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.

 

 

20130123-141112.jpg

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. :)*

housewife survival guide. for the newlywed.

 

I have a friend who recently decided to give up the greatest freedom ever in exchange for something called nuptial bliss.  I’m talking single-hood people, not living in America.  My friend and her hubby are all cute and lovey and living in the middle of god-forsaken-nowhere-Montana or some place so they can live off the land and just enjoy being alone together or some delusional romantical jest.  Whatever.

Yesterday on her facebook she posts that they are finally getting television services hooked up to their cabin and how exciting it will be to watch something other than Anderson Cooper’s face through a blanket of grayish snow.  And I was so excited for her because last night was the Season Premier of Parenthood and she should probably get caught up on that show to make the drama of married life seem boring to her.  And because I freaking love it.  Yay for fall TV.

Then this morning I wake up to find her posting about now that they have cable and internet, (and oh my God how has she lived this long without the INTERWEBZ?!?!?!)  she isn’t sure if she should watch TV or play online or *GASP* do housework?  And I am immediately “Oh my god woman! Hasn’t anyone taught you the rules of housewifery yet?  Holy Shit let me break it down for you!”  And so here are the rules you guys.  Please make sure to share this with any single women you know.  I fear I may be too late here and she has already spent the first month of marriage doing crazy domestic dilly-dallying which he now expects and OHMYGODTHERE’SNOTURNINGBACK.  How was I not there for my friend before this mess started!?  HEED MY WISDOM!

Basic Rules of Wifery:

1.  Start slow.  This is the most basic rule there is, ladies.  You must pace yourself when you start this out or, let’s face it, your marriage is doomed.

When cooking, burn at least half of the meals you prepare per week.  You may be God’s gift to fine dining, but you need to give that man a wake-up call that this is not his mama’s house and there’s some rough roads ahead.  An occasional meal of PBJ’s also isn’t a bad idea.  This may feel a little beneath you for a few weeks, but  you just have to hold strong.  He needs to look back on these days in a few months and realize you have worked tirelessly hard to improve your skills for him.

Leave crap laying around the house for a while.  Don’t keep things spotless.  Leave a box of tampons out on the bathroom counter.  Leave his socks on the floor for a couple of days.  This puts simple boundaries in place.  You are marking your territory while simultaneously telling him you are not the effing maid and there will be equal work put in around this joint.

Put off doing laundry as long as possible.  (You may have to sneak a small load of your things in while he’s gone to make sure you can outlast him.)  This will ensure that once you do start doing laundry on the regular, but leave it in baskets rather than putting it away, he will not bitch and quite possibly will help put his own crap away.  This is housewife GOLD here folks.

You get the idea by starting slow.  Give yourself a few months to work up to your true self.  By the time he suffers through this time, he will think you’ve worked so hard to become a Grade A housewife, he’ll buy you diamond earrings for your three month anniversary.  It’s truly a win/win.

2.  Don’t spend your whole day doing crap around the house.  Listen, keeping your palace up to a quality living quarters does not take eight hours a day.  You are more than able to spend the first five hours lounging in your jammies and watching the Real Housewives of Everywhere every single day.  It takes three hours, at most, to shower and make yourself pretty (if you’re in to that sort of thing,) wipe off countertops and throw dishes in the dishwasher.  You can then chop up some veggies and throw them in a pan and by the time he gets home things will be smelling like dinner.  Take a few more minutes to throw some hot dogs on there too and it’s a meal.  This is not rocket science.

3.  {This is a mistake I made out of the chutes.  I fear there’s no turning back.  I also think he may have passed it on to the offspring.  Hear my warning!}  Do not find stuff for him.  If he’s missing some paper work and you know right where it is, just point him in the general direction casually.  Don’t, for any reason, go finding crap.  He will then lose his ever-living brain cells and thenceforward go about expecting you to find everything.  I swear to God in a few weeks he will cease lifting single sheets of paper to look under the stack for his own damn car keys.  You cannot let this happen.  Do not let on that your uterus is truly a navigational system for lost items.  This is a secret we must keep to ourselves or we will spend eternity searching for lost socks and someone’s quarterly report.  It’s just not an existence we want to suffer through!

4.  This is the most  important rule.  Do not start doing a certain chore if it is not something you want to be saddled with for the next fifty years.  Imagine for a moment your hubby has spent the first two years tirelessly mowing, edging and weeding your lawn.  Then one day, he has had a particularly long week at the office and you want to help him out and cut the grass for him.  This is a huge mistake!  Fight the urge to rescue your man and make his life easier.  Whatever you do, don’t give in.  As wives, once we give in and do an extra chore once, they automatically assume we’re just going to take over that job for the rest of forever.  That old “give an inch and they’ll take a mile” thing?  That’s 100% TRUE.

5.  This seems like a contradiction of rule number four, but it is actually just a tricky variation on the subject.  Occasionally, you may want to do something around the house that you know he’d like you to take on, but you’re just not willing to shoulder.  Let’s just use the previous example of lawn mowing.  When you cut the grass, do it in a way that has the neighbors wondering what crack-head lawn boy has been butchering your spring green.  Mess up the lines, go in three different direction and maybe take out a shrub or two.  When the hubs has a chance to check out your handiwork, act completely proud of your efforts as well as exhausted.  This will provide a) a chance for him to see that you really do think you’ve done a good job and are completely incapable of EVER doing this again and b)  a reason for him to tell you not to do it again. “Oh honey, that must be a little too strenuous for you, I better keep up on this chore.  WIN/WIN!

I know this may seem a bit underhanded to you newlyweds.  How could one ever be so devious and dishonest in marriage?  Well honey, honesty is the last thing you need in a marriage, trust me!

emotional constipation. it’s a real issue, folks.

Today was the day.  I took my babe and left him in the cold cruel world all alone.  What a horrible feeling.

Well… okay.  Maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic here.  What I did, was take my last born child and drop him off with a super sweet little lady who will begin him on his educational adventure.  There, that sounds less “someone call CPS on this bitch” and more “awwww… that’s a sweet mommy.”

Yesterday Jordan and I were running some errands together and he looks at me and says, “Well, Mom.  This is it.  Tomorrow I’ll be at school and we won’t have any more Mommy dates.  You’ll just be doing this alone and I’ll be at school like Elle.”  {Well thanks for breaking my heart kid!}  He must have sensed my sadness because he followed it up with a “But don’t worry, I still have weekends off so we can have Mommy dates then.”  {Well thank god!}

So we dropped the munchkin off at school (complete with photos and the whole boo-hoo breakfast experience) and he didn’t even blink an eye.  He is so damn ready for school it’s weird.  Jimmie went along with me because this is a big deal.  But also because I think we were both expecting me to have a Sally Field in Steel Magnolias moment and weep on the school sidewalk or something.  I ugly cried a solid ten minutes when Elle started school before I could even pull the car out of the parking spot.  That was just the beginning.

Today? I didn’t shed a tear.  I was not going to blubber all over the place in front of everyone.  So every time I got a lump in my throat I thought of random things  (like army ants or cucumbers) to get my mind off of it until I could just make it to the car.  Then I got to the car and remembered I had to go back to the school office.  So I pulled my shit together and did what I had to do.  When we finally started the drive home Jim was like, “You’re freaking me out.  Why are you not freaking out right now?”  I didn’t know.  I don’t know.  Crap.  I waited too long and stuffed it down to much and it’s dead.  I don’t know!

Then we got home and it hit me.  It is freaking quiet around here.  I cried for about a second.  Then nothing.  Then Jim said we should get a patio set for the back patio so we could sit and have coffee together on the quiet mornings he’s home working, and I lost it.  For about three seconds.

I’m emotionally constipated, you guys!  I feel all of it brooding around inside but it just won’t come out.  I need a good cry so I can get over it, but I just can’t.  What the hell?  Maybe I am just a seasoned vet.  I don’t know.

This is the child that has never had a professional photo taken of him.  He’s the epitome of a second born child and I suck.  I can’t even cry that he’s off in the cruel world alone now!

Maybe it’s just that I know how great this is going to be for him.  Maybe that’s it. Shit. I. Don’t. Know!