It is amazing how God puts the right people in your path, right when you need it.
I had occupational therapy for Littles today. Smash-N-Break had occupational, speech, and behavioral therapy. Littles was way overtired. He was happy playing on my phone for a bit, but then wanted to build blocks. He asked me to help. I immediately shut my iPad, got on the floor and started playing with him. That’s just what you do when a 2 year old asks you to play with them. We built a castle, then Kitty (his stuffed Beanie Boo that he cannot go anywhere without) needed a castle. That was followed by Kitty needing a tower (or 3), a castle, a house, a bed, and a chair. I had one email come in that I had to read from Bubba’s teacher, but once I realized it wasn’t important I put my phone back away.
Smash-N-Break’s therapist came out and we all go back to chat. I left my stuff in the waiting room because I’m stupid and too trusting. We left, went and got pumpkins and dinner with Bubba and Plus One, and did our normal routine.
Imagine my surprise to open my iPad hours later to find this note*. It delighted me. I was feeling down because I have a date for the formal autism evaluation for Smash-N-Break. I was doubting myself. I felt like I yelled too much today. I felt like my kids will only remember “angry mom” and how I need to work on that. I needed this today. I needed to know that others see that I’m not always “that mom” trying to make her kids behave and failing. I have been feeling that fight-or-flight instinct for a few days, and can’t pinpoint why other than I feel like my whole family needs someone better than me. I feel like I’m failing my entire family most day. I cannot express how much this meant to me. It came when I needed it. To know that someone unbiased sees positivity in what I do with my kids was a needed reminder that I am enough.
If you see someone doing things right, tell them. We are all so quick to judge and find others lacking. Instead of knocking people down, lift them up. Let them feel what I feel right now. You won’t regret it.
*The note says:
You are the MOST AWESOME mom. 🙂
I think you are doing an excellent job. He is precious and playtime with you made his day – and my week!
Joy to observe you – Brilliant!
Keep it up!
You are doing everything right. 🙂 He said thank you – 6 x’s. I counted. AWESOME!!!
Homecoming mums and garters. If you’re from Texas, you know what I’m talking about when I say those words together. If you’re not from Texas (like me), prepare to be edumacated!
What Are Texas Homecoming Mums?
Basically, a homecoming mum is a large decoration of ribbon and trinkets, personalized for the girlfriend and/or date to the homecoming dance. The boy will ask the girl to the dance, and then a few days later present her with the mum if she accepts. She will wear this at school, and I’m sure hang it in her room. She doesn’t wear this to the dance itself – I was worried as some of these things are bigger than the girl! I didn’t understand the point of wearing it over your dress to the homecoming dance. Plus, the pictures I’ve seen are of girls wearing them while they are in jeans. I didn’t see teenage girls wearing jeans to the homecoming dance. Some mums are very pretty. Some are…..not. Some have LED lighting in them. You can pay upwards of $300 for a homecoming mum. Girls can also present their date/boyfriend with a garter. This is NOT the leg garter that I knew about from weddings. It’s an arm band – a much smaller version of the mum. I ordered Bubba a garter for his homecoming game this year. When in Rome and all that. Plus, I want to embrace Texas culture, as I don’t want or plan to move out of our house unless I’m in a casket. So, if my boys are going to be raised in Texas, I want and need to understand the culture.
The story goes that, years ago, a boy gave a girl a single flower to ask her to homecoming. From there, this flower has developed into a steep tradition that is cute and sweet. (Most of the time – bigger does not always mean better.) I’m not buying it. First, as Plus One pointed out, the mum does resemble the Native American battle shield. This makes me wonder if it’s closer to some Native American roots. Second, come on. We ALL know what a southern woman means when she says “Bless your heart”. I’m pretty sure the first mum of ribbon and trinkets was a passive-aggressive “Bless your heart”.
I Prefer The Steel Magnolias Version
Imagine Truvy and M’Lynn from Steel Magnolias, sitting around drinking wine. Both ladies had boys. Those boys dated. Imagine if they didn’t like the girl their son was dating. They were brought up properly to not say anything. (I’m closer to Clairee – don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.) But, from experience, mothers can be incredibly passive aggressive if they don’t like the whorish she-tramp trying to steal and trap their precious son. I haven’t done this yet and vow not to do this, just had it done to me. So, I can SO EASILY see Truvy and M’Lynn drunk Pinteresting and making a homecoming mum for their son to ask their girlfriend to the dance with.
Int Room – Afternoon (Immediate)
*Fade out music*
Clairee is serving wine, letting Truvy and M’Lynn vent away about the she-devils their sons have been dating.
Why don’t you say something? White or red?
White, please. It wouldn’t be proper.
Pours glass and hands it to Clairee
Then do something. Here’s your glass.
Pours another glass for Truvy. Hands it to her
If you won’t be direct, be indirect. Make something for your son to give her for the school dance. Here, have another glass.
What good would that do?
If she is raised right, like y’all, then she will accept it and wear it without saying a word. But she will know. Oh, she will know. Here, let me top you off.
What could we make?
I’m sure I’ve got craft supplies around here. Give me some time. Oh, we’re out of wine. How about some scotch?
Truvy and M’Lynn
Slurring tipsily, yeah they are day drunk
Why don’t we make them a battle shield, but with girlie things? Tell them it’s to protect their heart or something. Y’all are proper – you can spin it.
Leaves and returns in a moment with craft supplies and scotch. They drink more, and then do drunk Pinteresting before Pinterest. They’re southern, so it still looks pretty decent, but the message is clear.
Here is a big huge mum covered in ribbon and trinkets that you are to wear as marked property of my son’s. I made you this, because you don’t measure up to my expectations. It’s pretty enough, and hides a lot of you. I expect you to wear it. And you cannot say anything bad about it, or I will be insulted and the victim.
Seriously, Why Did They Do This?
Seriously, some of these things are monstrosities. There is no sugar coating it. Some of them are very pretty and decent, and I would have been happy to wear one. But, the first girl who got a true homecoming mum with ribbons, trinkets, stuffed animals, maybe even lighting, made by your boyfriend’s mother – there is no way to hide the fact that it was made to probably embarrass the poor girl. The good news is it didn’t work, and a new and proud Texas tradition was born.
Side note: I still vow to not be the passive-aggressive you don’t measure up to my expectations mother of the boyfriend/groom/husband. If/when my boys want to do this, if I cannot make it look pretty with my crafting inabilities, I will buy them one.
School started for everyone recently! This means new germs in the house! Yay! I love getting sick!
Warning: I don’t pull punches or censor myself. Read at your own risk.
A Rash Harkens Doom!
About two weeks ago, Littles had a diaper rash. He’s my third, so I figured I could get rid of it on my own. It hurt him, and he would be in tears as soon as his diaper was wet, convinced he had pooped. If he pooped, the tears were bigger. I fought this bad boy as much as I could, but it would not go away. Baking soda baths, air time, changing him constantly, was using water instead of wipes, bag balm, Neosporin, you name it. It would not go away. And it looked funny. It was just around his little butthole. It looked like a combination of someone bleaching their butthole and doing a chemical peel on it at the same time (I warned you). Some mornings it looked like chorizo was spread over his butthole. While I am battling this, I get diagnosed with strep. I didn’t think anything of it. I keep the fight going. Plus One gets diagnosed with strep. Okay, well, we sleep together and I snore a lot. I probably breathed it on him all night. No big deal.
Then, Bubba tells me his throat kinda hurts. I am giving up on the diaper rash from hell, and figure if I have to take one to the doctor, let’s get that looked at so I know what to use on it next. Bubba has strep now, too. Okay, he’s a carrier, so he usually tests positive anyway. Plus One calls because Smash-N-Break’s throat now hurts, too. Great. My pediatrician is like Oprah. You get a strep, you get a strep, you get a strep. I’d rather have a car, lady. But, wait! There’s more!
Its Really Just The End Of Your Throat (Think About it)
The diaper rash wasn’t a diaper rash. It was Ass Strep. Okay, the doctor just called it strep. I’m calling it Ass Strep. And we all got infected with the Ass Strep. When Littles started this rash two weeks ago, I got strep bad enough there was a pus pocket in my throat that popped when they did the culture. Littles loves me. He loves drinking my water, and poking my face, and shoving his fingers in my mouth when I’m talking. I didn’t think anything of me having strep with what I thought was a diaper rash. I wash my hands after every diaper change, every bathroom trip, etc. I wash them constantly! My hygiene is pretty good, I think. But, this rash was Ass Strep.
While I’m sick with strep, I let the kids play like kids. They got dirty. Bubba takes showers most of the time, because he’s older and is responsible. Plus 3 kids in a tub is a tight squeeze. But, Smash-N-Break and Littles share a tub. But there was one night that Bubba wanted a bath. See where I’m going? I put the Ass Strep in the tub, and then washed Smash-N-Break and Littles (and Bubba one night) with the Ass Strep Water. I never used the same washcloth on Littles butt and any other body part, but it’s in the water. Smash-N-Break is a picker, too. So, all his bug bites he picked open to bloody scabs, and they were in the Ass Strep Water. You can imagine how they look right now. Plus, Littles and Smash-N-Break are young – hygiene isn’t always high on their list. They’re also boys, so their hands are always in their pants. Ass Strep was easily spread. So, we all have Ass Strep.
Alls Well That Ass Well
We are all now on antibiotics. Well, I’m not as I have already finished my 10 day course. I hope I don’t get re-contaminated with Ass Strep. I also have two tubes of antibiotic ointment for the Ass Strep. One is labeled for butt, one for body. I have to put that one Littles and Smash-N-Break three times a day. Smash-N-Break has a lot of scabbed over bug bites. I hope one tube will do it. Tomorrow will mark everyone else being on antibiotics for 24 hours. The decontamination of our Ass Strep bathroom will commence, complete with fresh new toothbrushes for all 5 members of the Adventures Family! Bleach water solution for everything that isn’t machine washable or dishwasher safe! I can’t wait. (That was sarcasm – I can think of a million other things to do than deep clean a bathroom on a Saturday morning. All of which start with coffee. One even involves running and Legos.)
Plus One asked me where Littles could have picked up Ass Strep. Duh. He licks public. No, that’s not a typo. He licks public. Give the kid anything and he will lick it or put it in his mouth in some fashion (SPD). If the object doesn’t go in his mouth, his thumb does. He sleeps with one hand down his pants on his butt (outside the diaper) and a thumb in his mouth. How an Ass Strep pandemic hasn’t happened at our house before is the miracle!
Isn’t parenting glamorous!? Admit it – y’all are jealous. Damn Ass Strep.
All of my reading and research on ADHD and anxiety has helped in other ways than blaming myself for everything. It got me to find Bubba and Smash-N-Break a behavioral therapist. Bubba to learn some coping skills for his anxiety, and Smash-N-Break to (hopefully, God, please) learn an impulse control.
Bubba is like me – he’s a stuffer. I know, I know – it’s kind of shocking that I would say I stuff my feelings but also write about feelings and things publicly on a blog on the webernet. It’s the internet – it’s out there forever. I’m crazy, duh. We’ve been over this. But, Bubba is like me. He stuffs his feelings and you have to pull them out of him. His therapist sees it. She knows she will have to build the trust. Bubba shuts down when I yell (or when Plus One yells).
So, we need to change it and NOT yell. When you have Smash-N-Break who doesn’t listen, respond, or stop, we yell more than we should. So, we’re changing our parenting. It’s a good thing. The kids deserve it. But it isn’t easy. We also have to explain it to other people, like football coaches and teachers. They’ve been great. I tell them not to feel like they have to walk on eggshells, just how he may react to yelling, and how to get him to calm down and come back to the present in those cases.
Smash-N-Break – even his therapist has admitted she has her work cut out with him. She also warned me she sees some red flags. He has trouble making friends with kids his own age. He is repetitive. He likes to sort things in ways that make no sense to me. He has ADHD. He has SPD. He walks on his toes (curled). He has language issues and pronoun confusion. He has a stutter when he starts a sentence and he is overwhelmed/excited/anxious/etc. He takes things literally.
His therapist explained expected and unexpected and how unexpected can twist your heart. (I’m really paraphrasing here.) Smash-N-Break honestly thinks his heart is twisted in his chest now. He has a loud voice and a quiet voice, but not really much of one in between.
He doesn’t really do the give and take of a conversation. It’s pretty one sided, usually. If he wants to talk, you can’t get a word in edgewise. If he doesn’t want to talk, you will have a monologue of questions. Noise hurts him and has caused him to act out. He doesn’t play pretend as much as his brothers do, and it’s usually their idea.
He doesn’t listen – I’ve often wondered if he has a hearing problem. He has so many questions. Compared to Bubba, he asks about 10 times as many questions. He has no patience. He wants it NOW. He is the definition of hyperactive.
So, she’s asked us to have a speech evaluation done for the stutter. Okay, can do. It’s scheduled. She is also concerned about autism. Aspergers specifically.
*Screech sound effect*
What? Smash-N-Break? He makes eye contact! He’s outgoing! I know autism is more than that, but it’s been drilled into my head that this is the BIG SIGN. Yeah, he doesn’t talk to kids his own age, but he’s just shy. Right? It’s the ADHD, isn’t it?
Doctors have warned me about autism signs in Littles, and he’s outgrowing those as he gets older and gets more occupational therapy. She’s going to keep a watchful eye on him, but since we’re already having a speech evaluation done, why not have an informal* autism evaluation done, too? If the evaluation comes back “negative”, but she still has concerns in 6 months or so, a neurophysiologic exam is the next step. If the evaluation comes back “positive”, well, I guess we have an answer. I took the CAST test, too. He got a 22. Above a 15 is indicative of more testing necessary. Okay.
Guess We Need To Do That Evaluation
The evaluation is coming up. I’m scared. I don’t know why. Well, I know why. I’m good at blaming myself and feel like I’ve wasted years that could have been helping him. The stutter – I always assumed he was just excited to get his words out.
I had him evaluated for speech in Colorado. They said he had a “slight speech delay”, but that it wasn’t enough to warrant therapy. I should have pushed more. I’ve tried correcting him on pronouns for almost 3 years now, and it hasn’t helped. He still uses the wrong ones. He can’t say certain words. I know that, no matter what, the Smash-N-Break before the evaluation is the same Smash-N-Break that will be there after the evaluation. I will love him just the same. I know all of this logically. It doesn’t help.
What do you pray for when you see the warning signs, too? Do I just see them now because someone mentioned them? Is this another “Overactive Oversensitive Q”? Do you pray for a diagnosis that would be lifelong, because then you at least have answers? Do you pray for someone to say “Nah, he’s good”, but then you still have the red flags waving? If he gets a diagnosis, or needs services, do I pull him out of his new preschool? Or do we go the private insurance route?
If he has to go to a new preschool, the one he will go to requires a uniform. That will go over like a lead-balloon filled with a fart in church. How do I do that? He will feel like there are ants all over him with the clothes they require from his SPD. How am I going to fit all of the appointments into our days, and still get done what needs to be done?
Am I borrowing trouble right now? Probably. I’m good at that when I don’t have a plan and can’t have a plan without others input. Should I put down the coffee cup today, since I’m working myself up into spaztastic levels? Yes, yes I should.
I’ve known Smash-N-Break was different, just like I knew Littles was different, than other kids. I could see the differences between them and their older brother. Bubba is more mainstream, more expected. So far, I’ve just been praying for strength to be the advocate he needs, and to not sound like a bumbling idiot or forget anything when I talk to the people who will do the evaluation.
Wish me luck.
*Informal isn’t the right term, but I’m going with it.
It’s almost the end of August. I’ve got more reminders and appointments in my phone than I care to admit. I’m sure I’ll forget some of them. It’s time for back to school. Pumpkins and costumes are starting to make their appearances, as well as other fall decorations. Hobby Lobby has Christmas puked all over the place.
That Can Only Mean One Thing
No, not pumpkin spice lattes. That’s good, too, but not what excites me the most. FOOTBALL!!!!
Bubba is playing his first time in Texas, his second season. It looks like he will be a running back and quarterback both. It’s midget football – they kind of play everyone. We’ve at least graduated from “everyone is a winner” liberal Colorado to a team where they will keep score. They have “developmental quarters” where the score doesn’t count, but the kids can learn the game.
I’m okay with that. It guarantees that second and third string can play and learn, with a chance to improve. Out of five quarters, two don’t count. They will also play the whole field (Pop Warner only played 80 yards at this age), and have kick offs and extra points. Real football.
HOW COULD YOU DO THAT!?
It also leads to a few issues. First, you get comments from people about letting him play. Don’t I know about concussion issues? Yes, but the younger they learn the fundamentals, the safer they will be. Plus, have you watched midget football? It’s not the bone-crushing tackles of division 1 college or pro.
The likelihood of my kid being a pro football player isn’t high. I’m not knocking Bubba’s athletic ability. I do wonder where he got it from, because I fall out of bed trying to stand up, but he’s a decent player. He’s fast, too, which I still haven’t figured out where he got that from. It’s just a mathematic and statistic thing. There are 1,696 maximum professional football players at any given time.
I’m willing to let him play a sport he enjoys as safely as possible. There are so many good things kids can learn from football. How to read plays, camaraderie, team work, needing to put school first, balancing school, social, and sports, etc. All the kids will be from the same school district, but not necessarily at the same school. So, they will need to learn how to communicate as a team when they don’t know each other well yet.
Self Esteem Is Nothing To Laugh At
Plus, it does help him with his anxiety. He’s so worried before practices and games. He’s afraid he’s going to screw up. But, it helps him go out and prove to himself that he can do it. It helps him learn that he has to practice and work at things to be the best he can be. With a kid who gets anxious even asking a question in class, this is a good thing.
I still got comments, though. At least, I did in Colorado. Texas seems to be a whole lot more accepting. (Have you seen the size of the Homecoming Mums!?) There seem to be fewer and fewer younger kids playing football. It doesn’t seem to have slowed down in high school, though. At least my kid will be safer if he’s still playing high school. He’ll have the fundamentals down.
Four Actual Problems With Texas Football
First – Smash-N-Break Is Big
Coaches don’t believe me that Smash-N-Break is too young to play. He’s big for his age. He’s almost as tall as Bubba, and weighs more. He’s not fat – he does have some chubby kid pudge on him, but he’s not fat. He’s just BIG. He’s strong, too. With his energy level, football will be good for him. He’s already told me he wants to play. So, I’ve had coaches asking me if he can play. Not yet – next year, he will be old enough.
Second, Practice All The Things!
Practice is 3 nights a week for an hour and a half to two hours, plus a game. Plus One and I trade off who stays at practice, and who takes the kids home. It still sucks for them, though. Now that school is back in session, it’s pick up Smash-N-Break, drive a half hour to pick up Bubba, drive a half hour home. Quickly do homework, get them a snack, and drive back for practice.
They come home from practice before Bubba, and then I have to cook dinner quickly. If I’m intelligent (so, not often), there will be a crockpot dinner so it’s faster. Then bath time sometimes and bed. If it hasn’t been too long of a day (meaning, did they nap or rest), I’ll read them a story. They don’t get a lot of quality time with either one of us on football nights. It sucks.
Games – I lose them. They wander off, I admit it. I’m watching the game. I keep enough of an eye on them that I know their general area at least. They get bored. I spend a lot of money at the concession stand because they like treats, and I have money, so they come back to me. I’ll take that as winning, though.
Third, You Want A Schedule? HAH!
Smash-N-Break wants to play a sport. I want him to play a sport. But there’s one of me. I cannot figure out how to get Bubba to practice, turn around get Smash-N-Break to practice for a half hour, turn around and pick up Bubba without upsetting the apple cart of Littles being stuck in his car seat for 2 hours or more, right at the end of the day.
Plus, Plus One and I would have to miss some of one of their games. Since Plus One will be helping on the sidelines, that means I have to miss Bubba’s games. Hence why Smash-N-Break can play next year. He’s not even 5 yet – missing one season of soccer won’t hurt him. Is it wrong of me to be like “No, you will both play the same sport”?
Fourth, First-World Problems
It’s better now that we live in Texas. But, I loathe John Elway. He’s just, ugh. He’s taken a team that was reputable and decent and turned them into fouling asshats with criminal issues, all to win a game. Dude, one of the players (Talib) was involved in a shooting at a strip club with marijuana found here in Dallas.
I don’t know if the police found the marijuana on him or not, but it’s obvious he has issues making good choices, to say the least. Did his mom not shout that at him every day after dropping him off at school? “I love you, Aqib! Make good choices!” Is that just me?
With Elway at the helm, I cannot cheer for the Broncos. I don’t want my kids to cheer for them. He’s just not a good or decent person. When we lived in Colorado, it was orange and blue everything, Broncos are great, yay Broncos. When you can’t stand the team, it makes Sundays suck because you always have to see the Bronco game.
Now, it’s Cowboys. I don’t like Jerry Jones. (Shhhh. I’m hiding it because I’m still new to Texas. I did wear a Cowboys jersey into Tom Thumb, though. You got a discount on your groceries on game day. I’m cheap. I’m also hard to please, evidently, based on this paragraph.)
I don’t have a favorite pro team, but I’ll still watch the games. The kids get it – Thursdays through Monday night, football is on TV. Go to the playroom if you don’t want to watch it. Laugh at Mommy and Daddy while they yell at people on the TV doing things they physically could not do when they were that age. Learn new and creative swear words to get Mommy called into the principal’s office for repeating. Oh, wait, that’s bad, isn’t it?
I’m just glad that Bubba’s game times are consistent. I can still park my butt on the couch and watch at least one NCAA game before he has his games. Add in that it’s Texas – I won’t be freezing my keester off on the bleachers praying it won’t snow before playoffs can end.
I sent Bubba back to school this week. He started second grade.
One, how did a teeny tiny little baby start second grade?! I mean, I KNOW he still sleeps in a crib and eats every two hours. He’s still a baby, right? I just had him? Brought him home just the other day, yes? Okay, really, the only true thing is he eats every two hours. Lucky child inherited his father’s metabolism and can eat anything he wants. Smash-N-Break is three years younger and weighs more than Bubba by one pound.
Two, who else has that mom voice of “enough”? No, not your Batman voice of “ENOUGH” when your kids are, well, acting feral. I’m talking about the internal mom voice of measurement. Did we do enough fun things this summer? Did I balance his brothers’ therapy appointments with fun time for him enough? Did he get enough fun time? Did he get enough one-on-one time? Did I speak enough of his love language while he was out of school?
Nope, Its Never Enough!
Me, being the ever pessimist with a side of anxiety and depression, says NO. We only went swimming in a real pool a couple of times. We got together with friends a couple of times. We did the library a few times. We did the zoo, splash pads, and museums a few times. They saw a couple of movies. We mixed in doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and football practice to all of that, too. Plus, we unpacked more of the shop and swam/splashed in our little backyard pool a lot. We swung on the swing set and went to a couple of parks.
We went on splash walks, and went blueberry picking. We attempted to do things in the heat, and ended up falling down in front of the fan trying not to die. We made a few forts. We did some water balloon fights. Those always seem to end with me or Plus One using a hose to try to soak the other one. We went to Six Flags and Gas Monkey Garage. Yeah, great list, but was it enough?
Well, to me, I should have done more. I’ve blinked and he’s in second grade. Cliché? Absolutely. Also, absolutely true! This time is so fleeting, and I want to build that relationship so he knows I’m there, so he knows how much I love him.
Love, Angst, & Therapy
I don’t want him to ever question if I love him, if he matters to me, how awesome he is as a person. I don’t want him to ever question if there is a ranking to my love (side note: there’s not – I love them all equally). I don’t want him to ever think he’s not the (imaginary) favorite, or that anyone IS a favorite.
I know that come the teenage angst-y years, he will probably think that, which is why I want this foundation there. But, I don’t want to push it, either. He’s not responsible for my feelings, for my happiness. He’s responsible for himself. I don’t want to suffocate him. (Seeing the fucked-up family dynamics yet? I’m pretty sure we’re going to be buying our therapists a new car. I hope it’s shiny. Maybe it will drive itself, and she can conduct therapy sessions down the highway.)
Bubba Loved It Though
To Bubba, it was a great summer. If you ask him, he says “YEAH!” We spent more time outside this summer than we did back in Colorado, and it was way hotter down here.
One, we have neighbors but we don’t see into each other’s homes. There is a sense of privacy. I’ve noticed that my kids want to go out and play now because they don’t feel like they’re on display or being watched.
Two, we have more than a postage stamp of a yard. Yes, it’s all dirt and weeds with some leaf cover, but that’s a little boy’s dream! It’s my nightmare with laundry, but that’s at least a chore that can never truly be done, unless we’re all walking around naked. I am seriously considering making a sign that says “Welcome! Be prepared to see a wiener! If that bothers you, don’t knock.” Think I can make the sign into a wreath? That would be a great Drunk Pinterest video!
How Do You Know Your “Enough”?
So how do I quiet that voice of “enough”? I don’t think I can. I haven’t come far enough in my personal growth to even know how to quiet it yet. Even when I get there, can you quiet it? Can you know you are enough? How do you quiet that voice of “enough”?
So, kid shows fascinate me. I swear, the job description must be something like: “Wanted – creative drug addict to write impossible truths that are suitable for our most impressionable minds.”
Littles is a cuddler. He will come over and demand I sit down. How can I say no to a demanding two year old going “Mama – sit down!”? I can’t. This leads me to watching kid shows sometimes, and trying to make them make sense in real life.
I can see it now in the Nickelodeon Studios.
<queue echo effect flashback>
Stoner Dude:So, I have an idea.
Executive:Okay, what is it?
Stoner Dude:There’s this cult leader, but he’s like a kid. And he killed his parents to inherit their money to build his cult. Wait, do you hear an echo? No? Well anyway…He calls it Adventure Bay, so it’s nice and normal. He builds houses and businesses, and starts to recruit cult members. He gets this dumb lady who talks to chickens, this old lady who has a pet raccoon, the weird fisherman dude who only speaks in alliteration. The rival cult leader is in a town full of dentists, okay, and he has EVIL KITTENS!
Executive:I can market that, but we need more people. Also, what will fight the evil kittens?
Stoner Dude:Okay. How about a farmer? They need food. And, cult kid needs a protege and a child bride, but it’s okay because he’s a child, too. So, bring in the protege as another boy kid, and he needs a parent. But not like a parent parent. He needs an old dude who has accepted his role in life is to put up with the protege. I need munchies, so the old dude can bake. The child bride will bathe the evil kitties. Or normal kitties. Yeah, that makes more sense. And let’s add a stoner dude ski bum.
Executive:Again, what fights the evil kitties?
Executive:That’s been done before. What about a team of dogs?
Stoner Dude: YEAH! They do normal stuff, like dig and collect trash. And since cult kid killed his parents for their money, he can create rocket ships for the dogs! And a robot dog to drive him around, because he’s a kid, you know. I swear I can hear an echo…try it with me. ECHO! See? No?
Executive: Okay. It’s a town, so it needs some basic services. Police, fire, trash/recycle, construction dogs. I’ll add a flying dog, a ski patrol dog, and an ocean dog. Let’s dial the rocket ships down some. How about they have trucks, planes, and an RV? No chauffeur, though.
Stoner Dude: He needs a robot dog or I won’t let you use my idea!
Executive: Okay, robot dog to drive things. Trucks, planes, and an RV okay, though?
Stoner Dude:Yeah, and make sure that cult kid lives at the top of Adventure Bay to keep an eye on his cult. But, don’t make it obvious like a church. Give it a not obvious steeple, ok?
Executive:Space Needle, got it. Can the dogs talk?
Stoner Dude: Yeah, but not the EVIL KITTENS. They have to mew.
Executive: Sounds like a plan. Now, what does Adventure Bay look like?
Stoner Dude:It has everything! Oceans, whales, lighthouses, skiing, snow, mountains. But no dentists.
Executive: Okay. You mentioned the dentists live in the rival town. We’ll make an episode where it’s mentioned, okay?
Stoner Dude:Can we add a GIANT STUFFED DOG!?
Executive: No, let’s discuss the giant stuffed dog as a different show. Let’s keep the cult kid as Paw Patrol, ok?
Stoner Dude:This show is awesome…seriously do you hear an echo?
<end echo effect flashback>
And, just like that, Stoner Dude created Paw Patrol.
I knew that I’d be unhappy no matter the result. I wanted four kids. I can only physically have three. Adoption is an option years down the road. Yes, I’m so incredibly blessed to have the three we have. Yes, women go through so much more to have one baby, or even none. Yes, we did suffer from infertility and secondary infertility. No, I don’t just want to try for a girl. Give me another boy. I’m good with them. I’d panic with a girl. Also, all my kids were born around the same time. I think I’m only fertile January through March. Kidding, kind of…
But, it wasn’t my choice to stop. I’m stubborn. Tell me I can’t do something and I want to. I’m not that selfish though. I won’t risk leaving my three boys without a mom, or make Plus One a widower. If God goes against all odds (remember, Plus One had the V), and I get pregnant, it’s obviously meant to be, right? But if that happens, my OB might tell me I have to terminate. I can’t do that. You do whatever floats your boat, but to me that’s murder. If my OB told me that my chances of survival depended on a termination, I’d have a difficult and ugly decision to make. I honestly don’t know what I would do. Plus One would have a say, and his would be to terminate unless someone could 100% guarantee my life. (Yes, I think that the person who contributes half of the genetic material to the baby should have a say in what happens to the baby even when the baby is in the mother’s body.) I logically understand this. I’m still over here like “but baby! And they smell good!” No, I’m not intelligent.
So, one line makes me mourn what I envisioned. Two lines would have made me mourn what might not be (my life) and difficult choices. So, while those 10 minutes passed and I relived all the good and the bad from their births, I realized that I didn’t know what I wanted. I want another child because that’s what I planned and I’m anal about plans. Really, though, I would love another child. I don’t want another baby because the decisions would be so difficult. But our family feels mostly whole at the same time. (Mostly because we had to put one of our dogs down recently, so there is a hole.) Maybe we look into adoption or fostering later on down the road. Maybe not. For now, I’ll count my blessings and call them Plus One, Bubba, Smash’n’Break, and Littles.
The end of May, beginning of June usually marks the start of summer and fun. This year, it’s been ugly, sad, and horrific. First, a gorilla is shot because a 4 year old got into his enclosure. Then, a terrorist shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. People use this to jump on both sides of the gun debate (myself included, I admit – I don’t like having lies go unchallenged). A family on a dream vacation loses their 2 year old little boy to a gator. Not so much summer fun.
Everyone has opinions. I’m not immune to that. But, can we stop judging parents so harshly? It’s a tough job even in the best of circumstances. Add in the technology of today with the instant-news always streaming, and you can immediately have santci-mommy jumping down your throat because “I would never” insert whatever you want. Either you are so controlling that your children will not function well in society, or you will eat those words.
I was a perfect parent. Then, I had kids. All my “I would never” have happened. I think they have, at least. My memory isn’t what it used to be. I have two kids with special needs.
Here’s a normal day – this happened yesterday. Littles and Smash-N-Break had occupational therapy for SPD and ADHD. After that, Bubba wanted to use their coupons for free ice cream cones at McDonald’s. He’s giving up 2 to 2 ½ hours every week of summer fun to sit in a waiting room so his brothers can get the help they need. I’m doing what I can to make up for that. So, I oblige. I’m getting Smash-N-Break unhooked from his car seat. Bubba unhooked Littles. Littles, who is excited about ice cream, is ignoring me saying “DO NOT LEAVE THE CAR” and runs out into the McDonald’s parking lot. Thankfully, it was a slow time, and the only car in motion was just entering the parking lot. I know had that driver not been paying attention, I would have had the judgment of a lot of people for letting my child get hit by a car.
We have ice cream, and I need to go to the post office. We get there, and go inside. I’m searching for my parents’ address. The kids are being kids bored in a post office. I get one down off the counter for the other one to climb up. They’re signing the cards we are mailing. They’re undoing the curtains that cover the post office windows when it’s closed. My phone is ringing. Littles is touched (SPD – feels like he was slapped). Meltdown by Littles ensues. The WONDERFUL postal worker is so understanding. She tells me to stop apologizing, she’s got 3 kids and 4 grandkids. That they aren’t bothering her, and it’s normal with little ones. It could be (and has been) so much different. I’ve had people accuse me of abusing my children for yelling at them to stop touching. She even asks me if they can have suckers.
We get the package mailed, and start to get ready to go to our next errand. I have Littles buckled in, and am starting to buckle Smash-N-Break, when he tells me he needs to go potty. NOW. I ask Bubba to unbuckle Littles as I get Smash-N-Break out. Knowing that the post office won’t let you use their restroom, we go next door to a diner. Bubba and Littles are right behind me and Smash-N-Break. I’m rushing Smash-N-Break towards the bathroom. He’s pulling his shorts down as we walk through the diner. I get him in the bathroom. Bubba says he needs to go, too. I get him in the other bathroom. I turn around, and Littles is gone.
I hear a crash come from the kitchen, with a surprised “How’d you get back here?!” I yell that I’m coming back, too. Littles disappeared into the kitchen area of the diner. He saw someone back towards the dishwashing area. I’m guessing he tried to climb where there were pots and pans, and he knocked them down. He’s running away, because stranger! He sees me, happily goes “Mama!” I apologize profusely to the diner employee, who looks shocked to have two complete strangers standing in her kitchen. She assures me it’s okay, and refuses to let me clean up the mess. Smash-N-Break comes out and proudly announces how he didn’t wash his hands because he only touched his penis. I’m beet red at this point, I’m sure. I make sure the toilets are flushed and we leave. As we walk back to the post office, Littles and Smash-N-Break skip right in front of a car, as I’m rushing right after them trying to get their hands. This car was going to the drive-up mailbox, so they were almost stopped.
This is a normal day for me. I swear, most of my day consists of telling them not to do something, they do it anyway, and I apologize. I’m starting to think parenting is just apologizing for something constantly to someone. Someday, it will be me apologizing to my kids when they are adults. I’m teaching them manners, but they aren’t second nature for the younger ones yet. Bubba’s pretty good most of the time with manners. Smash-N-Break and Littles both lack impulse control. Smash-N-Break’s is due to ADHD. Littles – we’ll see. It could be age. It could be SPD. It could be crap parenting. My point is this – they are kids. I’m outnumbered. They are kids. I try. They are kids.
Notice a trend? They are kids. Kids don’t listen. Instead of “how dare those parents let their child play in water at night?!”, how about “what can I do to help?” Instead of “I’d notice if my 4 year old went missing. He wouldn’t have time to get into a gorilla enclosure.”, how about “Is there an address to send a get well card to the child?” Instead of telling a stranger they are abusive in Hobby Lobby because they are having to yell at their child for touching everything shiny (which is that whole store), how about a sympathetic smile? I don’t know the mile you’ve walked today, and you don’t know mine. When people look at my kids, they look normal. So, when Littles has a sensory meltdown, it’s “because I coddle him”. When Smash-N-Break is told for the hundredth time that store to stop touching, it’s “because I’m obviously abusive”. When Bubba is in tears because he didn’t listen to his coach and has to run extra, it’s “because I babied him too much growing up”. People don’t see that two of my children do have diagnoses that make it harder to go out in public with them.
Am I screwing things up with my children? Absolutely. Am I doing the best job I can? Absolutely. I’ve handed strangers a $5 Starbucks gift card before, because I could tell they needed something that day. I’ve had strangers hug me because they could tell I needed it. (And that lady deserves an award – I was cleaning up vomit from the floor of Target while Littles had a sensory meltdown from the sound of Smash-N-Break vomiting.) Instead of using the internet to instantly judge someone and how perfect you are in comparison, use compassion. Otherwise, what is the whole point to this thing called life? If we lose our empathy towards other’s, we are just transitioning to a society of sociopaths. That’s not the world I want to leave for my children or my children’s children. Is it what you want to leave as a legacy?
After I had Smash-N-Break, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and depression. I had flashbacks and hallucinations of the surgery. I smelled it, saw it, felt it. I had a recurring nightmare of zombies attacking our house and trying to get to the kids. Plus One would fight back with wine, while I would ran upstairs to get to the kids. The zombies would stop and a female head zombie would come in to Smash-N-Break’s room. I would wake up just as she started to speak. Every night. It was awful.
I refused to admit I needed medication help, so I tried to just do talk therapy. I went to an idiot. About the third or fourth visit, he told me that I just needed to get pregnant to get over it. That at least my baby was alive and fine, and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Dude. I felt my uterus be cut open. I felt my organs being moved out of me. I felt the OB pulling a baby out of me before I mercifully was put to sleep. Yes, I don’t think I should have PTSD from this. It wasn’t war, I don’t do or have ever seen as much as our soldiers have. I feel weak for even having it. But, to me, it was a big deal.
So, I stopped going. I tried to tough it out and act fine. And, it worked. Until Littles. I broke down to my OB about being afraid of going home because I knew I was going to bleed out and die. She put me on Zoloft immediately, and told Plus One to watch me carefully. About six weeks later, PPD really hit. I hurt everywhere. I knew I was worthless. I knew everyone would be better off without me. I knew everyone hated me. I planned my suicide in such a way as to not leave a big mess for Plus One to have to clean up. Do you know what stopped me? I was apologizing to Littles that I would miss out on him growing up. He was the only one who wouldn’t repeat it. I could be honest with him. Then, what I was saying actually hit my ears. I knew I needed help. I told Plus One.
He got me help. He got me in to a counselor. I probably should have been put on a mental health hold, but the anxiety of leaving Littles alone, and not having the kids because I knew they would be taken away from me, prevented me from being absolutely truthful. I went through EMDR. I did therapy for 6ish months. The PPD was better. The counselor specialized in PPD. She couldn’t help me past that. She wanted me to stay on antidepressants. So, I did.
Then, once I weaned Littles (done breastfeeding after 3 1/2 years total between 3 kids!), they stopped working. My general practitioner prescribed a new medicine, along with more therapy. I discovered some skeletons in my closet that I still haven’t dealt with completely. Those bones are better in the closet for right now, but I need to deal with them to not pass them on to my kids.
We moved to Texas. I thought I could deal. I went off the meds. Holy hell, that was fun. The one they had me on is super addictive. It took me two months to wean off of them, and then another month of “zert zert” sounds in my head. I stopped caring again. I hurt again. My energy plummeted, which is saying something. Plus One liked that part of my depression – he could keep up. He asked me to get back to a doctor and talk to them. My new general practitioner gave me a new drug. It’s good. I’m becoming Q again.
I still feel weak for having this. I have a good life, a great family. I shouldn’t have this. But, I do. And it has a stigma attached to it. Some people don’t even want people with depression to have the ability to buy guns. I’m not suicidal anymore. I haven’t been since Littles was a baby baby.
I’ve lost me. I’ve lost who I am. Plus One is helping me find that again.. I’ve always tried to be who everyone else wanted me to be. That didn’t make me happy. I need Q. My kids need Q, whoever that is. Plus One needs Q.
Depression hurts, but you don’t have to. Reach out for help if you need it. You won’t regret it. We’re all a work in progress.
editors note: The suicide prevention hotline phone number is 1-800-279-8255. If you, or someone you know, is contemplating suicide please call. I am thankful every day that Q didn’t follow through and stopped herself.