Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mom's birthday

Today is my own mother's birthday.

I'm so lucky that she is just a phone call away. I'm her youngest child of four--FOUR KIDS--oh my gosh, how did she do it?

Even without formal diagnoses, is any child really "typically developing"? I think that label somehow denotes an image of perfection, and, while all children are inherently perfect, in my opinion, there is nothing perfect about the process of growing.

It is hard work!

I can't say much about what my mom encountered on her journey. I was a self-centered child living her own life. I know bits an pieces. I know about newborns facing hernia surgeries and babies with gastric problems at a very young age. I know of a sibling that had to wear braces on his legs for a brief time. Heck, all of these are mountains that we as parents must climb. They are what earn us our stripes.

And then, I remember the other things. The things that define your family and how you parent through the chaos and, gosh, just the chaos! We had a chipmunk get loose in our house once when we were little. It found its way into the pipes of the baseboard heating, and, was it mom? that grabbed the tail with a pair of pliars?

Who knew that chipmunk tails came off so easily and regenerated???? Seriously!!!

I had a beloved male dog--much prettier than my brothers rat-looking male dog (kind of teasing. I love all animals). Those two did not like each other at all, and, eventually, the hatred boiled over into a battle of testosterone. The little one always went for the sockets of my dog's eyes, darn him!

Out the eyeball would pop, and it would hang by something to this day I don't care to have explained. After being counseled by the vet, my mom was a pro at popping that eye back in. lol. The things we learn as parents!

I have a million memories of childhood. My parents were mainstays, and my mother stayed at home with us. However, it isn't until I became a parent that I think that their parenting has made a greater impact upon me more than ever--or maybe I just notice it more now.

When our older son was born, he presented with issues from the start. I think we all knew something was going on, but we didn't know---and we didn't voice---what was happening. My parents drove in the car to our state as I was in labor, making it to town not long before we had our son. They stayed with us when we brought him home. And, it was my mom that I looked to:

I just wanted to cry. The world was closing in on me. This child never slept. His cry was one of distress. It wasn't NORMAL. But I was new at this. How was I to do this? How could I do it alone?

I played the game for the few days she was here, but I will never forget the day she got into her car and drove away. It was an attempt to allow me to fly alone, to become my own kind of mother.

To this day, I see that car backing out of the driveway. I think it marked the end of an era for me. However, at least it did not mark the end of a relationship with my mother.

We've made all manner of calls to her. Imagine having a raging child and considering locking him inside his bedroom. Something that seems so taboo. So terrible. So awful. I think every special needs parent has faced the question of whether to put a lock on their child's door to be used during a time of crisis. But, believe me, it is not a decision entered into lightly. This mom called her mommy (and daddy) to help with that one.

Bowel movements, formula, cereal, paralyzed arms, verbal and motor apraxia, sensory processing did my children's bodies function without the help of my mom, because I'm sure each issue warranted too many phone calls.

Yet, how fortunate could this special mom be to have born to a mom who is an educator, a reading specialist and a former member of the board of education in our home town? Our kids and I are so fortunate to have her.

I have children with developmental issues, educational issues which require my advocacy in front of the special education board regularly. Watching my mother's life has made my life seem almost normal---or at least not so impossible.

Thanks, mom, for all that you do and for all that I am. I don't think that I can ever do you justice.

I'm so proud and fortunate to be your daughter.


  1. You're a lucky daughter...and she's a lucky mom.

  2. I just found this post. It made me sob. My daughter is a mother and has a mother and I think she would just say "amen" to this post. I would say, "As you well know, a mother does what a child needs her to do and for longer than any human could be expected to do it."
    It's called love. The kind only a parent can give a child. Others give love, support and even time, but they aren't the parent.
    I truly don't know any other job that compares and I don't know any parent who would rather not have the job.
    You have all my respect and all my admiration. I am so proud of our relationship and so honored to be your friend.