Tuesday, March 25, 2014


So my last post got some traffic. Lots of traffic. My most viewed post ever. By, like, a lot.

A lot, a lot.

Almost twice as many views as my previously highest viewed post.

That leads me to believe one (or a combination) of the following:

1- Some of you shared that post with a friend who has been struggling with their own child's.... stuff. Or someone shared this blog with you.

2- You've been around my child and after reading it the first time you had a flashback to a recent event and thought "Is that why that... Oh, yep. That's why that happened. It's on that list-y thing-y she posted. Glad I checked it.... again."

                 a.) She's a good friend and mom.  I'm happy to walk alongside her as she
                    figures this thing out with the help of professionals.

                 b.) She's using this made up diagnosis to justify her own bad parenting.

                 c.) She's a nutter.

3- You're going through the list yourself and thinking "Hmmmm. Is that why my kid does that thing? Maybe I should talk to his teacher/his doctor/a friend about this."

4- You've called CPS and need good hard data to record one of my many negligent abuses.

5- You ARE CPS and need good hard data to record one of my many negligent abuses.

So I feel I should address these theories I have about these possible reasons for the explosion. (That and I had Starbucks after 7:30 and I can't sleep.)

1- Hi! If you're new, nice to meet you! I'm new at this whole thingie and have no idea what I'm doing but I'm happy to share what I do (and ultimately what I don't) know about SPD. Especially our family's own special brand of SPD. I won't just post about that but it's a big part of my life right now. For the first time both us parents are on the same page and it's an exciting time for us; to finally understand our daughter how she's wired and how to help her navigate life.... together. As a team.

If you're not new, thanks for holding in there.... and visiting. A lot. I've gotten lots of love from you and am thankful for all the warm fuzzies. That being said, I cannot share all the comments (or any of the comments from the previous post) on the blog because her name was used in them. Right now I'm not publishing her name on this open blog so that 1) I can leave this blog open for Moms who many not know me personally. 2) She can know if a prospective school or employer Googles her name (if they still do that in the future) it will not link back to this dorky blog her mom did. If you post a comment I will see it, be thankful for you and your friendship... but not publish it if it has her name.  (I'm thinking I need to be like one of those cool blogger Mamas that gives her kid a nickname. I'll put that on the list of things I need to do. Yep, number 2,731.)

2- Yep, that's why she melted down at that playdate. It was just too much stuff for her to handle. Hopefully we'll have a better time next time. Whatever happened, we're working on it. Trust me.

                       a.) I love you more than you know. I keep your posts and comments
                            in a little pocket of my heart to be taken out and looked over again
                            and again. It keeps me sane to know that I have friends who don't
                            think I am insane.

                      b.) I WISH my bad parenting caused this, because all I would need is a
                           visit from Super Nanny and my life would be "normal". But it's not.
                           It's real and if you want  to see the therapy in action and the results
                           we get when we have PT (or don't have PT) you're welcome to
                           come over any time.... because we're working on it ALL. THE.
                           TIME. Seriously, it took her 3 weeks to get her feet into a bin full
                           of lentils without reacting like a contestant on Fear Factor. Tell me
                           how my parenting could have caused that.

                        c.) I wish you all the best in life. Goodbye.

3- I am always ready to talk. (Really. Have you met me?) Always. If you have that nagging feeling in your gut that  this is something your child is dealing with and you don't know what to do next let me know. We'll get Starbucks and stay up waaaay to late talking about it. I'll help you in any way I can, I promise.

4- If you want the good stuff come over riiiiight before nap time. When she's good and stimmed out from a busy morning and is too tired to know what her body needs next. Yeah. That's the good stuff.

5- Ilovemychild. I'magoodmother. Pleasedon'ttakeheraway.

All that being said, I'm kinda having a bit of anxiety that I put this out there.

I'd watch the numbers go up every time I checked the computer and I'd think about what I wrote and I'd be all..

I mean, my most viewed post currently is how wacked out I think my child is. Great parenting, Jess. Good job.

I had told someone that knew early on about her SPD about my post and she said "I didn't think you wanted people to know." Which was true. I had specifically told her not to tell specific people anything about any of this. I wanted to keep this kinda close to my chest. Sharing it with those I thought needed to know and that's all.

Sunday School Teacher- Yeah, she should know.
Friends that we have playdates with- Yeah, them too.
That judgy family member who will be sure to send me countless emails about how I'm wrong.- Nope.
That one friend of a friend that I met at that one baby shower 4 years ago.... Nah, she doesn't need to know.

But why? Why did I want to keep that to myself?

The truth is I was embarrassed. For goodness sakes we only have one and we broke it, twice.

I was angry. He's only giving us one. (He's made that clear as day.) We couldn't have a "good" one? We had to have a "hard" one? Really?

I didn't want other people's judgement on me. Everyone is clearly better at this than I, or at least they're gonna think it.

I didn't want other people's judgement on her. You know, the weird girl. That has the thing. The thing where she's unstable and hard to be around. Let's not invite her over because she's just too much. Why don't you invite that sweet little girl that sits quietly when she's supposed to with the headband on her head where it's supposed to be.... not across her forehead.

But ultimately I didn't want it to be her identity. I didn't want people to see right past all the good stuff and just see the rough patches. Because there's a lot of good stuff and I don't want anyone to miss it while we're all waiting for her to have a sensory fueled meltdown:

She's hysterically funny, deeply compassionate, insanely smart. She's fearless and daring.

She's convinced it's her job to exercise our 12+ year old cat by sitting 3 feet away from her and gesturing for the cat to sit next to her, only to get up and move another 3 feet away so the cat "can live a longer and more healthy life".

She's eager to learn every day (maybe not for the length of time I hope for but at least once every day).

She vacuums, feeds the kitties, makes her bed, and sets the table for dinner as a matter of course, because it's how she helps the family.

She's always singing or humming something around the house, filling it with her own special music.

She wakes up chattering away, narrating her life as she does her morning chores. Usually reminding herself to be quiet mid-sentence because "someone might be sleeping".

She constantly prompts herself (and others) using the little songs from "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood".

She loves people that will talk to her like a person, usually over sharing one of our many hospital stays or doctor visits... only to catch herself and say something to the effect of "How are YOU doing today?"

But most importantly she loves Jesus and prays more than any adult I know, soaking up whatever scripture we read to her like a sponge. (Seriously, I'll be looking back in the car at her with her head down and hands folded and ask her "Wat'cha doin'?" and she'll say "Talking to God. Hold on, Mom. I gotta finish my conversation.")


So do I regret "over sharing"? No.

I regret if I've painted her in a way that may lead someone to believe she is a uncontrollable brat that has regular tantrums for not getting what she wants when she wants it. (Both in writing and in person. I know I just caught myself doing it again tonight when I jokingly apologized to someone that had been in one of our many failed attempts at finding a "fit" if my daughter had beat up their child. Seriously, why do that? If I make such an effort to never speak that way about my husband in public then why do I not extend the same courtesy to my child? If you know me in real life you are free to slap me if I ever do that within your hearing again.)

I regret not standing up for her sooner and allowing what I think people think of her affect how I parent.

I regret not snuggling her more and being her safe place in the past when she just couldn't be herself at that moment.

I regret not pushing for the help I knew she needed from deep in my gut sooner.

I regret.... gosh I could go on forever!

We all could.

But over sharing? No, I think I shared just enough. And I'll let that be that for a while.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Our lives are sensational!

No, really. Sensational. And have been for the last 2 1/2 years.

I knew something was up. My mommy senses were tingling. We spent so much time NOT doing things. We tried so many things that just didn't "fit" our daughter.

Our first Epic failure was reading time at the Library. She was a good book reader at home so why not at the Library? A little book, a little craft, a few friends. This seemed right up her alley! Nope. After ripping apart the felt board to lick all the pieces, standing directly in front of the book the entire time so she could see, and throwing the craft across the room because the black marker was out of ink (as most kid accessible markers are) we left. In tears. I was waiting for CPS to come to my door those following days.

I've pulled my daughter out of gymnastics, kindersports, mommy and me gym and swim classes. We had a season where playgrounds were off limits because she just couldn't keep her hands to herself.

She's been kicked out of nurseryS. After I got our second "she's a bit aggressive for the room" from our second MOPS group at our second church I vowed never to go back to MOPS again. (I'm now on steering of my own church's MOPS group so that tells you how that worked out.)

So nothing fit. But why? She's smart, funny, kind and considerate little girl. Until she's not.

Not only did nothing fit activity-wise but nothing fit clothes-wise either. Tags were too much. The seams of the socks had to be just right. Beautiful dresses sent from out of town relatives were too itchy and scratchy. We lived in knit fabrics. Long tunic tops and stretchy pants.... jeans only if they had elastic waist.

Developmentally she was hitting every milestone on time and even several of them ahead of time. She loved being read to, she could strike up a conversation with anyone about anything, her basic math skills were growing as expected and she could spit facts about octopi and volcanoes and sharks and trains right back to you at 100 miles per hour.

We chalked it up to "She's just so smart. An only child. We treat her like an adult, she acts like an adult so why should we expect her to be a kid around kids?!" I mean, we disciplined her more than anyone else we knew disciplined their child. (For goodness sakes at her 3rd birthday party she spent most of the party in time out!) We read "Shepherding a Child's Heart", "Bringing up Girls" AND "Bringing up Boys" and spent time in several parenting seminars including the Nurtured Heart approach. We did everything we could to "beat it out of her" (CPS- that's a joke. Ha-ha..... get it? Pleasedon'ttakemychildaway!) and "hug it out of her".

But honestly, we had other medical issues to worry about. She had a kidney that was non-functional, ureters that were not placed where they needed to be and her bladder needed to be re-constructed. That was the year she was 4. The whole year it seems.

Until the beginning of fall. When it was apparent she wasn't going to grow out of toe walking. So we called her pediatrician who referred us to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who referred us to physical therapy (to stretch her calf muscles because they were too tight).

Within 5 minutes her PT was telling me things about my child that I had never shared with her or anyone else. Random little silly things. Things that she would only know if there was a diagnosis for my child and other children like her. Sensory Processing Disorder*.

So she's not a bad kid, not disobedient, not "not listening", not aggressive, not mean, not a jerk, not stupid, not rough, not a picky eater, not destructive, not clumsy, not forgetful, not a drama queen. She has SPD. Her brain can't process the input that her body is receiving. Which is frustrating and painful for her.... and us.

The good news is that I was right. The bad news is that I was right.

This means our life is different. We won't be able to attend every birthday party let alone let her have one of her own right now. We can't do gymnastics right now. Or dance. Or Awana.... right now. Playdates are... progressing, but definitely not our strong suit. But we do it, and are thankful for those friends that allow our stuff into their homes and have learned to walk away from those that can't accept our life where it is now.

She's happy. We have fun as a family, being close and doing fun things. We're thankful that her SPD allows her full night sleeps, to go out in public with us, and to eat balanced meals. She has a grandmother who adores her and pretty much thinks she's perfect. Our daughter gets to spend one night a weekend at her house and I get to have a drink a break. We are blessed, please don't think I don't see that.

Right now I ask for grace. Not just for us, for any child that looks completely normal from the outside but inside has their own bundle to deal with. Give their Mommies and Daddies eye contact and a smile. Reach out to them. Let them know it's OK. Because the meltdown you see out in the world may be the tail end of the biggest success of the week.

For the too big child in the grocery cart. Because the cart may be the only safe space in the expanse and  noise and business of Wegman's

For the child that hugged yours a little too hard. Because they LIKE being hugged that hard so why wouldn't yours?

For the child complaining of sore feet when they've sat on their bum all day long. Because pain for them registers differently than pain for you.

For the child not listening to the teacher. Because they can smell the ammonia cleaner in the air, the sound of the other kids talking, the flicker of fluorescent lights, the noise from the hall as parents drop their kids off, the scrape of the tag on the back of their neck, someone's thick flowery perfume, the cars driving by the window sending a strobe-like glare across the room, the clock ticking and then the teacher being too loud  and too close in her personal space.

For the child that just can't.

*Right now we're in the process of getting her evaluated. This is a looooong process and quite a waiting list. Once it's done and diagnosed a whole world of services and groups and opportunities will open up.We'll get there, I know. In the meantime we have PT services as long as we want them. And boy, I want them.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Assume the Crash Position!

"So how do you feel about your daughter turning five next week?"

A simple question over brunch. One I wasn't quite ready to answer. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it. Five has come out of nowhere.

The last four birthdays I savored and treasured every "last ____ as a ___ year old". I wept over clothes grown out of. I stored some favorite forgotten toys in a bin under my side of the bed. I made handprints, footprints and photographed her sweet smile.

This year I have assumed the crash position. Truly I hadn't even realized her birthday was coming up until 10 days before her birthday. Ten. Days.

I had a list of things needin' doin' and not much time left to do them in. Things to be made. Things to be bought. An overnight away to book. Family dinners to schedule celebrating her birthday.... and then finally maybe some friend time, maybe?

There's been no time to sit and stare and watch her change from four to five. My camera(s) have a fine layer of dust on them as my iPod is always in my pocket and always ready to take grainy, second-rate shots. Any handprints in recent memory have been washed off walls.

No savoring. No treasuring.

Until today.

For the first time in over three years my little one fell asleep in my arms. To say this is a small miracle is no exaggeration.

This child moves. At all times. In all directions. Always.

When she sleeps, she sleeps hard. On her own. Without another living thing distracting her from dreams.

So when the weepy child came into our bedroom as I was having some quiet time I put my stuff away, invited her to lay on the bed, and snuggled under the down comforter. The tears subsided, the gasps for air gave way to steady breaths. Slowly I watched as she gave in to the exhaustion painted all over her face. In a matter of minutes the thumb slipped from her lips and she was done.

I, the big spoon, was able to just watch her, the little spoon, exist. To appreciate the form of the little person who was starting to drool on my arm.

So much of her is still baby: the soft curve of her cheek, the long eyelashes fluttering with dreams, her lips searching for her lost thumb, the back of her hands dotted with toddler knuckle dimples...

Yet, I can see the young girl she is edging into in those very same features. Because the baby years are well and over.

Baby-dom was beautiful. It wasn't everything I dreamed of, for sure, but it had it's own rhythm that I loved with every beat of her heart. I fell into every moment of it, let it swallow me whole, nearly drowning with her need for me.

Now I'm on the other side and truly I feel I can breathe again.

Yes, she still needs me. I'm not quite retired, yet. I know. But something about the urgency of a nursing, diapered infant is completely different from a child needing to snuggle with her Mama.

And in this moment I know I'm OK with it. That as much as I close the door to that beautiful soft stage of life that faintly smells sweetly of breast milk and baby poo, another beautiful stage is next.


I'm thinking sweaty hair and too much handsoap?