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. 

week one.

Jordan has been on a minimum dose of a common stimulant treatment for ADHD for one full week. Jim and I just keep looking at each other shaking our heads in disbelief. The child we see is such a dramatic difference than the child we are accustomed to I can’t even tell you. The positive changes are really remarkable. The side effects are actually very minimal to this point.

I decided to keep a log of all of this for two reasons. One, I want to be able to look back on this for us and for whatever use we will have. Two, once we are comfortable with where we are in this process and how Jordan is doing, I want to be able to share our journey with other moms and dads and caregivers. As we sat in our IEP meeting today, one of the counselors told me I should keep notes so I can share one day with others. I just giggled. She doesn’t know about my compulsive writing of all the details. Ha.

So, as I said, week one has been mostly euphoric for Jim and I. The doc told us we should see results of the meds within around three to five days, but that some effects could be seen right away on day one. So we were hopeful that we’d see some little something on day one. We didn’t expect it, but we said we thought it’d be great if there was something.

I gave him his first dose, told him of all the things I wanted him to pay attention to in his body while he was at school, and I put him on the bus. Just like any other day. HA! Then I emailed the teacher, his primary counselor and anyone else with a pulse at the school and asked them to be watching him closely. “Watch for tics and increased stuttering. Watch for fits and aggression. And for God’s sake please let me know if he looks like his pulse is racing.” Or some version of this.

Jim stayed close to home and worked on some projects. I think he mostly just knew I was going to drive myself nuts all day worrying and wondering. I walked to the bus to meet the kids and waited anxiously for him to do his usual descent from the steps and run my way screaming and wildlike. He sauntered down, strolled my way and gave me a nonchalant “Hey mom, what’s up?”

What the WHAT?!?! Who was this child?

He spent the better part of the last week being himself, but a little more chill and a lot more “I can’t put my finger on it but something/almost everything about that child is different in a very good way.”

We were around 5 weeks worth of homework behind. It’s not that we don’t work on homework with him every night, it’s that it takes so long we just can’t keep up with the class. This week, we did one week’s worth of work each night. Yes. We are now caught up. And he wanted to do homework. He asked to do it. He was proud of his work and he mostly understood what was going on. It honestly felt nothing short of miraculous.

The downside? He can’t sleep as well. At least the first few nights he really couldn’t fall asleep for hours. It took its toll on him. He has been taking Melatonin to help him fall asleep for a few years. We made sure with the doc that this would still be okay and continued as usual. Night one I had to triple his dose to get him anywhere close to falling asleep. No biggie- he wasn’t taking much to start with. It’s still a healthy level. The last few nights, it hasn’t taken as much.

The last few days have had a few changes. He’s still pretty level. The only difference I’m seeing is more of a “sensitivity.” He’s a little crankier than usual. He has had a couple of meltdowns when he doesn’t get his way, which wasn’t happening the first few days of meds. It is pretty typical from before meds though. I almost feel like his body/brain are getting used to the meds and they aren’t working as well. But, he also has a cold and it’s been a very long week of working double time on homework catch-up and his body getting used to this new normal. So I could be wrong. It could be anything. That’s why the doc has asked us to wait a month before re-evaluating his dosage. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of ups and downs.

So far, I’m glad it’s mostly ups! No side effects except the decrease in appetite (we are not concerned about this one!) and the sleep thing. So far, so good.

the decision.

{This post was written a few weeks ago and is the first in a line of “we choose meds” posts that I’ve been writing since. ¬†We wanted to get through the initial stages of medication privately before we told anyone. Without spoiling the ending ūüėČ I can tell you our life is forever, fabulously changed.}

 

This time last ¬†year, as we sat down with the professionals at Jordan’s school and learned their take on his “setbacks,” the first words out of my mouth were, “We will pursue all lines of help possible, but we will not be drugging our kid so don’t even bother going there.”

Last night, at 5:45 pm we sat in our pediatrician’s office and said, “Yes. ¬†We feel like it’s time to look into the medications that could help him.” ¬†It’s as simple as that. ¬†It’s time.

I won’t be publishing this post for quite a while, if ever, but I do want to write it today. ¬†It’s important I write it now both for me and so that eventually, if I do decide to share this, it will be the way I actually felt all the way through it. ¬†Today, as he takes his first 18 mg dose and heads out the door for school, I feel like a nervous wreck. ¬†He knows he’s taking special medicine that might help him slow his engine down and make it easier to listen to his teacher. ¬†He also knows it might make him feel funny, which Mommy needs to know about right away. ¬†He knows his heart might feel like it’s beating really fast and he needs to tell his teacher.

What he doesn’t know, is that Mommy is praying her face off that this special medicine only gives him all the benefits and none of the side effects. ¬†Is that too much to ask? ¬†I honestly don’t think so. ¬†I don’t want him to get a nervous tic or to begin stuttering worse than he ever has. ¬†And that’s just the beginning. ¬†I don’t want him to have heart¬†palpitations¬†or fits of aggression. ¬†I just want him to have a good day.

I just want him to be able to sit in his chair and complete a worksheet that kids half his age can do without a problem. ¬†I want him to be able to sit on the floor with the rest of his friends during carpet time rather than in a chair next to the teacher to keep him from rolling around on the floor. ¬†I want him to walk down the hallway rather than jump and fall and roll down the hallway. ¬†I want him to learn to read and understand that numbers are more than just a symbol on the page but they mean the same thing as the blocks he has stacked up in front of him. ¬†These may seem like silly things to care about. ¬†But they aren’t.

They aren’t silly because that’s what’s important to the seven year old giant child that crawls up on my lap and tells me that today he wants to put the plastic bag on his head and stop breathing because he’s stupid. ¬†There’s nothing silly about feeling so different and so stupid than everyone else around you that you just want to give up.

And that’s why, at 5:45 pm I sat across from our doctor and told him that yes, we are ready. We choose meds. ¬†Not because I’m a lazy parent that just wants the meds to turn my kid into the perfect child without me doing any of the work. ¬†Not because I want to appease the teachers that expect too much of little boys these days and don’t let them be “boys.” Because in 2013 society expects seven year old little boys to be able to read and count to 100. ¬†And 85% of seven year old boys do know how to do that without any problem. ¬†And trust me, seven year old boys know if they can’t do something that “everyone else” can do, and it makes them feel stupid and for some of them, it makes them depressed at times.

We aren’t telling anyone other than his teachers about our decision right now. ¬†Someday we will, but he certainly doesn’t need the added pressure of being in a fishbowl as it gets figured out right now. It’s time he’s just allowed to be a seven year old little boy.

 

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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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 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.