Resiliency

Well if I had been holding the flood gates together for this whole time, the dam broke yesterday. I wouldn’t usually describe myself as a crier. I cry at weddings and funerals. I’m a sympathetic crier. If someone else is getting emotional, it’s hard for me to hold it in. But when it’s something I’m facing myself, I’m usually ok. The big exception: my kids, of course.
En route to my first appointment with the child psychologist yesterday, I had already started getting teary-eyed in the car. Getting in touch with your emotions is so not what it’s cracked up to be. So I cranked Moves Like Jagger loud enough to drown out the sad thoughts that were trying to scream out in my head. It worked until I started to talk to the doc. I’m sure she’s no stranger to weepy ladies, but man, I’m an ugly crier. All that aside, I think the appointment was extremely worthwhile and helpful.
Everything about the experience was calming and reassuring. Her voice, her office, her white noise machine, but especially the information she shared. It’s always amazing to me how resilient kids are, three year olds especially. She assured me that their resiliency, in large part, depends on the availability of support, routine, and consistency. Fortunately, in our case, the support we have is tremendous. There is not a shortage of people around who love and care for my girls. They worship their daddy. Their grandmothers, in particular, are constants of positive encouragement and unconditional love in their lives. Not to mention, their many other family members who are nearby and totally entertaining. (Thanks to my 7 and 8 year old nieces, my big girl has been walking around cheering, “hey girl shake that thing, shake that thing and stop, hey girl shake that thing, shake that thing and stop”. Now that her big cousins do cheerleading, she’s shaking her thing nonstop.)
Part of the reason I have waited since last December to have this procedure is because I wanted a few milestones to pass. I wanted to wait until my little one turned one, until she started walking and until the big one started her new preschool. Well, next week is the little one’s birthday, she took two steps by herself for the first time today (hooray!! Such a big girl!), and school’s in session in a week and a half. I didn’t realize that the routinized week would be so important for my daughters’ resiliency. I wanted her to get adjusted there before my absence and I figured it would provide distraction and a break for the caretakers. The psychologist reviewed her schedule of school three times a week, an hourlong dance class one day and a music class for the last day. She reassured me that this was a perfect load for a three year old; enough of a schedule, but not overwhelming.
The last piece we talked about was what to tell my girls. I’m really focused on what to say to my big girl, because the little one is so unaware and will hopefully not remember any of this. I was impressed that the doc kind of gave herself homework to think about some choice phrases that will be appropriate for a three year old. We don’t want to tell her that “mommy’s boobies don’t feel good, so they’ve got to go” and we don’t want her to think she can just chop off some body part that’s not feeling great, we don’t want to give her anxiety about surgery or sickness, etc. The list goes on, but I’m so relieved that our pediatrician and friend gave us this doc’s name. I feel that this was a necessary step in the process. A smart decision in how to avoid future issues with my girls’ adjustment and possibly mine as well. I need to have something already planned out to say to the big girl and make it consistent. It needs to be said the same way every time so she’s assured that I’m being honest and that it’s not scary. I need to make sure everyone who will be with her says the same thing too. I also want to draw on the fact that she just had surgery when she wasn’t sick so that she wouldn’t get sick as much in the future. Ugh, this is harder than the Sunday Times crossword. So many words to fit together until they make sense. Hopefully this doc will be my Will Shortz and write the answers for me.

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