Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me?

This blog is called My (Un)Controlled Chaos for a reason. It's a reflection of my life. I have a couple of friends who walk away from an hour in my house thanking God that they don't live here. With three boys, there is always food out somewhere, clothes thrown somewhere, shoes, Legos, action figures, paper airplanes, games, movies, light sabers - good heaven above the light sabers.

Can one really ever have enough light sabers? I mean, some light up and some make sounds. Some do both. Some have spring action. Some come apart. Some change colors. I'm hoping they come out with one soon that can open a bottle of wine.

But I digress.

We also have a fussy little white dog who has this compulsive need to lick shoes. And shred tissues from the bathroom trash. What a freak . . . she fits right in. Add to this the rock band in the basement (oldest son plays drums), middle son who has taken up playing the saxophone, and youngest son on the autism spectrum who somehow, some way, manages to live among all of this and thrive.

We are loud - every last one of us. We laugh at odd things and circumstances. We know trivia about weird things. We are like the Adams Family without the creepy hand in the box. We think our environment is completely normal, while outsiders walk in and wonder what bizarre world they've crossed over into - and are probably eyeing the exits from the moment they enter.

Okay, so maybe that exaggerating a bit. And maybe not.

So what does a family who already lives in utter chaos much of the time do? Well, adopt a 2nd dog, of course. This is Buddy:

Buddy is coming to live with us tomorrow night because we need a little more excitement in our life.

Our little tissue-shredding, talk-like-a-wookie-when-she-wants-your-attention maltese-poodle mutt just isn't enough.

The autism isn't enough.

The middle son's mood disorder just isn't enough.

The current level of messiness isn't enough.

It's getting a little boring around here. Time to shake things up.

Don't you just wish you were me?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Don't Push the Big Guy, Or He Might Push Back

Sometimes I feel like God and I are really clicking along in our relationship. I'm getting Him. He's getting me. It's going well.

Then there's the rest of the time.

I've been feeling distant recently. Like I'm not hearing from God. More likely, of course, is that I'm not listening. Or seeking enough in the first place.

Things don't seem to be moving along smoothly in my heart. I've made some decisions lately and engaged in some behaviors that I didn't think through and that, well, certainly aren't things I asked God about beforehand.

Several areas of my life are needing some direction right now.

I'm feeling a little lost on what I'm supposed to be doing these days now that my last dude is in school all day long. I'm wondering what God has for me and am not feeling any sort of wisdom or guidance on the subject at all.

Last night we began discussing adopting a golden retriever through a local rescue organization (GRRACE) that came to my attention earlier in the week. We previously adopted a golden through Grrace, whom we had for eight years until he passed away a year and a half ago. It was devastating; but now we may be ready for another. We met Buddy today, a nine-year-old golden being fostered who needs a permanent home. I figured I would be ready to take him home the minute I met him. I prayed last night and this morning for God to give me some sort of definite feeling, one way or another, when I met this dog. Some red flag to tell me no; some glaring wonderful thing to tell me yes. But it didn't happen. He was a wonderful dog, a lot like our golden who died, and the boys loved him. Sean loved him. But I didn't hear God's voice - telling me yes OR no. I felt deafening silence in my heart on the issue. This is troubling to me because it's very unusual not to feel God stirring my heart one way or another about things.

Also recently, I had to give up my evening Bible study due to issues going on with our middle son (diagnosed with a mood disorder), so a couple of friends and I have decided to do a study together on our own and meet during the day. We haven't decided on what particular study we'd like to do, so this evening I stopped in at the Christian book store to look over some.

I stood there reading over several women's studies on different relevant issues and just felt blank. Nothing popped out at me. Right there in the aisle, I felt very down. I prayed right then, just talking to God. "Why am I not hearing from you? No feeling, no signs, on ANYthing I'm stuck on. What am I supposed to be doing these days? Is this dog right for us? What study is right? Could you just drop me a hint on SOMETHING? Could you give me a nudge? Are you there?"

And I am not even making this up - as I'm standing there in the Family Christian book store literally questioning God's presence or rather my lack of ability to sense Him and his voice - I heard a man yell from across the store, "Hey!" and laugh, then again, "Hey!" I turned my head wondering what in the world was going on, and a golden retriever comes trotting by with its leash trailing behind. In a book store. The guy then walked by going after the dog, grinning, and said, "He's just exploring!" I think my heart quit beating for a moment.

Real subtle, God. Okay. So you're there. I have no idea what you are saying, but I get it. You're there. And I shouldn't be questioning whether you are there or pushing because you are not answering my questions within my time frame or as obviously as I would like.

Thank you for smacking me upside the head. I will more patiently seek you, and listen instead of gripe.

photo by Cathy Kaplan

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No, I Don't Want To Garden.

My oldest, Alexx, graduated from high school in May and my youngest, Seth, started first grade last week. There's also pickle in the middle Joel, who is in 6th grade.

Having no kids at home during the day for the first time since I became a stay-at-home parent 10 years ago is . . . amazing. Tears? No. Cheers? You bet! Can I get a wahooooo?!

I haven't had this kind of free time since I was a teenager. Literally. And I'm getting some typical comments from some friends and acquaintances when the topic comes up. "You're so lucky!" "It must be nice," or "You have no idea what you have."

Um, I know exactly what I have and appreciate it accordingly. Yes, it is nice. And I wouldn't say it has anything to do with luck. I'd say I've totally earned it.

I've got one foot on the flip-side, baby! I've done the diapers, potty-training, can't-leave-the-house-at-naptime, fits in the grocery, too-tired-for-sex, can-hardly-go-anywhere-alone, can-hardly-go-anywhere-with-my-husband years. Since 1991.

When someone looks at my days longingly, I often would like to say I've put in time. And hard time it's been (and continues to be). Even with normal parenting, getting a child to 18 is a gut-wrenching, sleep-losing, mind-boggling, frustrating, sometimes head-splitting experience. When you've got kids with neurological deficits that's just icing on the insanity-inducing cake.

I've spent the better part of my parenting years dealing with ADD, ADHD, autism, and a mood disorder along with your run-of-the-mill strong-willed boy thing. It's been . . . bumpy. And it's not anywhere near over.

I've played tutor, homeschooler, occupational therapist, speech therapist, behavioral therapist, developmental therapist. I've had countless meetings with countless teachers and counselors. I've had therapists in my home many days per week, and I've spent many hours driving kids to therapists. There have been meds - meds that didn't work, meds that did bad things, meds that did work; research for supplements, tracking their progress (or lack thereof); research for help, techniques, doctors, schools. And I'm not done yet. Not by a longshot.

I have been working. Just not getting paid for it - at least not with money.

Of course, it has also been (and will continue to be) an amazing, humbling, beautiful, heart-throbbing, inexplicably sensational experience as well. It has given me endless fodder to write about. It has made me who I am today. It has brought me closer to God and deepened my relationship with him. It has made me even more off-balance than I already was. It has shown me that I am stronger than I thought was possible. It has shown me who really cares about me and my family and who I can count on.

So now I take a breath. To ponder. To rejuvenate. To thank God that after 18 years, I get a break each day for me - to figure out exactly who that is after all this time and where it is that I'm supposed to be going from here.

photo by McKenna

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What To DO?

So I'm on my 2nd real day of being alone alllllll day with Seth having gone into first grade. Yesterday I did laundry until my spleen hurt, and didn't leave the house until after 8:00 p.m. when I fled to Starbucks for a mocha. This morning, I'm all dude - I don't have to be anywhere until 1:00. ONE O'CLOCK.

Aloneness is something I am not used to, but am totally willing to give it my best shot. Being the mother of three boys - one who is a drummer and one who was born missing the volume control that most humans are equipped with at birth - well, let's just say I'm soaking up the quiet to make up for the past 18 years. I feel like a plant that hasn't been watered since, oh, ever.

This time was always a distant point on the horizon, like the sun at sunset - boy it sure looks close, but you can travel in that direction for the rest of your life and never reach it. Or that's how it always felt. But here I am.

I actually never even meant to be a stay-at-home parent. I was crazy ambitious in my career as an account executive for an ad agency until one day, pregnant with my second child, it was like someone slapped me and I realized that I desperately didn't want another child in daycare whom I only spent two hours a day with. I began telecommuting shortly after that, all the while losing any interest in continuing that career at all. It wasn't me anymore and I hated every second of the marketing communications world.

So the idea of becoming a stay-at-home parent crept up on me without my consent, and I began that part of my life when my second son was two years old and we had just moved across the country from everyone we knew to Houston, Texas. Great timing.

Always planning on not being in that role forever, we had our third son. Then we moved back to our home state. And said son was diagnosed with autism. Goodbye thoughts of a career again. Then I was a stay-at-home mom/therapist. The rest is history.

Now I am alone. In my house. Without a clue. I mean - a person can only do so much laundry. Or paint so many rooms. Or rearrange the furniture in so many different ways before their brain dries up.

One side of my brain says to get a job and make some money. The dominant, creative side of my brain that decides 90% of things in my life says write. You now have hours upon hours to write and do something with it.

We shall see if I can get anything worthwhile written before my brain, indeed, dries up and crumbles. Or if I get a job. Or see if the happy, sleeping sea lions would accept a blonde, blue-eyed chick as one of their own. I would be willing to give that a try, as well. I'm just that flexible.

But just so you know - this is all very weird.

photo by Natalie Killian

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Deep Conversations High in the Sky

As Seth, my six-year-old autistic son, and I were riding the Giant Wheel at Six Flags a few days ago, we had a great view of the entire park and surrounding area. Going on adjacent to the park was an old car show.

I explained to Seth that people buy old, old cars and fix them up to look new again. He looked at me and, as nonchalantly as ever, replied, "Or they could just go buy a new one."

Good point, my son.