Monday, January 26, 2015

The other milestones

Our culture has a lot of milestones, but I am frequently challenged with the milestones presented to me in stores, online, and between friends. First words, steps, foods, etc. are important, yes. But what about first stitches? First urgent care visit? First traumatic experience for mama (well, after the birth experience, of course!)?

What do we do with those milestones (other than flip out and cry and get more protective and cautious)? Who do we tell? Who celebrates our survival when it happens? Who helps us reflect on the process of growing up (of both kid and parent)?

K got his first set of stitches (I need to be realistic with the idea that this may not be the last experience of stitches....ugh) on Thursday. I am thankful for his teachers who had the foresight to tell me to pick him up early and get his split chin checked out. I probably would've let it scab over, resulting in a huge scar.

We went to urgent care and it looked like he was going to need FOUR stitches! What? My kid? But isn't getting stitches hereditary (admittedly, my brain wasn't functioning properly when I had this thought)? I never had stitches and I was so careful, why was my kid even here? We're tougher than this! We can handle a little cut, etc.

Seriously. I was freaking out I think.

I picked up K, he had napped, and we waited to connect with Papa before heading to the doctor. I guess I was a bit scared too. Stitches wasn't something I could do myself. I'd never seen it done. I didn't know what to expect and couldn't help K either.

We got there and immediately K started telling the intake rep what happened (and anyone else who made eye contact). Then he ran to look at the fish in the lobby. Good, get his mind off of what's about to happen.

Then we went into the room to be seen and after about three different people came and went, we started the procedure. He got some light numbing (just for kids, they told me) and then we were told to hold him still. This involved, one PA, one nurse, one papa, one mama, and one grandma. Wow. Immediately K said, "All done. Ouchee." Crap. This is the part where one second felt like a million years and I had to watch this phys. assistant try to stitch K's chin while he's narrating his experience ("I'm stuck! Help me mama! Hold me mama! Ouchee!") and I am trying to hold his tiny hand, which felt infinitely smaller than it had moments before, and not flip out. At one point I got light-headed and having not previously been sqeamish, I didn't grasp what I was actually feeling (hot, dizzy, distant, etc.). They nurse asked someone to bring ice water (and I realized it was for me) and I sat down for a moment. But then K yelled, "Mama, hold me, hold me, hold me, I'm stuck!" and I leapt up again to grab his hand, pushing aside any feelings of weakness or inability to handle this.

The entire time J is lying down, holding K's arms and legs, while the nurse is holding K's head still (strong kid though, because all of us couldn't hold him still!), and my mom is helping hold other moving parts.

The traumatic event finally ended and K just said, "See the fishes now?" My mind was like, "What? What fish?" Oh, right, the fish in the waiting room! He just wanted to get back there. He didn't run screaming out of the room, but just wanted to see the fish. J and I were basically in shock and we followed K out to hopefully save him the shock we were experiencing. Once fish were seen, we were off to dinner. We were about to get in the car and I realized that I we didn't get any discharge papers or pay a copay or whatever else we needed to do. That's when I realized that I was in shock and this was a traumatic experience for me.

I hadn't gotten anything for my heart. There was no follow-up about being able to drive or taking a moment to stabilize before operating a vehicle. There was just action, action, action.
After a meal, we finally calmed a little but I had been experiencing these really helpless feelings around K getting stitches and me not being able to help him (and really, I was one of the ones holding  him down!) while he hurt. That's intense, if you haven't felt that before.

He's bonked his head before and then resiliently rebounded into action in mere seconds. This just felt profoundly different that a kid bonk. And I needed to tell the story over and over so that I could get some healing too (a technique a friend of mine explains here). K just wants to show the wound, talk about the fish and the bandaid covering it, and move on. I want hugs, pats on the back for surviving, and knowing glances about how tough it can be to be a mom/parent sometimes. J had his own trauma, too and that was the thing that got me. All three of us had this experience but created different aspects for ourselves. And even though it was a routine thing for the folks at urgent care, it was like this deeply moving thing for us as parents and yet, there was no ceremony to go through celebrating our survival.

How many other experiences are there like this one? In a lifetime, there are countless.

As parents there will be countless ways we will feel like we are holding our kid down (or not coming to their aid) when it's all for his/her good and we won't be able to talk about that until later...and that is uncomfortable for me. My kid will inevitably have to go through his life without me giving him all the answers, preventing all the hurt, and will also include me looking like I am doing the transgression to him personally. The thought makes me nauseous. Because I CHOSE to have a child. I chose to bring a child up and that includes these inevitable moments. And we're also considering having another child where these experiences will exponentially increase! WHAT?

So yeah, I am just now coming out of the shock of that.

In a spiritual way, it also has recently come to me that God/Spirit has to endure these moments as well. Sometimes I need to be hurt a certain way to give me a certain experience and God/Spirit really can't swoop down and save me from the hurt. I need to experience my own resiliency. I need to survive a scar. I need to learn how to get stronger. What heartache that would cause a parent of that magnitude. Thank goodness I don't consider God/Spirit to be too much like a human.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Having compassion for 2 year olds...

So K is 2 years old and almost 5 months. We can easily round up to a solid 2.5 years old, development-wise. Meaning he's is IN IT. And as his parents, so are we.

Yesterday, there were some strong feelings (I'm not naming names) about not getting a Clif bar (and really, it was about going to the store, which he thinks is a ritual and I can't say it's not...:S) and then there was some mean things said about not going to the library (I know, really? was I preventing my book-obsessed kid from going to the horrible library AND denying him a Clif bar?? What kind of monster am I? Oh, one who has some boundaries and limitations and can't go to the library or go to the store to quiet a screaming child...but I digress) and it was a rough ride home.

When we got in the house we needed to cool down and take a breath.

Sometimes my husband and I have just resulted to shrugging and raising our eyebrows as a parenting method that loosely translates into, "I have no fucking clue what just happened, but I think some growing and developing is going on and I really don't know how to help him!" I actually feel like I "lose" my kid while he derails and it's heart-breaking to watch him go...and I really can't hold on to him. In fact, the thing I feel that would most help him is this unbreakable hug where I basically use my brute force to keep him from flailing (like a parental straight-jacket). Ah, of course I think that would has for so long, right?...all the strapping him in, holding him close, swaddling, etc. It has worked for a long time...

But upon reflection, I realize that no, that won't work anymore, sadly. He'll separate from me regardless of the intensity of my hugging. That's the nature of our relationship. So how can I make it easier? How can I just stay present while he derails?

One way to do it, is to just literally stay present and have compassion (the "co-" part is key!). Silent, engaged, listening, eye contact, grounded energy, staying there. People will do this thing OVER AND OVER until the moment of our death (the final separation in the physical sense) and we better start practicing it (if we haven't already been).

I can also hold space (or ask for a bigger entity to hold space) while he flails. In a way, I am flailing too. I am also experiencing this separation, right? As an adult, with more awareness, of course, but it's still scary. How do I know he's ready? How can I tell him it's okay? How can I tell him that I am still *here* when we are both obviously feeling this huge difference/shift in our relationship? I don't know, but a bigger presence in the world (God, Mother Nature, the Universe, etc) knows. And so I can (and try to) trust that.

Other than those things (and variations of those things) there isn't much else I can do. I really need to keep clear about that. I cannot really make it easier. It's hard. Just like my parents couldn't help me handle my hormones as a teenager (ugh, what a mess!). I will just not be able to do some things to help. No amount of therapy or books or awesome parenting tricks will work. Separation is the combination of destruction and creation in the SAME moment! It's hard for me and I'm an adult, so it MUST be much harder for this little person who hasn't really had to do it a lot yet.

So in the end, what I am going on about is growing my ability and capability to be compassionate. K is not doing this TO me. He's unable to talk about why and how this is happening and the best thing I can do is to be firm, kind, and present (and maybe toughen up my own skin a bit?). We'll make it through. Billions of people have done it for millions of years. It's survivable. And a little compassion goes a long way...


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