I am not sentimental. Give me a beautiful Valentine’s Day card and I will admire it! I will appreciate the effort that went into it. I will be gracious, and my heart will feel happy. I will also throw it away within the week, guaranteed. I just don’t feel a strong attraction to most stuff, no matter how well intended, no matter how well executed. It’s just how I am. I’m not sentimental!
Except for a few things...Craig always laughs at me because in James’ baby book is a picture that has no people in it. It’s a snapshot of his old (expired) car seat. Why?? Of all things, THAT is certainly not something most people would want to look at. But to me, it was a representation of becoming a parent: a symbol of a journey that I embarked upon thoughtfully all those years ago. Buying that car seat required a lot of research on my part. There were so many to choose from! So many features, so many patterns, so many price points. My baby needed one, for sure, so I needed to learn to install it and use it. Who knew it was such a tricky affair? As I embroiled myself in car seat research, I found myself changing rapidly from a childless adult to a parent. When it was time to toss the car seat because it expired, I found myself reluctant to lose the symbol of how that process began and the start of my transformation. And parenthood is truly transformative.
I found myself in a similar position just this last week. I am ruthlessly trying to purge myself of all unwanted items in my house. It’s called “nesting,” because I’m two weeks away from having baby number four (and my first girl). While going through my stuff, I found two important trinkets that I’ve managed to hold on to from those early years immediately following James’ type 1 diabetes diagnosis. One is a small medical alert bracelet. This one is well worn and bears our old address under James’ name. Looking at it reminds me of how small his little wrist used to be. I can’t believe how much he’s grown and how long it has been! Still, even unsentimental me can’t quite seem to get rid of the bracelet. It’s small, so it makes the cut, staying in a tiny corner of my jewelry box. It makes me smile for the years past every time I see it. It stays.
I can’t say the same for my old carb-counting book. There is nothing redeemable about this book. It is heavy, waterlogged and falling apart. I no longer use a book to count carbs, jumping instead onto the smartphone app bandwagon a long time ago. In short, I can’t think of a single reason to keep my carb-counting book. Why, then, is it still in my possession? Why am I having such a hard time throwing it away? I think because it was with me -- well used and so frequently referenced -- for many years when I really needed it. Certain pages are earmarked and must have been referred to hundreds of times, particularly pages on fruits and bread products. It represented a time that was both bitter and sweet. As James and our family embarked on our journey together through the new and somewhat scary world of a diabetes diagnosis, I felt some comfort in having a book that we could take anywhere and then allow him to eat like any other kid.
I did end up throwing the carb book away. And this time I didn’t even take a picture. It made me sad to remember those years gone by but happy to know that we are moving on. Life is still good. My house has one less piece of useless junk, but my mind can keep all those precious memories stored away. I still have time with James, and for now I’m holding on to that for dear life. When he finally leaves us for life on his own, I reserve the right to become sentimental!
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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