Monthly Archives: October 2015

It’s Her Birthday

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My Victoria Isabel is 6 today.

October 22nd, 2009 after 22 hours of labor, I met this gorgeous, fair skinned, red headed little baby. I used to watch birthing videos and think, gosh these babies look so strange and not very cute for the first week or so. I’m very realistic and prepared myself for the same experience with my child, but it was different with Victoria. Her hair was a red Mohawk that I could never straighten out the weeks following. She was pink and had the most beautiful hands and feet. I cried so much when I saw her, all I kept saying was, “Oh my God she’s so beautiful. She’s so beautiful. My baby, oh my God my baby”. I was excited, scared, tired and I felt triumphant. This human that I carried for nine months was here. Familiar yet so unfamiliar. She knew so much about me and I so little of her, yet we connected. She knew I was hers to keep and I knew I had found what I was looking for up until that point. No one else mattered to me at that time, not her father, not my family…No one. In a room full of people (no, really…I let students from the university watch and take notes), I only saw Victoria Isabel. She was quickly taken away to the NICU because she inhaled meconium (her own feces) and was having trouble breathing. That’s when I realized she hadn’t cried, dammit she didn’t cry. I was so scared then, I watched as they took her, cleared her nose and mouth and then there it was. A faint whimper and then a roaring sound, music to my ears; that’s when they rushed off with her and had my ex followed. Suddenly I really was alone. No one but a nurse and a student left behind, checking my vitals. I felt so empty, it was the strangest sensation in the pit of my stomach. I’m wheeled to recovery until I can see Victoria again and when I did, she was all tubes and wires. I was explained to that inhaling meconium is very common and the minor/major side affects it would have on her long term, if at all. It turns out, she’s perfectly healthy and her breathing is just fine.

Fast forward to the present and my little bundle of joy is now all legs and smiles. Never did I anticipate having a child who is so intelligent, funny, and tall! I’m 5’2 at my best and her father is a whopping 5’5, however his whole family is tall. Her hair is incredibly long and her once red locks are now strawberry blonde. Her eyes are as blue as the pictures I’ve seen of the ocean in the Caribbean and her attitude is so flush with mine sometimes, it leaves people in awe. She’s sweet, giving, and understanding. Of course we expect most children to be this way, but they’re not. She carries herself with grace and class, traits that I am jealous and proud of.  Her skin reminds me of porcelain and her laugh is music to my ears. Sometimes I watch her and I wonder what I did to deserve this blessing. I tear up at the thought of ever parting from her and at the thought of her growing up. Of leaving me behind to start her own life. My attempt to savor every moment big or small isn’t always enough.

I want to stop time. I want to hear her voice every morning telling me that she loves me and wrapping her arms around me. I want to drive her to school everyday for the rest of my life and practice translating English words to Portuguese and vise versa. I want her to cry and tell me she’s upset with me for not letting her have cookies for breakfast, and then laugh at her for being so silly only to hear her giggle through her tears. Every time I look at her, I mean really look into her eyes and soul, I see a change. Understanding maybe. A new spelling word conquered. A tooth missing. A darkened freckle on her face. A bruise. The bad habit of biting her nails she’s picked up. A new comeback for her 15 year old aunt Gina who always picks on her. I soak it up. Will I remember this forever? I fear not remembering these moments, but how can I keep them? I can’t capture them and nail them into a wooden box. I can try to relive them in my mind every day but there are so many amazing memories. It’s overwhelming. I want to keep her little. Innocent. Worry free. It’s selfish, but it’s true.

Sometimes I hug her so tight she wriggles away and says, “Mae, I can’t breathe!!!!”. I wonder if she’ll ever get to the point where she won’t want hugs from me every day. Or a kiss on the forehead. Or the occasional cuddle. Too cool for mom. If she does, I hope she grows out of it. I hope we can always have dance parties and she’ll never be too cool to sing at the top of her lungs with me.

No one will ever love her like I do. Not her father. Not his family. Not my family. No one.

She’s a witty, intelligent, gorgeous, hilarious and a jerk at times. I love her every second of every day, I want her to always remember that. We’ve been through a lot together, but the cool thing is, she’s always had my back. And I will always have hers.

Happy Birthday Victoria Isabel, I hope all of your dreams come true.

Stahp It!

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I am not the parent of a special needs child. I do not have a close family member who has special needs. I did not grow up around special needs children. I feel that the only people who write about special needs children are those who have them. I understand this for various reasons, one of which is the fact that you don’t know the triumphs and struggles of having a special needs child until you’ve had one yourself or are close to one.

The thing is, I’m a mother. I have taught my daughter that each child is just as special as the next, special needs or not. That we are all to treat each other fairly. Of course, she’s five, this is a work in progress. However, I always marvel at how accepting my child is and I always wonder why adults can’t be the same. Have you ever stood in line at the store and watched a child throw a tantrum right in the middle of everyone, screaming his/her head off? Have you noticed all of the stares? The whispers? The “psshaa if that was my kid…” comments? I’m sure you have, and maybe you’ve done these things yourself. I always watch the parent. The distressed look on their face, the embarrassment. We don’t know what their story is, why the child is acting that way, and how long of a day that mother/father has had. How about the child with down’s syndrome, as loving and caring as he/she is, being pointed at by other children and stared at by their parents? Is this what we’re allowing? Our children to point and say things that are hurtful, just because someone is different? These parents should never, ever be embarrassed or feel like their child is different than mine.

These people don’t need your pity, they don’t even need your friendship. They need our understanding and sometimes our patience as a society. My child can speak to, play with, and interact with whoever the hell she damn well pleases. Whether he/she has blonde hair, brown hair, autism, a missing tooth, whatever the case may be. I have tried my hardest to open her eyes and let her see past all of the bullshit, to really see what that person has to offer in a friendship.

Let’s look at the other side of this. I knew a woman who had a child with autism and she pulled the pity card constantly. I am compassionate and understand how hard it can be; but if you cripple your child and constantly raise this idea that there is something wrong with them, they’re doomed to believe it. We are supposed to lift our children up, not hand them the crutch. We are supposed to have faith in them and believe that they can beat all of the odds. Making these disabilities an excuse is hardly what a special needs child requires. Like any other child they require love, a strong support system and inspiration. I pointed this out to her and was met with a quick “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND, YOUR CHILD IS NORMAL”. Normal? Normal? My kid slurps ranch off of chicken nuggets, hate pets, dislikes wearing pants, and understands nearly three languages. I’m not sure what this lady’s warped definition of normal was, but my kid isn’t it.

And there it was, my reason to cut this person off. Not only did she act like there was something severely wrong with her child, but she was also a bad influence for mine. I don’t care who you are, you are not allowed to call the shots with my kid. You are not allowed to tell me who she can and cannot interact with or tell her that she needs to “be careful” because he’s fragile. No. They are children. They will play and she will learn to be resilient around other children, and mine will learn to be accommodating when she did have tantrums. And they would be the best of friends. But no. Victoria missed out on a wonderful soul because said friend’s mother is a shithead with a narrow mind.

People are people. Let children be children.

If you’re one of those parents who empowers their children, GO YOU!!!

Oh Brother!

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I have four sisters. Jessica, 22, Melissa, 18 and Gina, 15. My mom birthed all of us but the youngest two have a different father who helped raise us for about 13 years before they were divorced. We never considered Melissa and Gina our “half sisters”…Just sisters. Four girls in one house was absolutely crazy, but we made it.

Today…Today I ran into my brother. My dad remarried as well, to a woman with two children. I got along with her and her children really well but lost touch after they were divorced 7 years later. Every once in a while I’d see them and we’d exchange “how have you beens” and “what’s new” and be on our way. When I became an adult I finally reached out to my ex stepmom and we kept in touch on and off over the years, but I could never stop thinking about her two kids. I always wondered what they were up to, how they were doing, if they were doing well in college, etc. I finally added the three on Facebook and have been able to peek into their lives day to day.

This time it was different. I walked into the dreaded Wal-Mart before work today because I needed tweezers for my uni-brow, as to not scare off any of my employees or guests. I usually walk pretty fast and with a major case of tunnel vision at Wal-Mart, no time for mingling or seeing what I can’t ever un-see.

I hear a surprised, “Irene?!”.

“Carlos?!!”

I looked him up and down and I couldn’t contain my surprise, but there was something else I was feeling. Something I couldn’t pinpoint right then and there. Who used to be this short, skinny, big toothed boy is now a man. A man standing right before me, taller than mountains, voice deep, emanating maturity like I’ve never seen. I wanted to cry, hug him, ask him a million questions, laugh…Why? I don’t why. Our parents divorced, he’s a step sibling, who cares. Forget them. It’s over.

I couldn’t do that. I think about them often, even though I don’t show it.  My stepmom taught me how to clean, cook, properly slip on pillow cases, keep calm, and trust myself as well as God. She was a crucial part of my upbringing. I was closer to Carlos (who was closer to my age than his sister) than I was to my own sisters. We were young but we talked about everything.

In case you were wondering, he’s on his last year of college. He has this gorgeous girlfriend who he’s been with for five months now (after years of being single). His mother is still single, all of these years and she still lives for her children. His sister is doing well also. I wanted to know more but we had to cut off the conversation since we both had to get back to work.

“It was so good seeing you Carlos.”

“Hey, you too! We have to get coffee or something sometime. It’s been so long.”

“It has been. It truly has been.”

I watched him walk away. Once my brother, no matter what, will always be my brother. I had never had a brother before him, nor did I get one after him. This kid introduced me to Slipknot, even though his churchgoing mother did not approve. I caught him watching porn and didn’t say a word. We griped about our parents together and so on. Sometimes I wonder if we had as much of an effect on them as they had on me. They were my weekend family, my comfort, my home away from home.

It made me realize that people come into our lives for a reason, even if it hurts when they’re gone. Maybe they’re meant to stay or leave, they had a purpose. I always try to keep positive and highlight what that purpose might be for every person who has walked out of my life or has been yanked from my life. Did they contribute? Take away? Teach you a lesson? Help you grow? If you take a moment, you’ll realize that everyone you’ve ever met in your life made some sort of impact and the ones who didn’t…Well…You wouldn’t have remembered them anyway.

I miss them.