February 12, 2016

columbine reckoning

Our son went to sleep in a big cardboard box, his imaginary spaceship, surrounded by stuffed animals. We watched Ms. Kleborg, in her interview with Diane Sawyer, grapple with the reckoning of her son's life and it's horrible ending. We could not un-remember the tragedy that brought us to our literal knees 17 years ago. I specifically remembered asking God to end it right away and prevent more death.

Tonight we considered the statistics of how much young people are exposed to violent video games and movies. We wondered, quietly, how we can be good parents who thwart our only child from the evils of this world while feeling helpless against its rulers. I did not disturb my husband as he snuggled against our four-year-old son in his bed, a physical shield against the ravages of this world. I texted a message of, I hope, comfort and support to my 17-year-old nephew who battles these same evils.

What incredible times for us all.

December 31, 2015

making peace with having one child

Now that I've been a mom for a while, my mothering instinct has exploded and my family life is the center of my being. I can envision us being blissed out with two point five kids, fulfilling the nuclear family dream. And so, early this past year, I fervently prayed for another child. If God would choose to make the lightning strike once, why not again?

We took off the guardrails, so to speak. Or rather, I did.

A couple months later, I awoke during the night. I walked into the bathroom and the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me: You're playing with fire, He said. It nearly stopped my heart. It's not really fair to your husband, is it? He said. I wept silently before returning to bed.

In the months after that I backed away from the desire for a second child. The yearning didn't really leave me, but I paid less and less attention to it and started seeking God's will more. This past fall, three of my friends gave birth to first or second babies. I was so eager to bring a meal and help in any way. And then, suddenly I felt like I needed to leave them all alone.

At 46, I realize now that what I have is all I will have. It's my age, it's my body, it's my circumstance. Adopting has never felt like a path we were meant to take, so there it is. We are raising an only child. It's not like this is a bad thing, just different. If we hadn't been so terrified of parenthood back in our early 30's, we probably would have had three kids and not just one (assuming my eggs were of good quality, that is. The specialist surmised we would've had trouble even then). Instead we focus on the blessing of our son.

As 2015 ends tonight, so does my desire for a bigger family. But acceptance leaves more room for grace and peace, and so I am not sad. Not really.

October 22, 2015

spd and a new school

Let me start by saying last week blew green donkey chunks. My full-time job was wearing me to the bone, and my son was miserable on a regular basis. Then Wednesday, while I was supposed to be in an eight-hour meeting, the head teacher left me a voice mail. We need to talk, she said. He's become aggressive, rebellious, and doesn't listen to instruction. She didn't feel comfortable taking him on a field trip for fear he'd run in another direction. In tears, I called my husband and asked him to pull the boy out of school for the rest of the week. I declared a family emergency and headed for the school.

Within 15 minutes of my talk with the teacher, it became clear to me that the things we were doing to help him just weren't what he needed. What he needed was a different school. If his actions have been giving me information, the information is "I hate it here and I'll do whatever it takes to tell you!"

It broke our hearts and strained us to the point of breaking. My son has been with these lovely people since he was eight weeks old. In fact, everything was great until he walked (or rather refused to walk) into his most recent classroom -- a large preschool room with at least 15 kids and oodles of play stations. It was a bit louder, a bit more structured, and a lot more than he could handle. Sensory overload.

By Friday afternoon, we had toured and decided to move the boy to a Montessori school within walking distance of home. More than one therapist has told us that Montessori schools may not be a good match for a kid with sensory processing disorder because it's less rigidly structured, but it depends highly on the child and the individual school. We talked at length with the director about our son's struggles, and learned that they are well-versed in bringing in kids with similar issues. We came away feeling like they could offer him just enough freedom and individual attention to get what he needs when he needs it.

Today is Day 4 in his new school, and he LOVES it. I mean, we look at our son as if he's a different person. We are continuing his SPD therapy, of course, and he's still human with struggles and moods. But he is remarkably happy. What more can a parent ask for?

September 29, 2015

sensory processing disorder

First, someone said my son is hyperactive. The term ADHD was tossed around (really? at two years old?). Our parenting techniques were judged. Then the boy's teachers remarked on his increasing aggressiveness, and we certainly noticed it too so we banned the phrase "Star Wars" from our house.

Then, after a month of hell in his new preschool class, the head teacher had a long talk with us and mentioned words like sensory processing issues, spectrum, and diagnosis. It's a Christian school and I asked her to pray for me. I continued praying and waiting for God to show me what to do.

This morning, my husband and I got the results of a sensory processing disorder (SPD) test that we took our son to last week, and oh boy is it positive (pun intended). It's also apparently a growing trend (it's commonly first detected in three to four year olds), and is often misdiagnosed and unnecessarily medicated.

What is SPD? Think of your senses as buckets. If you get too much in one bucket, you feel overloaded, and if you don't get enough in another bucket you do your best to fill it whatever way you can. Most people can filter sensory information with no problem, but others have bigger buckets for some senses (they want more) and smaller buckets for others (they get overloaded fast).

Our son has sensory over-responsivity (SOR), and to a lesser extent sensory seeking/craving (SC). With SOR, he gets overwhelmed fast by sensory stimulation (loud noises, unfamiliar situations, etc.), and it triggers a fight response - like a tiger cub (he has red hair so it's pretty fitting). With SC, he craves jumping around and touching everything and everyone (I called him a space invader).

The diagnosis found, our next step is weekly occupational therapy which we start tomorrow. It happens to be just a few blocks away from home.

We're still questioning whether a different school like Montessori could be a better fit, but right now the therapy is more important. He needs help getting confidence and strength in these areas so he can handle transitions and unfamiliar situations, so we're going to do the therapy for at least a month before we consider moving him to another school (another huge transition).

If information is power, I finally don't feel so weak.

September 24, 2015

full time = no time

It's been weeks since I've been able (let alone willing) to squeeze in a blog entry. That's because I left my lovely-but-extremely-boring, part-time contract job for a short-term, full-time contract job. Let's just say I am no longer bored.

My mind is busy busy busy. When I'm not at work I'm pedal-to-the-metal through the rest of life. I typically show up for work looking like death warmed over because I have to leave the house by 6:30 for a three-hour meeting three days a week. The pay is good and the work is very good, so I push forward. Otherwise I'd wonder why in the hell I'm putting myself through this.

Being tired is probably my least favorite state of being. I get stressed, I back out of social opportunities, and I withdraw behind the battle lines of life to redraw my personal margins so I can rest. If it weren't for the fact that I work from home two days a week, I would have crumbled and conceded defeat.

I have no idea how other moms actually pull off working full-time without driving themselves into the ground.

July 26, 2015

pure love

Last night we watched Brother Bear together, an animated story about a native American pair of brothers who get separated when one gets turned into a bear. At the end of the movie, there is a touching scene of restoration and love. But that's not what I'm blogging about.

Now that my son is old enough to sit through at least half a movie, we're enjoying the occasional movie night. We gather on the big sectional downstairs, there's usually popcorn involved, and the boy is typically ready to go to sleep afterwards. As we snuggled into the couch, he looked up at me with a big smile and said "I love you." I touched his chin and said "Oh, thank you sweetie. I love you too."

As the closing scene unfolded on the screen, I watched the wonder in my son's eyes as he commented on the brother who decided to remain a bear to take care of a motherless cub. And the words pierced my heart as they took shape in my mind: There is no love so pure in this world as that of a child.

I am blessed beyond belief.

July 23, 2015

homemade chicken noodle soup and banana ice cream

Last week I bought a rotisserie chicken for an easy dinner. The boy took a few bites of a drumstick.

This week I used the carcass to make chicken stock, then used the stock to make chicken noodle soup. Verdict = semi-fail. I served breadsticks with it, and he enjoyed dipping the breadstick in the soup, but we had to lure him with the promise of dessert to get him to take actual bites of the soup.

Dessert was, of course, a big winner: banana ice cream. Not ice cream with bananas in it, but the soft serve you make yourself by putting frozen sliced banana in a food processor and continually processing it until it becomes a fluffy, frozen, delicious wonder. Just for fun, I added a couple tablespoons of powdered peanut butter. So there's almost no sugar. And it's vegan, though that's not my concern. And there's more in the freezer waiting for me when I get home tonight.