Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Two Years

     This week I have been avoiding my personal Facebook memories like the plague. Two years ago this last week thru next week I was in and out of the hospital. I thought that I was either dying or at the beginning of a horrible illness that would take my life. As I lay in that hospital bed I prayed that God would just let me live long enough that my kids would be teens before I passed.
     That first year was the hardest. I felt like my life had been ripped away from me. I spent countless days unable to do much because I was in so much pain and so dizzy from my low blood pressure. I gained fifty pounds fast from all of the different medications I was on... including steroids. My husband and I spent thousands of dollars on medical trying to find the cause.
     The final thought was that it was caused by a virus. Either I would get better or I wouldn't. There were no answers or hope from the medical community. Still today I know that it could come back and I could loose the life that I have. Which isn't so scary if I never think about it.
     Where am I at now? My blood pressure which was life threateningly low for so long suddenly popped back up to normal. I can feel my skin better than I could at one point. But, not as good as I should. My sense of taste was completely gone for about fourteen months. Now it is mostly back but there is so much that I can't taste. There are so many complex flavors that I may never taste again. My eyes are so dry that I will never be able to wear contacts again and I am fighting still to keep my eyes healthy so that I don't go blind. I have lost twenty of the fifty pounds and I feel confidant that I will loose it all in time. These things are all a small price to pay for life.
     To be honest the thing that bugs me the most is the neuropathy in my feet. In fact my feet get their own paragraph because they have taught me the most. I have empathy for others that I would have never had otherwise. The pain that I still experience some days almost keep me down. But, it dosn't and I still keep going. I was in Costco a few weeks ago. An older women came up behind me limping. The first reaction that I had was an empathetic grimace. I knew the excruciating pain that she must have been in. Sure enough she told the checker that she couldn't unload her things because she was in pain. In the past I think that I would have been critical, maybe even judgmental. Not now.
      Right now in my life I am thankful more than anything else. I am thankful that I get to work and it is doing something that I love. I am thankful that I am here for my kids and husband. I am thankful for the friends and family that have stayed by my side. I am thankful for every single day that I have here on earth. I pray that I never loose that feeling, because I know how quickly that can change.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Working Mom

     Two days and I go back to work. Then next Monday is school. When I am working it is 30 hours a week with kids. It is by far the best job that I have ever had. But, seriously, where did the summer go?
     
     Being a solo parent and a working mom makes life very tricky. I know many moms who left the work force when they got pregnant or dropped down to work only a few hours a week. They are content. Then there are other friends that continued working full time, only taking short breaks when they had their kids. I have fallen somewhere in the middle. When I didn't work I felt sad about not working or contributing monetarily. Then in the past when I worked a crappy graveyard job I longed to be home with my babies. Since becoming a mom I went for a year and a half without working and then another three years. I have learned the hard way that when you stretch yourself too far you don't do anything well. Truthfully, I don't think that I could do more hours then I do now and keep it all going smoothly.
     During the last stretch of not working my son was diagnosed as autistic and I thought that I might never be able to go back into the work force.
Rejoining the work force with a kid who needs so much more was a hard, but, necessary choice. I won't lie to you, that first step was by far the hardest.
The very thought of trying to balance it all seemed like an overwhelming, impossible task. Plus with a husband who is frequently out of state and is gone with work six days a week from three in the morning until six in the evening, finding a job that I could do with no back up ever... I never imagined, (I really needed a miracle).
     The good, wonderful side to all of this is that I very easily found my dream job. I found a place in our home district as a special education paraprofessional working in a kindergarten, inclusion classroom.
      I LOVE children and I believe that all children need a person at school cheering them on. Guiding them, teaching them so much more than just numbers and letters. With kindergarten there are no limits. They are a beautiful, innocent blank slate and it gives me the special opportunity to help them look at the world around them and see all of the wonderful things it has to offer.
       As a special needs parent, I feel honored to be able to serve other families. The one thing that I want and pray for is that I can be the help to other's children that I would want for my own child. And, so as the next chapter in my paraprofessional career is about to start, I raise my proverbial glass to a new year of little ones.
       

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Autism Mom

 
Do you see me?
I am that women at the doctor's office with a screaming child. I am messy from the struggle. My heart is broken since my hands are proverbially tied.
Do you ever wondered why?
Why we are never there for birthdays, baptisms, pretty much anything. Why my son who is so sweet and smart could possibly struggle.
Do you ever think?
Think if it were my child they would never be like that. It must be something that they are doing wrong. Think to yourself why doesn't she do something?

    Well, I have done something and I am actively seeking, looking, begging for more help. Mental health services are almost non existent for adults and don't exist for children. I am drowning. My only saving grace is that I WILL NOT STOP until I have the help that we need.

    In the mean time don't judge me. If you have typical kids think about how hard that is. Now try to imagine having an almost 8 year old struggling with the kind of issues that normally only adults have to carry the burden of. He is brave, kind and good... but, life is hard for him. Honestly I don't know if my heart breaks more over the joyful things that he misses out on or the internal struggle that is keeping him from the joy.

   What I want to leave you with is that our family is NOT alone. There are so many adults and children who struggle. We have to stop the stigma that comes with mental health and see it as a part of treating a whole person. It must change now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Grandma

     Today is my grandma's birth anniversary, she would have been ninety-three. That means that it has almost been three years since she passed.When people die normally all you hear about is how wonderful they were. There is always some candy coating involved. I guess that goes back to the whole "not speaking ill of the dead" thing. The living relatives not wanting to hinder their chance of a peaceful after life. 
     My grandma wasn't perfect, in fact if she were here she would be the first to say so. However she had a good heart. She loved her family and prayed for us all every single day. I almost hated to tell her if anything bad or hard was going on. She would almost absorb it. The sadness, fear... the worry.  It would drive her to pray harder.
      Often now, when I hear about bad things in the world, I think, "wow I am so glad that she isn't here to see that."  When things are hard for me I am thankful that she can't see or hear about it. I used to hate the look on her face that she would get when she was worried. It was a far off, deep in thought kind of look.
   The relief from missed worry is often over taken by the sadness that I feel on the days where I wish that I could call and tell her good news. The countless times that I wish I could call and let her know that all of the worry and prayers weren't in vain and I am well.
   I wish that she could see how good the kids are doing now. How to spite there many challenges they are growing in to good, kind-hearted people. I know that she would be so proud to know about my new job working with children. She would be happy to see how happy my little family is and how almost ten years later the husband and I are going strong.
   There is not enough words to ever express just how much she impacted my life. The life lessons that she shared may have been from a different time, but they were still useful today. One of my favorite pieces of grandma advice was, "they are mean, stay away from them." Ha! Every performance, birthday, holiday... every, everything she was there. There are three people who I can safely say had the most impact on my life and she was one of them.
   I was there the night that she passed. My mom and I spent hours by her side. When she actually passed it was just her and my mom together...But, I won't dwell on that, because

death is the hardest part of life.

Today, just like every other day, I will pause for the millionth time. I will hope that she can hear me, feel me as I think about her. I hope that she knows just how much she is still loved and how thankful I am to be her granddaughter. 
Happy birthday grandma, may your memory be eternal. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thoughts On Becoming "Mom"

    I am the youngest of four kids, there is a pretty big age gap between me and my next oldest sibling, (five years and ten months to be exact). By the time my mom got to me she was a seasoned pro in the mommy department. Some of my earliest memories of her are of her having seemingly magical powers. She knew how to spell every word, the answer to every question and if I wanted to know the meaning to phrases like MO, my mom knew it. I even remember thinking that my kids were going to be in big trouble because, how was I ever going to know so much? Little did I know that we would have something called Google.
   I used to ponder where and at what point was a mom endowed with this wealth of knowledge. Funny, but true story. The last month before I had kid #1 I realized that I had never bathed a new born. That set off a, hormone induced, panic attack. I read everything that I could get my hands on. I will never forget that first bath. I had my What To Expect The First Year mom guide out and very carefully followed it. The funny part is that my son's water aversion was already there. I even have the pictures to prove it. He was so mad that his little face was bright red.

Where was I? I digress...  

    I am not going to lie this whole mom thing has been hard lately, like World War One, in the trenches hard.  I have had to repeatedly turn to the experts for help because, I don't always have the answers. At times that, in and of its self, hurts. Knowing that to spite my seven years and seven months of categorized mommy knowledge I still don't have the answer. I am still as awkward as I was so long ago at my son's first home bath. Not having the answers makes me feel, powerless.
  I would like to blame my struggles on how much harder the world is today than it was thirty something years ago. Perhaps my mom's generation had less pressure on it? Moms today wage a constant battle of opinions. It's not just the opinion of neighbors and relatives either anymore. It is the stranger at the store who decided to film you and post it on Youtube for the world to see.
   This brings me to days like today. I wonder how the heck I am going to make it thru to tomorrow? And does coffee power count as magical powers? The kids are in bed and I am not far behind. I have a giant package of Kirkland toilet paper on the floor in my living room and the vacuum is still plugged in that really needs to be put away. I am pretty sure that I wasn't high level today. This whole mommy business doesn't get any easier either, does it? I hope that the mom that my kids remember is better than the mom that I remember me to be.Thank God that tomorrow is another day and another chance to try again.