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.

 

 

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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. :)*

continuing to process this process

I feel so torn about writing so publicly about this process with Jordan and having him evaluated for Sensory Processing Disorder and/or other similar “whatevers.”  I don’t want him to look back on this when he’s older and feel like I exposed him.  But, I also know my kid, and I know that there’s a 99% chance he won’t mind, and would be happy to help one person, even if that is just mom.  So, for now, I write.  Until I don’t feel comfortable with how he would feel about it.

I have been reading books and articles and blogs like a crazy person lately.  On one hand, I feel like I am empowering myself with knowledge and perspective.  On the other, I think I’m just getting some relief from the fact that I may have some answers.  Every time I read a new “symptom” that has been a funny little quirk or annoying habit Jordan has exhibited over the past few years that we have passed off as “just Jordan” I go through a range of emotions.  I feel intrigued that some simple things may actually be involved in a bigger picture.   I know I’ve made light of the fact that I hoped Jordan would be able to “wipe his own butt” by the time he reached college, but those types of situations are actually a common part of this life.  I feel like an ass for being so cynical about something that he truly does just struggle with.  But, at the same time, I am still just a smart-ass mom that is sick of helping clean up after challenging trips to the toilet.  This is just such new territory to me.  As much as I want to be sensitive, I know I also still have to help him learn every thing in life that every other person learns, even if it is a little more challenging than it might be for the average babe.

Jim and I are both taken aback by how much new patience and even grace we feel in navigating through life with Jordan lately.  We both had a sense of it even before we had a name to put to the struggles that were going on.  Now that we are seeing that many of those struggles aren’t just because Jordan is being stubborn or spoiled or purposefully difficult, but are actually a part of a bigger picture, we are both amazingly calmer and more in tune with his needs and how to not only teach him, but find a way to communicate with him in a way that connects the dots for him.  If you don’t know anything about SPD, this will probably sound weird to you.  And, let’s face it, I am two weeks into knowing anything about it, so I could be so freaking wrong right now it’s ridiculous.  Either way, I just know we are feeling a new level of patience, which for us, was mandatory!

Both of our kids are so supported and loved by our family.  Saturday was Elle’s birthday and the child spent a solid hour or more on the phone with different relatives calling to wish her a happy birthday- and that didn’t even include the family that we spent the day with.  Jim and I kept remarking about how supported our kids are and how they will never lack for love and nurturing.  That is such a relief for us as we think of both of them and what hard work growing up in this generation really is.

We have friends who live across the state from us, and have a child with SPD.  They were so gracious to offer some of what they have experienced with their child to us.  As I was reading through it tonight, as I have been more often than not lately, I was in tears.  I swear I could have been reading about many of my days with Jordan as I looked over this information about their experience.  I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that we have friends and family that are supportive to, not only us, but more importantly, Jordan.  It was so encouraging to read through the every day struggles that all parents face, but even more so when you’re experiencing more than just the average bumps in the road.  Knowing that parents I have deeply admired as extraordinary are facing some of the same hurdles and even impatient and less than perfect attitudes that I *occasionally* (um-hmmm) do is just so encouraging.

I guess what I’m saying here is, we are moving forward quite comfortably.  Every day is full of a new challenge but also more encouragement.  I am a happy momma.