Friday, October 4, 2013

Parenthood Isn't Always Easy, But It Is Worth It

October is finally here. My favorite month. It is a gateway to the upcoming holidays, and festivities! I have always considered October to be my lucky month because it appears that good things always happen in the month of October. I am so looking forward to the warm fuzziness that comes during this time of the year, and it also helps to make long winters (believe me, Wisconsin is notorious for long winters) more bearable. Forrest is also of age where he is finally comprehending the world, and actively participates with life. Because of this, I am eagerly looking forward to how he reacts to the holidays. 

The other day, Forrest, and I went to a local pumpkin stand. There was this older man that sold the pumpkin, mum flowers, and assorted squashes along with farmer's market products. He saw Forrest, and insisted on giving us a tiny pumpkin for free. Ever since, Forrest has been fixated on his tiny pumpkin, carries it everywhere with him, and babbles to it quite often. It made me smile every time to look at this pumpkin, and it served as a wonderful reminder that people are good. 

Forrest has been doing wonderful. He has learned to associate signs with things, animals, and food. His most latest sign is DOG. He constantly points at Layla, and signs dog. He also points at our cats, and sign dog. So I am trying to teach him that a cat is a CAT. He's such a smart little fellow. As for his allergies, we are no longer really phased by it, and we are no longer overwhelmed by his diagnosis. It is just not a big part of who he is. Peanut allergy is now a breeze to manage. 

It is funny, when I first learned about Forrest's peanut allergy, I was really worried, and scared by all stuff I read online especially by a particular mommy blogger, who has a child with a severe PA, and she was very much of an overprotective mother. Looking back, I decided I did not want to be like that. I wanted to expose Forrest to life situations so he can learn how to deal with them later on instead of ending up being lost because he was protected too much in his early years. It is not that I'm being flippant about his allergy. We are cautious, and do prepare every time when we go out. We educate people about his PA. At the same time, we are not going around by treating Forrest as if he is a bubble boy, and we must keep him encased in a giant bubble.  

The only house rule we have is that we are peanut-free household. We want Forrest to come home, and feel safe--not to worry about what he is eating, about contact rashes, and cross-containment. His siblings will not be exposed to peanuts in our house as well. To some people, they think it is as if we are punishing his siblings because of Forrest's peanut allergy, and I don't really get this approach of thinking. I try to not let other parents' comments bother me, and trust me, I have already gotten some ridiculously rude comments from other parents. The worst comment I have gotten so far was "Oh, I hope I will never have a child with a peanut allergy in my child's classroom because that's kind of pain to deal with."  SIIIIIIIIIIIIGH.

Of course, there is also positive things that has come out of this. I managed to convince our local food store to cover up their peanuts (the kind you see in roadhouse restaurants; you crack open the shells, toss the shell to the ground, and consume the peanuts inside). I did not have to worry about exposing Forrest to peanut dust, and tomatoes, that was right next to the peanuts, being cross-contaminated. People were truly understanding when you explain to them in a nice manner, and stand up to them in a way that they didn't feel put off or threatened. In a way, my Deafness helped me to learn how to be courteous while educating people. I suppose that was probably why this little soul has chosen me to be his mother.   

Having been completed weaned, we do notice that his dairy allergy is flaring up even more, and I am considering to switch him to soy milk based on our allergist's suggestion. He can handle dairy products in small doses, and does not seem to bother him much. It seems, in this case, that dairy is causing his eczema to flare up more than causing him to feel any internal discomfort such as gas, tummy pains, or pooping issues. We are confident that this is something he will eventually outgrow of since it is very mild. 

His dog allergy is also very mild. I make sure that Layla does not lick his face. I vacuum once a week. I don't let Layla or any of cats in his bedroom, and it is always gated off (always has been day one anyway). He is not allergic to cats or any other animals...just dogs. So it is a bit of puzzlement to us how he ever developed a dog allergy in the first place, but it is what it is. When it gets to be too much for him, he tends to drool...a lot because his throat itches. We are not getting rid of Layla, our Basset Hound, and she is in her forever home. Will we get another dog after Layla? Maybe. Maybe not. We have not decided; we do want a dog in our home, and have our kids grow up with animals. Perhaps, we will need to find a different breed that does not shed. I don't know yet. A part of me want to not get another dog, not because of Forrest's allergy, but because it is hard for me to give attention to a dog that he/she deserves during my kids' childhood years. Kids come first, you know? Maybe when kids are older, I will entertain the idea again, and have them help out instead of me taking care of everything at once. 

It's honestly not a big deal to manage Forrest's allergies. It has become a part of our lives. It is like as if it always has been part of our lives. It's not hard to adapt with. I don't really miss peanut butter or any peanut products. Matter of fact, I think sunflower butter, and nutella are better! Nothing has drastically changed. We will have Forrest retested before he starts school to see if his allergies are still present. I'm 99.9% sure that his peanut allergy will never go away, and rest of his allergies will either fade away, or become very mild/manageable. 

People have been asking us about Baby Number #2 now that Forrest is older. It is no secret that we do want a big family! I absolutely love being a mom. I have to make a confession; Motherhood is not all peaches and fuzzes. 

There has been days when it is really trying, and HARD. I wonder if I am doing anything right. Sometimes, I want to break down and cry because I feel like I am doing nothing right, or I am so exhausted from dealing with terrible ones (I am convinced terrible twos is a myth, and it starts immediately in toddler years).  I look at other mommy bloggers, and wonder how the hell they seem so poised, so held together, well dressed, hair in the place, no stained clothes, the house is sparkling clean or looking festive, and their kids have everything. It makes me wonder if I am really giving Forrest everything or if I am doing enough for him.

I don't go out my way to deck out the house for the holidays. I don't cut pineapple in heart-shaped finger food. I give Forrest hot dog with hummus and cut-up orange pieces instead of 5-course meal for lunch. I let him watch Sesame Street for an hour while I blog. I don't take amazing pictures of his every moment in his life. When Forrest throws a temper tantrum, sometimes--just sometimes--I want to fall on the floor and throw a tantrum with him! Sometimes, I feel helpless and have no idea what to do. Should I pick him up? Or will that be a bad reinforcement to do that? Should I ignore him until he's done? What the heck should I do? I have no instruction manual of parenthood telling me what I should do step to step! I have always been by the book kind of person. I take a great comfort in knowing what will happen next. Parenthood is not like that. It is an adventure for sure! I make a choice, and pray I don't mess up Forrest for life. 

I am just an ordinary mom, and sometimes, I look at those moms and feel sub-par to them. It is hard not to compare myself to them because they are so different. They have different lives than I do. Not everything is "green" on the other side. I try not to be so envious of other mom bloggers, and wish for things I don't have. Then I take a deep breath, and remember that even during hard days, there are moments that just melts my heart especially when Forrest lays his head on my chest, and I savor his baby hair against my cheek, and that is what keeps me going. 

Bad days are really a blip in years yet to come. I know I will look back, and cherish all good times. Matter of fact, Dad told me the other day, rather nostalgically, how it was a blink in his eye that we kids grew up. In one minute of his eye, I was walking up to him with arms outstretched, the next blink, he was walking with me down the aisle, and the next, I was giving him his newborn grandson to hold. This served me as a reminder to really enjoy every moment...even hard moments because one day, I will look back, and feel that little pang in my heart as I see Forrest as a grown man. 

I try. 

I'm convinced that anyone that says that being a parent is easy is either lying, or not a good parent to start with. Parenthood is not supposed to be easy, and even at that, it is worthwhile.