Posted on April 13, 2011
Family photos of my family are rare happenings, believe it or not. Yes, Adeline and Eliza have the camera pointed at them probably more than they are happy with, but getting all of us together to do an actual “session” is a rare occurrence. Usually, I have to be satisfied with the rare single shot here and there … catching them off guard before Adeline runs the opposite direction or gives me the grumpy, “I’ve had it,” face. It seems photographers always have the most challenging subjects in their own kiddos. So we braved the freezing cold, rain showers, dark Oregon skies (with a final peek of rosy skies as the sun set), a mud covered Adeline (it seems they are instantly drawn to the mud when you put nice clothes on), a baby Eliza who was desperately overdue for her nap, and lots of attitude from both kiddos to get these shots. But it was worth it and we had lots of fun despite the chaos! I’m really happy that we captured the real moments with Addie’s joyful smiles and Eliza’s silly little grins, and the colors are just as happy as these girls and their sweet daddy make me feel.
Posted on April 6, 2011
Oy. This past week have been a roller coaster around here with our little Addie Bee. She seems to be struggling with so much for such a little soul and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to help her better. She struggles with some sensory issues and has since she was a baby. It has gotten increasingly difficult in some areas for her to deal with the uncomfortable feelings, and when you combine that with the hurt feelings over baby Eliza being here and forcing her to share mommy and daddy, and Adeline’s fiery temper and ever escalating dramatic ways of expressing her feelings … BAM! We have been in some sort of battle/struggle/meltdown/sob fest (and the sobbing doesn’t just come from her, as I’m right along with her many days out of sheer frustration and sometimes hurt) for the past several weeks. I love that she has so much emotion and so much fire in her, she feels everything so strongly (earlier today she started crying because the neighbors were cutting down a tree and hurting our earth) … I hate that she also seems to be hurting inside.
Tonight we went through the dreaded nightly ritual of picking out her outfit for tomorrow. The battles and melt downs in the mornings were just getting to be too difficult on both of us, especially when they usually occurred right when Eliza is needing to nurse or take her morning nap. So, we thought having Adeline help pick out the next day’s outfit ahead of time might help everyone involved. When mentioning our struggles with finding something that doesn’t hurt Adeline to wear I hear a lot of, “Oh, my daughter is the same way … she hates tags,” or something similar. This is not the same (it’s called sensory integration disorder, but I hate to label my child and rarely use the term). Clothing that is too tight, too itchy, too loose, too textured, too short, too anything that makes her little body uncomfortable will actually cause her pain to wear and she will be in tears, sobbing as she tries to rip the offending piece of clothing off. This is not about a power struggle or a “willful” child … no, I will not “make” her wear what I tell her to wear. Many times I get so frustrated at trying to help her while at the same time getting her dressed in less than an hour’s time that I am left crying right along side her. She also has extreme aversions to having her hair brushed or washed, certain textures of foods, and is terribly sensitive to any loud noises (and when I say she has troubles with these things, I mean they seem to cause her physical pain and reduce her to tears). She is kind of a paradox in this though since she seeks out big time snuggles and nursed until she was 4.5 years old. So, tonight I walked in the bedroom with her holding high hopes of breezing through our outfit selection. We just returned from a little trip to Portland and I had made a special trip to Gap to purchase an armload of comfortable, non irritating clothes for Addie to play in (we are leaving the days of getting to dress her up in adorable outfits … although she has a TON of sweet little dresses and outfits that even I’m jealous of, she ends up ruining the nice stuff in a matter of minutes, so I’ve given up and gotten mostly “play clothes” for her to wear now).
See that huge red mark under her bottom lip? She has been biting her lip so hard it’s been bleeding lately … and she’s very self conscious about it, especially since she keeps getting asked if she just drank fruit juice because of the red marks. Poor little thing. I don’t know if it’s stress or just a nervous habit … but I think it’s starting to lessen now.
So, I pull out the little skinny jean leggings I was so excited to show her (carefully chosen because of the lack of seams and bumps, the soft feel of the fabric and the nice bit of stretch because she can’t bear it when her pants are too tight). She breaks down in tears before I can even get a word out. I bite my tongue and keep a calm face, then say, “What is it honey, why are you crying??” She replies, “I don’t want to wear those!! Look at them … they will hurt my knees!!” I explain that they are very soft and stretchy, and ask that we at least try them on before deciding she doesn’t want them. We go around in circles for a full 45 minutes. She screams and cries, I ask to please just try them on and if she doesn’t like the way they feel we’ll take them back. She refuses, cries. I get frustrated and walk out of the room (this is after holding her on my lap and hugging her, telling her she doesn’t have to wear anything that will hurt … that I will help her try them on and if they hurt she is welcome to take them off and I’ll return them). The baby is crying and needing to nurse, and obviously upset by all the crying and yelling (note that we never raise our voice back to Addie when she is loud). She yells after me, “I feel like you don’t even love me!! Don’t you care about me at all?”
This kind of statement always rips my heart out. It’s new and she just started saying it to me (and Scott) a couple weeks ago. Now I know that some children will say these kinds of things out of a desire to get more of a reaction from their parents. That they aren’t actually believing what they are saying, but want to see what kind of power the statement might have. But with Addie, the sad look on her face along with everything else we’ve been going through makes me fear that she might actually feel it’s the truth in her little heart. My worst nightmare come true … that my baby thinks I don’t love her. How could that be true? When everything I’ve done since the day she was born … nay, since the day I found out I was pregnant … no, before even then – more like since I started dreaming about having my own kids when I was 10 and vowed my kids would have a better childhood than I did … everything I’ve done has been with the thought of making sure this precious girl would know in her heart, without a shadow of a tiny doubt that her mommy loves her without condition, without bounds and without end. And here we are at only age 5 and she is saying things like, “I feel like you don’t even care about me at all … you don’t love me, do you?” And I know some parents will roll their eyes and think, “Oh, she has so got your ticket …” but I really, truly don’t think that is what is happening here.
After all the tears subsided (we are talking over an hour of plain misery here in the Manning household), I’m lying between Addie and Eliza and baby girl is nursing. Adeline is still sniffling and catching her breath, and is also in nothing but underwear because she wouldn’t put pajamas on again either (most nights she won’t, depending on how sensitive she’s feeling). She snuggles me and I know she feels sad about how everything went down again … as we all do. I tell her how very much I love her and not anything in the entire world will ever change that love I have for her. We talk a little more and I tell her whatever she is feeling is okay … and then ask if she does feel like we don’t love or care about her sometimes. I can see her pause and look at me in the dark, that look where I know she is trying to gauge whether it’s “okay” to say what she’s really feeling (and we are very passionate about letting our babies know that feelings are “okay” no matter what kinds of feelings they are). And she shakes her tiny head yes … she does feel like that sometimes. My heart breaks again and I struggle with what to say. How many times can I tell her I love her no matter what? How can she doubt that? And I struggle with letting her see my own feelings because as a child I was always so worried about how my parents were feeling that I never had room for my own feelings. If I tell her it makes me sad to know she feels that way, does that invalidate her feelings? Or will it make her start worrying about how she is making *me* feel too much? And am I just overanalyzing everything??? Maybe I just need to get some sleep and start over again tomorrow … but I know this will all still be there again tomorrow. I ask gently if baby Eliza taking so much of mommy’s time makes her feel like that and reassure her it’s okay if it does, that I felt like that with my little brother. But she insists that’s not it and I believe her. When I push too much for a “why” I just get “nothing” as answers, so I drop it. These precious little beings sleeping on me – how do I make sure they know in their souls the love I have for them?
All was not tears and battles this past week though … it was well peppered wit fun, chaos and togetherness that makes your heart swell with love. We enjoyed a little trip to Portland for the weekend, not telling Addie the trip was planned around an afternoon seeing the play, Go, Dog, Go. It was her first “real” play and I so loved watching her excitement and giggling so hard she would fall over in her seat. She has had that incredible ability to let the joy overflow so much that she literally falls over laughing since she was a tiny baby. Even Eliza shocked us as she watched everything with keen attention, only pausing for a little nurse and then resuming her observation of the brightly colored actors whiz around. The rest of the weekend was spent just enjoying each other … and I even got some sleep!
Minutes after this joyous photo was taken she was in tears again and screaming at us both in the middle of downtown Portland … if I remember correctly I think it had something to do with her being cold and her boots hurting her feet.
Yesterday was Scott’s birthday and, as most birthdays have been since having babies, we spent it focusing on what is most important … each other. Adeline and I made some little crafts and cards, decorated a cake and she picked a fish balloon out that says, “Feel Better Soon.” When I read it to her she shrugged and said, “Well, his back does hurt, mommy.” Later, I realized she wanted it because of the treasure chest on it and her love of all things pirate. A few days ago Scott was getting ready to toss out an old dress shirt when Addie stopped him and told him we’d recycle it and scolded him for not loving the earth. When he looked at me imploring me to convince her it was okay, I said, “She’s right, we’ll totally reuse it, you earth hater!” LOL! So, we ended up cutting little triangles out of it and gluing them onto card stock in the form of a little Happy Birthday pennant banner. It was adorable … she also created a bouquet of balloons from old buttons and string. The best kinds of gifts!
While we finished up the decorations we made Scott hide in the bedroom with Junebug. Leave a bored, goofy guy alone with a baby and some make up for too long and you can see below the results. Of course Adeline had to join in and promptly marked up both her face and mine (I think those are glasses on me … and one of her signature looks that she is sporting – the unibrow).