I try to write every week, but every so often it seems impossible to get a free moment to sit down to write. Last week was one of those weeks. Monday, both children were home with the stomach bug, for the second time this season. My son somehow fell back to sleep after getting sick in his crib the night before, which is really not a fun mess to clean in the morning. My daughter went off to school but quickly came home feeling sick. We spent the next two days inside, with me juggling a sort of "rinse and repeat" dance between the two of them. By Wednesday, I was spent and missed the real world. A friend called me to tell me that she felt she had "broke" her child when she asked her to do her homework and her daughter started to meltdown. I had never heard that expression before but I was sure that I had broke mine as well, just minutes before she called.
About two months back, I noticed my daughter started a strange habit of sniffing and snorting repeatedly. She is five and a half now and since she was four months old she has sucked her fingers. Bad habits are not something new for her, she seems to add new ones into the preexisting ones or sometimes just mixes them in rotation. She holds her stuffed lamb "Ba" and rubs his tail on her nose, or switches the sounds of sucking she makes when she sucks her fingers, or will change the way she puts her fingers into her mouth. She keeps it interesting, but this time this habit seemed different. When she started preschool she learned to limit her finger sucking to outside school. Little by little, she stopped doing it anywhere except at home at night or when she was upset or in the car. My husband and I never asked her to try stopping completely, as we know it is a great source of comfort for her. When she starting this new habit, I assumed it was just that: a habit. I brought it to her attention a few times and for a few minutes at a time she could focus on trying to stop it but then it would just come right back.
Wednesday when I felt I broke her, it was after I was with her for a few days straight and I listened to her snorting all day long. I snapped at one point and turned to her and said "stop!!" When she really couldn't, I realized how out of control this really is for her. My husband I talked and we are taking her in to see her Dr. today. *
Since I suffer from anxiety and a bit of OCD, ignoring is not exactly my strong suit. I, of course, have been obsessing on what a life with this disorder would mean, and then I go between the idea that "big deal she has a tic" to "holy freaking cow, is she going to keep doing this?" I hear every single sniff she takes and can't seem to tune it out. I even catch myself counting the seconds in between sometimes. Then I switch gears and talk myself into this being just a phase that will pass really soon. I also wonder how much more she will be tested with in this category. Anxiety is also genetic and I know how hard living with it is, especially when it isn't from something specific but just chemically appears one day.
As a parent I know that there will be challenges like this that come and go. If this is nothing but a passing phase, then fantastic. If it is not, we will deal with that too. Being a mother to my kids doesn't just mean taking them to good school and making them healthy meals. When I think about the things that most parents have to deal with between all their kids, a small tic is just that: small. There will be bigger things and smaller in the years ahead. As I walked around today trying to keep my thoughts calm I ran into a neighbor. She asked how everything was and I said we were all doing well. She commented on my daughter and son and how fast they were growing, and I agreed. My head was running while she spoke and then as she said goodbye she said "You are a lucky woman Shea, to have two beautiful children like these, you really are." I felt a hint of sadness from her as I know she doesn't have any children. I don't know much more than that, but I got the sense that her comment was not at all a flippant one. As I said thank you and walked away I really took it in. I am indeed lucky to have such beautiful and HEALTHY children!
*This was written a few weeks ago, and because this is the worst season I have ever experienced for illness with my two kids I was unable to post this earlier. Since writing though I have done more research and spoke to some socialists and at this age tics are quite common and most often transient. With that knowledge I have been at peace with her little sniffs. Her whining and begging are an entirely different matter, but any or all of it, she is my girl and I am so happy to have her!