Wisdom Comes Suddenly

Bye Bye Baby

June 12th, 2014 · 7 Comments



My Dearest Ducky,


It’s with complete (yet not surprising) irony that as we left your last Dermatology appointment yesterday, Ingrid Michaelson’s “Morning Lullabies” began to play on my phone. It’s “our” song, one I discovered on a rainy day the first week I quit my job to become your…everything. If my fuzzy memory serves correctly, I was overheard saying, “I’m just going to stay home long enough to get Sara straightened out”. It only took me 6 years to learn one does not “straighten out” children. We guide, we steer, we fret, we sweat the small stuff…but there is no “straight” anything in family life. However, with God’s blessings, and after 9 years of desperate prayers on my knees late in the night when our family is asleep, God has granted me the ability to enjoy the curvy road (or, at least, it no longer kicks my ass every time the winds change). This much I know: God has been so good to us.


I woke up
With your head on my arm
My hand was numb
Circulation gone
But I dared not move
The pretty sleeping one

It was raining again, as the song began to play yesterday, and my mind reeled over our new reality: you have NO specialty doctors. You have NO therapists. You currently (and perhaps just temporarily, but still…) have NO tutors. When your Dermatologist declared your Lichens Sclerosis in remission, and our regular appointments now complete, my mind played its usual trick: FOCUS LORI! Switch gears. What Sara-mystery do we un-peel next? Who do I need to call? Who will be my guide now?


The sun had painted
Patterns on your face
As you breathe Sunday air

But I drew a blank. My thinking mind heard nothing but the gentle sound of rain and the windshield wipers. I glanced into the back seat; I suppose I imagined a bright halo of light would surround you and this new reality, but you were buried in your iPad, trying to beat your best time on a Math Facts game. You were doing MATH. Without any begging. Without a word from me whatsoever. In fact, I never have to ask you to do your daily math anymore. You even help your sister as she groans through hers.


Rode on to my open arms
I became your pillow
You let me smooth your hair

So instead, I let my mind skip through our last 8 years: the Educational Psychologist, who led us to the Occupational Therapist, who led us the Neuro-Optometrist, and the teachers who led us to the Math Tutor, while we darted in and out of every Pediatric Urologist I could find, while keeping our Pediatrician on speed dial, and hoping I wasn’t bugging my old ADHD colleagues too much, followed by the wild day I pieced together your leaky bladder was connected to your ADHD, [insert the cries of “Will this child ever sleep through the night?!”, which were finally answered at Year #5], trying to stay upbeat as we were warned you may never add or ride a bike, the devastating spring we decided to hold you back a grade (our best decision, so I guess it’s intuitive it was our hardest), leaking leaking bladder, when will it ever stop, and then the rash began (and the counselor who was of no help whatsoever). Oh God, that terrible November when we could not longer stay on top of the rashes. 14 long months to the diagnosis, filled with months of migraines and the vomiting, and then the 6 months of treatments so much a part of our routine, I had to create a nursing medication chart. Praise God for making me an RN.


I will sing you morning lullabies
You are beautiful, and peaceful this way

And just like that, on a rainy Tuesday in June of 2014, after 6 years “on leave from work”, I have no one to call. No one to pay! (That’s for Daddy, who just nods and smiles at this point in the financial game. He would say only one thing Duck, “It was worth every last penny for my Sara-Bear. Every one of those 4.5 million pennies.”) Our days are no longer metered by creams, exercises, and appointments. If there were Master’s Degrees given in Motherhood, I would have at least TWO in “Appointment Keeping”. In fact, I think all Mothers, no matter the child, quickly learn the art of getting to and from appointments, in and around school hours, snacks, extracurriculars, and that relentlessly immovable thing known as “dinner”. It’s a choreographed dance…an awkward, horrible, not-in-the-least-way-graceful dance.


I know you have to close your eyes
On everyone, let me help you,
I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabies

And through these chaotic and unpredictable years, you’ve wanted only one thing: you just wanted to swim. Always the swimming, year ’round, just let me swim Momma. When you were a baby (a rather cranky baby, I may add), I would say, “If you have a crab, stick it in water”, and there you’d splash and giggle until the water turned cold. I went over-the-top decorating your bathroom simply because I spent so much time in it. Add in your croup episodes, and the bright, beach-themed bathroom became our clubhouse. We both swear we’ll never forget the night you were “pooking” into the toilet and Kelly was next to you in an infant swing, and you lifted your head up just long enough to laugh and scream, “Ke-way pit up a toy Momma! Ke-way tan ube her hands!” Kelly picked up a toy Momma! Kelly can use her hands! She was so tiny, but you two looked at each other and laughed and laughed. That’s the night you nicknamed her “Your Boo Boo Chicken”. That tub saw countless nights of giggling from you two. It was hard to say goodbye to our indoor water park.


Let me lie in the curve
Of your body tonight
And I will hear you
Tumble into sleep
I will watch you heal
I will watch you heal with me

So it was with unparalleled gratitude that it was just the two of us cuddled up at Steak and Shake after your first swim meet. We could hardly speak (a first for both of us!). You leaned into me and whispered, “I can’t believe we’re here. We finally made it Momma. I’m on a real swim team. I’ve been in a real swim meet. I don’t care at all if I won anything. I thought we’d never get here.” I KNOW. I know. Swim lessons followed by the odd rejection from the first team, followed by the hard day we realized the closest swim teams were 30 miles away, followed by the for sale sign in the yard, followed by the move…the insane move, and the “restful” 25 minutes from the moment we moved into the apartment and your swim team tryout. The team who took one, quick look and saw what we’ve seen all along: this girl was born to SWIM.


I will sing you morning lullabies
You are beautiful, and peaceful this way
I know you have to close your eyes on everyone
Let me help you, I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabies

So you can imagine it came as no surprise when your teachers at school came to me in the weeks following your entry onto the swim team and told me how much you were blossoming. Socially, academically…even your handwriting changed. We weren’t surprised because we were…we are living it. Your CONFIDENCE…it’s splashing and spilling over your life. It makes sense: if challenges can spill onto everything, so can successes.


I know you have to close your eyes on everyone
Let me help you
I’ll sing you to sleep
With morning lullabye..bye baby

While I can understand swim meets may feel quite long to some, it felt like mere minutes to me. Joy was bursting out of your every seam. I know it’s not my best trait, but I have been secretly a little jealous and irritated at parents who complain about early practices and long hours spent in the soccer fields and at the poolsides. For the Momma who waited almost 9 years to get here, I was up well before your first morning practice, and I sat smiling ear-to-ear poolside the entire time. I dream of the day this new life is so routine, I grump about it.


I know you SAID it wasn’t your goal to place in your first meet, and we both knew it was a wacky long shot. Swimming is far more competitive than I realized. Swimming is an entirely new world we both must learn, but Lord knows we’re not the least bit intimidated. We’ve learned LOTS of new things together. Here’s the upside to a tough start: your first (almost) 9 years also came bearing gifts. You understand hard work and mental toughness more than kids twice your age. You DID ribbon in your first meet; it was as if even the Universe had been waiting to grant you a day in the sun. No child on earth will ever be so happy to receive a 6th place ribbon as you are. The world can just hang onto to those Blue-Red-and-Whites for now. 6th place is sweet enough for us. As we watched the results scroll across my iPhone in those late hours at the Steak-n-Shake deep in the cornfields of Where The Hell Are We, Indiana…we said not a word. We breathed deep, and took a long, relaxing exhale.

Close your eyes
And I will sing you
Morning lullabies

Oh. So this is what you’ve been begging to do all along. I’m so glad I ignored the therapist who recommended, “Whatever you do, DO NOT put her on a competitive swim team”. I’m glad you taught me sometimes it’s OK to “close my eyes on everyone”, and just let you help me see the light. I’m starting to suspect it was you who came to straighten me out, and not the other way around.

To quote my favorite chanteuse, “With morning lullabye…bye baby”. Bye bye Baby Sara Bear.

It’s time for us to follow you now. You know which way to go.


Our Endless Admiration At Your Strength & Courage,

Boppa & Daddeee (aka, Mommy and Daddy)

Tags: The Girls

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lydia // Jun 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Aw, man. This post made me so happy. 🙂

  • 2 The Momma // Jun 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Lydia, You have born witness, my friend. Long, hard witness. Thank you with all I am for standing by me through this (and for always telling me the truth). Love you.

  • 3 Evelyn // Jun 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    It’s only when we’ve been through the long dark night that we really appreciate the morning. Thank you (and Sara) for sharing your beautiful story.

  • 4 The Momma // Jun 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm


    If only in the darkest of moments, we knew morning would come. Agreed…the gratitude tastes sweeter on this side things.

  • 5 Jeanne // Jun 13, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Love it. Just love it. Ducky has come so far.

  • 6 Teresa // Jun 13, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Love it!
    ~Have a lovely day!

  • 7 Ana Paula // Jun 17, 2014 at 9:53 am

    So proud of Sara, always.
    Give her a big, big hug for me, until I can give her one myself!
    Love you!