mama bear

It’s midnight and Jordan has been asleep for three hours. In that time, he’s sleep-walked into the living room where Jim and I were watching TV twice. Each time there was a sense of panic in his eyes and he was talking about whatever dream he was experiencing through tears and the obvious confusion that comes when you’re walking around dead asleep. As funny as his sleep-walking and talking can be at times, this one has left me feeling gutted. 

It’s been a tough week for him. He was sick earlier in the week, but then he got well enough to attend a going-away sleepover party last night for a friend who is moving. It was a big step for both of us- his first sleep over with more than very close family friends and definitely his first large group sleepover. It wasn’t the best experience for him- some of the kids were very rude and treated him unkindly- but I was so proud of how well he did. The mama bear in me wanted to go and do what mama bears do when he told us how things went, but Jim and I know that this is part of life for all kids. We just need to do our part to teach him how to maneuver this time in life and trust that he’s going to be okay. (Within reason. I’m still me and can still go full on mama bear when I need to.)

After we picked him up from the party we went to a family BBQ with lots of people, stimulation and more opportunities for his anxiety levels to rise. The BBQ was at a house on a small cove on the lake, and Jordan’s big sis and her friend floated out into the cove on a giant float-toy. Jordan decided to go in the kayak to “rescue” them and, even though he’s gotten into that dumb kayak 20 times without tipping it, he just couldn’t do it today and kept tipping it over. It was so frustrating for him, but he was trying to rush so much to go and save the girls. He didn’t like them being out there without a rope or way to get back in. Some of the family was watching him struggle to get into the kayak, and of course it was comical, but to him it was far from funny. I could see his struggle- wanting to rush to get out there, feeling everyone watching, being so embarrassed that he kept tipping over. It was just an overall tough time, but again, Jim and I were so impressed with how he handled himself and how he bounced back so quickly. 

When we got home, he was so exhausted he just conked out. It’s been quite a while since he’s done a lot of sleep walking. I know being as tired as he was is a big part of it, and anytime he’s had a lot of anxiety he’s really a sleep talker. I can’t get the kid to give me three sentences about his day while he’s awake, but if he’s sleep talking I know it was a doozy. 

After his second time up tonight, we couldn’t get him to settle down enough to get some peaceful sleep, so I just decided to go to bed with him and try to keep him calm. In the time it’s taken me write these few paragraphs, he’s wrestled around three times and told me “We just can’t stay here any more. These people are not okay!” “We have to go. They don’t want us here and they’re just going to keep hurting us,” and “It doesn’t matter how nice you are to them, they will just keep trying to hurt us. This is a horrible place!” This is the same thing he’s been saying for the last two hours. 

I don’t know what he’s dreaming about, but as I lay here comforting him the knot around my heart just keeps tightening as the tears stream down my face. Maybe he’s dreaming about a video game. Or maybe the tension and anxiety from the last few days while he’s been holding it together so well are finally finding a way out. 

I know that nothing that has gone on in his world is so horrible. Kids feel left out at parties all the time. And I can’t count the times I felt the red heat of embarrassment creep over my face when someone laughed at a clumsy mistake I made as a kid- or even as an adult. This is life. But when you’re an incredibly sensitive kid managing more in life than the average person, it just sucks a little extra. And when you’re the mama bear of that kid, you just feel a little extra mama bearish too.  

Here’s hoping the nightmares end and peace can settle on his tired soul tonight. 

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when lightning strikes

Follow me on a little journey if you will…

A beautiful, well-organized, and lovely woman with a smoking hot body is on a relaxing stroll in the sunshine through the park. She has her perfectly behaved children and adorable puppy with her. The love of her life is off working at his perfect job and enjoying all that life has to offer. All of a sudden, storm clouds roll in, thunder booms in the distance, a downpour begins and the woman is suddenly struck by lightning.

Replace the woman above with an average looking, occasionally-organized, paunchy mom in sweatpants; the perfect children with unusually maniacal deviants; and the husband with a typically stressed and exhausted dad and you’ve got our life a year ago. There we were, walking through life with its usual stresses, but mostly just living a wonderful existence as a family. Then one day, lightning struck- figuratively, not literally. Don’t worry.

If you used to be a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that aside from the occasional “OMG I have to get this out of my head or I’m going to burst” posts about my children, I have been mostly MIA for the past year. My profanity-filled, snarky and sarcastic bitching about our silly life have pretty much dried up. I have recently received a few emails asking me “where the hell are you woman? What is going on?!?” Thanks to those of you that have wondered about me and asked. That means a lot!

Everything is fine at our Improper home! It’s just that, well…I got struck by lightning! This time last year, we began to realize that Jordan was having some learning issues at school. We were working hard with him to keep him caught up, but it became more and more obvious that more than just the “little boy wiggles” and distractions were keeping him from keeping up. In kindergarten. You’ve read this before, I won’t go into it again. Jordan has SPD, ADHD and an alphabet soup (as other moms so aptly put it) of issues going on that hinder his learning and behavior.

For a lot of people, this is no big deal. For me, it was truly like getting struck by lightning. I’ve been feeling the “after-shock” for a year. We’ve all been relearning how we live life. It’s not a big deal. Except it really is a big deal, for me at least. I’m a perfectionist. I need life to be perfect. When life isn’t perfect, someone freaks out. That someone is usually me. So basically, I’m always freaking out inside. Because when the hell is life ever perfect?

That’s not actually totally true. We’ve faced a lot of obstacles in our life together, Jimmie and I. Life has obviously never been perfect. We’ve faced all the usual situations- having babies, losing jobs and careers, being so poor you don’t even want to know, making questionable-at-best decisions, facing some pretty serious health conditions, being poor again, you get it. For me, none of that compared to having a life-altering situation to deal with in one of my kids. All I know is, thank God it wasn’t more of a health concern. At the time, I would have had a hard time handling it.

All of my days that were previously a leisurely time spent making our home and browsing blogs and socializing and being your average spoiled homemaker are no more. I have become obsessed with finding solutions to this problem and that; running to therapy appointments; reading books, blogs and articles on how to help with this thing and that thing, working with the school and teachers and counselors on what will best help which part of that piece of the puzzle and so on, ad nauseam. I’m obsessed with giving my son his best chance at life and a successful future while at the same time giving both my kids (and their dad) the most normal and rewarding home and school and social life I can. Basically, what I’m telling you here, is that my brain has been focused on one thing and one thing only for the most part- fixing this (unfixable) problem.

Most recently, I’ve been on burn-out. The “throw my hands up in the air, nothing is working, no one can fix my kid, I give up” type of burn out. It’s stupid. So, here I am to find balance. I want to help my kid. I will keep running to this thing and that and reading and researching. But I will also make time for me and friends and my husband and fun. And I will make time and space in my head for writing. Because it is, as usual, how I get the crazy out.

You’re welcome to walk away from this blog right now and never look back. It might actually be recommended. I know it won’t always be funny. There will be too much mommy talk and not enough cocktails and bunco. If that’s not okay then I understand. I won’t be mad. Thanks for being around for the journey up until now.

 

 

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when tragedy hits close to home, i get weird.

Our neighborhood is colorful and interesting, and for the most part just hard working families that are trying to make it work in a hard economy.  It’s just a bunch of middle class Joe’s in the suburbs.  It’s not super nice, but it’s certainly not ghetto.  I’d say it’s the average for America right now, maybe even a little better than average from what I hear on tv.  I’m going to tell you something though, people in our world are hurting right now.  I mean, desperately in some internal pain.

I can’t even tell you the amount of people that are divorcing, in financial desperation, having affairs, being cheated on, seriously depressed, caring for seriously ill children, and the list goes on.  It makes me so thankful to have what we have I can’t even tell you.  The past week or so my world was a little rocked.

There are some neighbor kids that mine play with on occasion.  They come over to the house and spend a day, and when they’re here, I feel the tug.  Do you know this feeling, when a kid just needs some extra love and attention and just their presence tugs on your heart?  I just want to mother the crap out of them and smother them with love because I feel their need.  It’s not necessarily that they have bad parents or those who don’t love them.  Maybe they work crazy hours just to make ends meet or maybe they just have so much of an internal struggle going on they can’t give the kids all they need for right now.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but sometimes I’ve been annoyed by their neediness.  Like, “how can I mother one more child today?!  I’m all out of giving.”  It makes me sad to even type that, but I know I’ve felt it.

Last week, one of those little girls found her mom in bed covered in blood drained from her wrists.  The ambulance came and miraculously she was saved just in time.  She recovered and returned home late in the week.  My daughter heard from her daughter the details and it was just heart-wrenching.  She came home and told me about it and just hugged me long and tight.  She thanked me for being such a good mom and for not being sick.  It tore me apart.

Yesterday, as our  family set out to spend some Sunday Fun Day time together, a firetruck entered our development and turned toward that hurting mom’s street.  I asked my husband to follow it, so I could confirm what my gut was telling me.    I probably shouldn’t have since the kids were in the car, but I couldn’t help myself.  The truck stopped in front of their house, and my baby girl started crying immediately.  She knew.

We turned around and continued on, because what the heck could we do?  I tried consoling Elle, telling her it was just a fire truck and not an ambulance, so we didn’t know what was really going on yet.  And then, as we drove down the main road, two police cars and an ambulance met us.  All I could do was sob.

My heart breaks for that mom, a woman who is so broken that she can’t hold on for her children.  I understand depression; I’ve lived it more than I care to admit.  But I don’t understand it to that level.  I may not have had it in me to keep the house clean or properly take care of my kids for a few days, but I’ve never been able to entertain the idea of leaving them behind with that kind of pain forever.  I can’t even grasp what that kind of pain must feel like.

More than anything; however, my heart breaks for those girls.  It just breaks.  I can’t even imagine, and I don’t even have words.  All I can do is sit and hold my kids as tight as I can and love them.  I pray for those girls and their family.  But what do you even pray?

My kids have a half day at school today for conferences.  We have all been fighting colds and feeling crappy so I kept them home with me.  If I’m being honest, though, I just really wanted them to be here today.

I don’t know what happened yesterday for sure.  I know when we came back home about 20 minutes later, the ambulance was pulling out of our neighborhood and taking it’s sweet time.  No one knew that mom’s status when they put her in the back, and I don’t want my little girl to hear that from someone at school just yet.  And I just couldn’t say goodbye to them today.  I realize that makes me sound crazy.  I don’t really care.  Accuse me of smothering my kids too much or of being over-protective or over-bearing or whatever.  I just don’t even care.

If you’re a parent, hug your babies today and just be thankful for whatever it is your family has.  Even if it’s not much or feels broken beyond repair, it’s so much more than we even know sometimes.

a successful day…

Today was a successful day in the land of “impropers.” Well, successful for the most part.  I still have around a half ton of dirty laundry to reason with, but lately, that is of no consequence to me.  I am immune to the piles.  Unless, of course, no one can find underwear.  Then, there’s a problem.  So…I better get on that.

I woke up to two snuggly kiddos on either side of me, giggling as they tried to sneak in and steal some time on a rare morning that daddy was already gone and they woke before mommy.  After a few minutes, we thought we better get moving.  I hopped in the shower and called Jordan to get in right as I was getting out so I could wash him up.  He got in right away and there were no problems in getting ready for school.  He moved quickly and without incident.

Jordan jumped off the bus when he got home and showed me his daily report from his teacher – the third day in a row this week that he got all smiley faces for his focus and behavior during class.  He worked on homework, had a healthy snack, and then went outside to play with friends.  It’s dinner time and he just kindly asked for ten more minutes of play before he has to come in.  So I said yes.  Because he asked nicely and without a fit.

Why are some days so easy and without incident where others are ridiculously like all of us are trudging through quick sand to get the basics done, and even that is asking too much.  I swear there is not one thing that I do differently.  I know there is supposedly nothing but the “pistons in the brain firing differently” from day to day, but that just doesn’t do it for me.  I need a miracle formula that makes for days like this every day.  Do they sell those on eBay?

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.   I love days/weeks that things are so darn easy.  I just wish I knew how to replicate them.

continuing to process this process

I feel so torn about writing so publicly about this process with Jordan and having him evaluated for Sensory Processing Disorder and/or other similar “whatevers.”  I don’t want him to look back on this when he’s older and feel like I exposed him.  But, I also know my kid, and I know that there’s a 99% chance he won’t mind, and would be happy to help one person, even if that is just mom.  So, for now, I write.  Until I don’t feel comfortable with how he would feel about it.

I have been reading books and articles and blogs like a crazy person lately.  On one hand, I feel like I am empowering myself with knowledge and perspective.  On the other, I think I’m just getting some relief from the fact that I may have some answers.  Every time I read a new “symptom” that has been a funny little quirk or annoying habit Jordan has exhibited over the past few years that we have passed off as “just Jordan” I go through a range of emotions.  I feel intrigued that some simple things may actually be involved in a bigger picture.   I know I’ve made light of the fact that I hoped Jordan would be able to “wipe his own butt” by the time he reached college, but those types of situations are actually a common part of this life.  I feel like an ass for being so cynical about something that he truly does just struggle with.  But, at the same time, I am still just a smart-ass mom that is sick of helping clean up after challenging trips to the toilet.  This is just such new territory to me.  As much as I want to be sensitive, I know I also still have to help him learn every thing in life that every other person learns, even if it is a little more challenging than it might be for the average babe.

Jim and I are both taken aback by how much new patience and even grace we feel in navigating through life with Jordan lately.  We both had a sense of it even before we had a name to put to the struggles that were going on.  Now that we are seeing that many of those struggles aren’t just because Jordan is being stubborn or spoiled or purposefully difficult, but are actually a part of a bigger picture, we are both amazingly calmer and more in tune with his needs and how to not only teach him, but find a way to communicate with him in a way that connects the dots for him.  If you don’t know anything about SPD, this will probably sound weird to you.  And, let’s face it, I am two weeks into knowing anything about it, so I could be so freaking wrong right now it’s ridiculous.  Either way, I just know we are feeling a new level of patience, which for us, was mandatory!

Both of our kids are so supported and loved by our family.  Saturday was Elle’s birthday and the child spent a solid hour or more on the phone with different relatives calling to wish her a happy birthday- and that didn’t even include the family that we spent the day with.  Jim and I kept remarking about how supported our kids are and how they will never lack for love and nurturing.  That is such a relief for us as we think of both of them and what hard work growing up in this generation really is.

We have friends who live across the state from us, and have a child with SPD.  They were so gracious to offer some of what they have experienced with their child to us.  As I was reading through it tonight, as I have been more often than not lately, I was in tears.  I swear I could have been reading about many of my days with Jordan as I looked over this information about their experience.  I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that we have friends and family that are supportive to, not only us, but more importantly, Jordan.  It was so encouraging to read through the every day struggles that all parents face, but even more so when you’re experiencing more than just the average bumps in the road.  Knowing that parents I have deeply admired as extraordinary are facing some of the same hurdles and even impatient and less than perfect attitudes that I *occasionally* (um-hmmm) do is just so encouraging.

I guess what I’m saying here is, we are moving forward quite comfortably.  Every day is full of a new challenge but also more encouragement.  I am a happy momma.

 

a mother’s work…

I read a quote recently that I assume is about three quotes rolled into one as only a sleep deprived, scatter-brained and desperate mommy is capable of.  It went something like, “a mother’s work is never done; from sun up to sun down, and more if you have a son.”  I would like to lend a hearty amen to that.  Actually, I may have actually made that up.  I can’t even remember anymore, because let’s face it, my brain is like oatmeal 75% of the time these days.  In addition to the usual mommy and wifey tasks I have on my plate, I have a new obsession.  It’s called “name that disorder.”

I say “disorder” very lightly at this point because I really don’t think I like that word for our situation.  At least, I’m not ready to say it yet.  Have you ever been in a position with your kids (or dogs or significant others for that matter) where you know something is up, something big that is going to require a major change in the way you do things, but aren’t ready to really say it out loud?  It’s probably safe to say that’s where I am today.

We recently had school conferences for our little man who is nearing the end of Kindergarten.  This is a conference I have not been looking forward to.  I knew what was going to happen.  I knew the words “not ready to move forward” were going to be said.  I knew the school’s learning counselor was going to be there.  I knew because I invited her.  I invited her because I knew we were at a point where I needed help.

Let me tell you some things about the little man.  He is six and the size of an eight or nine year old.  Seriously.  He is the most sensitive, loving and kind-hearted little guy you’d have the privilege of knowing, even if you weren’t his mother.

He has also been referred to as the following things: “destructo boy,” “mr. destructicon,” “aaaalllll BOY,” “three boys in one,” “just a typical little boy with lots of energy. LOTS of energy,” “rambunctious,” and oh so many more.  Are you catching my drift here?

He’s also known as a tender-hearted sweetheart,”  “Mommy’s little boy” (aka: Keli totally babies that kid and coddles him) and “the baby” of our family.

For all intents and purposes, Jordan is “normal.”  He really is a rambunctious little guy that is all boy full of energy.  He’s a boy that likes to run and jump and climb and play.  He’s a little boy that likes to be good at stuff.  He likes to be praised and be told he’s doing well.  He likes rewards and stickers and routine.  He is also a little boy that learned to throw himself out of his crib before he could even crawl all that well and one that we had to lock in his completely bare room at night in order to keep him safe because of what an expert “house explorer” he was.  Trust me, once you find your toddler sitting on top of the stove attempting to turn on the burners, locking him in a completely empty (except for a bed) and child-proofed room at night no longer seems like child abuse and just seems damn smart.

Before this year, we tried Preschool twice with Jordan.  Both attempts were very unsuccessful.  Both attempts ended with us removing him from the class and saying we’d “try again next year.”  We also had him in a formal daycare situation for a year and a half.  You’ve probably heard me refer to this as the time from hell, and the reason I became a home daycare provider.  All this time, I secretly wondered if there was just a little more going on with Jordan than met the eye.  I always waited for someone to tell me that he had some sort of a “disorder.” Each doctor visit I waited for someone to say “autism” or “aspergers” or something.  Each time no one did, I was relieved, but left with lingering wonderment.

Beginning Kindergarten this year, I knew at some point there would be a “conversation.”  You know what I’m talking about.  That moment when the teacher or counselor comes to you and says the combination of some dreaded letter formation that means my kid is labeled for the rest of his life.  I was on guard.  I was scared.  I was hopeful.  Hopeful that it would be the beginning of some sort of answers to questions I haven’t dared to even utter out loud.   Questions I knew I would be judged for asking and questions I didn’t want to be thinking.  Questions like, “what if Jordan isn’t just ‘all boy’ and has something special going on inside of him?”

Part of me feels like a coward for not asking those questions out loud much sooner.  And part of me knows I’m a coward for not wanting to face the opposition that I feared would come from some people around us, saying once again that “Keli is a dramatic, over-reacting attention-seeker.”   Could Jordan be having a far more successful Kindergarten year if I’d asked someone if there was something special going on and would they have even listened?  I know I’ll never know the answer to that.  And it’s stupid to even ask it, since it really doesn’t matter at all.

The point is, I am asking questions now.  I have started down the road of finding out if there’s something I can do to help my little man learn how to read, learn how to sit still when it’s carpet time and he doesn’t like sitting there in that completely unstructured circle listening to sounds that have nothing to do with story time, and learn that no matter what, he’s smart- probably even too smart.  We are letting someone that knows far more than we do take a look at the way he thinks and learns and reacts and responds to see if there’s something more there than “a typical little boy that needs more discipline and less coddling.”  There may be, and there may not be.  I’m completely open to whatever it is we find out.  I know no matter what, we will all benefit from this experience, we already are.

But, the more I read about a little something called Sensory Processing Disorder, the more I know, deep in my gut, that I have finally stumbled onto something that may make my baby’s life so much less frustrating and so much more “right.”   My mother-in-law always tells me that God gives us the kids we need in order to make us the kind of people he wants us to be.  Never more than in this time has that statement been so true for me.  I love my kids more than anything in this world, and I will do all I can to be the mom they need.  I’m not perfect, but I think that’s what makes me such a good mom.

I know I’ll be processing my way through this experience on my blog.  I know it’s not what many of you expect when you log on, and I’m sorry if this is just not for you.  But, as always, this is where I get my crazy out.  And right now, my crazy pretty much revolves around this.  I hope you’ll stick through it with me.  Or not.  I can appreciate that too.  I also want to apologize for my absolutely non politically-correct or proper verbiage when I talk about these things.  I know calling a kid “normal” is frowned upon. I know there are better words to use than “special” or whatever.  I don’t care.  This, for now, is me exploring a world that is foreign.  I don’t mean to offend or be off-putting to anyone.   I just need to get the crazy out.

i need a sewing machine

There was a brief time in my childhood that my mom was a stay at homer.  I think I was around 10-12 years old.  During that time, I remember her coming up with all sorts of DIY shit around the house.  Funny, during that time is also when I learned that most housework can be accomplished in around an hour and a half and you can spend the rest of the day doing whatever the hell you want.  Looking back, I can also see that maybe I inherited my tendency toward depression from my mother and she had a hot temper.  Awesome.  I’m not sure either of us was cut out to be purely stay at homers.  I digress… (as usual)

Anyway, now that I’m {trapped} at home I have all sorts of ideas for crazy DIY projects around the house.  We all need new beds so I scour the internet looking at all these fancy pants projects for crafting amazing bed frames from unused pallets and twigs from the back yard.  Then I think, well then we’ll need new linens and curtains and throw pillows and adorable little home crafted nick-nacks and lovelies to make this place look like Martha Stewart and that Nate guy from Oprah made a love child and it is my bedroom.

And then I remember that the only reason I even have all the time to be thinking about this ridiculous crap is because I’m jobless which also means I’m without tons of expendable income to use on things like reclaimed barn wood and a table saw.

What the heck is even my point to all this?  I don’t know.

I recently decided to broaden my job search from part time that will enable me to be at home and still be a mother and decent wife to full time (because I can’t find any damn thing for part time unless it’s a Walmart greeter and I’m just not there yet.  I mean, I still have a few teeth left in my mouth.)   So in making this decision and applying for these jobs it opens up a whole new can of beans.

#1 Who will watch my kids in the summer.   We can juggle schedules enough that they won’t be unattended after school.  But what in the heck happens in the summer time? They go back to daycare? Elle would absolutely kill me if she had to go to daycare all summer long.  And Jordan would be killed.

#2 All that extra cash would be great from a full-time job, except then when in the hell would we even have time to spend it?  The whole point in me going to work is to have fun money for things like little trips and camping and, you know, eating dinner at a restaurant and not feeling guilty about it.  But who has time for that crap when you’re working 45 hours a week?

#3 I can’t even get a callback on a decent job in the first place so why am I even worrying about this crap?

And to think, this whole thought process started with me thinking, “I need a sewing machine.”

I know you guys are glad I’m back to writing.  Don’t I just make you feel so warm and fuzzy inside? So full of happy, sparkly rainbows.