Category Archives: aha moment

Getting To Know You

Dylan sometimes (okay, often) says to me, “Mommy, you need to have more patience in the bathroom.” He’s right. The bathroom is the scene of some of my worst parenting moments (that is, besides the car). Simply put, the bathroom is my tipping point. They either take too long, talk too loud, touch everything, or all of the above, and, frankly, it’s excruciating.

Recently, in the middle of a friendly debate with him over my “alleged” swimming skills, I said, “I do too know how to dive!” His response was swift and startlingly clever. “Mommy, you don’t even like to get your hair wet.” He was right again. For the record, I do know how to dive, although I can’t remember the last time I did.

He’s almost eight, and he knows me.

One night not too long ago in the bathroom, Riley said to me, “Mommy, did you have coffee today?”

“Yes,” I said confused because it was nighttime and I drink coffee in the morning. “Why?”

“Because you’re grumpy, and you always tell us you get grumpy when you can’t have coffee.”

I was grumpy that night in the bathroom, but in my defense: (1) it was way past bedtime, (2) tooth brushing wasn’t going very well, (3) we were in the bathroom, and (4) I had just discovered that the puppy pooped on the floor in my bedroom.

Still, he was right.  He’s only five, but he knows me, too.

Although the coffee remark stopped me in my tracks, it wasn’t because it made me feel guilty (okay, maybe a little bit). Rather, it was because it brought on a terrifying vision of a teenaged version of Riley rolling his eyes at me and saying, “Mom, are you on your period or something?” It’s true that I almost always cry 48-72 hours before I get it, so it’s quite possible that he and his brother will eventually know the ins and outs of my menstrual cycle as well as they know that I’m irritable when I haven’t had coffee and/or it’s after 7pm and/or I’m in a bathroom with either one of them.

They already know me quite a bit. They know I like owls and yellow roses and “So You Think You Can Dance.” They know I like to run and write stories about being a mommy. They know I pour a glass of wine when it’s five o’clock or time for math homework (whichever comes first). They know I don’t like loud voices or music in the car and it hurts my ears when the car windows are open. They know I don’t like to get my hair wet in the pool, idle in public bathrooms, or buy toy-junk at the grocery store. They know I can’t stand puzzles or Lego kits with missing pieces. They know I absolutely hate to be late. They probably know I’m particular (i.e. obsessive compulsive) about loading the dishwasher, I can’t stand it if someone pulls on my shirt or sweater, and no matter how hard I try, I have zero interest in video games. They most likely know when I’m aggravated at their Daddy, when I’ve had one glass of wine too many, and when I feel fat. Perhaps they know when I’m sad. They most certainly know when I’m proud or happy, but also when I’m disappointed, anxious, or scared.

They’re getting to know all of me. Not just the mommy me but the human me. They’re soaking in my quirks and imperfections as we grow this extraordinary and complicated relationship together, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it, but I guess it’s only fair, because, oh boy, I know them, too.

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Filed under aha moment, babies, bathroom, boys, motherhood, parenting

Now and When

When Dylan was a toddler, he had a hard time saying his Rs, especially at the end of words. As a result, “car” sounded like “cah,” “soccer” sounded like “soccah,” etc. It was kind of adorable and we joked that he had a “Bahstan” accent just like his Grandpa Barry.

Now, we know it wasn’t just adorable. It was a speech articulation issue most likely due to sensory processing disorder (SPD).  When he was diagnosed at age five, it was difficult to imagine fixing everything that was wrong.  I was relieved to know what we were dealing with and confident in the care we received, but there were days when I was so daunted by what needed to be accomplished or weary from endless appointments or disappointed by his regressions or worried about the financial cost of it all or heartbroken by everything he had to endure (or all of the above) that I wanted to quit. I wanted to just believe he’d grow out of it. All of it. I wanted to leave him alone and be left alone.

Six months into twice weekly occupational therapy sessions, for which I had to pull him from school in the middle of the day because there was a waiting list for the coveted afterschool appointments, we were instructed to begin speech therapy, which would add more appointments to our already hectic therapy schedule. When I finally contacted the speech pathologist and explained the language “tics” that concerned us but that we also thought were endearing, her response was: “Well it might be cute now at five, but it won’t be when he’s ten.”

It might be cute NOW, but it won’t be WHEN…

Her words were difficult to hear. They caused an implosion of blame and guilt and anger and responsibility and truth from deep within my core.

Thank God she said them.

In that moment, I grasped with great clarity that I had to get real about Dylan’s challenges – no matter how demanding they were – because eating macaroni & cheese at every meal, refusing to wear long sleeves or long pants, saying “wacecah” (racecar), and fearing bounce houses, flushing toilets, swings, going upside down, being alone, and putting a shirt over his head (to name a few) – would be down-right dysfunctional when he was ten. Or (gulp) fifteen. Or (holy crap) twenty. My actions would shape his future, and it was my responsibility to do everything possible to give him the best shot at being as perfectly imperfect as everyone else.

I wasn’t in denial about what was wrong with him on our long and winding journey with SPD. After all, it was me who searched and probed until I found answers, doctors, and therapists who saw what I saw and felt what I felt. It was me who built the support system we needed (and shed everyone who stood in our way). It was me who managed his care, took him to each and every appointment, and incorporated his behavior modifications into our daily lives.

But I wasn’t perfect.

It took me over two years of hoping for the best before I finally trusted my gut and sought out the diagnosis I that knew in my heart was there. It took a solid week of crying and watching “Bridget Jones’s Diary” on a loop before I made calls to get his therapies started. Down the line, I procrastinated calling the speech therapist (and later the food therapist) that spewed the harsh words I now hold so dear. I waited and cried and avoided because I wanted so badly for my son to be normal. I didn’t want him to be different from the other kids, and I didn’t want to fully admit that it was happening, but he was different and it was happening.

It’s been two and a half years since the diagnosis, and even though his transformation has been astonishing, he has lingering visual processing issues, which have made learning to read and, more importantly, enjoying to read a challenge. I worry about reading comprehension, standardized tests, and schoolwork that has to be done solely on the computer, I’m concerned about his tendency to get overstimulated or zone out, and I still agonize about his limited diet, which more than anything else makes me think, It might be cute NOW, but it won’t be WHEN….

SPD or not, we all worry about Nows and Whens. Will the NOW strong-willed and demanding little girl become a skilled decision maker WHEN she’s an adult? Will the NOW timid little boy who puts other children’s needs ahead his own become a pushover WHEN he’s an adult? Will the child who NOW fears the way things smell, feel, taste, sound, and look be capable of living a happy, healthy life WHEN he’s an adult?

During one of many conversations with Dylan’s occupational therapist about his fears, especially of food, she asked me, “What do you want?”

I responded, “I want him to eat an entire pot roast.”

She laughed and asked, “What do want Now?”

I said, “I want him to sit in a chair at the dinner table for five minutes without having a tantrum.”

She said, “Okay, let’s focus on that, and we’ll tackle the pot roast later.”

It’s okay to be conscious of the Nows and Whens – as parents, we have an incredible responsibility to bare – but it’s important to not get so wrapped up in fearing When that we fail Now.

Eventually, Dylan did sit at the dinner table.  He’s yet to eat a pot roast, but Now his Rs sound flipping amazing, and you should see him on the ice in full hockey gear trying his heartest to get better, faster and stronger. His grades at school are excellent and he’s well-liked by his peers and did I mention that he was voted “Class Clown” in Kindergarten and that he wouldn’t let me walk him into school on the first day of first grade because he wanted to do it all by himself and I’m about to blow your mind because a few weeks ago he went to his first-ever sleepover and had the BEST NIGHT EVER.  (A sleepover!)

Every day I spend as a parent is a humbling lesson in accepting (and occasionally delighting in) the Now and having the courage to believe the When will turn out okay, which brings to mind something Riley often says to me: “Don’t worry, Mommy. It’s okay.” Unless a Sharpie or a shovel is involved, it usually is.

What’s your Now and When?

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Filed under aha moment, parenting, sensory processing disorder