I Would Die For My Children, But I don’t Just Live For Them

I don’t often begin writing a post with its title.  Most of the time, I have an idea that I want to express, so I sit down at my computer and within about 45 minutes, it’s gushed out of me with the emotion, power and force of Niagara Falls.  I then go back and spend an inappropriately excessive amount of time trying to come up with a catchy title that screams “click bait.”  A few weeks ago, I read a comment on a friend’s post. A mother had—and I’m paraphrasing here—stated that she lived for her children and that they were her absolute everything.  Reading such a comment left my stomach in knots and my brain reeling.  With my body tingling and tightened with angst, a realization formed: I just don’t feel that way about my kids.  Of course, as a parent, I was immediately flooded with guilt—this line of thinking just felt all wrong, it felt selfish.  I’m a mother, damnit, I’m supposed to live for my kids, aren’t I?  I hesitated to add my own comment, sheepishly returning to the post multiple times throughout the day and reading what other parents had written before finally deciding to comment myself: “I live for myself,” I wrote, “and my kids benefit from the happiness that I exude because of this.”  I left this provocative statement hanging on that page for all the world to see.

There it was, a perfect blog topic.  A controversial feeling that only the boldest of parents would express publicly. Parental condemnation click bait!!!  However, I didn’t know what exactly I was feeling and couldn’t yet quite put it into words.  A million false starts of a post in my head never made it onto the computer, and then, this week, two things happened. I heard the incredible Brene Brown speak (if you haven’t read her books, get them) and we attended a back-to-school picnic at my children’s elementary school.

Brene, in all her glorious wisdom, talked about the concept of “belonging”.  She began with the following quote from Maya Angelou: “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.”  Was she talking about me? Has she been following along on my journey this past year?  This quote, stated so simply and eloquently, encompassed the very journey of soul searching and self-actualization that I have been on lately.

This is what the journey of motherhood has been for me; trying to find out where I, both as just Laura as well as Man and Lady’s mom, fit into this complicated world.  And the answer was right there in front of me in 1000-pt font and illuminated on a giant screen: nowhere, but also everywhere.  To belong doesn’t mean to “fit in,” to perfectly fit some mold; it means to always be your most authentic self.  When you’re authentic, real, and true, there is no place you don’t belong.  Honestly, most of my life, even before having children, was spent attempting to achieve this.  I essentially thought that having children would accomplish this very goal for me.  I would finally belong somewhere concrete, I would belong to motherhood.

I was wrong.

From the time Man was born, I lived and breathed for his every need and want.  As he got older and the demands of his ADHD took hold, my mood, my sense of self, my very being, revolved around his various successes and failures.  If he had a play date where he didn’t destroy a friend’s home, I was thrilled for a month.  If he pushed a child down the slide at the park, my week was over.  Everything he did dictated everything I felt.  Add the fact that I had another typically-developing child just 18-months his junior who also needed my love and attention and by the end of the day I had nothing left but my congratulatory glasses of wine and my misery.  I wasn’t belonging; in fact, the opposite was happening, I was losing myself more and more with each passing year.

Last year I decided that I had had enough. I stopped drinking, returned to school to pursue my dream degree, and again begin the lifelong pursuit toward finding my most authentic self. I have never been happier or felt more of a sense of belonging.  Furthermore, my time with my children has become more meaningful, fun, and contented; I am able to be present for them in a way I never was before.  In allowing myself to accept my truth, that I needed more than just motherhood to complete me, I have become the best versions of both Laura the person and Laura the mother.

 

fam school

Family back to school day!

 

Yesterday, at the kids’ school picnic, I was reminded of just how significant this journey is and how important it is to be steadfast in its pursuit.  Usually Man shies away from big events like these. They are too crowded for him and very overstimulating.  However, due to the way the day’s events unfolded, I unexpectedly found myself standing on the school playground watching my kids play, feeling miserable – a feeling which had become all but foreign to me in the last year.  Instead of adopting an attitude of belonging, I let my worries and fears about Man get the best of me.  I watched every move he made, I saw every social success, every stumble, and everything in between.  Instead of allowing myself to see what a HUGE step and triumph this was for him, or to even enjoy some time chit chatting with lovely ladies who I don’t often get to see, I was an emotional mess.  My mood was, once again, tied to his every move, and ironically his moves were mostly absolute perfection.  I was transported right back to a year ago and it was a harsh reminder that that person no longer belonged on the playground.

There is no doubt of how much I love my children. I would take a bullet for them, donate a kidney, and if it was possible, painstakingly remove every obstacle and hardship that this world will throw their way.  I love them with every fiber of my being.  I would die for them, but I can no longer just live for them.

mothers day

 

Dear Mr. President; Love, A Jewish Mother

Dear Mr. President,

Over the past few months, hundreds of bomb threats have been called in to Jewish Community Centers (JCC) around the country.  Yesterday, a bomb threat was called in to two such centers just miles from my home.  My friends and I have children of preschool age, many of whom attend school programs at various temples across our county.  Frighteningly, these children participated in lockdown drills yesterday due to their schools’ proximity to the JCCs.  Many had police presence within their schools for the remainder of the day and this morning, welcoming their children to school.  These children are between the ages of one-and-a-half and five.  That’s right, toddlers and small children of the Jewish faith around my county are being escorted into school by police simply because of their religion.  Their parents are frightened to send them to school.  The children themselves are confused as to what is going on, and in turn, scared.  Let me reiterate just how young these children are.

I watch you sign bill after bill allowing guns to be places in schools.  Why?  Because you claim that you want to keep students safe, and this is how it will be done.  I watch you make speech after speech about closing our borders.  Why?  Also, in your eyes, in an effort to keep the children and citizens of your country safe.  You will no longer allow refugees into this country.  Families and children whom are being killed daily, hourly, in the name of religion are being deemed unsafe by you and your cabinet.  However, your silence with regards to what is happening in your own country is making my children, my friends children, and my families children unsafe from fellow citizens born and raised right here on U.S. soil.  This threat isn’t come from any refugee or immigrant, it comes from our neighbors.  Yet, you remain relatively silent.

You put a woman like DeVos in power because you preach the idea of a free and better education of a parent’s own choosing for our children.  My friends send their children to these temple schools, yet are now considering removing them for their own safety.  I ask you, is this your definition of proving an education of a parent’s own choice? I want my children to learn their letters and numbers, shapes and colors, play skills and interpersonal skills; but I also want them to learn about their faith.  These threats are making that impossible and your stance, or lack of stance, on the issue is allowing this to continue.  My choice is no longer where my child will get the best education, it is where they will get an education safely.

I have heard you make one single speech on this subject.  You claimed that, “No one was less anti-Semitic then you.”  You pointed out that you had a daughter and a son-in-law of the Jewish faith, and three grandchildren.  Are your grandchildren getting threatened every day?  If so, how can you stand by and watch that?  No, Mr. President, having family members by marriage, does not make you anti-Semitic, it just makes you another person who has Jewish relatives, plain and simple.  I watched your Press secretary, Sean Spicer, claim that it was ludicrous that the murder of two innocent Indian men in the name of hate, could have anything to do with you and your rhetoric.  Are you blind? Deaf?  Ignorant?

You campaign promised to “Make America Great Again,” to make it safe again… Is this what safety now looks like for my family?  You spend so much time pointing out the threats from other countries that you have turned a blind eye to the increasingly severe threats right in our own back yard.  You want to spend 45 billion dollars to increase our defense fund.  Why not spend that money on programs to teach the people of our country tolerance, love, and acceptance?

Fellow citizens filled with bigotry, and the numbers of those citizens are growing exponentially every day, need your guidance.  They need you to denounce the killings, the prejudice, and the threats.  They need to see that you are a man of peace, and love, not one that drives this country through hate.  What kind of a leader are you if you can’t keep all of your citizens safe, not just those of religions you deem acceptable?  Please, I beg you to do something about this, something meaningful, something drastic, something now.

 

Love,

A Jewish Mother

Confession: Being A Stay-At-Home-Mom Just Isn’t For Me

I have a confession to make, and some of you might cast immediate judgement—I truly do not like being a stay-at-home mom.  Thinking back, I’m not quite sure what my original plan was, six-and-a-half years ago, when I had Man.  At that time, I was a speech therapist working with the elderly population in nursing homes.  I told them that I would be returning after four months, but in the recesses of my mind I wasn’t convinced.  When Man turned three-months old, I barely knew how to take care of him myself, let alone teach someone else how to do it in my absence.  Therefore, I resigned from my job with the plan of returning to the workforce when he was one.

Surprise!  When he was nine-months old, I became pregnant with Lady.  It seemed unrealistic to go back to work for just six months before leaving so I again delayed my return to work.  I told myself that I would give Lady the same whole year that I gave Man.

Flash forward a bit to Lady’s first birthday and it grew obvious that Man was not like other children.  His then-undiagnosed ADHD and SPD made him VERY dangerous.  You must believe me when I say I literally could not take my eyes off him for fear that he was either in mortal danger or putting his sister in danger.  At that time in his life he was climbing on counters, getting into ovens, running out of the front door of the house daily, and unplugging any wire he could get his hands on.  He was one of those children who defied the laws of babyproofing.  I was his babyproofing.

As the years went on he remained dangerous in many ways and I just didn’t trust someone else to take care of him.  If he pushed some kid down the slide at a park, I, his mother, needed to be there to smooth over the destruction.  I know how overwhelmed I felt taking care of two toddlers, and I felt that there was no way I could ask someone else could do it.  Maybe, in the back of my mind, I was just scared to return to work after three-and-a-half years away, and this provided an adequate excuse.

Man entered Kindergarten last year, and in many ways life became easier. However, I had grown so unhappy over the years that the thought of going back to a job that I didn’t love seemed intolerable.  I had always wanted children.  There was never a doubt in my mind that starting a family was one of my number one goals in life.  So, imagine my surprise when after some soul searching I realized that being a stay-at-home-mother was not for me.  It took me six long years to admit that to myself.  I was under the impression that once you had kids, you were supposed to enjoy taking care of them.  Sure, not every moment of every day, but yes, ultimately child rearing was supposed to be satisfying.  Personally, for me, it did not bring the level of daily satisfaction that I want out of life.

We scrimped to hire a babysitter and for the first time in six years I had a helping hand.  Over the past six months, I have never felt better.  Much of that is due to the fact that I am now able fill my days with something in addition to child rearing.  A few months ago, I made the decision to fulfill a lifelong dream and applied to schools for a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling.  I start school tomorrow and I could not be more excited.

Of course, because the world works this way, my babysitter is on vacation for two weeks while I am beginning school.  Therefore, my mother is coming to help with the kids while I am in class.  We were going over the schedule:

“Are you getting home first or is J (my husband)?” my mom asked.

“No, I won’t be home until about 9:30 in the evening, I have a board meeting at the place where I volunteer right after class.”

“Oh, well… how are the kids handling all of this, Laura?” she questioned in her most “I’m not judging you, but really I am judging you” tone.

“The kids will be fine.  They want me to be happy and being home with them all day did not make me happy.  They have had me all to themselves for six and a half years and now it’s my turn.”

‘Uh huh…” she replied and abruptly changed the conversation.

The change in conversation was her signal to let me know that she didn’t agree at all but wasn’t going to engage me in a debate.  In her eyes, staying at home is most important, and above anything else, my children need me whether I was happy or not.  And P.S.- children are the light of a mother’s life, so why wasn’t I just happy?!

I disagree.  I feel I have been there for them and will continue to be there for them every day of their lives.  I love them so much, that I put my own feelings aside to fulfill the obligation of being their parent.  I thought that that was what was most important.  But, after a few years, I wasn’t being the mom I could be.  I was a shell of myself going through the motions.  I wasn’t present and I certainly was not giving them the mother they deserved.

I don’t like being a-stay-at-home mom and spending my days being at the beck and call of my children and my household.  I hate running them from activity to activity and bringing them to play dates just to sit and watch them play with another child.  I get bored after about five minutes of pretend play; please, PLEASE, do not make me serve fake food to that imaginary family one more time. Pretty please?  I do not want to beg anyone to eat his dinner anymore, standing over him imploring him to eat one single bite after one single bite.  I just can’t do it anymore.  I feel guilt and shame even admitting this because it makes me feel like I’m a horrendous mother, but I want to spend some of my days doing something else that stimulates me differently.  It’s what I need to be a happy person.  And as a happy person I will be a better parent when I am with them.  It’s not as though I don’t love my children and garner great joy from them, of course I do, but that joy is even greater, even more valuable, when I’m doing tasks outside of parenting.

So tomorrow, I turn my family upside down to do something just for me.  I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Well, if you didn’t want to take care of your kids, then why did you have them?” And the truth is, I feel very selfish doing this.  Nevertheless, I also know that I have no chance of being truly happy if I don’t.  I know I am no less dedicated to them as I was when I was staying at home all day; I am still caring for them.  I am showing them that it is never too late to follow a dream, while working towards creating the happiest home I can for them.  In my heart, I know I will still be here for them—I will still be their mom. I will make sure that they feel loved and cared for and if they need me, no matter what I’m doing, I will be there.  But I will no longer be resentful.

I Am Every Mom

I’m often asked why I blog.  Initially I stayed anonymous, but over time the anonymity began to dissipate and by now, most people who know me also know my blog.  Occasionally, one will question why I write, why I allow myself to be so vulnerable by sharing my life so publicly.  It didn’t begin this way. Initially I was attempting to write one of those funny mom blogs… but I was the only one who found them funny.  One day I was struggling, and I wrote a piece that reflected that struggle.  The response was overwhelming.  People were commiserating with what I was writing, and it made me feel better.  No, it made me feel fantastic.

As the blog progressed and my goals grew loftier, I often tried to find a unique spin on parenting topics- I mean, how else was I ever going to reach a million readers and launch myself into mommy blogger stardom?? I would write something and hand it over to my husband to critique, he would hand it back after correcting my horrendous grammar and exclaim that it’s ready for publishing.

“But what did you think of it?”  I always pressed. His words said “great,” but his face said, “meh.”

“It was good.  You know I think your best posts are the ones where you write about yourself and your struggles,” he would bravely respond.

And he was right; I would always connect the most with people when I wrote from the heart.  You see, I’m not unique, I’m just like you.  My voice is all of yours… just posted publicly to 1,700 people.

Like all of you, there are days where I’m Supermom!  I’m totally rocking parenting—everyone is following directions; there are no major tantrums; we’re on time for most things; the kids are happy and smiling and so am I.

But, I also admittedly have horrendous parenting days where it seems like the Joker has swooped in and kicked Supermom’s new, larger, mom ass.  It’s even accompanied by the crazy Joker perma-grin affixed to my face.  I wear this to convincingly pretend that I’m not ready to run from my house screaming at any moment.  Those are the days I wonder exactly what I was thinking when I agreed to let my husband touch me with his penis.  I immediately flash to the moment, seven years ago, when I did the happy dance as I tossed my last package of birth control in the trash basket.  Oh, right, like most of you, I asked for this.

Like so many of you the absolute best moments of my life (except for maybe my wedding day) are the moments I’m watching my children be happy and carefree.  I never knew true, pure love until they were born and I wouldn’t give that feeling up for anything.

family-hospital

Becoming a complete family of four!

I’m not unique; I truly miss the days of spontaneous, uninterrupted alone time.  I crave some time to myself that is not at midnight when everyone in the house is finally asleep.  Sometimes I spend most of my day ignoring what they are doing and playing on my phone.  I just need to escape for a while and not be present that day.  If one of them is bleeding uncontrollably, of course, I’m right there.  But seriously, go and pee by yourselves, I know you can do it.

I too struggle to find the balance between being Laura and being Mom, and blending the two is not as seamless as I thought it would be.  I worry that I have lost myself, and if I try to find her, I am being a selfish and bad mom.  I have to believe the struggle is even more significant when you are a working mom and have to wear the office hat and the mom hat—kudos to you ladies.

I, along with my lovely gym companions, constantly wonder if my body is ever going to return to its pre-baby figure.  Once upon a time there was a woman who could walk around in public without a bra and eat foods other than lettuce without causing her to bloat and still look pregnant.

workout-goose

Will I ever be fit again?

I have come to rely on the circle of moms whom I am lucky to call my friends.  I have lifelong friends that I will forever cherish; however, there is something special about mom friends.  Parenting can be a lonely, isolating job, and having a person who can truly understand my day to day life has become vital to my happiness.  This is especially important when parenting a child with special needs. Not many people “get it” like those that are in the trenches right along with you.

I am like every mom who just wants her children to grow up happy and healthy.

I am like every mom who looks at her children and is just floored by the fact that she created such angelic beings, that they came from her!

I am like every mom who sucks at crafts and just didn’t sign up for this crap when they popped out a kid.

I am like every mom who wants to provide her children with a loving and nurturing home.

I am like every mom who would rather gouge her eyes out then hear one more thing about Minecraft.

I am like every mom who brims with pride when her child accomplishes a feat.

I am like every mom whose heart breaks when her children are sad or disappointed.

I am like every mom who sprints from her house screaming “freeeeedom” when the door shuts behind her for a coveted date night with her husband.

I am like every mom who feels overwhelmed and just wants to give up sometimes.

I am like every mom who has let her kids eat popcorn for dinner because the eating struggle is real, people!

I am like every mom who does the best that she can.

I’m not unique; I am like every mom…

I am like you…

silly-family

I am every mom just enjoying her family.

Me And Jesus, Birthday Buddies!

I was born on December 25, 1979.

That’s right, of the 365 days in a year, I chose to enter this world on Christmas Day.

Right now, the vast majority of you are having the following thoughts:

“Awwwww, a Christmas baby!!! What a great gift for her family!”

“It must be so fun to have a birthday on Christmas!!”

Or,

“That sucks, I bet she doesn’t get any presents for her birthday!”

How do I know that this is what you’re thinking? Am I psychic? Well, yes, a little, but that is neither here nor there right now. I know this because these are the three most common sentiments uttered when someone finds out my date of birth.

Most people don’t realize how often your use your DOB in your day to day life, because most people don’t share their birthday with Jesus himself.  If you actually stop to think about it, it’s any time you EVER have to present ID and someone glances over your license. From bouncers to medical personnel, from liquor store cashiers to Bertha at the DMV, everyone has a remark about my date of birth.

christmas baby

I immediately see the glimmer in people’s eyes, the sheer excitement that washes over them, as they discover this tidbit of information.  It’s as if they have just met someone who has been bestowed with an extra special gift from the universe.

“You were born on the same day as the Big Guy Himself?”

“How awesome, the entire world stops and celebrates your birthday!”

“It must be so nice to have your family altogether on every. Single. Birthday!?!?”

This enthusiasm is immediately extinguished when I Grinch out and utter the following words–“Well, I’m Jewish.”

Confusion ensues, instantly followed with an uncomfortable hesitation over what to say next. If it’s over the phone, there’s usually a nice long pause, during which I satisfyingly complete some irrelevant task like crocheting a king-sized Afghan.  If we’re face to face, I give them the “matter of fact death stare” which usually causes the person to become redder than the poisonous Poinsettias decorating a nearby countertop.

Most people are just completely unsure of what this actually means. It’s not that they don’t understand that Judaism is a different religion; it’s that they can’t fathom that there are people who exist who don’t actually celebrate Christmas. Doesn’t everyone celebrate the awesomeness of this holiday?

First, let me reiterate that it stinks to have your birthday on Christmas, whether you celebrate or not. Having nothing to do with gifts, attempting to acknowledge and celebrate a birthday—a day that should not go unnoticed by the most important people in your life, is virtually impossible when overshadowed by what is practically the largest national holiday we have. No matter what, your day, the one day of the year when it is acceptable to indulge in somewhat selfish, narcissistic behavior, is eclipsed in LARGE part by the fact that most of the people you know are celebrating something else, something better. It’s not even a competition, if given a choice to celebrate you or to celebrate the gift-givingest, Rudolph-the-reindeer-flyingest, Santa-Claus-Down-the-chimneyest, tree-lightingest, eggnog drinking, gingerbread house making… FYI, I had already lost at “gift-giving’est”.  Clearly, Christmas is numero uno, far superior to a silly little birthday celebration.  Really, how can you say, “Well, it’s my birthday; tell your family you will do Christmas on the 26th!?”

Somewhat disappointing is the conversation that often occurs as a result of my birth date- I’m constantly being reminded of what a minority I am. I am proud of my heritage, my religion, and passing on my traditions to my children. However, explaining to people that Christmas is a religious holiday, not a national holiday gets somewhat tiresome.  Why don’t I just let people assume I celebrate Christmas, you might be thinking? Well, because that’s like allowing people to assume that because you’re female you like pink, or because you’re a boy, you like sports.  That’s just not who I am, and it’s an unfair assumption. As I said, I’m proud of who I am, and I want people to know that.

However, it is simultaneously fabulous and wonderful. Very few people learn of my birth date and don’t have some sort of comment. Whether positive or negative, everyone has an opinion about the day that I was born. My family and friends are also always, in some capacity, around. It’s not like having your birthday on June 17th, which could be a Tuesday in which everyone is off at their respective jobs. Someone is home to spend this day with me. So what if I eat Chinese food and go to the movies every year, I still get to do it with people I love. Why? Because their offices are closed!!!

So, in short, it can be slightly frustrating, but also, like the song says, “it’s the most, wonderful time of the year…”

birthday-goose

ADHD: How My Son Is Already Failing The First Grade

*I will preface this blog post by stating that I adore Man’s teachers, his school and our school district.  They have been completely supportive since the day we began our journey.

 

The phone rings and I see the number of Man’s school pop up.

 

My heart begins to beat faster, my chest tightens, and an overall feeling of complete anxiety fills my body.

 

“What happened now?” I think

 

I toy with the idea of ignoring the call.  Maybe if I don’t answer it the problem will go away, magically disappear into the vastness of my voicemail, left to be dealt with at a later time when I feel more up to it.  That thought is shoved out quickly and replaced with, “I have to deal with this right away, or I might never call back.”

 

“Mrs. R, this is Mrs… the assistant principal.”  I wonder why she even bothers to introduce herself at all anymore; she calls more often then my best friend or some family members.

 

“Man is…”

 

That blank is often filled with information on some physical altercation or some refusal to do his work all day, thus a removal of some important activity has occurred.

 

This same information comes almost daily in the form of e mails from his teacher, the school psychologist, or the special education teacher.

(*I will add that all of these women are lovely ladies dedicated to their jobs and helping Man. He does not make it easy.)

 

Man has ADHD and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).  Many people are misinformed, or just have some preconceived notion of what ADHD is, so here is a very brief description-

 

ADHD is NOT:

Just being hyperactive and unable to sit still.

A behavior problem.

Caused by poor parenting and lack of discipline.

Magically treated by medication.

Something small children just outgrow.

Treated with sports or other physical activities.

Just a child being lazy.

 

ADHD IS:

The inability to regulate one’s emotions.

An inability to identify and pick up on general social cues.

An inability to filter out the input around you, therefore, causing extreme distractibility.

An inability to control impulses.

Abnormal levels of activity.

Difficulty organizing and staying on task.

 

This is just a brief overview of some of the characteristics associated with this disorder and a child can have some, many, or all of the characteristics.  Additionally, any one of the symptoms may be more present and cause greater challenges than others.

 

Man has begun first grade this year and the transition has been TREMENDOUSLY difficult.  In kindergarten he was able to have some freedom to play and roam; the expectations were not as high.  Now, in first grade, he is expected to sit still for longer periods of time, do much more class work and pressures have increased one hundred fold.  In many ways, he is crumbling under these pressures.

 

When Man crumbles, it isn’t into pieces — it’s into a fine dust, a total and complete meltdown.

 

There are days when he absolutely just. Can’t. Sit. Still. long enough to do any work.  He refuses.  He must suffer the consequences accordingly.  There are rules of the classroom and he is given plenty of leeway, but at some point, something has to give and his work must be completed.  It often is not.

 

readpic

 

There are days when he calls out so often that no other student can get a word in edgewise.  He is so enthusiastic, so excited about the information in his head and he wants the class to know his thoughts.  When Man is an active participant, which is every day, he is truly an active participant.  But you can’t cut people off; you must give others a turn.  You have to raise your hand and wait patiently to be called on, as do all the other eager and smart students in the class.  He often cannot.

 

There are social situations that Man seems to perceive or interpret incorrectly.  He often uses his words once, but then if a student does not immediate do as he has asked, he will use force to get what he wants.  My sweet child (and I don’t say this because I am blind, he truly is the sweetest, most sensitive child you will meet) sees this as a slight or an insult, has absolutely no impulse control and goes right to pushing or hitting.  He uses the method of a child half of his age to get what he wants.  It happens so fast, so quickly that even when someone tries to stop it, it often does not happen in time.  He feels terrible when these events occur. Yet he cannot control them.

 

The phone calls and e mails begin to flood in.  Man had a difficult day; he refused to do his work all day.  He comes off the bus looking neutral.

 

“What was the best part of your day, my love?”  I ask, praying for something positive.

 

“Seeing my friends at lunch.”

 

“What was the worst part of your day?” the silent prayers beg that he doesn’t burst into tears for the third day in a row.

 

“They took away recess.  I had to go to the assistant principal again.  Bad kids go to the assistant principal.”

 

“You have to try and do your work,” I explain, “I know it’s hard to concentrate.  And you’re not bad.  You’re having some challenges and we are going to work it out, I promise.”  I make a promise I’m not sure I can keep.

 

“I can’t focus, mom,” he cries, hysterically, “Help me.  Help me be able to concentrate.”

 

Other days the conversation goes more like this:

 

“Man, I got a call that you hit someone today.  You KNOW you can’t do that.  You MUST respect personal space.”

 

“I know mom, but they…”

 

The explanation as to what the child did is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that in his mind, he truly believes he was slighted in some way.  Or, in some situations, he uses his words to try and mediate once, and then the impulse control takes over and he just takes care of the problem physically.  This is UNACCEPTABLE.  I imagine a long list of parents who assume my kid is an asshole, a bully, an undisciplined, unmanageable, jerk who just goes around hitting and kicking.  I know I would be thinking the same thing.  However, this is just NOT the case.  He does use force, and it’s a huge challenge, but it’s not because he’s a bully or just a mean and nasty kid.  It is because he literally has no impulse control.  He has no impulse control in many other areas as well (think calling out in the class, taking someone’s turn during gym or music class, etc.) it’s just that in this area, other kids get hurt.  I want to call all of these parents, apologize to every one of them.  Give an explanation of the situation.  I’m not sure that would do anything.

 

I want to help my sweet boy.  I want him to feel smart, for he is truly brilliant.  I want him to feel socially accepted, for he is the nicest, kindest, most loving child.  I want him to feel happy every day, because that is what a six year old deserves.  I’m not sure I know how to do that right now and it terrifies me.

 

I wish society understood just how difficult this disorder truly is.  I want parents to understand that it’s not that our children are undisciplined or lazy; they actually work twice as hard as a typical child to function day to day.  I want schools to get their act together and begin to design programs that work for children who are wired this way.  Why is my child made to feel less than every day because he cannot fit into the mold of the current educational expectations?  We have to do more for children as a whole.

 

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A smile for the first day of first grade

I Still Need My Parents, Even Though I Am A Parent

I have come to the point in my life where most would call me an adult. I am in my mid-late 30’s and married with two small children. I take on many adult-like responsibilities and, though divided between my husband and I, the pressure of adulthood weighs heavily upon me.

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Man, my first child

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Lady, my second child

The simple definition of an “adult”, according to Webster, is as follows: n. someone fully developed and mature.

 

Well, that seems pretty broad. According to science, women are fully developed between the ages of 8 and 15 (according to womenshealth.gov) and men begin puberty somewhere between 9 and 14 and it can last, in some, until 20 (or forever…) (as told by plannedparenthood.org). But “mature” is a little more of a gray area. Does having children and a mortgage really make me mature? Wasn’t I so mature when I told a boy, “I love you” for the first time? Or when I drove off all alone with my newly printed driver’s license?   Was I finally mature when I went off to college, 1200 miles away from home at 17 and left to my own free will? How about when I said, “I do”? For some, it comes far sooner then hitting any of these milestones. Without choice or discussion, they are left to make adult decisions and carry on adult responsibilities while still inhabiting childlike bodies.

 

If I really had to think about it, I probably fall somewhere in between. I handled far more than many at a young age, but still remained a child in most areas.

 

A decade ago I would have never considered even questioning this. I was an adult, of course! I lived alone, maintained a job, paid my bills, had begun a serious relationship—there was no question about it. However, now that I am older, and the complications of life have wormed their way in, I question it daily.

 

The bottom line is that despite fitting the definition of what an adult might be, I still need my mom and dad.

 

I have struggled recently. I will not bore you with the details, but you will have to trust that with maturity comes an understanding that you can no longer act like a child in certain ways. That you must take on a level of responsibility that is far greater then you have ever bargained for. I look around and it seems that others have been able to rise to this occasion with grace and confidence, while I still find myself floundering in the corner. I know this is likely not the truth of the matter, that your brain can play tricks on you, see things that are not necessarily the way they really are- but it makes it harder nonetheless.

 

In these times, I find myself reaching for my dad and my stepmom more and more. Not because I need anything tangible from them, although the occasional hug doesn’t hurt, but because of their unwavering love and strength. Yes, I am an adult, grappling with adult problems, but having people who care about you, love you no matter what, and stand by you with steadfast support is a gift. Knowing that there are people who can feel joy simply from being in a room with me and who can prop me up, no questions asked, after I have bled my darkness onto them, reveled truths that I can barely stand to acknowledge even to myself, is the greatest of what parents have to offer.

 

Maybe being an adult is coming to an understanding that I will always need them. That no matter how old I get, or how many responsibilities are put on my plate, I can always call on them for assistance. Having one person who will love me and be proud of me for both my accomplishments and my failures is a gem, and I am lucky enough to have two such people in my life.

 

For some this person may be an aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, friend, teacher, religious figure, spouse, etc. It doesn’t matter who they are, as much as what they stand for. We often attempt to isolate ourselves during our most challenging times, which is just when we need people the most. Even today, I told my parents not to come over, that I didn’t want to talk to them, or anyone for that matter. Of course, as parents do, they insisted that they see my face despite my refusals. In a few short hours, my shame, anger, and sadness had melted away and a smile had returned to my face. While saying goodbye I made sure to tell them, and remind myself, that they are the best medicine. There is no substitute for the love and acceptance of the people you hold in the highest esteem. To feel the darkness inside replaced by the light reflected in their eyes as they look at me proudly. My parents give me a reward I can’t often give myself, they make me understand that I am worthy of love, that there is nothing that can happen, no situation that I can find myself in, where they won’t be there to catch me as I fall, and to help make sure I get back up. There is nothing that will make their love disappear, simply, nothing.

 

On a side note, I would like my readers to understand that this does not mean that the love and support of my husband is any less significant or meaningful. However, it is different. The love that a parent bestows upon their child (and this does NOT necessarily mean a biological child) is the most altruistic, the truest and purest of loves, there is. It is a love that comes with no questions and no strings attached. In a sense, it is given, with very little, if anything, expected in return. My husband and I are partners, we support each other through thick and thin, but it’s a give and take, as a spousal relationship should be. Yes, I give thanks and love to my parents all of the time, but I would like to think that they would still be by my side just as willingly if I did not. In fact, being the bratty teen that I was, I know that that is, in fact, true.