Monday, August 18, 2014

Paused

Things continue to change in my world, and I continue to try and keep up. 

The last three weeks have been the most trying and painful in recent memory.  I have cried nearly daily, and if I don't stay busy and distracted, the tears creep back in before I can stop them.

I've managed to hold on to a few hours at work.  I'm making a third of my old salary and I've lost every last benefit, but it's something.  Now my family adapts yet again as we change our schedule and tag team child care in the early afternoon.  I wish so much that we had some support nearby, some form of community to link arms with, but we don't. Shyness mixed with reticence mixed with a need for solitude to recharge have all lead us here. I'm mourning the absence of what we don't have and trying to see a way to establish it. So far, I've come up empty.

I've applied for every form of aid I can think of, trying to offset C's medical expenses, looking into any way to become a paid caregiver for him.  What I'm finding is a broken system, where children, and especially Autistic children, are not only overlooked, but never even considered.  I keep coming back to disbelief that our family is the only one in this boat.  We can't be the only ones who were failed by the public school system, who need to homeschool to keep their child safe and unbroken, and who need some acknowledgement that this work we do is worth something.  And I mean that kind of something that is green and pays the bills, not just the "bless your heart" comments I get as I'm told we don't qualify for yet another program.

I've fought so hard to stay out of this place.  I read articles every single day of C's life that told me how disadvantaged we were as a family with a chronically ill child, and then as a family of an Autistic child.  I read those and I prayed my thanks that we were not that family, that I had a good job and heath benefits and could teach my child and keep him safe. I had it all, until I didn't. 

I'm down now, but I won't stay here.  I'll floundering now, but I'm reaching for new things.  I'll find a job I can do in these new circumstances, and one day I'll be able to wake up without this knot in my stomach.  I'll get there, I know, I just wish I knew when.


In a Sea of Uncertainty

It's been a tough couple of weeks.  I don't talk about my job much here because, well, duh... but it's a really great place to work.  I'm good at what I do, and our little group is a great thing to be part of.

And now I'm leaving, and I'm just so sad.

It would be so much easier if I hated my job.  Nearly everyone I know would dance right out of their place of employment without a second thought except for maybe, "Finally!".  Not me, though.  I love that place.  It's somewhere that I can go to do a job I enjoy, and be well compensated for it.  It's a small oasis of quiet (something I need desperately every day) in a life that is overflowing with noise and chatter.  It's my only social outlet, and even though I don't hang out with work people after hours, it's wonderful for me to have adults to talk to for a few hours a day.

I'm leaving to stay home with Chico, which is great.  It's also another guilt inducer right now.  I feel like a jerk for crying over this job when I'm leaving for such a good reason.  I know it's the right thing to do, and C will benefit from it. I just can't help feeling the loss of a good thing, even if it's for the best thing.

I'm sure(ish) that this will turn out just fine.  I hope that sometime soon I'll look back at this and see how it was the thing that needed to happen to make room for something even better.  Now though, I'm just lost and floundering and wondering what comes next for me.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Eleven

Dear Chico,

Today is your 11th birthday.  You’re officially into your second decade of bringing outrageous joy* into our family.  In a little while you’ll be awake for the day. Every morning when you wake up, you pad out of your room in bare feet, with your old red blanket “Buster” over your shoulder.  He getting more and more threadbare, but you still love having carrying him wherever you go.  That I said “him” instead of “it” shows how much a part of our family culture he’s become. You’ll take your morning medicine, and sip a cup of warm milk.  Those things haven’t changed.  What has is that you take care of the rest of your morning routine on your own.  I still set out clothes, but the rest is all you.  Well… except for the hair combing part.  You’ve got a ton (like me), and it’s quite unruly (like mine), so you still prefer for me to fix it in the morning.

I’m sure that after you get going for the day, you’ll have your notebook on the table and pen in hand before too long. You’ve discovered the Uncle Grandpa cartoon, and so you’ve spent the last couple of months drawing the characters and their environment. You’ve recently mastered the “freeze frame” command on our television; all the better to capture your favorite scenes on the screen so you can draw them yourself.

In terms of activities, drawing is still on the top of your list, but you’ve really enjoyed basketball and badminton this spring, too.  You’re quite proud of your ability to run and dribble at the same time, since last summer dribbling on its own was still a challenge.  I bought some decent badminton racquets to replace our dollar store specials, and I was surprised to see how quickly your skills took off.  You’re enjoying the outdoors after a long winter cooped up, and learning to cope with the bother of buzzing insects (earplugs are helping this along).  Most afternoons find us outside, cars parked in the street, and the driveway converted into our own private half court.

You’re still a movie buff, and you never turn down an invitation to the MegaPlex.  You had your first Dbox experience with The Lego Movie, and you loved it.  You’ve been asking for a repeat ever since, so I’m hoping that a good action-type movie will come out soon.

You’ve bloomed so much as a person this year.   You’ve shown yourself to be a kind and helpful young man.  Whenever we ask for your assistance, whether by putting things away, running the vacuum, or whatever little task needs doing, you are always genuinely happy to help.  You’re not one to scrape by or take the easy way to rush through a job. You take pride in doing a job well, and I’m very proud of you for that.

The best thing that’s happened this year has been with your communication.  The gates have opened a bit more, and I feel like we’re seeing some of your personality that we haven’t before. You share more of your own insights; words that we were not sure we’d ever get to hear.  You’ve begun to experiment with joking and making funny comments, and the give and take in conversation with you has developed more and more.  You’ve even begun a bit of sassing back, not that I encourage such things (of wait, yeah I do), but exciting nonetheless.  I may get after you for bad attitude once in a while, but I really hope you only speak up for yourself more and more as you get older.  It took me decades to be able to do that, and I hope you’ll get there quicker than I did.

Ten has been a great year, Chico.  I can’t wait to see what eleven brings.

Love,

Mom

*That came of  nowhere but as I think about it, that’s a perfect description of how you live.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

It's Good Friday, and we have not done one single Holy week or Resurrection study. Back in March, I'd dutifully Pinned and planned a few fun and meaningful activities, and chosen appropriate verses of  Scripture for reading and copy work. I then failed to purchase supplies and print things out in a timely manner. So here we are, and the most Easter-y thing we've done this week is watch an Angry Birds video wherein the pigs dress up in ears and whiskers for their egg-stealing foray.

We took a de facto Spring Break this week, even though I'd planned to work through until our trip next month.  Fence repairs took precedence over our study of Thomas Jefferson, and we squeaked by with a bare bones 3R's study this week.  Our daily math fact drills are showing their effectiveness, and Chico's Xtra Math scores are consistently climbing, hallelujah! Right now I'm debating the merits of one more meager study day vs. bagging the week and just starting over on Monday.

In lieu of an egg hunt, I have a treasure hunt all planned out for C.  The clues are all written up, and I'm giddy with the thought that he'll be able to read them on his own.  C's not a huge candy fiend, but I've ordered a toy and video that he's been after, and I'm sure he'd be glad to accept a pack of Twizzlers and a couple Ring Pops. Here's hoping that Amazon and FedEx will cooperate, since the bulk of his basket stash is still in their hands.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday Morning Ponderings

Exactly when does enough turn into Enough?  Are other people more adept at drawing their lines in the sand, or do they struggle as much as I do?  Am I understanding and grace-extending, or simply wishy washy and unable to meet a problem where it lives?  I don't want to run from confrontation, but neither do I wish to be someone who lacks softness and compassion. 

Is working with family, either as employee or employer, ever a good idea?  Today, I'm thinking no.  What should be a clear cut business based decision becomes ever so much murkier when there are familial concerns involved.

There have been times in my life when I've been forced into change, and not all of them have ended badly.  A couple have ended with bigger blessings than I ever could have imagined.  It's not impossible to believe that it could happen again.  Are the things I'm trying so hard to hold on to the ones blocking my view of Better for my family?  The familiar feels so much safer, but is it really the best?

The Best, after all, is what I want for my family.  Not the best as the world sees it, but as we see it.  Financial stability (although perhaps not excess, for the immediate future), physical and mental health (where stress is occasional rather than constant), and satisfaction of work well done (vs. headless-chicken style running and a continual feeling of falling short).

I've always prided (ugh pride, ugly trait, that is) myself on the number of plates I can keep spinning at one time.  It could be time to put a few down, and handle those remaining a bit more gently than I have for the last eleven years.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This is Our Home School

He is curious, and a reader.  Math doesn't come easy, and I haven't found the key the goes to that particular lock yet.  Art is his favorite, and the images flow out of his fingertips in a way that only a true artist can achieve. He loves words, but they have to be in the right context, and they can make his head bobble with nervousness if they are the wrong ones.  So I pick my way slowly through Big Nate, Little House, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, looking for landmines and trying to keep him engaged. 

I wake up every morning wishing that we could jump right into our studies, but no, I have to go to work first, because blood draws and Endo visits don't come cheap and insurance keeps a few more worry lines off of my forehead.  So we chat for a bit about the drawing he did the night before, and the ones he plans to work on that day.  Then I go my way and he goes his, with promises to sit shoulder to shoulder and learn together after my obligatory six hours are done.
 
Sometimes we sit in chairs like company, and often we sprawl on the floor like you never can in public school, 'cause this is our school and we can recite scripture and learn about the Constitution any old way we want to.  We roll marbles back and forth while we recite addition tables.  I wish I could draw it all out for him. I have a feeling that if I could on figure out how, then 4+5 would equal 9 now and forevermore.  But images don't flow out of my hands like they do from his, and so we try this new thing and hope it will be The One.

He wrinkles his brow and counts marble by marble and gets the right answer.  Sometimes he tires of counting and guesses, and I hold my breath and hope he guesses right because the only thing worse than a hard to pronounce word is a wrong number.  When the numbers are wrong I use my softest voice and the most delicate words I know... so afraid to discourage this little man who works so hard at every little thing.

And when those numbers are wrong,  then it's all my fault for not having found the right key, and for the hours I spend at work, and for sometimes being as clueless as anyone about how he sees the world.  But I know I'll never quit, not as long as I have breath to teach with, because no one in the world cares about his success as much as I do.  And he won't quit, 'cause he's no quitter no matter how hard things are.  He might fuss, or growl, or even cry, but he doesn't quit.  And so I don't either.

Then Math is over, swallowed like a nasty pill, and chased with pats on the back and promises to shoot hoops or draw together later.  We move on to the things he likes, like reading and art and writing in our journals.  All of these things come easier to him and it occurs to me that these are my triumphs too, for the hours we've logged, both in chairs and on the floor.  We've earned them by singing ABC and trying to make it through "carpet time," by tracing letters on the easel that we finally got rid of when he had to crouch over to write on it.  For hours of explaining that A is for Apple, yes, but also for Ape, and sometimes sounds more like a U, like when it's used in Apartment, this is the reward.  Now I get to listen to him read to me from a book that is on 'grade level' (homeschoolers will insert a huge eye roll here), and there is a journal filled with his writing that is the most precious thing in our home.

Not all school days are breakthrough days.  Some of them are breakdown days, to be honest. Even on the hard days though, there is no denying that this is where he is thriving.  This is the environment where he learns, and where the only labels he wears are printed in large red letters and say "WONDERFUL", "IMAGINATIVE", "TALENTED", and "CHERISHED". 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sometimes It Feels Like

If you sang the rest of that line, you can stay.  If you are too young to know what I'm talking about, kindly take your little whippersnapper self and move on down the road.

...Aaand now I'm singing the song from the Wiz.  This is how my mind works, people. 

So, Q is now a reader of this blog. Hi, Q! (waves) Eeep, and Eeewww, and Uh-uh-no-boys-allowed, indeed.  Not sure if that's a good thing, or if it will make me blow this place up once and for all.  We don't at all have that best-friend, I can tell you anything sort of marriage.  It's more of an I love you but I don't need to be all up in your id sort of arrangement.  I'm fighting the urge to go back and edit entries.  I don't mind that anyone with google can find this place, but it's kinda-sorta creepy to know my husband is reading.  Too bad I don't have one of those MIB memory erasers.  I suppose I could use him reading here to my benefit, and place some ads for stuff I want him to buy me.  Ooh, and I could also write passive-aggressive entries anytime we disagree about something.  Must brainstorm about how to best leverage this for my own benefit.

We've now had a four day weekend from school, and I'm struggling to find some motivation to get back to work today.  It might end up being a light week academics wise. 

I checked out an Encyclopedia Brown book to read with C a few weeks ago, but we just barely eeked through it.  I loved those books when I was a kid, but the first one kind of fell flat this time around. I need to find more fun books to read with him.  He enjoyed the Yuck! books, but we finished the series.  Any suggestions?

C had blood drawn yesterday.  It had been a few months since his last draw, and he really struggled.  He cried and screamed and crossed his arms tight and refused to straighten them for a while.  Finally he pulled the Tegaderm sheets off by himself, and somehow or another we got him to give the techs an arm to draw from.  The room was too loud, and there were too many people talking at once, and I just wanted to run out, so I can only imagine how hard it was for him.  I think the ideal would just be near-silence from everybody but him, but I can't figure out how to make that happen.  Mama says it's not nice to tell people to please for the love of baby goats just shut yer yap already.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Locking the Door

I'm having the public vs. private debate again.  I have a private family blog where I don't have to keep up with pseudonyms and obscuring / combining certain details of the things I write, and I have to admit it's a lot easier to just let the words flow without the constant need to think five steps ahead of myself.    

I used to maintain this public space because I loved the sense of community that came from blog linking and comments.  These days I rarely link to my blog, and comments are a long distant memory.  I never had a ton of them, mostly because blog promotion was not and is not my thing.

The trickle of traffic I did have has dried up, and I think it might be nice to just lock this space down and continue from here on without the need for anonymity.

On the other hand, I have a few friendships that I never would have made without blogging, and even though I rarely see (or even talk to) those folks, it gives me pause to think that I might be shutting the door and future opportunities to build our village.