My youngest daughter provided me with a brand new, unforgettable Mother’s Day experience this year!
The day before Mother’s Day was wonderful. I volunteered at the MS Walk in the morning with my Girl Scout troop. When I got home, my older daughter had finished the laundry and washed the dishes! Then I got to volunteer with my younger daughter, helping the local Food Bank collect food from the National Postal Workers Food Collection.
When we got home, the dog had already been fed. We were off to celebrate a former babysitter’s graduation from college. This meant that we not only got to celebrate but also that I didn’t need to make dinner (happy dance)! To wrap up this great day, my family went to the Wind Symphony. This is always wonderful, but this time they featured Rhapsody in Blue, one of my favorite classical pieces. After the show, we enjoyed visiting with a few band members (my daughters’ music teachers) and some close friends. But the day was not over yet. I was treated to my daughters playing, or attempting to play, duets with new music they just bought that day. The evening lasted much later than planned, but I couldn’t interrupt the joyful sound of music and laughter coming from the other room!
And then Mother’s Day happened.
M in ambulance
In last week’s post, I wrote how often times Mother’s Day dreams and expectations can be derailed. This is especially true if we do not make our wishes known or have unrealistic expectations. I knew that this year I would be spending most of my day at the soccer field. I decided not to plan or expect anything other than some time with my family. My husband had a game at 11 and we did not have enough time to get home for lunch before my daughter’s team warmed up. And while it wasn’t a fancy Mother’s Day meal, Subway was still lunch I didn’t have to prepare (another happy dance).
The first game went as well as can be expected in what my husband refers to as the “Old Man’s League.” There were no major injuries or fights, so we consider that a win! And my husband’s team did actually score one goal more than the other team, but it is really not about winning for most of the players in this league. It’s about not getting hurt, having fun/exercising, and then hanging out with adult beverages after the game. Yes, in that order.
The second game, my daughter’s game started and the teams seemed pretty well matched and determined to win. Towards the end of the game, the other team was up by 1. Then we heard some thunder and I glanced up to see the lightning in the far distance. When I looked back, Megan was down. She started to get up and then rolled over back onto the ground. It looked like she was holding her arm. Not the arm she broke (humerus bone) playing soccer in the Fall 2016 season, the other one.
She didn’t get up and the coach was called. She appeared to be talking but was not moving. I know they were telling her to be still, but she wasn’t moving her legs at all. No words can accurately describe the feeling of watching that from a distance. My stomach varied from butterflies (maybe it was nausea?) to what felt like crushed glass rolling around. My heart was in my throat, my breath being held and my brain was screaming for Megan to at least move a little so I would know she was going to be OK. Someone from the other team left the sidelines and went to help and then my husband, who had been standing down at that end of the field went on. I waited for them to call me over
After what seemed like an eternity, I didn’t wait for the call and I went out. They thought at that moment was that she had possibly pinched a nerve in her neck. She could move all of her extremities, but her entire left side hurt. I had a flashback to the season where she was kicked in her left leg and ended up with nerve damage. She was eventually diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It wasn’t pretty, but it was much better than what was flashing through my mind moments earlier on the sideline.
Mother’s Day 2018 was not at all what I expected – but I did get to spend a LOT of time with my younger daughter. We experienced a lot of “Firsts” together. We had our first ambulance ride. Megan had her first IV, visit to the ER, her first CAT Scan, her first CT arterial Scan and her first MRI… she also got to spend 9 hours in a C Collar to prevent her from moving her neck while the trauma team tried to figure out what was going on. Megan couldn’t eat or drink until the results came back. Besides the uncomfortable C Collar and a sense of restlessness from lying around and only being able to see the ceiling for hours, not being able to eat and drink was probably the hardest part for her. She hadn’t eaten since noon, just played most of a tough soccer game and was very tired, hungry and thirsty.
After checking into the pediatric wing of the hospital at 1:30 am and waiting for the trauma doctor to bring results, the collar was removed and Megan was allowed to eat and drink. We celebrated with chicken strips and fries at 2:30 am.
The good news, ALL SCANS were within normal range. They aren’t really sure what happened or is happening, but there was nothing that the trauma doctors and neurosurgeons could see that scared them. Megan was to remain under close watch for 24 hours. It seems as if my soccer player has a common football injury known as a “stinger” (brachial plexus injury). It will be a bit of work (PT) and a while before she is back to her active self again, but she should be fine.
As I sit in the hospital waiting for the final doctor visit and our release papers, I will gladly admit, I did not see that Mother’s Day adventure coming! I am so grateful for Megan’s health and lack of severe injury. I am grateful to the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who provided excellent care during our 23+ hours with them. I am grateful to the concerned parents and players on both sides of the field. I am also grateful to the EMTs and Firefighters who took care of Megan on the field and kept a sense of humor (taking the picture in the ambulance) so I could remain composed and so Megan wouldn’t be as scared.
I was held together by our extended family and friends who continued to text and support us during the wee hours of the morning. It helps that my sister’s family lives in a time zone that is 9 hours ahead! And even though I am not proud to say this, I was also grateful that my daughter could text and connect with her friends through social media. It really helped distract her, although my arm did get tired holding the phone in a position over her face so she could see it. Megan was not able to see the TV with her neck in the C Collar so her friends provided entertainment and support.
So parents, please hug your babies of all ages close tonight. Everything can change in a second. I know I talk about the Self-fulfilling prophecy a lot. Look for the good in your child(ren) and you will find it. You will also find more of the good and less of the other stuff if you are actively looking for the good. It’s in there!
TUESDAY FOLLOW UP
Since I didn’t get a chance to post this on Monday, here is a brief “Follow Up.”
We haven’t heard anything about Megan’s lower body – and now that I can stop and think things through a little more clearly, I’m realizing they didn’t do any lower body scans. We’ll follow up at her doctor’s appointment on Friday. However…
Amazingly as of today, the Tuesday after Mother’s Day, Megan is back at school! She’s using crutches and has access to an elevator. She is still very weak on her entire left side, but her arm is much stronger. She is able to use crutches to and from classes as long as she rests during class. I’m on call for when she needs to leave early. She will be missing the Biking Unit in an elective class that she is re-taking because she missed it last year when she broke her humerus… but she IS up and moving! We are so thankful!!!
Here we are! We have officially entered what I lovingly (?!) call the 90 days of May. If you have children in school, you know what I’m talking about. There are concerts and performances, last minute projects due, special ceremonies, end of school year events, all in between the regular practices, lessons, games and meetings. And don’t forget Teacher Appreciation Week or Mother’s Day! Or the groceries or the garbage that needs to go out!
It can be very overwhelming. You will have days where you feel like you are a horrible parent. We all do! It’s hard when you are exhausted, stretched to the max and everybody needs something from you.
Remember to BREATHE!
It is likely that you will snap once or twice at your children, at your spouse, even at yourself. That is OK. It happens to all of us. The trick is to not let it happen too often. The ideal, is to get to a point where the exhaustion and snapping happens less and less. When I work with my One on One clients, we create simple systems to get to that point where you can get through the 90 days of May and actually enjoy most of the activities and the chaos.
As parents, we think everyone else expects us to be Super Mom or Super Dad. Sometimes, we put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else. When you have one of those moments when the world seems to be falling apart, take 30 seconds – that’s it, 30 seconds – to stop and BREATHE. For some folks, deep breathing for 30 seconds can work wonders. For the rest of us, or those of us who need to quiet our mind from racing, here’s another option:
In just 30 seconds, pay attention to all 5 of your senses.
– What do you hear right now? Even if it’s a crying, screaming child, remember that the child has lungs healthy enough to let you know something is not right. In the future, those lungs might power a solo in the choir or a musical instrument.
– What do you see? What is something within view that brings you pleasure? It could be a picture of your family or a bird on the tree outside. Look for something that makes you smile.
– What do you smell? If you are changing a diaper (Hey, life happens!) can you think of something that smells nice? A flower, a candle, the honeysuckle bush outside, or hot chocolate?
– What do you taste? If you are not currently eating, can you plan to eat something that makes your taste buds happy today?
– What do you notice about touch? Are you holding a sweet little hand? Do you have fuzzy socks on that you enjoy? Can you pet your dog/cat?
Taking 30 seconds amid the chaos can help ground you.
And what happens when you do snap? Think about what you would say to your child if he/she was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed? Think about what your child was feeling to cause the actions or the behavior that just happened. What would you do? Say these things to yourself. Take care of yourself first. Then you can go apologize to the person you snapped at earlier.
When you are ready to apologize for snapping, you can start by saying “Boy, I was pretty awful at being a parent/spouse earlier.” You can explain why, or you can jump to talking about how you will try to avoid this happening again in the future. By doing so, you are being human. You are being real. You are also teaching your children/spouse that they might have “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days (to quote Alexander from a book by Judith Viorst) and that’s OK. It’s what they do with these days, what they learn from them, how they survive and get through them that counts!
It is OK to ask for help. Email me at DrRenee@HelpingParentsParent.com to set up a 20 minute strategy session. I make time in my schedule to offer 5 of these strategy sessions for free each month. This could be your month to get out of overwhelm and back into enjoying parenting.
I anticipate a few “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” moments, but I wish you many more “happy and healthy” days during the upcoming 90 Days of May!
I am posting this a bit early. I wanted to give you a little time to try the ideas below so that you don’t have to start them at midnight on February 13th!
Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day, or just love chocolate, love seems to be in the air this time of year.
According to Dictionary.com, LOVE is…
A profound tender, passionate affection for another person.
A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
I remember when we first brought our daughter home. In between the sense of overwhelm and fear that if we didn’t “do it right” someone would come take her back, I developed this incredible sense of love for our tiny infant. It was something so strong I couldn’t describe it in words.
I was a actually a bit worried when we brought her sister home that this would hurt, or somehow diminish, the love I had for her. It didn’t. It’s amazing how much a heart can grow!
Some of you are going through challenges with your children and aren’t feeling that love right now. I get it. Believe me – we have both teen and pre-teen girls in our house! It can be very hard at times to remember the love you felt when you were first getting to know your child, whether that was at birth or any age you brought a child into your life.
Here are three things to help you get that feeling back. It won’t happen overnight, but try one – or all three – to help you feel the love between you and your child more often.
1) Write a Love Letter to Your Child
Take some time to think about what you most love, admire or enjoy about your child. Put this in a letter and mail it to your child. Be sure to include what makes you most proud to call him/her your child.
2) Create a Love List
If writing a letter is not your thing, write a “Top Ten Reasons I Love You” list. Some ideas to get you started: I love your smile, kind heart, how you care about your friends, share your toys nicely, how you cuddle with our dog, when we brush our teeth together and see who can get their teeth the cleanest, …. Be creative.
3) Love Notes
Write a short and sweet love note to your child and put it in his/her lunch box or leave it at the breakfast/dinner table each day of Valentine’s week. “Have fun in school today” or “I love your smile” are two ideas.
Here is an easy craft idea I sent out to my weekly Tip subscribers:
Cut out large hearts in different colors. Write notes on each of the hearts and tape them to your child’s door. The notes can be things you love about your child or you can use candy-heart sayings (Be Mine, I Luv U). You could even stick one heart per year that your child has been alive – this is easier for kids to understand when they are older. Be aware that younger children might wonder why they didn’t get as many hearts as their older siblings, so just be ready with an explanation.
If you have a young child who can’t read yet, glue or draw pictures onto the hearts. The pictures can be of family and friends who love your child or fun/cute pictures from magazines or the internet.
Sometimes it’s the little things that can melt a heart and see big changes.
If you are feeling the challenges of raising a child, please take advantage of my February Special: One-on-One Coaching sessions are only $49
Click the picture for more information.
This is not just for new parents – if you have worked with me before, you can take advantage of this, too!