May 29, 2010

My Spiral Dance

Years ago, I heard a metaphor of a spiral dance. It went like this: you go about living your life, day by day, week by week, year by year. You move along life as though in a circle. When you get to a particular repeating milestone you start the circle all over again. An example of a repeating weekly milestone would be a particular day of the week. More drastic are yearly milestones, such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, the first day of school. These are events that happen over and over again; we are living life in a circle.

Except that in the spiral dance metaphor, we don't live life in a circle...rather, we live life in a spiral (think of a slinky if you want a good spiral visual!). So when we get to the beginning point again of the circle, we aren't exactly where we started; instead, we are a level higher than before. So while we celebrate our birthdays every year, there was a whole 365 days in between birthdays in which we grew, learned, and changed. The first day of school looks different from kindergarten to 12th grade...the occasion is the same, but with so many "spirals" of circles in between in which we grew by leaps and bounds. An especially poignant example is a 10- or 20-year high school reunion. You're having dinner with the same people that you knew years ago, but boy, have you grown so much since being a squirrelly high schooler with them!

I usually don't take time to reflect on my own spirals, on how much I've grown, which is a shame. I think that such self-reflection is wonderful, and validates human potential. However, this week I had an epiphany of how much I've grown since A was born almost 4 years ago.

After school one day this week, I took my son, D, to Baskin-Robbins. We call such occasions "special time", since A was home with our nurse and it was just the two of us, enjoying one-on-one time. D, as a new 6 year old, loves "special time" with his Mama. And we usually go to get ice-cream, which we both love!

Anyhow, we were sitting in Baskin-Robbins enjoying our sundaes when I had a flashback to coming there when A was only a few months old. A had been in the NICU for 12 weeks, and she was home for 7 weeks before she was readmitted for 4 weeks due to getting a tracheostomy. During those 7 weeks at home, we rarely left the house; I was terrifed she would get sick. We would take D to school and pick him up, and of course go to millions of doctor's appointment, but other than that we were housebound. And even after A got her trach, we stayed in for the most part. I was too nervous...not only about A getting sick, but how was I to handle 2 kids by myself? A was a medically-fragile infant with a tons of medical equipment that needed to be lugged around with us (her suction machine, her Kangaroo feeding pump, not to mention the usual sundry items that any infant needs) and D was a rambunctious 2 year old boy. How could I tend to A's needs while keeping an eye on my son? I was going stir-crazy inside the house, and simply going to doctor's appointments and taking my son to and from school wasn't enough. I just needed to get out someplace different.

The answer was Baskin-Robbins. Soon after coming home from her tracheostomy, I started to take both kids once or twice a week to get ice-cream. Baskin-Robbins was ideal----close to my house, inexpensive, and best of all, it was a small one-room place where my son could run around if he chose, without me having to keep a close eye on him or fear he would get lost. We went there quite a bit during A's first year.

Now, of course, I'm a pro at doing it all by myself. I've taken the kids by myself everywhere from mundane places like mall or supermarket, to exciting places like Sea World or to the San Diego Fair, where we see shows and go on rides. Of course it totally helps when my husband is home, but since J works, he is only home on weekends. I had to break out of my fear in order to have fun with my kids. It also helps that now A is no longer on the Kangaroo pump---even a few years ago we had transitioned to bolus feeds, which were easier to carry. It also helps that as my son gets older he doesn't run off like he used to do. But still.

So, sitting this week in Baskin-Robbins reminded me of my spiral dance---how far I've come in being able to not only adequately, but 100% competently take care of both kids at the same time. A huge milestone in my book, and one I actually reached a few years ago. I'm proud to finally acknowledge it!

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