Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy New Year

It feels like a brand-new year. I'm so relieved be on the other side of the past one. Last week was heavy on emotions and ruminations about time passing, children, our life together and gratitude for good health.

First, on Tuesday, as mentioned in the previous post, Lily had her Preschool Graduation. I know it's just preschool, and there'll be so many other major milestones on her road, but still, this felt big. An end to being a preschooler, a little kid, and the start of being an Official Big Kid, of having so many expectations placed upon you, by your peers, your teachers, your parents. Sometimes, it's hard to remember that 5 years old is just...
5 years old. So little, still. So open and innocent and so full of questions and wonder. Let's not change that part anytime soon.
And then, on Wednesday, was our much-planned family picnic, to celebrate life and love and the good health of our sweet boy. Because Wednesday, June 13, was the one-year anniversary of Tucker's admission into the pediatric ICU at Children's Hospital Orange County. A year ago that day, we'd hurried up the freeway and driven an hour away, on the advice of our pediatrician, who'd taken one look at his overall condition and one listen to his lungs and told us to get him to an ER. (There is a closer ER, but not a better one.) You can read more about it here. I don't want to go into those details again.
June 13, 2007 was a much, much better day. Sunshine and the smell of the scrubby oak trees, homemade brownies and fizzy orange sodas. Forget that I couldn't set out my pretty new picnic blanket, because there was no grass and the park's ground was all dirt and leaves. Forget that Tucker was being a 2-and-a-half year old pain in the ass earlier that morning, practicing his Toddler Tyrant moves on us all. It was just good to be out, together, and blessed with good health and the good fortune to all be together in the middle of a busy weekday.
If I take into account all that has transpired in the last year, from June to June, I can only say that it's been one hell of a year. Sickness and death and way too much time spent in hospitals seeing my dearest loved ones hooked up to scary, beeping machines. Not that it was all bad. But then, it never really is, is it? Even during the worst of times, there is humor, and the grace of family and friends who care, and the solace of the wide blue yonder, the starry night skies.

Sometimes when I look back upon the year, and all the scary, heart-clenching moments, I think about that ubiquitous and cheesy religious poem, "Footprints." You know, the one about how there are 2 sets of footprints in the sand, representing how during the course of your life (the metaphor is the long walk along the beach) you have God (or is it Jesus?) walking beside you all the way. Except for the times when there are only one set of prints, and that -- as the final line of the poems reveals -- that shows how God carried you through your toughest times.

Huh. Well, when I think of that poem, I think that on my beach, there's one set of footprints, and then 2 long, deep furrows behind them -- representing how I was dragged, kicking and squirming and protesting the whole time, behind God (or is it Jesus?) and His plan for me this year. I'm not a Christian, in the strict sense of the word, but I'm not a non-believer, either. I realize my rather wimpy wavering on this is immature and exasperating to both camps, whether full-bore Christian or atheist. I have plenty of doubts, and on the worst days, and even on some so-so days, it would be easy to topple over into non-belief, yet I can't do that. I've prayed plenty in the last year. I've always prayed, since I was a teenager and infused with a real desire to experience the holy. There was something very specific that I prayed hard for in my dad's last days, and it was answered. But during Tucker's illness, there was no room for prayer, no possibility of asking for something to happen. Not when the stakes were so high. I couldn't ask. I think any parent who's been in a situation where your child is gravely ill knows the feeling. There can be no prayer, when every breath and every step you take is already begging please. Please, please, please.

And Tucker got better. Whether through fate or divine intervention or the care of his great doctors, or all of the above, he recovered and has been quite healthy during the last year, save for a few colds. (Furious knocking of wood, at that line.) And all year long, I've felt gratitude, the kind you feel when you've been to the brink and peeked into the other side, and felt that chill, that fear. I think I spent the first few months out of the hospital overcome with all of it -- gratitude, fear, worry -- the kind that made me bolt awake at the slightest cough or noise coming from his room late at night.

Now that the year is over, I'm feeling more of the flip-side of that gratitude and relief, and for me, the flip-side is anger. Anger and resentment. I catch myself lately, on bad days when Tucker is being a screaming, naughty beast of a 2-year-old, feeling guilty for my anger and frustration. My gratitude has turned into a nagging voice, that doesn't let me feel anything BUT gratitude, 24/7. But to be honest? I'm not cherishing every moment. I'm not living for today. I'm really not loving every minute of it. I'm a stay-at-home mom with two very bright, active, intense children, and Gratitude won't let me give myself a break.

So for the record, Gratitude, or God, or anyone else who can pull strings and might be listening: Look, I'm so, so thankful for my beautiful children and my good life, for being blessed to spend my days watching them grow and change. But Gratitude? I could really use a break right about now. It's time to let me off the hook, to stop dragging me behind you in the sand. I want to get up from this past year, and walk all by myself on that beach, and if you want to come along, that's cool, as long as there are also two other very small sets of footprints in the sand beside mine the whole way, along with my husband's big size 11 1/2 boats, even though every time we go to the coast, he swears I'm really just trying to kill him with all of that damp, cold ocean air.



Blogger Genevieve Olsen said...

Happy New Year! Kelly That last paragraph brought tears to my eyes!!!! This post really mirrored the way I feel about a lot of things. I too stay at home and my husband works at least a 12 hour day so I pretty much feel like a single mother. And when the girls are at their peak of naughty and exasperating; I think about people who have lost their children and wish they could hold their children one more time, or hear them scream and have tantrum, laugh and I have to try and breath and remember that whatever they are doing screaming ,yelling, playing too loudly it is so much better than the alternative!!!! Tori-Kate my soon to be two year old got a fever when she was a month old so I took her to her pediatrician. They looked her over and announced that they were going to admit her. I was not expecting that, I was in a state of shock. My Parents kept our older child while my husband and I stayed with Victoria for 3 days in the pediatric ICU while they ran tons of tests, a spinal tap you name it and she was hooked up to some many wires! We cried and cried and cried Thank goodness she was too young to realize. It was terrifying and being on the ward with the other very ill children was heartbreaking. I do not know the circumstances but some of the children did not have any family with them the whole time we were there and they would cry all day. I just wanted to scoop them up and hold them also! Tori fever broke and they gave her antibiotics and released her and after all of the poking and prodding when we put the baby in her car seat to go home and she smiled for the first time that was one of the best moments of my life! After the year you have had you have every right to feel the way you do. Hang in there!And again Happy New Year! I hope it is very happy one!!!

8:16 AM  
Blogger mo said...

I saw your comment on my blog (mommo) and I came over for a read. I was struck by all of the things in your life that mirror my own. So many things. I am so sorry to hear about your father passing. We lost my Mother in Law this year and it continues to be a source of sadness. Her birthday is just a few days before mine so it really felt so bitersweet. I was struck by your thoughs on the Fathers day cards. I drove past a sign for a sale on Copper River salmon the other day and i cried because thats what I always made for her birthday dinner. Its the little things. We also had a sick wee one who spent time in the hospital at 18 months.She ended up having open heart surgery but is better than new now so I count those blessings (though it is harder some days than other like when she pretended to talk on the phone and tell her imaginary friend about her wicked mother the other day). Your thoughts about how it deepend your priorities also hit home. There were many other things but there might be a limit on how many words I can have in a comment! Thanks for stopping by and the birthday wishes and I enjoyed reading your blog.

6:54 PM  

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