web analytics

Nov 15

Sunday Thoughts

Last night and yesterday was nearly perfect.  If you ignore a minor freak out over homework, a throbbing headache and more shopping than I wanted to be doing, the whole day was pretty ideal.

We started (as Jews do) the night before.  I left work around three o’clock to go to Jessie’s doctor appointment, and discovered the back drivers side window on my van had been snapped off.  The whole thing was gone, shattered on the ground next to it.  I was so mad – I’m not a girl who gets mad, as a rule.  I try and cultivate the whole zen, life is short kind of philosophy, but I was furious.  And cold, because nobody wins when you’re hurtling along the highway with the back window wide open.  The doctor’s appointment was lovely, my girl grew five inches this past year, and is a paragon of health.   I was still mad (and cold) but it’s always a good thing to hear that your daughter is beautiful and well spoken and totally healthy.  She got four shots, and handled them like an adult.  Really.  This is a kid that I once had to drag, kicking and screaming and hyperventilating, down to the lab for bloodwork.  A kid who had never, not once, ever gotten shots without a full blown panic attack – but she was so grown up and adorable (is that oxymoronic?)  She was both – very adult in that she knew she had to do it, and wanted to do it, but was still super nervous and chatty and so damn cute.

We got home, and dinner wasn’t ready (a minor pet peeve – I really tried hard to have dinner ready when Marc got home on Friday nights, not that he ever cared one way or another – and the fact that it wasn’t ready was frustrating).  But eventually dinner was finished, and then Julie lost her mind.  She’s very much a fan of tradition – and we traditionally serve the same kind of thing for Shabbat dinner.  Baked chicken, a starch, a veggie and challah.  Marc made squash (my favorite) and then a deconstructed potpie that we could layer over the squash (or mashed potatoes – because Julie asked for potato instead of squash).  Julie was livid at the change, and raged for a while.  Literally laid on the kitchen floor kicking and screaming over the lack of baked chicken.  In the end (after realizing that all the kicking in the world wasn’t going to produce the chicken she wanted), she went in the freezer and brought me a potpie to cook.  So she had potpie for Shabbat dinner (Sam, with no fanfare or production, took one look at dinner and made himself some cereal and brought that to the table.)

My point (however longwinded…) is that we’ve finally reached the point where we have the Shabbat dinners I always wanted.  Everyone sits around the table, and eats and talks and shares.  It’s not always easy to get there, and sometimes one of us or another will freak out and run screaming from the table (or lay on the kitchen floor and rage at the lack of baked chicken), but for the most part, we’ve reached the point, as a family, where all seven of us can gather at the table and I’m grateful for it every single time.

Saturday morning, I woke up sick.  Not desperately ill or anything – but headachy and exhausted.  Sam and I stayed home from synagogue and went to go get my window taped up.  Getting the back window replaced is not an easy thing, they’ll have to either find a used one or order one from toyota.  So it’ll be a few days, and now I’m rocking some bright orange tape around plastic over the window and can’t open my back door, as it’s taped shut.

Marc took the girls to the synagogue (because Julie absolutely loves going to Hebrew school), and Jessie went to Model UN.  Then I dragged Jessie out shopping for more school supplies (Girlfriend needs an unending supply of new notebooks, pens and index cards).  In theory, I was staying home and cleaning, and truly, I did a heroic amount of laundry yesterday, but mostly when I wasn’t shopping, I was lying on the couch reading.  Marc did an enormous amount of dishes, and did all the cooking (plus cleaned out the shoe basket when Julie inadvertently dumped a bowl of salsa in it).

But last night – that’s where it got great.  After dinner (Daddy’s restaurant, everyone got something different as Marc was home and in the mood to accomodate), we all curled up on the couch and watched a movie together.  I snuggled up with Sammy, and Marc was on the other couch with the girls.  It was just peaceful and relaxed and easy – and one of those night that I’ll look back on wistfully when they’re all big and the thought of spending Saturday at home with Marc and I watching Peabody and Sherman is ridiculous.

I do love this time in my life.  I do.  I love working, and I love that all of my kids are growing and healthy (not that we know yet what’s wrong with Sam, but we do have a nice anti-spasmodic medication that makes the discomfort go away, so it’s tolerable).   I love that Marc has a job that he loves, and is busy and challenged and focused.  Jessie is more adult every day, Sam is so much happier now that he’s not miserably uncomfortable, and Julie is so independent and big.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss my babies, when Sammy would sob thru the blessing on Friday nights every single week, and Shabbat dinners were so challenging we’d send the girls to eat by themselves at the little table in the living room.  I miss nursing a baby to sleep on my lap.

Nov 06

Tummy Troubles and other miscellaneous updates

We’re no further along in finding out what’s wrong with Sam.  I suppose that’s not entirely right – we know it’s not h pylori, and we know that the stool sample came back negative.  We know he’s not lactose intolerant.

We also know that he has diarrhea a lot, seven times on Monday afternoon and at least once a day since then.  We know that he hurts, a lot, and when he isn’t actively in pain, he’s afraid of when it’s coming again.

We know that he can push thru the pain if there’s something he wants – he can ignore the diarrhea if he’s got a book fair he’d like to hit, and he didn’t mention his stomach once the day that Ryan came over for a playdate.  We know that it’s a lot worse when he’s hungry.

It’s all baffling, and frustrating and bordering on scary.   If I just KNEW what it was – but the not knowing is hard.  And if it’s hard on me, as the mom, imagine how much harder it is for a nine year old boy, who’s already got tendencies towards anxiety.

So there’s that.  Jessie had her bat mitzvah study session yesterday and cried the whole way over to the synagogue from school.  I think that’s just what she needs to do – there’s something about the one-on-one studying that freaks her out.  The day that this bat mitzvah is over is a day that I’ll celebrate.  Probably in the street, because I can’t find a hall to have the party in, but that’s another problem for another day.  She’s got her Model UN conference coming up later this month, and the anticipation is intense.

Julie – oh, my Julie.  She’s doing well in kindergarten, but she doesn’t always like playing with kids her own age.  She’s Jessie, just seven years younger.  She’s me.  I remember my mother hearing the same thing about me when I was six or seven.  Melissa doesn’t really play with the other kids, she seems perfectly happy alone.  My mother thought it was the divorce, and maybe it was, but more than likely, it was just an aspect of my personality that I’ve shoved over onto my daughters.  We’ll socialize, sure, on our terms and only when we’re in the mood.  When we aren’t in the mood, it’s nothing personal – we’d just rather not.  But she’s brilliant and kind and I’m so proud of my girl.

In other news – Marc’s still running around like a chicken with his head cut off.  He’s been working late every night this week, not coming home until after I’m asleep every night.  I’m grateful for his office – because at least he doesn’t have to add on the commute back and forth to Westford each day.  But the weekends are precious – because that’s the only time we see him.

Oct 28


That’s what I do know.

I juggle.  Not well, and I never really know exactly how many balls are up in the air at any one time.  One thing I am certain of is that balls gets dropped all the time.  Sometimes I don’t even notice that I’ve dropped one, until I get a letter from the pediatrician wondering why I blew off my twelve year’s old physical.  The one I’ve rescheduled twice so far.   I call, I apologize, and I reschedule.  Again.  Only to realize that I scheduled it for the same time frame where she’ll be climbing Mt. Wachusett with the rest of her school on Friday.

Work is going well, kids are all relatively healthy.  Marc is doing wonderfully well at work, although staggeringly busy.  Staggeringly.  He’s just not home anymore.  Monday-Thursday – the guy is not here.  It’s not at all unusual for him to leave before the kids get up and not get home until after they get home.  The upside is that he’s mostly home from Friday afternoon thru Sunday – but not all the time.

So there’s just me, frantically running from place to place.  Trying to get the dishes done and the laundry folded, and feeling guilty because the kitchen floor needs to be swept and the living room needs to be vacuumed.  Meanwhile, Julianna can write all of her letters, but can’t identify seven or eight of them.

Sam’s got some health issues, his stomach is bothering him more and more.  Or is it just that we’re paying more attention to it now, so he thinks about it and focuses on it – so it’s becoming more of an issue.  He’s missing a lot of school – and Tuesday was a horrific hot mess getting him to school.  Horrible… but he went.  And, of course, was angelic and delightful all day long – I know his teacher thinks I’m a moron because she sees this blissful, content kid who, at his worst, talks too much and doesn’t always pay attention – and I’m saying, “no, no, this is a huge problem, he’s miserable and desperate to stay home.”  We’re going to the gastroenterologist tomorrow, his pediatrician thinks that it’s either Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or perhaps he’s only partially digesting lactose or fructose.  Or maybe it’s anxiety.  Nobody knows… all I know is that getting that kid to go to school is getting harder and harder.  Sometimes.  Most of the time, he’s an angel boy – wakes up early and happy, gets dressed and bops off to school like he owns the place.  Unless he’s not going – in which case, it’s hours of screaming and crying and fighting.  And there’s no rhyme or reason to it – no idea why sometimes he’s sick and throwing up with diarrhea, and sometimes he’s not.  Sometimes he’s all anxious and tense, and sometimes he’s blithe and unconcerned about everything.

Julie – my poor Julie.  Last week, her poor teacher told me that she was very quiet, and not engaged with the other kids – she won’t go play on the playground.  Today, she told me that she doesn’t think it’s anything really – Julie’s just not really in the mood to interact with her peers some days.  Perfectly happy to wander around with the teacher and chat as things occur to her, or just as happy to sit on the bench and watch everyone.  She’s just Julie, and Mrs. Gravel doesn’t think it’s any deep seated issue – it’s just a matter of what’s she’s in the mood for at the time.

Jessie is moving along – slowly – at her bat mitzvah.  The cantor told me that she’s really in a good place now – she’s just polishing at this point.  Which is such a relief – I’m so very tired of worrying about her bat mitzvah.  Now at least, I can move from worrying about her performance and into worrying about planning the damn party.

The laundry awaits – and Julie still isn’t in her jammies.  I suspect that Sam took his homework into his room, put it on his desk, and put on his audiobook.


Oct 18

Stolen moments

That’s when I write now.  In stolen moments, when I should be doing the dishes.  Or the laundry, or figuring out where I stuffed all the bat mitzvah stuff from last October.  But all of that can wait, at least for a bit, while I write for a just a bit.

Yesterday, we had a family party – my cousin Shane and his fiance had their housewarming party.  I sent Sam’s to Harrison’s house and took the girls with Marc and I.  When asked, I explained that I only make him go to every second or third party – which is just a good policy for my introverted little boy.  He had a blast, didn’t come home until after nine, and the girls had fun too.   When Becky and I were little, we were always together at family parties, and I looked at Becky yesterday and told her that ten years from now, Julie and Abby were going to be going for long walks during the family parties, Becky and I used to wander away from the Bog House (where all the family parties were held when I was a kid) and talk, talk, talk.   Now, instead of being one of the grumpy teenagers trying to escape all the drama, I’m one of the grown ups – I sit at the tables and talk, deal with my own grumpy teenager and my daughter spends the entire party talking to nobody except for her favorite cousin.

In other news – this is such an incredibly busy time for us.  I feel like I’m overwhelmed and constantly trying to catch up – everywhere.  I never have enough time at work, and have even less at home.  I’m never caught up on laundry or dishes, and on the days when I can’t be home after school pick up – I pay for it later.  All it takes is one afternoon of Julie playing in the dining room and not cleaning up – or one day of not doing the dishes after dinner, one day of actually folding the laundry and depositing it in the kids room – and the entire house looks like a bomb went off.   I’ve always got shopping to do – there’s this rotating list of things I need to buy for the kids (boots for the girls, hats/mittens for the kids…) and as soon as I manage to click something off, three more things get added.

Sam’s been struggling with some (relatively minor, thank goodness) health issues.  He’s always had some stomach issues – he had colic and reflux when he was little and we thought he had mostly outgrown it.  But more and more, I’m noticing that his stomach is a problem.  He throws up usually once or twice a month, and has diarrhea probably three or four times a month.  He complains about his stomach – a lot.   It’s tough to tease out if it’s just the anxiety or something else.   But his doctor put him on prilosec and thinks he’s got GERD.  I did a little Web-MD-ing (because I’ve now made that a verb), and I think he might also have IBS.  They tend to go hand in hand, anxiety, GERD and IBS – and it would explain all the symptoms.   He’s not hard core sick, which is part of why I haven’t really perused it – but I’m going to bring him in to the doctor’s this week for a follow up appointment, after starting him on the prilosec and see if I can get more definitive answers (because web md-ing isn’t really a good way to diagnose, long term).

But despite the lack of time, it’s a happy and focused time too.  Marc had what we’re terming his “soft opening” of his new office.  It’s still a mess, but he’s got a desk, a computer, and keys to the door and bathrooms.   He’s still got to get a conference room table, a little fridge and coffee pot, a filing cabinet and pictures on the wall – but he’s got his own office, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.   Also couldn’t be happier, because not having that hour long commute is going to make such a difference.  He’s still working between fifty and sixty hours a week, but now it’ll all be local.

So all is well.  Stressed and busy and overwhelmed – but happy.  Jessie is so in love with Model UN, and growing up so fast.  She’s so much fun – and one of my favorite things about Jessie is that she’s legitimately one of my best friends.  I know that I’m not supposed to say that – I’m the parent, and she needs me to be her mother and not her buddy.  All that being said – she’s still smart, and funny, and sarcastic and has a perspective on things that I value more and more.  The mother/daughter relationship is one of my favorites (both as a daughter and as a mother), and I’m so grateful for her.  My Sammy is nine – and within striking distance to becoming a tween instead of a kid.  Raising a son is constantly a surprise to me, and the older I get, the rarer those snuggles are.   He’s still a little boy sometimes, but more often he’s a big, bold kid.  Lost in computer games (and so freaking smart that it throws me off – he intuitively understands things that baffle me), and still my happy-go-lucky-unless-he’s-not-in-which-case-all-hell-is-going-to-break-loose boy.  Julie is my little cuddle bug (I’m typing now, with her leaning against my arm).  She’s learning all her letters and starting to sound things out – she’s taken to writing out things for us with random letters, convinced that she’s writing words that make sense.

Everyone is growing, everything is moving forward – and even though I’m frantic and stressed more than half the time, there’s also quiet moments of peace and contentment.  I’m gradually getting used to this stage in life, when the kids are all still little enough to need a lot of attention, but big enough to all go to the bathroom, some of them do their own homework, and everyone can dress themselves and put themselves to bed (kind of).   The stage where I have no time.  Ever.  But somehow things still get done, half-assed and haphazardly, but functional.  For the most part.  Marc and I still need to find some time alone, but that always seems to fall to the bottom of the list.   Formal date nights, at least.  He’s my first call, all the time, my favorite person to talk to, and the one who’s opinion I value the most.  We manage to carve out connections, talking off and on throughout the day, spending ten or fifteen minutes alone each morning, drinking coffee and watching the news.

But now the laundry beckons, and the sunlight is streaming in on the barbies and library books and discarded empty lunchboxes on the dining room table.  I’ve got three hours before I have to be anywhere, two kids to shower/bathe, three more loads of laundry, and innumerable dishes.  Grocery shopping, and OMG – I just remembered I have to get Halloween costumes this weekend.



Oct 07

So many unwritten posts

I hate that working gets in the way of writing.

I love my job, I do.  I love the flexibility (when Sam wakes up puking, I can work from home).  I love the location (because being surrounded by books lowers my stress level – I smile just walking in the door).  I love the hours (being able to drop off and pick up at school, having the afternoons home with my kids is a gift I never take for granted), and the job itself is awesome.  But I miss writing.  I miss sitting down and just pouring everything out.  I have to make more time for this.

But in light of the fact that I can’t go back and write the blog posts that I’ve missed, all I can do is vow to do better going forward.   That being said, here’s a brief paragraph on the blog posts that I should have written, if I could have found the time…

– I still think about having another baby.  A lot.  I’m probably not going to do it – for a whole bunch of reasons.  I’m 41, and Julie’s pregnancy was horrible.   My blood pressure was getting really high towards the end, and I itched – oh, how I itched.  I threw up, I was contracting for over a month – it was a mess physically.   I can’t do it again.  But I still think about it, and miss the weight of a newborn in my arms.  I dream about being pregnant, and I envy new moms.

– At the same time, I’m so wicked way busy and bordering on overwhelmed all the livelong day.  Working with three kids, and a husband who works four twelve-thirteen hours a day every week presents it’s own challenges, and I’m usually trying to keep my head above water.  And failing.  Not all the time, but there’s stuff that doesn’t get done, and things that get forgotten or just dismissed because there are only so many balls you can juggle at a time.

– Marc’s schedule, while challenging, is still so much better than it was in the past.   We’ve got a three day weekend coming up, four because the kids have Friday off from school – and Marc will be home with them on Friday and then we’ve got all weekend together.   He’s not home during the week anymore, not really.  Most days, he leaves the house soon after I do, and comes home just before (or after bedtime).  But he’s here every Friday for school pick up, makes Shabbat dinner for everyone and is there (with the occasional meeting scattered in there occasionally) all weekend long with us.

– Julie has a speech issue.  Her teacher approached me yesterday and said that she wanted to refer her for speech therapy because she’s “fronting.”   Thank goodness for google, because I had no idea what that meant – but apparently, fronting is when a back sound is produced in the front of the mouth.  So the sounds for K, and G, when Julie says them, comes out as T or D.   I knew it was an issue, and we had talked to the pediatrician about it – but she thought said it was in the range of normal and not to worry.  So I didn’t (plus, it’s so damn cute when she explains that she needs Titty (i.e. “kitty”) to sleep with at night).  But apparently it isn’t normal, and so Girlfriend will get speech therapy in school.

– Sam has struggled more with anxiety this year than the past couple, but has now moved past the anxiety into being a bit of a pain.  He’s getting into trouble (not hard core, just enough to have to write apology letters) for talking in line, he called one of his friends an alien, and is being increasingly chatty in class.  While I’m not delighted that he’s becoming a discipline issue – it’s a hell of a lot better than seeing him terrified and panicking – so I’m not complaining.

– Jessie is moving ahead with bat mitzvah.  It’s been a long, uphill struggle to get her engaged in this process.  She’s so used to doing well that having to really work at something, and not immediately seeing results, has been disheartening.  She’s like me – if she doesn’t do it well, she’d rather not do it.   But she does want to have the bat mitzvah – not just the party, she wants the ceremony as well.   So she’s working harder now, and seems to be doing better.  She’s at least starting to see the translation between working hard, and doing well in the lessons – so getting her to practice isn’t as difficult as it has been.


Sep 27

October Updates

I don’t always have the time to write as much as I want anymore (and by don’t always have the time, I mean I never have the time…) but I think about it a lot.   There are many, many half-written posts in my head, but until I get better at time management or hit the lottery and can afford to stay home and write full time – the blog will have to limp along sustained only by these quick little snip-it updates.

Julie is doing really well in school, and even started Hebrew school yesterday.  Rocked it – and it was beautiful – to have her go to class without hesitation, I was so happy.   She’s become a lot more clingy lately, and I cherish it.  She loves me, I’m her default. If I’m going somewhere and she’s given the option, she’s with me.  She wants me snuggling beside her at night until she falls asleep, she comes with me to the store, to the library, and wherever else I happen to be going.   She’s SO smart, and yesterday, she starting asking me questions, from the way-back of the van, about liability and what would happen if a tree fell on our car when we were at our friend’s house – who would pay for that?  That’s the kind of questions she has – seriously.   She’s growing up, faster than either of us are comfortable with – and that’s why she wants to be with me all the time.  She’s heading in to school every morning and bouncing off to religious school on the weekends, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I miss my little girl.

Sam may be a reader after my own heart.  I forced reading on Jessie.  I did.  I was so excited about having a daughter who could read all the books that I read – and got way carried away at introducing new authors and books to her.  She was easily in the fourth or fifth grade before she started reading, and still doesn’t read as much as I do.  She reads, a lot, and always has a book with her, but it’s only after stepping back, WAY back, that she was able to find her own way into reading.  But my Sammy… he fell in love with books.  I tricked him into it with audio books (I had tried that with Jessie too – but she didn’t like them – she needs to hold a book in her hands like I do).  He devours them – shutting himself into his room and listening to stories while he colors or writes or builds with minecraft.  But he’s still a struggling reader, and as much as I love that he’s doing the audio books, I wanted him READING.  Enter – graphic novels.  I found some GREAT ones, historical and just a touch above his reading level – and he’s LOVES it.  He’s just like his dad, now that I think of it – especially as it relates to his reading material.  Marc loves audio books too, he listens to them in the car (which is how I got Sam into them, riding around with his dad), and Marc picked up Sam’s graphic novel a few minutes ago, and is reading it while I’m typing.

Jessie, oh, my Jessie.  She’s so driven and so ambitious and works so very hard.  She’s overwhelmed and dramatic and intense – and wants so much out of life.  I struggle with boundaries, with letting her fight her own battles, and make her own decisions about homework.  The Jewish holidays wreaked havoc on her academic schedule, and she was under water for most of the past two weeks, making up school work missed.  Her school is academically advanced – and they have high expectations.  Jessie’s thrived in that environment, and she works her little butt off to get the grades.  Mixing in any kind of activity on top of that, like religious school or bat mitzvah lessons – and it’s hard.  It’s hard because she puts an enormous amount of pressure on herself, and I can’t stop her.  But when she’s not sobbing in frustration, she’s happy – really happy.  She loves her school, and she lights up when she’s being challenged and learning something new.


Sep 20

A family of night owls (and one early riser)

Am I the only mom who’s firmly convinced, all the time, that my kids aren’t getting enough sleep?  They never get to bed early enough.  And Sam always pops up at the crack of dawn, no matter what.

Jessie ended up crashing on the couch last night, and is still sound asleep.   Julie took over an hour to fall asleep (!!) and is still all snuggled up on her bed.  Sam bopped out of bed as I was getting up and is wide awake and watching minecraft videos.  He is, of course, the only kid that isn’t doing religious school today.

We decided against religious school for Sam, and are only sending Jessie part-time.  But hope springs eternal, and we enrolled Julianna and are hoping for the best.  Maybe she’ll love it.

Sam has hated it from the very beginning, and after struggling for five years, I finally gave up.  Truth be told, I gave up last year, about a quarter of the way into the year – but this was the first year that I didn’t even sign him up for it.   Jessie doesn’t love it either but it’s her last year.

I was on the fence about sending her, and then the decision was taken out of my hands.  She has been dying to do Model UN since last year, and the meetings are at the same time as Wednesday.  It wasn’t even a contest – she’s so much happier, inspired and enthusiastic – she loves debating, discussion and learning about different countries and understanding their positions, I couldn’t ask her to sacrifice that.  So she’ll go to religious school on Mondays, Model UN on Wednesdays, bat mitzvah studying on Thursdays, and services on Saturday and that’ll be enough.

In other news, my toe is still sore and has broken back open.  It’s on my toe, and walking bends it – and it’s not like there’s a toe cast, or a splint that I can use to not bend it.  I just limp a lot and hate it.  Because it’s not a serious injury – it’s a cut on my damn toe, but it’s super irritating and I can’t wait for it to heal.

Sep 19

All is not well

As a collection, we’re kind of a hot mess at the moment.

Marc is sick as a dog – he’s got that gross cold where he’s a dripping, hacking disaster.  Jessie killed herself all week trying to make up schoolwork for the two days of Rosh Hashana and is now completely destroyed.  She manifests stress physically – and when she’s pushed to the max (or pushes herself there), she gets migraines, body aches, and miseries.  Sam and Julie both have massive seasonal allergies, I think.  They aren’t sick the way the other two are, but I’m going thru benedryl and boxes of tissues like there’s no tomorrow.  I cut my toe open last night, and it still hurts like hell.  Ended up sending Marc to the store last night at nine to get liquid bandage to glue it shut, and it’s still achy.

But the day dawns again, and I can see the tree outside my window just starting to change colors.   My plan today involves picking up Sam’s violin, his new glasses, and a big bag of honey crisp apples and kettle corn from Tougas.  I’ll probably be going by myself, as rest of the family is sick and exhausted.

I worry about Jessie, she’s so independent but not old enough to stand up for herself the way she should.  We should have interceded with the school and made sure that she got enough time to make up the work missed for the holidays, but she hates that idea.  And she was so worked up and stressed and overwhelmed that I just wanted to make it easier for her – and ended up sitting up with her until eleven twice this week, helping her do the homework.

Sam bounces between blissful and oh-my-God-disastrous.  Mostly blissful.  He’s happy, doing well, socially comfortable and relaxed.  Except that Thursday was so bad, worse than it’s been in years, in terms of getting him into the classroom.  He’s getting slightly, maybe, better at getting homework done, but it’s still a process.  He’s fallen in love with reading.   I’m tricking him into a little bit with audio books.  He’s not a proficient enough reader yet to read books at his comprehension level, and he’s a kid who functions best when he’s multi-tasking.  Like his dad, now that I’m thinking about it.  Marc needs the radio on while he cooks or does dishes – Sam needs a book on while he colors or plays minecraft or builds with legos.  But he’s devouring books at a rate that delights me.

Julianna is doing SO well in kindergarten.  She’s still a little clingy at drop off, but never (or at least really rarely) cries.  She’s learning so much, just soaking it all up.   She’s still my little observer – much more likely to watch than participate.   Julianna benefits from being my third child – after having survived her brother and sister, there’s not a lot that she could throw at me that I haven’t already seen.  She’s still my sidekick, her preferred spot is always at my side.  She’s still weird, she sings all the wildly inappropriate songs that Marc has taught her.  She wrestles with her dad every night, plays for hours with her barbie dolls and castles.  She loves to be read to, and snuggles beside every night to fall asleep – and then sleeps all night long in her own bed.  She likes her hair in a side ponytail, isn’t fully dressed unless there’s a headband on her head, and still won’t wear pants.

So, other than the sneezing and hacking and dripping and stress – we’re all doing okay.  And today will be a quiet day, at home.  Jessie and I are planning on going out to buy apples and glasses and pumpkin mead, and maybe Julie will come.  Maybe Julie will stay home with Daddy and her big brother.   But we’ll relax and rejuvenate and recover from a busy week.  We’ll be ready for Monday.

Sep 18

Crappy days

They happen.  They just do, and when it happens, I’m always shocked at how bad it can be.

Sam’s got an anxiety disorder.  I hate it – so much.  And because it’s so specific, it’s not a general anxiety disorder, he’s not an anxious kid as a rule. He’s laid back, chill.  Relaxed and mellow.  Except when he isn’t.

School refusal is a thing.  It’s not just general I-don’t-want-to-go-school-today – that’s normal.  That’s typical.  I can handle that.  When the school refusal starts up, it’s not something that I can jolly him out of.  It’s not something I can bribe him out of, or punish him into moving past it.  It’s a battle that he fights, trying to get control over it – and watching him fight that battle breaks my heart more than I can possibly express.  When you’ve had your child literally shaking and sobbing, begging you to please not leave him – and you know that leaving him is the only way he’s going to see that he can survive without you – that staying with him is only reinforcing the fear, confirming that you don’t think he can manage without you – it’s devastating.

I know that I should be grateful – he’s healthy.  I am.  I know that a physical ailment would be so much worse, in so many ways.  He’s physically healthy – and the anxiety is mostly under control.  We’ve worked on it a long time, after all.  We’ve learned what works, what doesn’t.  How to communicate with each other, how to communicate and explain to teachers and faculty and to work with the anxiety.  I’m incredibly lucky because the staff and faculty at his school really do understand.  They are a thousand times better at it then when we started this five years ago.

But by the time Wednesday afternoon was over, I was so worn out and exhausted.  I had spent the whole day at the school, half of it with him, probably an eighth of it sobbing outside the school, desperate for someone to tell me that it would be okay.  Knowing that there was nobody who could guarantee that it would be.  I spent the rest of it sitting in the car (because I had given him my keys, to reassure himself that I’d still be there), and then I went and volunteered in Julie’s classroom.

He made it thru the day, and I’m so proud of him.  Because it’s hard, really hard, to fight that battle, and he keeps trying.  He keeps fighting.  And wins.

But the rest of the day stayed crazy.  I came home from school, and got everyone settled down.  Once Marc got home, I took Sam and his homework and went down to the library.  He loves audiobooks.  He listens to them the way I read books.  And he’s better at doing homework outside of the house – and since he had two days of homework from Rosh Hashana, in addition to all the classwork he’d missed that day, we needed the quiet.  We talked a lot about what happened that day.  We went grocery shopping and finally made our way home.

Once I got home, both girls promptly burst into tears and crawled on me.  Not literally, but it felt that way.  Jessie was so overwhelmed with the missed school work, and the exhaustion from staying up too late trying to get all caught up – and Julie was emotionally wiped out after watching her brother fall apart earlier.  I didn’t get to bed until close to eleven.

Yesterday was not as bad.  Nowhere near.  But it was still really lousy.

And around five thirty, I explained to Julie that I was like a kindle, and needed to go recharge.  I was all used up, and needed some quiet time all by myself.  I got in the car, and made it halfway out of the driveway before Julie came sobbing out the door after me.  I came back in, administered drinks and hugs and turned on the television.  I waited until Marc had dinner ready, and was prepared to handle all of the kids.  Then I got back in my car, got take out chinese, and parked the car with a good book.

Today, my house is a mess.  I’m behind in laundry, and there an ocean of dishes and things that I should have done last night.  But I’m calm now.  A little bit more recharged.  A little bit more patient.

Crappy days happen.  They do.  Anxiety disorder is real, and it’s never going to go away.   But the crappy days are less frequent than they were.  In fact, they might be more crappy because I’m not used to them anymore.  There was a time when crappy days were the norm.  When every day of going to school was hellish and scary.  That’s not the case anymore.  It’s easier.  It is.  It just doesn’t feel like it when it’s your son, wrestling past the school psychologist and escaping out into the school, prompting a school wide search.  When it’s your son lying under the desk, not talking to anyone, completely shut down because when you can’t fight, and you can’t flee, you just shut down altogether.

Anxiety sucks.

Sep 04

School refusal

Sam’s got an anxiety disorder – and while we’ve got it pretty much under control, it still flares up at various times and feels just as challenging as it ever did.  Especially around the beginning of the school year – some years are better than others (they range on the spectrum to his horrific first year of kindergarten and his transition into first grade which was AWESOME).  This year isn’t the hardest one he’s had, but it’s pretty close.

He’s come so very far – and we’ve all learned a lot about how to handle the anxiety in a way that really minimizes the duration and difficulty.  Sam’s worked exceptionally hard, I’ve worked exceptionally hard, and even the school has changed the way they approach anxiety.

On Wednesday, we had his first school meeting – and those are hard.  They’re team meetings, me and a whole bunch of people I don’t know very well trying to suss out what’s going to work for my son as we go thru the year.  Just before the meeting, I was waiting in the lobby.  There was a mom and a little boy struggling with separation – he was just a little thing, maybe first grade, and he was straight up horrified at being dropped off at the school.  Screaming and begging his mother not to leave him – and it was like being transported back three years to Sam starting school.  He was so scared, and so desperate to be rescued, to have his mom save him from having to go…. I was wiping away tears and a little shaky before we started the meeting.

Everything went well, and I think he’s in a good place for the rest of the year.  It’s so confusing – trying to decide what to do and how to proceed.  With Sam, he struggles academically, but it’s hard to tease out how much of it is the anxiety, how much of it is actual trouble understanding the academics vs being afraid that he doesn’t, whether it’s emotional or a learning disability, or actually a physical matter of not getting glasses until the end of second grade and how that impacted things.  Do I have him pulled out of class to be formally tested for a learning disability, when that might reinforce the anxiety – which might be the real problem?  I looked at getting him evaluated outside of school – and that’s literally thousands of dollars, all out of pocket and none of it reimbursed by insurance.

Suffice it to say that I was a little raw when it came to yesterday morning.  Completely confused as to what to do, guilty because I still blame myself for the fact that he’s got the anxiety in the first place, and then not knowing how to proceed – if I need to have him evaluated or not.   He’s been really good about going to school – even if he really didn’t want to go – he still got up every morning and got dressed with a smile.

Except for yesterday.  Yesterday, he didn’t want to go – and it quickly escalated.  I blame myself (shocking, I know).  I was already so stressed about school and him, the idea that we were wading back into school refusal and he hasn’t even been going to school for a week… I lost it.  Screaming at my little boy, who’s clutching his stomach and screaming that he’s SICK and NOT GOING.  Thank God for Marc –  because he was calm, and rearranged his schedule to stay home with him.  I insisted that he had to go to the doctor – because by God, I was going to get a note to excuse this absence, but I knew that there was nothing wrong with him.  Nothing physical, anyway – the problem is that he hates going.  I was a mess – a screaming, sobbing disaster, and I yelled at my little boy.

Only… he really is sick.  He had a stomach virus last weekend, and damaged his stomach lining.  He’s on a two week course of probiotics.

There’s nothing like the guilt you feel as a parent.  There’s literally nobody else to blame when things go wrong, and I still like to assume that I’ve got total control over everything.  Which helps me to feel a little bit more like nothing is really that bad, because if I’m in control, I can fix it.  But the reality is that I’m not, in control or capable of fixing everything just by trying.  I can’t magically fix the anxiety, and I can’t always know when it’s school refusal and when it’s an actual physical problem.  I can’t control the amount of snow we get, or how many days that he’ll miss because of it.  So I freak out when I think he’s missing school and shouldn’t be – and end up screaming at a poor kid who’s got damage to his stomach lining.

In other news – the girls are both doing well in school.  Sam is doing well too – and that’s important to note.  I might not be, I might be hopelessly confused and baffled about what to do next – but he’s getting up and going to school with a smile on his face, and wearing his glasses and trying his best.  His teacher seems lovely, and he’s at grade level across the board, ahead in math, ever-so-slightly behind in reading and crap at spelling.  But he’s gorgeous and brave and bold and cheerful, and maybe third grade will be a lot better than I think it will be.


Older posts «

Fetch more items