I have to admit that I was dreading it just a little bit. I was dreading being solo with Kate for 3 days, having no respite, not being able to hand over with her dad, or distract her with her brother or the busy-ness of family life. She had had a difficult couple of weeks with fatigue and irritability and I dreaded having to navigate 72 hours of just getting through the day. We have no family support nearby and so grandparent visits or walks to give us a ‘breather’ are just not accessible. I often joke about needing surrogate grandparents just to give us the much needed mini-breaks. This is not meant in offense to my parents – who, despite living far away, make efforts to visit often. But I watch other families with vast networks of family in the same city with absolute longing and wishful thinking – sometimes outright envy. They have ‘typical’ kids and get the regular breaks (ok, that’s jealousy there). Thought bubbles start to populate my imagination…’maybe we should move closer to family’, ‘maybe our entire family will move here’, ‘maybe we’ll discover a long lost great aunt or uncle who will take a keen interest in Kate’. Yeah, it’s not happening. So we do it solo and we try and get breaks where we can.
Despite dreading the long weekend, it actually turned out quite pleasant. My boys (the big one and small one) were off to a hockey tournament, and knowing this well in advance I made a plan for Kate and I. Really it was a list of activities both at home and as outings so that I had prepared ways to keep us occupied. More occupied, even if it was a drive in the car or a walk in the stroller, would mean less screaming/whining/irritability.
We did get off to a little of a rough start. Kate was having a poor day on Thursday. Poor energy and what I suspect was a big sugar drop during her auditory verbal therapy session that left her in a puddle of tears and anxiety and irritablity. Poor pet – a quick sugar fix pulled her back, but the day wasn’t the same. Off to bed early and a movie for mom – no sense in stretching that day in any way.
The next 2 days of our girls weekend were lovely. Kate and I were both lucky that she was feeling well. She was ‘optimal Kate’ as I like to refer to it. Optimal Kate has good energy that lasts for most of the day, she is happy and calms easily, she is less irritable, she is communicative and makes better use of her ASL and verbal language skills, she doesn’t scream (maybe just squeals of happiness), she has good balance and can be relied upon to walk a bit more independantly without crashing and falling at any moment, or requiring the use of a stroller at all times (or being carried). And so the timing was perfect, I got optimal Kate all to myself and our girls weekend turned into a couple of days of really appreciating my little girl.
I find myself so mired in Kate’s care, management, coordination, advocacy – as well as raising my son and being a wife – moments to just enjoy Kate and to appreciate her don’t happen as often as I’d like. I don’t mean to say I don’t appreciate having Kate and that there are not day to day moments when we have fun and we bond and we play. But to have ‘mom and daughter’ time. To sing songs (over and over and over), to play dolls, to wander and walk with no timeline or particular destination, to have coffee and croissants (just the two of us) and to ‘chat’…yes, we did a lot of commjunicating about what she observed, who she saw, songs she wanted me to sing, pictures she wanted to look at, books I should read to her, how she loves to swim and jump…all at Kate’s level and Kate’s pace, but we did ‘chat’ – and it was lovely.
And so I kept her to myself quite a bit over those 2-3 days. I didn’t travel to the hockey tournament to see the final games (we won!) as suggested by my husband (likely worrying that Kate solo was getting tough based on previous experience), and I didn’t do much hanging with friends and their kids. I did things with Kate. I didn’t feel a need to escape or get away or a desperate sense of feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. Healthy Kate, ‘optimal kate’ is fun. I wish I had her more often.
I am going to plan more ‘girls weekends’ for Kate and I. Encourage my boys to get out and do their ‘boy things’. I hope we can recreate what was so special about this past weekend. Until then, I am going to work hard to hold onto really enjoying Kate, slowing the pace and sitting with her and really connecting with who she is and what she has to say in this world. She truly is a special little girl. Unique (obvious) and joyful – in spite of it all.
Slow down mommy and enjoy me.
I will KK my dolly. I will.