Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cusp

I feel like I’m on the cusp of a change. Something has to give and it might just be me.

I’m feeling less guilt when I fall asleep at 5:45 on the couch because of a horrible day at work. Tom steps up and makes dinner for the girls and I don’t feel as bad about that as I did a few months ago. Things are hard right now and I’m trying to stay afloat. I’ll take all the help I can get to do just that.

I feel lucky that my home life is good. That I have a spouse who is kind and loving and takes up the slack that I’m leaving in my wake as I struggle just to get through the day.

My girls are sweet and loving and they just want me to feel better, emotionally, physically, mentally.

I want that too. I’m trying. I’m trying so hard.

Monday, March 20, 2017

One Step Forward

Olivia had a very rough night this past Saturday night. She woke me up no fewer than six times, each time to ask me to fix the blankets on her bed.

Each time she woke me up I felt my patience fraying just a little more. She has been sick for fifteen days as of Saturday. Of those fifteen days, she’s slept through the night once. That is one night out of fifteen during which she didn’t wake me up at least three times.

During the height of her cold, I was the epitome of the patient, loving mother. I got her drinks of water, fixed her blankets, brought her a wet washcloth to wipe the crusty snot from her face. I went down and got medicine, refreshed her water, refixed her blankets…over and over and over for the last two weeks.

But Saturday night, I was tired. I was at the end of my patience. My love for this child is infinite; alas, my patience is not.

She’s been on an antibiotic since Thursday. Her congestion is so much better now that we have a prescription level decongestant to give her along with the antibiotics, which are fighting off the infection that is causing the congestion.

My sleep-deprived mind couldn’t grasp why this ten-year-old child wouldn’t just sit up and fix her own damned blankets. She has two hands, she can grasp. She was the one who kicked them off, she could pull them back up over her.

Because, see, the reason she woke me up six times that night was mostly to fix her blankets.

But the fourth request for straightened blankets, I snapped at her to go to sleep. I told her that she could fix them herself and I was so tired that she needed to NOT wake me up again.

Five minutes later, she requested the book light.

I think I might have growled at her. I refused her request for the book light because it was two o’clock in the morning and it was SLEEPING time, NOT book-light time. She sniffled at me and said the book light made her not feel so lonely because it made the dark go away.

I rolled my eyes (remember, it was dark because I’d refused to give her the book light, she couldn’t see my distain) and told her that I was three feet away and if she’d just go to sleep, she wouldn’t be lonely.

As I lay there, seething at 3am because of yet another wake-up call, this one asking if she could come lay in my bed (nope), that voice in my head told me I was being a horrible mother for being so short with her. But! But, but, but, that voice was quickly followed by a softer, kinder voice that reasoned, “She’s ten years old. It is not unreasonable to expect her to just go back to sleep if she wakes up. She very obviously knows she can wake me up if it’s an emergency, ie, she’s sick or scared, but just because she kicked her blankets off? No. I’m not a terrible mother for wanting to sleep through the night.”

That right there is progress. That is a moment fourteen years in the making. I’ve been trying so hard for so many years to be perfect. To be perfectly kind, perfectly patient, perfectly available at all times that I’ve trained my kids to think they can ask anything of me, day or night, reasonable or not.

And that’s not fair. It’s not fair to me or to them. They need to understand that I am not an extension of them and just because she’s awake, Olivia doesn’t need to wake me up to keep her company.

It’s okay for me to sternly (yet, lace that sternness with a little kindness) tell her to go back to sleep. She’s not sick anymore. She’s just bored. And the cure for boredom at 3am is to go back to sleep. And I’m finally okay with telling her just that.

It feels good to be just a little bit righteous sometimes.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Second Shift

I forgot to brace myself before heading in to the house last night after work. I got cocky and just waltzed right in there like it was the end of the day or something.

I was a little later than usual because I’d had to swing by the school and pick up Alyssa from practice with her trio members and their band director. They’re prepping for the Solo and Ensemble contest in another month or so.

Olivia and I sat down and did her math (angles this time) homework, I filled out her reading and math logs and Alyssa sat at the table with us and ate a cookie.

After homework was done, I took a minute to use the bathroom. Olivia followed me even though I assured her I didn’t need company to pee. She laughed and followed me up the stairs.

As we were leaving the bathroom, Liv mentioned that her neck still hurts. The night before, she’d complained and I felt her neck and found what I thought was a swollen lymph node. I had Tom feel her neck. He compared her neck to Alyssa’s and declared it normal.

This time, the swelling in her neck was about the size of a golf ball. I declared it was time for a trip to Urgent Care. It was 5:35 at this point.

We headed downstairs, I had Tom feel her neck (only to confirm what I’d felt, we were going to Urgent Care whether he thought it was necessary or not at this point.) Thankfully, he actually agreed that she needed to be seen. She put on her boots, I grabbed my coat and purse and we were out the door at 5:45.

When we got to Urgent Care at 6:10, we were checked in right away but the lady doing the checking in told me before she even started, “All our rooms are full and there are seven people in front of you. It’s going to be a bit of a wait.”

I told her I figured that when I saw how full the parking lot was and that we would wait. Liv absolutely needed to see a doctor. We sat and watched a two year old boy throw a package of wipes around the room. We watched him throw several tantrums because his mom wouldn’t let him play in the drinking fountain. We watched him take off his shoes and throw them at his mom. We listened as people were called back to the examination rooms, counting off the people, knowing we were inching ever closer to when it was our turn.

At about 7:30, Liv leaned into me and asked, “Do you think they forgot about us?”

I assured her they hadn’t and told her to look around the room. There were only two others left, one dude who’d been there when we got there and a mom and her two year old daughter who was very obviously feverish and miserable. They’d come in after us.

We were finally called back at 7:45. The doctor declared that her lymph node was swollen due to her sinus drainage and once we cleared that up, the lymph node swelling would go down. At 8:21, he sent us on our way with a prescription for an antibiotic and one for a decongestant to help clear up her sinus and let her sleep.

We when to McD’s and got her a Happy Meal from the drive-thru because she hadn’t had dinner yet and it was almost 8:30.

At Walmart, we used one of those awesome blue carts which allows a kid to sit and eat her cheese burger, fries and Gogurt while her mother pushes her through the store toward the pharmacy. Wonder of wonders, Urgent Care had called in the prescriptions and they were actually ready for us at the pick-up counter. And better still, they were covered 100% by my insurance. I know, what are the odds?

We paid for her Reece’s and a bottle of water and were back in the car at 8:56 to head home. As we drove, she talked about being tired.

I gave her a rundown of what we’d do when we got home. She likes knowing what’s coming, what’s going to happen. It helps her prepare.

I told her, “When we get home, we’ll give you your medicine. I’ll get your pajamas, we’ll change you into your jammies, brush your teeth. I’ll rebraid your hair and then you can rest on the couch while I go make your bed. Does that sound good.”

She declared that it sounded awesome and when we pulled into the driveway at 9:20, that’s what we did.

When I came down to get her after making her bed, it was 9:50 and she was sound asleep on the couch. Poor love had had a very tough evening.

And I was, quite honestly, glad that the second shift of my day was finally almost over and I could collapse into bed too.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Me Time

I had to see a doctor earlier this week. It was a routine visit, he made the requisite mention of me doing something about my weight (whatever, like I don’t know I’m fat!), told me my blood pressure is lovely, which I think he found surprising considering my weight, and at the very end of the appointment, he told me to try and take some time for myself.

Oh. Okay.

I responded with a laugh that was on the verge of tears and said, “Honestly, the only time I don’t feel guilty about taking time for myself is during my morning shower each day. And that’s not always me time because sometimes, my younger daughter is in the bathroom, BUT NOT THE SHOWER, with me.”

The doctor gave me what I interpreted as a look of pity and concluded the appointment.

Sigh.

Time for myself? What is that? Is that doctor-speak for “Make time to exercise”? Because, yeah. I want to want to exercise but actually doing it? I feel like I’d have to lose fifty pounds just by dieting along before I don’t feel like a fool trying to exercise.

I know all this is ridiculous. Please don’t think I don’t know that. I know this self-pity is so stupid and inane. I know that I have it so good. I have a (mostly) kind husband and smart, sweet girls. I live ridiculously close to my mom and see her at least twice a week if not three or four times a week. Hell, she even has enough land that we could create a sort of walking course around it so we wouldn’t have to walk on the road and run the risk of being run over, kidnapped, getting tired while a long away from home…etc. So the potential for exercise is there…I just have to want to do it.

The whole conversation about taking time for myself reminded me a little of the latest episode of This Is Us (amazing show, if you haven’t seen it.) This episode concentrated on the lives of Jack and Rebecca, their beginning and their potential end. They’ve been married for quite a few years, have three teenagers and Rebecca has rediscovered her love of singing. An ex asked her to sing with his band and she loves doing it very much.

Jack hates that she’s away from home so much and they have this HUGE fight about it all.

Throughout the fight, she’s going on and on about how he just can’t stand that she’s found something for herself. He can’t stand that she isn’t at home, waiting for him, waiting for the kids, waiting for her life to start.

He tells her she’s a forty year old mother and that the singing thing is delusional. Yikes.

Each time she screams, “I finally have something for myself and you can’t stand it.” I cringe.

Maybe I cringe because I’ve been socialized to think that we wives and moms aren’t even supposed to want something that doesn’t revolve around our husbands and children. That’s so wrong.

I need to find a way to change my mindset and rethink everything. I need to figure out why I’m so broken and fix myself. If I can’t do it for me…maybe I can trick my brain into thinking I’m doing it for my girls. If I can invoke their needs as my own and make it about setting a good example for them…maybe.

Maybe.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lockers

One thing that was brought up (by me) at the very end of our IEP meeting for Olivia last week was the fact that next year she’ll have a locker with a combination.

The year after Alyssa was in fifth grade, the fourth graders were moved from the elementary wing of the school to the junior high wing. They’re still considered elementary but they’re bunched down with the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders now.

As it is now, Olivia has a locker but there is no lock on it. She puts her backpack, her lunch, and her coat in that locker daily and because she’s in third grade there are no valuables that need to be locked up.

Next year, though, even though she’ll still have no valuables she’ll have a locker with a lock…a combination lock.

I shared my skepticism as to whether or not she’d be able to master the combination lock and was assured that she’ll have time to get used to it. For the first month or so, it was suggested that she practice unlocking her locker but if she can’t do it in a reasonable amount of time she’ll be able to take her coat, lunch, and backpack to her classroom.

I said that we’ll buy a combination lock and let her practice at home but I worry that having another combination might not actually help. It might just clutter up her brain with too many numbers and too much left, right, left crap. I guess we’ll see.

Right this second, I can’t let myself worry about it because if I do, I’m borrowing trouble and we’re still smack dab in third grade with plenty of trouble right here that needs to be handled. Let’s not worry about fourth grade until at least July!

Yeah.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sick Kid

Last week was miserable all the way around.

Olivia came down with a cold on Sunday. She was sniffly, achy, and whiny; basically, she was miserable and wanted to make sure we all knew it.

The first night, she was achy and so sleep didn’t come easily. She whimpered most of the night, often asking, “Why am I so achy? How can my throat hurt when I don’t even have any tonsils? It even hurts when I yawn.”

At that point, it was around 2:30am, so I gently told her, “If you’d go to sleep, you wouldn’t be yawning and then you wouldn’t be hurting.”

She stayed home from school on Monday but seemed to be on the mend so we sent her to school on Tuesday. When I got home from work, she looked pale and tired but a little better. But her nose was still full of thick green snot. Her right nostril and the area around her nose was red from being rubbed all day long.

And let me ask right here, how does one teach a child to blow their nose? If nose-blowing doesn’t come naturally, how do you teach it? Nothing has ever come naturally to Olivia. But I know that once she learns to blow her nose, she won’t ever forget. However, this particular cold did not lend itself to the learning of blowing her nose.

Nope, instead, she went through a box of tissues a day, wiping that disgusting green snot on a corner of a tissue and then throwing it away and yanking a new tissue out of the box.

I even went out and bought her fancy tissues with LOTION hoping they would be kinder to her nose and the cheek area surrounding said nose.

As of yesterday morning, her face looks better. The redness has healed a bit and she’s on the mend.

I will confess to having given her Benadryl last night and the night before last. Not only was I hoping it would dry her up, she and I both needed the sleep that might come from it.

All this to say that I’m tired. So, so tired. Alyssa said to me one day last week, “Did you know that sleep deprivation is a form of torture?”

I turned slowly toward her and said, “You don’t say?”

By the time she said this it had been at least three nights during which Olivia woke me up at least four times, sometimes for an hour or more at a time. She needed new tissues, or she needed a washcloth to clean the dried snot. Sometimes she wanted a drink of water or she needed to me replace the water in the bottle I’d given her just the hour before with COLD water, thank you very much because this water has been out of the fridge for an hour and isn’t cold ENOUGH. Sometimes, she just wanted company because, hey, she was awake and could I just be awake with her? Hi.

I know we went through about eight years of these kinds of nights but the past two years having been lovely, what with the sleeping through the night five out of seven nights. So five nights in a row of NOT sleeping through the night was torture for me.

So yeah, not apologizing for the Benadryl. Not even a little. Saturday night she only woke me up once. Last night? Not at all.

I’m hopeful that we’re all on the mend at this point.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

And Now for Something More Positive

Remember that post from last week, the one about a note home from school? Yeah.

Yesterday was our annual IEP meeting to discuss Olivia’s progress and what accommodations she’ll need/receive next year.

First, let me state how grateful I am to her teachers, therapists and most importantly, the principal of her school. These people make me feel good about sending my child to them every single day.

Sure, I have moments of doubt like the one a couple of weeks ago when notes come home but we discussed that note in our meeting and her principal said that she actually likes that Olivia gets stubborn with them sometimes. She WANTS Olivia to find her voice, to start being a little bratty even because it means she’s coming out of her shell, she’s getting comfortable with everyone working with her and her place at the school.

At one point in our discussion about Olivia’s limitations and frustrations with her lack of attention, Mrs. M, the principal stopped us all. She had something important to tell us, she said.

“Let me start out by saying that I love Olivia. I started working here when Olivia was in KinderKids and at that point, none of us knew what Olivia could do because she was, and still is, such a mystery. She wasn’t talking to anyone here at school and we were beginning to think she would need to be placed in the special education class full time because we just didn’t know what she knew.

“Now, though, four years later, she’s proving she can do the work. She’s talking to every single adult that comes in contact with her. She talks to one peer at a time as long as no one else is focused on her.
“And most importantly, when she was in KinderKids it never occurred to any of us that she would take the standardized state testing. We planned to exempt her from the start. Then, when we decided last year to let her take the tests, we exempted her from having to pass those tests in order to move on to fourth grade. But guess what? She passed! She passed when other kids, typical kids, did not. She can do this work. We just have to break a few bad habits that have formed over the years for her and for us. She likes to be babied. She’ll let anyone, peers, teachers, therapists, parents, siblings, you name it, if they’ll baby her, Olivia will let them.”

At this point, she paused to let us all take it in.

Finally, she continued, “Olivia has proven she can do the academic work of her typical peers. Sure, we make some accommodations but in the end, she’s proven herself and we just have to continue to let her do that and expect it of her.”

It was all very reminiscent of the day we got Liv’s diagnosis. Her doctor told us to take her home, to love her, and to expect from her what we expect from her sister.

The meeting continued. Liv will continue to receive weekly speech therapy with a peer because she will already talk to the therapist but doesn’t seem to want to converse with peers, so we’ll work on that.

She’ll get more time, fewer options in multiple choice tests, the occasional pull-out for tests or extra help and she’ll stay in the mainstream classroom as much as possible because that’s where she’s getting the most out of school. Being with her typical peers is very important. She’s a mimicker. She’ll do pretty much whatever those around her are doing, even if quietly off on her own.

Which is why we don’t want her placed in a special education class with other special needs kids. She needs to be around typical peers to learn what typical behavior is expected of her.

I feel so much better today than I did last week when I wrote about that note.

I have so much hope for Olivia, so much faith in the team working with her and so much pride in how far my girl has come. She’s a warrior. She works so hard and yes, she can challenge the most patient person in the world but she’s a fighter and the fact that she challenges us just means she’s got a mind of her own and she’s figuring out how to express what is going on in that amazing mind of hers.