By Nikki Jamieson
A former Vauxhallite has just become a published author.
Tracy Lee Sininger (Lardner) has spent over 20 years writing her story. Now, the end product is Memoir of a Mama Ninja: A Life Far from Ordinary.
“I have two sons, that are both adults. They both have significant medical needs and medical neurological mental health needs. The book is a lot about, you know, mostly dealing with ongoing struggles everyday of being a parent with children that have high needs,” said Sininger.
“But it’s not just for people who have kids with special needs to read, it’s also about mental health and keeping, trying to keep yourself healthy mentally as well, while you’re dealing with things, as a mom.”
Sininger moved to Vauxhall when she was 12 from Lethbridge, to go live with family. She graduated from W.R. Myers High School in Taber, and went on to live in Red Deer, where she married and have two sons, Bradly Gregorio and Jason Domenico.
Both boys were born happy and healthy. But when Bradly was six months old, he began having seizures. It wasn’t until he turned one that doctors found the cause; he had a brain tumour and needed to undergo brain surgery.
In addition to his brain tumour, Bradly would be diagnosed with tourette syndrome, severe depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, the blood disorder idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) for which he is currently in remission for, a seizure disorder caused by the brain tumour and moderate-severe development delay. Jason, just a year younger than his brother, was diagnosed with epilepsy, tourettes, severe depression, OCD, attention deficit disorder and, most recently, as on the autism-spectrum.
“Even though they have seizure disorders, they are completely different. Jason’s is epilepsy, which comes from all parts of the brain. But Bradly’s seizures came from where he had the brain tumour,” said Sininger. “From the brain surgery that Brad had, that changes people neurological, you know? It’s almost like having a brain injury, because they take part of your brain out.”
Writing was, at first, was a form of therapy for Sininger, as she dealt with their health issues.
“It was very difficult, because I had two little boys, little babies, that were very sick, so it was a struggle from the very beginning,” said Sininger. “As they got older, and more things started to happen, it just kept being an outlet for me to ease my stress.
“Instead of holding it, I wrote it down, and it felt better for me to write it out and it just gave me the chance to kind of release that instead of holding it all in, because it is really important to understand that it is every single day, that things are going on. There’s not a break in between where everything is great for a month or something. It is very relentless, having some kind of outlet, especially when it’s hard to get people to understand the difficulties they have and everything.”
Now taking care of her sons by herself, and with friends encouraging her to take what she had written and make it into a book for years, she decided that it was time to put her experiences out in a book, to see if she could help someone else who may be in her shoes.
“I decided to put the book together, and try to help, if there’s other parents or people in general out there, and are struggling with, even something themselves, that you can get through those things.”
The memoir starts off with Sininger talking about her early childhood and dealing with abuse, dealing with it through drugs and alcohol, noting that she chose a “better outlet” once her kids were born. She talks about how family tragedy can impact the family, dealing with schools, relationships and day-to-day life.
“There is a lot of parts to it. It’s not as simple and also not a sad story, it’s about ways to keep on going, no matter what happens,” said Sininger.
“Be positive, make sure that you have humour in your life; you can’t be serious all the time, just find ways to always laugh and try to be happy and every day, when you wake up, try to be grateful for what you have in your life.”
Part of what keeps her going is being a Mama Ninja, hence the title of the book. A Mama Ninja has 16 characteristics, that have helped her get through life. Although they are not limited to women, as Sininger is writing it from her point of view as a mother, she is calling herself that. Some of those characteristics include courage, fortitude, patience, tolerance and love, “the most important thing”.
“These are very important traits that I needed to get through everything,” said Sininger.
“I’m still standing, I’m still doing what I have to do every day.”
Memoir of a Mama Ninja is available on her publisher’s website, shoppagemaster.ca, by contacting her via her Facebook page or email, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.musicplay.ca (Canada, in the Teacher’s aid section) and amazon.com (US and international).