Let’s go back…

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. It is also the 30th anniversary of my sister’s remission from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL. 

Yesterday, for the second time in a month, I had to bring my son there, to the hospital which saved my sisters life. We were just traveling in for an audiology assessment; not quite as heavy. The developmental specialists at our children’s hospital had recommended it, when we went for our results of his neuropsych testing. 

The appointment was booked just last week; I never expected to get in so quick. 

I didn’t realize the second part of yesterday’s date, until five minutes before that sister was dropped off, to accompany my son and I. 

It was surreal. So much time as children, with her so sick, spent making this same trip. 

The one hour trip turned into a three hour one due to traffic, though we had a blast. 

We made a few stops; coffee and breakfast, mama needed to stretch, and not far from that stop, a bathroom break at Burger King. That sister I mentioned earlier? Well, she brought her goofy side… she came out of BK with crowns for the three of us. We needed that. 

It truly was like reliving our childhood trips. We saw the giant mini golf dinosaur; the one which our community rallied to save, once the mini golf place was torn down. 

My sister, riding in the back with my son, told him all about the dinosaur. She told him the different colors we had seen it painted over the years; mostly orange, but one year pink. 

The giant bridge to the city? The one I used to close my eyes tightly over, and try to imagine myself anywhere but there? She shared memories with my son, and started a discussion surrounding the fog enveloping us … were we in the clouds, or was it fog? 

My little one, recently having checked out a book on clouds, was able to definitively answer her. (I forgot to thank her for asking him so many questions – ones that he was able to answer! Best self esteem boost for him… and not even requested by me).

Passing along the Charles river, we discussed the “Make Way for Ducklings” family; and how the island the babies were born on was somewhere in that river. 

As my sister kept my son entertained with stories, and memories, I was white knuckling the steering wheel. My anxiety was getting the best of me, as I made the turn onto Charles Gate. 

Once we arrived at the parking garage, I recalled the directions I was given when I booked the appointment: “the office is in the same building as the parking garage.” Suffice it to say, I thought I knew what I was doing, where I was going. Unlike our childhood, I was in charge; the other two were looking to me for direction. 

We walked about two blocks in the pouring rain.  No 333 Longwood to be found. Arriving at the end of the two block size building, I read the plaque: Harvard Longwood Medical. No number, no “Children’s hospital”. I had to Adult; though I was closer to crying. 

We traced our steps back; and found a kind helper in the parking garage info booth. Turns out there’s more than one parking garage. 

He aced the audiology exam. And we promptly left the city afterwards. 

Returning home, we stopped at the market for flowers for my mother’s birthday. The two of them picked out some beautiful bouquets. 

My little one was getting squirrelly. I saw the signs. At checkout, I had to bag the groceries; and asked him to stay beside me. This is something I’ve been working on with him; as has his father. 

Well, my little one? He’d done such an amazing job holding it together all day… but the signs were there… he was overstimulated. He did great, until the last bag. Then bolted out the door to the parking lot. 

I saw him out of the corner of my eye. (I have some physical problems that make running difficult.. but it was my child, and he potentially was running out into traffic!) I bolted after him, and grabbed him. 

I felt the eyes of everyone on me. I did not care. People judge, and have no idea. He doesn’t understand safety. We have been trying for two plus years to explain it to him… but the overstimulation occasionally wins out. (These are the times he cries to me about; asking why his body betrays him). We had a talk; no shame involved. 

It was partially my fault. I knew he was exhausted, hungry and had been trapped in a car for six plus hours … but we needed groceries. 

These are the hard decisions I have to make as an ADHD mom, with an ADHD son.  People say, just don’t bring him to the market. Well, how do we get food then? We aren’t rich. My husband currently works six days per week. Grocery shopping happens when I can squeeze it in. And, my son will only learn as we practice, repeatedly. 

We arrived at my parents, ate lunch. Had a nice restorative visit. As we sat, I told my mother of getting lost, on foot. She apologized to me for not coming with us; but explained it was just too difficult. Too many memories; too much loss experienced in that one corner of Boston, between her daughter, and her mother. Did I mention she was just 25 when all this transpired? 

I counted my blessings that my son’s different abilities are manageable. And that is what all of this is for. I could not even imagine going through this trip weekly; without even knowing it would keep my child alive, as she did. The strength that must have taken? The internal drive? I am so very proud to be her daughter. 

This experience has been eye opening.  Fortunately, I have known as we travel this path that the outcome IS manageable; my little family and I can do this. And my childhood experience with children’s? It’s helped me put it all into perspective.  💙 

Love you, mom. Happy birthday. 

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