Monday, November 26, 2007

Race cars and dolls


I am back from a long weekend camping with my Brownies. We hiked, we crafted, we sang, we played, we froze... a good time was had by all. The good thing about this also is that it gives me time with just my daughter. She has to attend most of Thomas' appointments and hears about his medication and the meetings, etc. Overall she is quite good about the attention he gets but I know she feels shunted occasionally. This time away also provides time for my husband and my son to bond and find out about each other. This is the story of what they discovered this weekend.

My son has always perseverated on babies. They are his thing. He desperately wants to be a dad and so he practices. He plays with dolls. He talks to people who have babies. He talks to people about babies. He asks me to have another baby. Now while I will do just about anything for my son, having my husband's vasectomy reversed is not on the list. Thomas has owned dolls. Thomas has had his dolls taken away. Thomas talks about dolls. Thomas has had his talking time limited to certain times as kids were getting a titch annoyed. Thomas has played with real babies, fake babies, imaginary babies and now it is paper babies. He is now into making paper babies. He will draw them. Cut them out. Hinge them together and introduce them as his new little brothers. He has designed diapers for them. Diaper bags. Bottles. The whole shebang. Needless to say, while we appreciate his artistic bent the medium is a little odd for an almost 10 year old boy. I don't want to make him ashamed. We try very hard to explain in a non-judgemental manner when and how he can express his baby-ism. I fear that we have not been as successful as we could have but we also can't stand by while he retreats further in to fantasy and in to being bullied or beat up.

Needless to say this is also hard for my husband to handle. I think it is a compliment to his parenting skills. He just rubs his forehead. My main concern is that someday Thomas will convince some little 16 year old that making a baby would be a good idea. I can just picture him walking in the door and saying - Hey Ma, look what I did. Yikes.

What we also know about Thomas is that he loves cars. He likes to collect them. He likes to race them. He likes HotWheels. He likes remote control. He likes to build them tracks. He likes to drive them. Michael chose to expose Thomas to go-karts this weekend. The kid is a natural. My husband beamed as he described how well Thomas did. He said he was so proud - he gave him hugs and kisses and just effused with praise. Now don't get me wrong, my husband does all of these things on a regular basis but this was new. His face shone as he described how surprised and pleased he was that Thomas not only enjoyed himself but really excelled. Thomas was equally proud of himself and loved every minute of it. I think we might have the beginning of a new hobby that might serve to steer him away from dolls - just a bit anyway.

So that is my son. Race cars and dolls. Two completely opposite ends of the boy spectrum. He is a daredevil and a wanna be dad. He is nurturing. He is brave. He is a conundrum. He is my boy and my heart. Hopefully the two ends of Thomas will come together and form one amazing person that can live a healthy and happy life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Upsie, Downsie, All aroundsie


I have a friend. We share alot of things in common. We are both strong willed. We both believe we are mostly right most of the time. We both have children with challenges. We both have the need to "complain". I take umbrage at this word. I like to call it constructive catharsis. Women overall need to vent. We need to share. We need to GET IT OUT. When you find someone to whom you can GET IT OUT and that person doesn't think you are completely damn mental - you hang on to that person for dear life. And you share moments of constructive catharsis together.

Sometimes I feel like I should join a club like AA - Hi My name is Elizabeth and my son has challenges. I wonder how that would feel. To have a group dedicated to constructive catharsis but maybe with drinking games or something to shake things up. I don't share easily. When my dad died, I went to Bereaved Families of Ontario. My therapist at the time said I had "anger issues" I needed to deal with. Well duh. I refused to share at this group. I refused to cry at this group. The one time I did cry, I left and went to the bathroom to do it. These people did not believe in constructive catharsis - they believed in wallowing in pity and despair. Forget it - not my bag. Myself and another participant kept looking at each other like what the hell are we doing here ?? Hence my fear of support groups. If I want to feel worse than when I started my day - I'll stay home.

I like discussions where constructive catharsis takes place and I get to hear how someone is handling their issue. I get to learn. I get to feel empathy and empowered. I get to share my woes and issues and how I have dealt with them. I like leaving a conversation knowing I am not alone and that other mother's will go the mat for their children even if it does include dribbling spit down their shirt. That I respect. That I get. That is the kind of person I like to share with.

The last couple of weeks have been like no other. It's been a long time since I've wanted to crawl in to my bed and never come out. The stress has been killer - the kick ? My son is doing better and better. At a time when my stress from outside sources is at an all time high, my son is making progress. I see hints of maturity. I see him trying to take charge of his stuff. I see him remembering things that I have forgotten. I see him taking his medication without being reminded. I see him keeping his room tidy - although I fear to look in his closet. I see him doing better in school even though he still doesn't like it. I see him growing and changing. He still drives me mental but even when my life is upsie, downsie, all aroundsie thanks to the gift of constructive catharsis, I can take a step back and appreciate my boy. Because I have been able to vent out all that crap that is going around in my head, I am able to read quietly with my kids. I am able to remember to count to 10 before asking Thomas to do something again. I am able to lower my voice and not immediately go for the shout when I'm asking for the third time. Because of constructive catharsis I know I am not alone. I know that others share my fears and aggravations. I am not so hard on myself because of constructive catharsis. I am not so hard on others as I see their life is all upsie, downsie, all aroundsie too.

So thank you my friend for sharing your constructive catharsis. Thank you for listening when I need to share mine. Know that I will never tire of listening to you. Know that I will always lend an ear, a shoulder, a hug if you need it. Know that I value you and all your stuff you need to let go of. Know that I can empathize and sympathize although I will never truly understand. Know that I care from the bottom of my heart. If you need to call me for some old fashioned bitching - that works too.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Steel Toed Boots


I have begun to search out other bloggers. I have run in to some odd ones in the past so I steared away for a while. I read one today and she posted the awful things people said about her generating a thank you. That kind of language just makes me ill. I cuss. I could make a trucker blush kind of cuss. But some words just shouldn't be said and others don't need to be used to make a point. Ick.

However, on my journey today I met Wacky Mom. She has been blogging for a bit. While I haven't been able to delve too far into her history, she reminds me of me. A fighter. Strong willed. Fierce. Someone who will go the mat for her kids and take whomever is in the way down with them. I am glad to know that there are other mothers out there like me. I am sad to know we even need to fight this hard. I commented to her that when I was born, God gave me permanent steel toed boots. Of course upon my entry into this world I never realized I would have to spend the rest of my life kicking and screaming. I guess He knew what I would need in this life and started me off with the right equipment to do the job.

I need them to kick the butts of all the doctors who told me my son's skin would never get better. I need them to kick the butts of all the doctors who told me to let it go and just drug him up. I need them to kick the butts of all the people who didn't do their job for my son. I need them to kick the butts of all the people who stood in my way and told me it couldn't be done. I need them to kick the butts of the parents who still send peanut products to my son's school and endanger his life. I need them to kick the butts of all the school board officials who fight me every year about what my son needs. I need them to kick the butts of anyone who tells me what I don't want to hear.

Some days I just want to take the damn boots off and rest. Some days I just want to kick back and not have to fight. Some days I just want to lay like broccoli. To have peace from worry and fear. To pass a day where my son is not taking up most of the room in my head. He can have my heart. He had it shortly after he was born. He will have it for the rest of his life. But my head is my private space. My thinking space. My dealing with it space. Sometimes it gets very crowded in there as my emailing at 2am this morning will attest.

I will fight for my son for the rest of his life. I will wake up every day and take up my steel toed boots to battle the world. He knows this. He has said to me when we discuss about strangers - I don't worry Mama. You would find me. You know what - I would. And they had better watch out because I will have my steel toes on. And I will take them down kicking and fighting.

My son causes large emotions in me. He frustrates me. He scares me. He fills my heart. He squeezes tears from my eyes. He makes me laugh. He makes me shout. He makes me proud. He makes me think. He makes me ponder my place in this world. I guess my place in this world is right where it should be. Right here. Right now. Putting down the steel toes for a good night's rest so I can be ready to pick them up again tomorrow and fight the good fight.

Thank you Wacky mom. I look forward to getting to know another mother who proudly wears her steel toes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All About Her


Sometimes in my musings about my son, I forget about my daughter. Not for long mind you but she does get shunted to the back of the chaos which is my mind. She is doing well in school. She makes friends easily. She has no behavioral issues other than attitude which she comes by honestly. So I don't fret about her much unless she is attached to my leg for something.

Last Friday was a very special day for my daughter. She had been chosen to be in the color guard party for the Remembrance Day ceremony at school. I knew about this. I had seen the notice briefly but my husband had signed it so I didn't pay attention. I didn't realize parents could go. Friday morning arrives, she is all spiffed out in her Brownie uniform and at 8:00am asks what time I will be arriving. Arriving for what I ask ? At this point a little alarm bell goes off and I sense what is coming - parents are allowed. Dang it. I let her know that I probably won't be able to make it on such short notice from work. She is greatly disappointed and I immediately decide I will be there - but I don't tell her.

I get to work and we are immediately in to a staff meeting which lasts until 945. I have no chance to ask my boss if I can take my lunch to go and see my daughter. I tell her as I am running out the door and thanks be to God she understands.

I arrive at the school and park myself in the very back of the gym where I know she will be coming in. At this point, she still has no clue that I am there. I turn. I see her. She does not see me. She looks around. She looks sad. So me being me pops out from behind the flag and shout/whispers - Hey Booboo ! The smile could have lit the planet for years. Immediately she becomes bright and shiny and proud. Gone is the sad face and gloomy expression. Mama has arrived. She now walks proudly with a shy smile on her face as she accompanies the United Nations Flag to the front of the gym. I took pictures of her going up the aisle, down the aisle, all over the aisle. I teared up for the next hour as we remembered our veterans and those we lost in war.

For the next two days, Vanessa reminded me of how I'd shown up. She smiled every time. I always worry about making happy memories for my children. I wonder if they will remember the day trips, the trips to the library, the movies, the stories, the presents, baking together or some of the other sundry things we do. I know she will remember this. Her mama arrived and was very proud of her.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Through Someone Else's Eyes


I wonder to myself how people see my life. I wonder if they judge me as a parent. As a human being. I simultaneously wonder and I don't care. Those who know me don't judge they just let me be me. Thank God.

But what I also wonder is if people judge their own lives through the eyes of others. I wonder if they take a look at the choices they make and are influenced by what they see others do. I see people making choices that I would never make and I do judge them. I wonder what the heck are they thinking ? Can't they see what they are doing is a bad choice ? Then I chastise myself as being judgemental but still the thought persists... how do they see themselves ? How do they judge their own actions?

I occasionally try to look at my life through someone else's eyes. I try to see what someone else might see if they looked at how I parent, how I live, the choices that I make. I compare what I have done for my son to what I could have done and what someone else has been able to do. I minimize what I have done for my son and think only of what I could have done or should have done. I don't see what I have done as other people's eyes might do. Occasionally I wish for someone else's eyes so that I could truly see me. So that I could truly appreciate the skills that I have, the things that I have accomplished, the strides I have helped my son take and the life that I have chosen to lead.

We spent time today with friends and learned things about people we know that were shocking. Things I never would have suspected given that they have children. Things I never would even consider doing as I have children. I wonder if they could see their life through someone else's eyes, would they make the same choices. If they had that chance to see what they are doing, would they change ?

Reality TV is a chance to look at life through someone else's eyes. Not Survivor or that stupid Paris Hilton crap but things like Jon and Kate make 8 or Little People Big World. I've recently begun to watch You are What you Eat and Looking Good Naked. All of these shows provide an insight in to how people live their lives. They have all kinds of eyes watching them. It gives me a chance to evaluate how I see myself and how my choices may affect the way my life might turn out. I find it very interesting to get this voyeuristic opportunity. I alternately get to feel better about myself and judge myself more harshly. Overall I find it comforting to know that we are all trying to do the best we can with what we've got. After all, when we look in the mirror it is our own eyes looking back to judge us. And that can be the most challenging type of reality of all.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Getting Some Perspective


I've been fiddling with my blog. Having a look around. Cruising past posts. You see I've opened myself up to the MyBlog phenomenon. I think I'm ok now with letting people have a look. After all they are strangers and won't know who I really am anyway. That started me thinking about perspective.

Trippy thing perspective. It's all relative to your current state of mind. Right now I am feeling good. I had a good day at work. I've got money in the bank - for today anyway. My son had a good day. I gave my daughter a nice suprise by being at her assembly. It was a good day. So today my perspective on the world is relatively bright and shiny. I can see clearly now, if you will. But looking back on my blog, I see where and when my perspective was skewed. Not nearly as shiny and bright as today.

I see the days when the world was dark. When I was the worst parent on the planet. When I felt like a bad daughter, a worse mother and passable wife. I was seeing the world and my life from the bottom of a very large, very dark, very awful hole that seemed to get deeper as the day wore on. I saw the future of my son having to include that God awful clown with a big shiny yellow M stamped on his butt. I saw my future without my mother and felt a touch of the pain that will exist when that future comes to fruition. I saw my future as a place that I didn't want to be in. That I wanted to run from. That I wanted to just go away.

Perspective can mess you around. It can give you a dysmorphic image of yourself. It can make you faulter as a parent. It can make you question your worth as an employee and indeed as a card carrying member of the human race. Trippy.

Perspective can pick you up. It can make you feel happy. It can help you see things in a way as to make you feel positive and light inside. It can make those pair of pants you just bought look damn good. Even trippier.

I like to think that overall I have a good sense of perspective. That I am able to balance the days of darkness and light. I like to think that I can see my son as he is rather than what I thought he should be. I like to think that I see my daughter as younger version of myself and am able to not cringe at the thought. I like to think that my life is pretty darn good right now and things are looking up. But it's all a matter of persepctive isn't it ?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Slippery Slope


I can feel it. I am standing at the edge of a very steep precipice with my son and we are deciding what to do. We could turn back and walk calmly towards safer ground or we could jump and slide right down that steep slope. I am hoping for the safe walk but that remains to be seen.

He is at the edge of developing an anxiety disorder. I have seen in the past two weeks at least two meltdowns including calling himself stupid, tears, anxiety and frustration. I believe that he is finally starting to recognize that the other kids don't have the same struggles as he does in school. He is now able to look around and see that other kids write better, read better and grasp the classroom thing much easier. I think.... but as Thomas can't vocalize abstract feelings very well I could also be blowing smoke. I realize in the grand scheme that two meltdowns in an Aspserger kid is very good. I have read of kids where this is a daily if not hourly occurence if there is rigidity and routine involved. Why this concerns me so is that we have not had that so far. Thomas has been quite flexible. He needs help with transition but can manage it. This is more.

I found out today that my son had a meltdown in class and called himself stupid repeatedly. He could not keep what was going on in the class straight. He could not accept that he was being taught how to study, not that he was having a test. He could not hold it together any longer and let it go. I've also discovered that his teacher, as per an earlier agreement, is not allowing him to take breaks. Teacher has now been told off politely via email. Teacher will be told off in person not so politely if my son does not get his breaks. Insert previous reference to Holy Hobs of Hell here. Teacher obviously does not know me well enough yet or he wouldn't try this I'll do what I think is best crap. DO WHAT I TELL YOU - I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS A LONG DAMN TIME. End quote.

My son. What to do ?? Well, Mama is going to have to go to battle again. Politely, constructively, being a strong advocate, being nice. Mama is going to have to go in and make sure that we don't get pushed over the precipice by people not getting my son. It is imperative that you get my son. It is imperative that you fear me in a healthy way. It is imperative that you listen to that little voice in your head which advises you not to piss this mother off. I will take you down to sit with the nice doctors who don't treat my mother properly in the Holy Hobs of Hell at Satan's feet to be his whipping toy if you don't at least try to get my son.

Many who know me have seen me in action for my boy. I have been told I get a little scary. I like that. I like knowing that I exude something that makes people want to get me out of their office so they will do what my boy needs. I have no issue being known as "that mother" if it gets my boy what he needs. I will strike up a personal relationship with the guardian of the gate to the Holy Hobs of Hell if that is what it takes to get my boy what he needs. I pray every night to the Good Lord above to help me get what my boy needs but people tend to be more afraid of the Hobs of Hell.

So back to that slippery slope. Some days I want to jump off and fly free. Some days I want to run right up to the edge and then hang on for the thrill of it. Some days I want to crawl back to safety and keep a very long distance between me and that edge. Always I will protect my son from the precipice. Always I will fight, bite, kick and scratch to get my boy what he needs. Right now, he needs to be away from that edge. He needs to feel safe and protected. He needs to have confidence that he can succeed.

Apparently I am going to have to grease the palm of the guardian to the Holy Hobs of Hell once again. I think I can stand the heat. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. By now I'd make a pretty good diamond.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

When the Parent Becomes the Child


Most days I want to write about my son and the adventure that is our life together. Occasionally I want to write about my husband and daughter who are along for the ride and add great moments to the adventure. Today I want to write about my mom.

Mom. I waited so long to hear my kids say that word and now sometimes it makes me cringe. That is usually because it is followed by a May I have ? or He's bugging me. Other than that I love it. Beats the heck out of hey you. As my kids age, I look back at my past and my relationship with my mother. It has had it's ups and downs as all relationships do. She has been my most avid supporter and my worst detractor. She has helped me financially, emotionally and many other ways. My kids adore her. I mean running up the stairs, big hug, Hi Nana ! adore her. And I love that. I love that my kids love my mom as much as I do. I love that she loves them right back. I love that I can prevent her from doing the same things to them that she did to me - a revenge of sorts. I love that I have learned from her what to do and what not to do. I love that from some of things I've chosen not to do, new traditions or ways of parenting have grown. I explain to my kids. I apologize to my kids. I tell my kids more often than they want to hear that I love them. I act silly with my kids. I take them to all kinds of places that sometimes I enjoy, sometimes they enjoy and sometimes we enjoy it all together. The flip side of that is that I yell at my kids, I snap at my kids and I sometimes am not as selfless as I'd like to be. I get that from my dad but that's another blog. My mom did not have the support that I do in a husband. She did the raising for better or for worse essentially on her own. I haven't had to pay a lot for therapy so I can safely say she did a pretty good job. She questions herself when she sees the state of my house but I think mess can be a good thing. Unless it moves on it's own and then it's time to tidy. So far we have no errant piles of unknown origin running around the house so I can live with that.

I am far more like my father than I like to admit but it has also served me well. While my mother is an extremely intelligent woman, she is low on guts and confidence. I like to think I am intelligent and have guts to spare. I am working on the confidence. I do not back down from a fight. I say what I mean and mean what I say. I take on a challenge and generally succeed. I like a good fight and generally win. I like for someone to say no so I can say why ? I like things done my way - it's better and easier anyway. I'll just do it over my way so you might as well. This type of personality has served me well on many levels and it has helped me with my mom. God love her she can drive me bendy. She did not stand up to her mother. She allowed Grandma to speak to us anyway she wanted. She allowed Grandma to discipline us. She allowed Grandma to be critical and unfair. I do not. If my mother steps out of line I show her to the front of said line. This is my house, these are my kids and this is my marriage - thank you for the advice anyway. She gets that which is also good. Over the past 15 years my husband has come to love her as much as I do which says alot. This brings us to time...

As I've grown up, my mother has aged. Goes with the territory I guess. It has creeped up. What has slowly happened is that our roles are starting to reverse. I think she sees it. I fight for her. I advocate for her. I protect her. I guard her. I support her. All the things she did for me. I don't think I gave her much cause to have to fight, etc. but she stepped up when she needed to. She sent the Daytona police a nasty letter when I got arrested and paid my fine. She lent me money to buy my house. She was there for the birth of my son. She is there when it counts.

Lately my mom's health has been troublesome. When I say lately, it's been for the past 15 years. My mom fought the great fight and beat alcohol. I will respect her for the rest of my life for that. She has had fallout from her alcohol abuse and cigarette habit. She affected her gross motor coordination with her drinking. She has essential hypertension which is exacerbated by her smoking. She has high cholesterol which is exacerbated by her crappy diet and lack of exercise. This has precipitated numerous late night visits to the ER, specialist appointments, hospitalizations and doctors appointments. For her last hospital stay, I got my knickers in a knot. Her first meal for a suspected heart attack was mac and cheese. What the hell ???? I went down to the dieticians office after having been in the hospital until 3am that morning and said to them - What the hell ??? I then spent the next 1/2 hour personally picking her menu for the next two days. This is what I do. I fight for my mom as I fight for my son. I take my fighting spirit and say to these doctors - you will take care of her. You will protect her. You will do your job or by God I will drag you down to the hobs of Hell and personally lay you at Satan's feet with a bow on your kicked ass. You will not force me to lose her before I am ready or hell will look good from where you will be standing.

Her health scares me. Losing her terrifies me. It can send me to tears when I think of my life without her. I speak to my mom just about every day. She babysits my kids two or three days a week. She is such a large part of my life that I alternate between parent and child relationship on a regular basis. I fight for her and fight against her. I support her and stand supported by her. She makes my life work. I can't even contemplate a moment in my children's lives that has not had Nana in it.

I see my role changing and I look at it two ways. My mom has had to struggle her whole life. Things have not been easy for her. My life's wish is to win the lottery and make her happy. She is at the top of the list for myself and my husband when we discuss our winnings. We are looking at buying a house that is renovation friendly for my mom to live with us. I alternate between feeling 12 when she is around to feeling 100 when I'm at the hospital again with her. Yet I relish the chance to develop this relationship. I am thankful that I get the chance to spend so much time with her. And I will be devastated and inconsolable when I can no longer call her every time I want to. I see my role now as a chance to give her happiness. I want to make her proud and I want her to feel safe. I want her to know she is loved deeply and I want her to know she loved me enough.

I hope that as she continues to age that I continue to benefit from our relationship in whatever form it takes. Mother to child, child to Mother. I'm just glad to call her Mom.