My oldest turns 13 this weekend. He’s my first, the one who made me a mommy. Thirteen! I just can’t believe it. It makes me so emotional. We are so blessed to have him. He had a rocky start in this world, but now he’s strong, healthy and turning 13!
He’s my guy, my pal. I love to be with him. And, he’s a great kid. He works hard in school, is good to his brother and sister and totally idolizes his dad. Sure, he’s starting to have that moody teenager way about him, and he grumbles about doing anything that’s not of interest to him, but he’s still mine.
There’s just something about your first, don’t you think? Maybe because they are the ones who made us mommies. Maybe because they’re the first to go through everything. Or that we go through everything with them first! Whatever it is, my guy is pretty special. And now, he’s going to be a teenager! Yikes!
As a follow up to the post about fear and anxiety, I wanted to share a bigger picture of having a child with anxiety. I have spoken to several people that have children with anxiety since that post and there are many similarities even though circumstances may be slightly different. The moms (mostly moms) I have spoken with have shared how they sometimes feel helpless and/or anxious themselves because they are at a loss for what to do to help their child. We have discussed how, at times, it affects the whole family dynamic, which puts a strain on everyone. We talked about coping skills and how to get help when you need it.
When I wrote that post we were having a great day and we are generally in a good place, but I am not fooled by this. I know that it can, and probably will, come up again and again throughout her life. The only difference now is that we are more equipped and we are all more aware of how to handle the anxiety. Many times I am already thinking before hand that something is going to trigger it like a check up at the doctors or an overnight visit to a new place or even just to grandma’s. When I can be prepared I am and I prepare her as well to try to disperse some of the anxiety before it has a chance to get out of control and before her irrational thoughts take hold. But when things come up that I am not prepared for, then I try to calmly answer ALL of her questions the best I can and if I don’t know the answer I try to find out. We do breathing exercises and positive imagery too. Hey, it won’t hurt, right? And of course we celebrate the extraordinary times like winning a swim race or having a great horse show! Those are the times that I want to shout out from the rooftop! I love seeing a proud smile on her face. Even though we are always proud, sometimes it doesn’t matter what we think. It matters how she feels about herself.
We didn’t get to the place where we are at now without help. Not to be corny, but sometimes you have to ask for help. Believe me, I know it isn’t easy and not something that comes natural to most moms. At least it didn’t for me. But I am so glad we did. It helped me as much as it helped her and that can be as big of a piece as any of it. I am not an expert, but I hope by sharing information about my family, that it can help another family. Please comment and share your thoughts and feelings if you have a child with anxiety and hopefully we can help each other.
For the first year of her life, my daughter wouldn’t take a bottle and didn’t sleep through the night. When solids were introduced, she was fussy. She’d spit out what she didn’t like and clamp her little mouth closed to the next spoonful. As she got older, she became more stubborn. I tried to sneak as much nutrition into her food as I could. But still, if she didn’t like it, she’d spit it out. Eventually, she began gagging on some foods and occasionally she would even vomit. And, on top of it all, it was hard to nail down just what she would and would not eat. So, I kept giving her everything, hoping each time that maybe this would be the time she’d eat without all of the drama. Sometimes, I’d place her little lunch plate in front of her, ever so carefully, and dash out of the room to avoid the drama that would ensue. She even gagged and vomited up ice cream. What kid doesn’t like ice cream?
When she was 2, I was shopping at one of those bulk stores, stocking up on diapers and such and they offered us a little sample of trail mix. Both kids were getting cranky, so I was relieved to have a snack to keep them occupied while I finished the shopping. My daughter happily took the snack and began to eat. Finally, I thought. Within minutes she began coughing and gagging. I picked her up to calm her down and to avoid as much drama as I could. Then she vomited — all over me, and herself!
I ran to the restroom and took her clothes off, and mine as well. Luckily my mother was with me and she rinsed my clothes in the sink. I placed the wet, vomit smelling clothes back on and took my naked baby out to the car. My mother finished up the shopping.
Soon afterward, she was covered in red spots. Hives. I recognized them immediately. I called the pediatrician and she advised me to drive to the nearest pharmacy and get some Benadryl into her. I did, and the hives subsided. My mother went back to the store for the ingredient list. The only thing on the list of nuts and dried fruits that I hadn’t previously given her was papaya. That had to be it then. So, we avoided papaya. But the gagging and vomiting continued. My pediatrician recommended that we see a pediatric allergist. He pricked my little 2 year old all over her back and found that she was allergic to eggs and tree nuts. Things I had been feeding her regularly. The gagging and vomiting was her body’s defense – an attempt to expel the allergen. I watched a video about anaphylaxis and was sent home with Epi Pens and lists of ingredients to avoid.
I photocopied the ingredient lists and my sister-in-law laminated them for distribution to the entire family. I kept extra Epi Pens at my mother’s, in the car, everywhere I could think of. I brought multiple when we went on vacation. I worried constantly.
We’ve only landed in the ER 3 times, once for a reaction to ice cream with eggs, and the other 2 were false alarms. And, luckily, we’ve never had to use an Epi Pen.
My daughter is 11 now. She’s out grown the egg allergy but not the tree nut allergy. She’s started checking ingredient lists herself. Sometimes, she even double checks me. She’s vigilant. She’ll forgo cake at birthday parties, dessert at restaurants we’re not familiar with and never, ever, complains.
Things are good, for now. But I still worry. Just the other day we were at the movies and she had a box of Whoppers. She loves Whoppers and has had them many times. Sitting there in the dark, she popped one in her mouth then leaned over to me and said, “Mom, that wasn’t a Whopper!” It was soft and chewy. She just giggled and got right back to the movie. Not me. I watched her like a hawk. What if it was a candy with nuts? It was dark in the theater. Would they stop the movie and turn the lights on if we had an emergency? Could her friend call 911 while I administered the Epi Pen? How fast could the medics get there? Would it be fast enough?
She was fine. She told me later she could feel me watching her. I’m always watching her, always at the ready with Benadryl and Epi Pens. Walking that fine line of silently freaking out while not freaking her out. Someday she’ll go to the movies without me. Someday she’ll go to college and live away from me. What then? She’s vigilant now, but will she always be?
I know that I’ll always worry about my children, even when they’re grown. But with her, there’s just a little extra to worry about.
What is it they say? If anything can go wrong it will! Here’s the story. This week we have house guests. My adorable niece and nephew are staying with us. They are 3 and 4 years old. Their parents just had twin boys last week and are adjusting to things at home with the twins while their other children are here. We are happy to have them and my kids were so excited! Today my girls had an 8:00am swim meet and so that meant I had to get up and out the door with my five children by 7:45. No problem. We had to stop at Dunkin for some bagels to contribute to the table at the meet and we were on our way. We got to the swim club and my little guy says, “Mom, do you have my swim suit?” Seriously, we are going to the swim club. He wears a bathing suit everyday…even when he doesn’t need to wear it he wears it. Apparently, not today.
With packing lunches and drinks and snacks and towels and clothes and vests, sunscreen etc. I didn’t actually look at him. So the answer to that question was, “No, no I didn’t!” So I got the girls settled quickly and then went back to my house to get his suit.
We finally arrive at the swim club that we have packed up to be at all day. There are kiddie pools, big pools, diving pools and there is a playground. Plenty to do for the little ones. We were prepared. So I unbuckle everyone and off they ran to the playground while I got the bags out of the car.
I no sooner put my bags down and there is my little guy squeamishly running toward me. I instantly knew something was wrong. A few seconds later I realized I was right. He had blood gushing from all over his face. At this point I was not exactly sure where it was coming from. I sat him down and told him he was going to be ok. I got my towel and tried to soak up some of the blood so I could see where it was cut. Apparently he stopped a fall with his face. His nose was bleeding, his top teeth went through the skin inside his bottom lip and his chin was sliced and scraped as well. I thought maybe the teeth had gone through his lip, but no it was just a whole lot of boo boos. More concerning than all the blood and cuts was that his eyes looked as if he may pass out. He did not look right at all. But he was responsive and talking and saying it hurt a lot.
I called my doctor’s office to see if he could be seen quickly just to be sure he didn’t need stitches and to make sure he was ok. They told me to go to the emergency room. Now, I am a mother of three and I, myself, have fallen and had that woozy feeling and as scary as it is, it does pass and within minutes or at least a short amount of time you are usually ok. I was not panicked at all. I told the nurse I thought he was ok, but I would like my doctor to just have a look at his lip and check him out. She refused and sent me to the ER. That is a story in and of itself, but moving on… I went off to the ER. They checked him out. He was fine. No stitches. Tylenol and ice packs prescribed.
Meanwhile back at the swim club, my daughters were competing and my niece and nephew were being watched by my awesome friends. My middle daughter won her race and my older daughter came in second for hers. I missed the entire thing. We arrived just as they were finishing and my little guy just wanted to go home. The little niece and nephew wanted snacks and the girls wanted to stay and play. But at that moment I thought we need to go home, regroup and start again. I checked my phone for the time thinking I practically missed this whole day, but I was wrong it was 10:22 am. YUP. That’s right. 10:22 am. I think we will watch movies for the rest of the day.
So, you know the other Minivan Mom has a nickname for her middle child. We have one for ours as well. (I wonder if all middle children have nicknames?)
Anyway, we call her Nancy Drew. She’s always on the prowl for a good story. She situates herself within earshot of adult conversations at every given opportunity. She can even make herself seem invisible. One minute you’ll be gossiping with a friend and suddenly realize that Nancy Drew has heard far too much for her 11 year old self.
At first we thought it was an annoying nosey stage. That was about 6 years ago. From the looks of it, Nancy Drew’s here to stay. And, she’s taking notes. She’s got the dirt on everyone in this town, and beyond. And, let me tell you, she has got the down & dirty on me too. I swear she’s writing a book. All “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” style.
Whenever I catch her listening in, I call her out on it. Usually I just say “Hey, Nancy Drew, go find something else to do.” But, seriously, if she is writing a giant tell-all book, I hope she changes the names. Mine especially.
Some of you may already know my middle daughter, has anxiety. We know it. She knows it. She is doing really well right now. She actually talked to herself about her fears about Tsunamis and then verbalized why she knew it wouldn’t happen here. And she has been so much better at joining in with a group of kids playing a game. That used to be difficult even if she knew them. There are many other examples of her showing growth in this area too.
Well today she had her first swim meet of the season and last night, as you can imagine, the anxiety was on high. She was convinced that everyone had practiced more than her and she wasn’t going to do well. I asked her why she thought this since she had been swimming a lot. She kept saying she wanted to do it, but she was just uncomfortable. Which translates to “I am not sure what is going to happen and I am anxious about it.” Which, let’s face it, isn’t that normal? Don’t we all feel like this? If I had a swim meet tomorrow and I hadn’t raced since last summer, those same fears would be in my mind.
So we talked a little more about it and I told her I would be there to cheer her on and embarrass her. She smiled at that and I kissed her goodnight. I told her a good night sleep would help and she would be ready in the morning. I don’t know if she bought that or not because when I woke up this morning she was all snuggled up in our bed. I have no idea how long she was there.
Still, she got ready and gathered her towel, swim cap, water bottle and off we went. I had to drop her off to warm up and then take my older daughter to soccer camp and then get back to the pool. Now I was the one with anxiety. I was worried that she was worried. But when I got there she was warming up and she was with some girls her age and my friend was keeping an eye on her too. So all was well….. So far.
The meet was about to begin and they started with the 8 and under group, so she had to wait a little while before her heat. Waiting is the worst part. She got her cap on and stood nervously with her group. Her arms were crossed in front of her and she was biting her nails furiously. The coach asked me if I would be a runner. I said sure as if I knew what a runner was, but I quickly figured it out. My very important job was to collect the times from all the timekeepers after each heat and hand them in to “The Ladies at the Table”. I don’t know what goes on at that table, but that was not part of my job.
Finally, it was her turn. She got in her ready stance as if she was at the Olympics about to go for the gold. Nine year old girls take these things very seriously. The whistle blew and they were off!!! She swam like a horse out of the gates at the Derby! She swam well. She swam fast. She was going for it! She was doing it! She did NOT swim like an anxious kid. She swam like a kid who wanted to win her heat. She ended up placing 2nd for her freestyle and 1st for her backstroke! I was so proud of her for doing well, but more importantly, I was proud of her for taking on her own challenges and winning.
Afterward, I asked her how she felt and she said it felt good to get in the water. I thought that’s perfectly said, because isn’t that the point? Just get in the water! Just give it a try! I hope every time she gets out there to try something and succeeds in doing it, whether she wins or not, she is gaining confidence and a stronger sense of self. What a great life lesson. I could learn a thing or two from her. I hope, as moms, we can all get in the water!
I’ve wanted my kids to get out of school for weeks. You all know that. And I love them like crazy, really, I do. But since they got out of school I’ve had this headache. Not a migraine, not even a sinus headache. Just an always there, just under the surface headache. And my eye is twitching. Plus, I’m exhausted. Coincidence, I think not.
We’ve been to the beach 2 days and 2 nights, we’ve been to the movies, we’ve had friends over, we’ve gone on a hike, we’ve had 3 music lessons and a soccer practice. We’ve eaten more pizza, ice cream and Del’s than I care to recall. And it’s only been 5 days. I can’t keep up this pace!
I’ve been waiting the whole school year for this summer to come. I want to relax! We live by the beach and I live for the beach. That’s the only place I want to be this summer – at the beach with my kids!
Tonight and tomorrow are booked solid with 4th of July festivities. After that it’s nothing but beach, baby! I saw a sign at a local gift shop yesterday that read “Beach your children well.” That’s just what I intend to do. Just let me get a little rest first.