Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tough Times

Parenting is kicking my can all over the place lately. Specifically - special needs parenting. And it is giving me headaches ~ big ugly ones that laugh in the faces Aleve and Advil and hard liquor.

Living with and being responsible for the growth and well being of one child with autism and another with a mood disorder can at times feel a little like trying to drive a tricycle up a mountain. I often feel completely inadequate and ill-equipped for the endeavor.

But I have to keep on keepin' on, because the thought of sliding backwards down the mountain and starting all over again is unbearable.

Some special needs parents deal with these valleys by seeking counsel, others join support groups, and there are some who just drink heavily.

My solution this week? Lots of conversations with God, writing, and making a peaceful corner of my home just for me (while the rest of it gets trashed every eight minutes by a bunch of boys).

Now I have a new work space that makes me very happy. It's in a very sunny room, but I get to write facing the wall (which means I'm not looking at the mess behind me) and a photo of my whole family, which inspires me beyond measure.

Doesn't everyone move furniture around when the going gets tough? Well, they should.

If things don't let up around here soon, I'm going to have to break out the painting supplies and redecorate an entire room.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Can Take The Girl Out Of Texas, But ...

It's Thursday! You know what that means . . . Ten Things List Day!

Ten Things I Miss About our life in Houston, Texas:

10. Being an hour from the beach. Now living in Indiana, we are disgustingly far from any sea air.

9. Having green and flowers and blooming trees and, well, colorful life around me all year long. I miss the Crepe Myrtle and loquat trees in my front yard. We ate the loquats right off the limbs and would spit the pits in the yard!

8. Living in the 4th largest U.S. city and being within driving distance of just about any experience you could think of. One of our favorites was NASA - Johnson Space Center.

7. Never ever ever wearing a winter coat or having to wrestle a baby or toddler with one on into a carseat.

6. Chuy's and Ninfa's - in other words, real Mexican food, not what people up here think is Mexican food.

5. Texan pride. You will not find that kind of pride in the people of any other state, I guarantee it. My favorite quote: "I wasn't born a Texan, but I got here as soon as I could!"

4. Wearing shorts in January. 'Nuf said.

3. The unbelievably inexpensive housing industry.

2. Shipley Donuts. THE best thing that could ever pass one's lips ~ a warm, fresh Shipley donut or cheese and jalapeno kolache. They make Krispy Kremes taste like Pop-Tarts.

1. My friends, who became my family in the absence of my actual one. We laughed, we cried, we took care of one another ~ daily.

I have never cried as hard as I did the day we drove away from Fawn Creek Drive ~ from our empty home and away from our life as we knew and loved it.

But God leads us to where we are meant to be. So I suppose that is right here.
Perhaps next Thursday's Ten List will be of the top things that I do not miss about being a Texan!
And that will make me miss my Texan days 1/1,000,000th of a percent less. Maybe.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Little Ahead Of His Time

Last evening, Seth (5) casually pointed out to Daddy that his lips were red (chapped).

Seth: "My lips are red."

Sean: "Yes, they are."

Seth: "Like a hot chick."

Ahhhh, the life of a child with a teenage brother. Alexx (18) swears he had nothing to do with any of that . . . as he is laughing his head off.

Next he'll be giving kids on the bus advice about their 401K's.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Round And Round

Sometimes hitting rock bottom in a situation is, well, just what has to happen. However, that doesn't mean that the fall is any less painful or the climb back up is any easier.

I do not like admitting when I'm being defeated or that I'm not handling something well; but at the same time, I often spend an inordinate amount of emotional energy talking myself out of believing that I can, indeed, accomplish this or that. And yes, it is that fun being inside my head.

All three of my sons (18, 10, and 5) have different, but equally difficult issues that they (and we) must deal with on a daily basis. One was diagnosed with severe inattentive ADD, one has a mood disorder, and one has an autism spectrum disorder. These issues are not only exhausting to deal with on their own, but exacerbate one another within our family as a whole.

It is not unlike having several tops spinning near one another all the time. On their own, they are spinning at different rates, going in different directions and wildly going round and round. But when one happens to make contact with another, one or both can be sent violently off in another direction, or they can get tangled up and make each other self-destruct right there.

Right now, my family seems to be spinning and spinning and sending one another in catastrophic directions. It is no fun, and I'm ready for the game to end. Something more calm would be nice for awhile; say, for instance, a nice fun evening of who-can-stay-quiet-the-longest. Cash prizes are not out of the realm of possibility (always be willing to go that extra mile).

Once again, I am feeling paralyzed - wondering what in the world God put within me to enable me to handle all of this. I'm not sure how to tap into it, but I know it must be there because He doesn't make mistakes with His creations.

Which brings me to my last point. God created every one of us, including my boys with their issues, in His own image. And sometimes when I look into each of their blue eyes, I feel like I'm looking straight into the eyes of God and can see all of the potential He placed within them.

I only wish I could see that in myself sometimes.

Photo by Mykl Roventine.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ten Things That Separate Me From The Crowd

Photo by be_khe

Or make me crazy weird, or make me hopelessly endearing - depending on your point of view.

Thursday is Ten Things list day, so here goes:

10. I have an unnatural love for pigs, and have since I was little.

9. I love putting pickles in my chili. Chopped up dill pickles. Not the hamburger slices that come in a jar, but whole pickles that I chop myself.

8. Eating in bed makes me insanely happy.

7. Hair totally skeeves me out. Unattached hair. And if it is wet? I am outta there.

6. I have a way with dogs and was always bringing home strays as a child. In the small town where I grew up, town officials would come and get me to help them catch strays that eluded them. The dogs would just come to me. I could totally have been The Dog Whisperer.

5. I have a life-threatening food allergy that doctors cannot pinpoint. So I carry an Epi-Pen and react when necessary. If you see me lying on a floor somewhere not breathing, I'm probably in anaphylactic shock. Perhaps call 911. If I appear to be breathing and not in any distress, I've probably just had a rough couple of days with my boys - just make sure no one steps on me.

4. I am nearly deaf in my right ear and can barely hear what's going on around me if there is a lot of background noise. So I'm not ignoring you, I just can't hear you. But I can read lips pretty well, so if I can see your face - it's all good. If you have met my boys, you know that being half deaf is not such a bad thing in our house, so I'm pretty sure God knew what he was doing there.

3. There is a method to nearly everything I do. Messing with the way I go about doing something is a bit like putting your hand in a shark tank to pet one. It may not be the brightest decision you've made all day. I'm just sayin'.

2. I have a recurring dream about all of my teeth being loose and falling out. So I am freaky weird about loose teeth. ANYone's loose teeth.

1. I will do almost anything for a grande, non-fat, two-pump mocha with light whip. Almost.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Now What?

Do you play video games with your kids? Or on your own? What's the big challenge? Getting to the next level. My boys are always begging me to "hang on!" when I call them up from the basement, "I just want to get to this next level and then I'll save the game!"

Ahhh, the next level. Aren't we always striving to get to the next level? The feeling of accomplishment when you've conquered the current level; the exhilaration of triumph; the anticipation of a new challenge.

Then you cross over . . . and you feel like you are back at square one. Oh, I want to go back. This is too unfamiliar; I don't know what I'm doing. This is too hard.

Parenting is a lot like that, only there is no pushing pause when you're sick of the game, no cheatcodes to look for on the Internet, and no walking away when you decide you're done.

Sometimes we are eager and ready for the next level, and other times we are thrust into a new phase without our consent and with no regard for whether or not we are prepared. We are ready to move on, only to find when we get there that the challenges are harder and the stakes higher than we realized.

When our kids are babies, we are often ready for them to walk and talk - to be a bit more independent to give us a break. But that only leads to more involvement to keep them out of everything in their sight.

When they are elementary-aged, we long for them to do things on their own without us having to tell them to; then "tween" and teen years bring about times when we must beg for them to involve us in something - even a conversation!

And as late teens, when they are on the cusp of adulthood, we are quite ready for them to take life on themselves, get their acts together and make something of themselves already. Yet when they start to make moves toward this independence, and we must stand back as parents and let them - there can be sudden onset of panic within our hearts.

When these times arrive, we must trust. Trust that we have done a good job instilling in them all the right things; trust that they have paid attention to some of it; and trust that God's arms start where yours leave off.

So I'm in major trust mode much of the time, because with boys in such different stages of life, I've always got a new level of parenting to conquer. Right now I've got one whom I'm continuing to work with learning to deal with his autistic shortcomings on his own when he is at kindergarten and doesn't have me there to help him; another who is trying to decide whether he's a just a boy who still plays with toys or a "too cool for school" pre-adolescent mish-mash of hormonal emotions; and yet another who is struggling with life decisions for his future.

Within all of this, I'm supposed to be a different mother on different levels playing a different role for each - hour by hour. Be involved . . . stand back . . . you need my help . . . you can do this yourself . . . are you listening? Do you need me to listen? You need to stumble and learn from it . . . please take my hand to keep from falling . . . It is a constant, continuous, never-ending dance.

Some of it I chose for myself, and some was handed to me - without my consent or regard to whether or not I was prepared.

So I trust.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Yes, He Does.

Sunday morning when I opened the blinds in our bedroom and looked out over the back yard, this is what I saw:
"Dad Rules"

Joel (10) had created the masterpiece the day before and just waited patiently for us to notice it (you can only make out the words from an upstairs window . . . or airplane). In his words, he was "continuing the tradition" since last year at one point after it snowed, he had written (marched?) "Dad Rocks!" in the common area in front of our houses.

Sweet boy.