Sunday, December 25, 2011

In the meantime

Froggy is terrific, healthier than she has ever been. Her BMI is 50, her lung function between 106 and 114 (PFT's), her bronchoscope was wonderful and she has very little mucus in her lungs. Her Pulmonologist said her lungs are beautiful. Beautiful! CF lungs - beautiful. Wow.

She's thriving in Kindergarten. The kids at school love her. She is a good friend. She's learning to read and her teacher is one of those rare souls who harnesses the true joy of learning. I volunteer and cannot believe the dedication and energy that goes into each lesson. And most importantly, they are teaching kids to be good people, stressing empathy and responsibility. The kids in her class are smart, funny, interesting children. It blows my mind.

Life is tough as a single parent. Managing Froggy's health care on my own, working 2 part-time jobs, taking care of three pets, fundraising, and coordinating custody has taken its toll. I'm busy, exhausted, but complete. As tired as I am, there is fullfillment, appreciation, and with new joy in our home.

I know I can never do it all. Living two thousand miles from my family, I do not have the natural support system that allows me to do it all. I'm always failing someone, my boss, Froggy, the house. It is impossible to do it all. And I try to forgive myself for not being able to manage it with grace. My kid shows up to school late, her homework isn't always complete. But she's healthy. She's healthy and THAT is my numero uno. Everyday I make sure she eats a huge breakfast, lunch and dinner, gets plenty of exercise, does her treatments, a sinus rinse, feeding tube and meds. After school, I make sure she has some good ole unstructured playtime. We read atleast 30 minutes every night. I schedule the appointments and talk to other parents, I read the literature about CF and parenting. I prioritize and if I fail at having the best dressed kid, or the most punctual, if dinner isn't gourmet, if her hair isn't always brushed, well, I am doing the best, the best I can, running myself ragged for sometimes the very least.

There has been plenty of judgement, snarky tones, rude looks, rolled eyes, unkind words, and it is so difficult because no one really understands. People think they can step into our shoes, but unless you're here, doing it, there is no room. I prioritize in ways I never thought I would have to. When we wake up, Froggy has a g-tube feed, meds, treatment, a sinus rinse, usually a bowel movement (that is contingent on everything else), plus a big breakfast, getting dressed, hair brushed, teeth brushed, lunch packed, so sometimes we're late. I understand that her sleep is important, sending her to school with food in her belly is important (because she won't eat at school), knowing the sinus rinse will prevent yet another sinus infection is important. And she can't do any of it until she poops. Because she has gastritis and chronic constipation, and doing her treatment at 6am before all of this hurts her belly, so I deal with the rude comments from people who don't get it. And I get an earful about what a terrible parent I am for taking Froggy to McDonalds twice a month. And I know I shouldn't let these ignorant and defensive attacks hurt, but they do. And the moment I say, "Instead of judging me, why don't you help me," those comments die down for a while.

I don't judge anyone anymore. The last six years I have learned that. Big time. You never know what someone goes through, what they are up against. Unless you are a fly on the wall in every moment of someone else's day, forgetaboutit. You don't know nothin'. I was judged for introducing my child to my boyfriend. I was called horrible names, called a bad mother. As if suddenly I was not the same mother I've been for the last six years. Suddenly, as a single woman, I am wreckless and carefree. Of course I was careful. I always am. I introduced this new person slowly and as a friend, transitioning him from a part of "the gang" to part of our life. And now this person is not only a huge part of my life but Froggy's as well.

There are many mornings when I wake up and think, "I just can't." But I do. I'm not winning any awards. I lose my temper. The cats are neglected. Our sink always has dishes in it. Always. I know I'm not perfect but I do my best.

Froggy struggles with anger and obstinance. She is a tough cookie with a short attention span and more sensitive than she lets on. I know this divorce has affected her. I know she is changed because of it. I also know that it was the right decision and looking back, I cannot imagine living the way we did. I did the right thing. But still.

There is joy in our home, a sense of family that we've never had. There is kindness and respect, dinners around the table, consistency and love. When my friend had a baby, she said that her husband loved the new babe, but his first priority was her. That support allowed her to take care of the baby. And without that, she would have not been the best mother she could be. I understand that now. You need the man to support the woman so the woman can take care of the babe. As caveman as it sounds, it works. And it isn't selfish to have a partner. It's necessary. It's beneficial. Good for Froggy and me. Good for all of us. And I'm going to stop defending myself because my friends and family know how hard I work, how my numero uno has been and always will be Froggy. Always. And everything else is just noise. In the meantime I'm going to enjoy this girl. This incredible, frustrating, intelligent, funny, complicated, smart, sweet little Froggy.


The DutchMac Tribe said...

No words would be sufficient, so I'll just send you rapturous applause and great big squeezes from ClogLand.

fleetfeet said...

I live in a "judgement-free zone" as well. We are all doing the best we can. Not only is your plate full, but you are juggling at least ten of them. The fact that Froggy is as healthy as she is is a testimony to your diligent care. She is thriving as a result of her momma's love!

PS. My kids eat at McDonald's once a week. Hope that makes you feel better...!

Anonymous said...

There are times when I so want to say "Walk in my shoes", but usually just keep my mouth shut. Some people (family) put way to much emphasis on appearances. His hair is rarely brushed and he prefers not to wear pants (just boxers) much to the horror of my MIL. :)

Max is the most important thing in our lives and we're fortunate that we have a good group of friends who from day one have referred to him as "the community child". He's happy, he's loved and relatively healthy and THAT is all that matters.

As for homework -- froggy is a smart cookie. I think half the schoolwork Max brings home is "busy-work". Bleah!

You're a great mama! I can tell from your posts. And I'm so happy for you -- that you've got a wonderful support group and a new someone in your life.

ps -- Max demanded a hamburger from McDonalds at Christmas dinner. He got cookies instead. I ended up making him one at 9:30 that night.

ezrider67 said...

Oh, I can't wait until we're face to face to talk about this in person. But for put it perfectly, honestly and respectfully. Keep hanging on mama! You're doing an awesome job!

Anonymous said...

Elise, you are doing awesome.


The Barloewen family.

ferfischer said...

It sounds like you're doing great. When you have a crazy busy life filled with more than you can imagine, you triage, and FWIW my kids eat fast food way more than 2 times a month. It is what it is, and most people can see why if they ever come to our house. But even with all those "parenting fails" we make, we have well adjusted mostly healthy, happy kids, and lots of love in our house, so who cares about anything else? I don't and everyone else can shove it.

Stan (E-Boy) said...

Our teachers must be BFF together. My teacher is just as good I bet.