my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

May 21, 2016

seeing what i see

bumble is in sixth grade now. last year, at the end of fifth grade, his teachers finally convinced the principal to bring in the school psychologist to have him evaluated. i had been saying for years and years that i think there is something wrong, that he is slower than he needs to be, that this attitude of "he'll eventually catch up" wasn't working. something needed to be done, but it took all the way until fifth grade to finally have them run all their tests and analyze all of his work to make their determination, to make their diagnosis of his issues. their official diagnosis that, without which, he didn't qualify for the extra help he sorely needed.

so finally, after tests and meetings and having people literally follow him around all day to see how he did in class, how he interacted with his peers, how he took his tests, the word from on high was passed down. beyond his speech delays (which he was already receiving therapy for) and his motor skill delays (which were being addressed), they determined that he had phonological dyslexia. so he can't read because he can't sound out words because he doesn't hear them correctly. and if you say the words to him, he can't repeat them because he has so many pronunciation issues because of his speech delays. it's a sloppy mess of problems that were finally going to be addressed and he would get the help he sorely needed.

not that they thought they could get him up to grade level for years and years. it was five years that they let these issues go untreated, so it would be another three, or four, or five, until he was able to read and work at the level of his peers. which shouldn't be so much of a problem because now he qualified for extra help! so instead of doing the reading work the rest of the class was doing, he was reading other text that was on his level! and instead of trying to keep up with the spelling words that his peers had to learn, he had his own list that was phonologically selected to help his learn "sound chunks!"

except there was certain work he had to complete with the rest of his class. he had to learn the definitions of the same vocabulary words, for instance. words that correlated to a story the rest of the class worked on, but not him because the story was above his level. so he had to struggle to learn the words as he didn't have the benefit of context clues to help him memorize the definitions.

and yet there is hope, finally. because i was listened to, finally. and he is getting help, finally. for all my failings and fears that all of his issues were my fault, i would not stand by without fighting for him. i might not fight for myself, but him, he (like his siblings) are always worth fighting for.

September 24, 2015

trigger warning

there are certain phrases that i feel have been corrupted, taken over and used again and again so their impact is watered down. or used in a different way than their original intended meaning, so that their present definition has skewed from what has been intended. slang has a way of doing that to words, and i am fully aware that i do it too. one phrase, though, that i wish hadn't been corrupted by the populace is "trigger warning."

now i see that phrase used by those that don't want to offend. or i see those that ask for it's usage so they know the steer clear of certain articles that they might be upset by because it is filled with different opinions than their own. but that's not how it's meant to be used. it is not a phrase that is supposed to help those pushing a completely politically correct agenda. it is not to be used lightly, placed at the beginning of any article that might offend or upset. there is nothing wrong with getting upset about things, especially if it leads to a discussion on differences. or if it highlights a point of view that was previously unknown to a person. sometimes we live too much in our own safe sphere, never venturing out to explore other viewpoints or dissenting opinions. how can we changed and grow and understand each other if we only ever surround ourselves with those like us?

but that is not the point of this post. the point of this post is how upsetting i find it that the people who need the protection that phrase provides aren't getting it. but then, that also bleeds into a larger view on the corruption of mental illness and its descriptors. people use the word "depressed" all the time to mean sad, but that word means so much more than that. i've heard people describe others with the term "bipolar," when they really mean that someone is moody or changes their mind a lot. people sometimes say they think their kids have "ADHD," even though their child is just showing the normal signs of being a kid. all these phrases, tossed around so lightly, are actually medical terms, diagnoses and diseases, and the people who have these illness (as determined by their doctor) probably don't appreciate what could be construed as the belittling of their difficulties.

(i will not say i speak for the community as a whole, i only speak for myself)

and so stories and articles with the phrase "trigger warning" don't use it to signify that they are posting something controversial, they use it as a true warning, and follow that phrase with a short description of why the follow might be a trigger for some. the warning may explain that the piece could talk about self harm or suicide or abuse of alcohol, and those that also struggle with the problem should be aware. not everyone that self harms needs to worry about reading an article on dangers of cutting, but there are some that might read it and think that it sounds like a pretty good idea. so instead of showing the possible dangers, the article would inspire those to begin again. hence the need for a warning, because some people need to be more careful than others about what they read or see or do. and maybe one day they'll get to a point where it doesn't matter, that they are strong enough read things like that without backsliding into a bad place. but then there are those that are still at the beginning of their journey, or are having a hard time, or it is just a bad moment, and then they need those warnings so they don't accidentally fall deeper into the pit.

i am all for not offending others, but a line must be drawn between being unoffensive and being ridiculous. people also must realize, though, that there are so many other views than their own, and people are fighting struggles with demons that others don't even know exist. and if we can help those that need help, or even just make their fight easier in some small way, why is that a bad thing? in the end, i guess i just wish we could take back the meaning of things, use words as they were originally intended, until we don't need those words anymore.

September 22, 2015

still alive

"we do what we must, because we can, for the good of all of us..."

i think i might have talked about my views on responsibility here once or twice before. if not, there's something in my "dead letter file" that just never got posted. it's a topic i think about often. about how sometimes my personal views on responsibility and requirements and being an adult differ slightly from those i know.

i believe that life is made up of choices. i believe that we need to stand by the choices we made. i also believe that once made, you can't just go around changing your mind all willy-nilly, that wouldn't exactly be honorable. if you did that often enough, people would be begin to doubt your word. or your convictions. so if you make choices, stick with them, stick up for them, stand by them, and follow through with them.

that doesn't mean that you can't change your mind down the road. but, personally at least, it does mean that you should have some reason for your flip-flop in attitude or behavior. and i know that it seems lately people have the opinion that it shouldn't matter what others think of how you live your life, you should do you and not worry about them. and that is fine in theory, but if that is how you live your whole life, then people won't  think that they can depend upon you when they need to, that you're only out for yourself. and then, when the day comes that you might need to depend upon someone else, there won't be anyone else there.

also, there are times where i believe the appropriate course of action might be counter to your personal wishes, if it means helping out the greater good. sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do, if it means that we can help keep the peace or do good for others or help in a situation that no one else can help in. and it doesn't mean we need to like being selfless in these situations, it just means we need to keep our complaining to ourselves and pitch in once in a while for the greater good. that is, by the way, my personal definition of being an adult, doing things you might not want to do just because it really is the right thing to do. and no, i don't mean you should bend your convictions to help someone, there are lines that need to be drawn, just draw them in pencil in case you ever want to change them down the road.

it is a careful balancing act, though, that we must do, between helping people out and helping ourselves. sometimes the choices are easy, but sometimes to help and put others first means we put ourselves last. i am a fan of this approach, because i believe that people are inherently good, and when down the road you need a hand, those you helped with likely return the favor. it doesn't always happen, and i have been burnt by those that i've helped in the past. there have been a few that have realized my giving nature and asked too much. and i, being me, never said no until it was past the point of stopping.

still, i try to see the good in all, and help out where i can. i might not like it. certain times and in certain cases, i flat out hate it, but i still do what i think i must do because i want to be helpful. or because i know there isn't anyone else that can step in. or, in a larger picture, i am following through on decisions i made ages ago, decisions that i have come to regret immensely, but i stand by my choices and will do what i must do because i feel i have to. because if not me, then who?

September 17, 2015

not like you

so it's been a few weeks since i've posted anything here. we are still trying to get back into the swing of school and scouts and sports. plus last christmas it was decided that taking a family vacation during the fourth week of school would be a lovely idea, so once we were finally getting used to our routines, we took a break and now have to embrace them again.

i've also had a lot on my mind, things i've been working through, things i want to share here. it's the thoughts i have that pop up every year around this time, when our family schedule changes. it takes almost all school year for things to settle and everyone to accept their roles and duties. and then school ends and summer starts and all the routines and schedules and set daily plans go out the window in bits and pieces, until we find ourselves at the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year and we have to start all over again.

i don't mind the starting over again, i like routines and schedules, and my kids really thrive on knowing what comes next and what is expected of them and the plans we have for the day and week ahead. the part that throws me for a loop every year is that the school year also includes scouts and sports and all the other activities that my kids are involved in. all summer i can luxuriate in my agoraphobia, but at the end of august i am expected to be an adult and mother and go to meetings and practices and interact with other adults. and that is when, unfortunately, my differences always shine.

i don't like talking to people, i am terrible at small talk, and i always feel like i have nothing to say. but small talk is almost a requirement at these kid events, or it used to be until the age of smart phones and my new ability to stare at a small screen and pretend i am busy. i also have a "bit" of social anxiety, where as soon as i leave my house i start to panic. once we finally get to where we are going, the kids jump out of the car to join their peers and leave me milling around with the rest of the adults. those adults who i am convinced are laughing and pointing and talking about me, secretly belittling me because they know i am not like them, that i don't belong, that i am different and not the same and not worth being here. and so the panic sets in, and invariably i feel like crying or vomiting or hiding in my car, or all three if i happen to be at a boy scout meeting. so then, to pass the time and look busy and give me something else to focus on, i live tweet my panic attack, describing my cold sweats and nausea and racing heart and fear (it's a good time, you should follow me). and eventually, it ends, the kids come back, we get in the car and go home, and in the comfort of my safe space i am better.

all of my issues about leaving my house are tied together, and to fix one i must work on fixing them all. i know i would have an easier time if i was better at small talk, i would feel less different if i could hold a conversation with the other parents. because i know that they really aren't standing around making fun of me, they probably don't even notice me, but because i don't interact with them, my mind jumps to worse case scenario. the problem i have is that (especially at scouts, which is the worst) i don't have anything to talk about with the other parents. our interests are too different to be able to talk week after week about anything more than the weather. beyond the activity at hand, our kids don't even have much in common, so after all these years of seeing the same people, i have run out of ways to talk about the weather.

also, the simple fact that i struggle with anxiety sets me apart. but how to explain that i am not stuck up or bitchy but flat out scared is the reason i sit quietly and don't say anything? especially when in so many places the discussion of mental illness is taboo? last tuesday, while sitting around with the other parents, bumble ran over to me and said that i should try to make friends. it kills me that even he realizes i am not like the other moms. he has enough he is dealing with and has to personally overcome without being the kid with the weird mother, but i am at a lost with what to do.

on the internet it is easy to find people who share your interests, who are similar to you and with whom you can talk to about anything. in real life, in the more conservative circles i am forced to travel, it is so much harder. i don't watch sitcoms or care about the latest celebrity scandal or agree that this country was really founded on christian principles and the bible should dictate the laws we pass. i would much rather talk about superheros and space exploration and environmental conservation and the best way to build pneumatic steampunk fairy wings. but finding physical people to talk about stuff like that with, instead of just digital, has proven impossible. so i will continue to sit quietly and stare at my phone and try to slow my racing heart, and hope that, even if others do think i'm different, they don't hold it against my kids.

August 27, 2015

sackcloth and ashes

so all my kids are in school full time. and i am happy. my house is quiet, it gives me time to think. i know i have my mornings to finish all the things i didn't get done the night before, which has helped to ease the bedtime routine. i have flipped chores around, instead of washing the dinner dishes, i leave them to soak in the sink for the morning, which leaves me more time to focus on the kids and making sure is done and books are read and showers are taken and hair is brushed. there is enough to do at night without worrying about getting my house to tip top shape.

and i am developing a morning routine that i like and works for me. we get up and get breakfast. while they eat i make fish's lunch (the boys pack for themselves), and then it's getting dressed and ready and getting out the door on time. i walk my dear fish, which i totally count as my daily exercise, and then i come home and clean the house. it still leaves me with most of the day to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.

the problem is that i am getting many comments about how people think i must feel, which is making me wonder if how i really feel is wrong. everyone i've talked to was surprised that i wasn't in tears on the first day all the kids were in school. that i don't miss them terribly and am all sorts of upset and wonder what to do with myself all day.

does not being upset make me a bad mother? does it mean that i love them less then those that are inconsolable? is there a standard level of grief that i am not reaching, a socially acceptable amount of tears that i should have shed by now?

because i like to think that i do love my kids, in my own quiet way. i provide for them and encourage them and help ready them for the outside world. i feel like going to school is just the next logical step on their journey to independence. if this is the normal and expected direction they are to be going in and growing in, why should i be upset? i feel like i should count the lack of tears on all our faces as a victory in preparing them to face the challenges of the world at large.

and yet some of what i have read on facebook during this back to school time has made me feel like less of a mother, like i didn't reach some predetermined standard of grief. because i didn't hit that level of sadness, my love for my children must not be as real or as true or as much.

i am me, and when it comes to feelings about things outside myself, i know that for me, the highs are never as high and the lows are never as low as i have seen expressed by others. but that doesn't mean that i don't feel anything at all, it just means that i don't express it. i had to learn not to show emotions, unless i wanted those emotions used against me. i am careful, i am cautious, but i also know that my children know how much and how deeply i love them. i am tired of the social media competitions, i refuse to wear sackcloth and ashes. it's not my style, but that's ok. those who matter know the truth.