journey to joy: part I

from achieving to flailing

My Path Through Motherhood

My parents loved me. Growing up, we had hot food on the table every night, a roof over our heads. My sister and I had toys and stuffed animals and went to Disney World. We took walks to the beach every night after dinner and made tents in the living room. My parents worked really, really hard to give us all that and I have many, many good memories from my childhood.

But there are dark memories too. Memories of plates crashing against walls and my sister and I clutching each other and crying in the closet.

Growing up, I didn’t know what caused the chaos and upheaval in our lives  — I just knew that I wasn’t going to stand for it.

I always had a plan, a scheme, a new tact to try — little 10 year-old me vowed I would fix the problems in my parents marriage and heal the family.  

While I doggedly pursued fixing my family’s problems, I inwardly declared that I wouldn’t carry them on. As I moved through childhood, my determination showed itself in my report cards, my extracurricular activities, my jobs, and volunteer work.

I figured I could achieve my way right up and out of my family legacy. And because I had been granted a measure of intelligence, it wasn’t all that difficult.  Sadly, I didn’t even have to learn all that much to get into a good college, make the dean’s list, and, right out of school, to land and excel at what I was sure was my dream job.

It was all so easy…

Then I had my first baby.  My sweet daughter Pumpkin. I remember looking at her just hours after I delivered her. I’d been prepared for an alien-shaped head, a puffy, red face, and baby acne. Instead, my Pumpkin had porcelain skin, silky blonde hair, and deep, cornflower blue eyes. The nurses called her “dkoukatda” — doll in Thai–and that’s exactly what she looked like.

Ahhh… can’t looks can be deceiving?

First came the nursing problems, then a failure to gain weight, all accompanied by a fairly constant screaming from my doll baby both day and night. Soon after giving up nursing (heartbreaking for me) came a diagnosis of a milk protein intolerance, acid reflux, and colic. Then breathing problems, multiple bouts of pneumonia, ear infections, surgery for tubes, continued lack of sleep, asthma, reactive airway disease, and extreme fussiness.

By the time Pumpkin was a year old, I was utterly exhausted. Broken down, strung out by trips to the ER and constantly checking on her at night to make sure she was still breathing. I had two hours of sick leave left to my name at work.

I had based my whole sense of self-worth on my ability to achieve results — and for the first time in my life, no matter how many books I read, specialists I visited, or medications I administered, I wasn’t able to achieve what I wanted — a perfect, A+ healthy, happy baby.  

I had failed.

It felt like the ground had dropped out from beneath me. Of course being the achiever I was, I didn’t fall gracefully.  I desperately flailed about, determined that I would somehow figure out how to walk on air…

{Read Part II: From Love to Redemption}

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