Something I’ve always struggled with is worrying too much about what people think of me. Not just people I know or family and friends, but anyone. I realize this is not necessarily a constructive characteristic, and I’ve tried to overcome it, but some traits are particularly tenacious. Unfortunately this has extended to worrying too much about what people will think of my child. I worry that people will judge her or mistreat her or think badly of her because of something she does or doesn’t do, or because of something I do or don’t do.

Specifically, I worry that people will hold it against her that she has this maddeningly persistent bladder condition. And I am constantly mad at and disappointed in myself for caring about this. The thing is, if she had asthma or scoliosis or lactose intolerance, it wouldn’t be an issue. We would just deal with the issue, explain it when necessary, and move on. But because her bladder condition is related to toileting and constipation and pelvic muscles and potty training, it’s more complicated than that. Because her condition doesn’t really have a name, like such and such disorder, it’s more complicated. Because her condition ended up a national news story that demonstrated how completely misunderstood it is, it’s more complicated. So I just want it to go away. But it hasn’t.

We have been to many doctors at some expense. We have tried physical therapy and various medications. We have Zoe doing exercises every night. We’ve had her blowing into balloons when she sits on the toilet. We have timers in the bathrooms. We have tried so many things so many times. For a while during the summer she was getting better–she would go four or five days without an accident. But we tried a medication and she had bad side effects and it got worse again. So now we’re back to having about an accident a day. This is despite the fact that she uses the bathroom eight to 10 times per day. She goes when her watch goes off, and sometimes when she gets the signal that she has to go. But most of the time her body lets her down, and her bladder spasms without warning. She is doing everything she can. We are doing everything we can. And yet.

So it’s a struggle not to let this issue grow larger than it already is. Zoe is an amazing child. She is kind, funny, empathetic, creative, imaginative, and smart. Today with my mom she suggested they have a picnic in the back of the minivan. She played with my dad at the playground and said she was pregnant with 10 babies and that she was getting an ultrasound, which showed they were all girls. She initiated a conversation about what it means to be surprised and asked everyone for examples of things they’d like to be surprised by. And she created a game of comparisons, taking turns asking Randy which of two things were tastier, or larger, or lived longer, and answering his comparative questions. She sat beside me in the bathroom last night while Randy put medicine on me and she held my hand and patted my leg and reassured me. She promises to do the same when we get flu shots together tomorrow. We are spectacularly lucky that she is such a great kid. Which is why it makes me feel that much more awful when I pick her up from school or my parents’ house and see that she’s wearing a different outfit than she had on in the morning, because she had an accident. I know it’s not her fault. And I want to not think about it anymore or worry about it or wonder whether people will think she is somehow defective because her pelvic floor muscles can’t relax properly. I just want her to be better. So living with the problem, while still trying to help resolve it, is my struggle. She deals with it much better than I do. I should take a lesson from her.