Tag Archives: parenting

The hard times

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I was prepared for this. After all, we have been through a worse surgery when he was much younger. Tubes? We got this. Numerous parents have stories about how their child had tubes in and were back to normal that day. Pictures line my Facebook feed with happy bouncy toddlers 20 minutes after waking up from surgery in the post op room with captions like “doesn’t even phase him!” and “you’d never know he had surgery an hour ago” and on and on. Last time, surgery was 3 hours minimum with at least a 3 day hospital stay. This time it was 10 minutes with us scheduled to go home an hour later. Last time, I barely knew the surgeon other than what I had gathered from our previous appointments. This time, I knew my surgeon, I knew his family, I attended his wedding. This was going to be easy.

It wasn’t easy.

The good thing is, the fact that I knew the surgeon meant when they wheeled Charlie into the OR I didn’t think twice. That wasn’t the hard part. That was the only easy part. The hard part didn’t start until the recovery room. There was my baby peacefully sleeping, hooked up to monitors with a tube in his mouth to keep his airway open. I started to tear. I wanted so badly to pick him up or hold his hand, but I couldn’t. No touching, no calling his name. I forgot how hard it was to not hold your baby when you think he needs you most. I was told he would slowly wake up, he might be fussy or combative (“the opinionated ones usually are”) but he wasn’t. He was lethargic and tearful and in pain. He just cried over and over again that his ears and head hurt and that he wanted to go home. The problem was, he wouldn’t take any medication and he wouldn’t fully wake up which meant he continued to be in pain and we couldn’t go home. At least I could hold him and rock him. He slept and slept in the recovery room. We tried force feeding him Tylenol and Oxycontin to relieve his pain but he just wanted to go home. Close to two hours later, we were finally leaving. With a tearful, nauseated, sleepy boy. My heart broke for him. He insisted up until he was wheeled away for surgery that “nothing was hurting” and his “ears weren’t bothering him” and here he was in pain and sick. I knew in the long run he would be better for this, but I felt guilty at the moment for what I put him through.

Safely tucked in the car, I was prepared for the 2 1/2 hour car ride home. After all, the nurses told me he would most likely sleep the whole way and he did, right after he vomited all over himself and the car seat immediately after we pulled out of the surgical center parking lot. Somewhat calmly I cleaned him and his car seat up. My husband changed his clothes and we tucked him back into his seat. Once he was asleep, I just started crying. I didn’t feel as helpless as I did the last time, but I felt helpless. We couldn’t get home any faster and I couldn’t do anything to make him feel better. He was alone in the back seat. He woke about 25 minutes from home and cried the rest of the way and once again I couldn’t hold him. We got home and he cuddled and cried for most of the day. Not until bedtime did he start to come around, but his playing would be interrupted by tears of pain with his hands over his ears. This was not the fun day that so many had depicted on social media, nor was it as easy as other parents had made it seem.

I knew, though, in a couple of months I would probably give false hope to someone else as the memory fades of the emotions and you just remember that everything was OK in the end. It was OK in the end. It was OK 24 hours later as he played for hours outside with a friend and proudly announced that his ears were “all better!”.

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Nobody likes change

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Once we are past the tantrum and everyone is thinking with a clear head I often say “nobody likes change” in my head. 99.9% of the time it’s in Ross Gellar’s voice and I picture him and Rachel fighting over the girl from the copy place. It makes me smile every time, which is good because at this point I need something to break the tension.

It’s true. We have a little girl that doesn’t like change and apparently two parents who are really bad about realizing something has changed until we are strung out and have lost all patience and are trying to regain some composure and patience. Then it hits us “oooohhhh, we had a new bus stop today”. Molly won’t ever tell us why she’s anxious or what has changed or how she’s feeling, it’s like a guessing game from hell.

You’d think we would better at picking it up the subtle changes to our day. After all, we are five years into living with a child that needs uber-consistent days and regular schedules but there are times we just fail at it. I don’t feel guilty about the failing, life is what it is and sometimes it means change. I just want to be better at preparing for the tiny things that will occur during the day that won’t seem so tiny to her.

Normally speaking, change brings about tantrums and the inability to function. She seems to have difficulty getting one foot in front of the other and putting two words together. Little eye contact is made on these days and there is a lot of crashing into objects around her. There are super strict routines that must be followed lest we break out into a 45 minute crying jag which always results in a loss of a shoe. Usually it’s this part of the tantrum which sends Stampy and I to the mental ward and we end up losing our patience. There are no incentives or rewards on these days to change her, it is what it is and it leaves us all drained wondering “what just happened?”.

Today, she handled change differently. Today she sobbed, hunkered down in her bedroom and clutched one of my old stuffed animals while she stared out the window waiting for me to come home. Schools were closed today. My in-laws are back to their babysitting duties for the first time in six months but my father-in-law didn’t come today, he always comes on Tuesdays. Molly pointed that out. Today was different.

Today was different in the fact that once I came home, Molly told me what she did. She told me what she didn’t like and told me how it made her feel. Today was one of the first days she expressed rational thought to her emotion and how it made her feel. And that is a big change. That is a change I love.

Therapy Thursday

It’s adjustment disorder.

She has sensory processing disorder.

She is autistic.

She suffers from anxiety.

She has the emotional capability of an 18 month old.

This just tops the list of things we’ve been told about Molly. She has “failed” pretty much every standardized tests for diagnosing any of these conditions.

She can’t control herself when routines change. She’s rigid. She doesn’t communicate well. She can’t keep eye contact. She’s delayed developmentally.

She doesn’t like loud noises, clothes, food, has balance difficulty. She has sensory processing disorder.

She’s afraid of the dark. She’s afraid of public toilets. She carries on frantically when she doesn’t like something. She gets too nervous about being wrong. It’s anxiety.

The problem is that all of these symptoms overlap in the Venn diagram from hell. They are each part of sensory processing, autism, adjustment disorders and anxiety. So each profession we talk to grabs hold of the symptoms they specialize in and diagnose and suggest treatment for that. Each have compelling arguments why they are right and how their diagnosis would cause the other symptoms and then each are left with a bunch of ??? when Molly doesn’t quite fit their mold. And we are left trying to figure out what to do next.

We’ve had success with therapeutic riding, but not in some main areas.

We had success with behavioral therapy, but as soon as Molly figured out the ropes it was downhill from there.

Sticker charts are useless. She can’t be motivated. Some days to do anything.

Since this summer, we have been heading into the anxiety difficulty. It’s the last piece of the puzzle we really haven’t tackled. We tried once. We did the big name hospital, we weren’t happy. Honestly, it scared me off. It’s a lot of time, energy and resources to go to these appointments. We’ve been blessed with plenty of family and friends who are more than willing to help, but it’s still tiring and at some point leads me to a nervous breakdown after balancing schedules, appointments, work and babysitters. After the first failure we’ve been putting it off, but a recommendation from the school psychologist has me staring at a list of names again. Plain old names. All backgrounds fit what we need, no one seemingly better or worse than another. It’s another shot in the dark to find out what we need and who we need. I sat and stared at these names this morning, trying to pick up the phone to call them and find out if they take our insurance and if they have availability that matches our limited free time, but I didn’t call anyone. Instead I sat and cried. Feeling like I needed a therapist myself, or a personal assistant to make the call so I don’t have to deal with it. I considered hooking my box of wine up to an IV but it was 9 AM and I had a feeling that social workers or counselors don’t appreciate drunk phone calls that early in the morning.

Then Molly came home from school and I realized that I do have to deal with it. I have to deal with it because I have a daughter that has difficulty dealing with life.

At least my boxed wine is still on sale at the local liquor store.

Smiles & Beer at 9 AM. Practicing the art of “leaving the children”

Funny thing, when I tell people that my husband and I are going away I usually get one of two responses. I either get a “good for you!” or a “WTF?”. Rarely is there a reaction in between. That being said, I think leaving the kids is a GOOD THING. In my mind I’m teaching them some great life lessons and hopefully setting them up for future successful relationships. That could also be the beer talking….

With that being said, I give you the  7 reasons I think leaving my kids behind is beneficial.

1. First and Foremost Stampy and I are husband and wife. I used to laugh at the baby advice books that urged me not to neglect my husband. Maybe that’s because it told me that I should simultaneously be nursing a child, changing a diaper and fixing him a sandwich. (ok, maybe not quite that bad, but one was very much pro-serve-your-husband) Down to the nitty gritty it has a good point. To be successful parents and teammates you need to get along. How do you get along? By doing things that you enjoy without someone throwing food on the ground, whining or punching their brother.

2. We are strengthening the grandparent/grandchild bond. Yes, they do see them all week long but there’s nothing wrong with a little extra special one on one time with the grandparents. Even kids need a break from their mundane boring parents that are always telling them to brush their teeth, put their shoes on or go to bed. That is a win-win-win situation.

3. This trip was to run a 10K. The kids have watched us (me, really) train and go running. I think teaching hard work, exercise and goal achievement is one much more effective by showing them instead of telling them. Molly is also learning the art of losing gracefully and perseverance, when she sees that I never win a race but continue to try. However, she never hides her disappointment when she hears that I didn’t win. “Maybe next time, Mom”

4. I get two days without reading food labels. Two. Whole. Days. That only means that my food label reading skills will be rested and ready to go when I get back instead of getting half way through the store and realizing everything in the cart has not been checked. Now, everything will be double and triple checked. Thank you rested, non-autopilot brain.

5. I learn to tone down my Type A, hyper-controlling personality. In order to leave your kids and want the grandparents to do it again, you can’t hound them for every time they give Oreo cookies for breakfast. After all, it’s really not my problem when the sugar high kicks in and at least the kids are eating while I’m gone!

6. I can exercise and drink all before 9 AM. That is two things before 9 AM. Two fun things. Usually those two things are drinking cold coffee and losing my mind trying to get the kids ready for school.

7. I realize I miss the bickering and whining. Crazy, right? But removing myself from it actually makes me miss it (really, the kids) which helps me on the days when no one will listen to a word I say, I just think back and remembered that I missed this. I missed the insanity and wanted to come home to it.

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I am an “Allergy Mom”

At a party recently Nutter Butters were served. I knew they were going to be there. As an “Allergy Mom” I had spoken to the party mom before hand and sat my kid at the table with my eyes wide open. The mom next to me started to panic when she heard me turn down the passed treat saying “no thank you, he’s allergic”. She asked me questions about if it was ok for her son to eat the treat next to mine, did I want them to move, why can’t her son take peanut butter to school, etc. The normal questions that I’m always happy to answer. 

I wasn’t prepared for our next meeting. At her own son’s party she came up to me and said “I told my friend about what happened at the other party and she was shocked that you let your son sit there and that you were actually nice about it!”

I think that was a compliment.

I wanted to face palm.

“Actually nice”. Like it’s surprising that a mom of a child with food allergies is nice. Not the impression that we, as a group, really want to hear. 

It made me think. Why do we get such a bad rap? Why do we need to stand tall and shout and demand? Why as a group can’t we work together to educate others and enjoy life? Why is this such a battle?

I started to think about other groups of moms. Thanks to social media and the internet we have grouped ourselves off pretty well. We are Breast feeders, stroller users, cloth diaperers, extended car seat safety moms, baby wearers, co sleepers, formula feeders, and home-schoolers to name a few. In each case we have labeled ourselves by a CHOICE that we made and gathered up with others like us to discuss our bond. There will be arguments between those that wear their babies and those that use a stroller. Crib sleepers and Co-sleepers are sure that the other one will be killing their child and let’s not even talk about the breast vs. bottle debate. But here’s the thing, those in your group mostly agree. You have a united front.

This is not the case with “Allergy Moms”.

None of us chose this label. In fact, nobody wanted this label. We got stuck with this label. We are in a group we don’t want to be in with moms who aren’t anything like us in our parenting styles. Here’s where the problem begins. We fight with each other. There are so many food allergies, symptoms and sensitivities it’s hard to lump us into one group. These people over here don’t care about the “may contain” statement while these families only use allergy free factories. This group is allergic by contact while this group by ingestion. This group has been to the emergency room while this group only has testing that says their allergic. My head is starting to swim just thinking about all the categories I could list. Everyone has a different comfort level based on their experience and their doctor. No two “Allergy Moms” are the same. Without a united front, we are still alone, fighting for our child. We want to advocate but honestly, sometimes I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision. Sometimes, I just hope for the best. It’s hard to worry ALL.THE.TIME. It’s daunting. 

I can understand why the non-allergic world is confused by us. We all want safety for our children but we don’t agree with what is the best method. And if those of us that live it everyday can’t agree, how are we ever going to educate everyone else? How are we ever going to get others to understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not? How can anyone understand any sort of protocol?

They can’t. And we can’t. 

So the next time you see one of us in high alert, instead of thinking “there they go again”, ask us. Ask us about our personal situation, our beliefs and our experiences that have led us to where we are today. That’s all we want, we want understanding and compassion for our situation. The one we didn’t chose. The one we live with every day.

40 days have come and gone

I.MADE.IT

We got off to a rocky start here, the first three weeks I was yelling once a week. Which was down from the three or four times it was. We hit that third week though and everything started to flow. Now about that time it warmed up about 20 degrees, days got longer and we could go outside. Might have had something to do with the change in my mood but either way, week three through six blew on by. I didn’t take those last three weeks basking in the sun though. Nope, we started potty training and we hit both kids’ (and mine) birthdays and two illnesses. We were busy. We were running. We were living.

I thought I would share a point when I noticed my change had occured. It was two days before mine and Molly’s birthday. I was working 9 hours that day, eleven the next and I had a birthday cake to make. Like all five year old girls, Molly wanted a Thomas cake and since Charlie has food allergies, Stampy and I were left to our own devices to make it. Things were going well that day and I had scheduled myself down to the minute. I knew if I could just get the cake in the oven, my mother-in-law could get it out as she was watching the kids. Turns out I had just enough eggs and cocoa to make one cake. I had just enough time to make one cake. ONE.CAKE. Dry ingredients go into the stand mixer and the rest is Charlie history. FYI, if you leave a stool next to the counter and if the stand mixer is near that stool, a three year old might climb on said stool and turn stand mixer to high. 
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Needless to say my already risen stress level went from 0-60 pretty quickly. Chocolate cake dry ingredients everywhere. Oh, and did I mention the eggs had already gone into the stand mixer?? Yup. My eggs, cocoa and time were now a dust storm all over my kitchen and three year old. He didn’t have much to say for himself other than “I’m covered in flour!”. I realized that I could yell about what just happened or I could accept what life handed me.
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I chose to accept what life handed me (seriously, I couldn’t yell at that cocoa covered face) and with that it handed me two awesome in-laws at that moment. That not only got new ingredients but baked a cake and cleaned my kitchen. Yup, that happened to. I was pretty lucky.

Did I mention we started potty training that little guy?? I’m sure more will come about that later.

3 weeks, the non-yelling continues

Sort of. Well, I’ve yelled 3 times. But only twice at the kids, once was really to no one in general. Maybe it was towards Stampy, but it was more I’m-having-a-nervous-breakdown-and-no-one-is-listening-to-me yell/cry. 

Either way, the bigger part is that I’m learning ways to control my mood when things really start to irk me and I feel like I’m losing control. These past 3 weeks have also taught me what really pushes my buttons and makes me want to start yelling at the kids. I now know what I need to learn to control. 

I need to control my urge to be on time. Nothing gets me riled up faster than being late. I hate being late. I hate when people are late in general. It’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Want to put me in a bad mood, show up late. Of course a 3 and a 5 year old have no sense of time. At all. None. Since I’ve stopped yelling, we are now consistently one of the last people showing up for school which means my blood pressure is consistently up before 9 AM. It’s a good thing we live a half mile away or we’d be much later since I’ve been buckling my kids in to their car seats when we should be there. Today we were actually early, but Molly sat in time out twice before we got there. 

I need to watch Full House reruns more. That Danny Tanner rarely loses his temper, he has a lot of patience and good advice. I didn’t realize that back in the early 90s. I also didn’t realize how bad the fashions were. Nick at Nite is really good at reminding us what not to wear.

I need to exercise more. I really try to make it a priority but with work and 2 kids, it sometimes takes a back burner. However, I am much more relaxed and calm after a 3 mile run. I’m also too tired to fight. Yoga just makes me realize that things aren’t so bad. At least the kids aren’t asking me to bind while squatting.

The tickle monster needs to visit more. Really, you want to choose 5 minutes before walking to the car to argue about getting a cowgirl hat? That’s fine, I can’t hear you over the tickle monster. You don’t want to brush your teeth?? That’s ok, the tickle monster will do it. He doesn’t mind your silent crying and thrashing.

With a little over 3 weeks to go, I think I’m going to make it! Probably not without yelling again, but at this point at least the kids now know that when I yell, I mean business. Plus, I’m Italian. We yell sometimes. It happens.