It was a few months ago. I can’t quite recall the date. It wasn’t my finest hour. (or day, or days…)
I was grumpy. Worried. Angry about the struggles my girl was being forced to endure. Twisted about a future of doctors appointments and surgeries.
I had noticed she seemed extra down, and I took it as my cue to worry harder.
At some point, I broke down, expecting a clear answer to the question, “What’s wrong?” so I could continue the business of worrying some more, and searching for answers.
But the answer wasn’t even close to what I expected.
“Mom, you need to find a “Happy Thought” because you being like this all the time is really affecting me.”
Um, ouch. Wow. And she sure told me.
She wasn’t being disrespectful in the least. We have worked on honest speech and clear language, for survival – and to help us prep for the teen years. She was doing exactly what I asked of her. She was telling me what she was thinking. And she was right.
Years of parenting a chronically ill and allergic child have left me in a permanent hyper-vigilant state. The “other shoe” has been known to drop without warning, and there is a constant need to search, study, learn, and discover whatever I can about whatever is plaguing my girl. I am her advocate. I am her voice. We have between us undergone at least 17 surgeries in the last 11 years. That doesn’t include countless hospital stays, tests and procedures. There is always a pile to contend with, whether its bills to fight or file, prescriptions to order, reports to hunt down or appointments to make. Life is very busy.
There was a time I used to walk for fun. Hours on end with my music in my ears. I would walk for miles. I would walk everywhere. There was a time I would read for fun. Not medical books. Just leisurely reading. I used to watch “Law and Order.”
Now between working full-time, parenting full-time, chauffeuring to appointments, trying to make swim practice, keeping food in the house, keeping some semblance of order, including clean laundry, clean curtains, and clean cabinets – it was easy to get swallowed up by obligation and forget the joy in my life.
To be quite honest with you, there isn’t much I would change. Do I sometimes miss those long carefree walks? Definitely. But, would I for one second trade one bit of my beautiful, tenacious, funny, stubborn, intelligent little girl? Not a chance.
We watched “Hook” a few months back. It was a rare occasion when I sat to watch a movie. It is one of my favorites. And for those of you who might not be familiar, it’s a “Peter Pan” spin off where Peter ended up all grown up – a lawyer. He forgot his magical youth, and the story takes him back to Neverland to find it again.
I am sure this is where she got her admonition for me to find my “happy thought,” as Peter needed his to remember how to fly in order to beat Captain Hook.
I thought and I thought, long after she had said the words. I was tempted to compare myself to other adults, and justify my grumpiness. But I resisted the urge. These words weren’t spoken to another adult. They were spoken to me. And what a gift she had given me.
Transformations don’t happen over night, but I have forced myself to become aware of the things that give me pleasure.
I love to write. And so I have been trying to give more attention to my blog. Therapy on a keyboard.
I have taken my feet instead of the car wherever I can, and wherever time allows. I can’t walk for hours, but I can appreciate the short walks and relish them more.
I am realizing that a happy Mom is some of the best help I can give. I won’t know all the answers. I can only give her the same honesty I ask of her, and I can only do my best.
And while we focus on being positive, and its something I ask of her all the time – it’s not fair to ask it and not model it.
So we are all a work in progress.
And when I really soul search for what makes me happy, my pleasure really lies in seeing other people happy.
I am constantly telling Meghan that Cowden’s Syndrome does not define us. But, in fairness, actions speak louder than words.
It’s been months since I was told to find my “Happy Thought,” and I hope I never forget that day. While we still have our ups and downs it serves as a reminder for me that I am no good to those I love unless I find happiness myself.
Meghan and Felix – they will always be my happiest thoughts.
But I love my family, and God, and exercise, and nutrition, and cool breezes and music, and flying birds, and summer…
I strongly encourage you to find your “Happy Thought.” It’s tough to start looking when a 10-year-old calls you out.
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