Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Terrified of Growing Old

Let's be clear - I am old and I know & can admit that, but I am terrified in growing older because that means Ella will also be older and that scares me for many reasons.

We have tried to raise Ella with a lot of encouragement and positive attitude and so far it seems to have worked. Every morning after I fix her hair I say in the most excited tone - "WOW! You are such a beautiful little girl. Mom and Dad are SO lucky to have you!" In response she either spins in a circle as if she is a twirling princess or she immediately runs to our full-length mirror where she peers at herself proudly and smiles.

A few days ago, in relation to my fears of Ella entering elementary school, a co-worker of mine said, "You are so strong & so is Ella, are you really worried?" Despite our efforts, the reality is - she is still a little girl, protected by her parents and kids can be mean.

I follow a lot of cleft related news, including a group on Facebook called Cleft Lip & Palate for Young Adults. The other day the post was:
What are the positive sides of having a cleft. What are some positive things that have come from you being born with a cleft lip and/or palate?

I was so sad to see some of the responses. Some highlights include:
"I'm not sure if anything positive has come from it for me." - DR

"I just pretend to be strong... i'm not strong, i'm defensive and insecure." - SR

After reading their responses I felt sad and hopeless. I would like to believe that with a strong influence from their parents these girls would have had more confidence & could see the positive side of things- but, in life there is never a guarantee and maybe this has nothing to do with their parents.

I never realized how biased parents can be until a small child shares their uncensored truth. In my mind, Ella's lip and nose appear to be perfect - how could anyone detect something that was once a major defect? However there have been numerous times that small children will say, "What's wrong with her lip? Why does her lip pull up like that?" I appreciate their honesty & in reality, her nose is smashed and stretched, her lip pulls up and the extra flap of skin on her lip hides her imperfect teeth.

As we struggle with speech development and many more surgeries, the reality of teasing becomes all to real. I can only pray that we are able to raise a strong & confident woman.

Parenting is a lot pressure.