It’s been a while since I’ve written. Nine months to be exact. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without giving an update and as I think back over the past several months, I realize what a mistake it was to wait so long. A lot has happened, kiddo, and you’ve changed and grown so much! There’s no way I could possibly sum it all up in one letter, but I’ll do my best to tell you what our life is like right now.
You currently love to collect things. “Treasures” as you call them. But it has to be said, your precious treasures are mostly, well… junk. Recently your obsession with this junk has become almost unmanageable. On any given day our house looks like a landfill scattered with things like bugglegum wrappers, bottlecaps, empty water bottles that now house a collection of centipedes or “roly poly” bugs, baggies full of grass and leaves, junk mail, or basically any and every random object that’s happened to spark your interest. You put these things in piles and stash them in hiding places throughout the house. And the worst part is that you remember exactly where you’ve hidden which pile of garbage and if I happen to do, I don’t know, the logical thing and throw them away, you have a complete meltdown. “My CENTIPEDES! My CANDY WRAPPERS! I put them RIGHT HERE! Where did they gooooo? Mom, this isn’t even funny anymore!” (Yes, you say that. And no, I cannot keep a straight face when you do.)
That’s another thing I should probably tell you about… how much you love “your” centipedes. And worms and caterpillars and beetles and moths and, well, any kind of bug you can get your hands on, really. What’s the deal with that? Didn’t your mother teach you that bugs are gross? You’ve been fond of bugs since before you could walk, but at the time I figured it was just a passing fancy. On the contrary, your love of all things creepy and crawly has only grown with time.
A few weeks ago you were at your uncle Tommy’s house playing in the dirt with your cousins when you found a worm. You immediately decided this worm was going to be your pet and gently cradled it in your hand while you continued playing. When the time came to leave, you asked if your pet worm could come home with us. Once home, you found a container, filled it with dirt and leaves and made a cozy new home for your little pet. Morgan, for several hours your entire life was about that worm. You talked to him, tried to get him to eat, even sang him a sweet little lullaby as you put him down for a nap. It was one of the strangest, but most precious things I’ve ever witnessed. But then, as I was cooking dinner, you came to me and said, “Mom, I don’t want my worm anymore. He’s broken.” And sure enough, that darn worm had mysteriously broken into three separate pieces. You insisted you had no idea what happened, that you just found him like that when he was supposed to be napping. I pretended to believe you but made a mental note to never leave you alone with a sleeping baby, just in case.
You’re very smart, Morgan. I know every parent thinks that about their children, but you’re really smart. And I’m not just talking about things like counting to 20 or being able to recite the alphabet. You’re smart in ways that I can’t really explain. You just get things. Things that a child your age should have no grasp of, yet you understand them so well. You’re also smart in that you know how to manipulate people. For instance if I tell you that no, you cannot have a popsicle right now, you know that if you sit next to your dad, put your hand on his arm, flash him those gorgeous blue eyes of yours and sweetly say, “Daddy, can I have a popsicle, pretty please?” he’s going to give in. No questions asked. You have that man wrapped around your little finger in a way that sometimes terrifies me. Which is why you won’t be allowed to date for… let’s see, you’re almost four now, so… another 31 years at least.
Someone recently asked me at what point you start saying a child is “almost” whatever age. Like, once they’re three and a half, are they suddenly almost four? Or is there a particular time between three and four when it becomes appropriate to say almost? I guess I don’t have a solid answer for that, but with your birthday being only three months away, I definitely think it’s okay to say that you’re almost four. And in your mind that means one thing – you can almost go to school! You’ve been telling people for months that you get to go to school once you turn four, and you are incredibly excited about that idea. You routinely fill your little backpack with papers and crayons, then sit in the corner of the living room “at school” for a while before you come to me asking for help with your “homework”. My little love, if you stay this excited about school beyond the first week you’re in attendance, I’ll be ecstatic!
The biggest change that has taken place in the last nine months has definitely been me quitting my job. For several reasons I chose to stop working near the end of last year and for five months now I’ve been a stay at home mom. Being able to spend each day together is something I’ve wanted since the moment I found out I was pregnant with you. And Morgan, I wish I could say it was everything I ever wanted or that it’s been the easiest and best decision I’ve ever made. But the truth is, while parts of it have been nothing short of amazing… it’s also really hard. Harder than any other job I’ve had. (I don’t know if saying that makes me a bad mom. I hope not. I hope it just means that I’m honest, and I also hope I’m not the only one who feels this way.)
There are days that end in tears, with me seriously questioning whether or not I was cut out for motherhood. More and more I’m learning how much you and I are alike, and while it’s thrilling to see so much of myself when I look at you, it’s also incredibly difficult because it means that we butt heads… a lot. You are stubborn and sassy and by far the most independent child I have ever met, and all of these things make it hard to be your mom sometimes.
When you’re old enough to read and understand what I’ve written, I don’t want you to read those paragraphs and feel bad. Because as hard as it can be, as frustrating as my days are sometimes, you are without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. In a world that can be scary and confusing, you are my constant; you’re what keeps me grounded. When I start to question choices I’ve made, I can look at you and know with certainty that by bringing you into this world, I’ve done at least one thing exactly right. More than anything or any person I’ve known before, you have made me more capable of loving, have made me a stronger person by challenging me, and have taught me more about myself than I ever would have learned without you. Yes, the days are sometimes long and most of the time I feel like you’re a raging wildfire I have no hope of containing, but I’m overwhelmingly grateful that somehow I got lucky enough to spend so much of my time with the most loving and vibrant human being I’ve ever met.
And I’m confident that one day (maybe when you have a child of your own) you’ll understand what I mean when I say that you, Little One, are what drives me most crazy in life… yet somehow you’re the only thing that keeps me sane.
I love you to the moon and back, baby girl.
It’s been one of those weeks. The kind where the normal stresses of life blend with exhaustion, sickness and heightened emotions to create a thick grey cloud that hovers directly overhead. The kind of week that brings tear-filled telephone calls to family members and extra time spent thinking about some of the less-than-pleasant things in life.
For the fourth time in six months, I’m back in the hospital. I’ve tried to be positive and I’ve attempted to hide my frustration from that sweet little blondie who calls me “Mama.” But the fact of the matter is, this sucks! And she knows it as well as I do.
The night before I left for the hospital, Morgan slept in my bed with me. Sometime in the early morning hours, she started crying in her sleep so I pulled her closer to me, told her that I was there and tried to kiss away whatever darkness was filling her dreams. And that’s when, still asleep, she tearfully said, “But I don’t want my Mama to go to the doctor.” Right then and there, my heart shattered.
The next morning, we were just about ready to walk out the door when I knelt down to zip Morgan’s jacket up. “I don’t want you to go,” she cried. “I want you to stay at home with me.”
“I wish I could,” I told her. “But Mama needs to go to the hospital to get feeling better. I know it’s hard, but we can do this. We’re tough. We’re rockstars!”
I don’t think I’ve ever said that before. We’re rockstars? I’m not even sure where it came from, but in the moment it seemed like the right thing to say. I think I was trying to convince myself as much as I was trying to convince her… and it kinda worked.
Hours later, after once again blowing pretty dismal PFT numbers, I was making my way through the hospital to the CF clinic when I felt tears pricking the edges of my eyes. Why was I crying? I knew this was coming. I’d been sick for a couple weeks and knew a hospital stay was inevitable. I was prepared for this. I’m tough, I reminded myself, recalling the words I’d said to Morgan earlier that morning. Then I took a deep breath (well, as deep as these lungs would allow) and began silently chanting to the rhythm of my boots hitting the tile floor… I’m a rockstar, I’m a rockstar, I’m a rockstar.
There are a couple things that are bothering me more than usual this particular stay. First, the fact that Morgan has never struggled this much with me leaving home. She is beginning to realize that there is something different about me, but she’s not sure what it is or why. She asked Adam the other day, “Why does my mom have to go to the doctor a lot?” And just today it was, “Mama, do all mommies live at the hospital sometimes?”
I’ve always known she’d eventually start asking questions, but I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to answer them. Serious questions deserve serious answers. I’m going to have to get a lot better at coming up with honest yet child-appropriate answers on the spot.
The other thing that is getting to me, that has been on my mind a lot these days, is how frequently my lung function is falling into a range much, much lower than I’m comfortable with. I hear it all the time: CF is a progressive disease. Slowly losing lung function over time despite making every effort to stay healthy… that is the nature of this beast. This is something I’ve always known. But now that it’s becoming a reality for me, now that I’m consistently blowing numbers 30-40% lower than just a few years ago, it’s suddenly a lot to handle. And it’s hard. Really, really hard.
But I think it’s okay to admit these things; that I’m scared about the future, that I don’t have all the answers to the hard questions, and that sometimes life is hard. I don’t think saying those things makes me any less of a person. In fact, I like to think that having those fears and learning to face them makes me stronger. Fear isn’t a pleasant emotion, but it certainly can motivate a person. Things aren’t as easy as I’d like them to be right now, and life is full of uncertainties – even more than usual, it seems – but I’m certain we’ll get through this and everything else life throws at us. Even when it’s really, really hard.
Right now Morgan is lying next to me in my hospital bed, sound asleep, but before she dozed off we were talking, our bodies sidled up next to each other and her head nestled into my neck. “I’m so happy you came to see me today,” I told her. “I’ve missed you.”
“I miss you too, Mama. But it’s okay, right?”
“Yeah, baby,” I whispered. “We’ll be okay. We’re tough.”
In fact, we’re rockstars. And rockstars never, ever give up.
This weekend we celebrated your third birthday. Three years old!?! When and how did that happen? Unfortunately you weren’t able to enjoy much of your birthday this year because a few days ago you decided to try to bite your tongue off. I’m not even kidding. Had those sharp little teeth of yours bit down any further, you would have lost about half your tongue! Several hours of crying, a trip to the emergency room and one very nervous momma made for the kind of evening I don’t ever want to repeat. But the fact that you still weren’t eating (or even really opening your mouth, for that matter) by the time your birthday party rolled around meant that I got to eat your ice cream and help you blow out your candles.
Not gonna lie, that part was pretty rad.
One word that we’ve been saying a lot, thanks to you actually, is “soaking”. One afternoon, after spending hours in and out of the kiddie pool in the backyard, I told you that it was time to come inside because you were soaking wet and it was getting cold. “Yep, I’m soaking wet!” you said, but later it became, “That was soaking fun!” And since that day, you seem to use that word any time you need to describe something.
You’re soaking crazy, Mom.
That’s soaking awesome!
I’m soaking tired.
This mac-n-cheesaroni is soaking good!
… is healed just a little each time I randomly receive pictures like these throughout the day.