August 2010


Posted by AVM

My littlest girl turns one today.  Tiny CeeCee is growing up.  I know people say time flies – that it moves so fast, you blink and your children are in first grade, high school, married with children of their own.  I know “they” are right, although in the trenches of tantrums and the nightly bath, it seems like it’s moving at a snail’s pace.  It’s only when I look at photos from the last few years or an old video or something that I really notice it.  Usually, that is.

CeeCee turning one has completely knocked me for a loop.  There is NO WAY that it was a whole year ago that she made her dramatic appearance into the world.  It’s a horrible cliche, but it really has gone by in a flash.  CeeCee is an amazing child.  Different from her sister, CeeCee is the calm to Lovey’s frenzy.  She’s got an easy smile, the cutest giggle and is an utter delight.  My daughters are beautiful, each in their own way.  Lovey is lithe and athletic – a mini powerhouse – strong and built for speed.  She doesn’t walk, she runs.  I admire her determination and energy.  She’s a sweetheart, she roots for the underdog, but do it her way, please, and quickly.  CeeCee is soft and delicious – she tastes life.  Lovey cannot be bothered to waste time on a meal, while CeeCee dines. Often taking forty-five minutes to finish a meal, she carefully chooses each morsel of food, inspects it, and really tastes it.  Yes, this one takes after me. I am baffled at the major differences in personality between two children who were born of the same parents.  And I am up for the challenge of helping the best parts of each of the girls brighten. . . and that’s how we as parents will shine (if we get it right).  Yes, it’s CeeCee’s birthday, but it’s a milestone for all of us   – we survived a year as a family of four, and we’re better for it.

This year has brought CeeCee many triumphs – first words, first stitches, and first steps (not in that order) – but none more victorious than the undying love of her parents and sister.  Happy birthday, sweet CeeCee – you make our hearts overflow and our lives complete.  Don’t grow up so fast, ok?  I love you with all of my heart.

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Posted by Duff

Okay, so a haircut mistake may or may not have me looking like this:

It does not make feel like a natural mother.

I vaguely remember promising myself when I became a  mostly stay-at-home mom that I’d become more, well, motherly. Time to confess:

I don’t think I have.

I thought I would cook from scratch more often.  Goose egg.  Someone blessed my children with the same frantic metabolism their father has, and they’re all about eating five minutes ago, around the clock.

I thougtht we’d go to the zoo or other places that children like to go. Except my children. One doesn’t like the car, the other has the attention span of a house fly. So after a few attempts at special trips on our own, we reserve them for Daddy’s day off, when I have reinforcements.

We’ll go to the park, I say. When we pull into the parking lot, The Dervish tells me, “This isn’t the park I wanted to go to.” Because she has preferences 30 minutes in the other direction. But we stay. And I hear about my choice, and the heat, and Atticus’ love affair with the swings gone on too long for The Dervish. And then we leave.

I want to cut sandwiches into shapes. My kids don’t eat sandwiches. Who doesn’t like sandwiches? I could write poetry about sandwiches. Would trip you to get to a sandwich cut into a circle with an olive, red pepper and pickle face. How is this adoration not passed down through blood like my pout was?

I will give myself one break, though. I never thought that the mark of a good mom was a clean house. That’s not how stories get shared, or the properties of water get discovered, or the thrill of texture can be experienced.

Just look at that button nose, would you? He’s lucky it’s not a cherry tomato.

Posted by Duff

Um, I was in a hurry for Atticus to get uber-mobile why?  We all know this comes at a price. It’s why seasoned parents say to the newbies “Just wait until he starts walking” with a smile on their faces and sheer joy in their hearts – the joy of people who know that you’re about to experience the fatigue that is Parenting a True Toddler.

Wow.

I’m happy for the little guy. He went from immobile to running and scaling at a good clip, which means that I am never out of reach. And neither is trouble. Or Food. Or Bugs. Or The Dervish’s many splendored things.

I pity The Dervish.  She now spends hours moving her belongings to higher ground, feels compelled to slam doors to keep him away from her.  It’s not easy. And morning time? Ugh. The Dervish needs her cuppa to get her going, while Atticus greets the day like a cheerful cannonball.

I’m not the one who wants to be smiled at,” says the Dervish, curling up like a pill bug. “Make him stop looking at me.”

She also doesn’t like to be touched, so while Atticus breakfasts at the kitchen table, The Dervish, luckily on the small side for her age (which, in case she hasn’t told you, is FOUR), perches from a high chair crow’s nest. “Don’t let him touch my babies,” she orders from behind her cereal.

This is only the morning.

There are toys for which they duke it out (usually things like empty water bottles and plain blocks, not the age specific toys on which we’ve likely wasted our money), and naps The Dervish is sure Atticus needs and she doesn’t so she can bask in the glory of temporary singleton.  And during these naps, relative peace.

But then the dive bombing and wrestling begins, which both kids love, and ends with someone crying and me raising my voice and two children being assigned to two different parents in two different locations.

And then bedtime. 

And while the days sometimes go too slowly for my patience, the weeks and months streak by with little regard for my heart.

“I wish my two were this age again,” said the pharmacist yesterday as he handed me my prescription. The two stinkers beamed at him from the two-seater grocery cart car.

“Hello,” said The Dervish.

“Buh-bye,” said Atticus.

Then they had a little skirmish on the car ride home over sippy cup ownership.

Posted by AVM

I must apologize for the lack of posting on my part.  Summer has been busy and I’ve been home quite a bit as my summer childcare situation is spotty at best.  For me, being at home more means I’m unplugged a lot, and it also means my evenings are spent being too exhausted from watching the girls to care about getting on the computer.  It’s a nice change, and I needed it.  We are on the brink of a much-anticipated extended vacation, and as I figure out how to pack everything in the car for that amount of time, I am also looking forward to great times (I hope!) as a family.  So in the midst of this hiatus I’m taking, I thought an explanation was owed.  And this is it.  I hope your summer has been filled with much joy, family, and relaxation.  See you soon!

Posted by Duff

Disclaimer:  If you know The Dervish personally, and I didn’t brief you beforehand, please, please don’t take it personally.

Bear with me.  I didn’t expect to have reason to write this post any more than you expected to read it, because if you’ve been reading, you know The Dervish and have chosen to subscribe to her brand of piss and vinegar.

She is still the same person. I say that with genuine belief, but also to remind myself, because there are now moments I look at her and juggle conflicting ideas of who she was vs. who she is. Which is silly. Because I know my girl.

Only now, I know another thing about her, and that’s that she has childhood absence epilepsy. Or, as I’m going to start calling it, CAE. Because me and CAE, we’re going to be likethis for at least a couple of years. 

Dervish, gardening

Where did that even COME from, you’re probably wondering, and you can stand behind me in line for that answer, but we may never get it, because it might be genetic (they didn’t know what it was in generations past, if they noticed it at all) and it might not. This isn’t really the time you or I want a shrug as an answer, but sometimes, that’s all we get. I invite you to shake your fist along with me. Let’s, you and I, be the most insolent fist shakers this side of CAE.

What it means is that The Dervish is prone to daily spells of stopping in her tracks, inspecting the tips of her eyelashes with her pupils, and being on pause. She picks up where she leaves off, and if she started in a position requiring complex balance, she may be picking herself up from the floor.  Usually, it’s unnoticeable. At night, when she’s exhausted, if you’re nearby, you might try catching her. She doesn’t remember it, and she doesn’t know anything is wrong.

It started a few weeks ago (it tends to start between 4 and 12, and her brain decided to go for the early end of the spectrum, which may give her a better prognosis), with us thinking she was exhausted from dropping her nap. “She’s out to lunch,” we’d say, because we’re douchebags like that. It’s okay to think that about us, because we do. Ignorance, in our shoes these days, is no excuse.

Speaking of ignorance, before last week, I knew nothing about epilepsy except what I’d seen on TV or in movies. You know what I mean–the grand mal, convulsive type of seizure that most of us think of, the kind that terrify us, and likely embarrass those plagued by them, and (insert your expletive of choice) the whole lot is awfully unfair, don’t you think? Because there’s so much more to epilepsy than that. There are real people, really young, tiny people brimming with promise and confidence (before the outside world would have them believing otherwise), and their parents who love them as fiercely as we all love our kids.

And speaking of fierce, how does someone like The Dervish own this? How dare the brain of an ass-kicking, name taking ball of fire who streaked into the world with irrepressible purpose dare do this to her? Dare frighten us?

There are worse things, and I know there are worse things. These other things, diseases, syndromes, accidents–things I’ve been mentally preparing myself for since the reason for this post brought me face to face with her mortality–they are plaguing other children, other parents, and I can’t be sorry enough. My Dervish has a well above average chance of kicking this thing before her teen years, if not sooner, quite possibly without a convulsive seizure.

Some moments I focus on that. Sometimes I think of the worst case scenarios.  With me, lately, you never know what you’re going to get. Hey, epilepsy, you biotch. You and I have something in common. Let’s go bowling, so I can wipe the floor with you.

But short of medication not working, or brain surgery, or a service dog to help her with a far more serious strain of this condition, there is still everyday life to contend with, and people who won’t know enough to understand, and I can’t be mad at them. I certainly hope The Dervish will never have to feel embarrassed if overcome at a birthday party or on  a date. That she won’t become a joke behind her back, that she’ll never feel different, that she’ll know I never, even while still trying to make peace with this, thought of her as anything other than she is: perfect.

I didn’t think it was possible to love her any more than I did just a few days ago, before I knew.  So, if for nothing else, I’m thankful to love another person, for sure, more every single day. Whether she needs it or not.

For responsible information about epilepsy (rather than a bunch of sites that will freak you out) visit http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/

Posted by Duff

No parent wants to hear that his or her child is behind the pack.

“What did I do wrong?” You think. “Was it something I ate when pregnant? It was the anti-nausea meds, or the lack of green vegetables in my first trimester. I know it’s my fault.”

Never mind that that’s ridiculous. You’re a parent, and that’s how parents think.

I’ll admit that I wanted to think that the reason Atticus wasn’t rolling or crawling was wrapped up his easy-going, sunny personality. At worst, he was lazy. At best, he saw no need to stress himself over motion. I assumed he was just different from The Dervish in yet another way. He wouldn’t stop my heart with darting or diving, because he was a sweet boy.

Except he wasn’t feeling so sweet, he was flailing on his stomach, screaming. He went from bringing his knees under him to giving up and assuming this was the best life could get.  And he looked at us and asked for help with an absence of happiness.

And it hurt. It hurt to think I’d waited so long when I knew something wasn’t right, but had been told there was a sliding scale of development. So I pretended he had an ear infection to get him in to see another pediatrician. And that was all it took.

It turns out he had significant gross motor delays. Minor fine motor delays.  Ouch.

The first time he pulled himself to standing was one of the best moments I’ve experienced as a parent. Disneyland for Atticus, who never looked back, and within 2 months was running. And opening canisters of oatmeal and sealed boxes of pasta and sippies.

So I guess what I’m saying is that if you wonder how your kid is doing, ask a professional. And if what that professional tells you doesn’t jive with what you know to be true deep in the places where you know things to be true, ask someone else. Keep asking.

There is no shame.  There is much better for your child, and it will amaze the both of you.

You don’t have to wait, like I did. But even if you have waited,  it will be okay. A child who exhausts you with his stamina, bleeds your ears with his chatter, is there.

To learn more about Birth To Three and their services, visit http://www.birth23.org/