Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mom Sucks at Transition Too

This is probably the third or fourth post I have written since my last post in September. I start them and come near to finishing but something gets in the way, namely me.

One of the drawbacks of sending your kids to an outstanding special needs school is that an outstanding special needs school will be calling you frequently to let you know what is going on with your child. There may inevitably be some work attached to these phone calls, most of it self-imposed. Nonetheless, there is stuff to be done to help the kids and of course, it is the beginning of the school year so you want to set some good habits to continue for the rest of the year.

The news that comes home will most often not be so good to hear. I know that they have special needs and that is why they are where they are but still I have a hard time listening to the 101 challenges that they have. I have been trying so hard not to let my happiness be predicted by their performance in school for the day but it is so hard to live by those words. I dread the phone ringing and when my Caller ID shows the school's phone number, I try to remind myself to hold it together when they talk to me. While I don't cry on them, I am sure I sound like I will just shrivel up and die. But really, how is a mom supposed to respond when she is told that her three-year-old is putting his hands on his classmate's neck because he doesn't know how else to say "Hey, I like you. Can you play with me?"

Luckily, as I write this post, both boys have been doing a little better in school. We have even changed medication for Logan AGAIN. I am feeling less and less insecure about school. I have come to recognize that I have a little complex about the school informing me of my child's challenges. When the news is really bad, I always worry if they will ask my child to find another school. I know in my head that my child should leave ASAP if he is not wanted. But I can't help shake the feeling that my children might be unwanted when a school calls me to tell me they are having a hard time. If they had to leave because they were too challenged, I would go crazy because it would likely mean that they are worse off than I originally thought.

When I get a phone call telling me about a continued problem, I have even asked them, "Are you thinking of suggesting he go to school somewhere else?" The answer is always "no," but still I worry. It is silly but I had a bad experience with Logan in a special education setting where he was asked to leave and it was very unprofessionally handled. Even though I received a letter of apology from the school, the damage has been done. I don't think I'll ever get over it until they graduate from college.

It is so much easier to worry when I have nothing else going on. While I am busy everyday, I don't think I am building anything right now. I am cleaning a lot. I am sorting and organizing all of my piles of things to sort and organize. However, they are really just another item off a to-do list that has no end. Since both of the boys are in school right now, I am actually experiencing what it is like to have seven hours to myself where I am not running around trying to get it all done before I have to relieve a babysitter so she can go home or my husband before the kids drive him nuts. I don't mean to sound ungrateful but it is not as great as I thought it would be.

I think that another reason why this blog has been so neglected is that I have been sad. I didn't realize it but I am feeling quite empty and anxious. I will just say it now: I have been trying to fill the void with shopping online. I don't know why people think shopping online is a big time-saver. It is not. It sucks up so much of my time especially when I am trying to save money.

I read so many of my emails that advertise sales, discounts, or free shipping because I think I might end up saving some money. However, because I am shopping on someone else's schedule, I end up diverting myself from my own goals and perhaps wasting way too much time. Sometimes, I see a sale and remember that I need to get something and then after spending time looking through their site especially, their overstock section, I end up not buying anything and find that one hour has been wasted. I get so depressed afterwards.

There are other things that I do and don't feel I have anything to show for it. Most of it involves the kids. I look up things online to buy for them. I email and call people looking for new opportunities and programs for them. Most are dead ends and are too expensive but still I keep trying because I love to find out things. However, after I eat my breakfast/lunch at noon because I can no longer ignore my hunger (or my stimulant wears off) and have a moment to break, I realize that it is almost 2 PM and I haven't even thought about dinner (all three of them not including mine), I haven't made their afternoon picture schedule, and I haven't showered either. This is not what I envisioned my days would be like once they started school.

I imagined a cleaner home. I imagined less chaos. I imagined a happier husband and a happier me. I imagined getting a part-time job. With all imaginations aside, I think only my home is a little cleaner and I wonder if only I think this. Perhaps my husband would not agree. He doesn't see the K'nex bin organized into 10 different compartments categorized by shape and size to make it more fun and easy for Logan to build things. He doesn't see that I cleaned out all the dust and debris from under the foam mats. He doesn't notice that I wipe off all the urine from the walls and the floor from the Logan's poor aim on an almost daily basis. He doesn't know that I spend so much time on the phone because of the kids or with another special needs parent who I'm helping or is giving me help. It would be so nice if I just knew that he knew how much I did and that all this work is indeed important. He may know it all and believe it is important but I can't tell that from the way he acts towards me.

Irregardless, this stay-at-home thing is really tough because I am my own boss and I hate it. When I was a publicist, I would be racing against deadlines imposed upon me by journalists or my bosses. There was pressure almost everyday and I needed it to focus and work faster.

Now the pressures are different and attaining focus is really challenging and while I may be productive, I don't feel like that at the end of the day so I am making some changes. The first is to get over my shame and start writing again. I learned something great about facilitating play between siblings at a place called Emerge and See here in New York and I will be writing about it soon. Additionally, I have decided to stop reading my sale emails. I am going to just put them in a temporarily folder if I want to read them later. Hopefully, I will have the courage to take myself off these lists for good one day. I think I am wasting more valuable time hunting for deals than I am saving money. I have to try to remember that.

The other thing I am going to do is to make small to-do lists and try to stick to them. My to-do lists get so long. It is almost laughable. Lastly, if I veer off-course, then I am going to write down what I did. Hopefully that will prevent feelings of depression because I can't remember what I did that day. This happens all the time.

I also would like to say thanks to all the friends that wrote and called me because they haven't seen a blog post in a while. If any of you thought I was depressed, you were right. I might have told you otherwise at the time but I think I didn't even know myself how sad I really was. It is so easy to lose yourself when you feel like you are racing to help your kids. Everyday counts, especially when they are so young. I also think I couldn't share anything because I felt so empty inside. I have been trying to fill these voids with bargain shopping for things we need or want and I have been so ashamed of falling into this trap. But hopefully, I have made some progress and I'll be doing more worthy things from now on. Thanks everyone for checking in on me!

Photo: This is Spencer on a little subway-themed stage before one of his soccer classes. This child loves subways! What is it about special needs kids and subways!?! The soccer class started out good but turned out to be really terrible. I was so frustrated that he could not follow the class. The class changed their drills every week and it was really hard on him. I don't know why I let this class upset me but it did. This is what happens when you just plop them into a program for typically developing kids where the teachers have no idea what "special needs" really mean. I kind of wanted to see what happened when I enrolled him and hoped for the best but of course, when it wasn't so great, I let it upset me. I am such a fool. I even tried to use chocolate to encourage him to stay with the group. I really did whatever I could to get him to stay in the class without my help but it didn't work. He did okay at the very last class (after 8 weeks) and I think it was because the demands were decreased and there were less kids in the class. We might try again next semester but I may decide against it. I don't know..... I am just a wanna-be soccer mom. Pathetic, right?


Anonymous said...

Jenn. You are so honest in your blog and I think you are an amazing mother. I hope that you are able to get some help for yourself to make yourself happier.

lots of love, Lorna x

Karen K. said...

Hi Jenn,
Wow, I feel for you and wish I knew the right things to say. I'm the mom of 2 kiddos on the autism spectrum and recently learned of my own Aspie place on the spectrum as well about a year and a half ago.

It's obvious from your writing that you have a big heart and totally want to do right by your children. I blog as well and I find myself getting into funks as well. If it's not re-editing the same post a gazillion times, it's deciding whether I am in a cheerful enough mood to even post.

Posting as you did honestly, where you are at this point in time is certainly something to respect. On my blog, the motto is, "Come as you are - let your light shine". Some days the way we may be coming to the table is depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, all of the above. But that's okay. It's who we are at that time and things do get better.

I enjoyed reading your blog and I wish you and your family the very best.

Let your light shine, Mom! When you take care of yourself, it's easier to take care of those kiddos! You're doing a great job! :)



Just read the New York Times article in which you were featured. Unfortunately, I don't get to read "my stories" (which, for me, are not soap operas, but rather, my favorite blogs) as often as I would like anymore so I don't even know if you mentioned the article coming out or not. I found it because a Facebook friend posted it.

Anyway, I just wanted to say congratulations on finding a quality individual to give you a break now and then! And Kudos to the NYT for such a positive article!!