Sunday, August 21, 2016

With(out) Apology

This is it. Monday morning the Mr & I will have a child at each level of the educational system.

In some circles this makes us young - with Oldest entering her senior year of college we are the younger parents.

Among the parents of both Boy's and Tween's friends we are just average.

But on a recent visit to the kindergarten classroom, it was quite clear I am an older parent practically the old crone. A perfect example of how age is relative. 

But there exists a constant among all these groups - the reaction given when people hear how many children we have.

I am the often happy mother of four children. Not 100. Yet, to gauge the reactions of others, you'd think I was starring in some reality show. "Wow, how do you manage with four kids?" Or the restatement with disbelief coloring the shocked inflection, "You have four kids?" 

Apparently, there was an unannounced threshold I crossed after three - which was news to me - that seems to have mathematically doubled the meaning of four when related to children. Who knew?

Yet those reactions pale in comparison to the response I receive when they discover that my children span from five to twenty-one. Typically this involves a restatement of the age differences and some wondering comment or another while they look at me as though I were an exhibit in a historical reenactment. Or some poor soul who never learned the benefits of modern medicine.

This is when I am prone to fall into apology... If prepared, I laugh it off. I make a flip comment about spreading out college costs, or kids keeping us young; but, sometimes people ask out of the blue, having gained intel from other sources - typically one of the kids. And I apologize...

I believe apologies are important. To maintain relationships and civility - to grow - it is necessary to clearly state the wrong committed and humbly seek forgiveness. I believe in seeking forgiveness yes, my Catholic is showing, I know. But how often do we apologize for things - through word or action - that need no apology?

I have nothing to apologize for - we are raising 4 independent kids and nothing aside from the household budget is worse off than if we were raising the more acceptable 1 or 2. Sadly, this hasn't stopped me from explaining, and I have told people - who have no right or reason to know - that Youngest is not biologically ours. While it is no secret - she, herself, knows - it is none of their business. It is an apology, via explanation, which I do not owe - and worse one that separates our feisty Youngest from her family - us. So, why do I feel compelled to explain or apologize for that which needs neither?

Who knows why - but I'm not anymore. It is an insult to Youngest and the rest of us. We are who we are. If you are content with no children or 10 - great. I am thrilled for you. We are a family of six. We have four children who are spread over 16 years and span from college to kindergarten. This is who we are and it works for us.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Taking the Bad with the Good

There is one thing that terrifies me, as a parent to Tween, more than anything - taking her for a shot.

At her 5 year-old check-up she cried from the moment she saw the needle and continued for the next thirty minutes. And this was just the warm-up. The next year saw swine flu, and I thought I would be a responsible parent and take the kids for shots. A school cafeteria with sectioned areas for patient shots, many nurses were on hand to administer the shots - or nasal spray quickly. I hoped for the nasal spray - really wanted it - but she was too young. Ok. Deep breaths. She can do this. Into the booth we went, handed over the paperwork, and the anxiety breathing began. Small whining noises and little squeaks that escalated into all out tears and yelling. Panicked cries that truly frightened the other children caused us to make a hasty retreat.

Yes, she was young. I held that thought as I agreed to the pneumonia and meningitis shot at her 10 year check-up. After all, she is a smart child - surely she could hear reason. Nope. The hyperventilating started as I signed the paperwork. No amount of reasoning and calm breathing could alleviate her fear. She did get the shots. And promptly stormed out of the doctor's office and sat on the lawn refusing to get into my car. She hated me most of the day. 

The resurgence of JIA prompted frequent blood work - and she is getting better with needles. Not great, but better. At her recent check-up there was minimal panic - just hyperventilating and unhappiness.

So, imagine my dismay when her rheumatologist determined her swelling and pain is not being controlled enough with medication alone. Nope - he didn't want to give her a shot. He wanted me to give her shots. Plural. A shot once a week in fact - for who knows how long. It took all my control to keep the doubt and panic I felt from bubbling up in his office with Tween looking on. "Keep a brave face and the rest will follow" is sometimes the only defense. 

A training session with the nurse later and I was armed with a supply of syringes, a few encouraging words, and a facade of a positive attitude. Time for Tween's first home shot. I had her hold the syringe - which she dropped like a hot coal. She was armed with a stress ball - she was squeezing for all she was worth, a teasing brother - who may have helped to distract her - possibly, and facing a mother about to jab her with a needle. She did jump out of the chair - twice - but when push came to shove she held still and counted off the milliseconds as she took her first home injection. There was no declaration of hate, no storming out of the house. We all survived the first shot. 

As much as this additional routine sucks now, I remind myself that she is still lucky. She enjoys all her activities - even clogging for hours - and if I have to give her a shot once a week to keep her healthy and active, then so be it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Quiet Life

Some people live loud for good (or bad). Their actions are recorded in full technicolor for all to see or hear. The good often have names that appear on buildings, grants, and scholarships as testament that they have indeed affected the lives of others. But, most of us live quiet lives.

Do not let Thoreau fool you: quiet lives do not equal desperation. Many of these lives have a huge impact on those around them. And by turns their acts can change the face of society.

Once there was a much younger Mr Seashore who lived with his mother, alone. There were some tough times, and in stepped Auntie K with a home for them both until they were ready to move on. But her quiet, kind acts did not end here. There was assistance given to ensure a twenty-something Mr would have a roof over his head and there would be a home to bring infant-Oldest to upon her entrance to the world. Nothing was ever asked for in return. She was a quiet force of kind acts.

A mother to two daughters, she did everything in her power to ensure they overcame difficulties that life throws at everyone. Always a helping hand to those in need, including her grandchildren in their turn. An aunt to 2 nephews and a niece; there are many who hold warm memories within their hearts.

With a passion to create she was an inspired designer of her home and, when given the opportunity, her children's and grandchildren's spaces too. When she ran out of rooms to dress and design, she began to create with clay. Pouring her creative spirit into the act of forming figurines and characters from unformed mounds of colored clay, she truly held the soul of an artist, but not that of a chef. In fact, her oven was more often used for clay than food! When she was inspired there was nothing she wouldn't try, even entering into grassroots politics when many women are content to take-up more soothing hobbies.

When cancer struck, she kept a brave face. Refusing to be bowed by the vile intruder taking over her body she proceeded to live her life as she deemed fit. Until she could no longer fight. In the end, we all pass alone, but her passing was eased by the loving, constant presence of her daughter who, in her own way, portrays the quiet caring and love of her mother's spirit in her own actions.

Auntie K was and is loved. She will be mourned. She will be remembered as a person who touched lives.

God Bless and God Speed. Please give my love to Ma when you see her.