Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Supporting Their Dreams and Date Night February 25, 2019

I love “the arts” but I am no good at doing most arts and am only passably creative. I also am not good at technology. I can hardly ever even get our TV to turn on. So of course, I was blessed with kids who are into both those things. Jay is my creative and my artist … and Ace is my STEM kid. (Meaning he’s into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.)

 

I know a lot of parents who try to make their children into something they are not. Often, parents try to live out their own dreams through their children. I try really hard not to be that way. I mean, I’d love it if my kids were naturally really good at sports or were super talented musically – because that’s what I always wished for myself – but those are just not their gifts. As parents, Shaunie and I are constantly looking for ways to support each boys specific interests.

 

A couple weeks ago we tried a thing for Ace. It seemed like he and that group would be a good fit considering the kinds of activities they do but it was a giant fail and pretty much a waste of a Saturday. It happens. At least we had gotten a free day trial so no money went down the drain.

 

Last week, I took him to another thing. This time around there was no free trial. If you wanted to do it, you had to sign up for a 6 week program and pay up front. Once he found out about it, though, he REALLY wanted to go and so we took the plunge.

It was a HIT and he can’t wait to go back.  And so I won’t mind at all driving him there every Friday and busying myself for an hour and a half while he lives his best life with other like-minded kids and adults who know their way around a computers 0’s and 1’s.

 

Following his class, we got fast food and went home to sit on the floor and watch a TV show that only the 2 of us (in our house) are interested in. While Ace and I were at home having our fast food and TV date, Shaunie and Jay had gone out to dinner and to see a movie.

 

I want both boys to know that we will always do whatever we can to nurture their dreams but it’s a little harder to find artsy things for Jay. Ongoing, art classes for example, are not really a thing – at least not any that we’ve found in our area. Shaunie has found something though and we’ve signed him up; so in a couple of weeks he’ll get a chance to spend a couple of hours with HIS kinda people. The kind who can draw and paint and who want to learn about brush strokes and shadowing. I truly hope he loves it.

In the mean time, we’ll keep our eyes open for more art/comic book writing programs he can be a part of and we’ll keep having Mom and Son date nights whenever we can cause those are pretty sweet.

 

The Knowing – Part 2 August 10, 2018

< Read part 1 here >

 

One small thing at a time honey.”

 

That’s what I commented a few days ago on a friends Facebook post.  She was sharing that she felt drained and overwhelmed by how difficult life was at the moment.

 

One small thing at a time.  That’s what helps me.  Even though it doesn’t FEEL small when you get up to do it.

 

One day, I made the phone call I was supposed to have made days earlier.

I also made arrangements for the boys trip to New Jersey.

Whew.

I went home and went to bed early.  That’s what I needed that day after doing the difficult task of working all day AND making 2 phone calls.

The next day, as soon as I got home from work, I grabbed the hooks and put that picture right back on the wall where it belonged.

Something inside me exhaled a little.

The mountain still loomed large ahead of me but I’d taken that first couple of steps.

One small thing at a time.

 

I rescheduled the dentist appointment.  That one I just couldn’t do.  I know my mental limits.  I’ll try again next month.

I washed dishes and moved the vacuum cleaner from beside the dining room table to the “cleaning supplies/tools” nook.

 

As I crossed things off the list, my chest felt lighter.

Shaunie asked me what I was going to do next.  “Put clean sheets on the guest bed” I said.  She replied.  “I’ll do it“.

Upstairs, I put a couple shirts in a drawer and the handbags that were lounging beside the bed went back to their rightful position.

Exhale.

On my way out the door headed to work, I picked up the politicians flyer that had been thrown onto my lawn and used it to dust away cobwebs that had formed between the light and the spigot attached to the house.

Small things.  They help.

 

As of the publishing of this post, I am back to “normal”.  The kids are home from spending 2 weeks with their Grandma.  The house is pretty tidy although we haven’t done any unpacking from all our travels so there are 8(!) pieces of luggage packed into the den.  We haven’t done any of that laundry either.  I’m not worried about it at all though.  I’m glad it’s the weekend and we don’t have any set plans.  We will probably end up going to the movies or something equally chill.  I am really looking forward to next weekend since we will be hanging out with friends and family from all over.

 

~*~

 

I recognize that my anxiety is not as crippling as other peoples.

I do not take it for granted that I have the ability to recognize my emotions for what they are.  I know better than to make big decisions while I am in that state.

*Thankfully (and maybe because I know myself so well now) the moments of being down pass more quickly than they used to.*

I do not take it for granted that I am fairly good at dealing with my brain in a healthy way.  Never turning to drugs or other dangerous habits.

I do not take for granted that I am lucky to have a supportive and understanding partner.  She’s never dismissive or condescending.

I have gotten better at leaving a space open for love to seep in.

I know there was a line in part 1 where I said “How can I explain it to her?” … But she knows the full me.  Before I ever hit publish on Part 1, I sent it to Shaunie.  In the past, I would have held it all inside.  Progress.

Truth be told, I didn’t plan to or think I would ever hit publish on it.

But here we are.

I still wonder if I am being too open.

 

 

I hope that if nothing else, my writing helps others to know they are not alone.  I hope it makes people see that there’s no shame in doing what you need to do to keep your self sane.

I hope that people see that even though it’s scary to be vulnerable, it makes a huge difference when you let it be known that you need help and when you allow yourself to be helped.  Whether that help is in the form of talking to a professional therapist, or taking a daily prescription medication, or just letting a caring and concerned loved one know that you need a break so they cook you dinner and don’t give you a hard time about wasting time on frivolous TV.  Whatever you actually need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Knowing – Part 1 August 9, 2018

When things get hard, when they are complicated, I get quiet. I curl inward. That doesn’t mean my brain, soul and heart shut off. It means they are working overtime.

< Lori Duron – https://raisingmyrainbow.com/2018/08/06/one-mom/ >

 

 

Therapist:  So, what brings you here today?

Me:  I don’t know.  I just feel overwhelmed.  With my life.

 

That was how my very first therapy session started.  It was the spring of 2013.

At the time, I had a job that I wasn’t happy at.  Pretty much no money.  A 7 year old with not-yet-diagnosed ADHD who was struggling in school.  A 6 year old whose autism had a choke-hold on us.  The relationships with my husband, father, mother and grandfather varied from shitty to non-existent.  I had curled inward : away from my friends.  I felt very alone.

I couldn’t catch my breath.

I didn’t go to therapy thinking there was anything they could do or say to “fix” my life.  I mean really.  What could they do about any of the things I was anxious about or overwhelmed by?  But also, what other choice did I have?  I had to try something.  Giving up has never been an option for me.  I suppose that’s a good thing.

 

I ended up going to 5 sessions then.   Five weeks is how long it took me to realize life boiled down to 2 things.

  1. Sometimes things suck and you just have to get to a place where you accept that and stop looking for/hoping for/expecting different.  And move on.
  2. Some things – like your job and your marriage – can change. How much are YOU willing to accept before YOU make steps towards making that change?  And move on?

 

Knowing those 2 things doesn’t prevent anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed by what most people would consider minor issues, from stopping by uninvited.

 

 

Summer 2018.

Shaunie:  What’s wrong?  You got quiet.

Me:  I’m just in a funk.

 

How do I explain it to her?  She’s a “fixer”.  But there’s no easy fix when depression creeps in.  You know all the things.

You know it could be worse.

You know there are people who love you.

You know you have lots of reasons to be happy and grateful.

You know if you ask her to do something specific she will make it happen.

 

You also know she’s dealing with her own schtuff and the last thing she needs is you adding to her plate a bunch of “to-do’s” that will ease you to some extent but won’t magically “un-funk” you so there’s no point in putting her through that.

 

The problem isn’t in the knowing though.  It’s in the feeling.

I feel on the verge of tears often.

I feel exhausted just thinking about the things I need to do.

I feel resentful of people who have even one thing that I want. (Eg. A short commute.)

I feel badly about myself because I take these feelings out on the people who least deserve it.

 

Everything feels like a huge problem and like it will take energy I don’t have.  The house needs tidying up.  I feel fat.  I look old.  I have to renew my license.  The kids need new passports (we didn’t get it done 2 weeks ago like we were supposed to).  I need to catch up on over 200 work emails.  I have a phone call to a sick friend I’m supposed to make.  I need to make arrangements with the kids dad for him to see them again before the summer is out.  I got an email saying my credit score had dropped.  I don’t know why and I can’t bring myself to investigate.  Not today anyway.  Maybe tomorrow.  I always have another dentist appointment scheduled.   And I always know that the next one won’t be the last one.  I am SO OVER THE DENTIST.  And you mean, I need to stop at the gas station and fill up the car?  Ugh!

 

No, I don’t want tea or to laugh or to exercise.  I love her so much for seeing me.  For trying without being pushy or annoyed.  For wanting to be whatever I need in that moment.  But all I want is to curl up in bed.  It’s all I can manage.  That’s what feels easy.  Doable.

We cuddle and I fall asleep.

But I can’t live in bed.  I have to shower and go to work and make phone calls and wash dishes and hang back up that picture that fell off the wall.

 

Ace starts 7th grade in September.  I am not too worried about that.  It’s his second year of middle school and last year went pretty well.  He has a cell phone now, thanks to his Grandma, so I will have to figure out some rules around his use of it as well as install some parental controls.  But that, thankfully, is at least one thing I can put off for a little while.  They don’t come back home for a little while.

Jay.

My heart constricted a little when I typed his name.  For the last couple of years, I had not fretted about the start of the new school year.  But he’s going into 5th grade which will be his last year of elementary school.  I cannot handle the thought of him leaving that environment.  Elementary school felt safe for him.  His teachers, the mostly innocent and friendly and understanding kids, the easy routine.  Middle school will be different.  Totally different set of students as none of his current friends will attend the same middle school as him.  Different school staff who don’t know and love him yet.  Totally different daily routine.  Different expectations.  Different with Jay is scary.  Why am I already stressing about next year?  I don’t know.

 

Things will settle down soon enough.  I will get over these feelings eventually.  My thoughts will become rational again.  I KNOW this because I’ve been down this road before.  More than once.  The feelings will pass as smoothly as they came.  And in this case, the knowing is the force holding me together and the best of life jackets.

 

 

~ Don’t worry about me.  I’m fine.  Part 2 to follow soon ~

 

*Edited to add the link for part 2 —> Here

 

For You We Always Will June 13, 2017

Well, it happened.  The boy graduated from elementary school.  What a journey it’s been.

I told a friend on the phone … “I made it through without crying.”

His response was the equivalent of … “It’s not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of life.  There are bigger things ahead that really deserve to be celebrated and that will probably make you get emotional.”

 

No“, I said, “You don’t understand.  For some peoples kids getting through elementary school is easy.  For mine it was not.  I am just so proud of how he has performed over the last 2 years.  The first 3 were rough.”

 

I remember the days when every single report card came home with a note saying we needed to have a parent teacher meeting.  Shoot, in some cases, I had to meet with the Vice Principal.  I remember when having his own personal chaperone on a field trip was mandatory.  There were times when I couldn’t make it and our Nanas stepped in.  I remember in second grade when they threatened to hold him back and have him repeat due to near failing grades.  I remember, with much appreciation, all the things his teachers did to help him even though there was no legal reason for them to do so.  Bringing in their own personal i-pads to school to use as an incentive for good behaviour.  Allowing him to play with Legos in a quiet office when his body was too agitated to sit through reading time.  Buying books with their own money that they thought he’d like to encourage reading.  I haven’t forgotten the concern over his fine motor skills.  (His writing was all but illegible).  I remember the phone calls I received telling me about the latest injury he received because he fell over in his chair.  I can recall his teachers treading lightly as they attempted to suggest we take him for an evaluation with a specialist.  They didn’t want to offend.  But they saw him struggling.  I remember him starting to hate school and being scared to begin a new year in a new grade with a new teacher.  I remember  his school choosing to put him with a specific teacher in 3rd grade because they thought she would have the skills to reach him and help him.  They were right.  She was a great fit for him and he loved her and learned to love learning.  School, was still not easy, but it stopped being such a scary place.

Fourth grade and fifth grade were vastly different.  There were no more “needs improvement” check marks on the behaviour section of his report.  There was marked improvement in his organization skills.  He began getting A’s and B’s.  He joined, and enjoyed being a part of, multiple after school activities.

 

So you see, while to many an elementary school graduation may not be a big deal, for us it is worth celebrating.  First we struggled and then we conquered.

 

It was a team effort and his support team is stronger than ever.  I will say the one part of the ceremony that almost got to me was at the very beginning when the Vice Principal asked the graduates to turn around and look at the crowd behind them.

That’s your support system.  Those are the people who helped you and will continue to help you.  Lean on them.  They love you.”

And there we were, sitting proudly in the auditorium.  Myself, Jay, Shaunie and CC.  All together for our boy.  When it was his turn to collect his certificate, Jay stood up and shouted “Ace is next” and then he clapped bigger than anyone else.  Shaunie and CC were on photo duty.  I sat up straight, soaking in the moment and beamed.

 

It happened.  The boy graduated from elementary school.  What a journey it’s been.

 

 

 

~*~

When you’re feeling lost in the night,
When you feel your world just ain’t right
Call on me, I will be waiting
Count on me, I will be there
Anytime the times get too tough,
Anytime your best ain’t enough
I’ll be the one to make it better,
I’ll be there to protect you,
See you through,
I’ll be there and there is nothing
I won’t do.

I will cross the ocean for you
I will go and bring you the moon
I will be your hero your strength
Anything you need
I will be the sun in your sky
I will light your way for all time
Promise you,
For you I will.

I will shield your heart from the rain
I will let no harm come your way
Oh these arms will be your shelter
No these arms won’t let you down,
If there is a mountain to move
I will move that mountain for you
I’m here for you, I’m here forever
I will be your fortress, tall and strong
I’ll keep you safe,
I’ll stand beside you, right or wrong

For you I will lay my life on the line
For you I will fight
For you I will die
With every breath, with all my soul
I’ll give my world
I’ll give it all
Put your faith in me 
And I’ll do anything

(For You I Will – Monica)