My darling daughter,
Six awe-inspiring years ago you brightened this world, and our lives, with your presence. From the start you weren’t what we expected. You were so much more. The answer to years of prayers; the light that brought me out of my darkness; the glue that holds our family together.
Every day since you’ve make us proud, and every day we are humbled by your love. You wake with such overwhelming joy, trusting that what’s in store will hold good things for you. And you work harder than anyone should ever have to, putting us all to shame with your grace and dignity.
You are shining so bright right now, awareness brimming in your eyes; in your feet; and on your tongue. This is your year, baby girl. It’s going to hold such great things for you; walking; feeding yourself; saying words. We’re going to claim that for you right now. And your Daddy and I are just so thankful we were chosen to be the ones going along for this ride.
You are our heart, my soul, and your Daddy’s drive. Happy Birthday, baby girl. We love you!
‘What’s wrong with your daughter,’ you ask
as I stare in puzzlement –
we’re playing and swinging at the park, same as you;
smiles as big on our faces as on all the others,
yet it’s me the question is directed to.
Not one greeting to my child did you attempt to make,
though your smile and whispered hello to me were nice.
I thought, perhaps maybe, we’d made another friend,
instead of just one more curious passerby.
With warmth, I scooted over and welcomed you
to join our exclusive shade from an oppressive sun,
where you, yes you, not a medical personnel,
asked for information, and really, for what reason?
You see, we have laws in this country that protect you and I,
and believe it or not, even the most vulnerable among us –
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA for short –
perhaps I should inquire about your offensive halitosis?
Now, I’ll admit that last comment was not aimed at you,
just my anger getting the best of me.
Because no matter how many well-intentions
you might have actually had,
and the effort on your part I so clearly see,
well-meaning individuals such as yourself,
ask the same question everywhere we go,
and it makes me want to scream, ‘You’re missing the point. Wake up!
There’s a child here worthy to know.’
Not just her diagnosis or things she cannot do –
in fact, that’s not her at all –
she’s light, and she’s laughter,
and the song of my soul.
And honestly? We just came here to play ball.
(c) Sierra Kummings 2015
hold the power of heaven’s gaze;
from which angelic noise escapes;
my beautiful daughter,
my will she became;
with no words
and only a smile
the world, she’ll change.
Sierra Kummings (c) 2015
My Child’s Father
By her hand he guides her,
every step she makes.
Holds her, offers up his shoulder
when she’s upset or in pain.
His arms never falter,
though his back sometimes breaks;
his love only grows stronger
though his will it sometimes takes…
Sierra Kummings © 2015
What makes a father?
In my recently completed first novel (yes I’m smiling when I type that), Morrow’s Horizon, the leading man, Jacob Ramírez, has a fear of becoming a father. Without delving into specifics, suffice it to say, it goes way beyond the typical “I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m going to fuck up majorly” kind of anxiety. Or even the stereotypical “I’m afraid of commitment” guy reaction. Something that through a set of circumstances consumes him. In a way, his story centers around that. Because that fear underlies his very real struggle. For him, there is only one thing that makes a father, and he’s already proven he’s failed at that.
For me, I think I adapt my definition at each stage of my life. Growing up didn’t see much positivity in the way of shining examples of fatherhood. Though as I’ve aged I’ve come to terms with the fact that sometimes life precludes any ability to follow expectations. My own father, I think, chose the path of least resistance. For him. Though it didn’t always turn out that way for our family as a whole—or ever—he did the best he knew how. As a parent now, I’m finding my ability to judge that fading with each passing year.
I know the limitation my life has put on me: Mom to a child with special needs; never, ever getting the sleep I need (like ever); being unable to work outside the home (which makes the crazy in me even crazier); bad back + having to lift 40+growing pounds, and the 70 pound equipment that comes with her…those just but a few. And I know I fall short of the mother I want to be—the mother I once promised I would be.
So what then of fathers? Do I lower my expectations based on my own experiences? Do I raise them for the same reason? Or do I shift to a more balanced view?
I’d like to think I take the third option at this point in my life.
So here it is…my list of what makes a good father…are you ready for it?
Grace to accept the fact that you will fail. Multiple times over. That your child will hate you, curse you, scream at you before it’s all done. Regardless of whether you’re doing it right or wrong.
Grace to accept the fact that they will fail. That sometimes they’ll be unlikable, cause you to drink (or at least fantasize about it), and will still throw tantrums at the wise old age of 38.
The ability to forgive –
Both yourself and your child. For being human.
Being humble enough to change –
Though everyone makes mistakes, some can only be made right by change. Most often in the midst of the strongest adversity. Fighting for that change, instead of against it, not only determines its success, but the success of the family as a whole.
Treat your children with dignity –
No matter what their circumstance, abilities, or motivations. Treat their situation with dignity. Always.
Unconditional. Unequivocal. Especially on the days the kids are at their worst.
And it looks suspiciously like the one I keep for myself as a mother.
So what about you? What defines fatherhood for you? As fathers, what do you strive for? As co-parents, what do you look for in your partner? As adult children, what do you admire or wish you’d had in your own parent?
Today on Twitter a popular hashtag was #DescribeYourselfin3Words.
Yep, that just about sums it up.
So we’re clear, my daughter is who I aspire to be when I grow up. She’s everything good and kind and just plain wonderful in this world.
She just also happens to be very adept at torture. And she knows exactly how to bring me to my knees.
After 5 days of no more than 2 hours of sleep a night I’m ready to concede to her every demand. Except the only thing she wants is more party time with Mommy. And who can refuse such an adorable little face?
See, I told you…she’s a sadist.
Fed by my begging, she smiles wider with each of my yawns, giggles more hysterical at my every groaned plea.
Somewhere on Day 2 my brain shut off.
As if words now have to traverse my entire body, each one making the trek through my veins alone, before they can individually spill out onto the page.
Recently, I took three weeks off in the hopes things would flow quickly again, and it worked. I sped my way through fifteen chapters.
Then life happened in the form of my 5 year old.
(Yes, I’m aware this is a current theme on my blog. But I have a love affair with sleep. Something so great not even my husband’s masterful attention can tear me away from its clutches. See here and here if you don’t believe me.
Would you like some cheese to go with the whine I’m serving?)
Now in all fairness to my daughter, it’s not her fault. She’s had sleep issues since birth that seem to go hand in hand with her diagnosis. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been unable to string more than a few coherent sentences together at a time.
Which for a writer is more a little frustrating.
Correction: a lot frustrating.
Okay, who am I kidding? It sucks monkey balls.
I’m so close to finishing my novel, yet it still feels so far out of reach.
And each day that passes the more I ask…
…will this ever end?
Depending on the night it’s a toss-up whether I mean the sleeplessness or my book.
So how about you? What 3 words best describe you?
Last night marked an important night in my daughter’s life, and in ours as a family. It was a moment I wasn’t sure we’d ever have, a moment I mourned the loss of five long years ago.
My pregnancy, and daughter’s subsequent birth, though normal, were preceded by miscarriages that made every step anxiety producing, as if I waited for the other shoe to drop, somehow knowing before it did that it would happen.
A few days shy of her seven month birthday, it did.