Archives for posts with tag: Mothers and Daughters

Several times a year, I observe one of my patients in the classroom as part of my assessment. This step is particularly helpful in assessing very young children. Once kids get older than 1st or 2nd grade, it’s hard to get a good observation in just an hour because the behaviors of interest just don’t occur as frequently by that time. So when I observe in a classroom, the kids are anywhere from 2 to 7 years old.

This morning, I observed a student in a classroom of 3-6 year old’s.   I haven’t seen little kids like this in some time due to changes in my work I made in order to accommodate my cancer treatments as well as to reduce my treatment load (I used to see lots of little kids and their families) so I could get home earlier for family reasons. Honestly, I miss little kids.

What a sweet little classroom it was. I see a lot of wonderful teachers. The teacher in this classroom was excellent in a way I don’t see a lot. The quietly compelling teacher. The gentle but engaging teacher. The patient but direct teacher. She was just lovely to watch.  I told her this as I left the classroom. She smiled, gently set her hand on my arm, and then put it over her heart. The students loved her. They trusted her. They followed her direction, which she did with encouragement and love.  I try not to attract attention when I observe but even so, when children happened to pass where I was seated, they smiled at me and I smiled back.

Sometimes visiting a little community like this is a truly beautiful experience. This was one of those times and I found myself feeling very moved, my eyes nearly welling with tears. It is not that small children learning in a nurturing environment, where they receive and give love, is not worth tears of joy. But there was something else I was feeling, wistfulness, a longing sadness for things lost.

I have had this feeling every morning since Sunday. At first I thought it was just related to my having had a wonderful two day visit with a friend, come to an end, kind of like that let down on Christmas after all of the packages have been unwrapped, the guests have left, the floor is a mess, and the dishes need to be done.  That was part of it but not all. A couple of days ago,  I also realized that the two day visit had given me a very much needed break from the stress not only from my job but from my family life. For two days, I concentrated on fun and entertaining people. We are not supposed to admit this as parents, especially mothers, but I must say also that I experienced many hours of feeling almost childless and this was enormously lightening. It was almost like I imagine not thinking of having had breast cancer for an entire day.

This morning, I understood another layer. I miss having a small child. I love my daughter; she is a force of nature and a singular sensation. It is still normal for her to say something if not very sweet, at least positive about my husband or me, each day. But there are also the other times, the hard parenting times. These are times that stress out the family a great deal. When I was a researcher at the University of Washington, we followed a treatment model for parenting teens, which included a  focus on guidelines, monitoring, and consequences (positive and negative). My husband and I are in the camp of parents who provide all three parts. Most parents provide guidelines to their teens, many provide consequences, effective, ineffective, fair, unfair, and/or harsh. A lot of parents, however, do not adequately monitor or supervise.

Consequently, our kid gets busted for stuff that other kids get away with because their parents aren’t paying good enough attention. And this makes here angry and insulted in only the way teen can get. Instead of “Oh no, you caught me doing x, y, and z” it’s “I can’t believe you violated my right to do x, y, and z, not that I am admitting to doing any of those things!”

Testing parental limits is a normal part of growing up for a teen. And she did it when she was little, too. And sometimes she even said really mean things to me, as mean as a four year old could be, “You’re not my friend!” “I’m going to punish you!” Or in the words of the young patient I used to have, “I’m going to put you in time out for a hundred fousand years!!”

When our kids are little, some of these statements can sound pretty funny, especially if your child still can’t pronounce /th/ in “thousand”. They are also, little. Little kids can make a powerful racket and they can express powerful feelings but in the end, they are small. They are not powerful. But teens have a lot more independence. They have a lot more power. And they often don’t want our help or limits even when they need them. When a little kid has a tantrum after testing limits, it’s typically over in a short amount of time. Even kids who have horrible and intense tantrums are usually done in an hour or two. Not to dismiss the stress of those kinds of tantrums because it is considerable, but an older child due to their increased cognitive development, can hold a grudge for a really long time. And they can test for a really long time. And because they are harder to supervise, there are tests you fail as a parent because you didn’t even know to show up for them.

We all want the best for our children, to be happy, to be responsible, to have healthy relationships, to be able to contribute positively to society, and to be able to care for themselves and others.  Some days it is incredibly exhausting and I know that it is for her, as well. And then empathizing with her tumult, creates inner turmoil for me.

Little children are so much simpler. Their world is so much smaller and they are typically happy to have you be in it. When my daughter was in preschool, she used to tell me how much she loved me in delightful ways. One of them was, “I love you more than the world has changed. And the world has changed A LOT!”

I miss my little girl. I miss her as much as her world has changed. I love the young woman that she is even more. But most of all, I pray for her happiness and her health, that her unique gifts will be fully appreciated out there in the world without my husband and me.

I love to cook. And sometimes I even entertain large groups of people. Hmm, what large group of people might I know? Oh yes, my extended family!

My parents got married on 11/25/1954. That was also Thanksgiving day. They had Thanksgiving dinner for all of their guests. There were a lot of guests.

2004 was my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It landed on Thanksgiving that year. They had one request, “We don’t want to host or cook on our 50th anniversary.” So I told them that I would take over that responsibility for not only 2004 but for the years following. And I did just what I promised for seven years.

In 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And in November of 2012, I took my parents up on their offer to host Thanksgiving again JUST FOR THAT YEAR. It was a wonderful celebration and I so appreciated their generosity.

It is now 2013. I am really excited about taking Thanksgiving back! I have so much for which to be thankful. And as an extra added bonus, Thanksgiving is late this year, which means that it is not so close to my birthday, as it normally is.

I have started reviewing recipes. I have started thinking about baking fruit pies. I am not much of a dessert baker except for two things. I make excellent fruit pies as well as a mighty fine chocolate cookie. My mom is more of a sweets maker. I am into savory. I make turkey with cognac gravy. Mashed potatoes with caramelized shallots. I make Brussels sprouts that make cabbage haters weep with joy. (Okay, SLIGHT exaggeration. My sprouts are darned good.) My stuffing is so good and this will be the first year that I will have to skip it because of the whole wheat allergy thing.

My mom has emailed me, not once but twice, suggesting that she take over Thanksgiving for this year. My mom is not a control freak. She is sincerely trying to be helpful. The first time she asked, I thought she had read my post about financial stresses related to breast cancer treatment. She had not read it and I just told her that I appreciated the offer but that I was really looking forward to putting on Thanksgiving this year.

Then Mom actually did read the post and asked again, if it would make more sense for her to host Thanksgiving. I again, gave a gracious, “no thank you.”

I really want to host Thanksgiving. Mom, if you start worrying again, look at the title of this post! xoxoxo.

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