play it again: boundaries

Originally published October 11, 2010

As parents, we are forever putting up and enforcing boundaries. It’s our job. Our kids believe that we enjoy putting up barriers and roadblocks to hinder them and hold them back in spite of our assurances that we do not enjoy this part of our job…let’s keep it our secret that we enjoy this part…a lot!

But seriously, as parents we encounter boundaries and barriers all the time that are put into place by our own hand, our own words and our own heart. We don’t expect that there will be barriers and boundaries that keep us from our own children. Thrown into the vortex of the NICU or the PICU with a critically ill newborn or child is definitely one of those places where a parent will suddenly find that they have little if no control at all. Even worse, from my own personal experience, is when you, the parent, is also a medical professional. Your child, your baby is critically ill and you have a very good understanding of exactly what is going on. For any parent, it is very easy to bump up against the boundaries of a NICU or PICU setting. For the parent who is also an experienced nurse, a physician, it is almost a given that the barrier between parent and medical professional will be broken down. What else could possibly happen. We, as parents, are frightened to near death seeing our own child in crisis. As pros, we can run through our mind the worst case scenario and outcome with a few blinks of an eye. It’s painfully hard not to try to intervene. We’re parents…we’re good parents. We just have bumped against the barrier that separates us the mom or dad and us the nurse or doctor.

I recall one night in the NICU where I pretty much blew down the barrier between me the mom and me the NICU nurse. Daniel required a ventilator to breathe for him for the first 11 weeks of his life but he often would self extubate knocking loose or even grabbing a hold of and pulling out the breathing tube he needed. What can I say, he was a fighter who drove his care team crazy. This one particular night, I was visiting and helping his nurse bathe and weigh him when…oops, he did it again. As his nurse, respiratory therapist and neonatologist prepared to re-intubate him, there I was standing over him watching him become paler and seeing his little chest caving in exposing every single rib as he struggled with each breath. His care team gently tried to have me step aside but I could not be moved.

“I think he can do this. I think we need to give him a chance.”, I stated as the alarms on his monitor argued loudly otherwise.

It was then that Daniel’s doctor, a colleague and a friend of mine, demanded that I step out of the room now. Before I could argue back, she told me she would come get me when she was done. I stepped out of that room and it suddenly hit me. I crossed that line. I actually crossed it in such a way that I was hindering my own child’s care. My behavior was putting him into jeopardy. Just thinking that brought the flood of hot tears. I ran out of the unit crying.

After what was certainly an eternity, Daniel’s doctor came out to the waiting area to get me. Hugging me, she assured me that Daniel was easily re-intubated and back on the ventilator, pink, stable and now sleeping in his bed. She then faced me colleague to colleague and asked me pointedly if I honestly, as a NICU professional, felt that Daniel was ready to breathe on his own…if he was my patient and not my child, would I have argued with her that way. Of course I knew the answer was no. No, of course I wouldn’t and I knew that. It was then that Daniel’s doctor built up that boundary brick by brick that separated me, the NICU nurse, from me, Daniel’s mom. In order to be the very best mom for my child, I could not, should not, would not be my child’s nurse. It wasn’t easy. It has never been easy as Daniel’s mother or as Zoë’s mother or as Jodie’s mother and certainly as Holly’s and as Hazel’s Mi-Ma. I can’t offer a how-to. All I can offer is that sometimes, for the sake of our children, there are boundaries for us, the parents. Of course we don’t have to like it, we can even push against them if we dare. But just like the ones we build for our children, these boundaries are there for the sake of our children.

surviving outside adventures

Because it is Throwback Thursday I had to dig up an old photo to share…preferably one that won’t embarrass my four adult children. I just love this picture of my brothers and me for so many reasons.

The awesome that was 1970 fashion.

That pose.

Dear gawd, those damn pale, blue, cat’s eye glasses! I know my friend Kale praises me for being a hipster when hipster wasn’t cool by wearing those sweet frames; but trust me, they might have been ultra cool in the early 60s but  in 1970 definitely not. I cringe today every time I see someone wearing such frames…and yes, I’m kind of jealous that someone else pulls that look off and makes it look good.

Those tore up shoes of ours.

My brothers.

Randy.

Billy and his golden curls.

What lies behind that dead end sign on the street we lived on in Ben Avon during the summer of 1970.

Adventure! Grand, dirty adventures! A creek to wade in and swim in and even drink from. We had no clue what flowed from the giant drain pipe a little ways up the creek. We were kids. Kids who, if the sun was shining, were outside until the street lights came on because that was the way that it was.I seriously doubt Mom ever knew what we were doing and we rarely told her.

Who’s going to tell Mom about getting scratched by the raccoon she was playing with in the creek? Certainly not me. I could only imagine the trouble I would get into for that.

Are you going to admit that you literally rolled in poison ivy because your best friend and sister yelled and screamed at you to “STAY AWAY FROM THE POISON IVY!!” and you HAD to prove that you were immune. Randy never did even while scratching at literally his entire inflamed, itchy body.

Adventures behind the dead end sign, down the hill and in the creek were soon replaced with multiple other adventures because we moved…we moved a lot. A LOT…and because if the sun was shining (and sometimes not) outside was where we were until the street lights came on.

There were late night games in a local cemetery running from grave marker to grave marker, hiding and tagging one another.

Nobody tell that we snuck out after dark.

Oh those endless hikes up and down Robinson Road, which as children seemed huge as a child but not so much when I drove there the last time I visited back home. We chased cows in a nearby cow pasture and played in yet another creek…that also had a giant drain pipe emptying into it. Closer to home there was the trash barrel where the trash was burned and where we often played the Will It Burn? game because we had to try and discover what will burn and what will not.

Trees to climb.

Electrified fences to touch.

Circuses to perform complete with a high wire act on the clothes line in the backyard.

Open fields to run through as thunderstorms rolled in.

And so much more.

As children it was all so much fun…but sometimes not. I used to hide my books outside because sometimes I just wanted to sit and read…even if the sun was still shining and it wasn’t time to come in and make dinner or go to the store a mile away walking alone along Route 22 to pick up cigs and milk and tampons for Mom.

Boy was I shocked when I found out what those tampons were for a few years later!

As an adult and a parent I can’t help but sometimes cringe just a little. Okay, cringe a lot…especially about what the hell was likely draining in those creeks we always ended up in and that raccoon.

Still we survived…no rabies for me!

Different times back then we say. Still I often channeled Mom myself chasing the kids outside to play and make happy adventures. My favorite visual is Abby sitting on the curb loudly boo-hooing because “Mommy MADE me go outside and play!”. Still my clowns made their own adventures because it was their childhood and their time, their neighborhood. No creeks or raccoons or cow pastures or highways to walk along to go spend their 50¢ allowance on a small bag filled with penny candy. They were different kids, with different parents, growing up in a different place in a different time.

Still it’s a wonder they survived some of their bigger misadventures…that I know about and DON’T know about. Blame it on the bad parenting. It’s a wonder the four of them have reached adulthood.

I wonder if Hollie thinks that as she watches her children embark on their own great outdoor adventures in a different time and a different place?

Or perhaps she might better understand why mom would make them all go outside and play.

spontaneous moments like these

I have become very bad about capturing life under The Big Top with my camera. I still carry my camera with me practically everywhere I go but more often than not I’m just holding it, or worse, it is sitting in my bag. I was thinking that as I looked at this shot that has been living in my camera for a few days now.

And after berating myself for not taking pictures like I used to, I found myself smiling just a little bit because I DID CAPTURE THIS MOMENT…THIS MOMENT OF AWESOME BETWEEN A DADDY AND A DAUGHTER!!!

If I ever find myself doubting whether or not my children realize just how lucky they are that this man is their Daddy, I just have to look to spontaneous moments like this.

They know!

 

 

spoiling the favorite

Here under The Big Top, it is no secret that we play favorites. “Experts” agree and opine all the time that parents, whether they want to admit it or not, do play favorites. Some parents write about it and become viral media sensations. There’s even a freaking how-to guide for us more indecisive parents. And of course growing up with four siblings, each one of my kids are always trying to figure out who is my favorite child…right now.

Well this week “the current favorite” received a little something from me.

Not because she wanted it…because they ALL wanted it. Not because I had the disposable income to buy it for her because I don’t and if I did that money would be going to stuff like bills that need to be paid. I won this sweet little iPad mini. Boys and girls sometimes you do win those social media contests that you must like or retweet or repost or share or whatever.

The more you know!

But I have an iPad. Gifted to me by my Dad…probably on a day where I was the favorite. My iPad is great.

Cue the sucking up and presentations from my circus act of why each individual clown should have an iPad from me.

Actually my clowns surprised me and did not do so much sucking up…or at least not as much as I expected which could have been a little bit disappointing kids. I’m just saying. No actually because I really didn’t talk too much about winning the iPad to them, or anyone else…well, except for my darling husband because I knew each and everyone of my darling clowns would LOVE for me to gift them with an iPad and OMG the dilemma of choosing…people the struggle is really real.

No!

Really!

It is real.

After much thought, consideration and discussion with my darling husband, the father of these clowns, the decision was made.

They all could use it.They all WANTED it. They all (in their minds) needed it. They all definitely deserved such a gift because, frankly, Bill and I have FIVE pretty damn awesome kids. Still, we both decided that the one who needed it the most RIGHT NOW should have it…the one who finds herself with no working computer. The one who has a phone that no longer connects to the Internet too. The one who recently moved from one part of Cali to another and needs to get settled back to work and (soon I hope) back to school. The one who is our favorite…today…this week.

This playing favorites thing as parents is hard! Still we are rewarded….with hugs, lots of hugs and thanks….

and iPad selfies of their gorgeous, happy smiles.

This week’s favorite child appropriately spoiled…check. Next week will likely be Daniel because Back to School and all that.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying the Nursing Handbook app on my iPad. Thank you Wolters Kluwer Health.