Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care


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Well Put Together

FequitaGuestBlogWelcome to our special guest-blogger: Fequita Simmons! Fequita and her daughter attend 4C Play & Learn groups. Thank you to Fequita for sharing this story with us!

Today I took my three-year-old to play group. While watching her play ‘grocery store’ with her bestie I engaged in casual conversation with another parent whose son was immersed in fire trucks. I asked her if she had any more children. She lightheartedly responded, “I have just the one, and I can barely keep up with him.” When she asked me, “So do you have just the one?” I responded almost in automation to this question I’ve answered a million times, “I have four: ages 18, 10, 6 and 3.” Her eyes immediately widened to full capacity as she said, “You look so well put together!” In the moment I awkwardly laughed it off saying, “Thank you, I guess.”

Why did she see me as well put together? And as I am a mother of four—what have I figured out that has made a difference? There are certainly complications and hardships that come with raising several children. You have more personalities to manage and more schedules to keep up with, but it’s definitely manageable. Each parent has to come up with a system that works for the needs of their particular family. Here are a few general tips that work for my family.

1. Preparation and Consistency: Make a plan and stick to it. Make a schedule for all the things that must happen on a daily basis. It may seem a bit tedious to schedule what days to wash clothes, clean the bathroom, when to take baths and plan a dinner menu. However, with the hustle and bustle of a large family, it’s easy to overlook something and once you do it will be overwhelming to catch back up.

2. Get Everyone Involved: Encourage everyone to participate in the functioning of your household. My 3-year-old has chores just like the older ones do. My older children read the younger children bedtime stories. Children actually love to help out and it builds a great bond between siblings.

3. Roll with the punches: This is the most important rule. In a large family, there are too many variables to expect everything to run smoothly all the time. So learn to be okay with change. Every day there will be something that will not go as expected. And with each unexpected situation just improvise, adapt and overcome.

So if there is a mother out there, whether you have several children or just one, and you are feeling overwhelmed, give these tips a try. I hope they work for your family.

-Fequita


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True Courage Shining Forth

courage

It was a dreary Saturday morning. As I pulled into the drive of Camp Joy I was struck by the sense of dampness and the mist that encompassed the greenery and the scattered wooden buildings. What a shame, I thought, the weather was not cooperating for the families and children that had come from across the country to participate in Camp Courag“EOS”.

Camp Courag“EOS” is an annual event for families that have a child diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (or EoE). Several years ago, 4C was invited to conduct the opening exercise for the parents and caregivers that attend this camp. I had arrived on this particular Saturday to once again kick-off their weekend by offering a Parent Café. Parent Cafés provide parents with an opportunity to share their parenting experiences, wisdom and challenges with other parents. I felt confident as I entered the building. Certain that what we had planned would be successful—yet I must admit I was not prepared to be swept away by this incredible group of parents.

The meeting room was packed. Thirty-three parents and caregivers filled the six round tables. Most of the parents did not know each other, however they certainly shared a common bond:their children were diagnosed with an illness that many doctors still do not fully understand. Yet here in Cincinnati, the doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital developed an expertise in managing this illness—an expertise that many of these families travel thousands of miles to tap.

As the Parent Café unfolded, I found myself in total awe. The Camp Courag“EOS” parents were amazing and completely inspiring. One after the other I heard stories of how they knew in their hearts that there was something not right with their children. Yet most of them experienced disbelief and misdiagnosis from doctors who did not understand this illness. One parent said it’s like others think “You’re coo-coo.” Yet he was not. In fact his child’s gastric system was inflamed due to EoE and his child was experiencing incredible pain every time he ate.

And the stories continued—parents talked about struggles getting the medical treatment needed for their children. They talked about school personnel often isolating their children, and extended family members confronting the very practices that were keeping their children alive and pain free. Time after time these parents found themselves educating others and advocating for their child’s medically needed interventions. One parent reported, “The problem is our kids look okay on the outside and therefore others do not take the illness seriously.”

Wow—there it was! Though these children clearly had a severe and disabling illness, others doubted its very existence. The tenacity exhibited by these parents to hold to their beliefs and insist on medical interventions is a lesson to us all. Parents tend to know their children best and as experts are called to ensure their children are getting all that they need and deserve. And these Camp Courag“EOS” parents are doing this day after day.

As I pulled out of the driveway, the mist seemed less overwhelming, instead I was overwhelmed by the courageousness of unwavering parents.


Bad Things Come in Threes

Bad things come in threes“Bad things come in threes” was often the phrase offered up from my mom when “bad things” happened. This saying served as both a source of comfort and anxiety. If three bad things already happened, then the saying provided me some comfort as it meant that at least for the moment no other bad things would happen. If, however, only two things had taken place, then the anxiety would surface as I waited for another “bad thing” to happen.

The concept of things occurring in waves is very common. Most of us have experienced episodes when we have faced very similar dilemmas during a very short period of time. For example three things in the house needing to be repaired at the same time, three unexpected expenses within a few months or three physical ailments all happening in the same year—these are examples of times when I was getting hit with one similar wave after another.

Over the past few weeks my running community has been rocked by the death of two fellow runners. These deaths were both quick and tragic. My knee jerk response was to think, “Oh my, what’s going to happen next?” Because don’t forget—bad things happen in threes. I am finding that it is more productive to reflect on the message of these losses instead of worrying about whatever possible tragedy may lie ahead. As parents, I think this is especially important; children mirror what we do and say. So how we respond or the messages we give to children can help them feel at ease and reassured.

I certainly (as you have all experienced in your own lives) cannot explain tragedy. It is overwhelming and sad and no words are enough. Sharing our feelings with our children can benefit them. By identifying how we feel children may be better able to name their own feelings. And perhaps simply reminding them that there are times when bad things happen that we cannot control…but that it’s a lot easier to get through the tough times when we do it together.

As I reflect on my recent losses I feel I am getting a clear message which I want to share with anyone who will listen: value the time you have, hold dear those who are important to you and take the time to conquer the hills in your life. My two fellow runners lived vibrantly in the short amount of time they had. May you find the same vibrancy in your own life.