Saturday, August 22, 2015

I’ve gained 24kgs

I’d like to share something with you that is a little off the beaten path from anything that is related to authoring, M/M romance, or even LGBTQ issues.

I’ve gained 24kgs in just under 2 weeks.

Now, before you start thinking, “OMG, how is that even possible?” let me paint the picture a little bit more: my 24kgs comes with two arms, two legs, a ponytail and is currently missing four front teeth.  She stands a little (ie a lot) over the average height for her age, loves My Little Pony, and doesn’t like tuna.  Her sixth birthday is in a couple of weeks and she wants a Lalaloopsy doll.

Yes.  This 24kgs is my daughter.

She was born on a rainy Monday morning after a terrible protracted and dangerous labour.  4.2kgs and beautiful.  Her father is 6’5” and it was immediately obviously that my daughter carried his genes.  They give you a height and weight chart for your child’s first three years, and track the 97th, 75th, 50th, 25th and 3rd percentiles.  My daughter’s height has never been ON the chart.  She’s always tracked a little above that top line, and I’m thinking of brushing up on my basketball scoring skills in anticipation.

She is my second child, and I was confident in parenting her.  After all, I’d been there, done that and I knew everything, didn’t I?

But she is the exact opposite of her older brother.  Where he was fussy and always on the move, wanting to explore and get into EVERYTHING, she was more than happy to sit back and watch.  She crawled early, and was happy with that, not making the transition to walking for another 9 months.  We jokingly called her “Collapsey Legs,” because every time we told her to stand up and walk, she’d just collapse to the ground with a look saying, “I don’t want to do that!”

She talked early, and continually amazed me with her observations of life.  She’s always shown huge amounts of empathy, and thinks through situations beyond just the next step.  Whereas I would say to my son, “If you do that again, you can go to time out,” and he’d understand the consequences (ie he’d have to stop playing for 2 minutes), she’d be, “So if I do that again, I will go to time out, and then I will miss out on this TV show and Mum is making a cake so I’ll miss out on licking the beaters, and my brother will get to play with the toys I just set out, and it’s cold down my bedroom, and I’ll be alone with no one there, and...”  She makes connections where most children see none.  She scares me sometimes.

She’s also fearful where her brother is fearless.  She struggles to overcome her fears to do normal childhood things – like climbing ladders, going on swings, getting her feet wet at the beach and riding a bike.  Perhaps part of her “overthinking” things?

But she’s always been a “Mummy’s girl.”  I’m a stay-at-home mother, and therefore my kids have never been to day care.  We’ve attended play groups and she’s been to church Sunday School every week, so she’s had plenty of interactions with other people, but I’ve always been near.

At her 6-month check up with the Community Health Nurse, I noted she was very clingy, but that was to be expected with a fully breastfed baby.  At her 18-month check up, I noted she had trouble separating, but also mentioned that she’d recently weaned, and that her brother had recently started Kindy.  At her 3-year-old check up, I noted she suffered from separation anxiety.  The warning signs had been there, but it was now fully blown.

In 2012 we had a rough patch.  REALLY rough.  Four months of her not being more than ten metres from me.  She happily went with me wherever I had to go, and was well behaved.  If required, she’d sit in the nearest corner and quietly play while I attended meetings and went to singing practice.  But I couldn’t leave the house without her.  It reached its peak in April, where I couldn’t even leave her playing on the beach while I went for a swim.  She’d wander the house at odd times, just to check I was still there.  Bedtime was the worst.  We started off having to sleep with Mummy the whole night, to needing to fall asleep with Mummy but could be transferred to her own bed later, to Mummy needing to sit on the end of the bed while I go to sleep, to Mummy needing to sit in the doorway, to Mummy needing to sit in the hallway.  The progression of sleeping-with-Mummy to Mummy-in-the-hallway took two-and-a-half years.

I dreaded the start of Kindy in 2014.  But to my surprise, she went willingly.  I promised to be there at the end of the day to pick her up, and never broke my promise.  For 2.5 days a week she went.
This year she’s progressed to five full days as she’s entered Pre-Primary, and I thought she was doing well – until Wednesday this week.  Piecing together the story retrospectively, I can now see it clearly.  My daughter has a best friend and they are inseparable.  The friend has been sick and has been off school for two weeks.  The two back-up friends have also been sick.  One for 8 days, one for 4 days.  Her teacher (whom she adores) has had three days off sick too.  And then, to put a final nail in the coffin, her brother has been sick and wasn’t at school either.

Her world has been rocked.  She was complaining of random stomach pains, which I though was her coming down with the illness that is going around.  But then the nightmares started, and then this week the stomach pain hits just as we’re getting our bags to go to school.


Suddenly I’ve gained a shadow.  A 24kg shadow who is velcro’ed to my side.
As a mother and author it’s made me remember some things that I had perhaps lost sight of.

1.  I’m a mother before I’m an author.  If my children need me, then I need to dump the authoring bit for their needs.

2.  I need to remember that some people are born that way.  It’s increasingly clear to me that the personalities of my children were born with them, not created by something I did or didn’t do.  This goes for my imaginary characters too.  Sometimes people are just a certain way.  It is unexplainable.  I’m not talking about being gay – but those personality aspects like sociability, shyness, phobias and such.

3.  Some people never grow out of their childhood fears.  This is a very important thing to remember when creating realistic characters. 

4.  Sometimes something can be set off by elements outside my character’s control.  Just like my daughter.  She was flying perfectly, until just a few little bumps that don’t ever faze others – the unavoidable illness of some people in her life.  Her stability stones.  Her base.  And now she’s reverted to the behaviour we’ve worked three years to overcome.

Just a joke - but how I feel about Separation Anxiety
So why do I tell you this on my blog – because this is what’s filling my life today.  And I wish to remind everyone out there, that authors are just people too.  I often see comments made about authors in social media.  There are eager readers asking when the next book is out, there’s disappointed reviewers questioning the morals and experiences of authors, there’s disparaging comments about a statement an author has been made.  Sometimes I just want to yell out that authors are people before they are authors.  Yes, by writing a book and putting themselves “out there” they are inviting comments, and yes people have the right to make any comment they wish, but is it a fair comment?

Some authors guard their private lives and only show their social media faces, and in a way that is a good way to safeguard against privacy invasion, but don’t ever think that authors don’t struggle with non-author things.  I know authors with mental health problems and physical problems.  There are ones struggling with the death and depression of loved ones.  There are those struggling to pay bills, those going through divorce and breakups, and those with children who have special needs.  Some are sociable, some non-sociable, and most are pretending their extrovertness.

I share the story of my journey so far with a child who has separation issues, not to bore you, but to remind you that authors are people.  And sometimes we struggle.  And sometimes we struggle with the exact some things as you do.  So if you have a kid with separation issues, I welcome you to the club.  Come on in and join us.  (Oh, and we understand when you need to bring your 24kg shadow with you.)

1 comment:

  1. If I may say so; you are doing the right thing by normalising her experience. If you don't make a fuss (as you clearly don't) but adopt an "oh this is where you are today; OK" she will naturally progress to a measure of independence. And she will not I hope develop a sense of shame because she is different. Well done.