Life is not perfect for anyone…
Happy Valentine’s Day! Every year I try to make Valentine’s Day breakfast for my daughters (ages 8 and 5) a little bit special. I had talked about our Valentine’s Day morning tradition recently in this post, so I thought I would actually post pictures of it actually happening today! I do totally have mixed feelings about posting pictures of our apartment and my kids on this blog, which is supposed to be mostly about clothes and fashion! A lot of bloggers post pictures of the insides of their perfect homes and their picture perfect kids. Often they portray completely unrealistic standards that are impossible to live up to – impossible for me and my family too!
Our difficulties the past year…
Although we live in New York City, which sounds completely glamorous, life is not always easy here with a family. We have a small apartment. It gets messy quickly – so difficult to keep it tidy with four people living in a small space. And last year, we had a tough year because our older daughter was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. All of her hair fell out and she had to start wearing a wig. Alopecia is a genetic autoimmune disease in the same family as Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Basically when you have an autoimmune disease, your white blood cells decide that certain healthy cells in your body are “foreign” and start attacking them. In the case of Alopecia your white blood cells start attacking your hair follicles, treating them like foreign unhealthy cells.
Living with Alopecia Areata
When our daughter’s Alopecia was triggered, she had just turned 7. It was noticeable right when it started, one day to the next. One morning I was brushing her long blond hair into a pony tail and huge clumps started coming out in the brush. The next day even bigger clumps fell out, and more the next. On the second day I started saving the hair in a plastic bag and made a doctor’s appointment. We had to see a pediatric dermatologist who put her on topical medication. After about six weeks she had lost all of her hair and was completely bald. But, after about six months on the topical medication she started some hair regrowth.
No one knows what triggers Alopecia or other autoimmune diseases to become active in your body – they can lay dormant for years. Our daughter’s began on the first day of second grade so we thought for a time that maybe it was the stress of starting a new school year, but then again, who knows? The doctors say you can never really know – and you cannot really avoid stressful situations in life.
At this point, her hair is still very short but she now has a full head back, thank goodness. We encourage her to go to school without her wig, but she says she would feel uncomfortable because she would be the only girl in third grade with short hair. So she still wears her wig every day.
How Chloe deals with it…
We are actually grateful that this all started when she was only 7 years old. At that age she was not too worried about her appearance yet. At that point, she was still so confident that the hair loss did not seem to affect her self esteem too much. But now that she is almost 9, everything has changed. There are cliques at school, and the girls are very aware now about what they are wearing and how they look. She often cries at home about her hair, and asks “why did this have to happen to me Mommy?” It absolutely breaks my heart to think about things being difficult. But life is not easy for young girls, no matter whether they have hair or not. Girls are not always kind to themselves or to others, there is always something to pick on about appearance. My goal is for her to stay confident and I want her to be happy from the inside out, and not worry about what the kids at school might say.
How we are dealing with it…
Of course, we are grateful that she does not have a worse illness – or heaven forbid – something that is life threatening. However, I have to say, this Alopecia has been very difficult. I have learned that all things in life are relative. When parents of healthy children have said to me, “be grateful she doesn’t have cancer”, I feel like retorting – well you should be grateful your child doesn’t have it too! But then again, we got used to her having this condition fairly quickly. She is still the same Chloe.
The bottom line, we are grateful!
The bottom line, and the point of this post, is that you have to be grateful for what you have that is good in your life. You have to accept your life and the ups and downs. It is not always easy – sometimes things happen that you could never ever predict. But if you reach deep inside yourself you can find the strength to handle difficult things. Time helps too. I am so grateful that Chloe is relatively happy and healthy and she is a smart and accomplished, confident little girl on the whole. We tell her all the time that she is beautiful inside and out, with or without hair. Her sister Lily is so supportive of her too. So: this Valentine’s Day I am so grateful for my wonderful daughters and husband Matt and our family and friends. No one’s life is perfect, no matter what Instagram or social media will have you believe. Mine certainly is not, but there are so many good things too!
Thank you for reading!
Photos by Mike Kobal