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Children February 21, 2014

Posted by Judy in parenting.
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3 comments

Every parent thinks that their progeny are amazing, adorable, beautiful and smart. And really, that is how it should be. We should support and uplift our children and help them feel confident. Even if the rest of the world doesn’t think you have the cutest or smartest or most amazing children, it doesn’t really matter. We keep believing in our kids and instilling confidence in them.

Sometimes, things will happen that make you realize that, “Wow, my child is more intelligent than I gave them credit for.” Over the past 3 months, DH and I have seen this scenario play out several times with the kids. Within half an hour of getting the diagnosis phone call, we sat the babes down and explained what was going on. (For reference, they are 6, 5, 3 and 1.) We explained things in relatively simple terms: “There is something growing in my body that isn’t supposed to be there and it can cause alot of problems and it could make me very sick.” The older two asked lots of questions and we explained that yes, this could end in death. After about 20 minutes, their attention spans we exhausted and they ran off to do what children do. I figured they probably had a basic understanding but wasn’t really sure.

A few days later, I was talking to the 5 year old, trying to figure out what she understood.
Me: Do you know what I have?
R: Yes, you have breast cancer.
Me: Do you know what that means?
R: It means you could die from it.

I was so floored, that the conversation ended right there. She gave ma a quick squeeze, flashed her million dollar smile and ran off to play.

The 3 year old has a more simplistic understanding, but he is constantly surprising me with his ability to correctly use cancer lingo.
D: Mommy, when you have the lumpectomy, that means they are going to remove the cancer, right?
Me: Right
D: And then chemo will get any small cells that were missed, right?
Me: Uh, yes, that’s correct.

Floored, again.

Another time, we were talking about chemo, and the 6 year old was asking questions for which I did not have answers. (How long will you be on chemo? How many cycles will you have?) The 5 year old pipes up with:
R: Mommy, will you lose your hair with chemo?
Me: Yes.
R: Well, we have a scarf downstairs that you could use to wrap around your head. We’ll make sure it’s clean and ready for you to use.

Her empathy and ability to think ahead and create solutions floored me.

Just yesterday, I was sitting at the kitchen table, working on a table to help me weigh the different surgical options. (Stay tuned for another post with those deets and with an explanation of the chart.) Children are naturally curious, and they asked what I was doing. Immediately, the 6 year old came over and wanted to see. He was asking about the recurrence rate and what that meant.
N: So breast conservation gives you a 15% chance and a double mastectomy gives you a 5% chance.
Me: Correct.
N: Seems like the double mastectomy is better then.
Me: Probably true.
N: But then, of course, you wouldn’t have any breasts.

I don’t know why I was so surprised. He has proven time and again that his critical thinking skills are pretty intense. But, I was once again, floored.

The 5 year old wanted to get in on the conversation and give her opinion.
R: I think a single mastectomy would be better, because then you’d only have one fake boob.

That comment just made me laugh.

So I guess at this point, I should stop being so floored by the babes. It would appear that they have a very good understanding of what is happening and they seem to be processing it quite well.

I can’t tell you what a huge relief that is.

Perfection November 3, 2012

Posted by Judy in Musings, parenting.
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I’m a perfectionist. I always have been and always will be. It’s part of what makes me a good musician. It’s part of what makes me a good seamstress. It’s the reason some of my students loved me while others hated me: I expected nothing less than perfection of them, or at least their best attempt at perfection. It’s a blessing and a curse, all at once, but it’s who I am, I don’t know how else to be. Seeing that perfectionism is found at the core of my being, it’s interesting that ever since becoming a parent, I haven’t really thought about being a perfectionist. That is, until today.

I belong to a local parent’s group that is pretty large. Some people I only know in passing, others have become my good friends, while others fall somewhere in between. Today, one of the moms sent me a little note on facebook.

I know i don’t know you that well, but whenever I see you, you inspire me. :)You seem to love being a mom so much it is great! It seems a lot of people I know with four young kids complain a lot about how busy/hectic life is….and you always act like it is the best thing in the world (which I know it is!!)….I just love your positive attitude!

What a lovely note to receive from someone, right? It totally made my day and made me walk around with this goofy smile on my face. Earlier in the day, I had two other encounters that, coupled with this note, got me to thinking about my parenting.

While at church this morning, I was talking with two other parents about my newborn. One parent was amazed that I had four babes and said, “I don’t think I’ll be following in your footsteps!” The other parent responded, “You are just amazing!” I just smiled. We continued talking and I mentioned that I never imagined myself having a small brood of children. I shared with them that while pregnant with #1, I recalled telling a friend that although I had enjoyed the pregnancy experience, I didn’t really want to do it again and was done having children. That changed the instant #1 was born. I remember thinking “Let’s do it again!” When I said that, another lady who does not have children said in a completely shocked manner, “Wow!” It was like she couldn’t at all fathom having that sentiment.

So I got to thinking about those encounters today. To me is seems like no biggie to have four babes, and I don’t really see myself as having it all together or exuding an overly positive attitude. I definitely don’t see myself as Supermom, a moniker DH uses often. I have high expectations for how things should be and what my parenting should look like. I expect that I should be able to have and stick to a daily schedule while having happily adjusted children that are obedient and polite at all times. When that inevitably doesn’t happen, I feel totally derailed, and then it feels like chaos ensues. Some days I feel like I’m just stumbling through, barely making it from one disaster to the next.

It would seem that others do not have this view of me. It would seem that I really do have it together much more than I think I do. It would seem that my perfectionist tendencies have been running in the background for the past five years, sabotaging my confidence making it seem like I was failing miserably at this thing called parenting. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling like I need to kick perfectionism to the curb and just enjoy this crazy ride called parenting. Enjoy the ride and believe that I am doing a good job and that I do have it as together somewhat.

So, maybe, just maybe, it’s possible that I won’t always be a perfectionist. It will probably always be at the core of my being. But maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to figure out how to not let it run my life and how to let it out in manageable doses.

I’m a perfectionist but perfectionism is no longer calling the shots.

The bears April 8, 2011

Posted by Judy in Musings, parenting.
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I wonder, are bears more protective or their children than other animals? Why is it that when a parent gets defensive, they are labeled as “mother bear” or “father bear”. I’m pretty sure that most animals would protect their young from danger. I supposed that “mother chipmunk” or “father ferret” just doesn’t have the same ring!

In any case, I wouldn’t say that I turn into the proverbial mother bear very often. I subscribe to the parenting philosophy that says, let your kids work out their own differences with their friends. I’ve been on playdates where kids were obnoxious, and there was one time when there was a little boy who was just downright mean. Throwing kids toys around, kicking, pushing, generally behaving badly. I just moved the kids away from him and suggested they go play elsewhere. I guess it also helped that his mother was there, constantly putting out the fires he had started.

Last weekend, mother bear made a rare appearance. We were at a park on a very nice day, much nicer than the days preceding it, so naturally, the park was jam packed. This particular park is rather labyrinthish, so I told the kiddies to stay together and agree on where they were going to play. DD was following after her brother, when another girl, about 8 or 9, came running by with her tiny little dog on a leash. I immediately identified two problems with this scenario: 1) dogs aren’t allowed in the playground 2) the girl was running pell mell, IN FRONT of her dog. Girl is running like crazy with her friends, then there is the leash, then the dog. Oh, did I mention that she was weaving in and out between the other kids? Can you see where this is going? Before I knew it, she had weaved such that DD was now in between the leash and the dog. In a flash, DD was knocked to the ground. Out came mother bear. . .

“Hey! Hey! Hey!” I yelled. I wanted the child to stop running to make sure that DD didn’t get dragged. I walked quickly over, and gently escorted her from the play area saying, “You need to leave the play area. Dogs are not allowed.” Of course, DD was wailing because she’d gotten knocked over, and there was a dog (she has no appreciation for the four-legged animals). The girl appeared to be pissed as I heard her say to her friends, “Oh. my. G-d!” I tried to convince DD to go play with her brother, but she was now traumatized and immediately turned into velcro toddler. As I was standing holding her, I heard the girl saying to her friends “I can’t believe she touched me!” My inner monologue was saying “Of all the gall, right! Who does that mother think she is, escorting you away, ESPECIALLY after you carelessly knocked another child over!” As I said, this was my inner monologue. I might have said something a little less sarcastic, but I was kinda feeling like a pariah. I would have reacted in the same way had any other child been knocked over. That girl was just behaving recklessly. But the reaction of the other parents (there were 3 or 4 others standing around) was quite odd. I felt like I got these strange looks from them. You know, the “I totally appalled but I’m going to avert my eyes so that it doesn’t look like I’m gawking” look. I probably was just misinterpreting the situation. But, when the same girl ran back into the play area, again ahead of her leashed dog, none of the other parents said a word. I was tempted to escort her out again, maybe this time showing her the large sign saying “NO DOGS”. I just didn’t feel like getting the looks, again.

This situation made me realize why I don’t mother bear very often . . . .it doesn’t seem to do much good. I would have been better off just scooping DD up and taking she and her brother to a different section of the park. Alas.