Riding a bike, it is NOT!
For the first month that S lived with me, I was awestruck. I spent most of my time holding her or staring at her. The simplest movement, sound or facial expression was the subject matter for an entire conversation between my husband and I. At the same time I was becoming more aware of how ill prepared I was for this care. Physically I was battling arthritic knees and cervical dystonia which is a neuro/muscular disorder in my neck and shoulders. It seemed like I was spending the balk of my retirement at the Doctors. Our home was not designed for a child and we lived within a community of primarily citizens older than 50. My car was too small and proved to be impossible to buckle her in and out without twist and turns that required a yoga guru. Intellectually I knew I could handle this task because I had served as a teacher and a Behavior Specialist for thirty-three years and knew what to do as far as structure and discipline. However, a baby is less about intellect and more about instincts. Her needs were primal and constant. Emotionally I was a wreck. I loved her and still do beyond what can be written, but the adjustment and change in my life was dramatic. I am considered very social and an extrovert, but I did not leave the house for a month except for an occassional walk around the neighborhood. Positioning her in the car, holding the carrier and all the baby necessities was too daunting for me. I was also trying to provide her with a schedule of sleeping and eating that would maximize her well being and it seemed we were preparing for one or the other each hour. When was I supposed to fit in the growing mounds of laundry, cleaning at least the kitchen, maintaining a yard, or perhaps eating a meal and sleeping for at least six or so hours? The first time I took her to a well baby check-up I asked the Doctor many questions about diet, sleep, activity choices (all for her of course) and his answer was "You did this all before, do it the same way!" I walked out of the office more frustrated than ever and began to seek another pediatrician immediately. "Do this like I did before?" Let me see, that was approximately 35 years ago, with a much leaner, meaner body with thick brown hair, twice the energy and an entirely different society for raising children. We were not even required to use car seats and now children must use them until they are at least ten years old. I kept searching for the mother in me that worked full time, volunteered constantly, served as a military wife and moved our lives and household nineteen times, all the while raising two children a year apart in age. Where was the girl that kept a tidy house, cooked dinner for a tired serviceman, met with the neighbors each afternoon for playdates, served on several committees within school, the military and the church and actually took a shower and combed her hair each day? The Nani-Mommy that looked back at me in the mirror had thick, black rings under her eyes, dishelveled hair, wrinkles around her mouth and eyes and could not remember the last shower. The truth of the matter is life happened in between babies and the present. I pursued a career, rode the tide of teenagers, smiled at first loves, even dorky second loves and eventually celebrated at the marriages, cried during the divorces, but relished time with my three grandchildren. Attended funerals, gave eulogies, held hands, provided a shoulder, wiped a tear and patted some backs. I retired and planned to sit back and smell the roses, but S was wailing because she just took a tumble down a step. I had many meltdowns that resembled tantrums the first year. This was not like pedalling a bike after years of driving. This was more like being told you had to fly an airplane with the wind of a baby beneath your wings. I rebeled, stomped my feet, threw up my hands, slammed doors, and screamed at the lack of fairness. The tears continued to flow, but more and more it was prompted by some remarkable endeavor by S. I eventually found the things that I had not lost over time--persistence, faith in God, dedication, love of children, and hope. My knees are still wobbly, but my heart is strengthened with each passing day.....
Garden Ridge, Texas