When I hear this sentiment uttered, it evokes an image of an elderly grandmother as she glides past a mother and her prostrated, screaming child in an aisle at Target. The child is having a full blown meltdown and the mother, exasperated, is attempting to do everything in her power to just get that child up off the floor and the hell out of the store. The grandmother, an “all knowing” smile on her face, chuckles to herself as she walks by while whispering this statement to the mom.
We have all been there. You know—those terrible and terrifying moments of parenting when all you can think is, “I have no idea what I am doing, but I hope to God it’s the right thing.”
“I work on her reading every night with her, but she’s not improving at all.”
“I’ve taken him to every feeding specialist there is, but he’s just not eating well.”
“I tried a new psychologist yesterday, but she seemed like all of the rest.”
“I tried a new medicine, but her asthma attacks are still so severe.”
The desperation in their accounts is palpable; it is laced with a sense of helplessness and a desire for a renewed sense of hope. As parents, we try everything for our children. No stone goes unturned. No book, pamphlet, webinar, or podcast is missed. We are willing to listen to people screaming from atop their soapboxes if it means that there might be some answer to the challenges we face with our kids.
Feeling helpless as a parent has become as much a part of me as feeling like a successful one. I do all I can for my children; I am trying my absolute hardest—but at times it seems insufficient. I can read the books, study them, highlight the important passages, and then put their suggestions into play. I can talk to the doctors, see new doctors, and take suggestions from other parents in similar situations, but nothing appears to change. At one point, we just have to accept that we have done all we can do and let our faith do the rest.
Parenting is one part helplessness, one part hope, and the rest, blind faith.
As helpless as I feel, I have faith. I believe that although I might not see immediate change, the fact that I am doing everything I can is enough. I know that my heart is in the right place, it is with my children every day. I understand that I will not feel helpless forever, and that there will be times where I feel completely ahead of the parenting game. I trust that my best is good enough and that as long as I keep fighting things will continue to keep moving in the right direction.
The periods of time when I feel most helpless are also those that require me to have the most hope and the largest amount of blind faith. I do not do it alone. I count on my husband, my family and my support network. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child; it takes a village to raise a parent.
*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.
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.
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.
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.
Mombieolic noun– a mother who knowingly stays up well past an appropriate bedtime in order to enjoy copious amounts of alone time.
Like many moms, I stay up until ungodly hours of the night- or the wee hours of the morning depending on how you want to look at it- despite severe exhaustion. Yes, well past the time that Jimmy Kimmel has signed off and is already happily in dreamland, no doubt snoring loudly alongside his own wide awake Mombieolic wife; here I am, vice grip on my Netflix remote ready to start my sixth concurrent episode of Game of Thrones. It vaguely resembles a throwback to my college days when the mere thought of going out for the evening before 11PM was appalling. Um, except now I’m like 20 years and two children older and I’m not leaving my house to go socialize with friends, I’m sitting here, in complete and total silence.
During this phase of the day, my body aches, and my lids are like little lead weights careening together until I forcefully pry them open. The blood vessels in my eye balls are so raw that I look like I have either just hot boxed my car with Snoop Dog or that I have literally been up for about 19 hours. It takes all of my effort to lift what feels like a 30 pound ice cream filled spoon into my mouth, but I get it there, damnit! Why? Because I’m a classic Mombieolic! I. Will. Stay. Awake… Despite the fact that my body is begging me for sleep.
Why, you may ask, would I willingly treat myself like a prisoner in Guantanamo? Why won’t I merely just go to bed at a normal hour? I’ve just had an incredibly long and tiring day and it appears that tomorrow- as I will every day for the foreseeable decade or two; then why not be kind to the body I have and just go to sleep? Simple- Because this is MY TIME! It’s the only time in the house when there is complete and total peace.
I can almost, allllmost, pretend that I’m alone on relaxing beach vacation. I can close my eyes- but not for too long because then I will most certainly be overcome by sleep- and picture myself on a chaise lounge, the warmth of the tropical air, the sound of the waves, the smell of the ocean, the sight of the well oiled cabana boy bringing me fresh fruit and tropical drinks… Shit- get it together, Laura, and open your eyes before you begin to doze and the drool begins to pool on your pillow!
The house is so quiet. There’s no one calling for “waaaaater” or yelling at each other. The phone isn’t ringing. The dog isn’t barking at the neighborhood children as they all play and chatter in the street. There is no bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble guppies, playing in stereo throughout the house on three different tv’s. No, the only noise is the sound of me opening another package of Tate’s extra crispy chocolate chip cookies and the loud, delicious crunch they make as I chew them orgasmically, alone!
I can watch whatever I want. No one is asking what I’m watching or if they can watch with me. No one is grabbing the remote from me with abnormally sweaty little hands. I don’t have to compromise between sports or Blaze And The Monster Machines. I can put on the Ross and Rachel breakup episode of Friends, watch it four times in a row, and no one will know or be able to comment sarcastically about how cute and idiotic I am.
I can eat the really good secret snacks. Now, there are snacks that we buy for the kids (that we wouldn’t ever consider even allowing touching our pallets) and snacks that we all nosh on- but what the kids don’t know, is that there are snacks that I buy just. For. Me!! I remove these snacks from their super secret hiding place and eat them in the wee hours of the night without risk of them being grabbed at, drooled on, licked, or tasted by others. Call me selfish, but these are my snacks. Mine! Miiiiiiiiine!
OMG, Lady is getting sooooooo selfish!
Posted by ManVsMommy on Thursday, January 23, 2014
Sometimes I will go online and shop. Yes, there is nothing like slowly and methodically browsing for new clothes in the darkness of a sleeping household. It’s almost as good as if you had one of those personal shoppers who bring the clothes to your home try on and choose at your leisure and your convenience. Or what I imagine that would be like… Man isn’t suddenly behind me, grabbing at the mouse, pressing buttons, and thus magically emptying my shopping cart and replacing it with a game of Ninja Star Wars or some shit like that, all in all, effectively ruining my peaceful home shopping experience.
So you see; being a Mombieolic is not a choice, I am powerless over my late night alone time. Like all addictions, every morning I, drag my exhausted, consciously sleep deprived ass out of bed and make a promise this past night was the VERY LAST night and that tonight I will without a doubt get to bed early. Tonight, I will close my eyes and go to sleep the second that the kids go to bed. I will give up my alone time and replace it with much needed, healthy sleep habits!
Fellow Mombieolics, there will be a Mombieolics Anonymous meeting tonight, in my bed, at 1AM.
I spent this past weekend away, while my husband remained home with the kids. While away, yet another confusing, senseless mass shooting occurred at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. When I arrived home this evening, my husband and I traded stories and caught up on each other’s weekends. The shooting was near the bottom of the list of things we discussed. I noted our numbness, our easy acceptance, our lack of surprise and shock. We discussed it with banality. There was a deafening tone of acceptance that this was no longer a unique occurrence. It was discussed with such dullness that one would never have guessed that we were talking about what is now the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Something feels different this time. Something inside is not sitting right.
I haven’t changed my FB profile picture, or posted any memes in memoriam.
I haven’t dedicated any posts containing heartfelt sentiments and prayers for the victims and their families. (Though I did share one post on my private page that I found summed up the impact of the tragedy on the LGBT community rather nicely.)
I haven’t read article after article soaking up any information that could possibly help it all make sense.
No calls to action or petitions have been signed or shared. I have barely even attempted to shoot down angry trolls with my witty and condescending rhetoric.
Nothing. Not. One. Damn. Thing.
Why, I ask myself? Why can’t I hop on the grieving bandwagon?
It’s because in doing so, I feel like a fraud.
With every passing tragedy, I talk the talk, but the truth is I have no idea how to walk the walk. I am so tired of absolutely nothing changing, nothing getting better. I cannot make my profile picture, a temporary, memorial meme; if that is the only thing I am willing to do to bring about change. Expressing outrage via FB and other social media outlets isn’t doing a damn thing, and I want to do something.
What more can I do? I have signed all of the petitions. I make phone calls to my congresswoman, whom already supports a ban on assault weapons. I vote in all of the elections for representatives who share my beliefs. But really, this does not seem like much.
I, like all of you, am outraged. I am disgusted that so many hundreds of adults and children have died, and likely hundreds more will have to die, for people to understand that guns ARE part of the problem. I am confused by how people think that hate and bigotry is not at the root of all of these mass shootings. I am exhausted of the finger pointing and the bickering among politicians and political parties shutting down any chance for change. I am sickened by the divide in this country that grows deeper with every tragedy.
These atrocities will continue to happen, and, unfortunately, I feel that part of the onus has fallen on us, the citizens of this country. I implore you, how can I help more? Please, share in the comments section any ideas on how we, as individual citizens, can do more then just share FB posts. It is up to every one of us to do something, or none of us have the right to express outrage and sadness when something like this occurs again.
It has been impossible, recently, to avoid the story of Brock Turner, the Stanford college student convicted of three counts of sexual assault. I have read, with pounding heart, the movingly penned letter from the victim. I have fumed over the shortsighted, ignorance that seeped from the paragraphs of the letter from the assailant’s father. However, nothing distressed me more then the letter written by Leslie Rasmussen, the defendant’s longtime friend.
I have no desire to quote her dangerous words; but, in short, she directly blames the excessive use of alcohol and partying “encouraged” by college campuses for this unconscionable crime. She has since written an additional statement explaining how her letter, “has provided an opportunity to misconstrue my ideas into a distortion that suggests that I sympathize with sex offenses and those who commit them or that I blame the victim involved.”
No, Leslie, your letter has done so much more than that. As a mother raising a daughter (and a son), it frightens me to think that a 20 year old, seemingly educated, woman believes that there is anywhere, other then on Brock himself, for which to place blame for this heinous crime. The only thing, the onlyperson, responsible for the sexual assault and rape of a woman is the rapist himself. I am stunned, and frightened that our young women still, in 2016, believe that there is any scenario in which a victim asks to be raped.
It is a very simple, black and white concept- if you don’t have clear, undeniable confirmation that the initiation of sexual intercourse is consensual, then the answer is, and always will be, NO. The dilution of this idea has resulted in the belief that there are varying shades of gray when it comes to consent. Let me be as clear as I can, there is no gray area, there is only an unquestionable “yes”, anything else, falls into the only other category, “no”.
We continue to live in a world that sees anything and everything besides the word, “yes” as a sign of consent. Consent is not if or how drunk she is, it’s not what she is wearing, or how much she is flirting, it’s not if she invites you to her room, or kisses you, or how she dances with you- no, none of these are ever an invitation, or permission for sexual intercourse. Consent is, and will only ever be, when one hears an undeniable “yes”.
I recognize that when on the brink of getting laid, we don’t often stop to ask consent and wait for our partner to confirm with a “yes, sure, absolutely, or let’s get it on”- it’s sex, not a business transaction. However, if there is any uncertainty, any hesitation, then go no further until all doubt (one way or another) has been eliminated.
Leslie had her friend’s best interest at heart with her letter, and, no one can fault that. I truly do not believe that she thinks rape victims are always to blame or is dismissing the severity of the crime. She is, however, highlighting the fact that young women are continuing to grow up considering that there are situations in which they are inviting rape- namely, those situations that involve drinking and drug use. Additionally disturbing is that this young woman has narrow minded, single scope view of a rape/rapist. A distinction is made between a man who randomly blindsides a woman and forces himself upon her and someone who is drunk and having uninvited sex with another person who is drunk. There is no distinction, rape is rape.
She is right in one way; alcohol does play a significant role in the excessive sexual assault of women, there is no denying this. It robs each party of the capacity to ensure that consent was sought and given. This fact alone does not mean that blame can be placed solely on the bottom of an empty shot glass; the alcohol did not commit the crime, only a person can rape another.
I lived alone, as a single woman in New York City for many years during my mid twenties. I went out and drank with girlfriends. I stayed out until the sun came up, wore clothes that made me feel sexy, and met guys at bars, parties, through friends of friends, at restaurants, and sometimes even just standing on the street. I went out on dates, first dates and group dates, set ups and ones I wish would end after only five minutes. I did these things with the expectation that I would not be a victim of rape. I wasn’t being reckless or careless, I had friends, family, and neighbors who always knew my whereabouts, calls were made and texts were shared as confirmation that we were all home safe and sound. No, I wasn’t stupid or naive, I carried (still carry) the belief that it was (is) my bodily right as a female human not to be touched unless I made it CLEAR that I wanted to be. I was (am) of the perception that all it should take, at any time, is to say, “We’re done now” and a man should stop.
Brock Turner was found having sex with a woman while she was unconscious. Without her permission, he put his penis inside of her; that is rape. There is nothing gray area about that.
I’ve been writing this blog for about five years now. I write a lot about myself as a parent- my mothering triumphs and failures, frustrations and fulfillments, surprises and bits of wisdom. However, I don’t seem to talk much about myself as just, Laura. That’s my real name, Laura.
I am able to write about Man’s (he will remain anonymous…to most of you) ADHD with little hesitation, but I struggle to come to accept and disclose that I too have recently been diagnosed with ADHD. Yes, this is the new fad, this finding grown women who were never diagnosed because it presents differently- yet so, so similarly. But I’m not just jumping on some bandwagon; I’m getting answers to questions that I didn’t even realize existed.
When reading up on the disorder following Man’s diagnosis, it was undeniable that most of the characteristics felt alarmingly familiar to me. I wasn’t just reading about Man, I was reading about myself. Man happens to have that hallmark, “I’ve just downed six espresso shots” manner about him; however, most women with the disorder lack this quality so the other symptoms, the more important players in the ballgame, go completely unnoticed. Well, that is, until they can no longer hide.
My most important piece as a mom blogger has been,ADHD, A Real Medical Diagnosis . It stresses the importance of removing the stigma associated with this diagnosis, for Man’s sake, for all who carry the diagnosis. So, why not move it along with sharing my own story? I am in no way ashamed. There is absolutely nothing that could have been done to prevent or change it. The hesitation is simple- putting it out there means being seen differently. The truth is that plain and simple. As an adult, the same stereotypes that worry me about Man’s future are like giant barriers that stand in the way of my own day to day life.
In the end, moving forward means being willing to be seen as exactly who I am, and honestly, there is nothing wrong about that.
When the initial diagnosis was made official, I felt a surge of empowerment. There was a reason for some of the things that have plagued me, in one way or another, my entire life. Yet, months later, the sheen of this shiny new diagnosis, this “answer to my problems” has worn off. The realization of what it means has just begun to settle in.
I don’t want to preach to you about what it feels like to be me, to live in my brain. There are people with far worse fates than my own. Similarly, there are people with far better. We are who we are, better to work with that then try and be something else. I will, nonetheless, try and provide some information on how a brain like mine works.
I work from the inside out in a world that works from the outside in.
I literally have no less then four or five thoughts going on in my head at all times. My brain is never ever quiet. Yoga and meditation are my kryptonite.
I take in everything that’s around me in detail. I see, hear, smell, and feel it all, the passing glance, the broken window latch, the plant in the corner, the banana peel that the guy just threw away across the room. Nothing filters, it’s all just there. Did you hear the bird tweet as it flew by the widow on the other wall? Well, I did.
I have absolutely no idea how to be quiet or subtle. Never take me to library.
Most things don’t have a designated place. No, that’s not true; its designated place is where I last put it down.
You will never get a word in edgewise with me. Ever. There are many of you reading this that know, have tried, but came to the final realization that it was just not going to happen. It’s not because I’m not interested in what you’re saying, truly, it’s not- quite the opposite, in fact. There are just so many thoughts, and no ability to judge which should be kept and verbalized and which should just return to the small recess of my brain from which it came. They. All. Must. Be. Said. Period.
I’m never doing just one thing at a time. Yet, if I attempt to do too many things, I implode and none of them get done.
I have begun a million projects… I’m still in the middle of most of them.
Unless it’s “do or die”, making a decision is difficult. It’s the overthinking and the thoughts again, people. I can rationalize, re-think, get new information, hem and haw, be wishy washy, make a decision, and then immediately change my mind because of… yes, the thoughts.
It’s going to take me about a year – maybe several years – to learn your name. However, I will remember your face, how and where we met, and likely some random factoid or two about you. But I still won’t know your name!
I have an acute awareness of how the aforementioned characteristics make me appear to others. This makes me anxious and sometimes sad.
On any given day, my ADHD can either be overwhelming, or not noticeable in any way. Inconsistency is ADHD’s hidden talent, its secret weapon. There is no way of knowing if it will be a good, highly functional day, or, an ADHD kind of day.
I am driven to complete tasks by different motivators then most. I don’t even know how to explain this without most people thinking, my god, that is such a lame excuse, but I will try. Scientifically, it has been shown that an ADHD brain has less dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in motivation. This, right here, is the bottom line in either accepting that this is a real disorder, or, dismissing it as just a convenient excuse. There are methods, and treatments, and tips, and tools, galore. But at the crux of it, if I’m not motivated to actually use any of them, then the challenges just remain, like mountains.
Can you see now, why I hesitate to discuss it? That list is just the tip of the ice berg, and it already makes me seem unreliable, flaky, anxious, strange, scatterbrained, and a bit of a pain in the ass.
Well, yes, at one time or another, I am all of those things.
I am also extremely creative and see things from a multifaceted perspective.
I blossom under pressure. While you’re still asking yourself if that’s the fire alarm ringing, I have cleared the room of all living souls and am halfway down the street with them. (True story- on a layover in London’s Heathrow airport, a man had a heart attack in line in front of me; I was the first person to begin administering CPR.)
I have learned to understand and embrace other’s limitations, as I have to live with my own every day.
I am an “empath”. I can sense your feelings and emotional state just by seeing your face. I know, I know, it sounds like I’m trying to tell you that I am the Long Island Medium. No, I don’t talk to dead people, I don’t read palms, and I can’t read your aura. However, because I do take in every detail of what’s around me, it means I’m taking in the details of your facial expression, body language, word choice, etc. I can tell if someone is pretending to be happy, but truly hurting inside. I can feel your pain, happiness, fear, excitement, anger, boredom, etc. right along with you.
I love challenges. If I’m not challenged, I’m bored to tears.
I have a very low tolerance for bullshit. I’m like the “goon” on the hockey team, not afraid to just call a spade a spade and eliminate the problem.
I’m quick on my feet. Having a bevy of thoughts at the forefront of your brain often comes in handy. One or more of my random musings are usually at the ready for any situation that may arise.
Taking in information all at once often means I can see a problem before it becomes a problem.
So why did I just take to the time share the inner workings of my brain? The simple reason, because I don’t think enough people truly understand the depths of this disorder and why in permeates our lives in the way it does. But on a larger note, I want to highlight that we are all different, none of us an exact clone of another. This is not only incredible, but vital in continuing to make this world thrive. Our very success as the human race has risen from our differences, not our similarities. All of our brains play a role in this world. Personally, I am equally enamored with the brilliant brains that tackle today’s problems, as I am with the brilliant brains that created the Cronut and other such delicious foods and sweets.
Um, so, yay, they cut me open to take my baby out safely!
While, I understand why people feel the need to make this a special “month”; at the same time… I really have no idea.
For the record, I shit you not, it’s also Jazz Appreciation Month, National Math Month, National Volunteer Month, National Heart Worm Awareness Month, National Knuckle Downs Month (huh?), National Safe Digging Month, National Decorating Month, National Month of the Young Child, National Kite Month, and National Card and Letter Writing Month.
I am also enthusiastically planning on observing National Grilled Cheese Month, even when it will be made on matzah.
I guess I should be rather honored to be part of one of this month’s celebratory groupings, but really, I’m just not.
(On a side note, there are also some extremely important organizations to recognize in April, including National Occupational Therapy Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and National Cancer Control Month, to name a slight few.)
Why is there no National Vaginal Birth Month? Oh, wait, that’s every month.
Childbirth is so many things, the contractions, driving to the hospital for a planned C-section, laboring intensely for 30 hours, the epidural, and the water bath or shower. For some, it’s the professional pictures, while others; it’s letting your husband know that if he snaps a photo of you right at that moment you will start using extreme profanity… again. It’s simultaneously agonizing, shockingly painful, and incredibly blissful. You grew a baby… inside of you!!!! You waited, wondered, and anticipated for nine (really 10) months, and here it comes!!!!
I want to revere all women who give birth. You have a baby in your tummy one minute, and then in a split second it’s here forever. However it got into that world, it’s yours for all of eternity.
If it’s your first child, you’re amazed at this suddenly new euphoric feeling called ‘parenting’. You have waited so long to meet the person that developed right on the other side of your skin that that is all you can focus on. If you’re having anything other then a first kid, you’re all, yeah yeah, it’s here, now take him down to the nursery so I can get my one last night of sleep… EVER! But never among the multitude of other feelings a new mama has, she the thought of being a “failure” or a “wuss” be crossing your mind because you just had a c-section.
Whatever you have gone through- from the empowering more incredible births to the difficult and traumatizing labors, the bottom line is, you are now a parent for the foreseeable future and pretty much all of eternity. Why would anyone care, let alone, ever have anything to say on how exactly that baby came into this world?
I learned in my birthing class to always ask if the doctor could give you a few more minutes if they started suggesting a Cesarean section. I remember the answer clearly, despite being on hour nine of Pitocin and an epidural that refused to work. I was well aware of the discussion behind me. The answer was simple, clear, emergent, yet not highly alarmed, “We can’t really take another minute.”
There was not a debate; this wasn’t a choice, a discussion, or coercion, it was just what had to happen. The baby’s heart rate had started to decrease dramatically and mine remained exactly the same. Also take into account the fact that, in a hurried fashion I have come to embrace, I randomly (finally!) dilated from 1/2 cm to 6cm in a mere 20 min, and if the doctor moved the baby inside of me, his heart rate would go back up. Apparently, to a highly trained professional, it was pretty clear that the baby was in distress and needed to come out immediately.
So there I was, in the OR pretty quickly after that, feeling the pinch test. This is the moment when the anesthesiologist who is about to remove any and all feeling from the portion of your body that they are going to basically cut in two asks you if you can feel him touch your abdomen with a knife, “Can you feel that?”
“Uh, yeah, I feel that!”
Then that question again, “Doc, can I have two minutes, please?”
“I’ll give you thirty seconds starting right now.”
I’ll tell you, whatever he did; I didn’t feel my legs for a good 12 hours after that. At my second, planned, c-section, I was actually shocked when about 45 minutes later my toes started to return. Hadn’t it been longer last time?
A couple of minutes later my husband was commenting on how he shouldn’t have peeked over the draping because he’s pretty sure he just noticed that someone was holding one of my organs, there was a lot of pressure, and out came my son, chord wrapped around his neck and his body. His eyes were open; he was perfect. Apgar scores, two actual 10’s.
He was here and he was alive, and safe. If it had been a choice, and I had chosen to wait, who knows if the same would be true.
Sometimes, women give birth naturally in a tub in their home. Sometimes, women deliver babies vaginally, having had an epidural. Sometimes babies are born in elevators, or via C-section, or to a surrogate, or crazy “I didn’t even know I was pregnant” style.
It doesn’t matter how someone else’s baby gets into the world. Moreover, it’s none of your business.
I understand where many of the thoughts and questions come from. Did I feel like I missed out on childbirth? After nine hours of Pitocin induced labor without an epidural, I have definitely wondered from time to time, if I could handle natural childbirth. Ultimately, I don’t have the luxury of wondering for too long. My child was no longer safe in my womb, and the fastest, most secure way was to remove him via C-section. Guess what, I elected to have my second Cesarean because my children were born 18 months apart. It was my choice. I know others that made different choices and had incredibly wonderful vaginal birthing experiences. That was their choice.
There is this idea of how it is all supposed to go down. Most of the time, it doesn’t go quite as planned. You’re in an incredibly vulnerable state, both emotionally and physically, and your doctor begins to suggest an alternative to continuing labor and opting for a C-section. You make that call based on the information he is presenting to you and you make it for the health and safety of the baby and the mommy.
My answer, for all of the other random cesarean related inquiries moms tend to get, is simply, no. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. It most certainly wasn’t the easiest way out. I am not scarred forever (sometimes I actually have to search for the scar). And yes, my baby is OK, because of the C-section.
If we are going to bring awareness to non-vaginal birthing methods this month, let it be for the women who experienced difficult, extraordinarily painful sections. But mostly, let’s just congratulate each other as moms. We did something only our sex can do; we grew and birthed another living being. C’mon, isn’t that enough for all of us?
She turns four in a few days. My younger child, my little Lady, will be four. Every year another birthday comes, she grows a bit older and for a fleeting moment, I’m sad. Then that moment passes as I quietly run the mental list of milestones met that year -milestones towards independence, both hers and mine.
This year, however, this fourth year, I’m quite despondent. My brain is smart enough to recognize that I don’t want any more children; that I already have my hands full with the ones I’ve got. My uterus, however, is screaming in agony, “I’m ready when you are!! There are plenty of babies I can still carry.” My heart falls somewhere in the middle, longing for that wonderful feeling that comes with bringing new a life into the world, while simultaneously, becoming tachycardic at the thought of the effort that takes.
I have read about this feeling before, the despondence mothers can settle into when the realization that the pregnancy and baby chapter of their lives is forever shut. I never understood it until now. My lifelong dream was fulfilled when I became a mother, so, yes; it is heartbreaking to think that I will never again experience the euphoria of holding my new baby for the first time.
If I allow myself to admit my true feelings, some of this devastation comes from the understanding that I missed out in some ways. Almost everyone was spewing advice when I became a new mom, but one sentiment was unanimously spoken: enjoy every minute of it, it goes by so quickly.
I will admit, after hearing that three or four times, it became all I could do not to punch someone when they said it. What the fuck were they talking about? Man just disconnected the cable for the third time today, Lady refuses to nap, both of them are teething and will not stop fussing, and I am a prisoner in my own home, a prisoner to my babies!!! How could I possibly enjoy this? I just want to move through this phase of their lives and get to the smooth road ahead and all these dumb-asses want to tell me is to enjoy it because I’ll miss it when it’s over! Idiots…
Well, those idiots were right! I do miss it! These two little people had made me a mother, something I had always wanted. Of course, a simple smile or giggle could melt my heart. As they learned to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, and run, my heart (and body) leapt with joy as I recorded their accomplishments. They called me mama, and told me they loved me even if I put them in silly outfits or hadn’t changed their diapers in a timely manner. They made me into an entirely new person; this is a gift no others could give. Yet, somehow, at times, I let a shadow settle over that knowledge. In those moments, I was often so tired, frustrated, scared, confused, frazzled, and hormonal that I didn’t stop to recognize that in addition to that, they brought me more joy then I had ever known.
A friend of mine recently had her third baby (D!). In that last week of her pregnancy, I felt compelled to tell her one thing- enjoy these last moments of pregnancy, for they are truly your last. You’re tired and ready to get the show on the road, naturally. At this time especially, don’t forget to take pleasure in feeling him kick, knowing that it’s just the two of you for only a few more moments. Take as much pleasure from these last moments of him being inside, as you will take from a lifetime of him being on the outside. Make sure to celebrate these last days of pregnancy, ever.
So, new moms, I will do the same for you, as I am no exception to the endless list of people who want to bombard you with advice. I will say what wise women told me- enjoy it! Yes, yes, I too have drunk the Kool-Aid, but I’m going to go one step further and let you know how hard it is to actually follow this advice.
No one tells you how challenging becoming a new parent truly is. It’s supposed to be all rainbows and sparkles, bull shit. It’s hard and there are going to be a lot of moments when you wonder why in the hell you encouraged your husband to come near you with his sperm. It’s those moments that you have to learn to benefit from. The coos and goos, giggles and smiles — that’s the easy part. Revere those moments, for they will get you through the harder ones. During more complicated times, when you’re exhausted, cranky, frustrated, confused, sad, and even unhappy, you must allow yourself the comfort of those feelings. It’s supposed to be hard; it’s hard for every mom. You are weeping the same tears of madness that thousands of other moms across the globe are shedding at that exact same moment. It’s only natural to love your new role as mom, but it’s also completely natural to not enjoy every moment at all times. Remind yourself that for every perfect day of parenting you might have three days of horror that follow – and so does the mom next door.
The more challenging moments of parenting
Without those harder moments, the breathtaking ones would merely be sort of “meh”. Happy times are even more joyous after you have seen how tough it can be as well. As you move into becoming the parents of “young children,” it’s both the most incredible and the hardest moments that got you there.
As a mom blogger, I, of course follow fellow mom bloggers. Today, one that I call a personal friend was attacked solely on the name of her blog, Next Life, NO Kids http://www.nextlifenokids.com/. Another mom, a stranger, took it upon herself to post a nasty and inappropriate comment on the blog’s FB page. The comment boiled down to this; if she could use such a horrendous title, a “child shaming” title for her personal blog, then she is clearly an unfit mother who should not have children.
Now, if this random stranger had taken the time to actually read any of the blog posts, or memes or FB posts, it would have been evident that not only is this NOT accurate, but the exact opposite is true. This blogger dedicates her blog to the #mommitment, a movement to end mom shaming between fellow moms.
Her followers immediately came to her defense. The author of the nasty post responded by saying that child shaming should never be tolerated and that we, other mothers, were what was wrong with the parenting community and the country today.
Yes, when you open yourself up personally by writing and sharing with the masses on social media; you are going to get some flack. It’s just to be expected. However, when you take a snapshot of a person, or their blog title in this case, and make an inaccurate, quick assumption that calls this person’s parenting into question, it’s just downright wrong.
I too heard something today. A rumor about me that was both horrid, and untrue. A person took a small assumption or tidbit of information from wherever and crafted an entirely false story around it. This was a downright hurtful story, not only to me, but to my family. This one tiny assumption, crafted into a larger story, was told to others as a truth. One small kernel of data, suddenly grew into one large boulder of a lie.
People always ask me why I get so upset by what some silly stranger in FB land says about children with ADHD. I’m most often offended when I see people say that it doesn’t exist and/or that it is caused by bad, lazy parenting. Well, this is why. It is so easy to see my son in all of his tantrum glory, while I just stand there and try to ignore it and assume that I’m a crappy parent. I see the looks from other moms when my little guy performs the same inappropriate act over and over and over again no matter what I say or do. The looks that say, “Only a terrible parent can have so little control over her child.” I see the glances and the side talk when all of the other children are participating and my lovely boy is busy using the soccer net as a climbing wall. Looks that scream, “How is he ever going to learn if you don’t teach him how to play? She is soooooooo lazy!” I even had moms ask me how I could send my child to Kindergarten when he was clearly not ready. How would you even begin to know if he was ready or not? You see us in the pre-school hallway for a minute at drop off and a minute at pick up and you are ready to make a serious judgment call based on that alone.
These are assumptions that call my parenting skills into question. Assumptions that are made from a 30 second snapshot into my life. Assumptions, that if you took the time to see, you would know were false. I am a competent and wonderful parent; facts that you could never know about any parent just by looking at them for 30 seconds. Just like a snap judgment of my blogging friend’s right to have children are called into question simply from the name of her blog. If you took the time to look further, you would see that Next Life, NO Kids, is the embodiment of her #mommitment, to end mom judging for good. But no, you couldn’t get past the title before calling her an unfit parent.
I know it’s so much easier to make a quick call, a quick verdict based on a single episode. It’s the way have been brought up, go go go, get it done, don’t waste any time. However, when it comes to learning about people, and calling their character into question, it is imperative to go beyond the 30 seconds and really take time before making a genuine and accurate conclusion. I read a FB meme once, and in summation, it said something of this nature, “I got my little sister and I up and dressed in the dark because the electricity had been turned off. I got us to school in time for early the early breakfast because there was nothing in the fridge. I made sure she was in class on time before going to my school. When I didn’t have a pencil, the teacher gave me detention because I was unprepared.”
It’s time to learn to go beyond just looking, but to start truly seeing each other. To understand that the pencil was irrelevant, what she had already done that day was incredible. Stop mom judging, stop people judging, start being human.
There are days when parenting gets the better of me.
Hell, if I’m being honest, it’s more like weeks, maybe even months, where being a parent takes every last bit of inner strength I have. I’m positive that there are days most parents have felt this way. Days when they feel like one more little thing, one more whine or “no” out of their sweet child’s lips they will absolutely lose it.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, that feeling like this for a day here and there, well, that’s normal. However, feeling like this more often then not, that seems excessive. I used to take pride in the parent I was, my skills, my way with my children, my ability to handle the things they threw my way. Now, I feel like a shell of my former SuperMom self—more like the villain battling SuperMom for control of the parenting realm. At this time, I am less then ideal.
How did I get to this point? When did this happen? Can it be fixed?
I am plagued with these questions hourly. The only answer that I can conclude is Man’s ADHD.
What comes along with this diagnosis, I truly wouldn’t wish on any parent. I am at a loss daily as to what to do for him, how to help him, how to help myself. ADHD turns my sweet, delicious, brilliant, happy Man into a ticking time bomb, and no one—I mean NO ONE—will swoop in at the very last second with the secret code to stop it from exploding. While Man was out of control out at dinner with friends this evening, I looked at my fellow mom friend, sobbing, and just said, “What do I do? I have absolutely no idea what to do with him anymore.” Her answer was perfect, “I don’t know,” she said supportively, “I think you’re doing everything you can.”
Yes, I am doing everything I can. Therapies, charts, doctors, reading and learning new information, working with his classroom teachers, providing him safe opportunities to play and learn—we do it all. But it comes at a high cost—the cost of my patience, my happiness, and my sanity.
I have a half of a blog post written busting the many myths about ADHD. However, I think there are only two real myths that require clarification. The first is the myth that ADHD is not real. Seriously people, it’s real; it’s very real, and it’s very difficult. I don’t really give that much of a crap if you think it’s real or not, but I need you to keep it to yourself. I don’t have the time to explain to you that my son’s actions are not due to my poor parenting skills and that no; he does not need a good dose of punishment to teach him.
The second myth is that ADHD is simply when a kid can’t sit still and pay attention. If you believe that, I’m happy for you, because you have not experienced what it really is, which is so much more.
For Man, ADHD means having no impulse control. Oh, that doesn’t sound so terrible, you might be thinking. Let me explain what having no impulse control means. It’s the inability to stop, think, and reason before performing an act. Any act. Especially the scary ones. So your child spots a random ball in the street; most often they stop and think: “Are there cars coming? Mom said not to run into the street. I will stay here and ask her to get it.” If they are old enough, they will stop, look both ways, and if the coast is clear, go and get the ball. A child with no impulse control would be out in the street getting that ball before I was even finished typing this sentence. Just this evening, I watched Man fill up his straw and spit it at his friend across the table. “All kids do stupid things like that,” you may be thinking, so what makes Man so different? The difference is that even after being reprimanded and punished and provided with an explanation as to why that was not proper behavior, he did it again no fewer then five minutes later. If we hadn’t upped and left the restaurant, he likely would have done it again, and again. No impulse control means NEVER EVER stopping to think prior to engaging in an action.
ADHD also means having difficulty processing and controlling one’s emotions. Thus, once you have passed down the sentence, the punishment, the discipline that everyone thinks is so lacking in parents of children with ADHD, Man goes berserk. Again, you might be muttering, “My kid does that too!” Does your kid do that for 45 minutes at a time?
Let’s recap a small picture of what I have shared. A child with no impulse control, who does almost everything without thinking, then breaks down for an excessive amount of time over the punishment given. This happens all day, every day, from morning until night. I save him from himself, I attempt to teach him why he can’t do it again, I discipline the behavior, and then I stay calm as he has a tantrum for an excessive amount of time. I watch as my discipline fails. He will never be able to internalize, stop, and think, before doing the same action again and again. This is a small peek into my day with Man.
Did you know I have two children? I read recently that the siblings of ADHD kids are called “ghost children.” It is so true. At times, she is so invisible that when I realize she has been standing there, or that in leaving a destination because of Man’s behavior means she has to leave too even though she was perfectly happy and appropriate. I don’t have enough for my Man, which means that I have less than enough for my sweet Lady.
This has left me feeling like a less than perfect parent. How do I help him? How do I keep my cool? How do I give them both my all without emptying myself out? I have to be doing something wrong. It should be easier then this. I should be happier. I should feel better about myself at the end of each day.