Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘parenting’

YCDT: Encouraging Independence.

There’s an excellent, and inspiring, new You Can Do This video centered on parents helping their children with diabetes gain independence.

From the YCDT site:  “Independence in any aspect of a teen’s life can be a double-edged sword for parents – while parents want their children to be capable, that same capability is the gateway to their separation and evolution into adulthood. Independence can be a scary concept as it means children are ready to try their wings. Flying on their own means that sometimes they will fall and make mistakes, but most importantly it means that they are growing up.”

Check it out, and if you are ready to submit your own You Can Do This video, submission details are here.

 

Close, but(t) not close enough.

“My mom?  She has brown hair and a red shirt,” said my daughter’s playgroup friend, climbing up the jungle gym.

“My mom is over there.  She has a pump in her butt,” my daughter pointed towards me and waved, causing me to quickly answer the look of surprise on the other parents’ faces with a brief, panicked explanation of the insulin pump connected to the top of my left hip.

 

Going Solo.

Seven weeks is a long time.

It’s a lot of garbage days (I hate, hate taking out the garbage, especially since we have a crew of vindictive raccoons who have made it their agenda to bust into the garbage cans of everyone on our street, spreading trash all over the place and laughing maniacally whilst wearing hats).  Seven weeks is a lot of grocery store visits and pharmacy trips.  It’s a ton of bills.  Seven weeks is so long that your brain turns to inoperable mush.

Chris came home yesterday, after being away for seven weeks on a film shoot.  I don’t discuss much about his job here because it’s his news to share, but for the last two months, it has been hard not to discuss his absence, since it was affecting everything about my life.  Normally, our respective business trips are short.  For me, being away for a full week is a tremendously long time, and that is an anomaly.  For Chris, his travel jaunts are less frequent but usually longer, sometimes dipping into the eight – ten day away range.  This is something we’ve learned to handle, as a family.

But seven weeks?  Eff that.

Seven weeks is a long time to spend thinking about single parents and to build up even more respect for them, as the experience redefined “challenging” for me.  And I only experienced simulated single-parenting, my husband away but with a timeline for return.  It was while he was gone that I revisited the post-pregnancy feeling of not knowing whose needs to tend to first:  mine, or my daughter’s?

Unless I was away for work, I went to sleep every night with Birdy sharing a bed with me.  (Which was fine, except for the nights when she had a nightmare and would wake us both up, hollering about “the lemons are watching me!!” or the mornings when I’d wake up with the help of her tiny hands prying open my eyelids.  “Good morning, Mawm!”)  Every morning kicked off with a Birdy focus, unlike regular mornings, where the first thing I do is test my blood sugar and then go retrieve the kid, knowing I have Chris as back-up.  Good diabetes habits that I have forced (and then enjoyed) for the last year or so went a bit pfffft as Birdy became the focus and I was flying solo.

“But your health needs to come first, so that you can best care for your daughter.”

Shut up;  I tried.  Everything was a circus.  For five of the weeks of Chris’s trip, I was finishing up final edits on a book I’m writing (submitted to the publisher two weeks ago – more on that later!), which meant that once Birdzone was in the sleepzone, I was up until all hours, combing through pages to tweak content.  And the last two weeks of Chris’s trip included two trips for work, leaving my daughter under the capable (and so appreciated) watch of my mother.  “A good night’s sleep” was a laughable goal.  “Exercise” became either chasing my daughter while she rode her bike at a breakneck speed or brief stints on the ellipmachine in the basement (because going to the gym/for a run while she was awake wasn’t an option, and most times I was so spent that I couldn’t eek out much in terms of exercise).  Emails went unanswered.  Deadlines were pushed.  Pigtails were installed at uneven angles.  Bananas ripened and rotted due to neglect.

(But we always had gluten-free banana bread baking, because that has become a favorite past-time of the Bird’s.  So there was that.)

Diabetes became like a second kid, only one I don’t want to snuggle with.  It needs to be walked.  Fed.  Checked on and monitored.  It’s a needy little sucker.  When it whined and needed tending to, I had to explain to my daughter why we needed to wait a few minutes.

“Do you have whoa bwoodsugar?  Your Dexcom is howering [hollering].” Birdy asked me when I was popping glucose tabs into my mouth, car keys in my hand.

The term “whoa bwoodsugar” took on a whole new meaning when I was solely responsible for my daughter.  Being a parenting soloist for seven weeks made diabetes management pretty freaking tricky.  I’m thankful Chris is home now, because for the duration of his absence, my target blood sugar went from 150 mg/dL instead of 100 mg/dL, in efforts to avoid hypoglycemia while I was the only adult in the house.  My meter average followed suit, which was a frustrating increase after so many months in a comfortable zone, but I knew it was a temporary fix.  My job was/remains to take good care of my kid, and that’s hard for me to accomplish when I’m low as all hell.  It was an enlightening (read:  WTF) experience, and one that, for all of its challenges, I’m glad I proved to myself that I could handle, thanks in large part to friends and family, and the blessings of a flexible job.

But, for a dozen different reasons, I’m so glad Chris is back.  Because, at the end of the day, he’s the one who gave those hats to the raccoons in the first place, so he should be the one doing battle with them.

 

Batman Princess.

“So when do we go to the confwence, Mawm?”

“In two weeks.  And did you know there is going to be a big fancy dress-up ball?  Like a big party for princes and princesses?”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.  And you get to dress up as a princess, if you’d like.  Would you like to dress up as a princess that night?”

“I would.  I want to be …”

And here’s where I expected a response of “Cinderella,” or some other generic Disney princess.

“I want to be a Batman Princess.  Can I be a Batman Princess?”

Oh hell yes you can.

My DIY craftiness is not a skill I’ve finely tuned.  It’s rarely indulged, and frightfully makeshift.  I’m not known for my Pinterest prowess, and the closest I’ve come to crafty is my insatiable urge to crochet while low.  But I can work the Google, so I set out to figure out how to make a Batman Princess costume for my curious little anti-princess.  It was a short, but laborious process going from “hey, that’s a dungeon ballerina” to “nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah BATMAN … PRINCESS!”

The glittery mask and the Batman dress.

  • First, we needed a mask.  Thank you, Amazon, for providing a cheapo plastic Batman mask that was perfectly sized for the Bird’s head.
  • And, of course, a black leotard (courtesy of Amazon once again) to put the Batman insignia on.
  • Then I had to pick up some black glitter, because it was time to bedazzle that mask.  I though it would be hard to cover the mask with glitter, but I used my finger to spread a thin layer of Elmer’s glue over the mask, and then I dumped black glitter onto it.  I did this in stages, and it worked out perfectly.  (I also used a pie dish to catch all the spilled glitter, which immediately made me want to make a glitter-goth pie.  Next time, Baker Kerri.)
  • Making the insignia for the leotard was a little trickier, because I’m out of practice with my freehand Bat Signal.  (As evidenced by the front of my chemistry notebook from high school.  Lots of really decent Batman symbols, but no solid and properly solved scientific equations.)  What I did was very simple:  I held a piece of printer paper to my computer screen, with the Batman logo on the screen, and traced it with a marker.  Then, I took the paper and traced over the outline, pressing down hard, against the paper side of a piece of bright yellow adhesive sheet of felt (found at a local fabric store), leaving an imprint.  Using the teeniest, sharpest pair of scissors in my sewing kit, I cut out the Batman logo from the sheet of felt and stuck it to the leotard.
  • Birdy tried on the leotard, and after wearing it for the briefest of minutes, the felt started to peel away from the fabric.  So, using offensively bright yellow thread, I reinforced the Batman logo.
  • And then I made the tutu.  A no-sew tutu which required like six yards of tulle and lots of cutting and tying and the blasted black satin ribbon that I used to tie a bow ended up getting lost in the massive folds of the bright yellow chaos.  (I followed this post as a guide.)  It was nice and full and looked fun, but my only regret is that it wasn’t soft enough, as about an hour into the Friends for Life banquet, Birdy was telling me that she itched and eventually ended up ditching the tutu skirt.
  • Just as a note:  The tutu ended up being so big and so insane looking that it took up most of the room in Birdy’s suitcase, and when I unzipped said suitcase in the hotel room, the tutu leapt out like the snake from a Snake-in-a-Can-of-Nuts.
  • Paired with some gold ballet slipper from the bowels of Target and we were off and running.

We didn’t get any photos from the FFL Banquet, but she didn’t mind putting her costume back on at home for a quick shutter snap.

And there you have it:  proof that not every princess needs to be plucked from a Disney movie.

My Little Orange Bracelet.

At the Friends for Life conference, people who are living with type 1 diabetes wear bright green bracelets.  Green bracelet’ers are the people who know what my diabetes life is like, from the injections to the blood checks, from the guilt to the successes.  They get it.

But the orange bracelets go on the wrists of the loved ones of people with diabetes.  The moms and dads.  The siblings.  The friends.  The people who take such excellent and compassionate care of PWDs.

And this year, there’s an orange bracelet on the wrist of my three year old daughter, who is experiencing her first Friends for Life conference.  She’s played with beach balls in the exhibit hall and covered her name badge with stickers, danced in restaurants while waiting for ice cream, had her face painted, and made art projects out of colored pom poms and pipe cleaners. She’s meeting other mommies who have type 1 diabetes, who wear their insulin pumps on their hip and test their blood sugar.  And she’s meeting other little kids who have parents who are wearing green bracelets, who know that glucose tabs are for “whoa bwoodsugars” and that our bags are always packed with snacks … for everyone.

This is the magic of Friends for Life – it’s not just magical for me anymore.  It’s for her, too.

RIP, PTC.

Our cat, Prussia (known formally as Prussia the Cat, or PTC) had been ailing for a few months.  And over the last week, her decline was fast.

“She looks really skinny.  And her breathing is labored.  Also, I think she peed on the floor over there.  She’s definitely getting much sicker.  We should bring her to the vet.”

But Prussia had other plans, deciding to go outside and burrow underneath our back deck.

“This is exactly what the cat we had as a kid did when it was ready to die.”  Chris’s face fell.  “I think that’s what Prussia is doing now.”

We waited all day for Prussia to come out, but she didn’t.  We looked under the deck with a flashlight (the deck is very, very close to the ground, with barely enough room for a very skinny cat to hide), but couldn’t see her.  And even when we put food on the deck, and called for her, and brought out toys that normally enticed the cat to make an appearance, but she was a no show.

“I think she’s dead.  Poor cat.  If she’s not back by tomorrow morning, we should tell Birdy.”

The following day, after waking up and scouring the yard (and searching underneath the deck again) without finding a trace of Prush, we sat Birdy down to tell her what had happened to her cat.

“Birdy, Prussia was very sick.  And she wasn’t getting better.  She died, and she won’t be coming back.”

Birdy took the news like three year olds do (or so I was lead to believe, after reading countless articles about explaining death to small children – be direct, be very honest, and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when they ask difficult questions.) – she bounced on her bed and said, “Can we get a new cat?  One with a really big head and a giant nose?”

It wasn’t until late that night, after Prussia had been missing and assumed dead for over 30 hours, that the mostly-dead cat showed up on the back deck, staring at us through the screen door.

“Chris?  Chris, can you come out here?”

And when he came out to the kitchen and saw PTC on the deck, his jaw about hit the floor.  “But she’s … that’s … ” and before he could finish, Birdy came skipping out of her room and said, “Hey! That’s Prussia!  She’s not dead anymore!”

But it was clear that Prussia was in a bad way.  She wasn’t purring, she wouldn’t eat, and she was barely able to hold herself up, deciding instead to collapse slowly against the kitchen floor, breathing heavily and looking so sad.

Chris and I talked about what the best course of action would be, and we decided to take her emergency animal hospital.  If there was anything they could do to help Prussia, we wanted them to do it.  And if there wasn’t anything they could do, we wanted Prussia to be cared for with compassion and kindness.  So we got out the cat carrier and we all said goodbye to Prussia, petting her on the head and giving her a last snuggle.  “Bye, Prussia,” said Birdy, touching the cat gently on the nose.  “See you when you get home from the hospital!  Love you!”

Ultimately, after talking with the doctor and finding out that the tumors had spread to her lungs and to her chest, there wasn’t anything we could do to “fix” our cat.  And, according to the vet, Prussia was suffering.  As much as I make jokes about the cats and how annoying and daft they seem some days, they are wonderful little critters and part of our family, so to have to say goodbye to Prussia, so soon after saying goodbye to Abby last summer, was horrible.

Bad is having to explain to a three year old that their cat, the one they like to crawl around on the floor with and have long conversations about trees and bugs with, is dead.

Worse is when that same cat shows up, a day later and close to death, staring at us through the screen door, and then bringing her to the animal hospital for evaluation, giving our kid the impression that “death” comes with a varying definition.

And the absolute suck is when you have to make the impossible decision to have the family cat euthanized, and then re-explaining to Birdy how the cat is dead.  Again.  Only it was harder than the first time, because she had just seen the cat, and the cat “seemed fine.”

“So we will get her from the hospital and she’ll feel all better!”  Birdy said, as we tucked her into bed that night.

“No, honey. She’s not coming back.  The veterinarian couldn’t fix what was wrong with her body so she’s dead.  Do you understand what that means?”

“Yeah.  So she’s gone, forever?”

“Forever.”

(At this point in the conversation, we’re trying to ignore the fact that we said this exact same thing to her that morning, only to have Prussia rally and come back for one, last hug.)

“Okay.”  She raised her arms over her head.  “So can we get a new cat?”

“Not right now, Birdy.  We can play with Siah and be her friend still, though.  And if you feel sad about Prussia, it’s okay.  Mommy and daddy feel sad about Prussia, too.  It’s okay.”

“Okay.”

“If you have questions, you can ask us.”

“Okay.”  She paused, wrapping her Bim around herself.  Her view of the world expands every day, as do her concepts of happiness, sorrow, and peace.  I waited for questions about death, and what happens when we die.  I thought she might ask about where people go.  I wondered if she’d ask about her own mortality, or that of her parents.  I prided myself on answering her questions honestly, and directly, and without any confusing imagery.

“Mawm, when I get bigger, will I have boobs under my nipples?”

Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes.  And boobs.

Looking Back: PWD in the Wild.

As the ladies of Team Sparling prepare for our trip to Orlando for the Friends for Life conference, I’m looking back at a moment from last November, when my friend Renza and I were spotted as “PWD in the wild.” 

*   *   *

We were sitting at the coffee shop having a really nice Melbourne cappuccino (they make the best cappuccinos I’ve ever had in my whole life, with the steamed milk almost like a marshmallow topping on each coffee – amazing), talking about the Australian diabetes social media summit. The weather was sunny and crisp, with plenty of other patrons enjoying their caffeine jolt at the outside cafe tables.

“I guess when I was diagnosed, it didn’t matter much to me that I didn’t know anyone else who had diabetes.  I didn’t really know what diabetes was.  But as I grew older, I wanted to find that community, and that’s where the Internet has helped tremendously,” I said to Renza, talking about the impact of the diabetes community on my emotional well-being.

“And here we are now,” said Renza, laughing as she stirred her coffee.

No joke - Melbourne has the best coffee I've ever tasted.

We chatted on about the Summit the day prior, and what we thought of it. And then our conversation tumbled into our personal experiences with diabetes and pregnancy.  Thinking back on this conversation, we probably said the word “diabetes” at least a dozen times in a ten minute conversation.

Which is probably why the young woman was staring at us from her table, just a few feet away. She was holding her coffee cup near her mouth, but hadn’t had a sip yet.  She was fixated on us.  Her young daughter was drinking a frothy mug of hot chocolate, swinging her feet as the wind caught and tousled her bangs.

“Excuse me,” she said, almost to herself.

My seat was facing her table, so I leaned in and said, “Hello!”

“I couldn’t help but overhear – you both have diabetes?”

Renza shifted in her seat.  “Yes, yes we do.  I’m sorry – were we being too loud?”

The woman laughed nervously, her cup still close to her mouth but merely an accessory at this point.  “No, not at all.  I was happy to hear … I mean, my daughter was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few weeks ago.  We’ve never met anyone else who has diabetes.”  She made a sweeping gesture with her hand.  “And here you both are!”

“Real life people with diabetes, in the wild,” I smiled.

Renza leaned back and extended her hand, introducing herself and explaining to the woman that she had type 1 diabetes and also worked down the street at Diabetes Australia Vic.  “You can come visit us any time you’d like – and I’m at this coffee shop all the time.”  She handed the woman her card.

Thank goodness for the poise and professionalism possessed by Renza.  I couldn’t help myself – I waved animatedly at the girl and her mother and this stream of information passed my lips:  “I’m Kerri and I live in the United States and I’ve had type 1 diabetes for twenty-six years and I have a husband and he and I have a daughter who is two and a half.”

I wanted them to know I was okay, and that even though my life has included type 1 diabetes for several decades, I was still okay; it was a consolidated diabetes life story in one messy sentence, delivered with a caffeinated edge.

“How are you doing?  How are you both doing?”  I asked.

The woman looked at her daughter, who was staring at us.  “We’re good. We’re doing good.  We come to this coffee shop often because they are the only ones who really listen to how I want her hot chocolate prepared.  Her daycare is right around the corner, so it’s a nice place to stop.  They do listen …” her voice trailed off.

“We do know.”

We talked for a few minutes, and the woman gathered up her belongings.  “It was so nice meeting both of you.  Really.  Thank you.”  Her daughter stared at us with her big, brown eyes, the same as her mother’s.

“Our pleasure.  I hope to hear from you.  Please do reach out,” said Renza warmly.

The woman took her daughter’s hand and crossed the street toward the daycare center, her delicious Melbourne coffee still untouched on the table but every single sip of her daughter’s special-made hot chocolate all but devoured.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers