My husband, Pete, is out of town on business right now. So, I’ve been solo parenting this week.
Pete has to periodically take trips out of town for a few days each. This time he happens to be in Alaska… His trips typically take a break during winter, and then start up again in the spring. This 8 day trip is one of the first he’s taken in 2009, and I’ve noticed a difference about what it’s been like in his absence. Simply put, it’s been easier this time than it was in the past.
Of course, I miss Pete and want him to come home and all that stuff. In saying it’s been easier, what I mean is that looking after Miranda is less of a challenge than it used to be. Ever since her diagnosis with Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva in April of 2007, caring for Miranda has been kind of like “parenting-plus”. You have to do all the usual things a parent does for a young child, but must also be extra vigilant for safety hazards like unsafe play, clutter on the floor (risk of tripping) and any kind of impacts to the body. Any of those things could result in FOP flare-ups, more bone and less mobility. When one parent is away, it means the other parent (ie, ME) has the unrelenting duty to be 100% responsible for minimizing the risks of FOP. Frankly, I’ve found that mentally exhausting. Don’t get me wrong; I love my sweet girl dearly, but, well, let’s just say I’ve preferred parenting Miranda as a shared experience.
But… Now Miranda is 4 years old. I notice a real qualitative difference in caring for Miranda at age 4 as compared to age 3. She has better balance, is more stable and has better ability to understand what she should and shouldn’t do. The result is that looking after her on my own, with no other parent to give me a break, is less difficult.
Take yesterday… It was Saturday morning, and luckily both kids “slept in” (in kid terms, that means til 8 AM). When we woke up, of course I had to help Miranda with her morning trip to the bathroom. She has an entertaining way of telling me she has to go: “MOMMY! EXPLODE UNDERPANTS!!” So delightful… Anyway, I have to help Miranda in the bathroom because she can get up on the toilet by herself, but can’t manoeuvre her arms to get her pants down on her own. That limited arm mobility also means I have to help her get her PJs off and clothes on. But – after getting up and running, things weren’t much different to how it would be if Miranda didn’t have FOP.
Our first excursion of the day was to the bank. I had to actually line-up and speak to a teller rather than just using the ATM. This time around, I was able to let Miranda and Owen wander over to the kids’ area and play with the toys they have there. All I had to do was keep and ear out for any trouble. Once or twice I had to shout at them, as is my way (ha ha), but generally it was OK.
After that, we came home and ate some lunch, and then headed off to a playground. At the playground, the kids ran around and played. It was a mostly flat park, all grassy and with woodchips under the equipment. I watched Miranda, but didn’t have to hover… Sweeeet. We played hide and seek, and though I peeked through my fingers to make sure Miranda was hiding safely, I let her hide alone, and all was well.
Later in the day, we went to Denny’s Restaurant. Denny’s is a great choice for Miranda with her FOP, because they have big booths with padded benches. If Miranda can kneel on one of those padded benches, she does very well and has no problems eating in restaurants (if it’s a chair, though, it’s a different story – she can’t get her arms up high enough to reach the food if she has to sit). We ate, both kids cooperated, and we went home.
At the end of the day, I thought about how everything had gone. It was really a lot easier than it would have been last year at the same time. A bit more age in a child with FOP makes A LOT of difference for the parent.