Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reclaiming what the locusts have stolen

Every one of our children has had a big celebration when they hit 10. When they were all little, there was something so monumental to me that they hit double digits on their age, and I decided since we don't observe a lot of other traditions, we would create one of our own. For A's 10th, we took all of the kids to Medieval Times, which was quite the experience with our crew of kids in tow. For E's 10th, I took her to American Girl's store and let her spend a ridiculous amount of money to accesorize her beloved dolls she was obsessed with. For C and Ch, they turned 10 within a few months of each other and agreed to share their celebration. Thus, we took the entire family to Ringling Bros circus and they each got a big dollar amount for spending there. Micah was not able to celebrate his 10th and last birthday with fanfare. Instead, we did something very low key, and we did an over the top vacation this year when he would have been 11. However, my poor, precious R turned 10 just two months after her brother died.

The finances were insanely tight right after Micah died. The combination of funeral expenses, the money the crazy non-nanny cost me for her behaviors and lack of money sense, adding S and having to buy him even the most basic things such as clothes and medication immediately, then S's hospitalization in the middle of Micah dying, money was simply awful last fall. If it were just about the money, we would have figured out something to still give her the celebration. She did have a birthday. Right after Micah died, when I saw what the finances were doing, I bought Waldorf doll kits and I made Waldorf dolls for R and L for their birthdays, beautiful dolls for pennies on the dollar of what it would have cost to buy them, and something well cherished and much longed for by both girls since I once made the same for E when she was little.

However, the reality is that the lack of finances was the least of the hurdles to overcome for having a celebration for R. The non-nanny went off the deep end and stressed all of us out so badly that we were all prone to crying without a lot of notice in that time. The stress of her behavior in the month after Micah died flared my psoraisis to the point that I couldn't even think around the pain. Then, my thyroid crashed and crashed hard. Keeping the kids functioning and cared for was all I had the wherewith all to accomplish in those months. Pulling off a subdued celebration for R was a major accomplishment for her 10th birthday.

Even so, I promised her then that once the dark clouds passed from our lives, she would get her celebration. This weekend, I delivered on that promise to my beautiful little girl. She could not decide what she wanted for her celebration, so I finally simply did it for her. I booked a suite at a local resort for the night. It is an historic resort and the suite we got was one of only two with porches on them. This porch was absolutely massive. There was also a jucuzzi tub. She wanted a robe as a keepsake. I knew the resort would not let her keep their robes, so we bought one for her that I gave to her there--purple, like everything else she loves. I took her to the store and she bought groceries, snacks, and some cool gadgets for her. Her absolute favorite was the cupcake with a butterfly on it.

Saturday night, II got the other kids settled with their dinner and a movie, then picked us up to take us to Cracker Barrel. R got undivided attention of her mommy and her daddy and she absolutely thrived in the moment. She was also given a sum of money for her to spend on herself over the weekend. She started at Cracker Barrel. However, we have discovered that R is much like her big brother, A. If you give her money and tell her to spend it, she is very tight with her money. She checked every price tag, rejected much of her choices as too expensive or a waste of her funds and finally settled on just a few things. She bought a stuffed cat, baby bottles for her dolls and stick candies she bought for her siblings. I did ask her to not worry about buying for them, but she insisted the candies were only 8 for $1 so she bought those for them anyway.

After dinner, R and I sat in our robes on the verandah at the suite. She played webkinz and nattered at me until we both grew tired. Then, we piled most of the king bed full of pillows between us and crashed on the massive bed together. For reasons I don't quite grasp, she twice in the night tunneled under the pillows and started kicking me. One I quickly corrected by asking her to please stop. I'm not sure she even remebers doing it. She had a great night, but I was a bit more tired afterward than she was.

Today, we got up, ate breakfast, she played and danced and talked and we got ready to go. She then took the rest of her funds to the mall where R learned the literal meaning of the phrase "shop til you drop." She bought everything she set out to get for herself,--DS games, sunglasses, and a belt. Then, she bought quite a bit more. I bought her a few things, and got one small thing for each child left at home so they wouldn't feel left out. Of course, she required me to carry all of her bags and bags and bags. She simply glowed.

We finished our day with massages. Massage therapy is the one thing I consented to allowing the wrap-around services provide for me. Our case worker first talked me into trying a massage a year ago now. I left that first massage with my entire balance off kilter, having never had any stress relieved from the grip it holds on my body since I had become Micah's mother. She begged me to accept the massages from the services and I agreed only because I was falling apart physically. This spring, R had begged and begged to be allowed to have an occasional massage and the wrap around services set her up with once a month massages. She's been through grief therapy but she always feels she is lost in the shuffle of this family. She saw others getting massages and this is what she wanted to help her little heart with it's heavy burden. So, I set up this month's massage to be the perfect ending to her celebration.

I told our massage therapist about her weekend and how determined I am that she not lose her 10th year to this grief and he decided to pitch in his own effort to make the end of her day extra special. So, not only did she get a monthly massage, but R got a free, extra special facial to end her day. When she came home, she was able to go over her special day and her treasures from her day. I believe that when she remembers her 10th year, and her traditional celebration, that she will remember her grief, but she will also remember being treasured and her over the top celebration too.

I cannot take away the grieving. It is part of who we are as a family now. I cannot get us to a stable place and be out of this journey. This is as much a part of who we are now as the color of our hair and eyes. I can only help R, and all of us, remember that this grief is part of us but does not define us by itself. We are still who we were, and yet we are also a family missing one who was precious to us. This dichotomy will follow us for the rest of our lives. We have to celebrate and treasure our lives just as they are even as we grieve. This is who we are now. We grieve, but this weekend, we celebrated as well.

1 comment:

  1. Best mother EVER. (Aside from my own, who surpasses all other mothers just because she's mine.) All verklempt again!