puzzle finished his cheese stick, came over to me and climbed right back up on my lap. Who am I to fight the wisdom of my own child? Maybe he knows that I need him more than he needs me in this moment. Sometimes Mommies need band-aids for our hurts. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.

good grief, self-discovery

My (almost) Birthday Blues

p4182669The days leading up to my 35th birthday have been incredibly sad. This is the saddest I have ever felt as a birthday has approached. Your birthday is the one day that links you inexorably to your Mom. In most ways that is a beautiful thing. If your Mom is no longer alive, it kind of makes it difficult to achieve a celebratory mood.

I keep imagining my Mom, thirty-five years ago being fully expectant with me (I was overdue), feeling as big as a house, harboring anxiety over my impending birth and the stirrings of unconditional love for a mysterious being she hadn’t even met. My Mom was a woman of few words. I know only the basic details of my birth day. I was slightly over nine pounds, my Mom was overwhelmed with relief that I was healthy (she had me at thirty-three which categorized her as an older, at-risk Mom in that day and age), that I was born on a Friday the thirteenth (which my Mom claimed to have been one of her luckiest Fridays ever) and I was a good baby right from the start (oh, why oh why couldn’t my boys have been like that in the newborn phase?).

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I don’t know much about what she was feeling. I think that now that I’ve given birth twice, I have a better perspective. That’s what I can’t get out of my head. I can’t escape the images of my Mom being young and beautiful, eagerly waiting for my arrival. I feel what she felt. I feel the hope and the fear of it all. The feelings of a power greater than yourself as you prepare to give life to another person and the feelings of absolute helplessness because you have no control over the process or the outcome. It is at once amazing and terrifying.

I was with my Mom on that day. She held me and loved me and promised to take care of me. On that day there was no inkling that we would only have thirty-four years and how our time together would end. There was only relief and joy.

I know that a year from now, the grief I am feeling surrounding my birthday won’t feel as raw as it does right now. I am trying to label the sadness I feel as simply love that is blurred at the edges. The painful connection I feel to what used to be is a reminder that I had something special in the first place. Maybe the more sadness you feel when you lose someone means the more blessed you were by the impact they had on your life. If this is true, then I am blessed a million times over. For that, I am truly grateful, deep sadness and all.

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good grief, self-discovery, self-image/self-acceptance

Whack Tooth

Two perfect smiles
Two perfect smiles

My tooth hurts. Yeah, it’s been hurting for about a month and a half. You know how we Moms are, last on the priority list not daring to add another appointment to our already jam-packed lives.

On our weekend getaway when T.Puzzle vomited his body weight, Mad Dog noticed I was using a tooth-paste for sensitive teeth. He said enough is enough; you are going to the dentist. Oh, joy.

Mad Dog took the initiative to track down a dentist and get all our insurance ducks in a row. He is a task-master this one is. One of the many reasons I love him. It can also be slightly annoying when you are desperately refusing to believe you are in need of immediate dental attention. I don’t like the dentist. The only one who enjoys it in our family is Full Speed. He likes that you get a new toothbrush when you are finished.

How, you may ask yourself, in the middle of all this dental hi-jinks, could I possibly be sad and miss my Mom? It is bizarre the way that your grief keeps itself quietly in your pocket and then jumps out and yells, “Surprise, you are no where near feeling normal and whole again, my dear!” Then it slips into dormancy waiting for the next moment you smugly believe you are doing okay.

My wisdom teeth are whack. So much so, that I had three employees of the dental facility make a stop in my room to say, “We have never seen the likes of wisdom teeth like yours before.” For real.

See if you can find the crazy tooth
See if you can find the crazy tooth

Not only are my wisdom teeth embedded deep in my gums (likely to never surface), they are perpendicular to my molars. They also tilt down a bit appearing as if they are aiming to crash into my jaw bone. They don’t cause me pain but have forced my gums to configure in an odd way forming pockets that are prone to infection. This is most likely what is causing the sensitivity in my molar region. Hopefully, a thorough cleaning and pricey mouthwash that is so magical, you can only purchase it at your dentist’s office (of course) will do the trick. So three hours (thank God for Mad Dog’s Mom who watched Full Speed who was still home from school with a low-grade fever) and nearly two-hundred dollars later (I would have much rather spent that at a spa!), I was ready for clearance.

Do you know who else had freakish wisdom teeth? My Mom. She had the exact same oddity where they never surfaced and jutted perpendicularly up against her molars. They never caused her too much of a problem either.

I take that back, they did cause me a problem today. They reminded me of the loss of my Mom. Luckily, when a tear of sadness formed in the corner of my eye, I was able to put it off as a tear of physical pain. You know how hygenists can be. Even though mine was a perfectly lovely woman, she wielded her metal hooks and probes like a ninja warrior.

I’m not upset that I imperfectly inherited my Mom’s wisdom teeth or that they reminded me of my loss; I’m actually kind of grateful. It’s another physical token that I am my Mom’s girl. I am always going to be her girl. That makes me smile, whack teeth and all.

good grief, mommyhood

The Stormy Vomit

p8293081Mad Dog and I spontaneously (okay, Mad Dog’s the spontaneous one) decided to take our boys on an overnight trip. In theory it’s suppose to be fun-filled and breezy. In reality, there is fun to be had but with lots of effort and a whole lot of patience.

As we were heading to our destination, the boys began hitting each other and crying while seated in the backseat. I looked at Mad Dog and said, “This is a little different than the last time we went here (Mad Dog and I had gone about a year prior for a weekend getaway sans kids).”

“What do you mean? Is it because this time we have a convertible?” he replied in mock innocence. Yeah, if only it were as simple as a different car. The real difference was attempting to have fun while maintaining a favorable baseline of behavior for T.Puzzle and Full Speed.  Since they are getting a little older and slightly easier to manage, we were up for the challenge.

In the course of a day we went for a bike ride on tree-lined streets, took the boys to the beach (neither was a big fan and T.Puzzle continuously covered me in sand from head to toe which I did not find enjoyable) and let them frolic in the kiddie pool resort-side (their favorite part of the day). As evening approached we had managed to snag a respectable, college girl employed by the hotel that was also available for babysitting. The boys hit it off with her immediately and Mad Dog and I were able to have a late dinner in peace.

We returned to our room after dinner to find T.Puzzle and Full Speed sound asleep and looking extremely adorable. It’s amazing how much love can fill your heart when gazing upon slumbering children. We opened the door to the balcony and let the sounds of the ocean fill our room and proceeded to drift off to sleep.

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At about one-thirty in the morning T.Puzzle woke up vomiting. This was not a little spit-up situation; this was full-on vomit warfare. Mad Dog and I were dazed and confused but you know how that Mommy instinct kicks in and you do what you have to do. I became very directive with Mad Dog telling him how to help (which he did beautifully) and proceeded to catch vomit, comfort my sad, little T.Puzzle and clean him up as best I could.

Naturally, he joined us in our bed and went immediately asleep (again, must be due to the magic of Mom and Dad’s bed). Naturally, I proceeded to freak out. My mind immediately jumped to the conclusion that T.Puzzle had the swine flu and I imagined several worst case scenarios. I think Moms tend to do this sometimes and that’s kind of expected especially when our kids our sick. However, since my Mom died, I go to scary places a lot more quickly and I linger there. My Mom had been complaining of a stomach ache, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died days later. Talk about shock and awe. I’m fearful something as awful as that could happen at any turn.

I was awake for what seemed like hours. I cried some; I freaked out some more and missed my Mom a whole lot. Mad Dog was patient and comforted me the best he could.

T.Puzzle woke up the next day outrageously happy, wanting food and telling knock-knock jokes (which he is really bad at by the way). The storm had passed; I was back to being grounded in the present moment. All was well, at least for today.

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