Here it goes.
Although I certainly do not want this to be all about me, I think that in order to share our story I will need to try to describe the relationship that Jordan Winter and I have had since she was born. Assuming that at least a few of you are mothers, much of the emotion and connection that I felt will probably seem very familiar to you. At times it just blew me away.
Jordan was our first child, so the entire pregnancy and birth experience was overwhelming, joyous, scary, painful...you name the emotion, we were probably experiencing it. The intensity of the protective feelings that I had for her were crazy, and I didn't expect it. One time when Jordan was an infant, Adam didn't get up to check on her when she was crying. I was in another room, and one of our college friends (who did not have her own children yet) tried to comfort her. I got so angry at Adam. He told me that he didn't even realize that she was crying.
So when I hear her cry, it actually, physically hurts me. Hurts my entire being. And you don't even hear her? I told him that he needed to get his priorities straight. Whether right or wrong, my reaction took me by surprise. It didn't matter who it was, if someone were to hurt my child in any way, there would be consequences.
There have been four times since Jordan was born that I have actually experienced one of those "life flashes before your eyes" type of things. You know, the kind that you see on soap operas or sitcoms, shown so that the audience is made aware of just how intense the past was? I was instantly overcome with a rush of memories. In a few seconds I could see her on the day she was born, and all of the big events that happened in her life...the first time she smiled, crawled, took her first steps. I know. It sounds crazy, right? It freaked me out.
The first time this happened, Adam and I decided to go out and leave the girls with a babysitter. Jordan was two and a half and she stood against the door with her little hands pressed up against it. She didn't cry, but I did. During dinner, at the restaurant. That date lasted about an hour. The second time we left her at my in-law's house for a few days. Let's just say that that was not a fun three and a half hour drive home.
The third time she was five and a half, and she woke up with a high fever. I put her in the tub, and once the fever broke she began to tremble and shake uncontrollably. It frightened me so much that I woke Adam up. When I laid down in bed with her, I realized how big she had gotten. My baby was growing up. We both giggled because the last time I was in her bed with her, we had much more room to snuggle. We talked about how cool it was that she was growing up in such wonderful ways. This time, I not only had the memory-filled flashback, but I also had a "flash forward". My mind jumped to picturing her as a teenager, when she would be as big as me. At that moment I kind of panicked. My heart was instantly filled with a sense of sadness and dread. I knew that one day I would need to let her go.
The final flashback happened this year, when Jordan was 17. This time was definitively the toughest one for me to take. It was when I dropped her off at the intensive outpatient treatment center. Babysitters, short getaways, fevers, they are all to be expected when raising a child. Intensive outpatient therapy for your teenager is not a milestone that any parent expects, or quite frankly, wants. She cried before she got out of the car. I cried after. We both knew that this was what she needed to help her get back on track, but it still sucked.
So I hope that me sharing some of our past, will help you better understand how we got where we are today. I still sometimes wonder about the whole nature verses nurture argument. A friend once asked me if I felt guilty because Jordan had to deal with so many issues. At the time I answered that I did not, but honestly, sometimes I do. I'm her mother. Not only does this guilt stem from the fact that (like in many families) ours has a history of mental illness, but maybe some of her issues are in direct correlation with how I treated her and reacted to her strong will and intensity. Nature, nurture, or maybe a little of both. Who knows.
If you continue to follow Us Too, perhaps you can be the judge of that for yourself. (And maybe you can help me to figure it out. ;).
Thank you for reading.