Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bricks and Mortar

Just a note: I started this post a week or two ago and have been sitting on it.  Today, I was able to add to it and finish it. Read on.

I don't have lot of time to write as I only have a small window of time to call my own.  I will get down what I can in the hopes that this will release some of the weight I feel.

I feel tender and heavy, sad, mad and unclear today after our meeting with our therapist yesterday afternoon.  We met with our therapist yesterday to go over the results of the assessment forms that I filled out for me and Liam. I was not surprised by the results but am not happy about them all the same.

As far as Liam's assessment results go we are looking at: depression, anxiety, oppositional defiance disorder, some obsessive compulsive tendencies, and sensory issues. I feel like a ton of bricks were just placed in my lap, and they feel heavy and cumbersome. That information, all those labels are a lot to take in, and I dislike all of it.  I feel deeply sad about all of it.

I thought that I would feel some relief just knowing what we are dealing with, but the truth is that I don't. I hate all these labels. I hate that my son feels like shit so often.  I hate that this is "just how his brain is". I don't even know what that means! I hate that he will have this to deal with his whole life. At least that's what the therapist said. But honestly, I find myself railing against that idea because I don't want that to be true and am not sure what she means by that exactly. There's gotta be a way to help him feel better, to feel like himself, and I'm going to figure this out.

I feel grief, not relief. I wish my son did not have to deal with all this weight either. This is far too much for a boy who just turned 10.  I know that as I let this information sink in, we will find a better way together. I know, and really hope, that the psychiatric evaluation will help give us some clarity and direction because we really need help navigating all this so we can help Liam to feel better, more balanced and happy.

For now, though, I feel I need to allow myself to feel this disappointment and sadness fully. I need to feel this strange, unfamiliar loss and let it move through me so I can clear it out. Otherwise, I will never be able to start fresh and look at things with new eyes.

I know a lot of people, friends and family, struggle with depression and anxiety and mood disorders, and I know that they have found some relief with medication.  But some folks I know are more zombified by the medication and just sort-of live. Meaning, they just get through their days half alive on auto pilot. And the truth is that I worry about the addictiveness of medication and the long-term effects they might have on my son, and the fact that Liam is just 10!

I know medication can help, but I feel so averse to this route. I don't know. All I know is that I have a lot to think about and to consider, and I really hope that our psychiatrist is open and knows of other alternative ways to help balance Liam's brain and emotions other than just medication.

To add to all this, when we went over the stress assessment that I filed out for myself, it was as I thought it would be.  On a scale of 100, there were several areas where my score was 96! Not good, but not a surprise either.  I know that I feel stressed and depleted and have felt sort-of locked in my life for a long time now.  I don't think that Jason and I have had a typical or easy parenting journey. In fact, from birth on, motherhood has not been an easy or smooth experience for me.

I always imagined myself taking to motherhood easily and naturally as I consider myself a nurturer by nature.  But the truth is, I have found my mothering journey way harder than I ever anticipated it would be.  I also thought my births would be smooth and easy because I was healthy and fit and everyone pegged me for easy births, all for the very same reasons that I just mentioned. But both Liam and Lila's births were traumatic, but in very different ways. And I'm not going to launch into that now. The reason that I mention this is because it was the start of the biggest learning and growing period and experience of my life as a mother-so far. I am sure there is more to come, there always is.

Anyway, I am beginning to realize that the reason that my life as a mother has been hard is not because I am inept or lacking some special ability to be a good mother, or that Jason or I have failed on some level.  Mine and Jason's experience has been hard because well, we have not been dealt an easy hand. It has been hard because it is hard. It is as it seems. We have bummed up against a lot of unexpected challenges and issues from traumatic births to heart issues, from issues with Lila's teeth to sensory and anxiety issues,  to difficulty with school and more.

I don't think that I realized or even considered the fact that I am doing a good job until a friend of mine pointed out to me that I am. My friend mentioned to me that she thinks I am quite skillful and calm and that all my years as a yogi have really served me. Fancy that. And here all this time, I have been thinking that I am not handling things well enough. Funny how that not-good-enough feeling creeps in everywhere!

So back to it...

All I know at this point is that it just is what it is and now all my energy and attention and love has to go toward helping my kids and family to heal and balance out.  There is still so much that Jason and I need and want to learn and still so many things to consider as far as what changes we can make in order to turn our troubles into triumphs.

I feel that little by little, I am getting clues, and help is coming in different ways and from different sources than where I have been looking. The point is that help and insights are coming. They are still coming slower than I want, of course, but they are coming.

In an effort to reduce stress and make strides toward real change, we decided to pull Liam from school and have begun homeschooling him. Lila has decided, for the time being, that she would like to stay at school because she really likes being with her friends. She is such a sweet, social being. Lila could give a hoot about the rest of school, though. So for now, Lila goes to school while Liam stays home with us.

At first, I felt pretty sad about having to pull Liam from school because I really wanted it to work and because I felt like we were forced to choose homeschool as an option because we had run out of  options. And on some level, that's true.  That said, it's not the whole story nor is it the end of the story, it's just the beginning of a new story. After a bit of grieving, I have come to accept our decision and am embracing it. As I have sat with and come to terms with this whole homeschooling choice, I have come to realize that the only thing we need to focus on right now is Liam's health and happiness.

So the first thing we did was to become part of a local homeschool group and that has been an excellent help and decision. At our first meet up with the group, I met an amazing woman through this group who is also new to homeschooling. We have really connected and have been meeting weekly since. She has really been a Godsend to me in more ways than one.  And the best part is that her son and my son have also connected which is such a blessing because Liam has been in need of a friend, and I guess I have too. Actually, our families are a really compatible. She has a younger son Lila's age, so it's a great match, and maybe we all have been needing each other. And I know it's something special because the minute I saw her and her son, I recognized her as someone I knew, like an old friend.

So homeschool has already yielded great benefits and opportunities. And pulling Liam out of school has helped relieve some stress as far as morning's go.  We still have a lot of work to do as far as helping Liam goes, but we are one step closer, and at least we are moving in the direction of change for the better.

I suppose with some time and changes, we will figure out all of the other stuff, and I will know what to do with and how to think of all the labels-the bricks that were recently placed in our lap. Life is all about how we make use of what we've got, right? So now Jason and I have to find a way to make a magic mortar in order to build something with our pile of bricks instead of being weighed down by them. Something from nothing is the phrase that comes to mind. Or it could be that from nothing we are making something. You get what I mean.

Onward and Upward.

Peace to All,

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

With Hope ~

Here I am at Liam's school, listening to the kids giggle and play and watching them as they run by. Liam and Lila are blurs running in the sun. It's beautiful outside, and I can finally feel the shift in the weather stretching into the day. I am relieved by this break in the heat and this subtle shift in seasons.

I wish I could go for a walk, but I am here and at least I am outside, and at least I am trying. Trying for what, I do not know. Really, I think I come and stay in the hopes that today will be better, that today will be different.

Unfortunately, though, things are the same from day to day as I am still spending everyday here at school with the kids. And everyday is still a struggle as far as getting to school is concerned. And I am tired and frustrated with this mess and with trying to do what I think is right. It's a confusing mix of: keep trying and just let it go. I cannot decide what the hell to do because of my hope that this could work out.

And then there is the fact that there are good days and Liam's teacher is awesome and they do really fun creative learning projects, which Liam loves. Lila's teacher, on the other hand, leaves me less impressed as she yells often and seems constantly irritated by the kids. And yet, she's not all bad.  I just think she does not love her job much anymore, and these things happen. And when we are unhappy, at some point it will show up on the outside. I think this is the case with Lila's teacher.

The confusion that I feel stems from my want for this school thing to work out so that I can have my days open up and so that I can have the time to do what I want and need instead of always what everyone else wants and needs because living up the needs of others and constantly being needed is exhausting.

But the undeniable truth is that Liam's anxiety and sadness and difficulty are painfully present and obvious and cannot be ignored. He complains of ear and head and stomach and body pain daily. He has trouble focusing, he has trouble sitting in class without me, and he just does not seem to be adjusting or getting comfortable. So on the other side of this coin of confusion is the knowledge that that things are not working, and I am not getting my time anyway, and it's not going to change any time soon no matter how bad I want it to.

I wish it would change and smooth out and be great, but perhaps that change is not going to happen here, at this time, in this place. Perhaps school is too much on top of everything else we are trying to figure out with and for Liam. And perhaps I am being selfish in my want for things to work out the way that I want them to because I am tired and in need of a break from all that is required of me to do these basic things in life like get my kids to school, which do not feel all that basic in simple terms, they feel hard.

It's hard to see your kids resisting going to school and still push them to go anyway because this is what we think we need to do. And for most people, most families, not having the kids in school is not an option because both parents have to work.  Jason and I are fortunate in this regard because we both work for ourselves, meaning we have time to be with our kids and can set a schedule that works for our family. And at this point that is the golden opportunity in this situation because it reveals the beautiful fact that we are not stuck. We are not stuck. We are not stuck. We can change things and do things differently and there are options. I don't think I realized that before. I don't think that I realized that until we watched the documentary: Class Dismissed.  (You can find out more about this documentary for rent here: )

What I realized after watching that documentary is that maybe homeschool is an option to consider and that maybe it would help our family and give us some of the time Jason and I need, though, that line of thinking may sound counter intuitive.  I think most people think of homeschool as just school at home. This documentary showed me that this idea is false and limited. Before I watched that documentary, I was totally averse to the idea of homeschooling because I was worried that any chance or opportunity for me to have time for what I want and need would be destroyed. But I am realizing that homeschool may be the answer and change we are looking for.

And what I know with absolute certainty is that Jason and I are just ready for a change, for a break from the constant stress that seems to consume our lives. We are tired of feeling like everyday is an uphill battle, and we are tired of soldiering on for or trying to stay in command of the school situation along with everything else. And I think at this point we both realize that changing schools is not an option worth trying. We realize that this would only create more anxiety and would require more energy on our part. So here we are leaning hard in the direction of homeschooling for our kids, ready to come up with a new plan for our days as a family, ready to pull our kids out of school and into a new life with us. At this point, I would rather choose the uncertainty and embrace the scariness of that over the stress, and I think that says a lot.

I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, send love and good thoughts our way.

With Hope,