Alone Time

The prompt for today seems to suit my mood: Do you enjoy being alone? What do you do when you’re by yourself?

I’m a stay-at-home-mom with three kids in elementary and middle school. They are gone, Monday through Friday, from 7:45am til 2:30/3pm. I’m on my own for 6.5 hours. Most days, I love it. I don’t hibernate in my house, trust me, so I guess that means I’m not truly alone every weekday. I go to the gym, run errands, occasionally have lunch or coffee with friends. You’d think with that much time on my hands, my house would be spotless, every meal would be a gourmet, home-cooked affair, laundry would never sit on the couch or in the dryer waiting to be sorted and put away, and I would have written three our four books (as opposed to the big fat zero I’m currently sitting on).

I don’t mind being alone. I’m capable of going to lunch, dinner, a movie, or shopping all by myself. I’m fine with my own company. I read a lot when I’m alone. Or I watch the shows my husband won’t watch and which are probably kid-inappropriate (this doesn’t happen often). I tend to need noise. The only time being alone really bothers me is if it’s completely quiet. Random, since once the kids are home, I crave quiet. I do talk to the animals a lot. Just call me the crazy cat lady.

I used to be terrified of being alone. I was afraid to walk in any place by  myself. It’s not necessarily confidence that enables me to do it. It grew out of necessity. Now I kind of enjoy it. I don’t have to consult anyone which restaurant to go to or movie to see. When I’m tired, I don’t have to exert myself to focus on a conversation. If I want to sit and read blogs all day, no one is here to drag me away.

I needed alone time today, desperately. We had a ridiculously awful morning. Little Man…ouch…he must be in a post-birthday funk. He was angry and lashing out from the moment his eyes opened this morning. We struggled through bathing, dressing, eating, medicating. He was nearly late to school. By the time we were in the drop-off loop, he was in tears and still being mean to me. I was frustrated, drained, and even angry myself. He said he wanted to isolate himself. I was pretty close to granting him his wish.While he seems to be settling down at school, we are having a rough go at home.

I wanted to come home and curl up in my chair to recover. Instead, I headed to the gym, put my headphones in, angry rap music on, and had the best non-running workout I’ve had in three weeks. Now I’m  home, alone. There is baseball on the television (for noise, and because baseball is one of my happy places). I’m contemplating another cup of coffee, and thinking about what I’m going to eat for lunch. At some point, I’ll have to haul myself away from this computer and go to the store to get stuff for dinner tonight, and there’s a conference call on the agenda in an hour, but for now, I’m going to revel in my alone time, do what I want to do, and just breath. Four hours til the beasties are home and the madness begins again.

The Day We Became a Herd

I clearly remember the days each of my babies were born. There are certain details that stick out more than others. For instance, when I think about the day Little Man was born, I remember so clearly standing in the parking lot outside the hospital, watching the sun rise over the mountain behind the building. I distinctly recall thinking how our lives would be different yet again when I next walked out of those doors. I was excited, happy, anxious. This pregnancy had gone the way I wanted. This pregnancy had been the dream to help heal the wounds of one that had gone so terribly wrong. I had no idea what that day would hold, but I knew at the end, our precious third child would have come into the world. I couldn’t wait to see him, hold him, hear him cry.

I had a sympathetic doctor. He knew what I’d been through with my first two, not from first-hand experience, but from my telling. His wife had given birth three times. I was an older mom. I was a third-time mom. We had a plan for the day. He knew what I wanted, and was going to do all he could to make it so . After giving birth twice without any drugs, I knew I didn’t need to be any kind of hero. The baby would still come, drugs or no, and I wanted to be comfortable. So, as soon as I was uncomfortable, doc S called the anesthesiologist. Can I get an amen for epidurals? It enabled me to relax and rest for the work ahead. The day was long. The progress was slow. Around 1pm, Doc S broke my water. We thought things would speed up from there, but no. Little Man was taking his sweet time. Around 5pm, I was still at 5cm’s and Little Man’s heart had started to decelerate with each contraction. Doc S was a little concerned. I was calm. I had no issues with having a Cesarean if that’s what was needed to get him out quickly and safely. After shifting me around, and pushing Little Man a bit, his head moved over. The decels stopped, and I was dialating again. At 10:01pm, 13 hours after we started, our littlest man arrived. The cord was around his neck a couple of times. His breathing was a little junky. They had to suction him quite a bit. But I had that beautifully perfect experience of having my newborn placed on my tummy right away. I breathed.

He spent some time in the nursery that night. His oxygen saturation levels weren’t exactly where they wanted them to be. There was brief talk of taking him to the NICU if he didn’t stabilize. But they brought him to me to hold, and he evened out. Thirty-six hours after his birth, we were wheeled out of the hospital to our waiting car, and brought him home. His brother was excited to meet him. His sister couldn’t have cared less.

We had a couple of rough nights right out of the gate. He would not sleep. He would not let me put him down. I, for the first (and last) time in my life, literally fell asleep standing up. Then we settled in and settled down. He was a sweet, sweet baby. And we were a herd.

It’s been ten years. He woke up with a smile on his face this morning. He got the “real” (not frozen) waffles he wanted for breakfast. We will have dinner out tonight, and we will give him his gifts. He was a bit bummed about having to go to school on his birthday, but his name is in lights on the marquee at school, and I know they will help make it a special day.

In our tougher moments, I think back to his birth day. We were so excited and happy. Would we have been if we knew what lay ahead? Pretty sure the answer is yes. Are there days I feel my comfort of the “healing baby” has been stolen away by autism? Oh yeah. But as with my other two, when I look at him, I almost feel my heart outside of my chest with love and pride. I wouldn’t give up any part of our herd for any of the struggles we may face.

 

NaBloPoMo prompt for today asks what is my favorite personality trait that I possess. Uuuuhhhhhh…….I don’t know. I used to be a good listener. I think I’ve let that skill lapse. My OCD side would say I love my ability to list and organize, but then I look around my house at the clutter and disaster, and, well, hmmmm…I guess I’m not so organized. I’m not a good judge of my own personality traits I suppose. How would you answer that question, with regard to yourself?

Daddy, Baseball, Creating Memories, and Rude/Ignorant People

The Herd and I spent a long weekend with my parents in Arizona. There is just something about time with my Daddy that makes everything else much more manageable. And my mom (technically step-mom, but she’s never ever been anything but mom, and I only clarify the step portion when people get confused), well, talks with her are so restoring. As we pulled away to drive home yesterday, I found myself crying. Daddy is in his 80’s. Every time I say goodbye, there is some fear deep in my heart it will be the last. He’s a tough guy who has survived a ton, but no one is immortal. And so I cried some as I drove down the highway.

Daddy shared he is writing the stories of his childhood. He let me read what he has written so far. I am so happy  he’s doing it. Some stories I’ve heard, but many are new. He was born in the early-30’s and I am fascinated to hear how things were back then – how he worked even as a little boy, what school was like, his parents, his family, what his world looked like. You see your parent in an entirely new way as they share that part of themselves.

I have always been a Daddy’s girl. Daddy was the one I sat with on Sunday afternoons, eating salami and cheese, and watching football, golf, racing, or whatever sport was on. I learned to love sports because I knew to spend time with Daddy involved sports. I learned baseball because my brother played Little League, and oh how I looked up to my brother. I learned to keep score – a skill I’ve long since forgotten – so I could pay closer attention to his games, and so he would have concrete evidence of his success, or failure, during any given game. When I got older, during and after college, Daddy, my brother and I would get bleacher seats in the Oakland Colosseum (before Mount Davis was built in the outfield) to watch our beloved Athletics play. A few years after that, my brother and I started getting season tickets each year. Being in a baseball stadium watching a game is almost like being at the beach for me…I am in a calm, happy place. I can breathe.

We went to see two Spring Training games this weekend. We saw the Padres on Friday, and the  A’s on Saturday. I was worried it would be too  much for Daddy, but he proved me wrong. Stubborn man. We enjoyed sunshine, cold beer, hot dogs, peanuts, cotton candy, nachos, and snow cones. I watched my babies take it all in. It’s been four or five years since we’ve been able to get to any Spring Training games. They barely remember the last one.  They loved being so close to the field, in the smaller parks. I loved watching them learn the game that I love so much.

Of course, we had our moments with Little Man. He could care less about sports. Going to games is not one of his favorite things to do in life…so much noise, so many people, the potential for long lines, the heat, so much movement. He had his headphones.  And I let him bring his DS and iPod. It just isn’t worth the effort of battle to try to make him watch the entire game. Friday was incident-free. Not so much Saturday’s game. We were closer to the field, not far off home plate, and he became very anxious we would be hit by a foul ball. He has, unfortunately, seen a woman who wasn’t paying attention to the game be knocked out by a line-drive foul ball, so now he’s convinced the same thing is going to happen every time we go to a game. I pointed out we know to pay attention, and where we were sitting was in a spot unlikely to get direct foul balls. He settled down a little bit. We got food and drinks before the game started. He was kneeling down playing his DS when we came back. The drinks did not have lids on them, and he wasn’t paying attention as he took the full cup. He set it down in the (tilted) cup holder, and soda proceeded to spill out directly onto his DS. Cue freakout. And cue the rude/ignorant woman sitting behind us who immediately said, “Oh great, here we go.” I grit my teeth. Seriously, lady? I managed Little Man quickly. It was a short outburst, and I was able to talk him down within a minute. But I was on edge the remainder of the day. I wanted my sign again, the one that says, “I’m not a bad parent, and he’s not a bad kid, he’s autistic.” It was obvious the woman behind us just thought he was a beast, and/or I am a bad mother who lets her kids behave that way. Little Man was great the rest of the game. But the incident took a little shine off the day.

When your child’s differences are not physically obvious, some people will think you’re just a bad parent, or your child is spoiled. They don’t understand the tantrums. They don’t understand why your child is wearing headphones and playing his DS at a baseball game, or at dinner in a noisy restaurant. I’m sure I am probably hyper-sensitive, but it is with reason, because we’ve been on the receiving end of those looks and comments. Much of the time, I’m able to ignore it and just do what I need to do for my boy. But there are days I just want to respond, to put those ignorant people in their places, educate them – loudly. I will not hide my child away at home just because he’s autistic. I do choose to take him places he may not prefer. That’s on me. I  know that. He needs to learn, while in a controlled situation, how to manage himself. So, yes, we take him to movies, baseball games, his siblings’ games and shows, the beach, restaurants, and parties. Some days, we’re successful. Some days, the wheels come off. I know there are going to be those people who react the same as the lady sitting behind us the other day. I hope, though, we are able to educate and open eyes. He deserves that. So do I.

 

NaBloPoMo prompt for today: Who do you trust more: yourself or others?

The answer to that question depends on the subject. I have learned to trust my instincts, especially when it comes to my body, and to my kids. I’m a smart girl. I’m educated. I know how to research. I read a lot. If it’s a topic I’m unsure of, then I will likely trust others who have more information or experience. When it comes to my own abilities, I don’t tend to trust myself. I still lack confidence in so many ways, and self-esteem can be an issue even at this stage of life.

Somebody please tell me

Little Man *just* got his technology back on Wednesday. That’s two days ago. Two. Days. This morning, when I went to wake him up, there lay on the bed beside him his brother’s phone (and the big box of goldfish but I won’t even deal with that – it’s calories!). Are you kidding me?

I don’t know how to handle this anymore. Why do I forget that consequences have very little effect on his actions? He knew as soon as I picked up the phone he was in trouble. I didn’t say a word, but he started crying and throwing a tantrum pretty much immediately. He got angry, so angry, with me. Really? You’re angry with me, bud? He had once again waited until I was in bed, asleep, to sneak downstairs to get the phone and the goldfish. So I have two issues: 1) He’s staying up til who knows what time of the night/morning watching YouTube videos or Netflix; and 2) He’s being sneaky about it, which, once again, is as good as lying in my book, which, once again, we do not tolerate in our home regardless of whatever diagnosis. He knows better. He knows. Trust me, he knows. This is not a new conversation. It’s been going on for months. I need him healthy. When he has school the next day, he needs all the sleep he can get as it really does help his tolerance levels. He needs sleep, desperately, to grow. He isn’t getting that sleep if he’s watching videos all night.

I’m frustrated. I’m sad. Yes, I’m even angry. What does it take? Why do I even bother? Somebody please tell me how best to handle this. I’m about to the point of locking up every single device we have in the house, every single night (including the dvd player, remotes for the tv’s, and plug for the computer). It’s that bad. Do I just give in and let him have his screen in bed? Then I have to explain again why a rule doesn’t apply to him but does apply to his siblings. He won’t get his reading done he’s supposed to do every night (goodness knows he won’t do it in the afternoon just after school). He won’t sleep. I just don’t have any clue how to handle this.

He’s lost technology, again, but for two weeks this time. He was extremely remorseful all morning, in between being really angry and stomping around the house. He kept apologizing. I didn’t have anything to say to him. I made him get his iPod, DS, and Kindle and hand them over to me. I’ve hidden them. Now we both get to suffer, because every day for the next two weeks, he will do his best to make me crazy, hoping against hope I’ll relent to save my own sanity. I will have to entertain.  I will have to listen to the whining. I will have to provide options to keep him busy which do not involve screens of any kind. Why is it the punishments you know they  need are also punishment for us?

NaBloPoMo prompt for today: What have you learned about yourself through blogging?

I could repeat much of what I wrote yesterday. I’ve seen inside my own mind. Putting it down on paper/screen makes it real. The words are out there. I’ve learned I have a long way to go in managing my own reaction to Little Man’s autism. I’ve learned I still have a lot of emotion with regard to my oldest son’s premature birth. I’ve learned if I let myself, I could try to relive my childhood through my daughter’s life (she’s way tougher than I ever was).  I’ve learned it’s difficult but not impossible to forgive myself. I’ve learned I worry more about some things than anyone else involved, that I can obsess when everyone else has put it out of their mind as a non-issue. I’ve learned I’m imperfect, but better than I let myself believe. I’ve learned I have a lot more to say, I just need to the courage to get out there and say it. I’ve learned people care. If you live it out loud, if you put  yourself out there, you just might help someone or inspire them.

Blogging – Best or Worst?

Does blogging bring out your best or worst self?

Blogging brings it all out for me. This is my place to let it all out, so you do get the best and the worst….my hurts, my fears, frustrations, anger, heartbreak, anxieties, joys, pride, and love. It’s all here, good, bad, and ugly. I think my blog makes me be more honest with myself. I see my failures. It also forces me to see my wins. It makes me humble.

Blogging changes you. I find myself mentally blogging multiple times throughout each day, particularly when I’m running, or when I’m sitting in the car while the Princess is in dance class.  I think I experience things differently than before, because I know I have a place to come process whatever is going on. That’s good, and it’s bad. It’s good that I have a place to process, but it’s bad in that I often put off dealing with emotions until I’m here at this computer.

There are days when I should be out running or heading to the gym, doing laundry or washing dishes. Yet I find myself sitting here, reading other people’s words or writing my own. I can get lost in reading and writing. Then the kids get home and want to know if I’ve had time to go to the grocery store to pick up whatever, or if I’ve washed their PE clothes. Ummmmm……No, Momma was lost in the land of blogs and forgot. (Truthfully, I fudge and tell them I didn’t have time today, I’ll go tomorrow) Mother of the Year. Where’s my trophy?

I have learned from blogging and reading blogs. I’ve gained some training and racing tips. I’ve seen others’ perspectives and had my mind opened a bit. Our world has grown smaller and larger at the same time. There are many more places I want to visit. I’ve laughed and cried.  I have a list of books a mile long I want to read.

I’d have to say blogging has added more than it’s taken away.