I am pretty sure that the next time someone tells me to let my kids "live their life to the fullest" and "don't keep them in a bubble", I may just scream.
I don't understand why being cautious is now looked at as being over-paranoid. It's not like my kids never see the light of day. I don't swaddle them in bubble wrap before leaving the house, nor have I installed a Lysol decontamination room in my house. Madi goes to school. She plays outside at recess. We go to movies. We've gone to Sesame Street Live and Yo Gabba Gabba Live. I know for a fact that when we're outside, much as I don't like it, Sydney sneaks tastes of dirt. And we are fine, for the most part.
When it comes to flu season, of course, we are much more cautious. We insist on flu shots, both for our family and for people visiting our house. We are adamant that you take your shoes off when you come in the house. That was always the rule, though, even before our kids were transplanted. We require hand-washing when you come in the house, and when you've gone to the bathroom. What's so weird about that?
It really offends me when people make comments that I didn't fight for my kids' lives and get them their transplants just so I could put them in a bubble and not let them live life. It makes me very angry, in fact. I know I shouldn't take it to heart, and I should just blow it off, but sometimes it's hard. I don't think people realize when they make comments like that, they are basically saying "Hey, you suck as a mom." It's totally true that we didn't go through what we did to live a life less than full. The girls' limitations post-transplant are actually less than pre-transplant. Before they had new hearts, the girls wouldn't have even been allowed to play sports or do gymnastics. Now they can. There are just different rules. Most of them involving vaccination and food safety. All of them involving common sense.
Let's be real, here: there are a lot of germs in the world. I know that my kids are going to get sick. It's inevitable, especially with Madi now in school. I know that some exposure to dirt and germs is necessary to build a stronger immune system in anyone.
Contrary to popular belief, I don't sit in a corner, rocking and sucking my thumb, afraid of the world and all the stuff that's "out to get" my kids. My kids probably get to do more things than I did as a kid. Just because they aren't in weekly swimming, tennis, or needlepoint lessons doesn't mean that they are missing something in their lives. Madi and Sydney are homebodies. They'd prefer to be at home and watch movies, color pictures, or play with trucks than be out running around. Maybe because they have both spent so much time cooped up in hospital rooms and doctor's offices, they simply enjoy the comforts of home. That's totally fine by me. I don't believe that the amount of places a child has been or the number of activities on their daily schedule determines whether they have a good childhood. If any family knows how to live life to the fullest, it's ours. We celebrate the mundane, everyday things that so many overlook without a second thought. I got teary-eyed when Madi put her own pants on the other day, for cryin' out loud!!
So please, don't tell me that I don't ensure my kids live their lives to the fullest. The docs at Mayo think we are doing a great job, and are very thankful (as am I) that the girls continue to grow, learn, and achieve all that their hearts desire. And they manage to do it relatively healthily, at that. So no, you probably won't run into my kids in the busy shopping mall in the middle of December. Who likes shopping with their little ones anyway?!? And chances are you won't see us at Chuck E Cheese anytime soon. But don't tell me that my kids don't live their lives to the fullest.
Their every breath is evidence to the contrary.