My teenage daughter just left for a week on Kiowa Island with her best friend, her dad, and step-mother. As they pulled away in our driveway to go to the airport, I fought back tears knowing that it would be easier for her if she looked back and saw me smiling.
Many people call me “overprotective,” but I don’t care and it does not inform my parenting. My sweetie was born six weeks early but only spent a few hours in the NICU. She did emerge highly sensory sensitive.
I had to endure years of people telling me to just “let her deal with it” and “you’re babying her” as I adapted and modified her environment to assist her to ease into the world.
I will forever be indebted to two people: the former OT (occupational therapist) at the elementary school where I work and my daughter’s 3-year-old preschool teacher.
They were two people in our lives that had answers and support, not judgement and moral advice. The OT informally diagnosed her with sensory processing disorder (which up until that point, I had never heard of ) and put her on the Wilbarger brushing protocol. It changed her/our life.
The Brushing Protocol consisted of three times daily dry brushing of her arms and legs with a surgical scrub brush, along with joint compressions. I watched the relief and anxiety wash away day after day of using the protocol. She started gagging less on food and started requesting Lunchables and fruit snacks like her preschool friends had in their lunches. No more mandarin oranges and cottage cheese.
She began to wear shorts and short sleeves; prior to that, she would scream bloody murder when I would force her into summer clothing for the summer months. She would cry that the “air was hurting” her. She began to sleep through the night. Prior to that, she would wake 5-6 times a night crying for me.
And then there was “Miss Angela,” her angel of a preschool teacher. I still get choked up when I write her name. This woman loved who my daughter was…she accepted her copious tears of missing me, let her carry her yellow blankie everywhere for the entire school day and knew that time, love, patience (and the brushing protocol) would allow her to grow beyond those needs. And, my daughter did.
And now, I am here…practicing staying…practice for when she goes off to college. She told me last night, she was most worried that I would just be in a corner, crying, not eating or drinking. I hate that she thinks that of me…is that who I am to her?
I didn’t have her until I was 39. I used to travel alone all over the place, not because I wanted to, but because my boyfriend at the time didn’t want to do what I wanted to do (that should’ve have been a ‘sign’ that he was not right for me, but I didn’t listen…that is fodder for another day)
So this week, I need to return to my “before kid” life. Where will I go? What will I do? I need to have stories for her, so that she knows it’s okay to leave. And I need to do those things, so I know it’s okay for her to leave and for me to stay.