Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Blink Of An Eye...part 1

This post was written in March...but never posted. As I sat to write a Back-to-School, Welcome-to-Fall update, I realized I had not ever published this one! So here is some old news about how we spent the first few months of 2016! New news to be posted soon!

March has roared in like a lion here in Oregon...a wet, soggy, gray, dreary lion! Today, however, the sun is shining, the green is abundant (although this could be because it's St. Patrick's Day...), and spring is on the horizon. Finally. The Goodrich 4 are beyond ready!

Somehow February flew by, in our household it was full of sick kiddos and lazy days, with a sprinkle of Valentine's Day love and Doug's birthday. Valentine's Day began with a fever for Gracie, which was the beginning of a week-long cough & cold that hit her, Joel, and Doug, who had a very low-key birthday the following Sunday since he was beginning his cold cycle and the kids were at the end of theirs. Valentine's Day, sadly, ended with the passing of Doug's mother's husband, "Grandpa Terry" to the kids. He had battled cancer for a long time and we knew the end was here, and are thankful he's at peace now with the Lord and his earthly suffering has ended. It was a new experience for the children, saying goodbye to him a couple days before, learning about cremation, praying over his ashes as we laid him in his final resting place. You never quite know when your children will face losing someone close to them, and how much they will comprehend, but we just followed their lead as they processed everything, and let them be involved as much/little as they were comfortable with. Once more we find ourselves thankful to have Doug at home, as February found him being a daytime nurse to the kids, and he was able to be with his mom as needed to help her take care of things. I have flexibility with my workday, but it sure is nice to know that if a kid needs to stay home sick from school, dad is there to be with them and I can go about my work day!

March started off with Gracie's highly anticipated IV sedation dental appointment to get her teeth taken care of. She was incredibly brave about facing this unknown situation! She ended up having 8 baby teeth pulled...yes, that is a lot, but it's what needed to be done so her adult teeth can grow in healthy and strong. They were angled, and were not pushing the baby teeth up and out, so they were not going to get loose and come out on their own. Waking up from the sedation and with a numb mouth was scary for our anxious girl, but she did so well staying calm, letting mom and dad take care of her, and resting for the rest of the day. It was a struggle to get her to drink liquids the first 48 hours, let alone eat any soft foods, but she started perking up after a couple of days and within a week post-appointment was fully back to herself. Minus 8 teeth, but $20 richer from the tooth fairy!

Just as we were getting back to "routine", Joel picked up his first stomach bug at school. Ugh. Fortunately it was of the 24 hour variety, and nobody else in the house got it. This week has been fairly "normal" with the exception of adjusting to Daylight Savings and the loss of an hour of precious sleep! We're looking forward to Spring Break next week, and though the rain is back in the forecast, it will be nice to have some down time. Hopefully the kids stay healthy and are able to get in some play time with friends, along with some family fun we're planning. A viewing of 'Zootopia' and bowling are at the top of the list!

As up and down, but honestly mostly down, as the last month and a half have been, I continue to be grateful for so many things, most of all my unwavering faith. I continue to get through each day, powering through with grit and grace! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Perspective at 38

Tomorrow I turn 38. This is a big one for me, and that has nothing to do with how close to 40 it is. I moved into my own apartment when I was 19, meaning I have lived "on my own" for half my life. My intense digestive troubles began when I was 19, therefore turning 38 also means that I have been living with this discomfort for half my life. Half of my time here on earth, I have struggled with my physical and mental health. For half my life, I have been meeting with the same GI doctor and trying to figure out (A) what is wrong with my guts, (B) how to make it go away, and (C) in the absence of being able to get rid of it, how to at least alleviate symptoms so I can have a decent quality of life. I'm happy to say that we have been able to figure out (A), so we know what is wrong. We have tried lots of (B), things to make it go away, but none has been the magical fix-all, therefore we focus hard on (C) finding workarounds so I can at least function (mostly) normally. Quick background on my issues, then we'll put that part behind and focus on what I really want to write about...hope, and maintaining it during the bad days.

For those needing to see the medical diagnoses...here you go. There are several conditions that I have been diagnosed with over the last 19 years:
GERD (Gastro-esophagus reflux disease, or severe/constant acid reflux with erosion of the esophagus)
IBS-C (Irritable bowel syndrome with a tendency towards constipation-kind of a generic term given to guts not working properly for no visible/known reason)
SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
Gastroparesis (slow-moving stomach muscles so food takes longer to process)
Digestive Dysmotility (neurotransmitters in my intestines don't fire correctly, so everything moves through my system very slowly)
Lactose Intolerance (inability to properly digest lactose in dairy products)

To bottom-line everything...I am constantly excessively bloated, full of trapped air and gas, constipated, often nauseous (thought I never throw up), can feel food stuck in my system as it tries to move through. I am prone to low blood sugar episodes, even if I've just eaten. Food takes a long time to reach where the digestive juices are already working to break it down, so I get weird episodes of shakiness, light headed, sweating, salivating, and nausea as my body is ready to digest food but there isn't food there yet. I am tired all the time, because when I'm sleeping my body is working so very hard to digest food, and I'm prone to insomnia. I have depression, both from low levels of serotonin and because it's mentally draining to feel so uncomfortable all the time. I am forever trying new medications that will help my digestive muscles contract properly, and then dealing with side effects from those. I avoid a lot of foods because I know they will not digest well, and yet even when eating "right", I feel awful. I continually learn about new foods to avoid (look up FODMAPs...this is my current undertaking, to eat only low-fodmap foods along with all the other things I avoid), and would prefer to just not eat at all. My body doesn't prefer that though, and is quick to let me know when I must eat. Now. The combination of disorders I have make eating a catch-22, because something that is good for SIBO is bad for Gastroparesis, or it's good for GERD but full of dairy, or, well, you get the idea. 

Anyway, that's all I'm going to say about what is wrong. I don't share it to garner pity or sympathy, but to let you know, honestly and transparently, what I cope with every day. I share it because the part I want to focus on is this - I do cope. I do continue to live, to thrive, to fight the discomfort and to maintain hope that someday, the miracle fix-all will be discovered. I am not alone in my battles; do a Google search on any of the one diagnoses and you will find tons of websites that are dedicated to it. Start talking about it with a group of people, and you will find that somebody in that group has experienced at least one of the issues I have. Often, you will find somebody that has a more difficult diagnosis to live with...something more serious like Crohn's or Colitis. I feel blessed that my issues are fairly tolerable to live with.

And I do live. I live fully, and looking back over the years, I see so many blessings. I see so much living, loving, laughing. I can reflect on years 19 through 38 with joy, with awe, with pride. In those 19 years, I fought against the drain of never feeling well, and I met my soulmate and married him, I birthed two beautiful children, I worked and continue to work, even going full-time a few years ago. I am blessed to have an understanding husband who never makes me feel "less than" when I'm not able to garner the energy to get off the couch, or when my system is so distressed that I have to just lay low for a few hours and not be bothered. I am blessed to have understanding bosses and co-workers who allow me the flexibility I need to be able to take care of myself. I am blessed to have children who watch what I'm eating and remind me when it's something I shouldn't be having! I am blessed to have family and friends who accept me as I am, and understand (or pretend to!) when I'm not feeling well enough to be social. I am blessed with the inner strength, confidence, and determination to continue living fully for the next 19 years, even if I spend them in physical discomfort. I am blessed to always have hope, faith, and an understanding that my journey is not one I am walking alone. Onward to the next 19 years of living! 


Friday, May 13, 2016

Caution: Change Ahead

It somehow has gone from January to May since my last post. I actually have a handful of started posts in my queue, but never finished or published them. I'll write an update post later, but today it's time for a little trip down Memory Lane. 

There is an inevitability in life (besides death and taxes), and that is CHANGE. Things WILL change, life simply is not stagnant. Change can be difficult, but it can also be a huge blessing and joy. Three years ago, my little family unit of 4 went through some major changes, which have been so great for us. During those same three years, my parents have been talking about a dreaded change...moving from the family home. It makes sense, with all of us grown and out on our own, they have not needed the large house for quite some time now. Still, there was somebody besides the two of them living there up until the baby moved out and married just over a year ago. There was still a grandchild making use of an extra room, until last Fall when that was no longer needed either. They began talking in earnest about their next phase of life, and where it might take them. As exciting as the prospects were (them living closer to us!), there was also the sadness that came with the thought of a piece of my childhood coming to an end. 

The house on Creekview Place was house built in 1981/82, with us moving in on Valentine's Day in 1982. At that time, we were a family of 5, it was my big brothers and me, with another baby on the way that summer. For ten years, we lived a lot of life in our cozy 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom home, a strong family unit of 6. Then in 1992 came the big SURPRISE baby nobody except God knew was coming...and we became a family of 7, and added on to make the house 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. There was another ten years of full and busy life lived in that home, with my brothers and I all graduating, moving out, getting married. Still the house held many family events, and was the primary gathering place for get togethers. Grandchildren entered the picture, rooms were converted into office space, sewing room, playroom. For ten more years, life continued to be lived fully in that modest home on Creekview Place. During that third decade, Dad retired from his 30+ year career, Mom enjoyed local substitute teaching jobs and providing childcare for grandkids, they watched their baby graduate from high school and start college. There was the whole host of typical life events for them...births of grandchildren, deaths of their mothers, a son's divorce, job & location changes for their children. As the next decade began, they were facing their baby finishing college and moving forward in her life, their other four children were all pretty settled into jobs/careers/houses, Mom retired from subbing, Dad thrived in retirement, but became weary with the responsibilities of keeping up a large house & yard, and they decided it was time. They built that house on Creekview Place in 1982 to raise their family in...and they did a darned good job of that from 1982 to 2015, when their last child left home. While the job of a parent is never completely done, (and my parents had more years of parenting then average, with having the surprise baby when they were 44 & 45 and their oldest child was graduating high school!), their main role in providing a stable home for their growing children is done. The house, so full of memories and moments, of joys and sorrows, of laughter and tears, is ready to become for another family what it was for my family...a home. 

This change is bittersweet, but it's important to remember that we are not saying goodbye to the amazing childhood we had on Creekview Place, we are only saying goodbye to the shell that housed the childhood. Granted, the walls of that shell have seen A LOT over the years, but the vital stuff - the moments in time that helped shape each of us five children into who we are today, the memories of holidays and birthdays, of family game nights and sleepovers with friends, of relatives visiting and celebrations being held, right along with the fights and tears, the trials of growing up, the sibling rivalry and bickering - all that is inside each one of us, and it isn't going anywhere. We will say goodbye to the house that was our family home for 34 years, and we will watch another family come in and make some changes and turn that house into their family home, and we will all be okay. We will help Dad and Mom unpack and set up in their new house, and it won't be the same, but it will be good. Change is good. Change like this is vital. 

On Sunday evening, the "Original 7" will sit around the family dining table in our home on Creekview Place for the last time, and we will share a meal and memories as we celebrate Dad turning 70 and embarking on this next phase of life. We'll remember the times Dad had to tie us to our kitchen chairs with his mustard-yellow bathrobe belt and the times he took bedroom doors off their hinges as punishment for slamming them. We'll remember sitting around that same table eating birthday cake, followed by watching the slide reel of said birthday child and of the hundreds of games of UNO and May I that were played there. We'll remember when the boys shared a bedroom and fought as brothers do; we'll remember when the girls shared a bedroom and bickered as sisters do, and we'll harass the baby a little because she never had to share a bedroom, and in fact at one point had two rooms and a bathroom all to herself! We'll laugh about the times we siblings pushed our parents to the edge with our bickering and poking at each other. We may recall the times our parents had to go out on the back patio to have a serious conversation without children's listening ears. We'll remember so many good times that happened in that house from 1982 right up until our last big family gathering this Easter...and we'll let go of the not-so-good times, because of course there were plenty of those too! We'll remember the hundred+ other people that spent time in that house over the years - childhood friends, church family, relatives, neighbors, even strangers - who crossed the threshold of that house on Creekview Place, and instantly felt the welcome of a happy, safe home. We'll remember, and we'll celebrate, and then we'll say goodbye. But we'll only be saying goodbye to the house; the home will always be a part of each of us. Dad and Mom are the home, they are what made that house a home, and the unconditional love and support they have provided to us over the years is a legacy that I am honored to call mine, and to share with my siblings. 

As I travel down Memory Lane this weekend with my parents and my siblings, I will face the sadness of this monumental change head-on and allow the excitement of my parents' next phase of life to be what I dwell on. I am at peace that this change, at this time, is right. As my parents close their chapter at Creekview Place in Scappoose, and they turn the house over to a young family from church (whom they have known the father of since he was a young boy; also his older brother is the Godfather of my baby sister) and they move their belongings in to a house on Lapine Way in Rock Creek (a townhouse which is three houses down from the townhouse Doug and I lived in exactly 14 years ago as we embarked on our married life together), there is absolutely no denying God's hand at work in every aspect of this change. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Silly Side

Thank you for the kind words of support after my last post about Gracie's dental experience. I write about things such as that for two main reasons...to process the situation for myself in a way that I can reflect back on as I learn from it, and to help other parents who may be dealing with similar things. I think it's easy for us parents to feel that we have failed our child when they don't cooperate in a situation the way we think they should; the way we think is "normal", as has been dictated to us by society and the experiences and standards of others. I say to that...you have not failed, nor has your child. We each are unique and have our own way of dealing with things, and it's important not to let the judgements and assumptions of others get us down. 

So, moving on...it's not all anxiety and difficulties around here! Gracie has the most fabulous imagination, and her ability to entertain herself has always been one of her strengths. This past year she has embraced the written word in many ways; she loves to read, and she loves to write. She recently wrote an adorable short story, and has encouraged me to share it with my blog audience. Keep in mind, she just turned 8 years young...she is innocent in all the best ways, and the context of her story is very literal for her. We as adults read it and find all sorts of silly, cute innuendos that we giggle at, and she will have so much fun reading this when she's older and understands the facts of life. For now, please enjoy this as a light-hearted, fun example of the imagination of Gracie, as she expresses herself through writing. 

'The Big Day For Gracie!'
by Gracie, age 8
One day in the big city there was a surprise for the special girl whose name was Gracie. She wore a tuxedo suit, even though she was a girl. No one knew what the surprise was for. Everyone brought a gift for her. A tall man stepped on the stage and said: She is coming! Gracie did not  know why a stage was there. A man said 'go on the stage' and Gracie went on the stage and then everybody yelled really loud 'Surprise!!!'. Gracie got really startled by the loud noise and she fell to the ground. But she was ok. One at a time each person went up on the stage and gave Gracie a gift, that is what the gifts are for. A little boy named Joel said 'You are a grownup right?'. I said yes. 'And you are married right.' I said yes. 'Do you have any kids?' I said no. 'So go the the hospital.' Why? 'Because it is a secret.' Why? 'Just go, ok?'. So Gracie went to the hospital. A man was working there, he said "Are you Gracie?" and I said yes. "Come this way", so I followed the person. He brought me to a room with a machine that said: Pregnant. 'Oh no, I have to call my husband' I said. "Ok" said the man. I called Ryan. He is my husband. And I said to him: Ryan, get over here, I am going to get pregnant. Ryan said "Ok!" He got there just in time, a man was putting me in a bed on wheels. A hospital bed! Ryan said, "Ok, my wife can get pregnant." The man put me in a machine! It took like ten or 20 minutes and when I came out I was pregnant! I said O.M.G. and so did Ryan! A couple months later me and Ryan and my family went on a boat ride. In the middle of the ride the baby in my tummy was pushing and kicking so we all got off the boat in a hurry. They all picked me up and quickly we found a hospital and I went in there and I pushed the baby out. We named the baby David.
The End.
written 12-20-15

Ah, the innocence! Gracie has always liked playing 'being pregnant' and she loves babies. She often talks about when she is a grownup and gets married, she will marry Ryan (her BFF from Kindergarten) and they will have one baby boy and name him David. She does not like loud noises at all, and she is much happier wearing pants over a dress for special occasions. She has no idea how babies are made (and she reads quite well and may very likely read this blog post, so we will just leave that at that for now!!) but I think her version of it is fantastic!! A few days prior to her writing this story, she watched Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and was enchanted with the oldest child being pregnant, and at the end of the movie the family is all out on a boat, and the daughter goes into labor. I love how Gracie incorporated her dreams of the future, her comfort zone, and a movie sequence that left an impression on her into a cute short story that she was very proud of writing! She has written 2 more stories to follow this one, Day 2 and Day 3, but this first one is the best example of imagination!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

That. Was Rough.

Sometimes I think I need to carry around a "mommy card" with me, something to hand out to whomever I am confronted with that needs to know that my daughter isn't like most kids her age. She suffers from debilitating anxiety, and she may not have the same reaction to, say, the dentist, as another child would. She may freeze with the inexplicable fear that the process is going to hurt; she may not be able to shake the idea from her head that the hygienist is mean and dislikes her; she may be gathering all her courage and bravery and fighting the worry bully with everything she has, but still may not be able to cooperate. And as her mother, I will advocate for her. I will not be forced from the room, or allow my child to be made to feel that she is simply being uncooperative or she lacks discipline. I will speak up for her when she is literally unable to speak up for herself. I will support her fears, though they are unfounded and do not make any sense. They are very real to her, and I recognize this, and I will stand up for her. I will not be bullied by the judgement of others who have no idea what is going on inside my daughter's body. 

So, with that said, Gracie had a dentist appointment this morning. This was her third time at this particular clinic, with the previous two times not being very successful. We consulted with the dentist the last time and decided to try one more "regular" appointment and see how she does. I made the appointment just yesterday, so she didn't have a long time to worry and fret over it. It was first thing in the morning so there weren't a lot of other patients to overwhelm her. I talked calmly with her about it on the drive there. She was ready; she had her comfort items to hold onto, she was practicing her breathing, and she was determined to get through this will full cooperation.

Then she was called back to the exam room. I went with her, knowing she simply is not able to cope with something like this on her own. Maybe "most" 8 year olds don't "need" their parent to accompany them to the dentist chair, but my child needs me, case closed, judgement from others not necessary. She was fine walking back, but as soon as the chair was in view, she froze. I felt it, her entire body literally stopped, her breathing got fast, and she struggled between a panic attack and wanting to cooperate. It broke my heart.

She managed to get into the chair, but no amount of pleading, begging, deep breathing, other coping techniques, threatening, etc could get her to open her mouth. The hygienist was patient, she stayed calm, she asked me the questions I'm used to by now..."is she on medication?", "what does her doctor say?", "does she go to therapy?", "maybe it would be better if you weren't here?". I basically let her know that my daughter has extreme anxiety, she has learned several coping mechanisms and has come a long way in the last two years, but certain situations cause a high anxiety reaction, and obviously the dentist is one of them.

The dentist came to see Gracie and suggested a panoramic X-ray so he could see what's going on in her mouth and determine a plan of action. She cooperated beautifully for the X-ray, they were able to see the cavities, the plaque build-up, the baby teeth that need to come out. We decided a sedated appointment to take care of everything at one time, while she sleeps, would be best for her. We scheduled that and went on our way.

I cried more in that hour at the dentist office than I have in the entire last few months. My heart broke for my child. I was so sad for her, that she was so overcome with fear and anxiety and unable to do what she most wanted to do...cooperate. In the car, she kept saying "I'm so sorry mommy. I tried my best mommy. I don't know why I couldn't cooperate mommy. Are you mad mommy?" I assured her she most definitely DID try her hardest to overcome the fear, and she was not in any trouble, and no I'm not mad, I'm crying because I'm sad for her, and I want to be able to take those icky feelings away for her, but I can't, and that stinks.

It stinks. It's rough. Others don't understand. I feel judged, and in that judgement it's obvious that I have failed. There's a litany of things I haven't done right over the past 8 years that have led to my daughter's behavior being this way. I should have...if only I had...why didn't I...why. Why indeed. As quick as I feel that judgement, I reject it.

I may not have done everything exactly right over the past 8 years, but my daughter's anxious behavior and unfounded fears are not my fault. They are not her fault either. This is simply part of her makeup; a struggle to be sure, but one she will continue to manage with bravery and courage. I will not be made to feel like a parental failure because my child is unable to cooperate with a dental cleaning. I will most certainly not allow my child to feel like a failure because of this either. She did not fail today. She dug deep down to find her courage, she let an X-ray be taken that was able to provide the dentist the big picture of her mouth, and we came up with a plan to get her taken care of. She tried her best to fight the fear and to beat up the worry bully. She didn't just lay down and let him walk all over her. She didn't just give in to the panic attack and let it take her body over. She fought. In doing so, she's a winner in my book. 



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Loaded Question

How are you?
It's such a simple question, and too often when we ask it we aren't really listening to the answer. We're expecting 'fine', 'good', 'okay', or one of the other standard platitudes that most of us respond with when asked. Have you ever wondered what would happen if we all answered that question honestly? If we laid it all out there, were completely transparent and vulnerable with how we truly felt in that moment?
How are you?
Well, honestly, I'm not so great today. I have a headache, I didn't sleep well last night, I'm bloated, and I truly wish I was in bed right now, snuggled cozily under the covers, sleeping with blissful ignorance of the turmoil in and around me. I'm feeling irritable, did I mention I have a headache? I'm tired, I'm having a difficult time focusing on my work, I'm easily distracted today and have only gotten as far as I have through grace and grit. I'm feeling frustrated with people, with chaos going on in the global world, with monetary and social injustices that I have zero control over, that maybe don't even directly affect me, but I'm irritated about it all the same. 
At the very same time, though, I feel blessed. I'm facing my day with difficulties and distractions, but I'm facing my day. I'm feeling weak in body, but strong in spirit.
And how are YOU today? Truthfully? Be honest with yourself, because it's okay for you to not be okay. It's okay to have a rough day, week, month...year. It's okay to not have everything going the way you would like it to. It's okay if you're feeling off. It's okay, as long as you are continuing to live. Continuing to accept grace and find your grit and face each day, feeling grateful and knowing you are blessed. After all, you woke up this morning...that alone is something to be grateful for. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Don't Understand My Daughter?

Halfway through Gracie's Kindergarten year, I wrote about her extreme anxiety. At that point in time, I was just starting to accept that she was dealing with this issue; it was becoming increasingly obvious as she went through her first year of school that there was more going on with her than just shyness, timidness, and stubbornness.  I was watching her carefully, talking with her at home about what I was watching, trying to figure out what game she was playing. Being clingy to mom in unfamiliar situations is one thing; being uncomfortable talking to people she doesn't know is one thing; being sad when she has to be away from home is one thing; but being so desperately clingy to mom, even in familiar situations; being unable to talk to people that she does know; being sad even at home...well, that all points to something way more! After much observation, conversation, and research, it started to add up to something identifiable...anxiety. Extreme anxiety, which at 6 years old, she was completely unable to express or understand. She just knew that she was worried; all the time, about little things, big things, often times about nothing.  She just knew that she felt frozen, literally unable to move or speak, when faced with situations that put her on the spot. She just knew that she felt put on the spot any time anybody talked to her. She just knew that she was causing mom and dad to be frustrated a lot, pushing them to the edge when she couldn't cooperate with simple requests or answer the "why" about her behavior. She just knew that she was overcome with worry, that her mind would not stop thinking about the unknowns, the what-ifs, the maybe-this-or-maybe-that. 

As it started to become clear to me that she was suffering from anxiety, I read as much as I could find about childhood anxiety.  I read case after case that were just like her; I talked with others who had dealt with similar types of behaviors in their children (including my own mother, as both of my sisters deal with anxiety). I talked with her teacher, asked questions at her doctor appointment. I talked with my husband at length, because it was becoming more clear to me that he, too, suffers from some anxiety, and that as a child, he dealt with many of the same feelings that Gracie was dealing with. I watched Gracie's behavior even more carefully, and tried techniques I was reading about to help calm her, to help ease the anxiety. I helped her use tools we were learning when she was faced with situations that were uncomfortable, uncertain, and just plain difficult for her. I tried to explain to others why she was behaving as she was. I tried to understand for myself why she was behaving as she was! I wrote, in hopes of helping to explain to family and friends, to those who had asked us "why" so many times before, in hopes of forcing myself to understand. http://www.sufficientgrace7.blogspot.com/2014/03/parenting-anxious-child.html

And life went on, as it has a way of doing. Kindergarten finished, first grade began. Another new situation; new teacher, all-day schedule, busy classroom full of active classmates. We continued to work with Gracie, to push her when she needed pushing, to advocate for her when she needed advocating, to talk to her about what she was feeling, what was going on inside her head, inside her body. We struggled, her dad and I. We struggled alongside her, because as parents you want nothing more than to see your child happy, adjusted, and "normal". We struggled because she pushed us to the brink so often, to that point of frustration where you find yourself yelling, even though you know it's futile. I struggled because I just couldn't understand. I couldn't make sense of it, of why she wouldn't/couldn't just do what I wanted her to do. 

And then, I stopped.

I gave up trying to understand.

I gave up trying to make sense of that which I wouldn't/couldn't understand.

Instead, I accepted.

I accepted that, even though I didn't like it and I didn't want it for my child, this was how it was going to be for Gracie. Anxiety was going to cause her to feel more than a child should feel; to worry more than a child should worry; to stress more than a child should stress. Anxiety was going to make certain situations very difficult for her to handle; it was going to make some situations impossible for her to handle.  Anxiety was her reality. Anxiety IS her reality. With her second grade year now underway, and her 8th birthday on the horizon, she is making progress in understanding for herself how anxiety affects her, and how she can overcome it. She continues to "do courage" and her motto remains "be brave". She is learning to speak up for herself, to advocate for herself, to express herself better. She is learning to face scary, unknown situations without clinging to mom. She is trying harder to talk when spoken to, to not let the freezing take over as often. 

There are those who tell me that I've unnecessarily put a label on my child. There are those who tell me that I'm holding Gracie back by giving her this "crutch" to use when she doesn't want to do something.  There are those who tell my I'm babying her, I'm not forcing her to deal with things herself, I this-that-and-the-other. Truth be told, nothing that anybody has said to me is something I haven't already said to myself.  Truth be told, I hesitated a lot before using the word 'anxiety' in front of Gracie.  Truth be told, I wish I could force her to do anything! Truth be told...anxiety is her reality, and she deserves to know that there is a name for all those feelings she feels too much; for all that worrying she does; for all those scary times that she feels frozen. She deserves to know that anxiety takes hold of her in those moments, that there isn't anything 'bad' or 'wrong' about her. 

In the knowing, Gracie has found some freedom. She can place a name to those feelings, those worries, those stresses, and in doing so she knows what she is trying to overcome. 

In the accepting, I have found some freedom. Letting others know that Gracie suffers from extreme anxiety is not labeling my child; it is putting a name to behavior that is misunderstood as rudeness or stubbornness. Yes, there are times that Gracie is just being rude or playing a game of stubbornness to see what she can get away with. But more often, Gracie is faced with a chemical reaction in her body that causes her to freeze and takes away her ability to speak; this is very real for her. You don't have to understand, but I do hope you will accept. I hope you will give her a chance to work through it; give her time to be able to get the words out. I hope you will accept that her behavior has nothing to do with you; it's not about liking/disliking or trusting/distrusting you. I hope you will stop trying to understand her, and simply start accepting her. 

I don't understand my daughter's anxiety, but I accept that anxiety is her reality.