As I send my second and final child off to college, I’m remembering when my kids were really little and I was home with them all day every day. It seemed that day after day someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed (or crib.) Someone stubbed a toe or got frustrated when the LEGO car fell apart or was mad because he couldn’t wear his Superman costume to preschool. (By the time #2 was into Superman I had come to the realization that wearing Superman to school was not really a problem. Although I still had to draw the line at the really stinky red rubber boots. But they were fine for big brother’s soccer game, where there was plenty of fresh air to dilute the odor.)
Eventually I reached a point that the thing I wanted most in life was to make it through a full day with no one crying. (Okay we stay at home moms really lower our standards.) No tears to wipe, no tempers to calm, no frustrations to appease; maybe not utter joy all day long but a minimum level of contentment by all parties at the house.
I guess it never became an obsessive, all-consuming quest because I didn’t even make a note when eventually it did happen. That was one of those milestones that seems long in coming, but surely does come, like learning to skip, to propel yourself on a swing, to swallow a pill. Sooner or later, these are skills we all acquire, although for my kids that pill swallowing business wasn’t checked off until they were practically out of high school.
I mention this because it makes me think of an experience I’ve had with multiple sclerosis symptoms. Over some period of time, I went through stretches when I had tingling sensations, then hot, cold, and even wet sensations on my arms and legs. These things came and went. I’d notice them for a few days and then not.
Then something came along that was more persistent. When I was sitting still or lying down, my left leg felt compelled to remind the rest of my body that it was still there. While all other body parts were content to just be, this leg had to announce its presence. I hesitate to describe it as a pain. Rather, it felt like a very very very very very mild electric shock just humming along in the background. I gradually came to the realization that it could well be the case that were I to try to find days in my life when I didn’t have this sensation I would have to go backwards. That all my tomorrows would include, at the very least, this sensation. And that was a little depressing.
But then I caught a cold. With a sore throat, a cough, pink eye, hoarseness, a smattering of aches and pains. And as I was emerging from that I acquired a nasty case of poison ivy, which left me ripping the skin off my hands and arms. I announce this not to be a whiner but to note that somewhere along the line when I was dealing with all this other stuff the sensation went away. It was just gone. What a joy to have some of those symptom-free days in my future, instead of just in my past!
But this ringing in the ear thing. That’s not going anywhere.