A family's story

Posts tagged ‘busy life’

I am “here”.

I saw that a friend from high school got published on Scary Mommy. Her post was brave. It was powerful. It inspired me to write again–thanks, Jeanine! (You can sneak a peak here: http://www.scarymommy.com/dear-college-boys-in-the-school-bookstore/)

Oh, my poor, neglected blog. I don’t come here as often as I used to. Raising 3 boys, maintaining a steady level of chaos and balance, volunteering and experiencing life as a family do that. I’m an almost 40-year-old stay-at-home mom to a middle schooler, a fourth grader and a first grader. I don’t even know how I got “here”, but “here” I am.

Just to keep everyone abreast of the boys’ lives, they are doing well. We have our bumps, but overall, they are growing and learning and finding their way. Jake is navigating middle school. Tate is embracing his status as “the oldest Hope boy” so well at the elementary school. And Cole is just so damn typical. Seriously. I love it and want to rip my hair out at the same time.

Anyway, getting back to being “here”. I have three boys in school full time. Six years ago my plan was to be back in the workforce by now, earning a paycheck, and having a career. Then, well, life happened. So, I scrapped my original plan, and Hubz and I moved ahead with a new one. I’m living the life of a mom whose work lies within the confines of being a parent and probably the only non-ADHD member of the home, so at least one of us has some good executive functioning skills!

If anyone thinks that I “just” stay at home, well, don’t I wish!!! With my “free” time, I volunteer at the elementary school. I am able to help in Cole’s class with literacy stations and with teacher projects. I’m able to run PTO events and assist my friends with their endeavors at the school, as well. I’m even able to have lunch, on occasion, with other moms whom work flexible schedules or are still at home, themselves. Additionally, I run errands, grocery shop, shuttle kids and their friends to therapy, practices and games, and I still manage to find time to grab a latte most days!

I have a sixth grader. In our district, sixth grade is in a middle school. His schedule reminds me of my high school schedule. It’s likely as demanding as my life was in ninth grade, although, I never had to contend with ADHD nor learning difficulties. And yet, my kid is still kicking butt! I am so proud of the maturity with which he is handling this new phase in his life. I, on the other hand, feel as insecure as I did when I was 12. I mean, 10 different teachers, 10 periods, homework every night, gaah!!!

I have a fourth grader. He’s also going to be 10 in six months. How is my Tater “going on 10”?! I remember “going on 10”. I love watching his expanding experiences. He’s learning so much. And he’s doing it rather successfully. I’m not sure if I would have been able to handle as much as he has to handle every day, and he does it with few complaints, and often, with a smile and a giggle.

I have a first grader. Scratch that. My BABY is a first grader. I can’t even. This is the one that tends to blow my mind. Wasn’t Jake just my trailblazing first grader?! It’s amazing to see how much has changed in just 5 years. The curriculum is more rigorous. The demands are high. And my little Cole is doing first grade like.a.boss. Not that I would think he would handle it any other way, as he’s always taken on experiences and tasks that are clearly above his age level. But he is. And he makes me so proud every day as he learns to make the choices that are right, but not always easy.

I am almost forty. For serious. In three and a half months I join the “Fabulous at 40” club. I have some friends that are already reaching this milestone birthday. How did we get here?! I remember the year MY mom turned 40. It was a big joke about how old she was. I really never understood it until it started to happen to me, but holy cow, I completely feel no older than 25, and many times, in terms of being awkward or unsure of myself, I still feel 15. My birth certificate and driver’s license beg to differ, however. Guess I’ll just keep on practicing “fake it ’til I make it”.

I have been working on being healthy and taking care of myself. When I peaked the scales this summer, I realized that I can’t continue to gain weight every year. I no longer felt comfortable in my skin, and I was achy and exhausted all of the time. The diet of cheese, bread, and ice cream (which I really, really, REALLY wish I could sustain) was catching up to me. I took charge. I work out five days a week. I eat relatively healthily most days. I have cut out most processed carbs. I have reduced my cheese intake. I feel so much better. My knees don’t hurt when I sit down. My back isn’t achy every night. My jeans fit again. And, AND, I went in a belt notch. Wooohooooo!

Hubz and I will be celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary in a month. FIFTEEN YEARS. How the heck did that happen? Weren’t we just planning our wedding? We have grown up together, he and I. We’ve learned a thing, or ten, about commitment, love, communication, parenting, home ownership, sump pumps, purchasing a HOUSE, finding a good doctor, finding a second opinion, navigating school-aged children, navigating IEPs, coping with loss. We may not be as young (or as thin) as we used to be, but we are definitely still as in love. I don’t mean that as a cheesy statement. I really mean it. I know that he’s got my back. He knows I’ve got his. We’ve worked on so much together..and our lives are so intertwined. I love that. Neither of us would be the person we are today if it weren’t for the other.

When I started this blog, I used it as a way to process through Tate’s autism diagnosis and all that goes with that. Back then, I was trying to find a way to figure out what autism meant to our family, what it meant for Tate, and I felt the need to share everything with the world as a way to process through it. Today, autism is still a part of our lives, but I am not able to share everything. I know what MY experience with raising a son with autism is like, but I know that for all of the similarities, there are so many differences. I also know that if anyone has a question about autism, they are likely much better served by asking someone who is autistic, rather than a mom of an autistic kid. I mean, I have experiences AS A PARENT that I am happy to share, but I can’t tell anyone what it’s like to be autistic. I’ll leave that to many others…including Tate, whom says, “it is what I do.”

Often, I still find myself “between hope and a hard place”. Sometimes that hard place comes from a parenting moment, or watching my children navigate their worlds, and sometimes it comes from my being pulled into umpteen different directions. I am going to try to write more. I MISS that. But my writing may often focus on topics not autism related. Sometimes the topics may not even be parenting-related. But they will be Lisa-life-related, and THAT is my expertise.

Catching Up

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. The boys started school. Hubz left for another business trip to China. My PTO involvements are starting to ramp up. And we opened Tate’s domain last week because he is eligible for his 3-year evaluation. 

As for school, it was a relatively smooth start, considering all of the changes and upheaval. There was a new main office to walk through and new therapist offices to familiarize themselves with. Tate’s teacher is on maternity leave. He’s pushing into the mainstream classroom for morning announcements and the pledge. Jake is in 5th grade–his last year of elementary school. He has a new resource teacher for part of his classwork. Cole is attending full day kindergarten, and he’s EXHAUSTED at the end of the day…but you know what? We prepped them well. After initial anxiety all three boys are settling into a routine. 

Our district also adopted new math and literacy curricula this year in order to align with the Common Core more directly. That could be an entire post in and of itself. Maybe one day when I have more time. Let’s just say I’m not sold.

Hubz left for China the day after Labor Day. I handled the Curriculum Nights and the first go-rounds with homework without his backup. Let’s just say there was shouting and some tears…and they were all mine. My poor boys. My anxiety is apparent, and I try not to take it out on them, but you know, I can only do so much. We’re getting through it, but man, it’s tough. I really do not know how single parents do this every.single.day. They have my utmost admiration. They really do.

I somehow volunteered to co-chair our school’s walk-a-thon. It’s one of our biggest fund-raisers. So I’d better not muck it up! I took it on thinking that we’d found volunteers for the Red Ribbon Week initiative that I had been co-chairing, but no, it was a new parent who wanted to “shadow” someone. Sooooo, I’m still running that. Of course both are in October, so in addition to everything else, I’m planning these events. I guess I don’t have to worry about what to do with my “free” time these days. 

And, finally, Tate is up for his 3 year evaluation. So much emotion and anxiety go with that. I know he’s on his own trajectory, and I’M okay with that..but it doesn’t mean that the district is. Ya know?? I about threw up when I heard during Cole’s kindergarten curriculum night that they now expect kindergarteners (5 and 6 year olds, that is) to be reading at a level D in Fountas and Pinnell guided reading by the end of the year. Tate, a third grader, is just past that. *sigh* I try not to let that get to me..but dammit, it does. 

I dutifully filled out my BASC-2 rating scales and background history–again–and now, I wait. I know the teachers have to do their part. Luckily they are doing a full-re-evaluation. I know that he will show how much he’s developed and progressed. He’s come such a long way since 2011. And yet, for all of that, I know he’s not at an expected level. And that has its own set of concerns. 

I had my parent interview yesterday with the social worker. She wanted to know my concerns. Ummmm, where to start. Tate is deliciously quirky and marches to the beat of his own drum. He’s reaching that awkward time in school where more and more of his peers note his differences. They see him expressing excitement and anxiety with flapping hands or a little stomp dance. They hear his echolalia and his scripts. To them, they don’t have anything to do with the current topic or situation. To Tate, and to those of us who know Tate, well, we know they have EVERYTHING to do with the way Tate processes the world. Sadly, some kids aren’t always so empathetic (funny, right, we talk about how autistic kids lack empathy or theory of mind, but really, I think it’s an individual thing, not an autistic thing). He’s an easy target for bullying. I have already heard him cry because he knew his peers (his instructional classroom peers!) were laughing at him. 

There’s the concern that we aren’t doing enough. That we’re doing too much. That we aren’t letting him gain independence. That we’re expecting way too much from him. Is he in the right placement? Should he be in a specialized program? Should we let him have exposure to “typical” peers…whatever that may be? That balance…oh, therein lies the rub.

I’m concerned. Oh, I’m concerned….but, I also know that we have to make choices…and then we fine-tune. If something isn’t working, we just adjust. We accommodate. We modify. We work.

So, that’s our life, in a nutshell, right now. We work. We worry. We prep. We adjust. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

Frustrated

I have had little time for my blog lately. Because it is, in many ways, my therapy, I feel a little off-kilter and discombobulated with my infrequent postings. This is my way to get everything that can be “bottled up” out and off of my mind, and without regular posting, various events and situations have been stuck in my mind, and perseverating on them is not doing any of us any good. Gaah!

I volunteer at the kids’ schools. I am a room parent, I help out with PTO events, and I am a committee chairperson for the school’s Red Ribbon Week. I will be teaching religious education for Jake’s class again this year. Every single one of these commitments has required my time at a meeting this week. It has been worse than having a full-time job!! I have been running around town to various locations, have received numerous handouts, and have had to email several people to get things in place for the new school year. 

Additionally, Cole is in school five days a week for 2 and a half hours. I enjoy the little break, but in many ways, I’m paying for it in spades. He isn’t napping anymore, even though he really, probably could use one most days. He’s feisty when he’s tired. He is more opinionated. (I swear, he’s a teenager in disguise…the tone he uses..yeesh!) Also? He wants to be by me every.single.cotton-picking-frickin-minute. He has to sit by me as I type. If I am in the laundry room, he’s right there behind me. He is even camping out by the bathroom door again, like he did when he was little. To top it off, he’s 4, so I am asked about eleventy billion questions when we are together. I can’t finish a sentence or a complete thought. I have had to retype this post about 4 times already because he has interrupted me to ask questions about:

-his t-shirt (he got a teeny-tiny spot of water on it..and needed a new one)

-his Happy Meal Power Ranger Toys (which one is my favorite? Which one will he get next? Does he have to share with his brothers?)

-a mark on his finger (it is marker from preschool)

-a spot on his spoon (water spot from the dishwasher)

-watching a tv show

-getting an app started on the ipad

– the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” (Do I know it? the answer: yes, yes I do.)

When he pipes up with “Mom?!” I want to cringe. I shouldn’t, but yet, I just.want.to.finish.a.task/post/thought. One day I will miss this (or so I’m told), so I am trying to be present…but good golly!!

I haven’t had a chance to write at night, either, as I am helping with homework, getting dinner ready, shuffling someone to therapy, dealing with chores that have been avoided, packing lunches for the next day and, well, you get the drift here. You know what I’m saying.

And, as the icing on my annoyance sundae, Tate requires a parent to be in his room in order for him to fall asleep right now. If Hubz or I don’t sit in there, he roams around, scripting very loudly, keeping both of his brothers up past their bedtimes. It is so not awesome. It is awful. The past two nights I wasn’t able to come back downstairs until almost 9 pm. So, I haven’t had a lot of alone time. I haven’t had much accomplished, and I have been trying to meet all of the demands of three boys. I’m losing it.

Something has to give, and since I’m really trying to commit to living a more healthy lifestyle (ie: I am following WW Online and exercising regularly), the blog is getting omitted. Hopefully next week I will have more time.

So, I’m just a bit frustrated right now…I know this, too, shall pass…but today I feel very anxious and frustrated. And it helps to get it “out there”.

Loose Ends

As summer winds down for us, I am trying to tie up all of the loose ends that have been dangling down around here. I never realized how many we had!!

One thing I have notoriously avoided around here is going through my boys’ old clothes. Last Saturday, my in-laws took the boys for an overnight. While they were gone, I went through 10 years worth of boys’ clothing. I had gone through some of it in the past, but there was so much of it hoarded away. In the boys’ closets alone, I had the equivalent of 12 bins of clothes. I need help. But, after that weekend, I got it all organized, threw out the really junky items, and donated the items that were really dated or not really in style any more. I still have about 10 bins-worth of clothing. Mostly in the 3T-5 range. Yikes.

We also converted Tate’s old bedroom into a homework/study room. Since the older two boys are in bunk beds and sharing a bedroom, we had a nice big space that was becoming another “crap catcher”. So, Hubz ripped out the carpeting, installed some laminate (with the help of our brother-in-law), and then we got IKEA office furniture to make the space into a functional, organized, dedicated homework space. Everything I have read about ADHD/Executive Functioning disorders indicates that individuals who have these disorders really should have a good place where they know they can do homework and study. Done. Boo-yeah!

I confirmed that Cole was able to be switched to a morning preschool class in our school district preschool. I feel so much relief with that knowledge. Also, I cancelled his spot in the park district preschool. I know we’ll miss some of his friends, but I think this is the best place for him right now, to get him ready for kindergarten next year. (gasp!)

I got the pile of paperwork necessary for proof of residency figured out. I will go prove we live where we say we live tonight once Hubz gets home. Once I give the district 3 forms of proof, I will get teacher assignments and other random papers. Usually, we get a letter from their teachers, too. And extra supply lists.

The boys are all registered for their fall activities. We are going to be busy, as always. But they need to have some fun stuff in their lives.

I got Tate’s school schedule, so I am able to schedule ABA tutors for the next 9 months. Luckily, his classes stayed mostly the same, so we should be able to keep our same therapists on the same days, even though we are using a different provider this year. The transition to the new ABA provider starts this week. I am nervous and excited. Tate is somewhat oblivious to it..and that might be a good thing. Of course, for him, not much is changing. His therapists are remaining the same. The programs will likely change a bit, and the consultant is going to be different, but she sounds very approachable on the phone, so I think he’ll take to the switch just fine.

My presence will be somewhat spotty over the next 2 weeks….but once my boys are in school on August 26th, I’ll have weekday mornings to myself…five days a week.

Full Time Job

I was talking to a neighbor yesterday, who was flabbergasted by the amount of work it takes to do my job. She was amazed by all of the calling, emailing, following up, driving around, and over all persistence towards achieving goals that I have to do to ensure that my kids get what they need. I know that I sometimes get judged by my neighbors (who work, at least part-time) because I’m just a stay-at-home-mom.

This is not a sit-on-the-couch-and-eat-bon-bons-and-read-PEOPLE-all-day job. Oh, no. I am the bug up therapy director’s behinds. I am emailing teachers and principals and therapists to discuss behaviors and progress (or lack thereof). I am checking calendars and squeezing in therapy and appointments as I can. I am managing several different disciplines and personalities every.single.day so that my kids can succeed in this world. On top of that, I do all of the regular stay-at-home-mom things like volunteer at the school, help the PTO, manage a household, and try to hold on to some semblance of myself.

While I’ve been a full time stay-at-home-mom, I have really begun to appreciate all of the skills I learned while working outside of the home. The organizational skills it takes to keep my house afloat are amazing. Then there’s the multi-tasking that is necessary while I do laundry, clean up kid messes, put away breakfast dishes, and pay bills. I’m also a negotiator, mediator, therapist, triage nurse, and short order cook. I have to deal with all different groups of people and plan accordingly. I am a task-master, a problem-solver, a teacher and a trainer and an event planner.  I make sure I stay relatively within my budget, and I deliver results to my stakeholders (those 4 guys whom I love so much).

After we chatted a bit, I heard the words, “That’s a full time job. How do you do it?!”. Well, just like everyone else, I do what I have to do. I make sure that what needs to get done gets done. I’m not perfect. I screw up. But I pick myself up and start over when things don’t work out. Yes, it is a full time job. But I’m a grownup. Life isn’t supposed to be cushy and easy. She has to go into an office every day of the week…my office just happens to be at home. 

I am not going to lie. There was a huge part of me that relished the fact that she was so shocked. It made me feel vindicated. I am busy…just in a different way than she is. I think she can appreciate that a bit better now than in the past. And, thus, my job here is done…well, not really. I have a ton to do today…so off I go!!

Tag Cloud

Mama Is Only Human

my journey...

Zero Exit

by Sara Jagielski

Musings of an Aspie

one woman's thoughts about life on the spectrum

Finding Cooper's Voice

An honest and real look at nonverbal, severe autism.

Emma's Hope Book

Living Being Autistic

Carrie Cariello

Exploring the Colorful World of Autism

Gingerheaddad

A redheaded dad writing about parenting, autism and the odd piece of stuff

Grady P Brown - Author

Superheroes - Autism - Fantasy - Science Fiction

Swim in the Adult Pool

Finding humor in an ADHD life without water wings

Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.

Organized Babble

Babbling in the most coherent way possible

Addicted to Quippsy

In the not-so-distant future, you'll wish you wrote down everything your kids said. Now's your chance!

Filtered Light

“Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.” ~ Alice Sebold

that cynking feeling

You know the one I'm talking about . . .

Run Luau Run

Run Committed

beyond the stoplight

sharing resources to create caring classroom communities for all children

The Domestic Goddess

Marj Hatzell Has Been Giving Stay-at-Home-Moms a Bad Name since 2005