Today my daughter goes to Kindergarten. This is a milestone I don’t take lightly. It’s truly a bittersweet moment for me. On one hand I am going to miss my little buddy. The girl that has been by my side for five years is going to school, and leaving me for the day.
However, this is also a day that I wasn’t sure was going to happen. I think back three years ago when my daughter was evaluated by Early Intervention. Words like ‘sensory’ and ‘delayed’ were being passed back and forth. The idea that she would require aids and special assistance were a real possibility. I cried that first night after the initial evaluation and googled ‘sensory processing disorder’ about a hundred times to read different articles.
The next day I met with the speech therapist and she said that ‘we would need to work really hard’ to get D caught up. The first year we had therapists in and out of our house 5 times a week. I spent my time working with D on everything the therapists told me to do. If I wasn’t doing their suggestions, I was researching different things to buy or rent that the therapists recommended such as trampolines, feeding utensils, and toys. We gave up television in our house for about a year and only occasionally watched episodes of ‘baby signing time’ to learn sign language as a way to communicate with D.
Two years ago I dropped D off at 3 year old preschool and she cried. I cried at home, and waited by the clock till I could pick her up. She could barely communicate and it was heartbreaking. I didn’t want to put her in preschool, but the therpists said she needed to be exposed to other children. After I picked her up, she couldn’t even tell me what her snack was that day. Slowly through the work of a wonderful speech therapist 2x a week and being in preschool, D learned to talk. She also started sleeping through the night and had less tantrums.
Six months ago she surpassed the speech therapy evaluation and this Fall we are taking a break from occupational therapy. We still have our hard days. Sometimes getting dressed can be challenging as I have to cut out every tag. Or, textures of food will cause gagging. However, D can communicate everything to me now, and that makes life so much easier.
So whereas I cry dropping my ‘baby’ off at school, I also cry tears of joy that D can go to kindergarten this year. I think of all the hours spent in therapy, in waiting rooms, researching, and praying. It doesn’t even seem like this is the past of the same girl yelling how much she loves kindergarten and putting on her uniform. I’m so proud of D, and how she exceeded my simple dream go her to be able to go to kindergarten.
Today is my baby’s birthday. She made her appearance 5 years ago on Friday the 13th. It was also my 30th birthday. Everyone thought I was going to have her earlier because I was so huge 😉 but I told my family that the baby was waiting till my birthday. Sure enough I went into labor a week after your due date. When the doctor said ‘girl’ I cried. I had wanted a baby girl by the time I was 30 my whole life. She was such a surprise because I thought for sure I was carrying a boy and we didn’t find out the gender.
She was whisked to the NICU before I could hold her because she wasn’t breathing from swallowing the meconium. I had never been so scared in my life. Due to my own labor complications I didn’t get to see her till that night. As I walked in her room the nurse told me that D had finally stopped crying as soon as she heard my voice. I will remember that moment forever. That same nurse told me ‘good luck’ and looked a little weary when I finally took D home a few days later. The head of the NICU sent us home 2 days earlier than expected and said we have a ‘tough cookie.’
I should have known then that D was going to be a hand full. This now little girl has taught me more patience than I ever knew possible. She has taught me to be a better person and how to be selfless. I always tell people that an introvert raising an extrovert creates an interesting situation. D is so outgoing and social. She can talk to anyone without any hesitation and I love that about her as I tend to be more reserved. She does have my trait of being extremely oversensitive and sometimes that tends to make her act out. However, she is the sweetest most considerate person I know.
I look back at her baby pictures and cry. In the hard times of raising my spirited little girl my mom always used to tell me that children and babies have to be hard or it would be heartbreaking to watch your angel grow up. So as I am so happy to celebrate this milestone with my very excited birthday twin, I am a little sad that 5 years have gone so fast.
As I reflect on my own 35 years I realize that D not only made me a momma, but a grown up I like so much more in my 30s than the girl in her 20s. So happy birthday to my best friend. You made my life so much better and fuller. I wouldn’t want to celebrate my birthday with anyone else. I can’t wait to eat a ton of sugar with you. You definitely got your love of sweets from your mama.
Love you D.
Dear Mommy Friend,
When I initially left my job to stay at home I thought I totally had this stay at home thing. I envisioned my weeks filled with picnics in the park and playdates with tons of mommy friends. The reality came crashing down. The mommy friends never came. I signed my daughter up for park district classes, swim lessons, and library story times. It felt like high school all over again. I even joined a mommy Meetup and left crying because I couldn’t talk to one person while my daughter ran in circles the whole time. That rejection a week later was anticipated, but stung a little. My cousin, who had found a mommy play group that way in her area asked, ‘Does that happen?’.
Fast forward two years and my daughter not only qualified for the Early Intervention therapy program, but was diagnosed with a speech delay, and the word sensory was being thrown around. My life revolved around four therapists at my house six times a week and researching/investing in everything they suggested to help my daughter.
When my daughter entered preschool I decided we needed one activity a week that was noneducational or therapy-related. I found a ballet school that was taught by an occupational therapist. To say I was a wreck was an understatement. With my daughter’s speech delay I always felt like I needed to speak for her. I felt like she wasn’t connecting to the other children and even the parents with her lack of communication. Regardless, she stuck with the class for a year and is currently in the same class again this year.
D’s speech got better and she caught up to other kids. She started having more interactions with the girls in class. We also chatted during those classes. You reminded me so much of my old work friends and maybe you saw a glimmer of the previous me. The corporate chick that had her life together instead of this mom that had nothing figured out. When you gave that birthday invitation to D for your daughter’s party the impact on her was huge. I could see it in D’s face. She felt accepted for once. She talked about your daughter’s party for weeks and kept the invitation by her bed.
That invitation had an impact on me as well. After four and half years of feeling isolated, I realized that I just wanted to know that D was going to be okay and accepted by other children. D would beg for friends and it would break my heart. I wanted D to be able to interact with other children and she was finally able to do that.
Since that birthday party, you had a baby and were on maternity leave from work. You turned to the other ballet moms and asked ‘This stay-at-home thing is hard. How can I be surrounded by a toddler, baby, and dogs, and still feel…?”. I looked at you and said, “lonely.’ You said yes, and I asked if you wanted to have a playdate that week.
My family and friends had a sprinkle for me last week. At first I really did not want to ask people to buy me things, but my husband’s aunt wanted to throw it so I felt rude saying no. D had a birthday party that day so my husband took her to that.
It was so nice to catch up with friends and family. I haven’t been pregnant for almost five years so I ended up needing (and receiving) more than I thought I would. Also, I was not used to so much blue! The sprinkle turned out so nice, and it was a much-needed grown-up break before baby #2 arrives.
We had these family pictures taken a month ago for my parent’s birthdays. I can’t believe these might be our last photos before the baby comes.
Pictures by: AJ Photography