Every. Single. One.
I have an unhealthy love for woodland creatures, with one exception. They are fluffy and sweet and probably rabid but whatever, man. I love them. Back before daddy and I had human children, we used to sit on our porch and watch the groundhogs across the street. Like, for hours. We would pretend they were having conversations with the luscious green grass they were eating. I realize that makes us weird. I get that. Moving on.
When we moved out to the bog land that is The Pants Ranch we were so excited. Surely the groundhog watching would be ten times better. There would be millions of creatures to admire and make up conversations for! But we have been very sorely disappointed, until now.
This is Rocky. He (she?) is the new love of my life. Rocky came to us about month ago when he showed up on the deck mid-morning looking for scraps. He was stumbling around after what I could only assume was an all night bender. Seemingly, unable to find his way home wearing his drunk on berries goggles. I was all, "Hey there little butter sweetness! Go home, it's past your bedtime!" and Rocky took one look at me and scampered off. That's when I saw that there was something wrong with Rocky. His pelvis is messed up. When he tries to run forward he ends up running sideways and tips over. He has a limp. He is a reject raccoon. Probably ostracized from his peers. Maybe even his own mother! He is on his own and he is just the smallest little pumpkin. Not even a teenager raccoon yet.
Of course this made us fall madly in love with him. Madly. Maybe it's because I am done having human babies? Maybe it's because we love an underdog? Who knows? All I know is that I want to love him. Jacked up pelvis and all. And he loves me too. I mean, it has occurred to me that what he actually loves is our kid's habit of throwing his snack food around the yard. I see that it's possible that he doesn't actually love me at all, but rather the Cheezits and toast that Pants leaves for him. And while I know that feeding wild creatures is a bad idea, I just don't know that I can take that away from him. And yes, his sad little face forced my hand and I might have left some day old spaghetti out in the yard for him. Don't judge me! Because he's not your typical raccoon. He's disabled and that makes it impossible to get into the dumpster with all the other raccoons. And it also makes him a sweet lil baby. Sure, a sweet lil baby that would bite my face if I got too close, but a sweet lil baby none the less. So there you have it. There is a new baby in our life. His name is Rocky and we love him. We just do.
PS: I need an intervention or a new baby.
Kids always want what you have. They want to eat from your plate and drink from your cup. Because even if they have the same thing on their own plate and in their cup, yours is magical. Yours tastes better because it is yours. Every parent knows this. It's Parenting 101. So it is with that knowledge that I attempted to trick Mr. Pants to drink prune juice to help him, um, uh.... get to moving after being on narcotics for several days. I poured the juice into my own cup and started to drink. "Mmmmmm", I said to myself. "Mama's special juice is sooo good!" I bragged, as I sipped from my cup from a swirly straw. "Oooh, Plum! Do you want some of Mama's special juice?" She did. She did want some of Mama's special juice. I think to myself how smart I am and I can see Mr. Pants watching the whole thing go down as Plum takes in some huge gulps of special juice. She loves it. She wants more. I can see him thinking, "Do I want some of Mama's special juice?" Plum goes completely bananas for "special juice". Ba-nan-as. I think to myself, "This is so in the bag. How can he possibly resist? I mean the only thing more appealing to a three year than their parent's stuff, is the stuff their sibling has right?
I ask him, "Hey dude, do you want some of mama's special juice?" "No thanks, mama" he politely declines as Plum is bum rushing the cup in my hands like a rabid puppy. I failed. I failed at my brilliant idea. So your Pearl today dear reader is that kids are not dummies. If there had been anything else in that cup, ANYTHING else, I believe he would have gone for it. But he's no dummy. He knew I was neck deep in trickery and he pulled out his manners to make me eat that trickery. I mean, No thanks, mama? In his sweet post surgery whisper. It's like listening to a kitten talk. It is the sweetest damn voice ever. Precious, really. "No thanks, Mama" he said. And that was it.
I have learned a valuable lesson here.
In related news, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize publically to Plum, the victim in this American tragedy, who willing gave herself over to my trickery because she trusts me. Poor thing. Well, I'm sure you can guess the price she paid. And as I scrub the carpet and do a hot wash of laundry, so have I, friends. So have I. We are both a little lighter on our feet this morning. Lesson learned.
I was going to title this post, "How to Get Through the Completely Shitastic Week Following Your Young Child's Tonsillectomy: Hide the Liquor (you) and Potato Chips (them)" but I thought that might seem a smidge dramatic. Then I thought, "Tonsillectomy: An Excersise in Kid Torture, I Want to Cry" might be better. Then I almost called it "Tonsillectomies Suck the High Hard One: How to Prepare For the Worst Week of Your Child's Life" and then I settled on "Eureka! Tonsillectomies are the Devil" only to finally decide to name this post....
How to Help Your Child (and You) Survive the Week Following Their Tonsillectomy /Adenoidectomy
I knew it would be hard. I knew there would be pain and sadness. But sweet Christmas, I didn't know it would be this hard, and this painful and so full of this much sadness. So it is with some field experience under my belt that I bring you this information. We've been in the trenches over here at the Pants Ranch. We are on day five of the healing and today we saw much improvement. Let me tell you it was a huge relief and I might have cried some tears over it because well, it sucks balls to see you child in pain. So with that I give you this field guide. Feel free to print it for your records should you find yourself the parent of a child facing a tonsillectomy. Here's what I have learned...
Educate yourself before the procedure. You are going to hear that it's "routine" and that your kid is going to be "just fine". After that, you will hear stories about when that person had a tonsillectomy of their own and how it was the most horrifying experience. The story they tell will not jive with the "oh he'll be fine" attitude. So scrap whatever they say and instead listen to me. They will be fine. But it is gonna take a good long week of sucking to get there. Be prepared.
Take time off to allow for a week of doing nothing. Clear your calendar because your kid is gonna need you and they will be too tired and hurty to be schlepped around.
Pack your freezer with frozen yummies and stock the fridge with applesauce, yogurt and juices. Now is not the time to be concerned about a balanced diet, you just have to keep them swallowing and drinking for several days. So variety is key.
Consider family meals for the week and how you can make them so that everyone can eat. On the first day, Mr. Pants saw Daddy eating a bag of Sun Chips and he started to cry because he wanted them. This was a light bulb moment for us. We needed to be sensitive to that this week. So for the rest of the week we have all eaten soft, mushy foods. Tonight (day five) was Pasta Carbonara. I made sure the pasta was cooked very well (too well?) and added a little bit too much olive oil so it slid down the throat, I over steamed the peas and broccoli, I minced the bacon into nothingness and I microwaved "garlic" bread so that it was mushy wet bread. Sounds gross right? Well, it kind of was but we all ate the same dinner and no one was left out.
If you have to stay in the hospital overnight...
Pack well. Bring things to do, movies to watch, games to play. I cannot think of a more boring place for a three year old than a hospital room.
Do everything in your power to get the hell out of there the very second you know your kid is ok enough to go home. I'm not dissing hospitals. But man, there is no such thing as actual rest there. At least not when you are three years old and being prodded every few hours. The nurses were very kind to our boy but the fact is well, he's three and hyposensitive. Which as it turns out can go all crazy wonky and become hypersensitive when you add anesthesia, surgery, the unknown and morphine. Anyone touching him produced heart exploding fear. And in hospitals they just don't stop touching you. So get the hell out of Dodge the second you can.
Also prepare your heart.
They will not be their normal self. They may even be angry with you or push you away at times. This could make you feel like the worst mother on the face of the planet. Don't let it. And don't be angry at them for it. Little people need to feel some form of control over their tiny lives and having surgery uniformly takes that away from them. So when they insist on wearing the one pair of dirty underwear among the twenty pairs of clean underwear, maybe just let them. Because they just want to have a say. And Mater underwear makes things better. Note to self: buy more Mater underwear. Ew.
Use the pain medication.
Don't fall behind on this. This is crucial. There is a reason they give you narcotics. Keep the medicine on schedule for the first three days, then if your child is doing well start stretching that out or replacing a dose with regular Tylenol. But just don't mess with it until after day three because...
Day three is the hardest day.
This is the day that scabs start to form in the throat and it suuuucks. So until you are past day three, don't mess with the pain medication schedule. But here's the thing. Narcotics have a nasty side effect. They constipate. So...
Learn from my mistakes.
Be proactive. Encourage pear or prune juice from day one. Use flax oil in their soft food. I wish I had done this before it was too late. It's a kick in the teeth to be constipated on top of everything else. I wish I could go back and have a re-do on that one.
Cut yourself some slack.
Now is not the time to kick your own ass over perceived failures. Hold the line. You can do this. Remember that this will end and that your child needed this surgery because he couldn't breathe. Um, wait, I think I'm just talking to myself on this one. Ok Mama Pants, quit giving yourself a pep talk on the internet and go listen to the sound of your baby breathing through his nose and not snoring. Delight in the awesome-ness of no more obstructive sleep apnea. I'm still doing it, aren't I? Well anyway...
Do not freak out when...
You realize that the foul smell you've been wondering about all day long is actually your sweet lamb's breath. Do not assume that their throat is gangrenous. They are not, repeat NOT, rotting. It is normal. Your kids breath will knock you out. I mean, it's seriously the grossest thing ever. Oh my God.
(PS: Oh. My. God.)
Get them out into some sun and buy them presents.
This will make both of you feel better. Day five just might be the right day for this. But keep it brief. Your little person is very tired. Twenty minutes in the store and they very well could be ready for a nap.
Beware the day five, six or seven backslide.
After you get hopeful that you are firmly in the getting better catagory, there will be a slight backslide. This is because the scabs that formed over the walls of the throat on day three-ish are now falling off and leaving the throat raw. This would be a great time to go back to the popcicle and ice cream diet.
Love them and play with them and cuddle them and never let them go.
Well at least until they look you in the eye and say, "Go out, mama. It's my room". This may be an indicator that you are smothering them. Don't take it personally. They still love you. Sniff sniff.
A few weeks ago, Daddy and I were talking about this night. We were planning on the best possible situation for staying a night in the hospital with Mr. Pants. "Who do you think should stay with him", I asked. "Before you answer that, you know I won't be able to leave him right? Like it won't be physically possible." I was probably crying the anxiety tears while saying this but I cannot confirm or deny that. Daddy totally understood. Hospitals kind of skeeved him out anyway and we had two babies to arrange for. It seemed the perfect solution that I would stay with Mr. Pants and Daddy would come home to be with Plum.
Well here I sit. At home with Plum. Daddy is pulling the all nighter at the hospital. I'm a mess. But it's ok. It's ok because I picked the right Daddy for my kids. I'm not the only one that brings comfort when they are hurting.
It all started in the pre op waiting. I answered the questions and gave the health history. I talked with the Child Life Specialist and prepared them all for what I predicted would happen. Mr. Pants was scared. Daddy played with him and held him. "No touch!", he yelled at everyone who came within a foot of him. He even went as far as to chastise the RN for listening to his heart. "My back! Not yours!", he told her, letting her know that it was his body and she had no business messing with it. He would be constantly touching his dad. Never leaving him for even a second. They even let Daddy take him to the operating room.
When Daddy came back we both let some tears flow. Fifteen minutes later they were calling us back. The surgery was over.
As we entered (ran to?) the recovery area, he was upset. He really really didn't want that blood pressure cuff. Or the IV. Or the pulse oxygen monitor. The sound of his scratchy voice stabbed through my mama heart and we set out to help calm him. He reached up and saw his daddy first. The nurse told him that he could pick him up and rock him, so that's what daddy did. And Mr. Pants relaxed into him and drifted back off to sleep. This was right about the time I realized that Daddy was The One today.
It stung, but just for a few minutes. My mama heart wanting to be The One on this day. I took a minute to gather my feelings and I came within seconds of trying to hold the baby one crib over whose mama hadn't made it back yet. But thankfully a nurse picked her up and comforted her right before I lost my marbles and tried to mother her. Focusing back on Mr. Pants and Daddy, I felt my love for both of them start spilling out of me. Daddy's fear of hospitals all but gone. Because his boy needed him. And so we went about the rest of the day caring for the lil dude. He was sad, spacey and hurty. We held him and encouraged him to drink. He asked for pizza but settled for noodles and applesauce.
He didn't want either of us to leave. "Take a seat, mama" he ordered when I tried to hit the bathroom. "Take a seat, daddy" he suggested when daddy tried to do the same. All day we tried to discern what he wanted. Which one of us should stay? It wasn't so clear anymore. We encouraged him to lay down and rest in the crib. He stared off and just seemed so sad.
We stood united on the decision to ditch the crib they suggested and request a bed. We signed a waiver that we would never leave him alone in the room (um, duh) and they releneted and gave us a real bed. I mean, we are a bed sharing family. Mr. Pants refused to even lay his head down in that big old crib. He wasn't gonna sleep alone. Not on one of the scariest days of his life. Nope. He needed company. A snuggle buddy. His favorites. Daddy, Thomas and Percy.
And in the end I came to the final conclusion that Daddy was it. It was getting late and grandma, who had been watching Plum, needed to get home. My boobs were about to explode because I had been so wrapped up in this day that I forgot to pump. So I told Mr. Pants that I was going to take care of Plum and that Daddy would take care of him. He seemed pretty cool with that. Especially when they went off on an adventure to the playroom.
I spoke to the nurses about his pain medication throughout the night. I told them that he needed really cold apple juice and that bringing in ice to make it cold was a good idea. My head almost popped right off as I readied to leave my husband and baby. I repeated myself about fifty times to Daddy about what to do. He didn't roll his eyes once. I didn't want to go. He knew that and he was careful to protect my heart. But Daddy was The One today. And on this scary day for our baby, his needs are more important than mine. So as I left the room to head home, I snapped one last picture. My big guy and my little guy were going off on a flashlight adventure.
I kissed them both and headed home to care for Plum. Who, it turns out, as though she knew I needed an act of mercy, really really needed her mama tonight.
Thank you to everyone who has been thinking of Mr. Pants! I have been so moved by the messages I have recieved and the love shown to our big guy. He is doing great! I can't wait for him to be all healed up and to hear his sweet little voice without those pesky adenoids and tonsils jacking up his airflow. Let the ice cream bonanza begin!
There are times when your tiny humans will go completely insane. Usually this will happen when you are trying to calm them down for bed. If yours are like mine, then you are familiar with the Yell-a-Thon. You know, when one starts yelling and the other one joins in and before you know it, you have blown an eardrum and your eyeball is twitching? I knew you knew. Just wanted to make sure that you knew that I knew you knew. I have the anti-serum. The 100% foolproof tactic that ends a Yell-a-Thon. All you gotta do is start yelling with them. Nine times out of ten, this is what will happen...
Step one: Begin yelling - This will startle them at first. They will be all, "Hold up. Wait. What are you doing, mama?"
Step two: "Mama's FUN!" - This is when they join you because they realize that you are the coolest mom that ever happened. This is the longest step and can take several minutes.
Step three: Boooooring - Children have short attention spans. This is what works in your favor to end the yelling. After a bit of fun, your kids will be all, "Ok, enough mom. Jeez. Stop yelling already!" And VOILA! The noise level goes back to normal.
A video demonstration? Totally. You're welcome.
This morning I awoke at five am. Daddy crept into the bedroom softly to let me know two things. Pants was awake (and had been for an hour already) and that he was heading to work (boo!) so I needed to get up. "Is coffee made?" I whisper like an addict, and stumble as quietly out of the room as is possible so I don't wake Plum. Thankfully, the coffee was hot and fresh. I poured myself a cup and Daddy headed out to work. After about ninety seconds of coffee sipping and sitting down to Words with Friends, it started.
The Great Train Crisis of 2012.
Tap tap on my arm, "Mama? Ah Thomas? Ah Percy?". "I don't know, bud. Are they in your room?". A look of whole body sadness comes over Pants and tears come to his eyes. "Ah Thomas, ah Percy?" and the tears spill out. Oh boy. A very selfish part of me ached for the coffee and mindless computer games that I had wanted enjoy and ease into the day. I mean, it was, in fact, the ass crack of dawn and for fifteen seconds I wanted to join him in a mournful cry. But his sadness became more important than mine and we began the hunt for Thomas and Percy. His most beloved toys. Above all others, Thomas and Percy are kings. Kings of the Pants Family toy kingdom. In his three year old world, this qualified as a crisis. A real crisis. I think to myself, Suck it up, Mama Pants. This boy needs your help. His sadness is real and you are his only hope for happiness this morning. You are his Obi-Wan. And with that symbolic slap across the face, I set out to help my boy.
Two hours later the world would be right again. Zoinks! You read that right. Two. Solid. Hours. Two hours of sweating and searching. Desperation getting the better of me at times as I offered toys and game ideas that I knew he wouldn't go for. His best friends were missing! This was a crisis situation. I texted Daddy, "Defcon Five. Have you seen Thomas and Percy?". He texted back that he hadn't seen them and offered their usual haunts. Which I knew. I resisted the urge to text back, "Well, DUH!", because he was trying to help and me being an ungrateful butthole was not going to help.
The search continued.
I found Tiny Thomas. Tiny Thomas is just ridiculous. It is a Christmas ornament. It's tiny. The wheels don't move. I guess I just don't know why we even keep him around. I try to give him to Mr. Pants anyway. "Ah NOT WANT DAT!!". I make a mental note to destroy Tiny Thomas someday.
Piece by piece I uncovered the right stuff. The grey track was obviously wrong, he needed the blue track. I put together the big tunnel but alas, I miscalculated his tunnel needs. He preferred the smaller, cozier tunnel this fine morning. And now with his accoutrements readied for a train ride, it was high time I found one of those damn trains. I found Thomas first. He was under the green chair. And I mean sure, I looked under the green chair fourteen times. It wasn't until the fifteenth time that I saw Thomas staring back at me with those grossly sweet "please love me" eyes. I cut myself some slack for this oversight remembering my coffee sitting all alone and full. Abandoned. Cold. But anyway, BOOYAH! I FOUND THOMAS!!! HELL FREAKING YES!!! I smile at Mr. Pants and say, "Come here, Bud. Look!". "Oh Mama! AH THOMAS!", he exclaims. His happiness gives me the nuts to say to him, "Bud, Mama's gonna take a break and have some coffee. Play with Thomas for now and I will help find Percy in a little bit". His response? "OK, Mama!" Right about here I fall a little more in love with my kid. He has his BFF and he trusts that my word is good.
So here's the part where I think sometimes I am tempted to go back on my word. The kid is happy and I've put in some serious effort to make that happen. It is still ridiculously early and I may be a little salty about that. It occurs to me that I could probably just sit at the computer, drink my coffee and leave it at that. He'd probably be just fine. But there's a little voice in my head reminding me, "You said you would. You bet your ass he will remember that you told him one thing and did another. Don't be a liar". The reason he accepted the deal is because he trusts that my word is good. And it is. And by George, PERCY isn't going to be the destruction of that (climactic cymbal crash)! I'm feeling pretty invincible at this point and my take no prisoners attitude leads me right to Percy. Well, after looking for thirty minutes but the moment I saw him, buried in the blankets of "the camping" section in my room, a smile spread on my face. My own personal cold case was closed. Here I come, Words with Friends!
It has been my experience that when your husband finally calls you out on some suspect clothing choices, it's usually because you have chosen something so ridiculous that he can no longer hold his tongue. I mean, dudes usually try and stay pretty diplomatic about that sort of thing, no? Mine does. He's not a fashionista or Metro. He's Daddy Pants. And he wears tie dye six days a week. Sometimes seven. In the elevator last evening on our way to have Pants' blood drawn for pre-surgery lab work, Daddy could no longer keep silent. I had gone too far. I had fallen so far from my fancy that he decided to speak up. "Maaaaaama", he said in a very sad tone. "A ripped tank top that's tied back together?". My first instinct was to punch him in the nuts. My second was to defend myself. "Nooooo. Its TWO tank tops. Only one is ripped and only one is tied at the top. Not the same thing", I sputter like a kid caught stealing from grandma. "Not the same", I repeat under my breath. His only response is, "Maaaaama, no!". My only response to his only response is a very sophisticated, "You just shut it. Shut it right now."
But he was right. I was in public looking completely ridiculous. Like bad. Now I could lie right now and say it was because I was readying the kids and we were running late and I forgot to change my clothes. But that wouldn't be true. The truth is that I did think about changing. I knew I looked a hot scary mess. And I decided to not give a shart. But a funny thing happens when you walk into a waiting room full of people looking like you were just mauled by tiger. You may wish you'd have made a different choice. Even just a clean t-shirt would have done the trick. For shame, Mama. For shame!
A few weeks ago, I very confidently told my husband that I needed his help. That if I had a random kid stain, he should tell me. If I looked strung out, tell me. if my breath was horrifying, I needed to know. I told him that my gauge was off and I'd been spending too much time alone with children to adequately dress and care for myself anymore. I needed a live in main gay, but since I didn't have one, the job fell to him. He agreed but I could sense his fear. His unease at the idea of telling me anything of the sort. He may have broken into a cold sweat. I pretty much assumed he would do nothing of the sort and that he was placating me.
Yesterday, he took the plunge. And after my initial reaction, which was to injure him, passed. I was proud of him. He risked his life to bring that information to me. It's what I asked of him.
They were my favorites. Like ever. I loved them like no others. They are comfy and purple. I wore them while knocked up with both kids. I will probably never find the kind of soft stretchy love that I found in them ever again. But it's time to say goodbye (well the time was probably about 15 months ago but whatever).
Way to hold up the proverbial mirror, Daddy Pants. I am making rags of those two tanks today. Yes, I am.
Last week during our trip to summer camp we hit a snag. On Thursday evening after dinner, I noticed Plum seemed spacey. Now we'd been away from home since Sunday and I wasn't alarmed at first because we were all very tired. But it soon became clear that she wasn't feeling well. Taking her back to our air conditioned room, I noticed that she felt hot. But we had just been outside for quite a while and we were all hot. So I waited about fifteen minutes and started feeling everyone's skin. Hers was still hot. And she was still spacey. Her face flushed. I stripped her down and turned up the air conditioning, laid her down and started nursing her. That's when she really freaked my freak because she started to pant and stare at me. For about two hours. I was going on the assumption of run of the mill fever. So I gave her some Motrin and continued to nurse her and that's when she started vomiting. I applied some cool rags (well socks actually), stripped her clothes and fed her sip by sip of the only thing we had in our dorm room, PowerAde and water for the next hour. She had drained my milk and barfed it all up. I knew though that the breast milk had done part of the hydrating job it needed to (Side note: Did you know that breast milk digests so fast that even if baby vomits shortly after nursing they retain a lot of its nutrients? Totally true).
Thankfully her body started to cool pretty quickly. Remember that she had vomited the Motrin. It wouldn't occur to me until the next day that what we were dealing with was heat exhaustion. I do know that if she didn't start cooling down soon, we were headed to the emergency room. But her panting stopped around one a.m. and she finally fell into comfortable sleep around three a.m. The next morning she was grumpy and sluggish but in much better spirits and more like her normal self. Thankfully out of the woods. But the idea that heat exhaustion didn't occur to me until after the fact, surprised me. I bit the big one on that. Total fail. I did some Googling and reading up on it as soon as we arrived home. And right there in black and white was an explanation of what we had just gone through. I can promise you I will never leave that off the mystery illness checklist ever again.
So instead of kicking myself in the pants about it, I thought I'd share the information. There's a new heat wave rolling over the country soon and there are sure to be more in August. So now is as good a time as any to inform yourself about the symptoms and treatment of heat exhaustion in kids.
Stay cool, everyone! I hope you are enjoying an amazing summer with your favorite people. And keep those babies/kids/animals/imaginary friends and YOU hydrated!
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion**
*Dehydration: be sure your baby is drinking plenty of fluids! For Plum, she was way to busy to nurse when we were out and about. I pushed fluids all day and she seemed to be doing well. But her normal intake of breast milk had greatly diminished. If your baby is still in diapers be sure to keep a close eye on how many pee diapers they have in a 24 hour period. They should have several good and wet diapers a day. For older children, monitor their bathroom breaks to watch for signs of dehydration (darker yellow or strong smelling urine)
*Clammy skin: This is the body responding to excessive heat and working in overdrive to cool down.
*Headache: A sign of dehydration
*Nausea and/or vomiting
*Hyperventilation (rapid breathing): This one right here should have tipped me off about Plum. She has had fevers before but she has never panted.
**the more severe the symptoms the more likely it is an emergency situation. When in doubt, call your doctor or take your child to an urgent care facility.
What to Do
*Bring your child indoors or into the shade
*Loosen or remove clothing
*Encourage your child to eat and drink
*Give your child a bath in cool (not cold) water
* Call you doctor for further advice if your child is unable to eat or drink or cool down. IV fluids may be needed.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can escalate to heat stroke which is a life threatening emergency. To read about heat stroke, what to look for and what to do, head over here.
I used to be a professional know it all about kids. A lot of what I knew, I lost the second I became a mom. Poof! It's was gone. I struggled and treaded water for a while before I found my confidence again. But one thing never left me. One bit of knowledge always stayed. Knowing what is a reasonable expectation and what isn't. For example it is not within reason to think that your three year old will make it through dinner without spilling something. Or that your one year old is safe to navigate climbing the furniture without a spotter. I am constantly evaluating my expectations of my kids. So it's coming as a bit of a kick to the nuts that I have no idea what to expect from Mr. Pants a week from today. Surgery day. I mean, there are the obvious emotions and recovery expectations but it's the severity of these that I won't know about until he is in it. I won't know until we do it. I hate that. My compulsion to plan out very possibility is sometimes consuming. The lists of comfort items, things for the freezer to soothe his pain, what activities will keep him happy, how to get him to take his pain medication, will he be angry, sad, scared (yes, yes and yes. But in what order and when!?).
When I sat down to write today, this is what came out, "I hate this". I stared at that for about twenty minutes. Hoping to find inspiration to write about anything other than this. But I got nothing. Because this is what's on my mind. I "know" that this is considered common. I "know" he will eventually be fine. I "know" that as far as surgery goes, there are kids and parents dealing with much much much bigger fish. So why am I stuck here? Why can't I write about anything else? Because no matter what other people's reality is, this is ours. This is our big fish for now. So my parenting in this situation is uncharted territory. And I am not a fan of the unexpected. I'm a thinker. Sometimes to a fault. Just ask Daddy Pants. I've been known to throw out probable outcomes like some people consider their lunch order. But instead of vacillating between the turkey club or the rueben, I move between scenarios and prepare for them. Before our recent vacation, I voiced perhaps a million times to Daddy that there "will be meltdowns" and that we needed to go with the flow and not expect too much. Not force things. Just go with the flow. Sometimes when I really get going I can almost hear him thinking, "DUDE, I know." It would seem it's time to take my own advice. Because there is no way to fully prepare. So I have to just parent on the fly.
I know he will be ok. At some point. It would thrill me to know exactly when, but I can't know that. So today I am focusing my plan on comforting him. Bringing comfort. Being comfort. Because that is something I know how to do. It's funny how we know our kids, isn't it? There will be looks that I understand. Words he will say to me that only Daddy or I can interpret. Gut feelings that will tell us how he is doing. An understanding of him that no nurse or doctor can tap into. Instinct that will guide us to help him recover. That is where I am putting my focus now. And as I came to that place this morning, it occurred to me that it's where I start in all of my parenting. I know my boy. I know this is going to be very hard on him. And because of that, it will be very hard on me. It's the price of parenting, isn't it? We feel our kids' pain. We'd trade places with them in a heartbeat. But because we cannot, we are given the blessing of that punch to the gut. It's in taking that and using it to know how to bring comfort that I am counting on. One week from today. One week from today, we tackle this. And I'm going in with no concrete plan. Realizing that concrete plans are never as concrete as we think they are anyway. And that revelation as I typed it just now, has helped me be ready. Daddy and I will be as ready as we can be. Armed with the best tools we have in our tool box. Knowing our son. Understanding him. Loving him. And also popcicles.