Friday, August 19, 2016

Being the Bigger Person

Lily was my biggest baby. She's always been big for her age, even before she was her own human venturing out in the world. Her size caused many extra appointments and measurements. Sometimes it bothers her, we try to focus on positive self image.

Our house is not big. It is us and comfortable, cozy, quaint, charming, all of those words that people use to describe small spaces.

When I have meeting or calls or just chatting with a friend, unless the kids are at school, there is not a lot of privacy. We often joke that we have 1700 sq. ft and somehow the 6 of us end up in 3 of it. It's a valuable lesson, learning to work in the space you have and making it work for you. It's good for the kids to try and respect boundaries and small spaces and figure out what they really need.

Lily is in the midst of a huge growth spurt. Phillip actually called her slender the other day. After she postured in offense, she took the time to ask what the word meant. I felt kinda bad that one isn't in her lexicon. Yet the smile his definition generated -totally worth it.

The other day Lily complained of a sore throat and runny nose before school. There's been some coughing and the timing's about right- first couple weeks of school, chemo week, these are the times I expect to get a call from the school nurse that she isn't feeling well. We discussed the parameters before she left for school and that it is perfectly possible to make it through a day of school with a bit of allergies or a cold. Fever, diarrhea, puking, all those fun things are for staying home. Sometimes a good rest staves off a tougher cold, so if she really needed to rest we could talk about it- but I've been burned before. An hour of rest and then crazy monkey syndrome- bouncing off walls, wrestling siblings. Like with Phillip sometimes smaller normal sicknesses can escalate quicker in her system as her adrenal struggles to keep up. She is very self aware and tends to milk symptoms from time to time, but she is very good about letting us know exactly what's going on. In detail. At 9:45 I got the call from school. I knew by 10:45 she'd be driving me up the wall, but I went and got her anyway. A little rest sometimes can make a big difference.

When Lily got squirrelly at home, I had her load dishes into the dishwasher. She was less than pleased with that. I had fielded a few calls and she suddenly turned to me and says- you called me big.

Um yeah- I've been calling you big since before you were born. You ARE big. You've grown like 6 inches in a few months.

She says she knows she's big but it hurts her feelings to hear it.

I feel terrible but also defensive. How many times has she picked up a smaller girl her own age and commented on how cute they were? I ALWAYS point out that they may not appreciate having their size constantly be brought up as she does. But I did not want to hurt her feelings.

I explain that I did not mean to hurt her feelings at all and that she is wonderful and to try not to let the word big bother her because it is a really good thing. She stomps away. I am aware this is about dishes, but it is about other things too. I call her back.

Look Lily- you are a big girl. You have always been a big girl and it looks like you will probably always be a big girl. You have grown a lot in a short amount of time. You look good. I am so absolutely tickled I get to call you BIG. I am so glad that I have a Big Lily standing here glaring at me.

8 years ago I didn't know how long I would have you. No one thought it would be this long. You were very sick and very little from the chemo and they said you would probably be short for your age and have some growth problems, we would just face them as they came. Hoping with all hopes we would get to face problems because that would mean you were still there. And here you are, growing and tall and beautiful and it is amazing and it makes me very very happy to get to see you BE BIG.

At which point I'm crying, she's crying, we hug it out and she smiles. She is a bigger person because of the things that were supposed to take away from her. And I will gladly hunt down size 11 shoes for her big old paddle feet. It wasn't so many years ago I exhaustively and painstakingly painted each one of her nails on her much littler feet before every chemo. I painted the nails knowing the nurses might have to get creative with the pulse ox. I packed nail polish remover wipes and fresh bottles of paint just in case. Because I just didn't know how many times I'd be able to paint those toes. It's been been a lot and I can just about compose a mural on her big toes now. Kidding.

And I will smile understandingly as other moms lament each new phase of growth, sure sometimes it does go by rather fast. That is not due to the growing, its usually due to the exterior influence of distraction. I remember the time I needed to cling to the little things, as we do at times now. And we make time for and cherish the BIG things. The big feet, the hunt for clothes that are appropriate for this tween stage and non standard shape. I realize that on our timeline we cherish every milestone that we know was never guaranteed. By being in the moment and immersing in the now I am not missing the moments others want to go back and freeze. I try not to be overwhelmed by the urgency to get to it all at the expense of missing what's right there. Yet we do have to go forward, we are here to grow, to change- ourselves and the world and to be bigger. I hope they find joy in the little things, comfort in who they are in the here and now and always be ready for the BIG things that will come their way.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)