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.


  1. Thank you for this. I am raising a 4 years old cleft child who is also my youngest granddaughter. I feel as you do about her cleft. But it's so hard to maintain being positive when you are facing difficulties. We have gone through 6 surgeries (anesthesia 8 times). Due to so many surgeries in so little time she has become very shy, fearful, sensitive and uncertain of life around her. Perhaps this journey of having a cleft is related as well to the personality of the child in addition to their experiences and training.

  2. I have no experience with this at all but can tell you some ideas of what I would try. When she can understand, perhaps let her know that EVERY kid is teased about something at some point. Even the so called "perfect ones" who seem to skate through life. They must have a mean brother thrown in there somewhere. Then role play with her so that she has an explanation or however you think best for her to handle situations that may come up. At least then she isn't shocked and has a little preparation for such a mean world. That said, from me looking at her, she looks so good Kelly!!! It's barely noticeable and she is a very strong girl inside and out. Plus that personality and those dimples of hers are going to make her very popular and an overcomer! love and hugs, robbi

  3. I know this was posted awhile ago, but I just came across it and agree with you 100%. My daughter is only 8 months, and I think my biggest fear of everything is the effect her cleft will have on her psycho/social aspect of life. My husband seems to think it will be "no big deal," but he was never a girl! I'm glad not to be the only one with these fears, I just desperately want my daughter to have a "normal" life, and not have to worry about being different. Thanks for your honesty :)

  4. I think I struggle with these fears more so than my son ever will. I hope that's truly the case as he gets older. My husband seems like Andrea's where it's no big deal and no one will pick on him. We don't notice it, but I do notice that other people look a little longer or stare a little harder. Some even comment, "whoa buddy did you hit your lip on something?" (seriously, adults!) I try to help educate both the adults and children and not be so anxious to be defensive. My son has touched so many lives in his young 15 months I pray that his 'special need' will be a learning tool for others to become open minded and a little more educated about differences throughout life. These are my prayers for my son and all I can do is hope he turns his 'disadvantage' into an advantage. Yet believe me, I'm not trying to be naive about it. I cry for non existant situations like potential bullying or insecurities he may have as he gets older. I know it's a little cliche to say, but all I can do is pray about it.