Searching for a way to let go of the familiar path

NOTE: This post mentions children ***** 

Does it happen for you – that when you’ve been on the verge of tears all day, they just come out when you are in your car?  I’ve had tears sitting just behind my eyes since 1 am and they flowed out today on a 40 min highway trip. 

You see (this is the children bit) at 1 am this morning my 3.5 year old DS was having trouble with breathing.  This appears to be the second asthma episode he’s had – the last one was in November.  I had been starting to hope that maybe November was a fluke, something other than asthma.  Now, I’d have to say that’s unlikely.  Thanks to help from many people, and especially Amy (she has an amazing asthma site), I was able to calmly & competently give him the right meds and calm him down.  I didn’t want him to see how upset I was.  And then when he was in bed, I didn’t want to let loose on my DH – he has been unemployed and job searching diligently since February, and he had a big interview today.  He is an amazing guy!  But I still didn’t want to bring out any extra stress just then.


This long-awaited, much treasured little DS just seems to have gotten the short end of the stick in some ways.  He has food allergies – egg, tree nut, and fish – and the last two are in the category of “most likely to be life threatening” allergies.  If you also have asthma, your chances of having anaphylaxis from your food allergy (ie. you die if you don’t get the epi-pen) are much greater.  Is it any wonder I’d hoped so much we didn’t have asthma too?  Food allergy itself takes such a toll in terms of stress and lifestyle.  In its own ways it destroys – well, I should frame it positively and say changes dreams.  Many dishes and foods are off-limits.  Going to restaurants or parties is stressful and limiting and can be isolating.  Travel seems like such a challenge.  I know there are solutions for all of these, and we’ve managed quite well.  But every now and then it just beats down my spirits and I have to bleed a little.  I love him so much and it makes me sad that things most kids can do – like go for ice cream – are just not going to be possible for him – or at least not possible at any time like they are for others.

And then DS also has lazy eye – so he wears an eyepatch 4-5 hours a day, glasses always, and hopefully he won’t need surgery.  It seems like he just got hit with a few difficult things at a young age.

I’ve noticed a theme in my life lately – through the prayer/meditation that I do, and through some of the comments coming through here too.  I have to learn to let go more – instead of clutching at my sadness, sense of unfairness, hopelessness, despair, self-pity – I have to try to let them go.  I did try last night, thinking instead of the many many things we have to be grateful for.  There are so many people dealing with even more devastating things – like me, 5 years ago when we were slogging through infertility.  I would have been overjoyed then if someone had told me that in 5 years time, these would be the things I am grieving.

This counting my blessings effort did help.  I was able to hold it together and calm down enough to function.  I think it helped me move from that feeling of “it’s just not fair” to simply grieving another blow, yet knowing that we will get through somehow.  Clutching on to the unfairness, the resentment of those who appear to “have it easy,” being bitter, even angry – these are all feelings from the time we were ttc and experiencing IF.   They are feelings that I seem to have nurtured and now it’s harder to let them go, maybe because they are so familiar.  It’s easy to walk in that well-worn path when I am scared of what the future holds.

I’m really trying to turn this momentum around too.  I’m trying to let go.  All of these challenges my DS will face – they will help him build character and resilience.  I’m going to remind myself to treasure every day with him, every hour.  Nobody knows what the future holds for any of us, regardless of having food allergy or asthma or whatever.  I wish he didn’t have such a hard road marked out.  I hope and pray for him to outgrow his allergies, for medical science to provide more and better answers (and be grateful for the answers we do have).  But people all over the world are walking their own difficult paths, and this just happens to be ours.  Please, God, help me let go of the spirals that deaden the life and joy out of me.  Help me to grieve cleanly, then get up and go on with courage, peace, and joy.

The song that really brought out the tears for me was “Let It Go” by Great Big Sea:

“Let It Go”

Hey man, you don’t know what you’re missing
You count your curses and forget about the blessings
Don’t you think you should learn a little lesson
What are you waiting for?

Hey man, what makes you so special
Can’t seem to find the angels for the devils
Don’t you think that if you learned to love a little
You’d live a whole lot more

Let it Go Let it Go
This is smaller than you know
No bigger than a pebble lying on a gravel road
Let it Go Let it Go
Got to leave it all behind you
Give the sun a chance to find you
Let it Go



How can a man not see
It seems so clear to me
You’ve just got to live and learn
Smile at the simple stuff
This road ain’t long enough
To miss a single turn


15 thoughts on “Searching for a way to let go of the familiar path

  1. Amy says:

    This is an incredibly insightful post and I love the end of that paragraph, Andie–you’ve nailed the whole problem with dwelling on hardship and focusing on the unfairness of it all. I think a lot of people forget that mourning something IS okay, as long as we don’t let it drag us down and keep us there. Well, by *a lot of people* I mean *me.* Letting go is one of the hardest things to do.

    Having said that, I don’t always find it helpful to compare whatever situation I’m worrying about with someone else’s worse situation, just because that has a tendency to invalidate my original emotions. Counting my own blessings, as you point out, works much better for me.

    Your son IS facing more than the average kid–I was really hoping he didn’t have asthma–but your point about his resilience? That’s dead-on. We all want an easy, happy road for our children but I have to tell you–with the girls 9 and 6 now, I’m not so sure that’s the best wish for kids. Of course I’d get rid of AG’s asthma in a heartbeat if I could, but her struggles while younger have brought her an appreciation of life that her younger, healthier sister just doesn’t have. She squeezes the joy out of everyday things in a remarkable way, and I envy that quality in her. I truly believe her poor health when younger shaped that part of her personality.

    I hope your son won’t need surgery. I hope his asthma stays in good control, although (as I’ve mentioned before) you’re so much better prepared and educated than most parents are at first. He’s very lucky to have such an informed mom. I hope your DH gets this job, and I hope your spirits do lift.

    On a side note, thanks so much for the kind words.

  2. SAHW says:

    What an excellent post…I think you’re very right. It’s natural to feel sad about changed dreams, but we can let that keep us down in the dumps, or we can try to adapt to what we’ve been given and continue being grateful for all we have (wow, sounds like I’m talking to myself!).

    It sounds like your little DS does have a lot on his plate, but thank goodness for all that he does have going for him, right? I know that doesn’t make asthma or life-threatening allergies (I have both, but my allergies have calmed down a lot, and they’re not to food) any easier to handle, but with the right perspective you’ll make it. It’s just one of the challenges of parenting that you’ll face in life, and life isn’t without challenges. The key is how we approach them…that will determine how big they appear in our eyes.

    Wow, that was like some sort of crazy reminding myself of what’s important by reflecting on what you wrote! Thanks!! 🙂

  3. I had a former boss who told the story of his son who was recruited to play football at an Ivy league school. His son was constant complaining that the coach was yelling at him all the time, riding his butt and making him miserable. Then one day the son told his dad that the coach was pretty much leaving him alone and wasn’t yelling or pushing him to play harder and better anymore. And that’s when my boss knew his days on the team were over. His son was benched and never played football in college again.
    I thought of that story while reading your post because I thought “boy, God is really giving her a hard time”.
    It does take a lot of effort to count your blessings during times like this but it is a worthwhile disicpline. I will be checking back to see how you are doing and also because your posts and comments on mine are so insightful.

  4. seussgirl says:

    I definitely end up crying in my car. Or in bed. usually b/c I’ve been trying to make it to where people can’t see me.
    I’m sorry for the struggles your DS will have to face. I hope that he does build character and resilience through them, and that they make him a better person for it.
    Here from NCLM.

  5. Busted says:

    I’m so sorry your DS has so many trials to endure. I wish you and your family all the best.

    My tears always come when I’m in the bathroom. Maybe because I’m only in the car to and from work and its with DH.


  6. Kim says:

    It is so hard to have someone running around in the world that you love more than yourself. My two oldest boys have food allergies and it is to tough at times. I want to protect them and care for them all the time, but I know I do not have any control over so many things! It is so hard! NCLM

  7. Hola from NCLM…

    I love this post, very honest & deep. I think you are absolutely right when you say that everything your son faces now will only add to his character & resilience. And by the way, my first boyfriend had a lazy eye & I thought it was just the “sexiest” thing ever! 🙂

    Take care & stay positive 🙂

  8. andy says:

    Hi, it sucks sometimes to not be able to fix everything for the ones we love doesn’t it? The good thing is that you are educating yourself and helping DS to grow up into a fine young man! Hang in there.

    PS. How did DH’s interview go?

  9. Katie says:

    Just returning your comment. I hope you do manage to find some solutions as time goes on, and that you continue trying to do as much as possible as a family. Paula Radcliffe who holds the world record for a womens marathon has asthma, keep encouraging your son to do things.

  10. Eliza says:

    Oh, Andie, thank you so much for your comment on my blog and for this post. Believe it or not (now I’m kind of embarrassed that you walked in on my whine-fest) I started something I saw on Blue-eyed Mexican’s blog (her kid has congenital adrenal failure; I have the acquired kind and think I found her at one point through a Google search): 100 Days of Gratitude. It…well, let’s say I’ve been working on getting to 100 for about a year now. I keep forgetting, in the midst of whatever the crisis du jour is, about the gratitude. I feel your pain on the food allergy thing–my youngest kid was born allergic to THE PROTEIN MOLECULE. That’s right, the f*cking molecule–didn’t matter if it was protein from human breast milk, cow’s-milk-based formula in hydrolyzed form, soy…we went to the GI specialist with our nine-pound four-month-old and were told that “there is one more thing we can try.” That “one more thing” turned out to be a synthetic, lab-produced, amino-acid-based formula that was the magic bullet–MAGIC! The kid gained a pound in the first week on that stuff, and is now healthy (well, you know, aside from eating formula made by the same company that makes LORENZO’S F*CKING OIL through a g-tube, and having a lazy eye and glasses, and a few non-painful birth defects, and a couple of genetic syndromes, and pernicious anemia and an unidentified bleeding disorder, and “abnormally short stature” and “dysmorphic features”…that all makes it sound pretty bad but the kid can run, climb, talk smack on the older siblings, and pitch a fit with the best of ’em–pretty normal, considering, if you ask me!). Sometimes you have to make yourself step back from the everyday crises and look at the big picture. Or look back, as you did to your days of trying to HAVE your son, as I just did to that first weekly weigh-in after starting The Magic Formula, when the nurse who had undressed our emaciated baby and done the weekly weigh-in every week with a completely blank face weighed the baby, recorded the gain, and then very gently placed the child back on the exam table and burst into tears. I snatched my baby up and screamed “WHAT! WHAT NOW!” and she shook her head and put her arm around me. “That formula was invented ten years ago, and I’ve been doing this for almost thirty. *All of these babies used to die;* we tried everything, and I had to watch them lose and lose and slip away. This is only the third time we’ve had to resort to this formula in our practice, and it just still seems like such a MIRACLE; I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”


    Now that we have a child who is almost three and wasn’t medically stable enough to be allowed to cry for any length of time until eighteen months old, well…you have a three-year-old, I think you can picture the kind of tyrant THAT would create. The kid has THE SHRILLEST VOICE I have ever heard on a child and can drive you up one wall and down another, and we’re fighting like cats and dogs over whether to start growth hormones or not (I know being two and a half feet tall all your life is undesirable if it can be avoided, but I also don’t want to give my baby a shot every day–dammit I already had to learn to shove an NG-tube down the kid’s throat because that was life and death; I’m having a hard time embracing the idea of hurting my kid any more for VANITY’S sake), and the co-payments are piling up, but when I look back to where we were then I, too, would have been thrilled to be worrying about things that meant the kid was still ALIVE, forget shrill, short, and rotten to the core 🙂
    Today I’m going to update my blog and do Thing #95. Today I am grateful for your comment that lead me to your post and reminded me that sometimes it’s a matter of PERSPECTIVE. And I’m going to try not to whine as much, at least for today. Thank you.

  11. lupuspie says:

    I’m glad to hear about your change in perspective. I really do think a positive attitude makes all the difference.

    Looking forward to your “vegeroni” recipe! 🙂

    BTW . . . I’d love to add you to my blogroll. Hope you don’t mind.

  12. I am, by the way, a HUGE Great Big Sea fan. Love them, saw them in concert once and had huge, silly amounts of fun. Good band.

    I was teaching Job as part of a Bible in translation/as literature course when we found out that the Eldest’s magic medicine – his clotting meds – weren’t working anymore. First, he had bleeds that nobody his age should get. Then he got bleeds from the treatment – it was absurd. And then we figured out why.

    You know the grief and anger cycle that comes after a diagnosis, I’m sure. So, i did that. And I walked into class and said to my students: ‘this is an incredibly simple book. God exists, but shit happens anyway.’ They all nodded – they knew that already.

    Shit happens. Some people learn grace (as in resilience) and some people don’t need to for a while. Some people grow up faster, need to adapt more, be less casual about how they handle themselves – heck, Andie, you could make this list for me.

    Point being, I think that what is really important is not the crap, but what you choose to do about it. Me, I find that I love my boys fiercely and ridiculously enough to do just about anything. Including letting whatever it is go, so that I can just be with my wonderful, fragile little guy.

    not surprised that you held it together in the crisis – that’s the way we do it, here in mama-town. But it still kicks some tushie.

  13. Lindsay says:

    A wonderful post. And that’s a great song- one of my faves. 🙂

    (Here from Creme)

  14. T@sh!d@ says:

    Here from the Creme: Very insightful post and I love the words of the song. I’m sure DS will grow up to be an amazing strong man that nothing can stumble his path. What he sets his mind too he will conquer!

  15. JuliaS says:

    Lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

    Good wishes to you and your sweet boy.

    Creme de la creme 2008

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