Letting her mourn a bit

by Jen Lee Reeves on September 29, 2009 · 28 comments

in 2009, Little Arm, mourning, Questions

Football game for Cam

I’ve mentioned before how Jordan is recognizing her differences… I try not to make a big deal out of the little mentions here and there. But last night was difficult for me and a bit of a moment of awareness for me as a parent. Here’s the story.

I was asking Jordan to get ready for bed when she stopped everything and told me how she didn’t want her little arm. She wanted to grow another hand. She wants to be able to hand off an item from one hand to another… back and forth. I told her she could do that already. But she disagreed. She complained that she’ll drop the mythical thing that she wants to pass between each “hand.” I told her she has a helper hand that can do some of that work, but she immediately disagreed. The helper hands she currently has aren’t good enough. Then I told her that if there’s something she REALLY wants to be able to do, we’ll talk to her prosthetist Mr. David and we’ll find a way to help her do what she wants to do.

That wasn’t enough. She wanted a hand. She didn’t like her little arm. Her whining kicked up a notch.

I wanted to find another solution. But that’s when I had a slight glimmer of realization. She deserves to mourn. She needs to mourn. I felt sad when she was first born. As I rejoiced for her life, I cried for the knowledge that we’d have moments like this one. I cried knowing my daughter would have to face a culture that loves classic perfection and that she’d have to learn to accept herself. I cried in fear that she won’t accept herself.

So I stopped finding solutions. I picked her up. I let her talk about her sadness. I gave her a hug. I told her I understood. I told her that she is who she is and I love her.

After 15 minutes, she moved on from the conversation and got her pajamas (she pronounces it “bah-jah-mahs”) on and brushed her teeth. (Mind you, she did all of these things on her own.) We read her book, we said our prayer, I sang her a song. It was bed time. I closed the door and moved on to go find her brother for his bedtime. But before I could do that she got out of bed to go potty again. That’s her best delay tactic. But before she went back to bed, I stopped her. I told her how I love her. ALL of her. I love her from head to toe. That’s when she asked:
“Even my little arm?”

“OF COURSE your little arm!”

And that’s when I kissed her little arm.

“I love your little arm.”

I kissed her big arm.

“I love your other arm.”

I kissed her head.

“I love all of you.”

Jordan said: “I love you too. I love your clothes. I love your “bah-jah-mas.” She was proud that she expanded her love beyond the physical Mommy. I gave her a monster hug and she seemed to finally relax. It was like we finally moved past what was bothering her… At least this time around.

It felt good and sweet. And I think I finally let her mourn a little bit. I think I’m learning.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee Hinkle September 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm

You are an incredibly strong woman, blessed with an incredibly strong family. Jordan is an extremely lucky little gal. I think you handled this very well. It doesn’t help to ignore it– that would just give her reason to worry that something’s wrong with her. She needs to talk it out and you did the right thing. I’m sorry you have to go through with this and I’m sure you’ll have more rough patches but you seem to be doing a solid job making those patches a little smoother.

I miss you, by the way.

NerdyMom September 29, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Thanks friend. You rock.

Lauren September 30, 2009 at 2:20 am

Jen, you are an awesome mom! Reminds me of little moments I had with my mom when I was younger. We all have stuff we don’t like about ourselves but that’s what moms are for. She is lucky to have you!

Heather O. September 30, 2009 at 5:17 am

You are incredible! I am so impressed by how insightful you are!

BTW, we miss you!!

Lisa Anderson September 30, 2009 at 9:35 am

No wonder Jordan is such a cool kid!!! She has such an incredible mommy who knows exactly how to handle these situations in such a loving and compassionate way! You reminded me that sometimes the best thing to do is just to listen and catch them when they fall! Now if I can only remember that 2 years from now! You are amazing, Jen!

Michelle September 30, 2009 at 10:27 am

Damn. What a powerful moment. For you. For her. For everyone else. She is an amazing little girl, and you, mama. Well, you’re just you. Damn, again.

NerdyMom September 30, 2009 at 7:12 pm

We miss you guys too. We’re hoping to stop through town one weekend this Fall. I’ll make sure you know when we’re heading your way.

NerdyMom September 30, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Thank you everyone… I’ve never posted a blog where I had people actually need to walk up and tell me how they felt about a blog. I’ve always considered this a way to connect, but rarely do I talk about what I wrote with people face-to-face. It’s kind of strange. I keep thinking that I should blog more… write more… But the darn world gets in the way. Love to all of you. I really appreciate the support.

Louise October 1, 2009 at 7:02 am

What a tender story and time for you and Jordan! I think you did the right thing in allowing her to “be” with her feelings, but affirming your love for every part of her!

Does Jordan have any friends who have limb differences? I know there’s a wonderful program through War Amps that pairs moms and sometimes the kids get to know each other well too.

I know a delightful 11-year-old girl who comes to Bloorview who also is missing a hand, and I know she’s had a huge impact on other families who are earlier on in the process. I just wondered if it would help Jordan to get to know other kids going through the same thing? The girl I’m talking about is a great horse-rider, like her Mom. Anyway, I just thought it would be cool for Jordan to know someone just like her.

Cheers, Louise

Crista from Kentucky October 1, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Perfect. That kind of love reminds me of how Jesus loves all of us. In the areas where we are insecure and feel inadequate, he listens, embraces us where we are, and loves us all the more for sharing those moments with him.

Can we just go ahead and arrange Keenan and Jordan’s marriage now? Ha 🙂 She is a beauty and so are you!

NerdyMom October 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Crista – you’re awesome. We should at least make sure the kids meet!! I’ll make sure you know when we’re in Western KY. We’re hoping to go sometime this Fall!

NerdyMom October 2, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Louise – I’ve found some great ways for Jordan to meet other kids like her. She got to know a 13 year old this summer at the STL Camp No Limits. Jordan talks about her on a regular basis… And I think that’s pretty cool.

Louise October 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Hi — I just saw the link to No Limits on your blog — it looks awesome! I’m so glad Jordan had the opportunity to go there.

She looks like an amazing kid! Louise

Christa October 3, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I was so moved by your post. Kendall is not at that point yet, but I find myself wondering how to respond when that time comes. I never thought about the mourning, but you are right, we went through it and it is only right that our daughter’s do as well. I came to your blog to ask a question, but received a blessing instead.
Your daughter is older and I wanted to ask you if she has ever tried jumping rope. Kendall is reaching that point and I want to help her as much as I can. I think we both know that we can’t do everything for them, but we want to help them when we can. Email me sometime because I find myself really needing to talk with someone who understands.

Barbara October 3, 2009 at 8:00 pm

At nearly-4-years-old she is so bright! She apparently comes by it naturally. 🙂

Tim October 4, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Thanks so much. I am approaching these days with my little girl. Same spot on the arm.

Heidi @ ggip October 4, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Great post. What a sweet little girl.

Twin Power Mommy October 6, 2009 at 7:24 pm

That post was so tender. It really was precious. Your little Jordan has a fabulous mama to help her deal with her the ups and downs of emotions she will feel throughout her growing up.
Caitlyn has come to terms with her “lilly leg” and so it is nice to see she is comfortable with where she is at right now.
What a sweetie you have!!

anne October 8, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Bravo, Jen. I was in grief counseling last winter, and Thomsen’s left hand came up as something I needed to grieve for. As I was reading your post, I could just picture my counselors nodding to your course of action. I’m so glad I have you in my life.

NerdyMom October 9, 2009 at 6:59 am

Anne – you’re wonderful. I’m lucky to have you too!

Marisa Kelly March 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm

This post moved me deeply. I remember one of my first conversations on the topic with my mom. It was tough but miraculously I was able to pull through and it never bothered me that much. I have so much love for Jordan. She’s amazing.

Jen Lee Reeves March 18, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Thank you so much Marisa! I hope we have a chance to meet you!

Caitlin December 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I just saw this posted in a Facebook group and read through it. I love this post, Jen! I wish my parents had given me the chance to cry about it. Sometimes a good cry makes everything seem different and better.

Jen Lee Reeves December 31, 2012 at 9:06 am

Thanks, Caitlin. I’m playing this whole thing by ear… I’m glad I had that aha moment.

Bell's Grama February 13, 2013 at 12:00 am

This is an amazing story thank you for sharing. Im sure that my 3 yr old will be asking about her missing arm soon enough. I tell her every day that she is unique and special. For now she likes her little arm.

Christine McMinn August 27, 2014 at 10:36 pm

I love this! It is okay to feel emotion, to acknowledge what isn’t and it is okay to wish things weren’t what they are. The problem isn’t in having these emotions, it is if you dwell there and give up on life. Would I trade my hand for one with fingers? Truthfully, yes (provided I could also gain the knowledge of how to use them at the same time). I can acknowledge that it has influenced my life in positive ways and be grateful for those things, but yet, I will always watch longingly as others carry a cup of coffee and open a door at the same time without the balancing act that I do every morning at work. I don’t hate my life and I have accepted my hand as a part of me, but that doesn’t negate the little losses of things that would just be easier if I had ten fingers.

Jen Lee Reeves August 28, 2014 at 5:36 am

Exactly, Christine. There are things that suck and we deserve to feel bummed about it. But I hope to encourage Jordan to not allow those sad things lead her opinions about life.

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