Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just keep moving forward

The kids are finally asleep after being dosed with Melatonin. The water in the upstairs bathroom is turned off so no one can claim to be "getting a cup of water." The husband has gone up. Only the dog and I and the crickets are awake.

Earlier today I thought that if I typed quickly, maybe, just maybe I could do some blogging.The younger two were playing nicely in the backyard and the 5 year old's stream of consciousness had slowed to a trickle. It didn't last, though. They found me as soon as I sat down.

I miss blogging. I miss getting my thoughts out there. For some reason, I can only write when there's an audience, even a small one. I'm not good at talking to myself; there are too many voices in my head and I often have to tell them to just sit down and be quiet. I have a habit of hiding my struggles until I've reached an acceptable level of crazy. Because if you knew what I was really thinking a few weeks ago, you'd either back up very slowly or put me in a straight jacket. Then I remember that writing is how I process things. And lately, I've had all kinds of excuses for not writing.

Let's see ... the kids keep me busy.  In fact, I devote a lot of energy lately to creative work arounds to keep Owen from peeing on every sheet, blanket and item of clothing he owns. And we're not even potty training yet. You see, he likes his penis. A lot. He rearranges it until it is no longer safely pointed down in his diaper. My final solution is just to put him to bed buck naked because I figure unfettered access might lessen the appeal. I spend the rest of the time doing laundry and feeding Owen, who now hangs on the refrigerator door and whines "Huuuuuuunnnnnnngggggggrrrrrryyyyy." And listening to Danny's stream of consciousness and keeping Fiona from annoying the boys and the dog.

Pinterest keeps me busy and not because I'm doing all the cool projects posted by moms on uppers who likely have kids on downers because, seriously, the only way I could get my kids to do any of those creative homeschool "lessons" or do any projects myself is if the little buggers were drugged. (Mostly, I just browse and pin and sometimes do a recipe or craft that takes little to no effort.) I collapse on the couch around 9 each night and get lost in all the projects I could do if I had more energy or children who don't destroy every nice thing we own.

The weather has been gorgeous. It's been like a New York summer here; in the 80s with low humidity. We've gone blueberry picking at least once a week, biking, swimming and romping in parks. Of course, tomorrow, the gates of hell will open and by this weekend, it'll be dangerously, triple digit hot.

And then there's the growing sense that my 5 year old deserves some privacy in our current struggles. He deserves to struggle and grow in privacy and have his mother show the world his best side. He's also at an age where he senses what's going on, he hears things that we whisper or even signal, he knows what our eyes say. There's a fine line, though, between respecting his privacy and pretending that everything is just fine.

It's not. And it is. And it will be. I believe all these things, usually at the same time. 

This morning, I read a post on Momastery that reminded me of why I need to write, even if it seems I have nothing new or inspiring or original to say. She writes:

We gotta show ourselves when we’re all beat up and scarred, too. That’s what people need to see, much more than our shiny selves.

Exactly. I need to write because someone needs to hear what I have to say. That's not narcissistic; it's humbly placing my problems and fears before the world in the hopes of helping someone else who is struggling. Because we're all struggling somehow and seeing moms on uppers parading their shiny lives in front of us doesn't inspire us but tends to deepen our suffering and further our isolation. 

Too often, though, I feel chastised for seeming to dwell on the negative when I write about the utter chaos of three children so close in age, the daily grind, the worries, the heartache, the sleepless, messy existence. I feel pressure to be positive. Being positive is such a complicated concept. I don't believe being positive means seeing the good in everything. What it really means, at least to me, is that we acknowledge the imperfect, believe in a resolution even if we don't know what it is yet and just keep moving forward.

So here's what's really going on:

My son is seeing a shrink. At the age of 5. He's an angry boy with an impulsive nature. Well, he was. Things are getting better now with just a few months of therapy, which has probably helped me more than him, and some dietary adjustments.

There is the possibility that his problems are related to environment. Really, there's nothing more annoying than 3 and 2 year old siblings; in fact, if I wasn't an adult, I might just react to the frustration the same way he does.

Diet definitely is a factor for him. We've taken him off wheat and gluten, the main protein found in wheat, barley and rye. There is research to suggest a link between ADHD and celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity. We've noticed that if he has gluten, he has trouble with self-control and focus and hyperactivity. It takes about three or four days for the effects of gluten to wear off with him. We've tested the theory off and on since late February.

We've also added a fish oil supplement to his diet; we call it his kindergarten vitamins. Fish oil has been shown to improve behavioral control and focus in children with attention issues and was suggested to me by a neighbor.

Over the past few months, though, I have felt the most incompetent and stuck that I've ever felt as a parent. Every day was a frustrating and exhausting exercise in behavior management. Every interaction was an argument, every word I spoke to him was scolding, every fun activity turned to tears and fighting within minutes, every privilege extended turned to an argument over more privileges, every argument escalated into some threatening gesture on his part or mine. I would offer choices, he would "choose" something not offered. We would tell him to stop making noises at the table and he literally could not stop himself.

In fact, one incident started with him screaming at me to get him a bandage "RIGHT NOW" after he fell from his bike and when I refused until he spoke politely to me, he threw a rock at me.

He has been diagnosed with ADHD, but I've been skeptical since we don't know how he will behave in school. However, a few weeks ago, I decided that it didn't matter whether I think he has ADHD. One morning I described a scenario to the doctor and asked my perennial "Why does he do that?"

She replied, "Because your little boy doesn't have those extra seconds other kids have before reacting."

And my heart just sank. Maybe it was because she referred to him as "your little boy" when I had been seeing him as the 3 1/2 foot freckled monster terrorizing our house. Maybe it was because she cast him as someone who is sick and needs help, not someone who is wrong and needs correcting.

Suddenly, I had that sympathy I'd been lacking. It's a start.


pridgenkad said...

Aw Josee...where to start? First, I'm so glad the weather hasn't been unbearable to the whole summer. I was worried about you guys in NC when I heard how warm it was already in March. Our weather here reminds me of a New England summer or something. We had one really warm week where I didn't know what to do without AC, but since then it doesn't really go above 80. I love it--Brice hates it.

And second...I believe I can only offer you my prayers and virtual hugs as I don't have parenting advice to give you. I think my favorite quote for looking at your kids is that "they come to you who they are". I hope Danny has a good experience this fall.

Maybe I should quit gluten. You should see me me move from one task to another at home...

justine said...

can't believe 'they' were right, cause I was pretty sure the so tired I was nearly homicidal was as rough as I could take, but turns out it doesn't get easier, it's just different - whole new set of challenges at each age! venting has got to be a good way to keep your sanity - so glad you have this blog.
thinking of you Josee!!

Josee said...

yeah, justine, i've heard that it gets different! at least with each new stage, we build on our experience. venting is a great way to keep our sanity, eh? even if it does sound like complaining.

and kelley, how can anyone hate mild New York summer weather?? thanks for the prayers. Danny should be just fine. He starts school on July 19. Send up special prayers that day! :)