every little thing…is okay

Jim and I were in a new doctor’s office the other day answering an hour and a half interview about Jordan.  I’ve lost count of how many doctors we’ve had these conversations with at this point. Much less than some people I know, but more than I care to think about…six, eight? I don’t know.  We get to the part where they ask about his birth.

“Was it an exceptionally stressful time?” Is there really part of the last 15 years that wasn’t exceptionally stressful? I can’t remember.

“Was it a typical birth?” As typical as a planned C-Section is, yah.

“Was there any concerns immediately after delivery?”  Well, his initial APGAR scores were low and it took forever for him to cry, but within a couple of minutes no one was worried anymore.

Jim chimes in.  It wasn’t that long, babe. It was all less than a minute; it just seemed really long.

He and the doc share a knowing glance…

Well, here we are again. Me trying to come up with reasons that force it all to make sense.  I could see on the doctor’s face, this isn’t new to him. I’m sure moms everywhere are trying to put their finger on the WHY, even after we know there’s no way of knowing the why, or maybe the why isn’t a why but more like 50 whys. Or there’s no why at all.

But I want a why. I want to blame something. someone. even if that someone is me, that’s okay.  I get tired and I want answers, so then I can finally fix it. I’m a fixer.  It’s really the worst thing you can be when you have a kid who isn’t always typical, because…there’s just no fixing some things.  And then you feel guilty for even thinking that your perfectly amazing child would ever need fixing.  And so the cycle goes.

These past few weeks have been a little more challenging than normal.  Not with Jordan; he’s actually excelling, I think.  It’s been challenging just within our family as a whole. Finances are tight, as they are this time of year: recovering from the holidays, paying for sports fees and gear, a huge car repair bill – the usual stuff.  But the usual stuff sometimes feels more stifling when you’re a one income family.

Years ago, we made this decision. We will sacrifice financially so that I can be there for both of the kids in the needs that are unique to them.  There have been times when I’ve gone back to work when we really needed it, or when we thought the kids were ready, but then realized maybe they weren’t. I’ve owned and run successful businesses from home, but it always ends with us feeling like the kids are taking a back seat and that I need to focus on them.  It’s hard – finding that balance. It’s hard for everyone.  I think, and I’ve heard from others too, it’s even harder when your family is a little more than typical.

Studies say the average family with a special needs kid spends $17,000 more per year than other families. Co-Pays and prescriptions alone add up to more than half of that in our family (never mind deductibles that I don’t even want to think about.) Then you have therapy expenses, special purchases, and the truck loads of kinetic sand and silly putty I’m constantly searching for, and…you get it.  I’d say $17k is the understatement of the year.  Sometimes I just have to acknowledge these things to keep perspective.  Sometimes I just need to tell myself it’s okay.

It’s okay that I don’t bring in $60k+ per year like most of the women my age and with my background.  It’s not time for that.  It’s okay that sometimes money gets tight and the only explanation I have for that is that “shit gets hard sometimes and we just have to get through it.”  It’s okay to feel suffocated by all of the needs and demands and “I DON’T FUCKING KNOW RIGHT NOWs.”  It’s okay.

It’s okay to not have the answers.  It’s okay to need to cry when no one is looking for no reason other than I can’t stop the tears from falling.  It’s okay to be sitting in a therapist’s office answering intake questions about my son and suddenly realize everyone in the room knows that I’m probably the one that most needs the therapy.

This is being mom to someone that needs more than the “average” kid. Whatever that means. And we’re all okay, or at least we will be after a hot bath and a good cry.

 

 

 

 

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should i make a pencil bouquet or a xanax cocktail?

This time next week, I will have just tucked my kids into bed in preparation for their first day of school.  This time next week, I will be an emotional wreck.

As internet friends all over the country have been sending their babes off to school this week, I have been watching closely.  I’ve been reading their posts and emails about feelings on loosening the cord and saying goodbye for seven hours a day.  I’ve also been reading article after article about easing the transition and offering the right kinds of support to the people we are sending off.  Some might say I’m working myself up over nothing.  I say, I’m arming myself for the battle.  “What the hell is so stinking bad about sending your kid to school?” you ask.  Nothing, I guess.  For most moms.

I; however, am not most moms.  Among a myriad of personal issues too neurotic to name, I’m also a mom of a kid with Sensory Processing Disorder.  You may be wondering what SPD is.  You may be rolling your eyes and guffawing that another mom is buying into another “disorder” to make excuses for their bad parenting.  I know there’s plenty of people in my life happy to have that same response.

For those of you eager to pass judgement, save it.  Just save it and keep moving on.  For those of you wondering what SPD is, it’s a neurological condition that makes it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, thereby creating challenges in performing countless everyday tasks.  To the average person, the child may look like an incredibly shy introvert that hides under her mom’s skirt and refuses to play at recess, or he may look like a wild maniac that bounces off the walls, runs over the other children and refuses to settle down and obey even the most basic classroom rules.  (Some children that look like this, simply are those things, and some children aren’t.  It’s up to parents to investigate and decide what category their children are in, and I’d happily support all parents in their decisions.)

Just like thousands of other parents in my position, I’m anxious about many things as the beginning of the school year approaches.  Have I been too lax this summer and created a monster for his teacher?  Will he be able to grasp a new routine, new rules, new environment that is different from last year’s?  Will the support the school has promised in order to help him succeed truly be there?  Will he come home every day with sad faces on a report regarding his classroom behavior?  Will his report cards hold all ones and twos or will he be on “grade level” threes and fours?  How the hell am I going to do this?  Am I a failure as a mom?  And a thousand more questions just like these.  On a loop.  In my head.

More than anything right now, I hear these words: “Do not let that school put a label on your son. It’s not worth it.  You know he’s a good kid.  He’s just a little boy.  Don’t you dare let them label him.”  As much as I have struggled with the decision, I have let them label him.  Do you know why?  Because I’m not too proud to let my son get the help he will desperately need to succeed throughout school.  Do you know what the label means for my son?  The label means the difference between him growing up to be a tow truck driver or an engineer if he wants to.  (Not that I would have a problem if he wanted to grow up to be a tow-truck driver.  God bless the tow-truck drivers.  But if he wants to be an engineer, then he should have that opportunity.)  As much as I know in my gut that I have made the right decision, because I know my son, the people in my ear that don’t agree with it, wear me down and make me question myself.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

And then I remind myself: that label, those extra classes and the special seat he gets in the classroom?  Those are the difference between success and failure.  The therapy he receives?  That’s the difference between learning to read fluently by the end of the year, and it taking until fifth grade to read at a first grade level.  That file? The one that they keep in the office that says my son has special needs?  That file doesn’t mean shit to me, except that my son, the one that I am responsible for, he gets to have his best shot at life.

I cannot wrap my mind around stubbornly refusing my son his best shot at life just because I am too proud to let someone evaluate him and put a label on him.  If every time he ran around the track in PE he turned blue and couldn’t breathe, would I refuse to let a doctor check him for asthma?  If they found he had asthma and I refused to let him have medication to treat it, would I be a good mom because I wasn’t letting someone label my son as an asthmatic?  Would I be teaching him a special kind of discipline that would turn him into an Olympic sprinter later in life or would I be hamstringing him for the sake of my own pride?  Does that make any sense whatsoever?

This year, I will be entering new waters.  In the four earlier years I’ve had children in school, I’ve never been the mom that had to attend IEP meetings or therapy sessions.  I’ve just been the mom with the smart kid and the cute kindergartener.  Now I’m the mom that decided not to take that great job so I could be the mom that goes to school and helps with the hard days.  I’m the mom that packs the special bag and does the extra work to make sure things go smoothly.  I’m the mom that makes sure the label doesn’t mean he gets stuck in the seat in the corner, but gets all the special help he needs to be the brilliant kid that proves you wrong.  I’m that mom.  And I’m bad ass.

*I feel badly that I didn’t add this earlier, but I also want to make clear that my husband is also that dad.  He supports every decision and makes every hard sacrifice right along side me.  When one of us has lost our focus and determination to give Jordan his best shot, the other is there to remind us why we’re doing this.  He lovingly watches me devour books and articles and try crazy-brained ideas to help ease life around here.  He sacrifices for all of us.  And he is most definitely bad. ass. :)*

a little red here and a lot of red there.

You may have noticed a little change here on the ol’ blogeroo. I decided that as much as I loved the old one, I missed my red. I’m a red kind of gal. I like to see a little spice in the action when I click on here to read your comments. I can’t for the life of me figure out where my header photo went or how to get it back. I know you guys will miss my beady little eyes staring at you.)

Also, this post is riddled with links. You should click on every single one of them because they are all awesome. And I’ll probably win an award for the most freaking links in one post.

None of this has anything to do with what I’m writing today. So, moving on…

I found this on Pinterest and can't find where they discovered it. I would give a proper photo credit if I could darnit!

A lot of you have probably heard something about The Bloggess and her Traveling Red Dress before. If not, there’s a little article on the Washington Post site that describes it, and here’s a snippit of the idea in a nutshell as written in the article.

Lawson suggested that readers who suffer from emotional pain or who want to support those who do sign on to the “traveling red dress” project she created last year. Her idea was to pass around a red dress that women could wear to remind themselves of their power, to wear at a time when they feel particularly high — or low.

You may know I’m a huge fan of the bloggess. She cracks me up and sometimes she reminds me to get my shit together. I always love reading her.

When a recent post on the bloggess’ site stirred up the Red Dress Project afresh the other night, I really started thinking I need to do this. Then my friend Charity (you know the one that I send all the inappropriately awesome texts back and forth with) started talking about how she’s going to do it. So I figure this might be something I should stop putting on the back burner and get my shit together on it. But, it’s going to take a tiny bit more than me finding the amazingly perfect red dress and photographer. I’m giving myself till the spring thaw to get it done so that I may then take my very own Red Dress photos and know that it’s because I accomplished what I set out to do. I don’t know if the bloggess would approve, but dammit…I don’t care. (SHHHH. don’t tell her I said that.)

Here’s what I’m challenging myself with:

1) Go to the doctor. The real one that pokes needles in my arm, not the witch doctor (as my family lovingly calls him) at the homeopathic supply joint. Now, I realize I don’t love doctors and certainly don’t trust them, but I have to get my labs done and it’s kind of a “force yourself to get serious about this” move on my part. I’m not allowed to put it off anymore or reschedule or whathaveyou. Today I call and make an appointment at a new doc and if all goes as it always does, I’ll be seeing them in a couple of weeks. (Please don’t lecture me about how many times I’ve put this off, those of you who know. I promise to be good. I PROMISE! :))

2) What does going to the doc have to do with a dress? Well, I know for sure there are some wonky hormone and other issues that I need to get on top of. Some of those things don’t do me any favors in the mental health department. While depression has been an ongoing struggle for many years, I know part of that (at the very least) stems from other health issues and I can’t help one without the other. So, healthy body helps make for a healthy mind. Hopefully.

3) When I’m well on my way to taking the steps to make my body/mind healthy, I will schedule a little visit with my favorite photographers, Daniel Jay, and trek across the state for a little photo shoot to celebrate my baby steps to mental health. If they are not willing to shoot this for me I will tie them up and torture them until minds are changed. It’s really the only option. And there is, of course, a matter of finding the perfect red dress. So far, all the dresses I love are in the ballpark of “red carpet” pricing so you know, reality might come in handy here.

You may not give two shits about this, but I had to get it out there for myself today. So carry on, friend. Carry on.

an attempt at addressing a real issue

I am going to start this off by saying I know I am one of the most politically ignorant people in this country.  I am so baffled and frustrated and overwhelmed by politics and anything that is considered political that I just shut down and rock myself back and forth in the corner when the subject arises.

Recently I have tried to be more involved, but I just end up feeling like a fool and somewhat socially retarded so I give up and hand my voters pamphlet to someone wiser than I and call it a day.

Feel free to judge.  I probably would too if I were you.

Today I read an article on education that’s making the rounds on social media.  You can read about Finland’s educational successes and America’s interest here.  As I was reading it, I realized that if someone were to try to reform Education in America, it would turn into a political pissing match just like the much needed health care reform did and we’d all end up worse than we were when we started.  And that… just pisses me the hell off.  (I know, I am supposed to be turning over a new leaf in the swearing department, but trust me, that was toning it WAY down from what I wanted to say.)

I’m going to take a moment here to tell you that my parents, those who I learned the little I know about politics from, are STAUNCH conservatives.  They literally have a cache of weapons and cash and a year’s supply of everything that is probably hidden in what used to be my bedroom and is now a panic room.  Over the summer, my dad called me (after quite a while of us being out of contact) to warn me of the impending food shortage in our country and encourage me to stock up on my own cache of goods.  It freaked me out on quite a few levels, I’m not going to lie.

I…am not conservative.  I…am not liberal.  I…am frustrated.

The education situation is Finland is intriguing to say the least.  They are raising brilliantly educated children, have absolutely no private schools and their stance is that all children, despite social/financial status, will be educated equally through the college level.  This is a relatively socialist characteristic, accompanied by their medical care and “welfare” systems.  I am not in support of socialism.  I am crazy in support of reforming our completely out of whack systems in our country.  I don’t feel that the rich should be taxed to support people who won’t get off their couches to hold a steady job.  I feel the rich should be taxed a fair tax they can’t get out of.

I think that giving the children of our country the same opportunity at education as those whose parents pay upwards of $35k per year, per child would be amazing.  But in order for that to happen it would take our nation years of education reform. Probably run by politicians.  And I’m not willing to put my children’s education in the same hands as our botched up healthcare reformer’s.  That would just be ugly.

So… how the hell do we come to any sort of place where the crazy messed up systems of a country that is in the worst condition since my grandparents have been alive can be “reformed.”  I don’t know.  That’s why I don’t deal with this crap. Can someone who is not an old, professional politician douchecanoe please rule our country and get some shit done.  Don’t just say you’re going to do good and then come up with whack job agendas that confuse and piss off everyone and then talk out your ass most of the time.  GET. SOME. SHIT. DONE.

Shit that matters.

Amen.

{Fine, I’ll put ten bucks in the “curse” jar.  Which will be running over by spring and we can go to Disneyland on that cash.}