7 years today! It could be called the 7 years war. Okay, maybe not affecting so many people as that war, but it's been my own little battle. A battle I am winning. I won't say I have won because this will go on for the rest of my life, but I have more happy times than sad so I would say that counts as winning.
There is something that I have been thinking about a lot. A change has been taking place for many years and it has been so gradual that I hardly noticed.
When I had my stroke Aleq was only 5 but old enough to understand some of what was happening. He was able to verbalize his frustrations and we were able to work together and remain close. He was and is my pal. Jain was only a few days old and taken the following day to live with my sister and her family. She had a warm and loving environment there and when she came home she was sad, absolutely, but again, Papa and Nanny stepped up and made her feel safe and happy. Robert was, of course, a HUGE part of their happiness. I don't want to down play their struggles. They were big. They still are.
Tommy had turned two just 21 days before my stroke. He awoke that morning to lights flashing outside his window and many strange voices down the hall. He was in his crib and I still don't know for certain who eventually went in and got him. Up to that point we had been stuck together as if with glue. He wasn't really verbal yet, and I knew his baby signs and baby words better than anybody. He spoke mostly in sounds (car was a vroom, dog was a Ruff! ) and I used to carry him all over in my Baby Bjorn and we would chat and laugh and we were as close as we could be.
Then my stroke broke his world. I put him in his crib at night, and wasn't there in the morning. There were people in our home all day who could not understand him. I am told that that evening, our friend, Scott was putting him to bed and Tommy kept signing something to him. Scott laughs about everything he was trying but nothing worked. Poor Tommy. Poor Scott.
In the days that followed, mommy never came back and daddy was rarely home. When he did come home, stress reached to every corner of the house. Thankfully, Roberts parents just moved in (to our kitchen at first) and took care of the boys. My family also jumped in and made sure the boys had chances for fun and to just be kids.
When the boys did finally see me, it was a couple of weeks later and I looked nothing like their mom. I had tubes all over, my face was different, I couldn't talk, my bed had scary buttons all over it, there were strangers all over, and the hospital smell must not have been pleasant. Oddly, I almost like hospital smells because they remind me of a terrible time but one when many, many people showed our family such kindness.
There were times when they couldn't see me for weeks at a time (ICU) and truthfully, that was probably a good thing.
Then I was living at my moms house for over a year. Tommy could play and be comfortable but he rarely spoke to me. Once when Robert took him home after being there, he found a sewing machine light, buttons and numerous toys stuffed into Tommy's diaper.
When I finally moved home, it had been nearly two years since I had left in the night. I looked different, talked different, had a wheelchair, and didn't really act like "Mommy".
Is it any wonder that during this time he developed a relationship with Daddy that rivaled...well I can't think of another close father and son relationship. Wait! Lehi and Nephi. Okay, yeah, it rivaled that one. It was definitely hero worship. He wanted to dress like Robert, sit on Robert's lap, eat the same foods as Robert, always be right next to Robert, etc. Robert, of course, ate it up. He adores all three kids and this just melted his heart. Tommy is nicknamed, Sito, and he told us that he is Dada Jr. and Robert is Sito Sr.
I loved this. I really did. I love Robert so much that it makes sense to me. But sometimes I missed being the go-to for Sito. I had already become the go-to for the other two and I would never want to take anything away from Robert. But not only was I not the go-to, I wasn't even on his radar. For a long time I got the distinct feeling that I was somebody he could just tolerate until daddy got home.
I knew I had to have patience. His being comfortable with me wasn't something I could force. And seriously, it made my heart happy to see him so happy around his dad. I knew I would have to wait and let him figure out what he needed our relationship to be. And I didn't have to wait long before he started to love the new me.
At first it was little things like our shared love of Phineas and Ferb. Then grabbing my hand while walking. And then it grew from there. Slowly. Very slowly. There were plenty of times when I thought this was just another effect of the stroke and this was as good as it would get.
Last week Sito got hurt. It was nothing serious but he sure thought it was. He ran to find me and we snuggled up on the couch until his owie magically healed itself. He and I have both been sick this past week and he thinks it's wonderful that we get to do things like watch t.v. in my bed and stay in our pajamas all day. He does a little shy face that makes me laugh and when I asked him if he had done that for dad, he replied, "I don't want to." It's just for me. I have my Sito back.