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Friday, December 12, 2014

16 Days of Awareness: The Best Stage of Childhood - Rhonda's Story

Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I love newborn babies.  If you see me holding one, you’ll probably catch me with my nose gently nuzzling the top of it’s head.  There’s something about the newness and freshness of a baby that triggers my nurturing instincts and often makes me wish my children were still babies.

Before my daughter Ali, had any children of her own, she would argue that the best stage of childhood is not infancy but rather the time when a child becomes self-sufficient and independent.  She used to tell me they were “more fun then”.  I would always counter her statement  by suggesting I personally love the simple beauty of rocking and snuggling.

Motherhood is never an easy task.  I was fortunate enough to live close by to help Ali with her first daughter Laila.  When Ali was exhausted or just needed a break, I more than willingly took that baby to the closest rocker to snuggle.  When Laila was older, we took many field trips and outings together.  This gave her mommy some time to herself to do whatever it was she wanted.  Laila was a very self-sufficient, independent child at an early age.  She was also the sweetest child I knew.

When Ali was pregnant with her second child, I lamented not being able to be there during her pregnancy and to help her with the new baby.  There was nothing I wanted more than to have the same relationship with the new baby that I had with Laila.  However I had moved 700 miles away and was now working as a school social worker/counselor.  I was helping other people understand and care for their children.  

In my job I often have parents say to me “I don’t know why my son/daughter is being so difficult.  I’ve raised all my children the same way and none of the other ones get into so much trouble.  Why is this one so different?”  That statement is always my cue to remind parents, no two children are exactly the same even if you do raise them the same way.  They ARE different.  Each child is a unique and special individual.  Those simple words always seem to put things into perspective for worrisome parents.

When Cecilia was born, I was there at the hospital.  She was precious.  I loved her instantly but there was something about her.  She was different.  When I held her she felt different.  I couldn’t figure out what it was about her that was different, but she was different.  Her birth was followed by some very scary and tearful moments.

I’ll never forget the day Ali called and said the doctor thought Ceci had Downs Syndrome.  I’ll never forget how broken hearted my daughter sounded.  She was grieving.  She was grieving for the loss of certain dreams she had for her child.  She was worried for her baby’s future.  After multiple tests and several possible scenarios, it was determined Cecilia had Hypotonia.  Now I knew why she felt different when I held her!  She had low muscle tone and was struggling just to be held upright and cuddled on my shoulder.  It broke my heart.

That summer, I returned to my hometown to visit and I spent several weeks with my daughter, her husband and the two girls.  Laila was dancing and singing and revelling in her independent little self and we spent many days running errands, swimming and driving in the convertible with the top down singing songs.  But Ceci, yes Ceci...she was different.  She was perfect, perfect for me to snuggle, and rock, and sniff that beautiful freshness on her little baby head.  And my daughter was different too. She had gained a new perspectives on raising children and overcoming adversity.  She celebrated that there are many good stages of childhood, that children are all different and that they seem to grow up so quickly.  She too, had come to embrace the simple beauty of rocking and snuggling.

Rhonda Evans lives in Texas with her husband. She has earned her MSW, LMSW and a Masters in Education Administration.  She is the proud mother of three grown children and two beautiful granddaughters.

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