Tag Archives: daughters

DEAR HIGH SCHOOL

Dear High School,

She was literally JUST born. I swear. We were so excited. After many miscarriages and the realization that I may not have a child she came along. And our entire world changed. Our. Entire. World. You can tell people what its going to be like. To be a parent. But you have no idea. You have absolutely no damn idea until you are one. I spent many years in the beginning worried something would happen to her and I would lose her. I’d lost so many pregnancies pretty late term I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that she was mine. Alive and well and healthy and happy and mine. For now. I’ve slowly let go of that worry over the years. I will always worry. Every parent does. But she was here for 15 years in this house, under our rules, under our guidance and mostly influenced by us. OK…let’s be honest…she’s MY child so she’s pretty much had a mind of her own since birth. And for that- I am grateful.

And now High School you get her. You get to have her 8 hours a day. With your soda machines and snack bars and fancy lounge areas and tech center and career counselors and college planning team and boys with mustaches and muscles and football players and boys driving cars and parties and decisions I cannot help her make and your lockers in big hallways and advanced classes and teachers who do not know she suffers from Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos. Who do not know she is always in pain. Who do not know she worries about her Dad and her grades and Cheerleading and college and me. You get her but you don’t know her like I do. I carried her. I wiped her nose and her butt. I drove her to doctor appointments and spread eagled across her toddler body to hold her down while they stuck needles and immunizations in her leg while she screamed and it took every ounce of my body not to punch the doctor square in the face.

I stayed up many long, LONG nights with no sleep and vomit and accidents and nightmares and worry. Many cartoons at 2 in the morning to get through fevers. Many tears from torn stuffed animals by the dog. You were not there High School- but I was. And now you get her.

I swear we just brought her home from the hospital. Clueless. I swear we just dropped her off at Kindergarten and I cried through the door window watching her with Mrs. Hartman and crying with the other Kinder Moms. I swear we just moved to Colorado and I shook & cried as I dropped her at a new Middle School and hoped and prayed she’d make at least one friend. And now I hand her to you.

And she asked if she could ride to school with friends her first day of school tomorrow. And my heart stopped and my voice cracked as I said “sure”. And so it goes. And so she goes. Through doors, big doors. Big doors that she will never turn back from again. I know what you do High School. You make kids grow up. You make kids spend more time with friends than family. You make kids go to parties and make sometimes bad decisions and maybe bury sign posts in the practice football field out back…oh wait…that was MY HIGH SCHOOL.

But I also know you make kids independent. You introduce them to friends that will last a lifetime. You get kids involved in Cheerleading & other activities where she will find her best friends. You teach her way more than there is in a textbook. About sharing and empathy and unfairness and reality. You are the first place she drives to. You are the place she spends most of her time. You are the place that will help her decide where to go to college and what to do with her life. Tomorrow my baby starts High School. Tomorrow that little girl in her velcro Keds and green lacy back to school dress will wear a CHEER UNIFORM TO HIGH SCHOOL. I hand her to you and hope that all we’ve taught her STICKS. That at that party that night….and there will be one….she will make the RIGHT decision. That on those tests she’ll do her best. That she’ll kick every boys ass she can. Take care of her High School. She’s a good one!

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RAH RAH FULL CIRCLE

NEXT week my daughter tries out for HIGH SCHOOL Cheerleader. There are all kinds of wrong things with that sentence. But basically it means I double up on Prozac, Xanax, whatever it takes to get me through the next week and a half. Because you know- its all about me of course.

OK the first and foremost WRONG thing with this scenario is that I have a child old enough to go to High School….what the shit? How did THAT happen. Wasn’t I cheering on the sidelines just yesterday. Damn time flying. So Im TRYING to settle with that fact…you know…that Im OLD. And for some reason my picture in my head is of my mother standing in the waiting area with the other parents getting violently ill with nerves. For four consecutive years. And now I am her.

When I was EXACTLY Maddie’s age I remember the 8th grade pep squad teacher telling us about tryouts at the High School. She told us how to sign up and the ONLY reason I did it was because all of my friends were. I had never had a day of tumbling or anything in my life! And yes I am old but not old enough that this was some popularity contest. There were actual professional judges…you know…because they’d given up their “amateur cheerleader status” after they cheered in the Olympics. (Eye roll). Whatever- they didn’t know any of us. I walked out there with my #11 pinned to my shirt and did what I do. Danced, flipped, cheered, jumped and gave it my all. And what do you know—I was one of 12 selected. And it changed my life. And that is NOT dramatic. Not at all. Ha.

Honestly now that I look back it DID change my life. I became very interested in exercise and health and weights and staying fit WAAAAAY back then. It also was the beginning of some amazing life long friendships. And four years of fun! I loved it. I took a lot from cheering. And it wasn’t “rah rah go team” days. It was the beginning of a time when Cheerleading became a legit sport and we competed at a National level.

And now she is about to walk out in that gym with a number pinned to her and I cannot even explain my nerves. She isn’t that nervous. Her attitude (or so she says) is that “if I make it, great- if I don’t then thats ok and Ill continue with competitive cheer that I love”. Im not quite sure what my nerves are about. Other than just being Mom. I am nervous because “what if she fails, what if she gets hurt, what if she succeeds, what if it changes her life, what if, what if….”. She is not me. Not by a long shot. OK she has just a few of my personality quirks- poor kid. But this is HER path. Her journey. The beginning of HER High School years. Not mine. Letting go and losing control is not my strong point. But Im learning. Its just these dreams and hopes we have for our kids aren’t quietly simmering inside they are SCREAMING and you just want to fix it all and make it all ok for them. But you can’t.

And Im so grateful that my journey played out as it was meant to be. That it all happened the way it should. It literally made me who I am today and I kinda like me….I kinda like her too. And her path will be just as formative for her as mine was for me. I am swelling with pride no matter what the outcome is. Because she is smarter than me, prettier than me, more talented than me, more mature than me…and that is how is it supposed to be, right?

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FOUR AND A HALF YEARS

She keeps saying it and I keep glossing over it. But for some reason this weekend it hit me. She is leaving in four and a half years. “Going faaaar away to college” she says. UGH. My stomach HURTS. I swear to you she was just yesterday four and a half years old. We were trying to decide if we should hold her back in Pre-K for one more year since she has a summer birthday. Thank God we did. I got one more year with her. Or this blog could be titled “THREE AND A HALF YEARS” and I’d be having more of a nervous breakdown than I already am.

So in my head I am still about 19. My body sometimes feels every bit of 42 but Im pretty sure Im still the idiot 19 year old girl I once was. How the hell I have a kid talking about college is beyond me. I swear there are days I still wake up and think “shit there are 2 humans relying on me to keep them alive”. But really they aren’t. They are potty trained (for the most part 😉 ), they make their own plans with friends, they shower themselves (mostly), they feed themselves, they come and go as they please and Im pretty much done parenting Maddie. Andy still needs reminding that his teeth are not self-cleaning.

I always heard adults saying “enjoy their childhood it goes VERY fast”. They were so right. I blinked and she was a lady. A person. She’s always been opinionated and wise beyond her years but SHIT. College? She’s asking to visit campuses and discuss what places have what majors and what universities have strong support for women on campus. Seriously? My college search criteria consisted of “what school has bars within walking distance?”. Who’s kid is this?

Looking back on Elementary School it is mostly a blur. All of the grades kind of run together. Literally FLEW by. We are about to register her for High School classes. I will likely vomit during the process. How am I even old enough to have a high school aged kid? Wasn’t I JUST in High School? She gets her driver’s permit in 8 months. Holy Hell. This is all going way too fast at this point. I am so very proud of my daughter. She gets straight A’s in honors classes, is the Secretary of Student Council, is very disciplined in Cheerleading and works hard three to four times a week at practice. She is a decent guitar player and at times I see her be so sweet to her brother when she thinks Im not watching. She truly loves her friends. She is a good person and we could not be prouder. I often say she ended up great DESPITE her Mother but Im just going to go ahead and take a little credit…my mini-me 🙂

Above all of her accomplishments I am most proud of how strong she is. She battles a daily barrage of health problems, weakness, exhaustion and aches and pains that a stupid autoimmune disorder dishes out to her and still pushes on. And God Bless the man who decides to spend his life with her. She is a HANDFUL. Strong-willed, opinionated, and mouthy. I have no idea where that comes from….yes I do. A long line of Ellis/Cannon/Harris women that don’t take any shit. A kind heart and a strong gut.

Four and a half years is going to fly by. I know it. I dread it. Its a funny mixed bag of emotions. A sadness that my sweet first born, beautiful child will fly away from home and things will never be the same. Alongside a swelling pride that I helped raise a person I know is going to change the world. I guess its true that kids are just on loan to us…and the goal really is for them to fly. I plan to enjoy every second of the next four and a half years.

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TOUGH GIRL

You know that saying…Life never gives you more than you can handle? I call total Bull Shit. I know life gives you more than you can handle you just have no choice but to “handle it”. However you can.

My daughter, Maddie is 14 years old. Several months ago she was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism with an underlying autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Disease. Big fancy words for fat swollen thyroid and exhausted ALLLLL the time. The doctor is great…I like her. She’s young and cute and funny and does NOT wear a white coat. These qualities are a must in a doctor. Even my husband’s new neurologist was picked based on these exact qualities. * An aside note- I have fired several of his neurologist based on lack of humor and insistence on wearing that stupid lab coat. HIs new one kicks ass. She even said “shit” in our initial meeting. I hired her THAT SECOND!

So back to Maddie- the medication her doctor put her on several month’s ago was not working. Her thyroid was growing even bigger and her blood work showed it to actually be getting worse. She was more tired than ever and things were not good. So I scheduled an appointment. For Yesterday. And I took her by myself (which I rarely do) but my husband had to tend to our son’s four thousand activities. You people with more than two kids amaze me!

Me, a hospital, and running tests on my kid = a level of anxiety that my Xanax could not touch. But oddly enough I remained semi-normally calm. At least my face did. I might have had a mini heart attack in the ultrasound room as they were scanning her neck for cancer. Yep- cancer. Fuck. After the doctor examined her she felt the need to send us immediately to radiology for an ultrasound of her neck. To look for cancer. Or some other shit-tastic thing that could be causing this. But all I heard was “cancer”.

My entire family has thyroid problems except me. Mine is totally normal. TOTALLY NORMAL. I know this because I just got it checked. My aunt even had thyroid cancer as a teenager. And as my kid laid there on the exam table with someone running an X-ray ball all over her I sat frozen. Three thoughts went through my head. I remembered 15 years ago lying on a table and having a sonogram with Maddie in my tummy. I remember crying because finally I was having a healthy baby after several miscarriages. I remember finding out she was a girl. I remember all the wonderfully fabulous things I wanted for her future and her life. Not once when you’re pregnant do you envision broken arms, braces, boyfriends, hormones, dirty rooms, algebra homework or your kid laying on an exam table at 14 finding out if she has cancer. Thought two was of that scene in Steel Magnolia’s where Sally Field screams “I can run to Alaska and back but my daughter can’t”. The complete gut wrenching inner plea you have with the universe to please allow you to switch places with your kid. I would in a heartbeat. All parents would.

The third thought was of Sydney. Maddie’s friend that died over a year ago from brain cancer. My gut churned and my heart flipped and I came close to vomiting because I could not begin to fathom how her Mom feels. Cancer fucking sucks.

And I will admit that several times today I have wondered what I did to have all of this crap land on us. MY HUSBAND HAS BRAIN ROT. Is that not enough? Really? REALLY?

I often say Im a tough girl. I am. But my definition of tough is putting one foot in front of the other while crying and barely breathing and wanting to lay in a ball and stab someone. Im THAT kind of tough girl. But I am tough. And my amazing kid is tough too. She is SOOOO tough. On the way to the ultrasound room she said “Im not scared of thyroid cancer…I googled it…high survival rate….it won’t kill me for sure”…and then she added “Mom my only real concern is if I have to have chemo & my hair falls out how will I wear a cheer bow at competition?”

Thats MY girl. TOUGH.

And not 3 hours later we get a call from our cool doctor saying “ALL CLEAR”. No cancer. No fucking cancer. Halle-fucking-luyah.

And my heart goes back to all of those people in Children’s Hospital today that I saw who will not get good news. Sometimes life DOES give you more than you can handle. You just have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other. And if it takes pills or drinking or going crazy or counseling or taking up taxidermy or smoking pot or cleansing your aura or acupuncture or speaking in tongues or running away then SO WHAT. Deal with that shit anyway you can. Survive ANYWAY you can. No one in the world has the right to judge you or how you handle things…. NO ONE! And if you do have an opinion of how someone might handle something like this…if you think YOUR way is the ONLY way.…well…Im waiving a very well manicured middle finger at you right now…BLESS YOUR HEART.

Here’s to all those Moms and Dads who will not get a “good news” phone call. My heart is with you. Go punch a wall…sometimes it helps.

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