My blogging software always ask me “What’s on your mind?” Well, before I sit down about a million things… the softness of cashmere yarn, which I am knitting with for the first time; the lovely evening in we had recently with friends; how our physiotherapist helped me recognize the achievements that C has been making in the past few weeks, while I thought we were in a period of plateau. But then I sit down to type and all I can think is about how exhausted I am.
A few days ago I had a lovely day out with the “bigs”, as I think of them now. We went to the aquarium as a family, then dropped the babes at home. I took my bigs to get our nails done. P even got into it, choosing a sparkling red. (However, I think he had a pang of self-consciousness afterwards, which is a bit heartbreaking. He managed to chew several of his fingers quite clean of polish in time for school.) We also had sushi – love those $5 kids’ combos, and went swimming. It was sort of a glimpse into the future, and how fun all these munchkins are going to be once we’re out of survival mode. I feel like the first 18 months or so you’re almost just surviving parenthood and then somewhere around then the mists begin to part. We’re getting there.
B is finally getting a bit healthier and is not waking up in coughing fits multiple times a night. Sadly, she’s still out of sorts for much of the day. The appearance of two new teeth have probably contributed to the overall misery. She spoiled me, because she’s usually my sweet, good-natured baby who is so content. But lately the girls have switched roles and it’s C who will happily lounge, giving us big squinty-eyed smiles, and B who wants to be held all the time.
Someone asked me recently if I felt like I was back to “normal.” She wanted to know if I felt happy again after everything that happened in the NICU and the ongoing worries with C. No. I don’t think I will ever go back to feeling normal, any more than you go back to feeling like your old self after becoming a parent. Something has changed. But at the same time, it’s just a new normal. Parenting a child like C who is differently abled, disabled, special needs, extra needs – whatever you want to call it – 99% of the feelings are just the same as parenting any other child. I worry about all my kids. In this case, some of my worries are a little more concrete. I wonder if she will walk and how she will look when she walks. I wonder if she’ll need surgeries, or Botox injections to release her tense muscles. I watch M, age 3, carefully string tiny beads, or ride her balance bike, or draw a letter after being shown just once, and I wonder if C will ever have the manual dexterity to do those things. I wonder if there are other challenges ahead that we don’t yet know about, and what those might be. But she’s just my Coco – my beautiful fuzzy head, her head still slightly wobbly, her little neoprene gloves keeping her hands open, but with a big smile on her face. She is perfection.
I had this mild epiphany the other day as I was watching how easily (some!) things came to B, and wishing it could be the same for C. But she doesn’t need to me to torture myself with what-ifs. Especially right now, when she doesn’t even know or care about any of it. She will only know herself as she is, and she needs me to love her just as she is. And that I can do!