Growing Pains

Dear Aubrey,

I sit here at my laptop tonight, completely exhausted. The evening's events have taken their toll on both of us, leaving us exhausted, with tear-stained cheeks and heavy hearts. 

The day started out fine--a lazy morning during your winter holiday from school, with all of us taking our time and recovering from a late night at EPCOT last night. During the afternoon, you had an orthodontist appointment: a momentous day in our orthodontics journey, today you had your appliance inserted behind your top teeth. This wire contraption hanging from the roof of your mouth is designed to help you stop sucking your finger, a habit that you've had since you were just a tiny fetus in my womb. You handled the appointment, with the inevitable discomfort, like a champ. Afterwards, I reminded you that as part of the "stop sucking the finger" plan, we were going to send your beloved Blankey on a vacation for a couple of weeks. You balked at the idea a little, but quickly went back to the book you were reading. 

Hours later, after dinner had long passed and we'd brushed and washed and read our story, it was time for bed. I reminded you again that Blankey would be going on vacation and not joining you in bed, and the day took a dramatic turn for the worse.

Tears. Anger. Denial. Yelling. Fearful sobs.  Shrieking. Your father and I watched you quickly go through the famed stages of grief: denial. Anger, which led you to screaming, "I HATE YOU! (and lots of other kid-obscenities) to your father and I. Bargaining: "Can't I just have him one more night? Just until morning?!"  My firm-but-compassionate refusal led to more angry outbursts, but soon you had dissolved into a heap of depressed tears. Finally, as the weight of the day and your exhaustion fell upon you, you began drifting into sleep, apologetic for your hurtful words and accepting your fate: 2 weeks away from your lovey. 

I spent most of this process with a lead weight in my stomach, fighting back my own tears. Hearing you scream how much you hated me for taking your beloved blanket away was like a knife to my heart, but I know, my sweet, that you didn't mean it. I took no offense at your insults and hurtful words--my heart simply ached for all of the pain I knew you must be feeling. 

One day, you'll be a mom and you'll realize just how true this is: there is nothing worse for a mother than seeing her child in pain. And knowing that you--the mom-- had a hand in causing that pain--even though it is the right thing, a necessary thing--is even worse. My sweet girl, I'm so sorry you are hurting. 

Tomorrow you'll wake up, having survived your first night away from your sweet fleece friend, and although I'm anticipating a few more rough nights, I know you can do this. I know you can kick this habit that is wrecking your jaw and your teeth and even your facial formation. I have complete faith that you will be able to get through this change and get back to your usual sunny outlook. You are so strong, my dear girl, and I have so much faith in you. And until you have faith in yourself that you can get through the night without Blankey, I'll be here--by your side, cheering you on and encouraging you every step of the way. I love you.