Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Armor is Stuck to My Body

I had a long chat with a good friend that I hadn't spoken to in a while. As I updated her on my life, I realized that I've been having a tough time trying to phase out of a battle-station mode. I think it's because I am always advocating for my children and anxiously seeking new ways to help them. Unfortunately, the advocacy can be quite tough sometimes but I've been given a little bit of a break in various ways this summer.

I certainly need more breaks but I don't know how to use them. Hartley, a special mom with a special needs child, recently made a comment on a previous blog post saying that we go through such a long grieving process . I think she's right. I have yet to find normalcy in my somewhat abnormal situation. For example, when Logan's preschool sent an invitation to his graduation ceremony, I RSVP'd for only me, not even bothering to tell my husband. He had taken so many vacation days off for doctor's and other special needs-related appointments that I didn't think he should go if he wasn't "needed." How crazy am I? Who thinks like this?

Luckily, Kai figured out somehow that there was a ceremony, and then it finally occurred to me that it would be a good idea if he goes. "Logan would be so happy," I said. My husband didn't need any prodding from me. He asked for a vacation day from his office as soon as he found out. However, my mind was still in this strangely insensitive mode. I decided not to bring Spencer to the graduation because I knew Spencer wouldn't sit for it and I wanted to keep the day special for Logan. Thus, I had my usual babysitter (my dad) watch Spencer that morning. When my father found out where I was going, he looked hurt and surprised that I didn't invite him. (Can someone please kick me?) We made it up to him by inviting him and Spencer along to a graduation lunch at a local diner even though it meant breaking routine for Spencer. I cling to my routines.

I should say in my defense before you click out of this blog in disgust, I have a couple of family feuds that have been going on over a decade so "normal" family gatherings (Thanksgiving, Christmas....) haven't been on my schedule for a long time. Nevertheless, I need to come back down to earth. I keep talking about how Logan went to five different preschools. You would think that I would have a huge party because he graduated (and wasn't kicked out) from a great school but since the event didn't need my skills in advocacy and research, I didn't think much about it.

Given this scenario, you can see that when life gives me a break, I don't have a clue how to spend my time in a way that will not directly result in a possible "victory" for my kids. For example, I started respite services this week where a person comes to my house for a couple of hours so that I can get some relief. This service is totally free and they come when Spencer has therapy and Logan is in school so I don't have to have big trust and competency issues resolved. The respite service will only last a couple of months but what is the first thing I do, on the first day I get these services? Well to start, I didn't even plan what I was going to do because I forgot the respite worker was coming. Then when she comes, I call up Old Navy to see what time they will be open so I can run some errands. ERRANDS? This is what I wanted to do during "me time." Luckily, they weren't open that early so I dragged myself to the gym which was my original intention for getting respite anyway.

Despite my failings, I don't believe I am hopeless. I am trying to do better everyday at relaxing and trying to enjoy my new life as a special needs stay-at-home mom. Lately, I have done very little work after the kids go to sleep which is a huge difference from just a month ago when I would stay up until 1 or 2 PM doing whatever I thought that was "important." I am still staying up a little late but it's only to watch the previous episodes of Dexter, my latest drama obsession. Korean dramas are so much more addictive so I had to stop myself because I would go to bed really late after struggling to peel myself away from my computer.

While I was working out today (thanks to my respite worker), I thought of what soldiers must do when they are not in battle. I wonder if they thank heavens that they get a break or if they are anxious and agitated because they find it easier to stay constantly fighting and watching out for the backs. (I can certainly relate to the latter!)

I am not sure but I think one thing is clear. I don't want to be the anxious and agitated soldier that wastes his well-deserved break from battle. I don't know how it works and I don't have recent recollection of when it last worked for me but I do believe that treating myself well will eventually make me a better mother, wife, and person. It's very hard to do but I am going to promise myself to make the best of it. Who knows when I'll have time like this again?

Picture: Logan at his school on graduation day. I have to remember to stop and enjoy the things I'm fighting for.


Hartley said...

You have beautiful boys. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Karen Griffith Gryga said...


You write so beautifully. I made a video on my video log a couple of weeks ago that basically stated the same thing. I said in the video that the biggest problem I have right now is myself and my worries and anxieties. I did not think of it as being in constant battle mode but it is a great analogy. So much in every day life does feel like such a battle ... it is hard to relax and enjoy the day to day joys. I have not figured it out yet but I think that awareness is half the battle.
Good luck!


Karen Griffith Gryga said...


Just a quick note -- my video on the subject is titled "Yes, My Friend, I Know What You Are Going Through". Funny enough just posted a similar post on her stress.

Hang in there and take care of yourself.


Caeseria said...

You've inspired me - we are now going to have a party tonight, because my son is able to drink from an open cup now. I had posted on my blog about it, noted it on my Facebook page, proudly e-mailed the world, but we should make an extra-special big deal of it for HIM, and tell him why.
Fish sticks and fries are on the menu for tonight!
Thanks for the reminder that when we've achieved something after long work, we should then celebrate! My reaction is usually to go, "Okay, we've got that down, on to the next project!"
I also find it hard to relax and enjoy breaks - it's so important, though.

Anonymous said...


I was stuck in crisis battle mode and it was affecting my ability to sleep and blood pressure. A holistic counselor I knew recommended a guided meditation class, once a week for 2 months, plus then I bought a pile of guided meditations, calming/balancing visualization practices to continue aftwerwards.

One of those about 4 days per week and a massage every other week, and I'm finding myself feeling and behaving HUMAN again.

One day, I thought about my son being grown and looking back on how he grew up. It dawned on me my son doesn't think mommy is fun, there wasn't laughter and celebrations of even the small things anymore. Mommy is tough and busy - and it has to do with HIM. I am working really hard right now on balance!

Elyse Orecchio said...

Wow, I've never heard of respite therapy. You are so resourceful!
It's great how candid you are on this blog. Truly makes others not feel so alone.

Penny Williams said...

you really are doing great for your boys! would you call yourself a perfectionist? it seems that's the case. I am one too. But I remind myself that I am doing what I can realistically do for my ADHD son and I can't do everything. I have already given up my individual identity for being a mom and being a mom of an adhd child. I also remind myself how many children with ADHD and SPD and other disabilities/differences aren't diagnosed and don't receive any treatment or help because their parents aren't aware or can't make the time. I guess it comes back to that whole gratitude thing. I find it very hard to always be grateful but I am making a huge effort. It helps so much to cope with a special needs child. I don't know how else to cope with overwhelm and anxiety except to say "it is what it is and I am doing my best to deal/cope/accept/make the best of it/advocate/help my child." But loving them is most important and you are doing that fabulously! You are doing so much! Accomplishing so much!