Comfort Me

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From the time Clay was very young he liked to take the ties from my wrap dresses and rub them on his cheeks. Clay was I guess a self soother. He just used the silky ties to comfort himself. So when I would lay next to him to put him to sleep I would hand him the ties and he would suck his fingers and fall asleep. When I was leaving for California in September I decided to give him a silky brown and pink nightgown to hold onto in my absence. By the time I returned a week later the nightgown had become an “attachment item”. Not unlike a blankie…well unlike a blankie because it is a piece of lingerie.

My husband was less than thrilled that his son was very attached to a nightie. He got over it. Now it is sort of funny, a family joke. If it is dirty we need to find something similar. A cheap satin pillow case. At the nanny’s house she gives him a silky slip. And when Clay was sick over the weekend we had to bring the nightgown with us. A big pink and brown sexy nightie. We’ve considered altering it or modifying it in some way so that in no longer is an obvious nightgown. So far we have left it intact. Clay loves the nightie. It helps him sleep. He is very attached to it. It brings him comfort.

One of the hardest things though is that Clay is my only child who ever required such an item. Not that there is anything wrong with it. Its just that I have been sick for most of his life. I had to stop nursing him at 5 months of age.I have spent long periods of time unable to be a good mom. I have been unable to meet his needs and provide comfort. I was sick. I was sore. I was post surgical. I was on medication. I was afraid he would hurt my incision. I was tired. Clay has the benefit of having a very attentive and loving father. He has 5 siblings who hold him and nurture him. And he has Jenny, our nanny, as well as a few friends who he is comforted by. I do not think Clay is lacking love and attention in my absence. But I have lost a lot by being unable to provide it.

Unlike my older kids who have long important conversations with me despite my illness, it is much harder for me to meet Clay’s needs. And I want to. I long to. I want to be well enough to change all his diapers, feed him, and carry him around. I want to have the strength to take him to the playground or on a long walk. I want to be better so that I can cook, clean, run errands, and meet the needs of my family. Mostly I want to bond with my baby. I want him to want me to hold him more than anyone else. Right now that is not the case. It used to be. But it has been a long time. I want to be an attachment item. I want to be a source of comfort. It breaks my heart that I can not. This is one of the few things that I will admit distresses me.

I have a lot of acceptance about my illness. But more than anything I want to be well enough to be a mom to Clay. A hands on mom. I don’t pray for a cure most of the time. I do pray for remission. Mostly I pray for wellness. Just a period of time in which I am healthy enough to be a good wife and mother. I pray for a break. I want to be a comfort to my family.

8 Responses to “Comfort Me”

  1. La says:

    Well, for some reason my job’s internet access is not blocking your website today, and so I’m able to catch up on some of your story. It was so wonderful spending time with you yesterday, and I especially love more of the explanation about Clay’s “sensory needs”.
    It’s hard to believe I’ve known you now for 15 years. I want to say what I said yesterday, and that is that you are raising some amazing children. I started babysitting for you when the twins were babies, and all of your children have always been a joy to interact with. I never, even when I was very young myself, recieved any sort of disrespect or disobedience from them. How often can a babysitter say that?!?!?!! And so I say again, you have, and are still doing, an EXCELLENT job raising your children. Your cancer is not good, but you are a wonderful mother. Do not allow your bad cancer to define you as a mother. The cancer certainly does take things away, but your integrity is not taken away, your spirit is still whole, and your love for your family is powerfully in tact. I know that you don’t write these blogs to create pitty, so I want you to know that I am writing this response because I am proud of who you are. I am in constant awe of the wonderful and creative “tricks” you seem to always have up your sleave, when it comes to raising children. Your joy for your family is constant, even if your strength isn’t always there to match. You can know that you are a good mother, because as you said, your family helps you mother, and you created your family! You set your family up for success, in their interactions with each other, God, and the world around them.
    I do not doubt your feelings of longing to be needed by Clay, and I can’t imagine how this feels as I do not have children of my own. Know that you have done other things to support him though, even if he doesn’t understand them now. You’re the best, and I’m super proud of you and how you mother your children.
    Much love to you.
    La

  2. joshua says:

    that is a funny story with deep meaning. maybe you can alter the nightgown to fit a teddy bear or something. although it might not be any better having him be in love with a lingerie-wearing teddy bear.

  3. Emme Friedberg says:

    Andrea–

    My mom (Jo Buyske) and I read about your benefit today in PW. We are so sad we didn’t hear about it earlier, as we would have absolutely gone. I have so much respect for you in this struggle. You have so much strength, and I know that no matter what happens your children will know that they have a wonderful mother who fought her way through everything and kept smiling. I believe that you will make it through this.

    Give my best to Jesse and the rest. You are amazing.

  4. My girlfriend Mel has two children and due to an absent father was forced to put each of them in daycare at 6 weeks old. This happens to many women and it kills me, I feel so sad for them that they cannot be there for their tiny babies every moment.
    I stayed home with my son for 4 months and then brought him to work with me everyday for nearly 3 years. I felt guilty for keeping him with me for too long(no socialization with other tots), I felt guilty for sending him(someone else was hugging him and teaching him songs). But in the end even without cancer we all just do the best we can with our personal circumstances.
    I feel so sad for you that you can’t cuddle Clay all the time, I know that you are missing it and feeling more guilty about that than anything. But Clay has more love and support than probably any other child out there. I do pray that he you are with him long enough for him to remember you and remember you well. Know that he will always cherish you, and may have a passion for women in lingerie, but that’s cool.
    I love you!
    Hope everyone liked the meatloaf dinner, I’m guessing there’ll be leftovers for some time.

  5. Andrea says:

    Amy, the meatloaf is amazing! And as always you are so wonderful. I really appreciate your thoughts on guilt. Because it is true that we can do that to ourselves. And Clay is very loved and cared for no doubt. I just wish I had more time to be there for him physically. And in the end it is what it is. And I have no doubt that he will have a special affinity to women’s lingerie….maybe he will work for you!!!! (Amy designs and sews corsets)

  6. JOAN says:

    ANDREA, YOU ARE AWESOME. YOUR SON IS FINE WITH ALL THE LOVIN HE’S GETTING BUT YOU GET TO WANT HIM, LIKE YOU HAD YOUR OTHER CHILDREN. YOU GET TO TELL HOW MUCH YOU WOULD DO IF YOU WERE ABLE. CANCER HAS IT’S LOSSES AND IT’S GIFTS. GRIEVE THE LOSSES AS YOU GO AND KEEP YOUR ARMS AND HEART OPEN TO RECIEVE AS YOU’VE BEEN DOING, YOU ARE AN ANGEL. I WAS TOLD BY TWO PEOPLE IN PHILLY TO GO TO YOUR BLOG, MY FRIEND EILEEN DUFFEY WAS ONE. I’M DONE CHEMO AND WILL START RADIATION AFTER CHRISTMAS FOR STAGE 2B BREAST CANCER. I WAS CERTIFIED LAST WEEKEND IN LAUGHING YOGA. I WOULD LOVE TO OFFER THAT TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ONLY IF IT MAKES SENSE FOR YOU. IT’S JOYFUL,FUN, AND HEALING, A MAJOR UPLIFT. I,M FROM PHILLY AND WILL BE AROUND FOR A FEW DAYS AT CHRISTMAS. AGAIN YOUR STRENGTH AND COURAGE ARE INSPIRING TO READ, YOU WARRIOR ANGEL. PEACE. LOVE ,JOAN

  7. Ellen B says:

    Andrea,
    I read your blog faithfully and lately when I do I feel the pull of the others reading, of those praying for you and the children. Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to pray along with your story. We strongly are.

    Ellen

  8. Stephanie Bare says:

    Andrea,
    My husband was recently in a bad accident which left him with 5 broken ribs, a broken collarbone, concussion and just badly “smashed” up as my little boy puts it. My son had a way of just knowing that daddy was fragile. He never questioned that daddy still loved him and would rather have been throwing him up in the air, but that for awhile, all daddy could do was watch tv with him until the pain killers kicked in and daddy passed out. In the pureness of their hearts, children know. They know more than we can imagine and your son knows too. He’s knows his mommy is an angel. He knows.

    PS – My little boy is attached to a stuffed lamb we call, “dirty baby”. It used to be just “baby”, but when the washing machine failed to remove the smell, he graduated to “dirty baby, D.B.” for short.