Shaunna Faye

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

At my wit's end.

There was once a time when every single day with Martha was 100% joyful and perfect and I couldn't soak up enough of her amazing spirit. Then she turned 2. And all hell broke loose. Now there isn't a day that goes by that I don't have to stop and say a silent prayer to help me through the next five minutes without totally and completely losing my mind.

I'm convinced that these aren't normal toddler fits. They can't be. If everyone's toddlers acted the way that Martha does on a daily basis, the world's population would come to a screeching halt because pro-creation of a second child would be absolutely out of the question. No one would voluntarily put themselves through this more than once.

Yeah, I got pregnant with Abel before the freak show started.

If you ask me right now if I want to have a third kid, my answer would be an astounding "HELL NO." I'm already dreading this stage of Abel's life. I look at him now and think that there is no way he could ever be as defiant as his sister, but I have a feeling I'll be looking back at this post in 2 years laughing. (Laughing because I've gone insane.)

Tonight I found myself googling the phrase "defiant toddler." While I was trying to put Martha to bed, I tried harder to keep my cool. I tried some of the tips that other parents gave on dealing with a child that does the exact opposite of what you need them to do. They didn't work, so I took my own approach. I let her win some of the battles.

It went against everything I believe in. I don't know if by doing so will make tomorrow harder because now she knows that she CAN win. But at least, for tonight, it got her in bed. It took another 20 minutes to convince her to let me lay in bed with her for a few minutes, but I knew it needed to be done.

Laying in bed with her with the lights off is the one place that I feel we can really connect and that maybe, just maybe, she will listen to me. The girl that just an hour earlier was kicking, screaming, hitting, taking off her diaper, and yelling at me to "GET OUT!" was now sharing her pillow with me, covering me up with her blanket, touching her nose to mine, and staring into my eyes not saying a single word. I grabbed that moment and told her how much I love her and how much Daddy loves her. But I also told her that it makes us very sad when she yells at us and doesn't listen to us. I said "We've had kind of a rough week so far, huh?" She said "Yeah." And that was it.

This is, by far, the most difficult time I've had being a parent. I've been told (by my parents) that it won't be the worst. If that's true, I'm going to need a lot more patience. Or knowledge. Or a miracle.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Black Friday

It was "Black Friday." All the crazy people were out getting deals at the crack of dawn. I was at home packing our bags for me, Martha, and Abel to ride up to Nashville with my parents to go visit. I had called my mom earlier that morning to see what time they would pick us up. She called me back a little bit later and said that Noni had just called her. That Paw Paw had collapsed and was on his way to the hospital. She said she wasn't sure what was happening so she would call me back when she knew. I stopped packing. Then a few minutes later my phone rang.

Me: Hello
Mom: Hey
Me: Hey
Mom: He died
Me: ……what happened?
Mom: He had a heart attack. After he collapsed at home the paramedics came and they were never able to bring him back.

After I got off the phone I went into Abel's room because no one was in there and there's a thing on the doorknob that prevents Martha from opening the door. I sat down on the foot stool and cried.

Martha had been running around the house all morning being so excited to go see Noni and Poppywaw. (The grandkids call him Paw Paw, but the great-grandkids call him Poppywaw.) She wanted to give Poppywaw a painting she made "to make him feel better" because she knew he'd been sick recently. I told her that I bet he would really like that. I still think he would have.

After I dried my eyes I went back into our bedroom where Chris was and told him what happened. Then asked him "What am I supposed to say to Martha now?" There's no easy way to say something like that. And 2 year olds don't grasp the concept of death too well. Martha knows that Harley and Grandmother are in Heaven. (Granddaddy too, but she was a baby when he passed away so she doesn't remember it.) I started telling her that we weren't going to go to Tennessee today. That we'll go in a few days instead. And "Remember when Poppywaw was sick? Well, sometimes when people are sick they don't get better and they go to heaven. Poppywaw went to heaven today."

She said "ok."

Knowing that she didn't really get it, I had to go on explaining that when people go to heaven we don't get to see them anymore. So when we go to Tennessee in a few days, we don't get to see Poppywaw. I feel like that's as well as I could have explained it. Chris had to jump in there and help me when I started crying. I didn't want to freak her out. She's only see me cry a few times in her life. Chris tried to help me talk to her, but we both just couldn't keep tears back.

When we all went up to Tennessee for the memorial service I started getting more and more information on exactly how things had been the past few months and the events that happened on the day that he died.

My cousin Nick has always been close with Paw Paw but before he died they'd become more than just Grandfather and Grandson, they'd become friends. Best friends. Nick was one of the people that stayed overnight a lot with him when he was in the hospital to make sure he was always ok. I always saw pictures Nick would post on Facebook and Instagram of them and comments about the conversations they would have sometimes. I recall leaving a comment on one of the pictures that said I'm sure that Noni is really proud of him for helping out so much and being there. Nick was at their house when Paw Paw collapsed and the paramedics came.

When Noni's house was flooded with family and friends the day that we got to Tennessee I heard her tell the same story to at least 10 people about how much of a blessing Nick is. She said that is one of the main things God had shown her when Paw Paw was sick...that Nick had a big heart and she was so proud of him for stepping up like he did.

I feel like I saw that side of Nick when we were growing up too. I remember one time when we were all kids, everyone wanted to play Twister. I said I didn't want to play because I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn't know right from left. Without hesitation, Nick picked up on my reluctance and gave me stickers that had "R" and "L" on them that I could stick to the tops of my feet so I would know and could play with them. He told me that he forgot sometimes too so the stickers helped him. How cool is it that a little boy could pick up on my hesitation and turn it around so I wouldn't have to feel embarrassed? That just shows you how genuine he is. I'm glad he didn't lose that compassion over the years growing up like so many people do.

I wish Paw Paw could have met Abel. That's who he's named after, after all. (James Abel) I couldn't have asked for a better grandfather. I'm kind of mad that he's not here anymore. I really wish I could see him again because I know he would say something that would make me laugh. But I also know that he was starting to not be himself anymore, so maybe God took him before I could see that other side and have an altered memory of him.

Before we left Tennessee to come back home, I took Paw Paw's slippers and one of his hankies. I wanted something of his to keep. Chris and I slept in his room while we were there. It made me feel a little bit connected to him. Everything was still in its place and it was eerie, but also comforting.

This has been a hard death for me to deal with, but the memories I have of Paw Paw will never go away. And I'm glad I have siblings and cousins that can help me remember how awesome of a guy he was too. We'll never forget how much he loved us.