30 April 2010

Maybe not ready after all

Last week, I took Curly to what will be his school in the fall. He's my baby, my little mini-me. He is the funniest kid, who says the funniest things. I love getting to spend my afternoons and Fridays with him, while his older brothers, Moe and Larry, are at school. I thought I was looking forward to Curly heading off to the big K, and moving into the next phase of motherhood completely. Stepping into the school years with both feet.

But as I watched him run excitedly down the hall toward the K classroom, with Mrs. K (appropriately enough) while I sat in the meeting room with the other K parents and the principal, it hit me that maybe I'm not quite as ready as I thought I was. Oh, sure, it sounds lovely to have the WHOLE DAY to myself to finally sort out whatever is in those boxes in the back of the basement, to go running whenever I feel like it instead of when I can fit it in, to actually keep up with laundry and grocery shopping, to spend a whole afternoon on the deck reading a book.

But....Curly is my buddy. We hang out. We talk. We watch Veggie Tales and we build Lego space ships and race cars. We go to the mall sometimes for Auntie Anne's pretzels and lunch in the food court, or to Barnes and Noble to share a chocolate chip cookie and play with the trains in the kids' section.

He went in for the assessment that measures his readiness to begin kindergarten. Does he know his phone number and his address? Can he write his name? Does he know the difference between upper case and lower case? Can he hop on one foot and play catch? Does he interact with other kids easily?

He's way ready, Mrs. K assures me. A bright and funny boy. His preschool teachers assure me he's well ready and will have no problem transitioning to all-day school.

I've never been the type of mom to bemoan and mourn the passing of stages. I know some moms who are sad at their children's birthday parties because it all went too fast. I know some moms who, at every milestone, have said something like, "Stop growing up so fast!" And let me be clear, I'm not knocking them or being critical at all. That's just not my style.

I loved the baby years, as hard as they were sometimes, and there is nothing that can ever beat the smell of a newborn fresh out of the bath. I stayed awake to watch them breathe. I marveled watching their eyelashes grow in, and treasured every single gummy grin. I counted every tooth and cheered the first steps. But I didn't cry because they were growing up too fast. I didn't cry putting Moe and Larry onto the bus for the first time. I loved watching them be nervous about it, and do it anyway, that sense of accomplishment they got from just doing it anyway.

I have really been enjoying watching them change from babies who I adored cuddling and feeding and carrying, to boys who can run with me, who I can kick a soccer ball with or throw a football with, and who can reason and have a conversation about why the leaves change color or why our flag is important and why we should show respect. I am so digging watching them turn into the people they are growing up to be. It's pretty amazing.

But still. Curly is my baby.

And while he's raring to go, ready to spread his little wings and fly off to kindergarten with circle time and snack time and weekly Mass and rest time in the afternoons, it's a little harder for me this time.

It's not quite time yet. He hasn't finished preschool and we still have the whole summer to play. But I also have the sense of something coming to an end, of days being numbered.

His readiness is no longer in question.

But, I think mine might be.

19 April 2010

Admitting you need help--and getting it

I may have mentioned before that my son, who is now ten (and whose comment as a three year old inspired the name of my blog :) ) is a unique child. Complicated, in the words of the school psychologist. We had a meeting this morning and it was a really good meeting. It lasted for an hour and a half, and I just felt good when I left.

Moe has been diagnosed with ADHD, and shows significant signs of Asperger's Syndrome, as well as some OCD-type traits, but not enough to warrant an actual clinical diagnosis of either. Aside from the ADHD, about which there is no question, he doesn't really fit neatly into any particular category. He takes medication for the ADHD and up until recently he had been seeing a psychologist on a somewhat regular basis. The problem with the psychologist is that she is on the other side of the city, and has limited after school hours. So, it's a good 45 minutes, one way, an hour wait while he sees her, and 45 minutes on the way home. After school. In traffic. With two other kids. It's been difficult to stay in a regular pattern and over last summer and the beginning of this school year, we've just stopped going.

You know how when you have a cold, you try to take it easy for a couple of days? Maybe you call in sick, or ask your neighbor to walk your kids to the bus stop? Take medicine and try to get a little extra rest? You do that for a day or two (or three) and when you start to feel better, you stop doing those extra things. I've sort of regarded our interventions for Moe in the same way. Things had been going pretty well, and so we kind of slacked off doing the things he needs, in order to cope with his challenges.

Bad idea.

He needs help, and he's going to continue to need help. Just because he's managing to get through his days doesn't mean his needs are any less. I realized that this morning while I was talking to Dr. B. I've sort of harbored this suspicion that maybe I let him watch too much Sesame Street when he was a baby, or that I shouldn't have had those glasses of wine when I was first pregnant with him and didn't know it. Like it's somehow something I did or didn't do, that saddled him with these special needs.

I'm really hard on him sometimes too....I have high expectations of my kids and I don't apologize for that. But sometimes I wonder if I'm too hard, especially on him. At the same time, I don't want to let him off the hook....just because he has ADHD, that doesn't mean he gets a free pass for bad behavior that goes uncorrected.

We had a really bad weekend in terms of unacceptable behavior and I hate to admit it....but I need help. He needs help. It feels a bit like I've failed him, as his mom, that I can't help him on my own, that we need to call in the experts.

We're all so conditioned to disdain needing help and looking or being weak, not able to handle things on our own. I hate saying publicly that sometimes I can't handle my kid's behavior, or that I just don't know what to do to help him. But it is what it is, and we both need a little help. Sometimes I forget how difficult it is for him.

He's a fantastic kid, very bright with an incredibly vivid imagination. He is sweet and caring and affectionate. And, man, does he know his animals. He wants to be a conservationist when he grows up....he told me this in first grade. He doesn't want to get married, because, in his words, it will make more room in his house for the animals he wants to rescue. Just a great kid.

I don't want my frustration with my own inability to help him learn to behave in socially acceptable ways, to squash that beauty in him.

14 April 2010


So, it's been a pretty busy couple of weeks.

Lent and Easter are over now. I'm kind of glad to see the end of this Lent, because I fell down and broke the Lenten promises so very many times, and I'm glad to have a break from feeling like a loser. It was a tough Lent in that sense, for me, this year.

The kiddies just went back to school after Spring Break, and Curly was especially unhappy to go back. He was lucky enough to get two weeks this year, since he's in preschool, which had their Spring Break the week before Moe's and Larry's break. And since we had planned to go out of town for that break, he got them both. Lucky him. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth over breakfast. But, everyone's back where they belong....Capt America is back to flying the friendly skies, the kids are at school, and I'm at my computer desk. All's right with the world.

I have had occasion this week to really examine some sides of myself that I'm not so proud of. When I married Capt America, I instantly became of a mother of sorts. The worst sort, the evil stepmother (insert wicked cackle here). It's been a good ride, so far, almost 14 years later. Like any ride, there have been ups and downs. We had a major down recently, with my stepdaughter, as in the kind where she hasn't directly addressed me since January. She's not really talking to her dad either. I really hope and pray that changes. But for the most part, I'd have to say I've been blessed in the bonus kids department.

And just for the record, I really hate using a qualifier....I don't view them differently than the children I carried and gave birth to, why do I need to call them a different name? Kids? Stepkids? No difference to me. Truly. I get that they already have a mom, and it's not me. But I still maintain that I've been an integral part of their lives and participated, however indirectly, in their growing up experience. I have loved them the best way I knew how, and tried to be a positive influence. We met when I was 23 and they were 11 and 9. I have never intentionally tried to take their mom's place, or be anything to them other than a good friend. I'm afraid if I don't use the "step," they will think I'm trying to take over and be their mom, and if I do, I'm distancing myself from them. I've never gotten a straight answer out of either of them as to how they feel about it. I'm pretty sure I know how their mom feels about it, and about me. If I were to end up in the position, through one means or another, of a single mom, and had to share my children with another woman, I'd like to think I'd be grateful if she loved them and was good to them. Maybe I wouldn't though, you never really know how you'll handle something until you're right there in it.

In any case, suffice it to say that there is some tension between the parental figures in my story. Last week was a big occasion in the oldest one's life...a couple of big occasions actually. B received his commission in the US Army, making him a full-fledged officer, a Second Lieutenant. Very big stuff. AND, he got married. Ran off to Vegas to make things legal before his wife (still sounds kind of weird!) must be away for extended period of time. We knew that they were going to do this, and there is a big church wedding in the works, upon her triumphant return. And I thought I was ok with all of it.

As it turns out, I'm not. They had said all along, they only wanted it to be the two of them, no family, they wanted family to come to the big church deal. At the very last minute, they changed their minds. There was no possible way for any of us, whether just Capt America or the whole family, to get out to Vegas on 24 hours notice. They said, don't come, so we made other plans.

But his mom was able to get out there.

And I'm jealous.

Let me be clear, I don't want to be there instead of his mom, heaven knows she's his mother, of course she should be there....I just want to be there too. I wanted to watch them promise forever. Oh, I know, I'll get to see it in church (where it belongs, but I digress...again), but still. That jealous and insecure part of me has really been making a lot of noise over this. In my heart, I know that B's mom is wrong when she says that B and L don't like me very much but they put up with me because she raised polite and considerate kids, and for their dad's sake. In my head, though, there are times that doubt gets a toehold.

B and I have been close. We got off to a rough start, I'll grant, but after that, we have grown close. He calls and texts me, he says "I love you" to me, and he says it first as often as I say it first. He told me before he told Capt America, his dad, that he was getting married.

I'm pretty bummed out that I didn't get to go to his wedding. And frankly, I'm a little put out that he gave us 24 hours notice, and was upset and disappointed we couldn't make it. Especially since he knew we had been planning to come until he told us not to. But, it's over and done, and let's face it, I'm a grown up. I'll get past it. I am already halfway there....I love writing things down, it gets it out of my head and off my chest.

So....am I now a mother-in-law, or a step-mother-in-law? It's a matter of ceramics.

No, semantics. That was supposed to be a joke.

No pun intended, I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I have a feeling that no matter how I refer to myself in this context, it's going to get under someone's skin. But there is nothing that will keep me from their *real* wedding, in church, and watching them promise each other forever, all over again. And I'll be there in any capacity he wants me to be.

01 April 2010

Seth Godin

I stumbled upon his blog by clicking the link in someone else's blog (I LOVE how the blog world works like that!) and today's post is really, really good.

It's about rationality and irrationality. There is a definite negative connotation to the word "irrational" but Seth explains, very simply, why irrational isn't always bad.

It just really struck a chord with me today, so I'm passing it along.

I'm an irrational person. And I am ok with that :)

UPDATE: Well, I tried to insert a link but if I type out the URL, it doesn't show up as clickable, and if I insert the link using the "link" button, it looks clickable but "isn't valid" according to the pop-up box. So, maybe it's lame, but Seth's blog is on my blog list to the right of the screen. I KNOW that link works.

And now I must take the tutorial that shows me how to do that.