Time To Be Thankful For Thickening Skin

When I found out I was pregnant with Biggest, I worried about no fewer than eleventy billion things from the moment I peed on that stick until, well I still worry almost as much. To parent is to be vulnerable because when we love, really love, we are oh, so vulnerable. And now that Biggest is 11, I feel just as vulnerable because he still is.

Biggest was born with what is considered a congenital abnormality. In the big picture, it is nothing more than a nuisance, but it is still something that my gene pool gave him right along with a cleft-ish chin and a mono-brow. During the months I was pregnant, I worried constantly about ventricle holes, cleft palates, extra chromosomes, missing limbs, you name it, I obsessed about it even though there was no real reason to. It is fair to say that I worried because it made me feel that I was in control of something, even though that was a bald-face lie. Ask any parent and they will sadly admit to being more along for the tumultuous ride rather than firmly gripping the rudder of that particular ship.

But never, not once, did I worry about ichthyosis. Now, if you know your Latin roots and you dredged up “fish scales”, you’d be on the right path. As it stands, Biggest’s genes dished him up the most mild of the ichthyosis family of disorders. And for that I am so blessed. After all, the other end of the ichthyosis spectrum is typically fatal.

Ichthyosis Vulgaris means that he has dry, flakey skin. To the extent that in the winter, the skin around his waist peels off in huge half-inch flakes and his limbs look rather giraffe patterned year-round. But it’s just dry skin. And we do lots and lots of maintenance and care to try to keep his skin from getting too inflamed, too painful, too itchy, too at risk of infection.

And yet he still hears, nearly daily, “Dude! You have nasty dandruff!” or “Gross, your skin just landed on me!” or what ever that day’s selection happens to be. Luckily for Biggest, he has a pretty good sense of humor and place in the social pecking order so the teasing is mild enough that it hasn’t turned into bullying.


My tiny baby, who I worried over for all those months before ever holding, and who I rubbed creams onto for all those years, is out of my protective care more and more every day. The number of people who have access to him increases every year, but the number of people who adore him and his peccadillos isn’t necessarily keeping the same pace.

And yet, I know I am oh so blessed to have only this to worry about. All I have to worry about is if he’s going to be teased about his skin condition. A condition that will never take his life and should improve with age.

These past few weeks I have heard of so, so many people who are loosing or missing someone who makes their sun shine. My heart aches for them. And my mind worries.

Because there is no prenatal vitamin or healthy diet I can take that will protect my babies out here, in this world filled with dangers as subtle as bullying or as aggressive as cancer.

If only there were a cream I could carefully rub into a child’s skin that would protect their lives, their hearts, and their spirits. I suppose the only thing I can hope for is that my babies develop a thick enough skin to diffuse any torment passed their way by bullies, as well as long and healthy lives. If daily doses of mom-hugs and tucking them in and telling them I love them doesn’t do it, I guess I’ll just have to put my faith in that daily vitamin I give them.

Time to set aside this missive. I need to go worry about something else for a bit, most likely if the dog has been stealing the cat’s food again.

3 thoughts on “Time To Be Thankful For Thickening Skin

  1. As a world-class worrier I can relate to all of the above. Ironically, it wasn’t until some—make that many—of my greatest fears regarding my children came to pass that I began to relax.

    Go figure.

  2. When it comes to my kiddos (both adults now), I’m a world class worrier. Still. I figure it just goes with the title of “mom.” 🙂

  3. Sounds familiar. Okay, not the skin thing, but well, you know about some of our parenting issues. It’s always gonna be somthing, huh? I can definitely relate to the worrying thing.

    Thanks for this, it helps me realize I’m not the only one, and in pretty good company.

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