Category: opinion

sick-andie

Runny Noses and Nursery


(Some terminology is specific to my religious congregation if you are not LDS I hope that you can apply this to your congregation or social circles as well)
Having sick kids in the house sure can be exhausting. Your 1 or 3 year-old is sleeping like a newborn, waking every two hours because they are coughing, congested, wheezing and crying. Then not to mention you still have to get up and carry on, every day like the day before. 
It sure is tough to know when and where it is appropriate to take your kids when they are in such a state. I have heard some women express how frustrating it is for them when mothers and fathers bring sick children into public places, especially church. And while I do try my best to keep my sick kids home when I can, I cannot help but feel that the side of the story from the parents of sick children who take them into public places needs to be viewed with more compassion.
Doesn’t do justice to how sick she has been, but there are boogers on them there cheeks.
There are a variety of reasons why a mother may bring a sick child to church, some may seem selfish or inconsiderate but possibly you have not encountered enough desperate moms to understand. Mothers that suffer from depression, who have non-supportive/non-existent husbands, who don’t have close family to rely on or even more sadly not one friend at church to rely on, who need to come to church with their weekly ride to meet with the bishop (clergy) to receive a check to feed their sick and hungry children, who have not been able to take the sacrament for years and that glorious day has come, who are investigating the church (or coming back to Christ or coming to know Christ) and need to be there that day because they have been prompted by the Lord to be there, these women feel they need to be at church, sick child in tow or not.
I feel most of us moms are doing the best we can, and most of us are hanging on by a thread. Rather than us women ganging up on all the moms who have ever made the call to take a child who is sick out of the house, let’s gang up to find a way to alleviate their burdens, to be good friends, and get to know these women better and understand their point of view. Then lovingly and gently introduce them to your view points on children’s health.
An experience I had four years ago dramatically altered my view on children’s health.
My son was born four years ago in February. I lived in Rexburg Idaho, a known stewing pot for RSV and I was a little paranoid about my son’s health. My older sisters, who were also my closest confidants and best friends, were due to visit me and my new bundle of joy. Micah, the oldest, flew in from Georgia for two weeks. K’Leena, a new mother herself, drove up from Utah. When K’Leena arrived I noticed her young daughter had a runny nose. I began to feel anxious that my new little one would get this runny nose and his life would be miserable.
K’Leena was staying with an aunt in a nearby city and I asked her not to come back with her daughter again unless she got better. Seriously one of the biggest regrets of my adult life, I kept my own sister and her sick baby at bay because of my paranoia. It only took a couple of hours for the full measure of what I did to be realized. Unknown to us, K’Leena, a five year career woman was struggling from postpartum depression being a new mother and being home all of the time, on top of that her husband had decided the day before to quit his stable well-paying job to go back to school, with no other job prospect lined up, meaning they would lose their home. She was also feeling some residual animosity from a similar situation with my sister Micah. What I did pretty much broke my sister’s heart, she needed us, her sisters, and because I did not want to be put out with having a sick child I turned a blind eye to her needs. Our relationship has begun to heal but it is a slow process. If there was any way to take back what I did, I would easily endure having a sick baby rather than the chasm that entered our lifelong friendship.
I would hate for any one of you who feel frustrated by this same sort of situation to inadvertently or irreversibly break a mother who is just doing her best. The state of a young mother is a fragile thing. We as women need each other; we need to build each other up.
There are a lot of things in this world we can change, the easiest by far, is ourselves; the hardest, is other people.  
After my situation with my sister I decided to change my mind frame. I now just see childhood as a time where runny noses are frequent, where kids get sick and get better. And when they are sick and I am up in the middle of the night for the fifth time cuddling my 18 month old, I try to enjoy that time looking at my sweetheart. Most people with healthy immune systems will not be severely harmed by common viruses, colds, flus, stomach bugs, etc.
I am not propagating irresponsibility with children and illness but I am just hoping to shed some compassion on the hundreds of parents who take their sick children out. And I ask that you please be cautious about what you post on Facebook especially when it comes to peoples actions at church. Your burst of frustration could really make a mother or father feel like a failure in a role they are doing the best they can in.
Christ bore our burdens and commands us to be like him, if the burden we need to bare is having our children be sick for someone else to worship God on a Sunday, perhaps that is ok. .
Wishing you and all your runny-nosed little ones a healthy winter.
Love,
Heather

Spit it Out: Thoughts on Child Therapy

‘Aight, so let’s shoot straight about the whole child therapy thang. Recently a friend of mine asked on facebook if she should seek help for her daughter, who is three, because she has a stuttering problem that seems to be getting worse. She wasn’t sure if this is something that her daughter would grow out of. I am no expert, but here is my experience about this whole, developmental progress thing.

Like I mentioned in this post my little Kacen seemed to be progressing fine for two years then he started to retrogress. I started to notice he wasn’t talking and all of his peers were. I mentioned this to some family and friends and most people said things like, “He is only three.” “Some kids are late bloomers, you know Jeanie up the street had a son who didn’t talk til he was five, not a word then one morning at breakfast he asked for bacon and eggs!” “Oh he will pick things up soon enough just give it time.” Yes, in some cases these things are true. And I do feel that in some ways we are too quick to rush our kids off to this or that specialist. But I also think that sometimes people are just trying to be nice and optimistic.

Heck I did it for a long time. When Kacen was two, nearing three, and still not using very many words I kept rationalizing, “Well when he is three, if he isn’t using A LOT of words then I will get help.” No one wants to feel like their kid is not “normal.” I believe most parents look at their kids and have high hopes and dreams for them. I often envisioned that Kacen would be such a cool kid, with lots of friends, he’d be super funny and smart, maybe even his Senior Class President, haha all the things I wanted for myself but drew up a little short on. Sort of silly things, but you know, I want him to be liked and to have friends. When your child is not up to par developmentally we all know that sometimes those social situations can be very difficult. Not to mention that in some ways I didn’t want to admit that he wasn’t “normal.” Often times we do that for other people, we just want to be so optimistic that their child will be “normal” or “fine” that we don’t want to offer the suggestion of seeking help.

My sister, K’Leena (who we have been hearing from), has a beautiful daughter Emily. Em is about a year older than Kacen and has also struggled with her speech and developmental milestones. So K’Leena told me right away to at least go get things check out. I drug my feet for a while but that third birthday was creeping up so I started the process of testing. And yep, the state took Kacen into their program right away for his speech and other developmental delays.

You know, Ky and I kept holding Kacen up to some imaginary line of normalcy. And our frustrations would mount when he wasn’t doing what we thought he aught to be able to do. However, recently K’Leena said something to me that was sort of profound and really made me re-evaluate how we treat Kacen and his skill level. She said, “I had to be honest with myself, Emily may never talk, but that is ok, whatever Emily does will be her normal, and that is the only standard she needs to be held to.”

We are lucky and Kacen is making marked improvements in his speech and behavior but K’Leena was totally right, as long as Kacen is working his hardest and we are exhausting our efforts to help him achieve his best, what he does will be his normal and I need to be ok with that. Optimism is great, but I have learned not to hold too many visions of what my kids will be, instead I should nurture who they are now. Kace is such a special kid, just so sweet and so energetic, we love him to pieces. Feeling at peace with his skill level has really opened my heart, it has really lifted a burden that I feel in this competitive world. Yeah it is scary to think that my kid might get teased because of his speech but that is why I need to work right now to help him feel and know that our home is a safe place, a place of refuge, love and happiness.