Friday, April 6, 2012

One thing at a time? I think not.

A sense of humor must be a job requirement for life, earning a living, a career, raising kids, dealing with someone's disabilities, aging, loss, surgeries, and the celebrations. Especially if it all happens at the same time on a regular basis. For it does- things don't happen one a time. We were all lied to as children about that- just like Santa. (No, I will not forget that holiday deception, sniff sniff)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Turning over Transitions

Transitions are difficult times. The discomfort of being in the midst of change can really bring about inner tension that can appear on the outside in many forms. It can show itself as energy, sadness, anger, anxiety, fatigue, hyperactivity, numbness, and always combinations of them. I'm sure there are so many other ways- as many as there are people.

My life is in transition. What's changing? Once again, I am faced with deciding what I want to do when I grow up. Again. I am a bit tired of this process, but I also realized that people do this multiple times in their life. They can ignore it and not change or they can run with it. It can be large change or small change, it can be personal or professional, external or internal, or a combination.

My change needs, this time around, feel like they are "all of the above." I want to change my work, change my physical person, change my physical environment, on top of developing my social environment. It's a long list! A bit overwhelming, actually.

Where to begin...where to begin?

I know- I will begin by turning it over. It's mostly out of my hands anyway. I will do the footwork for sure, but the universe (God?) will respond as it will. I firmly believe this to be true.

When I remember to stop fretting and turn something over, things begin to happen. Recently, I realized I needed more social connection with women in my life here in a new town. I turned it over. (Actually, what else could I do, knock on doors?) Within days I began connecting with women in calm, easy-going situations. It wasn't "instant best friend" stuff of course, but it sure felt good to be recognized at stores, receiving invites to dinner and introduced to friends of friends for good conversation. I just needed to be out in public (this helps!) and open to new things.

Today, I'll start with a long walk and get some exercise and clear my mind. Then I'll tackle my physical space while considering my professional work. At least, I can do that today.

For the rest, I'm turning it over and will see what happens.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Walking: Day 10, 7th Walk

It's been 10 days since I began walking for exercise: I've walked 6 times, varying lengths, but making progress in 40 minutes or less. Today, I walk the 7th time and I'm already feeling beneficial results- better mood, better posture, less brooding.

The Knowledge and Ignorance Cat Walk

Having an ADHD child in the family means that most of the parenting advice you get means almost nothing. These kids don't respond to typical parenting advice because they are not responding to typical stimuli. The parents, if it's their first child, are left wondering, “Do I just suck at parenting? Did I make a huge mistake having children? Why doesn't anything work? Why is our family so stressed out? Other families don't seem to experience things the same way. Why doesn't our kid get asked to play with their kids?” and on and on. Only if the family has someone close to them that makes an observation and perhaps a suggestion that they seek help, does it change for kids at a young age. Other families, that feel the issues exist due to moral failures of their own and the child's “willful” personality, suffer for much longer. It's the person's ADHD, but the family's challenge.

Why do I feel so knowledgeable that I could write the above? I'm not entirely sure, one can't complete a scientific analysis on a survey of one very easily- especially of oneself. Perhaps it's due to my experiences and memories. Perhaps it's because of my trial-by-fire exploration through punitive actions and acting on useless parenting tips. Perhaps it's because of the library of books read, hours of appointments kept, days of online discussion and email group comments, weeks of school discussions and explanations, months of frantic worry- all done in near personal isolation. However, not being an “expert” in the formal sense, I will always feel like a student, learning by searching, asking, watching. Always understanding that as the years go by, so do the symptoms change.

But mostly, I feel I know a little about this because our son was diagnosed with ADHD at age 8 after being tossed out of a children's museum. It was the pivotal moment- a turning point. Our son was escorted out by a security guard holding him by the arm who took us not to the front door, but a chain linked fence behind a building near the parking lot- officially “tossed out” because of his outrageous tantrum and foul language display when he learned we had to leave- Yeah, we didn't return for a long time and no, I didn't blame the guard's decision, his action was correct.

This boy's tantrums were not like the others, neither were his responses to typical kid parameters. They could be outrageous and very long lived. However, not having another child to compare with (his sister is 6 yrs younger), and having other parents telling me “oh, our kid has tantrums too, don't worry, just put him on the step for the number of minutes equal to his age” and “oh, all kids do that!” (if I hear that one more time....) didn't work either- he'd just go crazy or act in a way that was surprising- like just taking off and leaving, no matter where we were (even other people's homes). Other kid's tantrums seemed to last minutes, ours lasted hours. Other kids seemed to get over things, ours did not. Other kids were active and could use a romp in the park to tire them out- ours never got tired. Other kids eventually went to sleep, ours stayed up all night- even at age 7-8. Other kids seemed to know when to back down, ours never did.

Except, I never told anyone these details- not only did I not mention time duration or intensity when talking with parents, I didn't mention my feelings either. Admitting powerlessness in the face of other parent's seemingly simple confidence seemed like admitting lunacy or at least parental failure. It couldn't be that bad, right? Clearly we were complainers. And today, when a child is considered “difficult” it's the parents who are to blame. No recourse, they are just failures as parents.

Also, we learned the hard way that when you share these experiences, other parents get nervous and don't want their kids to “catch” it- so social opportunities drop quickly. Giving the family even less support and social interactions.

When I tell the story of the museum, our turning point, I often feel like I'm complaining or at least seen to be complaining, about the child. What I'm really doing is asking for support- but I realize it's using the wrong method. I have found most focus on the child and few ask about the parents. Yet it is the parents who need to seek out help. It is the parents who need guidance to make the right decisions, or at least the “good enough” decisions. It is the parents who can create a supportive environment in the home. But this cannot happen if the parents are held responsible for the behavior of children who are so unable to control themselves. Then the parent will not share, will not seek support, will not feel empowered to make anything happen, they will keep

The day of the museum, we were with a friend's family. She said something like “yeah, it was hard for us to admit our son had ADHD too.” what?? huh?? We talked for a few minutes and then headed home. Our boy was remorseless- seemingly forgetting all about what had just happened. (he pretty much had, actually) I was traumatized, but at least I had something I could research. I had the beginning of a PLAN.

just maybe,
it wasn't my fault.

I ache for parents who do not have a plan- who do not know what they are dealing with so they blame themselves. This of course can prevent them from seeking help. Of course it is very difficult for the child, that's a given, but a young ADHD child is often confused not because they can't change what they do, but because people are upset with them. The parent's confusion comes from not being able to

Funny, the parent cannot make it stop. Neither can the child stop others from being upset with them. There is no magic button. However, with knowledge, there is help. With help, there is an empowered future to make good enough decisions and calm the family down.

Perhaps some families, who have kids w/out ADHD first, don't have a similar experience- I often wonder what would have happened if our kids were in reverse order-- maybe nothing would be different though- hard to determine fantasy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Just a Mom? In search of direction

For the school career day my daughter, age 6, wanted to be either a Farmer or Just A Mom. This got me thinking.

I have a continuous thread of chatter in my mind- constant commentary, daily thoughts, running nonsense, whatever you want to call it. It's continuous and difficult to change- not sure I even want to change it, really. When I journal via pen and paper, it seems to quiet it down. However, recently typing it out seems to be a bit swifter, easier, calmer, easier to make decisions and the road becomes a bit clearer. So I'm going to see if this blogging experiment gets my mojo going- I'm looking for forward motion- action to partner with my thoughts.

You see, (and I use "you" lightly as I don't actually believe this will get many readers, if any) I am currently considered a "Stay At Home Mom" or SAHM. I personally don't like this title. I have found it designates a cultural box that is not only uncomfortable, but patronistic, confining and dismissive.

Strong words for one of the exalted women of America, beacon of hope for the young, I know, But, just the same, that's how I feel.

At this point I'm supposed to say something like "but I love it, love being at home with the kids, it's so good for them and the whole family, really" and then listeners of such chatter all feel much more at ease. But not me. For others, I hear myself saying things like "oh, I plan on going back to work soon, just trying to decide what to do" and then I see their slightly anxious (concerned?) look disappear and a more appreciative look take over their face. Some even nod in approval.

[The place of women in our society is fascinating to me- others always seem all to willing to comment on it- as if it's always up for discussion. Tell me, do men also have their place in society discussed in such a public way? At the table at a party, while volunteering at the school, by the pool? I'm thinking no....but hey, I could be wrong! Motherhood was not always seen this way, not until the late 1800s did it become so idealized-- okay, a post for another day]

So, WHY stay at home with uncomfortable feelings? WHY not just go back to work? Just get on with it, right? But are those to questions to ask? The real question is- Why do I need to only consider these questions?

At this point I come up with a whole list of good reasons to stay home: it's good for the kids, I have been out of work too long (5+ yrs now), there are no jobs in the current economy, it would be too disruptive, I haven't: sorted through those bins of mementos/finished painting/learned how to clean/played enough games w/the kids/etc....

Then I longingly read other blogs and articles and books about what other people (particularly women) and I realize that I don't feel I'm traveling on the right road, this road is okay, but it's just not ...right.

I don't want to accept this limited decision process either. I don't want to cleave one from the other- family from work. It's true I don't want to return to work because it would disrupt the family and it's true that I don't want to return to work because I would like to continue to do what I do now- help my daughter with her homework and see her every afternoon, pick up my stepson after play practice and allow him to be with someone instead of alone after school. I want my kids to experience family during the day- even if they hate it and fight, there are people to do that with in the afternoon.

So does that mean I "want it all" as the saying goes? Bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, never let you forget you're a man, etc? Not really. Not that construct- not that paradigm. I am seeing this is not an either/or/combine situation. This is an internal battle supported by a society boxed in to this either/or thinking.

The dilemma is that I want to be at home for them, and I want to accomplish something for me. They really are two entirely different things. One has to do with what I can give to others, and the other has to do with me and only me. However, they are joined at the hip- they are the combined person of me. Now, how to make them dance??

I am developing my own mojo, hutzpuh, power, direction, competence, integrity-- whatever you want to call it. One day at a time, the powers that be leading the way, I'll walk/run this path- and I want it to end at a place where I have accomplished what makes me feel like I've served this world well.

I will start with exercise- walking daily, perhaps running if my foot heals. Writing often, if not daily, reading and getting out in the world.
Thanks for reading