Archive for September, 2013

The Imperfect Child

September 15, 2013

September is tough.  It is all about transition and transition is tough.  Summer is fabulous.  Lazy hot days, no true schedule, and no real obligations.  Just lots of social activities and fun, fun, fun.  And then it’s over. And suddenly, lunches need to be packed, clothes set out, schedules kept. And every member of the family is stressed out because each is going through his or her own transition.  And that makes it hard.

So, this we know.  But, what made September even harder this year was that we had B’s 4 year pediatrician appointment (2 months late) in the midsts of all of this mayhem. And it stressed me the frick out.

Unfortunately, B was unable to see his smart, amazing and wonderful doctor this time around.  Instead, he saw a new nurse practitioner that I did not know and therefore did not trust.  When I brought out my list of concerns, she immediately started naming phycological disorders and freaking me the hell out.  Eventually, the suggestion was to contact a local hospital to have him evaluated due to his sensory issues as well as his speech issues.

So that was my week: calling this one and that one.  Trying to make one appointment of the other. Asking the advice of family, friends, neighbors, strangers. FREAKING OUT. What about?  Was this a shock that he has speech and sensory issues? Did he not freak out at Seasame Street Live?  Does he not dive for cover during fireworks? And take a year and a half to potty train? And stick fluff up his nose? And suck his fingers? And…oh my God, this kid has ISSUES.

So part of it was this: I spent 15 years as a public school educator attending IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings and sitting on the opposite side of the table from these parents who always looked lost or scared or concerned or angry. And I would feel these surges of empathy thinking: I will someday be a parent.  And when I am, I hope I am not going to have to sit on the opposite side of the table and be lost or scared or concerned or angry. But what if I am…

And now this.  The beginning.  And it may turn out to be fine.  But I think that more likely, he will end up on an IEP and I will be that parent. And I perseverated over that all week. And everything that he did, I thought: sensory.  Look. He’s gritting his teeth again.  He’s stamping his feet. He’s so flipping loud.  And I might have even resented him for some of it. Because I began looking at him differently.  Not as my first child that, of course, was perfect in absolutely every way. But as this child who had issues. Who ran lopsided. Who got way too overexcited when the baby did something funny. And then I hated myself for feeling that way.

So after the nuttiness of the week died down and the weekend finally arrived, I took some time to forget about all the appointments that I need to make and just focus on enjoying my family.  Part of that was to go on a playdate. B and I met one of his preschool friends and his mom at a local farm that had all sorts of fun attractions. The boys loved all of the activities and I enjoyed watching B interact with his friend and all of the people and animals on the farm. After checking out all of the activities, B’s friend and his mom headed home for a birthday party while B and I stopped at the farm’s ice cream shop and chatted while he watched with excitement as a model train ran around a track that wrapped the perimeter of the room near the ceiling.  Driving home, he requested the radio and that is when I had time to reflect.

The child I observed today is sweet.  He is polite.  He says, “please” and “thank you” and “how was your day” and he is just four and should be rather self centered.  He is fun-loving. He loves to jump and climb and race pedal cars around a track. He loves duck races and pumpkin patches and soft floppy eared bunnies and stupid silly goats. He is a good listener and he listens and respects what adults say. And he is so curious about the world that when someone says, “If you have any questions, let me know,” his hand instantly goes up.  Even if he hasn’t been able to formulate a question yet.

And this child is my perfect first born. And he is not perfect. I am not perfect and neither is his father. All of us are far from it. But if he has some sensory issues, we will simply address them and help him thorough them. And if he ends up on an IEP, I will sit confidently on the opposite side of that table.  And maybe I will be confused, or scared, or concerned, or angry.  But I will be an advocate for my child and do anything in my power to get him the help that he needs and to realize that, at no point, do these issues define who he is, or who I am as a mother. These are stumbling blocks that we will work through and be so proud to know that at the end of the day, B is a sweet, active, curious child who lives life to the fullest and loves as hard as he possibly can.

And with every inch of who I am, I am so damn proud of the positively imperfect person he has become.

School Daze

September 5, 2013

So, this is it.  The end of something wonderful. The beginning of something yet to be determined. And I feel…I feel ok about it. I think.

Summer vacation is officially over. B started his new Pre-K school last week. I am starting my thirteenth year teaching tomorrow. Well, I won’t be teaching tomorrow. It’s a PD day for teachers. So I guess it’s my thirteenth first day of school for the year. Not including the eighteen first days before I graduated college.

So clearly I’m all over the place here. So, I made the decision to blog instead of going to sleep like I should because I knew that I would not sleep without making some sense out of what is going on in my head and the only way to do that is to write it out.

So we move forward. But let me go backward just for a sec. This summer rocked. I spent quality quality time with my amazing children. I watched them grow and change and laugh and live and I tried to soaked up every moment. And I think that normally I would be devastated that the summer is ending and so are these moments. But, as of right now, I really am not. I’m anxious to get this first and second day…maybe this whole week….over with, but I am not weepingly devastated to part ways with my 2 and a half month 24/7 mom job with my kids. Here are the reasons why:

1) Last week, my sweet, funny, sensitive, independent B became a leech of sorts. He stuck himself to my side and whined and cried and whined some more until I wanted to scream. I saw a side of him that I normally don’t see and it awoke a side of me that is wretched and ugly and that I am not at all proud of. I know it had a lot to do with the transitions that are happening (as he is a mini-me, he does not do well with them, either), but I wonder if also we were just reaching our being-together breaking point. There was a lot of quality AND quantity this summer and the quantity may have become too much for both of us and was beginning to border on the unhealthy.

2) This is the maiden voyage of my dream come true. In 2007 before all the shit hit the fan and we all lost all of our money, jobs, etc. and there was still financial hope for a just-turned-thirty-year-old, I bought a book. It was a step-by-step guide on how to retire a millionaire and it was written for the youngish middle class woman. I had big plans. I took that book and devoured it.  Then I hit the worksheets. It asked me to write down my biggest financial goal. And I wrote down, “To be able to stay home with my kids for a little while and then work part time.” The funny thing was, I didn’t even have kids yet. B was born two years later (less than a year after the “bubble” burst) and, thanks to the fact that I lost more than half of my savings, I was able to stay home only six months before going back full-time. Which was excruciating. Three years later, C was born and we had saved enough so that I was able to stay home for ten months. But now I had two and one was a crazy active three year old and the other a newborn that I couldn’t adequately nurse and I found it very very overwhelming. Especially once the New England winter came and it wasn’t so easy to get them out of the house and keep them entertained for eight long hours a day. Last March I was beaming as I entered my classroom for the first time in almost a year because I was SO ready to use my brain in a totally different way and just get a break from the 24/7 mothering that was leaving me so depleted and causing me to become this very ugly person. Not the type of mother that I would choose to be.

But 3 months later, I was fried in a totally different way. I was overloaded. I was doing two full time jobs simultaneously. I was lucky to be dressed every morning and I know I looked like poop. And my memory was shot. And I wasn’t doing a particularly good job at either job.

But this is it.  This is my dream, my goal, that I have had since 2005: to work part-time doing something I love while being able to spend more time with my kids. Part-time. Two and a half days a week. How can that be bad?

So this is it.  This is why it is all ok.  This is why, even though I am walking into a new school with strange colleagues tomorrow and a whole new clientele of students the following day, I have a good deal of hope that this situation will provide me with the balance that has been lacking in my life for the past four years.

And so that is all. It is way past my bedtime and I am squinting trying to keep my eyes open, but I am less anxious and more hopeful than I have been on most of those other thirty-one nights before the first days of school. So this was all worth it.