Thursday, July 28, 2011

Momentary Blind Panic

Since retuning from the MCBTC in April, I've felt quite confident in my role as mother. While, I tend to get overwhelmed by the task of taking care of a toddler, a husband, a house, and myself from time to time (OK, daily), I almost always chalk it up to being a new mom and the recurrence of my perfectionist addiction, than my limited eyesight. Although I like to think that my daughter is just as safe in my presence as she would be in that of any other loving and caring adult, today I was reminded that may not always be the case.

This afternoon I was attempting to turn our third bedroom/study into a usable space by tackling the enormous pile of boxes and random objects that currently reside there. Emeline had decided to help in the way that only a toddler can - by removing objects from piles and redistributing them at random. Occasionally, she'd pause in her assistance to examine the contents that I'd uncover in the chaos. One of the items that she found fascinating was a potted cactus. The cactus we have is one of those pesky ones with the tiny, not so sharp, but very prickly, nettles that attach themselves to numerous parts of your skin if you so much as graze it. Noticing her fascination I placed the cactus out of her reach (or so I assumed) on the desk until I could find a more suitable place for it.

While unraveling a mess of tangled cords I was startled by a shriek. Immediately I discarded the wires  and leaped to Emy's side. Being the tough little girl she is, she was more startled and upset than hurt and calmed down as soon as I came to her aid. Upon examination of  her palms and fingers I  didn't see anything poking out  but brushed them off to be sure. The moment I touched her fingers on her right hand they were yanked away and she began screaming. I could feel several spots on that hand with nettles that needed removing. I couldn't see them, and she was squirming so much that I couldn't grasp them with my fingers to remove them. Realizing that tweezers would be useless without being able to precisely see where to grasp, I began to panic.

 My first thought was to call my mother, my husband, or the paramedics.  Even though I was feeling panicky I knew that this situation really didn't merit a call for help - even to my mom, whom I am sure knows of an easy way to remove cacti from teeny fingers. Discarding the idea of calling 911, I regained some composure and decided I should be able to handle this. It's not like you need a medical degree to remove nettles. So I scooped up Emy, sat her in my lap with one arm around her body to keep her still and one hand holding her injured fingers to my mouth, and I pulled those tiny little suckers out with my teeth, getting a few of them stuck in my lip as I did so. She hollered and wriggled and I cried right along with her but after running her hands under cold water I was fairly certain her  hands were cacti free.

Alright, I know Emeline wasn't in grave danger. No blood, broken bones, or anything of that nature had occurred. She didn't even knock over the damn plant. She simply grabbed a cactus and most likely if I didn't do anything at all they would have worked their own way out.  Not a true crisis by any normal standards. But for those five minutes it warranted crisis status. My child was hurt, there was an easy solution, and I couldn't help her because I couldn't see well enough to remove the source of the pain. This feeling of helplessness is terrifying.

Additionally, the whole situation was my fault. I was too blame for her injury. Not only because I'm her mom and should have been watching her more closely. As irrational as my self-induced guilt and panic might be I do realize that it's impossible to watch a child every single second and accidents can and do happen all the time.  No, the reason I am to blame is because I thought I removed the source of danger by placing the cactus out out of reach. In actuality where I placed it was quite close to the edge of the desk. Easy grasping reach for the long limbs of my daughter.  My inadequate depth perception and spatial relations make my low-vision the culprit this time.

Inability that equates to inadequacy is a tricky feeling to overcome. Especially, when there is no way to control or improve my inability.  I am relieved that the incident that occurred this afternoon was not serious, and will eventually forgive myself because it wasn't. However,  I am left feeling terrified about what unpredictable event will occur in the future that could have been prevented if only my eyes were the way they used to be.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I just had my first former student encounter as a resident of Rochester Hills. I am sitting in Caribou Coffee, using their wireless, drinking delicious iced coffee, and relishing my freedom. All of a sudden I hear, :"Hi, Mrs. Landefeld!"Startled by being called a name I haven't been referred to in a long time, I look around. At the counter I spy a group of kids from LM, one of whom is a sweet  girl I taught the school year before my medical/maternity leave. My first thought was honestly, aren't they too young fr coffee? But quickly recovering, I smiled with enthusiasm and excitement at seeing some little lovies.

Many teachers deal with these encounters on a dally basis, especially many of my co-workers, who have long been residents of the community in which we teach. Rochester has always felt like my home and my community because I grew up here and my parents are still residents.  All my schooling - Pre-K - Twelfth Grade - wait, make that Graduate School - has been here. In fact, my kindergarten teacher was the principal who hired me for my first teaching job. Occasionally when I've been out and about with co-workers after work or with my parents. I've run into students or family's of kids I've taught. Not often though. Certainly not often enough for it to become an expected occurrence. However, residing in a different community, I have always felt a little set apart.

Catching up with the  group of sun-bleached hair,freckled faced kids about their summer, I got a little thrill sharing the news that I now live here. Of course they had no idea that I didn't, but I enjoyed the sound of  those words coming out of my mouth. It felt like coming home.

Explanation of My Absence

It's been over a month since my last blog post. I have half a dozen partially written posts can be found in my laptop, iPod, and backs on envelopes, but haven't been able to find the time to complete, edit, or post them. Shockingly the amount of time since my last post happens to be roughly the same as my little darlin' has been fully mobile. Hmmm. .  . coincidence? I think not.

Every evening I collapse on to the sofa just long enough to catch my breath before hopping up again to tackle all the things I can no longer do while she is awake, ergo moving. I am not complaining = well not much anyway. Nothing gives me greater joy than to follow Emeline around watching her take in her surroundings, test new boundries, and become more and more adept at walking on two feet. But the constant chasing, policing, and cleaning is utterly exhausting. She doesn't stop moving. Ever. Not even while eating or sleeping (both of which she does extremely well). My little whirlwind can not be deterred or contained from whatever task she is intent on completing. Whether it be emptying every single feminine product out of their boxes, along with anything else that might be under the bathroom sink, or climbing all over every inch of furniture we have in our house she is hysterically adorable - but unpredictable and destructive.

Normally, I'm not one to be overly picky about finding tampons in my shoes or that my purse has been emptied all over the living room floor for the fourth time that week. An awful lot has been going on to divert my attention to other aspects of my life other than motherhood. With my focus and time being more divided it's been increasingly more difficult to maintain my patience.

In the last two months Joshua and I have been busy making decisions to get our life back on track. This past year really waylaid all of the plans we had. You think we'd be used to feelings of general upheaval. After all, the only thing that has remained predictable over the last 6 years is that any plans we put in place are going to need to be changed.

Just to give you a sense of what has precipitated the life-changing events that have occurred in the last few years I've created this handy reference list.

1. Spent a gazillion (rough estimate) dollars getting pregnant
2. Got tremendously and critically ill
3. Had baby
4.  Lost vision, while having said baby, and getting tremendous and critically ill.
5, Spent next 3 months in and out of hospitals.
6. Spent the next 7 months learning how to adjust to being a legally-blind mother while simultaneously getting physical strength and emotional stability back.
7. Spent 2 months in Kalamazoo learning how to adapt to being legally blind and learning skills that would one day enable me to return to work.
8. Spent the next 2 months reveling in being a mother and loving every single minute.

This brings us to June 2011. In June, I decided I would return to teaching, part-time in September. I am  confident that this decision is the best for me, my family, and my students. I will be returning to Long Meadow but not third-grade (where I've taught for 6 years). My heart is in teaching and Long Meadow is filled with families and co-workers who are like family to me. I am thrilled about the opportunity to job-share in 4th grade and return to the career I love.

However, deciding to return to work created a few obstacles. I can't drive and currently live 16 miles from work. There is one co-worker  and good friend of mine who lives nearby whom I might be able to carpool with, but the logistics of coordinating our schedules along with our collective three children makes my head spin. The responsibility of transportation is just too much for one person, and I wouldn't feel right asking, or allowing,  a dear friend to take that on. Josh and I kicked around several ideas and we made the decision to put our house  up for sale and look for a house to rent in Rochester.

Once this decision was made things moved very quickly. Our house was listed on July 8th. That same day Josh and I went to see a rental that had accidental fallen into our lap and decided instantly that it would be perfect for us. Within 24 hours we were approved by the rental company and told we could move in the following Friday. So within 7 days, I had to simultaneously keep my house clean for showings and pack up all our belongings in preparation for moving.

In the midst of all of this Josh heard about a job opportunity within his current organization, interviewed several times, and was offered the position. While nothing is set in stone yet, at this moment it appears that he will be starting this new job at the beginning of August.

Please don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. These are all VERY good changes. Josh and I are truly excited and positive about our future for the first time in over a year. It just feels like it's happening quickly and I am still processing. Add an active, almost 14 month old to the mix and you can understand why my patience has been a little thin.