reflections, eighteen

The past number of years, the exact amount I’m not even sure of – however long I’ve been writing- I sit down on a quiet December morning and write this post.  Just like this, I sit by the glow of my Christmas tree while everyone else is quietly, peacefully in their spot, and I write my reflection on the year as it wraps up. Many of these get filed away in the “my eyes only” folder. I’m not sure yet which folder this will get filed in – “public consumption”, “maybe later”, or “my eyes only” are the options.  It seems these days, “maybe later” is the winner, and later never actually comes. The day to day ramblings about the details of our lives became so personal that it seemed irreverent to just throw it out there for “public consumption” even though “in real life” I’m once again becoming about as public consumption as you can get. My time of hibernation and my “I can do it myself” attitude has drawn to a close this year, and I’ve never felt so free.

It feels right to just spaghetti throw this time of our lives against the wall of life and hope that it’s done enough to stick. Even as I type that, I know it’s not. So many things were begun in this year that are still incubating in our lives. It only feels right to note life’s benchmarks in their beginning stages, so I can look back and remember my thoughts as they were developing. This was not an easy year; in fact, it was the hardest I’ve ever survived. Jim and I have regularly alluded to this in vague facebook posts stating “so grateful to have the people we do supporting us as we face the hardest time of our life” and so on. We throw it around casually in conversations, “this is the hardest year EVER.” That’s really saying something, considering our life together has rarely been easy. We chose the least travelled path, and that thing’s a bitch to navigate.

This year began on its heels for me – as a daughter, as an adult, and as a mother. Days before Christmas 2017, I said goodbye to my mother for what looks to be the last time. I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my parents since I was about 12 or 13, which has only grown more toxic over time. My parents are good people; this is not about them not being good people. We are just not good together. I bring out the worst in them, and I don’t like who I am when I am caught in the dysfunction that is our relationship. After years of back and forth and uncertainty, on a rainy December day that was everything Christmas in Seattle, my mother’s last words to me were “you’re just a fucked up person with a fucked up brain and that’s all you’ll ever be.” I returned some nasty comment akin to “well you gave me this brain” and hung up the phone ashamed of what I’d just said, but sure of one thing: I really was done. No two people should bring those things out in one another- not over the course of twenty years of adult relationship. Despite our efforts, it seems we will never be able to heal a relationship that I’m not even sure how it became so damaged.

I was not an easy child. Actually, I think I was a pretty easy kid. I was most definitely not an easy adolescent. Life happened – abuse, divorce, moving ten or more times in so many years, more abuse, loss and so on. By the end of high school, I was falling apart mentally and emotionally and no one knew how much- definitely not me and probably not my mother. I was sent away to a place that hoped to provide some kind of guidance and future for a life that otherwise would have probably ended in drug abuse or suicide on my part. My parent’s last ditch effort at hope for a productive life ended up being a cult that eventually just did more damage in different ways.  By the time I was a functioning adult, the road between my mother and I was so full of potholes and dead ends, I’m not sure it ever had a chance of repair. We most definitely do not have the tools to make it so 1500 miles apart. I am a constant disappointment to my parents, and somehow they always seem to think I blame them for it. If I’m being honest with myself, it’s an enigma that I just don’t have the energy to unravel right now. It was better to just throw in the towel than continue to hurt one another to the depths that we did in almost every conversation we were having.  A day or two after that last phone call, I sent an email explaining this the best I could at the time. I described what I hoped would become a new way of relating for us- the “terms,” so to speak, of what an adult relationship could be for us. I never heard anything back. Message received. Twenty-Eighteen has been a year of mourning that loss, and discovery of the freedom that it weirdly brings in my life. It’s a double-edged knife that cuts and heals at the same time. I hate it, but it is truth. Just as so much in our life right now, it is in process…

A few months into the year, we began facing our next hurdle.  As I was looking back at my own teenage turmoil, Elle’s was also hitting its stride. Fifteen seems to be the witching year for the women in this family. Hormones, trauma, really shitty brain chemistry…I guess we didn’t stand a chance.  In April this year, Elle was admitted to our local Children’s Hospital in the Adolescent Behavioral Health unit, also affectionately known in our dark humor household, as the nuthouse.  She tried to commit suicide. Saying those words still takes the breath out of my lungs. My bubbly, sparkly, always shining child was hiding a pain that no one, not even her mother that knew all of her secrets (or so I thought,) knew about. When puberty kicked in for Elle, so did memories of a years-long childhood sexual abuse that we had no idea the magnitude of. Its affects on her was twisting a web in her mind that none of us could fathom, and the dark corner of her mind was starting to creep into places that we were oh so unaware of. What seemed to be the typical ups and downs of teenage hormones and attitudes began spinning out of control so quickly we couldn’t catch our breath- none of us. The day she came to me and told me we needed to go to the hospital is etched in my memory as only trauma can be. The sight of your child in the room of a children’s hospital wing that looks more like a prison cell with a bed in it than the weirdly comforting bed for sick people, will leave you shattered in a way I can’t describe.

It took Jim and I two days to tell anyone the depth of what was happening to our little girl. We could not bring ourselves to say the words out loud. He cried first- for a full day, and as soon as I knew he was okay, I cried. For mind-numbing hours we just sat and cried and questioned. How had we missed this? Why didn’t we know? What had we done wrong? How had we failed her? The feeling driving away from the hospital, leaving your baby in the care of someone that isn’t you, and not knowing for how long or what will happen next, is excruciating. It is a hot poker stabbed so violently into your bleeding gut that your mind can’t even compute the pain in words that could ever be uttered; and much worse, you know that no matter how much you are hurting in that moment, she is hurting more. It is literal hell on earth.

Eight months later, she glows again. She shimmers and shines and laughs and… she cries. She cries real tears- tears that communicate real feelings, real pain, real sorrow, sometimes even real joy. She is no longer dull on the inside, unable to face the feelings that consume her but make no sense. As much as I love hearing that belly laugh again, I love seeing the tears. It means she is allowing herself to feel. She is alive.

Oh, she makes teenager decisions that have greyed my hair ten years’ worth in six months. She is me. My mother always told me she would be – spoken as a curse and a revenge for the hours of worry and heartbreak that I caused her. She defies, she challenges, she is wild and free and stubborn and obstinate. She is me. Oh Lord, is she me. And she is Jim, thank all that is good and holy, she has just enough of him to keep me from killing her myself. And I. love. every. minute. Oh sure, there are days I ache for peace. For one moment, I just wish I could have peace- peace of which I haven’t experienced since… I don’t even remember. This is my new normal. Teenagers, they give you no peace. But I will savor the moments. I won’t allow my heart to grow so hard against them that I no longer have the strength to care. I’ll never throw in the towel for my kids. I’d rather have chaos and heartbreak than peace ever again, if that’s what it takes to be their mom. I’ll never give up on them. Never.

In the midst of the giant things, life has remained steady in the small moments. The day in and day out of monotony. As I began working full-time for the first time since my kids were tiny, things shifted in a way that we couldn’t have imagined. Jim’s role as “Mr. Mom” (I do SO hate that term!) Jim’s ever-evolving role as Dad has had him handling all the doctor’s appointments, to the tune of two days a week usually. It has taken his attention from work more than we like, so I recently moved to part-time. If this doesn’t go well, we are resigned that our family of “extra needs” just wasn’t cut out to have a working mom for now.  We’ll know for sure in a few months where that’s going.  For now, I am beyond fortunate to work for a company that has made a way for me to make this work. I can’t begin to describe how grateful we are. But I hate working. I’m a mom to the core of me, and even though my kids need me far less than they ever have as their caregiver, they need me so much more than ever as their partner. This is the time in their lives that I want to be there to walk alongside them as they navigate life. However that works out, I’m hopeful that this season of life is at a great turning point for them- for all of us.

Jordan… oh this kid. He has been a champ this year considering all that has transpired. I’ve gone from doing every little thing for him to shouting orders from my desk in between phone calls as he gets ready for school. (I work from home, but am chained to my phone/desk during my work hours.) He is embracing growing into his new responsibility about as much as you’d expect…begrudgingly. And yet, he succeeds. This kid, who relied on a regimented schedule the military would be envious of, is learning to go with the flow. A phone call ten minutes before school lets out that he’s going to have to take the bus home no longer results in a meltdown. He takes the bus. This kid who needed help getting his pants on in the morning now fully dresses himself AND TIES HIS SHOES (most of the time.) This kid…this kid is going to be okay.  He is a quiet storm, but I think in a good way. This year, the focus will be on him. Puberty is going to begin at any second. I feel it brewing, and I am terrified. Please be thinking of him this year…God help us I’m not sure I’ve ever been more scared of anything. hahaha.

Twenty-Eighteen was a hard one- in ways I’m sure I still don’t even recognize. The one thing that it brought me, its gift to me that I didn’t even realize I wanted or needed, is my need for my people. We had been visiting Elle during our one-hour of visitation on the second or third day she was admitted in the hospital. In the car ride home, I looked at Jim and asked if he’d talked to anyone yet. We both expressed how we didn’t even know who to turn to. It’s not that we didn’t have people in our lives that we could talk to- my best friend of over twenty years lives ten minutes away, she would have been here in five if I had called her. My in-laws are minutes away as well. We have a tribe, and they are dear to us. We just forgot how to need them. We have been fighting battle after battle for our sixteen years of marriage. It has NEVER been easy. I don’t know what the hell we’re doing wrong, but we don’t ever choose the easy road. Somehow along the way, we linked our arms together, put our heads down to charge into battle, and never looked up. We were fighting alone, the only way we knew how. For the past several months, I have slowly started to look up, and what’s even better, around. My people, the ones that matter- the ones that have been through countless battles with me before, they’re still here. Still ready to link their arms with mine and hold me up when I can’t stand any longer. They are a gift of which I can’t comprehend. They are truly my tribe.

It may have taken literal hell on earth to remind me of what true, unconditional love and friendship means this year, but I will never take it for granted again. We all go through battles in our lives, and we all do it in our own way, but I don’t think we should ever do it alone. We may have to cut away the things that weigh us down to make room for the things that move us forward, but I think that’s okay. It’s scary and hurtful and HARD, and I admittedly don’t understand the whole of what that means right now, but for now…it’s healthy and right.

As I look forward, I hope twenty-nineteen is kinder and more gentle to us. I am hoping for new life. As those around me assign a word for their new year, a goal that they plan to achieve or a principal to live by, I assign a hope. Sometimes you don’t have the energy for a goal, but hope never fails.

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. :)*

a mother’s work…

I read a quote recently that I assume is about three quotes rolled into one as only a sleep deprived, scatter-brained and desperate mommy is capable of.  It went something like, “a mother’s work is never done; from sun up to sun down, and more if you have a son.”  I would like to lend a hearty amen to that.  Actually, I may have actually made that up.  I can’t even remember anymore, because let’s face it, my brain is like oatmeal 75% of the time these days.  In addition to the usual mommy and wifey tasks I have on my plate, I have a new obsession.  It’s called “name that disorder.”

I say “disorder” very lightly at this point because I really don’t think I like that word for our situation.  At least, I’m not ready to say it yet.  Have you ever been in a position with your kids (or dogs or significant others for that matter) where you know something is up, something big that is going to require a major change in the way you do things, but aren’t ready to really say it out loud?  It’s probably safe to say that’s where I am today.

We recently had school conferences for our little man who is nearing the end of Kindergarten.  This is a conference I have not been looking forward to.  I knew what was going to happen.  I knew the words “not ready to move forward” were going to be said.  I knew the school’s learning counselor was going to be there.  I knew because I invited her.  I invited her because I knew we were at a point where I needed help.

Let me tell you some things about the little man.  He is six and the size of an eight or nine year old.  Seriously.  He is the most sensitive, loving and kind-hearted little guy you’d have the privilege of knowing, even if you weren’t his mother.

He has also been referred to as the following things: “destructo boy,” “mr. destructicon,” “aaaalllll BOY,” “three boys in one,” “just a typical little boy with lots of energy. LOTS of energy,” “rambunctious,” and oh so many more.  Are you catching my drift here?

He’s also known as a tender-hearted sweetheart,”  “Mommy’s little boy” (aka: Keli totally babies that kid and coddles him) and “the baby” of our family.

For all intents and purposes, Jordan is “normal.”  He really is a rambunctious little guy that is all boy full of energy.  He’s a boy that likes to run and jump and climb and play.  He’s a little boy that likes to be good at stuff.  He likes to be praised and be told he’s doing well.  He likes rewards and stickers and routine.  He is also a little boy that learned to throw himself out of his crib before he could even crawl all that well and one that we had to lock in his completely bare room at night in order to keep him safe because of what an expert “house explorer” he was.  Trust me, once you find your toddler sitting on top of the stove attempting to turn on the burners, locking him in a completely empty (except for a bed) and child-proofed room at night no longer seems like child abuse and just seems damn smart.

Before this year, we tried Preschool twice with Jordan.  Both attempts were very unsuccessful.  Both attempts ended with us removing him from the class and saying we’d “try again next year.”  We also had him in a formal daycare situation for a year and a half.  You’ve probably heard me refer to this as the time from hell, and the reason I became a home daycare provider.  All this time, I secretly wondered if there was just a little more going on with Jordan than met the eye.  I always waited for someone to tell me that he had some sort of a “disorder.” Each doctor visit I waited for someone to say “autism” or “aspergers” or something.  Each time no one did, I was relieved, but left with lingering wonderment.

Beginning Kindergarten this year, I knew at some point there would be a “conversation.”  You know what I’m talking about.  That moment when the teacher or counselor comes to you and says the combination of some dreaded letter formation that means my kid is labeled for the rest of his life.  I was on guard.  I was scared.  I was hopeful.  Hopeful that it would be the beginning of some sort of answers to questions I haven’t dared to even utter out loud.   Questions I knew I would be judged for asking and questions I didn’t want to be thinking.  Questions like, “what if Jordan isn’t just ‘all boy’ and has something special going on inside of him?”

Part of me feels like a coward for not asking those questions out loud much sooner.  And part of me knows I’m a coward for not wanting to face the opposition that I feared would come from some people around us, saying once again that “Keli is a dramatic, over-reacting attention-seeker.”   Could Jordan be having a far more successful Kindergarten year if I’d asked someone if there was something special going on and would they have even listened?  I know I’ll never know the answer to that.  And it’s stupid to even ask it, since it really doesn’t matter at all.

The point is, I am asking questions now.  I have started down the road of finding out if there’s something I can do to help my little man learn how to read, learn how to sit still when it’s carpet time and he doesn’t like sitting there in that completely unstructured circle listening to sounds that have nothing to do with story time, and learn that no matter what, he’s smart- probably even too smart.  We are letting someone that knows far more than we do take a look at the way he thinks and learns and reacts and responds to see if there’s something more there than “a typical little boy that needs more discipline and less coddling.”  There may be, and there may not be.  I’m completely open to whatever it is we find out.  I know no matter what, we will all benefit from this experience, we already are.

But, the more I read about a little something called Sensory Processing Disorder, the more I know, deep in my gut, that I have finally stumbled onto something that may make my baby’s life so much less frustrating and so much more “right.”   My mother-in-law always tells me that God gives us the kids we need in order to make us the kind of people he wants us to be.  Never more than in this time has that statement been so true for me.  I love my kids more than anything in this world, and I will do all I can to be the mom they need.  I’m not perfect, but I think that’s what makes me such a good mom.

I know I’ll be processing my way through this experience on my blog.  I know it’s not what many of you expect when you log on, and I’m sorry if this is just not for you.  But, as always, this is where I get my crazy out.  And right now, my crazy pretty much revolves around this.  I hope you’ll stick through it with me.  Or not.  I can appreciate that too.  I also want to apologize for my absolutely non politically-correct or proper verbiage when I talk about these things.  I know calling a kid “normal” is frowned upon. I know there are better words to use than “special” or whatever.  I don’t care.  This, for now, is me exploring a world that is foreign.  I don’t mean to offend or be off-putting to anyone.   I just need to get the crazy out.

mean girls

Being a mom is my biggest challenge in life.  I’m decent at being a wife.  I’m decent at cooking and cleaning and making sure things run smoothly around here. I’m also a good mom.  It’s the one thing I work really hard at.  When I say it’s my biggest challenge I don’t mean it’s the hardest thing, although it might be.  I mean it’s the thing I work at the most.  I have to- it’s constantly right in front of me, staring me in the face and asking for a cookie.

Just when I think things are running smoothly, something else comes up that we have to maneuver and find our way through.  And damn it if this child raising stuff didn’t come with a map of any kind.  Having one girl and one boy is it’s own set of problems.  What works on one definitely doesn’t work on the other and none of it makes any real sense whatsoever anyway.  Having a boy is physically exhausting, but having a girl is emotionally and mentally the most life-sucking task in the history of forever.  God made girls last because he knew it was going to take it out of him for a while.  That’s why.

So the little diva is eight.  Mostly, I don’t care for this age, but I think I get off pretty lucky because my kid is pretty awesome no matter what her age.  BUT, girls in general… not easy! (We covered that already.)  If it were just us in a bubble I think it’d be cake, but add in all the outside influences and crap and it’s just not.  Our most recent struggle and one that I fear will be a long-term pain in our collective butts: the mean girl.  How in the holy hell does The Mean Girl rear her ugly head this early on?  You just try dealing with pint size mean girls. It’s the worst!  And try raising a girl that can overcome the mean girl without actually becoming the mean girl.  GAH!

This started for Sis last year and even though we’re in a new school and it’s SO much better, there are still days.  Oh man are there days.  Yesterday we had one.  I can’t even say it was a Mean Girl episode because I don’t even know.  I do know that my girl ran from the bus and into my arms crying and wanting to crawl into her jacket and hide (her words.)  I know I still don’t know what all happened because she starts sobbing when she talks about it.  I know I almost didn’t get her to school this morning and then as soon as her spelling test was over she called and said her stomach is hurting so bad she’s going to throw up and I need to come now.  (She’s already on meds for acid reflux and basically an ulcer because she’s an internalizer like her mother.)  So I went and got her.  Who needs this crap?  We’re going to cozy up on the couch and watch girl shows and enjoy the fact that she’s a good kid.  Tomorrow we’ll talk again about being strong in the face of the mean girl.  Today I will do the mom version of taking a hurting friend out for drinks and a night of dancing to forget the crap.  That’s ice cream and making glittery crafts in front of a marathon of Victorious followed by reading “The Hunger Games” together.  Dude, I told you I’m Mother of the Year.  Don’t try to take my title.  The only reason I’m here right now is because she’s eating lunch and told me she wants some time alone before we start our date.

And in case you think I don’t give meaningful advice, last night I wrote her a long email about friendship and reminding her that she is a good person and so on and so on.  This is basically what we talk about every time this situation comes up.  I just decided to write it all out so she can refer back to it in her “Emails from Mom” (where I give all my best nuggets of motherly advice and she usually loves them.)  This time she responded back with “This email is to long, to long, to long, TO LONG.”  To which I responded, “we need to talk about the difference between to/too/and two again.”

If you have any great motherly advice for traversing the shark infested waters of raising little divas, I’d be ALL for it!  Okay, better run… she’s finished with lunch and ready for some ice cream.  (Yes, I realize it’s only 11:30 am. Shut up.)

 

 

boy: a noise with dirt on it.

I’m going to warn you now that as I write this I am weepy.  I know I am more than a tad hormonal.  And stressed.  Those two things basically equal disaster for me in the sanity department.  So, I weep.  Today, I weep the sappy mommy weep.  It’s okay. 🙂

I was just chatting with Jordan’s (6) very first (and most favoritest) daycare teacher about him as a 2-3 year old.  And suddenly it hit me, I miss my baby.  Now, I know, I have these moments a lot lately.  A friend was just teasing me about how I really should not have stopped having babies.  (Trust me, if time and money were in unlimited supply, I’d be adopting those little suckers like there was a shortage.)  But, truth be told, I don’t want more babies.  I just want to relive some of the years with my babies, especially Jordan.  (Well, today it’s Jordan.  A couple of weeks ago it was Elle.  So don’t listen to me.)

I missed out on a lot of little moments with Jordan.  I was there for every one, but due to the nature of life at that time, there was so much that I wasn’t there for.  I was depressed, then I was psycho, then I was working, then I was caring for other people’s kids.  Now that I’m focused on my family, I miss the parts I missed.  I can’t help it.

Sometimes it’s more of a challenge for me to think of the amazing qualities my son has, because he is also… a boy.  It’s more obvious for me to think about the shenanigans he is up to and the numerous bonks and scratches and bruises and broken bones.  It’s easy for me to concentrate on the fact that it takes him twice as long to learn things than it did his sister: talking, writing his name (and various other “school” related things) and let’s just be real here, wiping his own butt (although, CONQUERED! Thank God!)  There is but one simple fact about Jordan that stands out more than anything in the world to me: He Is A Boy to the very core of himself and then back again.  He is a boy times ten.  And I love him for every single quality that is boy.  Even though it’s easier to worry and focus on the things that I just can’t even keep up with, it’s so gratifying to stop and realize all that those things mean.

He is constantly dirty.  He cares way more about discovering what is in the bottom of that mud puddle and how far he can splash it than he does about whether or not his shoes… or pants, shirt and hair for that matter… are clean for school. He devours bagels and toast and eggs without regard to how much of it is smeared across his face.  He enjoys the meal to it’s fullest and forgets the rest, even if that means he’ll be displaying his breakfast for all the bus stop to see.  You see, Mommy would wipe it off but she’s too busy chasing behind him with dropped shoes and a backpack and her hair standing on end to even notice.

He is always making noise.  He loves the sound of his own voice.  He loves the sound of his feet tapping out a beat to music only he can hear.  He loves the sound of chewing as loudly as possible for everyone else to enjoy the delicious meal he’s consuming.  He loves the sound of talking as loudly as he can so no one misses one single important thing he has to say.

He loves running and walking backward and sideways and jumping over things rather than walking around them.  He loves bouncing balls and shooting guns and flying kites.  He loves jumping in the deep end without a life jacket even though he doesn’t even know how to swim.  He loves riding fast and jumping curbs and giving me heart attacks when bones are broken and multiple surgeries are required to repair said bones.  He loves defying odds and growth charts and statistics.

He loves socializing.  He loves playing after school with friends.  He will play with a child that treats him like crap and bosses him around if that means he has someone to share his joy for life with.  He loves children that are smaller than he is (let’s face it, most of them are.) and caring for them.  He loves babies and toddlers and kids that are two years older than he is.  He doesn’t care.  As long as someone treats him with a tiny bit of kindness, he will overlook the rest of it and spend every waking minute devising a plan of how they can meet for a playdate every minute of every day.

If he knocks someone down in the middle of the basketball court, he will stop the game and go back to make sure they are okay.  He loves people.  He truly, deeply cares about them.

And he loves his Mom.  I have never felt more love from one single person or a group of people as I do my son.  I know my Elle loves me and we have such a special mother/daughter bond.  I know Jimmie adores me and would do absolutely anything within his power to show me that.  But the love from that boy is unmatched by anyone on this earth.  It just is.  I can’t explain it, I can’t rationalize it, and I can’t measure it.

When my mom found out I was having a boy, she asked me to make sure I didn’t spoil him rotten as most mothers do with their sons.  “Don’t baby him and treat him like he’s special just because he’s a boy.”  Well, oops.  I guess I’m failing because he is special.  He is my boy and I cherish him.  He drives me batty and I have to punish him twice as much as his sister to make sure he doesn’t turn out to be a criminal, but he is absolutely 100% special and I will treat him that way every single day of his life.

Elle often tells me, “I’m Daddy’s Princess and Jordan is your special boy.”  She doesn’t mind.  She will openly admit Daddy is her favorite and I’m second fiddle.  And I love every single moment of it.  Because I know she’s secure in our relationship and that she knows her daddy cherishes her.

Jordan will wrestle with his dad for hours every single day if he can.  He will annoy his sister and get into trouble six ways till Sunday.  But when I walk into a room, he melts.  And so therefore, I must melt too.  It’s simply impossible not to.

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!