You know when a single moment in one ordinary day can change your outlook, your mood and seemingly your parenting life entirely, forever, and you didn’t even know it was coming.
This week something happened that made me instantly look at Roma in a completely different way and possibly changed the way in which I parent her altogether. You see she is my easy child. It sounds awful to say that and that’s not to say she is easy, I mean she has definitely been sent to test me in the sleep department, but in terms of medically and emotionally I worry about her less that I do Eva, that again isn’t to say Eva is hard, just a totally different way to parent.
Eva was born three weeks early, she had skin problems and allergies from the start and I have always been that mum. The one with the list of medications, the diary full of appointments, conversations with school and other parents on how to keep her safe and with one eye and ear out to notice reactions and medical conditions we didn’t even know existed. She has been through a lot in her 6 years, much more than I can write here and sometimes it shows in her nature, she is mature, sensible, and as well as being that mum, she is that child and I constantly feel bad for her.
But Roma, so far, could not be more different. She was born at almost 42 weeks with no signs of any skin issues, she has no allergies, no medical problems and other than a bug that she was born with that resulted in me changing up to 30 nappies a day for the first few weeks of her life, she has seemingly gone through her 2 years and 3 months with the carefree nature I always craved for my children. She is very physical and extremely mischievous but medically she is just ‘fine’ and it is a completely different way to parent. How bad does it sound that it makes me relieved, for her, but also for me.
On Monday in the usual morning routine she was getting dressed with Daddy, this consists of the usual giggles and the ever familiar “I don’t want to” echoing out of her room, but what followed was the worst scream I have ever heard come from her little mouth and I instantly rushed in to find her crying and clutching her arm. We knew something wasn’t right, to cut a long story short, a trip to the hospital confirmed that her elbow had popped out. A pulled elbow.
Now this is apparently a relatively common thing to happen with children under 5 and in itself I am sure it doesn’t cause many issues in most families. A quick x-ray to check everything was fine and that it had popped back in – thankfully it had – and that was it, just another one of those things. But for me it was what came next that has thrown me in such an emotional way this week and completely put me in a spiral of worry, guilt and utter sadness.
A casual confirmation spoken softly in the family space just off the waiting room full of people. “Yes she probably has hypermobility like you.”
As I sat there the words seemed to wash over me. The room suddenly seemed so much smaller, so much brighter and medicalised than the room full of toys it was before. He continued to speak. “She’ll need to be careful from now on, on monkey bars, when picking her up, until she’s 18 at least. Oh and because it has come out before, it may happen again.” It was so casual, so matter of fact and I guess for him it was. He probably doesn’t have hypermobility. He nodded, smiled and walked out of the room.
In that very instant I felt like I had been hit by a brick, punched hard in the chest and I held back tears as my world come crashing down around me. I wanted to scoop her up and run, I don’t even know where but to run away, from ourselves. Somehow, just for a moment, to turn back time or to make it stop.
I have spent the week finding it so difficult to process. Looking at her with tears in my eyes time and again wishing, hoping it is a mistake, that maybe she is one of the ‘lucky’ ones that hypermobility becomes just one of those things, a positive even. Maybe she’ll be a gymnast, a ballet dancer or show off the splits as her party trick to her friends, or maybe she will grow out of it entirely.
But what if she isn’t? What if she is plagued by the same ongoing, constant, chronic pain every single day for the rest of her life as I am. And it’s all my fault. I did this, she got this from me and that hurts. Every choice I make has my pain in mind, everything I do, the life I lead from making a cup of tea, going on days out to the job I am capable of, I have a mind and body that don’t always agree and everything is governed by this simple word. Hypermobility.
Life for me comes with consequences, I am constantly fighting this battle and I am not ready for my daughter to go through this too. With every single step today, with every limp, every twinge, every click that comes from the Easter holiday adventures, today when I feel that familiar pain in my own body, I feel it twice. I feel it for me and I feel it for her, for the her that doesn’t even know yet, the her that doesn’t even hurt yet and the her that doesn’t yet know what life has in store, and that hurts me more than any physical pain ever can.
I feel so immensely guilty saying this but with Roma I felt blessed to have a carefree parenting path. Not just for me but for my child. To be the parent I can’t with Eva but I get to with her and aswell as the realisation that I saw her that way in the first place, I now have to deal with the fact that somehow that has suddenly been taken away, in an instant, with no warning or build up.
Maybe the weekends bluebell walks will be the last where I don’t have in the back of my mind the thought that she needs to be careful, where I not only look one way with a heavy heart behind the smile that Eva sees but now there will be a similar look in Roma’s direction too.
I know it’s raw right now, it will get easier and maybe I am being overly sensitive and she will be just fine. Maybe it won’t change everything as much as I think, maybe nothing has really even changed at all and I know that lots of people deal with lots of worse things in life. But at the moment all I feel is guilt, guilt that I realise how much I was relieved to not have to parent in this way, guilt that I wish for an easier life for us all and heartbreak that someone I love with all of my being could possibly have to go through what I do every day. I do feel sad, I feel guilty, I feel like my whole world has changed and I am totally not ready.
As parents of course we wish for lots of things for our children, but of everything in the world I have ever wanted, this, this exact thing is the thing I fear the most. Of everything they could become, please don’t let it be me.