My Favorite Day

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.” 
― A.A. Milne

I have been through the wringer lately, a story I will share with you another time. But, the experience has taught me to truly treasure the present moment. To open my eyes and take in every little detail I can, and recognize that once a moment is gone, it’s gone forever.

I tended to live in the past and the future a lot. I would constantly agonize or chastise myself over past events. I’d go over and over the event in my head, making a list of what I did wrong, what I could have done, what I could have said, how a different outcome could have affected my present day life.

And I’d do what’s known as “future tripping.” I agonize over what will happen to me and to my loved ones 10 years from now, 5 years from now, 1 year from now, in the next hour, whatever. And I was always in Worst Case Scenario mode. So, one moment I’m signing a permission slip for my older son to go to the museum, and the next, I’m imagining him having an untimely and grisly death in a giant bus crash. Ridiculous, I know. But, this is how my mind, namely my anxious personality, works.

I’ve learned how to deal a little better with all of that. To tell myself to just CTFD and sit with my feelings as I am having them, here and now. And to enjoy the precious time I have with my boys while they are young. I can already see that portions of Bowie’s “babyness” have gone away for good. He is maturing. Slowly now, but it will pick up pace. I can almost imagine him as a teenager now.

And as my boys have been on summer vacation, I’ve found myself wanting to flit and fly here and there with them, and just experience everything we can. Do what we want, when we want to. The moments are even more precious, now that I’m working part time. It’s only a few shifts a week, but that’s 3 or 4 bedtimes I’m missing, chances to wish them happy dreams and tell them I love them before they drift off.

I’ve learned outings with them don’t have to be huge productions. Full days at the museum, complete with dropping a small fortune on lunch there, and making sure to see every single exhibit.

These days, I’m content to sit and watch them run along the beach. Or go to the museum, see one thing, and when Bowie says he wants to leave, I say okay. Or we hit up the park with friends from school. Or we sit on the couch and read books together. This simple stuff fills my cup as much as any grandiose and overly complicated planned-out day.

And I’ve realized that it’s ok if they get dirty. If their clothes get dirty. If they have ice cream too close to supper time. If they fall asleep in my arms late in the day and I know bedtime will be a bitch, I let them snooze anyway. I soak up that beautiful moment and bank it away. I’d rather have memories of them laughing and having fun and being kids, than having to be the “don’t play in the mud”, “no sugary treats before dinner”, “it’s 7:oo, you should already be sleeping” mom.

A lot of people, especially older people, will tell you to “enjoy every minute” with your kids because “it goes by so fast.” Well, duh. But, this is about more than just my kids. It’s about enjoying moments with my husband. Sitting next to each other on the couch, making fun of Naked and Afraid contestants, sharing ice cream from the pint. This isn’t “special”, really, but I know in 20 years it sure will be.

And it’s about me too. Personal fulfillment. Not acting like a new day is something to be endured, but instead something to be enjoyed, and filled with purpose. I got a part time job. I have met new people. I enrolled in school to become a Vet Tech. I am reaching out to family more. I am making something of each day, and at the end of the day, I feel accomplished and satisfied. I used to feel like I was crawling to bed every night, and I didn’t know how I could get through yet another day. I read something somewhere (I can’t accurately give credit) that said basically that the phrase “tomorrow is another day” to a person with depression or anxiety is not a promise, but rather a threat. And I know that was true for me.

But, with the help of therapy, medication, supportive loved ones, and my will to carry on, I’m enjoying today. I’m not listening to yesterday and I’m not afraid of tomorrow.

my favorite day

 

The Specialness of One’s Needs

I know that a while back, at the beginning of the school year, I was all sunshine and rainbows about first grade and how well I thought it would go.

That’s not exactly the case anymore.

Things haven’t been going well. Bowie didn’t react well at first to the teacher and her methods (and truthfully neither did we). He has a hard time completing his in-class work in a timely manner (compared to the other kids), and it’s been a real hot button issue, apparently.

A meeting was requested with the student-teacher coordinator and a school counselor. They have a record of all the SPD stuff from last year, so we just discussed where he was at, how things were going. And they asked us to have him re-evaluated by his OT, to see where he was at with his sensory issues.

I felt kind of ridiculous when they asked how long it had been since he saw an OT and since we had concentrated on his therapy, and I was like, oh, um, gee, well I suppose it’s been a few years. Parenting ball: dropped.

It was unexpectedly really nice to go back to see the OT, even though it meant my kid still has issues. It felt comfortably familiar. I feel safe at the OT. She understands him, she understands us. All his little tics and habits and antics seem normal to her, like no one else in his life. And she’s got answers!

As it turns out, Bowie has developed a bad grip on his pencil. And it’s causing motor-coordination issues. Something that I didn’t even know to look for, I’m not an OT or a teaching professional, so I would never have known it was an issue. I’m a bit surprised it wasn’t brought up before, and I’m actually thankful that the school made us visit her, because that’s the only way we’d ever have known!

Intelligence-wise, he’s right where he needs to be. Even excelling a bit. So, no worries there. As his OT puts it, with his current grip, he’s just getting too tired when he writes, and he needs to stop and rest and take breaks. Something not entirely conducive to keeping up with his peers. So then he gets reprimanded. And his peers see that, and use it as ammo later. And he acts out.

There’s still a major sensory component. And we’ve added small things here and there in the classroom to help him out with that. The good news is that it’s all fixable. The bad news is it’s to the tune of $500 a month for the therapy, which we just don’t have right now. And insurance won’t cover it until we meet our deductible, but the OT only wants to do sessions until winter break, at which time we will have met the deductible, but therapy will be over.

So, yeah.

The best news is that he likes what he’s learning. He likes to read, he likes math, he likes science. And he’s really smart. I know every mom says that, but really, he is. I mean, I’m not talking ‘gifted and talented’ or anything, but he’s got critical thinking skills, and he can extrapolate on ideas, and I’m just really proud. That’s all.

I hesitate to call him “special needs”. Or to treat him that way. Because there are so many kids out there with much more serious special needs than him. But, when you get the “you’re a terrible parent” stare down from a bystander as he throws a sensory fit in the middle of the farmer’s market, then I feel “He’s special needs.” right on the tip of my tongue.

We do our best to support him daily, hourly, by the minute. But we are also human beings. And the name-calling, the fit-throwing, the hitting, the pushing his brother around, it gets to us sometimes. Being back at the OT means being back in the care of someone who knows how to make this right again. Knows what he needs to bring him back to center.

He didn’t turn the corner sensory-wise until after he’d turned 2. Before that, he was a “normal” baby, no issues to report. He was rarely sick, he was developmentally right on, he was happy and social and outgoing.

So, the change was so abrupt for us. But, we took it in stride. This is what he needs right now, we will do this for him.

And then he had another really great year. Kindergarten was a complete dream for us. Finally he’s acting “normal”, he’s having a “normal” school year, everything is “normal” again. To have first grade not only go so poorly, but to have it going so poorly almost immediately, is a big parenting blow to the gut.

As much as I hate the label, he is special needs. He needs special things from us every day. And from all of the other adults and children he interacts with. For his world to feel right, he needs special things. And as much as I hate to admit it, he’s different than other kids. Even so much different from his brother. The way you need to approach Bowie to ask him something or tell him something is different than it is with other kids. It can be pretty exhausting to deal with that every second of every day, but we are here and we are doing it. I can only hope when he’s grown that he can see that we did our very best. And I hope that by then he’s not so “special” anymore.

bowie swings

Soda

I was born in Northern Illinois. By the fifth grade, I would also live in Green Bay, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Cincinnati and northwestern Wisconsin. (Yes, that’s a lot of moving. I swear I will blog about that one of these days like I keep promising.)

We moved to Cincinnati during my second grade year. One of my first assignments at my new school was to make a collage of magazine photos, newspaper clippings, what have you, for the letter “P”. I found a gigantic picture of a can of Coke, and slapped it on there. “P” for “pop”.

I proudly presented the assignment to my father, who told me sheepishly, and with a little sorrow in his voice, “They call it ‘soda’ here sweetie.”

I was dumbstruck. Different words for the same thing? This is madness.

After 3 years in Cincinnati, we moved back to the “pop” saying folk in Wisconsin. I had a southern accent to kick by then, but I got right back in the habit of saying “pop.”

Fast forward 15 years, and I move to California. It is SODA here, no acceptions. I let “pop” slip once, and the gal had zero idea what I was talking about. “I don’t think we serve that here.”

Now, when I am back in the Midwest and someone says “pop”, at first I don’t know what that is. And I laugh. I laugh, because my 2nd grade self wanted to cry. So funny how different we all are in these big, wide United States. Even with our words.

Pop. I mean soda. I mean...whatever.

Remember When

Bowie has been making me so crazy lately. No, seriously, I mean CRAZY. If he’s not screaming at top volume because one of his toys is stuck under the couch, then he’s biting me because I won’t let him completely rip apart the detailed model train set at the Conservatory of Flowers. Or perhaps screaming so loudly in the car that, even though we have all our windows up, and the car next to us has all their windows up, they all still turn to see what creature is emitting that horrific noise. Repeat, day after day, hour after hour, except the blessed 7 hours he sleeps at night.

But, the other day, to make some space for piling wrapped presents in preparation for Christmas Eve, I had to move around all of our framed pictures on the mantle, of family and friends and whatnot. And one of those framed pics is Bowie’s ultrasound picture.

I remember when I was pregnant, right after we came home with that picture, I could not stop staring at it. I felt like I had gotten to meet him that day, and I couldn’t wait for him to come out and be with us. And I would imagine the kind of baby he would be, and the kind of man he would grow up to be. I was completely smitten, and all I had was that grainy picture.

I’m trying to remember how I felt back then, how grateful I was to have a healthy baby growing inside me. Before he was yelling and screaming and hitting and biting and throwing toys. Their childhood is so fleeting, I want to try to enjoy every single second. It is so tough, you all know that it is. But I can do it. I think.

Snuggles

Like many kids his age, Bowie wakes up in the middle of the night. Almost every night. And it gets a little tiring. Most of the time, we can lay him back down and he’s fine. He’s still tired enough that once his little head hits the pillow, he’s out.

But some nights, like Sunday night, he’s inconsolable. Especially if my husband goes to his room and not me. So, at 3 a.m. when he was screaming and flailing and hyperventilating, I reluctantly went into his room and tried to lay him down. He was clinging to me, and just really wanted me to hold him. I’d been suffering a rather painful pulled muscle that day, and picking him up, I knew, would cause searing pain.

But, eventually I gave in and picked him up. We sat together in the chair in his room, and he instantly fell silent. He took a deep breath, and hugged me tightly. We sat there like that for a few minutes, and he fell asleep and I was able to lay him down.

At the time, I was thinking I’m going to be so tired tomorrow. But, the next day, I was actually really glad I did that. He just wanted his mom. Nothing else in the world could make him feel better. And that’s pretty darn special.

Last night at our playgroup, I told the story, and my friend reminded me that we’ve only got a limited number of these snuggles, someday they won’t need them anymore. We should soak them up now while we can.

Kiddo, I’ll snuggle you as long as you’ll have me.