And She Turns Ten


Happy Birthday to my Helen!

As I come to this space to write a post about Helen and her 10th birthday, it strikes me unfairly that I haven’t blogged much in the last couple of years and why is this birthday of this child special enough to bring me out? Just wanted you all to know that I realize the unfairness of it all, but — as with many things Helen-related — I can’t seem to do anything about it.

She’s turning 10. She’s leaving the world of single digit ages…forever. Yes, my heart skipped a beat.

At the age of 10, Helen is a sweet little girl. She’s growing up so quickly. I’m going to blink and she’ll be off to high school, I know. (And I know it because I see how it happened with her oldest sister.)

Helen loves to play with her Barbies. And she enjoys playing with her brothers, too. She has some good friends who seem more like sisters, which is a great thing. Helen is diligent, compulsive, and enjoys the satisfaction of a well-cleaned room to almost the same level as her mom. She loves to laugh.

Over the course of the last year, however, she’s struggled with pain. What we’ve found out through many doctor visits is that pain in the abdomen at this age is actually pretty common (even though neither of my older two children seemed to suffer much of it). We’ve also found nothing physically that could be causing her pain. Sometimes her pain is more severe than others.

I noticed a pattern after awhile. The pain seemed to increase in intensity and staying power on Sunday nights and then again on Wednesday nights. Another pattern I noticed was when there were fun things on the horizon — a play date or an overnight with a friend or some one-on-one time with Mommy scheduled — there was no hint of pain.

We’ve seen specialists and her regular doctor and also ended up in the pain management clinic at the children’s hospital where Helen was able to learn some different coping mechanisms to help her deal and live her life, pain or not. And we began some counseling. The social worker at the children’s hospital assures me that we’ve done everything right to this point. She highly encouraged the continuation of counseling. And recommended that I no longer initiate conversation about Helen’s pain and react very little when she does mention her pain. Helen uses aromatherapy and deep breathing relaxation techniques to help her along and we’re getting to a point where she is starting to take ownership of her pain and understanding that Mommy can’t make it go away (as much as that pains me!)

Helen hasn’t been officially diagnosed with anxiety or depression, but I have a suspicion that somewhere in the beautiful layers that make up my baby girl, there is some of that going on. She’s always been a worrier and she’s never quite grown out of her Mom-Helen separation anxiety. So, we’re working on it.

I think the main reason I share here is because I think it’s important to acknowledge that kids can suffer anxiety and depression — even at age 10 when life is good, all their needs are met and their world seems to be on cruise control. Just like adults.

The other reason I share is because I love her so darn much! Her worries, fears, laughter and tears — they all make up my beautiful little girl. Even when she’s unhappy, I LOVE HER. It was giving me a lot of anxiety and emotional pain knowing I could not help her feel good, but I’m learning that Helen has to learn to cope and all she needs from me is love. I need to love everything about her. Sure, as a mom of five (plus one) I would love for all of my children to be happy all the time — it makes my life so much easier! But taking the time and doing the hard work of loving my children when they are not happy is how I live my vocation as their mother to the fullest, I think.

As we embark on this next year of her life, I’m going to try hard to be sure and live in the moment as much as possible to ensure I am taking advantage of all the happy times. In doing so, I hope to build up my stores and help Helen to weather the times she is not as happy and carefree.

Happy birthday, sweet baby Helen! I hope that this time next year finds us kicking pain’s butt and taking names!




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