The effects on 7-year-old Seth of having a 19-year-old brother - his version of Check the Poo from Scrubs: (sorry for the quality - I took the video with my Blackberry)
Check the Poo! from Holly Anderson on Vimeo.
When you flush your dookie down,
you flush away the answer!
Anything comes down to poo,
from the top of your head to the sole of your shoe!
We can figure out what's wrong with you
by looking at your poo!
"I have a headache."
Check the poo!
"I feel sick."
Check the poo!
"I got shot!"
Check the poo!
"A homeless guy threw poo in my eye."
Check the poo!
"Mine or his?"
First him, then you!
Monday, May 10, 2010
Our oldest son, Alexx, normally attends church with us. In fact, even when the parents do not go for some reason, he goes without us and then returns home later to call us pagans. Yesterday morning, however, he had an appointment before church and joined us a bit later.
As we were leaving Starbucks on our way to church (I'd like to say it was a Mother's Day special event, but ...), I looked over to see Alexx walking from his van to his appointment - with his Marine recruiter. His appointment to get his paperwork going with the new recruiter. His appointment to start the ball rolling to leave us for good.
I was faced with an ocean of emotions. Like a survivor floating in the middle of the sea, I was lost thinking of where I started this journey and longing to see land; but not knowing what that land will bring or whether or not it will be safer or even more dangerous than where I am now.
Sean and I began this journey together 23 years ago yesterday when we moved from being the friends we'd been since meeting at 13 years old to a couple. A very unlikely couple. It continues to be an amazing journey with so much to be grateful to God for. Happiness, growing in the same direction, fun and laughter, three beautiful sons, faith in God, survival.
This was all heavy on my mind as I thought about the present day - my 19th Mother's Day - and everything I'd been through bringing me to this point in my life. Let's be honest, here. Mothering my three boys with their combined ADD, ADHD, autism, mood disorder and now Asperger's is quite the challenge on a daily basis. Which takes me back to being even more grateful for the last 23 years with this man whom I love so dearly. We couldn't have done it without the relationship that we have spent all these years building. It is not perfect - not even close - but it is what has delivered me to this 19th Mother's Day without losing every last marble in my head.
And as I look to the future with trepidation thinking about my first born leaving us, leaving the safety of my arms, to fly on his own - and into such a dangerous future of his own - it all feels a bit unreal. I don't think it will fully hit me until he literally walks out of my arms that day when he leaves. But seeing him walking into that meeting as I was basking in my Mother's Day glow forced it to the front of my mind (a place it is not allowed to be right now), and I thought it was going to suffocate me for just a minute until I was able to push it to the back of my mind again where it belongs for the time being. I want to keep being frustrated with him for not picking up his socks or taking his laundry out of the dryer - not wondering where he even is and worrying for his very life.
I'm not ready for that. Will I ever be?
You are always told, as a mama, not to wish your kids' childhoods away - not to miss too much of the present with them trying to get to some point in the future. I am aware of this now that I have a 19-year-old and know just how fast the time goes. I am painfully aware of it now that his leaving to walk, eyes wide open, into a very uncertain future is inching ever closer like a freight train. My only consolation is that he is doing exactly what he wants to do, and going toward a life that he feels God is leading him into.
Grateful for the yesterdays that brought me to the present I am now in; feeling blessed that I can handle today and what it is throwing at me; prayerful that I will handle with grace the future that is quickly becoming the present.
Whatever that may be.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Being the parent of a special needs child is, really, indescribable. This is mostly because the words that would accurately depict what it is like on a day-to-day basis change, oh, hourly. Further complicating this with the fact that the special needs in our family are on the autism spectrum along with what the medical community calls "comorbid" diagnoses (ADHD, mood disorder) - and you've got mental and emotional scrambled eggs.
You put on a brave face; sometimes you break down. You deal with it - sometimes any way you can - to keep sane. Then, when you've had some sleep and you are thinking more clearly, you apply, to the best of your ability, the recommendations and techniques you've learned from therapists and doctors and teachers and counselors and whomever else you've sought out for help. And you take it one step further to educate those who spend any time at all with your children to give them as much understanding as possible in order to deal with them appropriately. This is only the beginning of the exhaustion.
The money flies out the window almost as quickly as your peace of mind and sense of hope for normalcy, and you try to quell the thinking and worrying about the future for your own sanity. Financial exhaustion.
I've been through the initial stages of a new diagnosis before. Our youngest was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 1/2 years. It was full steam ahead from that point on to pull him out as much as possible. He is now 7 and his progress has been amazing. Most who do not know him or his history cannot see his autism until we tell them. But the fact remains that he is still on the spectrum and we must deal with the ways this manifests itself daily.
I do not want to talk here about our oldest son (19) and the continuing struggle with his ADD, which started at around age 10.
We are now two years into an ADHD turned mood disorder turned Asperger's diagnosis with our 12-year-old son; and we are still in the learning stages. In other words, we are still turning in circles. This should not feel so new. This should feel "old hat." But the truth is, you never get "comfortable" living with the issues of your special needs kids, usually because those issues are ever-changing and you are constantly adapting and making your way through something new or something old that is evolving or worsening. As a special needs family, there is no sitting back on your laurels. You are not afforded that luxury. Mental exhaustion.
So you drive older cars while those around you can choose not to. You take one vacation as a couple in 18 years of marriage. You fight with the insurance company over every $1 they try not to pay. You live in chaos sometimes because some days you just. don't. have. the. energy. to keep it all running smoothly. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it WILL NOT RUN SMOOTHLY. No matter what. And things not running smoothly makes all the issues of your children amplified. It's a vicious cycle.
You lose your temper. You lose your grip. And when the smiles leave your face for weeks at a time, you lose your friends. Because even though they think they understand, they do not. Unless you are dealing with three kids with ongoing issues and have, on some level, for the last nine years with no end in sight - you do not know. Unless you are in this house every day starting at 6:00 a.m. and ending at 11:00 p.m., you do not know. Unless you meet with the number of people that I have met with over time to help your kids, and have fielded all the phone calls and e-mails, and tried your best to keep it all straight, you do not know.
Unless you have to watch each of your children struggle so heartbreakingly on an ongoing basis that you question God's very plan, you do not know.
This brings me to a small side note - if you happen to have any issues of your own, you are dead in the water - because you have nothing left with which to deal with it.
So you employ humor. You try to act like you can handle it all. You see others around you spending time doing worthwhile things in the world, while you can barely even keep your own sons on the right track. You may have talent, but it is buried below all the rubble.
I am feeling more isolated than ever right now. There have been times, over these hard years, that I've been able to get my head above water long enough only to look around, feel completely left behind, and be pulled back under again.
Nothing I would like to accomplish gets much past the initial stages these days because I get pulled in a million directions; and if I'm accomplishing something for myself, that means that some issue with one of my sons is going either unnoticed or will spin out of control soon without intervention.
Why all three? I do not know. Why us? No idea. Am I doing all I can? Probably not. Would I choose different children if given the chance? Not. On. Your. Life. I love each of them with every fiber of my being; and they are each going to do fantastic things someday.
photo by Asif Akbar