Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sometimes I'm Sisyphus

Inside of the observation tower at Antietam, built in 1896, 
overlooking the Civil War battlefield.

I'm having one of those times where it seems like I'm constantly doing the same things, over and over again, with little or no perceptible progress or benefit.  (Another word for this might be despair, in its worst form.)  This is far from the first time I've thought of the Greek myth of Sisyphus, condemned to push a large boulder up a mountain, for all eternity.  It's a false analogy, though, and one I have to work consciously to reject.  My life isn't a myth, and my struggles aren't hopeless.  Even when life seems repetitively painful, it's not without benefit or grace.  So, I'm choosing to move on, and even when it seems like I'm not making progress, I rely on God who sees everything from the beginning to the end, and know that nothing I've done relying on Him is in vain, and even my failures and struggles have already been redeemed for good in the long run.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Balancing Act

Safety Guy with his buddy B.C., a year ago.

I'm grateful that I haven't taken much flak about our son Safety Guy taking anti-anxiety medication.  He's taken a couple different medications over the years, since he was about 8.  Maybe it's because his anxiety was obvious to everyone around him from a young age that we didn't get much disagreement or judgment.  The people who knew him apparently realized that the medication was a necessary help for him.  Still, it was not an easy decision for us to make as parents, and we revisit the meds/no meds/which meds question regularly with his counselor and his pediatrician.  Today was the semi-annual conversation with his pediatrician.

I have to say I LOVE his pediatrician.  Dr. L. GETS Safety guy, has compassion for him, and treats him as a reasoning young adult, as a participant in his own health care decisions.  Even better, he just plain likes SG, and SG is comfortable with him.  Thank God for physicians like Dr. L!

The upshot of our appointment today was the decision to make no changes at this time.  We hashed over the difficulties of the past winter, the mood swings, the bullying, the anger issues, the anxiety, and the side effects of the med SG takes, and we decided that we would stay at the same dosage with the same med, and continue to address some of the issues through counseling.  

But the good doctor also gave us a little extra ammunition to use with the school:  he suggested writing a letter to them as his physician to say that Safety Guy requires breaks when he's getting upset/angry, without penalty - that he should be allowed to leave a classroom and to go to a safe place (like the counselor's office) to calm down and regroup.  That's actually part of SG's IEP, but he rarely takes advantage of it.  It turns out that a couple times in the past he's asked to leave and been denied by the teacher (as if he's making up his need for space and dodging work, instead of trying to get out of a situation where he's afraid he'll lose his temper).  And, he doesn't want to make a scene or draw attention to himself.  So, hopefully, when I take the letter to the school psychologist, she can help Safety Guy implement this strategy more consistently.  

SG has been doing better the past couple weeks, but he's been so up and down for the past year that I'm not expecting this to last.  I'm always waiting for the relapse.  I'd like to give his current calmer frame of mind a chance to go on for a while, and I'll take all the help I can get.  And, this letter will follow him to his new school in the fall, so that safety net can be put in place from the first day.

And if we try all these good things, and he still needs his meds revisited, we'll do that too.  We go back in three months.  It's a balancing act.  Sometimes we get it right and walk over the abyss; sometimes we don't and we fall.  Thank goodness for the people who understand and show compassion to us, and help us get up and try again.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Soapbox and a Cleaning Spree

The kids and I, early summer, 2003.  
Yes, Safety Guy was one honking big 4 1/2 year old. . .

I realized this week that I spend a lot of time hiding what I really feel or think when I'm not close to the people I'm around.  It's easy to just get along, be non-confrontational, and do the minimum to avoid offending people.  It's also a reflection of my fear and insecurity.  But, that's not going to help my kids (or myself) in the long run.  Some things are worth standing up for.  

In my case, I realized it's been easy to be silent about my son's autism (Asperger Syndrome specifically) on my personal Facebook page.  Now, come on, if my friends can't handle my opinion about this, who can? And they certainly know about my son's autism. After posting this to my blog FB page, but not to my personal page, I realized after a day or so that I was hiding again, trying not to rock anyone's boat, afraid of taking flak for sharing my opinion.  But THIS needs to be said, and THIS BOAT needs to be rocked a bit.  It's not earth-shattering on a global scale, but it's important in my world, and my son's world, so here it is:

I don't soapbox much, but this post might get me some flak: You cannot separate autism from the individual who has been born with it. Making their autism seem like a disease to be cured, or a defect to be rooted out, or a flaw that can never be remedied, cuts to the heart of who they ARE. They ARE autistic. They HAVE autism, but they can't just get rid of it or give it away or kill it. It's a fundamental part of them. They can live with it, use it, adapt to it, minimize certain effects of it, deal with it, wrestle with it, struggle and fight and rise through it, but it's not going to just go away or be healed and disappear from their lives. So I make a plea: please don't demonize autism, because then you cut down my child and make him seem like less than he really already is - marvelous, individual, made in the image of the Lord just as much as any other human. Help him grow, help him learn, help him adapt, help him fly. But for goodness' sake, don't clip his wings or cut him down or tell him he's less than any other person because of his autism.

In other news, I'm continuing to winnow our belongings and generally clean the house.  Today Safety Guy and I found his floor and his closet.  (Angels should be singing hallelujahs right about here).  NOW I feel like I can have a realtor come in and look at the house.  And he feels good about his room again.  He was willing to get rid of a lot of old stuff, and very cooperative about the whole cleaning process.  He even swears he wants to keep his room clean now, and wherever we move.  Small steps!

I also realized that the Princess doesn't know how to use the dryer.  Hmmmm, time for her to start doing some of her own laundry. . . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Keep, Donate, Toss

A sign of spring:  Molly following the sunbeam across the living room floor.

I'm spring cleaning - now I'm just waiting for the spring weather, which is woefully delayed here in CNY.  

Right now my life seems to be a long round of the game, "Keep, Donate, or Toss."  But you know what?  I'm actually enjoying thinning our belongings.  It's like spring cleaning on steroids, this countdown to a fresh start in a new place.  Even with all the uncertainty (I still haven't heard back about the job I interviewed for two weeks ago), the move WILL happen; it's just a matter of when and where.  And that's okay with me, most of the time.  (There are the other times where I'm awake at night worrying about it, and I have to pray and ask the Lord to handle the burden for me.)

The kids are excited and anxious about moving, and the Princess is upset about leaving her friends behind.  I think the move will be hardest on her.  Safety Guy is ready to be DONE with this school (he was ready a year ago), and has been surprisingly agreeable to winnowing his belongings and getting rid of stuff.  He even agreed to let me pack stuff in his "man cave," provided I didn't trash or donate anything without his approval.  He wants to help me look for rentals, and to go with me to look at any possible places.  If it helps him feel a bit more in control of this change, he can help and look.

I think we'll still have more STUFF than we really need, but we'll have a heck of a lot less STUFF than we did during our last move 5 years ago.  Simplify has become a new watchword for me. 

Of course, these things are relative - simple for me would be a neat freak's nightmare.  I'm not a Zen master, or a minimalist.  Minimalism is nice to look at, but impossible for me to live in (or keep minimal).  Clutter happens.  This is just a larger decluttering job than the kitchen counter - it's a whole house.  And we're making good progress.

I'm looking at rentals (small single family homes and townhouses), and I'm hopeful that the right place will turn up in the next couple months.  I'd appreciate prayer for that decision in our lives, since wherever we move, we're likely to stay for a couple years, and possibly longer.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Weather Whiplash

Our back deck, Thursday afternoon, March 13, 2014.

And the roller coaster continues:  Tuesday this week it was fifty degrees, and I enjoyed being out without a heavy coat, just in a light sweater.  24 hours later, it was snowing an inch an hour, that next day we had single-digit wind chills, and yesterday we were back up to almost fifty again.  Whee, but I think I'm really, REALLY ready to be done with winter.  

The picnic table - that's a large, three-wick candle sitting on the corner.

I've been keeping busy, doing various things in my ongoing quest to get the house ready to show/sell.  Spelunking in the basement is a big part of that.  I've donated some stuffed, trashed some stuff, reorganized, reboxed, and relabeled lots of stuff, and we're making good progress.  Safety Guy has started winnowing out his collection of VHS tapes, and cleaning out an old dresser filled with heaven only knows how many years of random toys, doodads, knick-knacks, papers, and stuff.  

I had a job interview last week, but I haven't heard back if I got the job or not.  I'll call them Monday (they were supposed to call me this past week but didn't), and hope for the best.  Subbing has been sparse, due to kid dental appointments, snow days/delays, and whatnot.  Hopefully I can land a few days next week.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Make It All Better

I wish I could make the whole moving process easier on my kids, especially on the Princess.  She's put a brave face on it, and tried to be helpful and enthusiastic about moving, but inside, she's having a very hard time.  

I can't blame her - this is her home.  She has a handful of really good friends.  She doesn't really want to leave them.  I feel very badly for her, and I wish I could make it easier for her.  I'm trying, really I am, but there are some hard things we just have to go through, and I can't change this one.  All I can do is listen to her, keep what I can of her "old" life (her stable, and the friends she sees there), and help her work through all the hassle and frustration and anxiety and anger that moving has stirred up in her.

She's feeling a bit overwhelmed - school (both academics and music, since she's in concert band, chorus, jazz band, and all-county band), moving (new home in the summer/new school in the fall), riding (lessons will be ramping up for summer horse shows, and she's in 4H, which is just winding down from their winter activities - "Horse Bowl" competition, and her public presentation, which was this past weekend).  She wanted to do AYSO soccer again this spring, but we're just running out of time and money to go around (time being the much bigger factor than money).  Add in counseling and braces, and she's feeling very put-upon.

Then there's the elephant in the room, the separation between her father and I.  As amicable as we've tried to keep it, it's still painful all around.  So much for her to handle at such a young age.  No wonder she's having difficulty coping.  

I wish she were little again, and a snuggle and a hug could make it all better. . . .