Follow by Email

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Ella & Arnold"

I love kids. They are so perfectly, endearingly fresh and funny and adorable. I just want to squeeze them and make them feel how much I adore them.

Last week was my sweet hubby's birthday. He had to work all night the night before his birthday, got three hours of sleep, then worked all day from home. What a way to start a new year. I had an insane day. Yes, part of it was awesome- I got my hair done, which is a major production these days since my darlings are giving me more and more grays. AND since my hair has finally stopped falling out (For the past three months it fell out in clumps because of my tick and mold illnesses. My doctor assured me it was just a phase and it would end and I would not go bald. I seriously doubted him for a while.), now I have all these funky fuzzies that my hair artist (she is truly gifted) had to figure out how to deal with. We decided on bangs to hide the funky fuzzies. So anyway, that was a great appointment, but takes quite a bit of my day.

Then I had to pick up Ella and Ben a little early from school and take them to get their orthotics fitted. When we got there, the doctor asked if the kids had gotten their new shoes. Um, no...he said the orthotics wouldn't fit in their current shoes because they were almost too small as it is. SO, we dashed just around the corner to Target and hustled little, and not-so-little, feet into shoes as quickly as we could so we could go back to the doctor and still get the orthotics fitted. It was pretty comical. I've never seen Ella and Ben run so fast. They got new shoes- completely unexpected and totally exciting- and new orthotics. They knew they had to hustle!

We got home just in time for me to switch out kids and take Jonah to OT. Ella had a meltdown. In true Ella fashion, she cried and freaked out because she couldn't decide if she wanted to stay home with Daddy and go to swimming lessons, or come with Mama and be bored at Jonah's appointment. Finally I convinced her to stay home. 

After Jonah's appointment, we came home to find only Ella, and not Aidan, ready for swimming lessons, and still in the driveway, when they should have already been at the fitness center. Argh! Alex was exhausted, but willing to cart Ella to her lesson. 

Ben has a Thing about birthdays. Especially family ones. He MUST go to a store and pick out a card for the Birthday Person, a small present, wrapping materials, and possibly their favorite candy. Every time there's a family birthday, I forget Ben's Birthday Thing. And always, always, the day of the birthday, Ben freaks out because he hasn't gotten his Thing for the birthday person. And always, we're running to Walgreens at a very inconvenient time to satisfy Ben and his generous need to get a Birthday Thing. He is so thoughtful and kind. I love that he HAS to get something for the birthday person. So after Ella and Dad left for swimming, I took Ben to Walgreens to get his special things for Dad. He goes through all the aisles, looking for the perfect card, the perfect gift, the perfect wrapping paper. And the perfect 3 Musketeers Bar- because that's Dad's favorite. Ben has a little OCD, in case you weren't aware (I say 'little' sarcastically), so this process takes quite a bit of time. Each candy bar must be carefully inspected to make sure it is up to Ben's standards of quality. Most are not. 

Eventually, we made it home. I felt sorry for Alex, having had to work so much the day and night before his birthday, and then also on his birthday. I firmly believe in Birthday Magic. No matter how old you are, birthdays should have at least some brief moments of magic. So Ben and I scurried around to make the house- that was FAR from magical- clean, make frosting, frost and candle the cake, wrap presents, and sign cards in the 15 minutes before Dad and Ella got home from swimming lessons. During this frantic race for Birthday Magic, I called to Aidan who was upstairs on the computer. Playing Minecraft. As usual. I told him Daddy would be home in 10 minutes and he needed to come downstairs and help us get ready! His fingers flew off the computer and he got downstairs faster than he's ever stopped a game. He asked if Daddy was home. Nope, 10 minutes. He exclaimed "OK! I'm going to HIDE!"

I don't know what my childrens' fascination with hiding is. They've always loved hiding gifts, goodies, treats, people...I think they love discovering unexpected goodness. The morning after Halloween, Ella strangely went downstairs all by herself. I thought for sure she'd be down there stuffing her face with candy, so I went down shortly after I heard her shuffling around. I found a trail of lollipops all the way from the front door half way around the whole first floor. Ella looked at me sheepishly as I caught her with her hand inside the cereal box. She grinned and explained that she was hiding treasures all around so that when people found them they would be surprised and happy! She put one in the fridge. I found a treasure on top of the toilet. I found another one in that box of cereal two days later- when I had forgotten Ella had done this and when the next kiddo wanted Cheerios. It did make me surprised and happy! I remembered the joy with which Ella hid all her tiny treasures to make us all happy. I keep finding them in odd places, even weeks later. Love that kid.

So Aidan was hiding for Daddy. After about 3 minutes, I hear a muffled "Is he here yet?" Nope. 7 more minutes. Aidan decided he couldn't stay hidden for that length of time, so he popped back out. He proceeded to spend the next 9 minutes- because Daddy was late- rushing around from room to room, watching to see if the passing cars were Daddy's car. He would yell "I SEE ONE! I SEE ONE! IT MIGHT BE DAD.....nope. it's not dad....I SEE ONE! I SEE ONE!!" Cracked me up. 

Finally it was Dad's car, and Aidan flew to hide in another room. As Daddy and Ella came in the house, Aidan blew open the door to the room he had been hiding in and yelled "Happy Birthday, Daddy!!!" Now that was Birthday Magic.

We sang and lit candles. We had cake and presents and cards. When I say "we" had presents, I mean Ella opened them all as Alex supervised. It was a fun way to end our crazy day. Birthday Magic was achieved.

                     *                          *                              *

The other night I was driving the Mama Taxi around with Aidan and Ella after therapies. They were happily chatting in the backseat. I was thinking about a million Mama Things. Slowly, my attention was drawn to what my little ones were talking about. I realized Aidan had an old phone out. He had it turned so he was recording his sister and himself. He was doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. Ella was doing her best Ella impression. It was another episode of "The Ella and Arnold Show." Aidan loves to talk like Arnold. He repeats all these lines from movies, and then inserts his own comments in Arnold Speak. It's so hilarious to hear this skinny little boy talking like a big strong macho Austrian man.

Ella and Aidan have these moments where they 'find' each other again. When they were little and Aidan would go to preschool, he would come home in the afternoon and he and Ella would play together for hours. They have always gotten along so well. They crack each other up; they have the same sense of humor. Ella can play "boy" games with the best of them, and Aidan is intrigued with "girl" games. They make the cutest pair. 

As they have gotten older, Aidan and Ella spend less time together. They have their own friends, their own interests, their own activities. Which is a good thing, part of getting older. But once in a while, they 'find' each other again, and it's so fun for me to listen to them when that happens. They are like two little peas in a pod, laughing and hooting and carrying on like wild children. They get into their own little world where nothing else matters except the two of them. Love it.

                    *                            *                            *

The other day before school, I said something and Jonah responded "Mom! That's assititis!" 

Um, what now??

He said "You know, assititis, like you said yesterday."

Ohhhh, asinine. He had been talking about something and I had replied that it was asinine!!

"Assititis" cracked me up all day, every time I thought about it. What cracked me up even more was then Alex, Ben and Jonah and I kept thinking of more hilarious words. Like if you fart and poop, it's a pooart. And a sneeze and a tinkle is a sninkle. The boys are usually in pretty cranky, irritable, angry moods in the mornings before school, due to the anxiety they feel about the impending day. But that morning was awesome. I had them rolling on the floor with my funny word combos before they hit the bus. It was great to see them laughing together and having fun.

                     *                            *                              *         

"Don't put a worm on the table!" are the words that came out of my mouth the other day when Ella found a pet worm in the backyard. It was another afternoon where Ella and Aidan had 'found' each other and were fully entranced with finding wildlife in the backyard. They both love rocks, and they often bring in handfuls from outside. They present their dirty, cold rocks to me with sticky open hands, their chests puffed with pride at the bounty of their treasures. So I'm accustomed to the kitchen being filled with dirt and rocks and pebbles, leaves, grass, etc, after my darlings have been excavating outside. But I draw the line at worms. And other backyard critters that belong underground. If you have a container for said worm, fine. You may keep it as a pet and feed it grass and hope it lives while you examine it with wonder before freeing it back into the garden. But please don't put it on my kitchen table! I assumed this rule was quite understood, but Ella sincerely was confused as to why I didn't want worms on the table! Apparently I have not been crystal clear about Worm Rules. We revisited the rules about backyard critters having to be contained before bringing them into the house. Filthy rocks, fine. Backyard critters- they need containers.

                   *                                 *                             *

My twins have always been cuddlebugs. The first time I saw them snuggling together, they were days old, in Ben's NICU incubator. The nurses said that they weren't doing well, so they put the little boys together so they could draw comfort from each other. The boys each had cords and tubes and bands and wires attached to them, so the nurses had to carefully organize all of that for two babies to snuggle. It was pretty funny, because after a while of snuggling and gaining strength from each other, Ben started hollering. His little body went straight and tense and he screamed. Jonah looked around as if to say "Really? I come over here to hug and snuggle you, and you're yelling at me?? See what I've had to put up with all my life?"

When we brought our micro-preemies home from the NICU, they slept together in one crib. As babies, the boys often spent time in one crib together. As little boys, I would find Ben and Jonah snuggled in one of their toddler beds together. Not only did they spend most waking moments in each other's presence, they also sought out their brother in moments when they needed comfort or amusement. Alex and I always have said it's too bad Ella and Aidan don't have a twin. Having a twin is a beautiful thing.

Periodically as the boys have gotten older, they still snuggle. I'll come downstairs in the morning and find both boys squished into the corner of the couch, snuggled up, watching TV together. They always have this look like it's completely natural to be squished up, side by side. Like this is the way life is supposed to be. And for them, it is. They have been together since the moment they came into existence. 

Now that the boys are teenagers, you might think they would be less willing to snuggle with each other. And while they do spend most of their days apart, there are times when they still need that physical twin bond. The other night, Alex was putting Jonah back to bed in the middle of the night. Jonah said "I need Ben. I just want a Ben Hug." They sometimes will snuggle in one of their beds before they get up for school. It's the sweetest thing to hear them say "Goodnight, Jonah. Love you." "Goodnight, Ben. Love you too." Yes, they can be each other's very worst enemies. But they also have this bond that will never be broken because they were given life at the very same time. Being a witness to their miracle of twin-ness is a beautiful thing. 

                   *                              *                              *

Kids. Aren't they funny? So precious, fragile, their childhood so fleeting. I love these little things that make them so endearing.                                           


"Let It Go"

This week, our kids have learned the word "concussion" and what that means. Ella was playing at a friend's house, when a swing bashed her in the head. She had a HUGE HUGE bump on her forehead, a small bump on the side of her forehead, and a scrape on the bridge of her nose. She was inconsolable. I worried about a concussion. I put ice on her head and made her lay with me and be still. She wanted to play with friends again after she recovered a little bit. I invited her friends in to play with Ella, and made Ella lie down while they played. At dinner that night, I noticed Ella's pupils were very dilated. I wondered again about a concussion. But I had heard that if you have a concussion, the things to worry about are passing out, vomiting, or sleeping too much. And acting very weird. Ella wasn't doing any of those things, so I just watched her very closely, like I thought you were supposed to do. I checked on her frequently that night. She had a headache for a couple days, and was extremely emotional and anxious. She cried for like 3 days straight. She's always emotional, but wow, this was bad. The next day her pupils were still dilated, and she was a sobbing mess. But I thought since she was overall physically ok, I should make her go to school. It completely broke my heart to peel her body off of mine and stick her on the bus, tears rolling down her sweet little cheeks. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. 

I was totally eaten alive by guilt for the next week because of that decision. 

The teacher emailed me to let me know Ella was doing ok that day, although she was more emotional than ever. The social worker also checked on her.

Ella had OT for her reflex integration. The therapist made a comment that Ella's eyes were dilated. I said I know! Do you think that's a sign of a concussion? She said she would call the doctor to be sure. I called on my way out of her office, and by the time we got home, I had an appointment for Ella right away. We zipped over to the doctor's office. I was worried. The doctor did an extremely thorough check of Ella from head to toe, inside her eyeballs, how she moved, etc. He asked a million questions. And then confirmed that yes, she does have a concussion. He explained that the first 48 hours are the most critical after getting a concussion, and that you shouldn't do any physical or brain activity during that time in case you have hemorrhaging in your brain. I had sent Ella to swimming lessons and school, and her brain could have bled into her spinal column. Ohh, the Mommy Guilt.

The doctor said Ella couldn't go to school until she was doing better. No sports until she has had two headache-free days. Limited brain activity- not too much TV, electronics of any kind, reading, singing, art...pretty much she is supposed to lay down and just breathe until she feels better.

I now recognized that Ella's spike in emotionality and anxiety had been due to her brain being jiggled around in her skull. I felt terrible about how I had made her go to school. I know, I didn't know any better and thought I was doing the right thing, but that doesn't matter when you're in the midst of a Mommy Guilt Episode. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and twisted my heart until I couldn't breathe. Our OT said that it was actually me who figured out Ella had a concussion, because if I hadn't noticed her pupils, I wouldn't have known this was something abnormal for Ella when the OT commented on them. She made me feel a little better. But not totally. Because Mommy Guilt is so overwhelmingly powerful. And when you could have caused harm to your child because of your own ignorance, ouch. It still stings.

There have been changes in Ella since her concussion last week. She is afraid to walk down the sidewalk to a friend's house. She used to do that all the time without giving it a second thought. She is even more afraid of going to school, of being away from me. She cries every night about having to go to school the next day. She can't make decisions. She says she wants to do something but she doesn't want to do something. She can't make up her mind about anything. 

But now that I know that this is all symptoms of a concussion, I'm much more prepared to deal with it, and much more patient. I know nothing I say will heal Ella's anxiety about school. So I just hug her and hold her tight and tell her that I promise everything will start to get better and be ok. 

Jonah is so intuitive. He said the other night that he thinks the reason Ella cries so much about leaving me is that she is afraid of being hurt. She feels like I can protect her from all the bad things in the world. She feels like she needs me in order to be safe. That's why she wants to be with me all the time.

Wow. This kid. He is amazing. So sensitive and brilliant. I said yes, I was thinking the same thing about Ella. I told Jonah how smart and intuitive he is. How much I love him and admire him for the person he is. He has such compassion for those around him who are hurting.

This week, Ella stayed home one day from school. Yesterday she went for a half day. Today she is there almost the whole day, and hopefully the entire day tomorrow. But no dance. No swimming lessons. No therapies. I'm obsessed with Ella's noggin. I make her wear her helmet every time she even puts a toe on something with wheels. I make her not jump. No cartwheels, please. No, no summersaults. Please run carefully. Can we just leave her helmet on 24 hours a day? She can sleep with it on, right? She's a little annoyed with me at this point. But she has learned how to use this whole thing to her advantage: "Well, technically, I have a concussion, so..." i need more toys, or i can't go to school, or i want ice cream, or i need a pet unicorn.

It's so frightening to me how fragile my children's lives are. In the past few weeks, Ella has had two major traumas- a dog bite and then a concussion. If anything had gone a tiny bit differently in either of those situations, she could have been a whole lot worse off. I could be writing a totally different kind of blog today. I didn't realize how easy it is to get a concussion. I didn't know you should always go to the doctor when you suspect a concussion, it's not just about watching closely. I didn't know last week, but I do this week, which is making my Mommy Guilt soar. Alex suggested I be like Elsa and "Let It Go." Our OT said she seconds that idea. I'm trying. It's just amazing to me how a split second can change the course of your minutes, days, life. I send my kiddos out into the world every day- well, most days; they're home sick so much that sometimes I think they'll never make it back to the world- praying for their safe return. My mom reminded me that I can't be everywhere my kids are all the time. I responded "Why not??" It's hard to be a parent and "Let It Go."

Just be careful with those little noggins out there in the great big world. I think I'm going to make Ella wear a helmet every time she leaves the house, not ever go to a friend's house that has a swing or a dog, and follow that child everywhere. Actually, she would enjoy that last part. So maybe I should rethink that. But the helmet idea is a keeper.

So if you see a tiny little blond girl running around the neighborhood, or walking down the hallway at school, or in the grocery store, and she is wrapped in bubble wrap from noggin to toe, and wearing a beautiful Elsa tiara bike helmet, that's my girl. No judgement, people. Just trying to protect my baby from the big, bad world that keeps hurting her. You'd be a little neurotic too if the world kept causing physical damage to your baby. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Broken Angel Wings

Our Halloween went just as expected- typical and amusing. After all the prep to get Ella's costume, makeup, and hair just right, Alex was out trick or treating with Ella and Aidan for about 7 minutes before he texted me and said Ella had decided to take her witch costume off. Fabulous. About 9 minutes after that, the threesome came home- Aidan was done. He was over trick or treating. It was tiring and soggy and he didn't care that he didn't have much candy in his limp pillow case. Ella tried to go back out with friends but her anxiety got the best of her and she came right home.

Before he went to do Big Guy Things, Ben sat on the front porch, candy bowl in lap, waiting for tiny treaters. After a long time without any treaters, I said "Ben! Where are all the trick or treaters?" He replied "Probably at better houses than ours. I mean, we're handing out TATTOOS, Mom." What's wrong with that? Tattoos are allergy-friendly! There were also spider rings, pencils, and candy in the bowl. But Ben did not like my choice of Halloween offerings. 

Ben and Jonah got to go to a Halloween party and trick or treat with their Big Guy Friends. Jonah called about an hour before I was supposed to pick the boys up from their party. I thought here we go, they want to come home early because of anxiety. But NO! They wanted to stay a half hour longer! Woohoo! I didn't care how late they got home, because they were asking to do something away from home for longer. That was big. So I said yes. And then regretted my sleep deprivation the next morning.

When the boys got home from their party, they commenced the Annual Candy Swap. They all get out their candy and divide it up: Jonah and Aidan's piles- without nuts, Mom's pile- all candy that contains peanut butter, Ben and Ella's piles- anything and everything that has sugar in it, and Dad's pile- whatever is left over. Ben yelled at me for "scavenging" in his pile for peanut butter candy. I patiently explained the rule: Since I grew him in my body for 29 weeks, and he has given me many many gray hairs since then, he is required to hand over almost all his peanut butter candy to me. He claimed temporary insanity and forked over the Reese's.

We made it through yet another Halloween without too many problems. Good times.

Want to hear about something totally magical? I took all the kids to see our developmental optometrist for a check up. The doctor checked to see how the kids' special glasses are moving their brains closer to functioning more effectively. She said Ben needs a different lens for his left eye to balance his eyes out. Aidan needs totally different lenses. She said the first pair he's had are called a wedge. Because Aidan's brain and body were so tense, she used this wedge lens to crack open the door to his brain and let a little relaxation in, in the form of these lenses that help Aidan process the world better. Now his brain is much more relaxed when it comes to visual processing, so now the doctor can put different lenses on him that his brain will accept and learn from! Crazy. 

After working with Jonah for a bit, the doctor stood back and announced that for Jonah, the problem is processing. She asked him to tell her four words that start with the sound "g." He said "The letter g?" She said no, the sound "g." He struggled but found four words. Then she asked Jonah to tell her four words that start with the letter "k." For the life of him, he couldn't do it. He sat there for about 10 minutes, silent, giggling because he was embarrassed that he couldn't think of any words. He finally did come up with some. The doctor said what will help Jonah is vision therapy that addresses processing. And luckily, the clinic is setting up virtual therapy that Jonah can do at home on the computer! So we don't have to squeeze any other appointments into our already-crammed schedule. Hurray for Mama!

Next Miss Ella got in the doctor's chair. She pulled her legs up into "crisscross" position. The doctor did some tests on her. Ella did perfect. Then the doctor asked her to uncross her legs and sit like she has to at school. Ella failed all the tests the doctor gave her-- the SAME tests she had just aced!! I was floored. I love this magical doctor. She is pure magic. She said Ella's problem is not her eyeballs, it's her muscles and reflexes. She needs reflex integration therapy, and after that may not even need her glasses at all. What?!? Seriously? Crazy. I told the doctor that Ben and Jonah are both doing reflex integration therapy- MNRI. The doctor personally knows the doctor who 'invented' MNRI, so she said that is exactly what Ella needs also. The doctor said that the testing she does with people's brains, nervous systems, bodies, etc, is only being done by her and a handful of doctors in Europe. I just can't ever understand this. Why, when a therapy or solution is so obviously valid and true and helpful, why don't more doctors do it? Why doesn't insurance cover it? It's ridiculous. 

So we've added Ella to the MNRI group. She's getting OT twice a week now, as well as counseling, speech, and PT. Ben and Jonah get OT once a week. Aidan gets counseling and speech. Ella and Ben get their orthotics tomorrow. Jonah and Aidan go in a couple weeks for their orthotic appointment. We see the psychiatrist next week to talk about three of the kids' meds. Sometimes I feel like I need to stop and catch my breath, but there's no time! There's only more appointments!

Speaking of my littlest angel, I don't know what about this life has broken her beautiful, iridescent angel wings. She is wracked with Anxiety again. She's falling apart. It may have gotten worse because of the dog bite she suffered a couple weeks ago, but regardless of the 'why,' it's all-consuming. She sobs when she has to go to school. She worries and protests if she has to go in to therapies by herself. Her dance teacher has made an exception for me to sit in the classroom so that Ella will actually agree to dance. She is back to sleeping as close to me as she can physically get every night. My poor angel. I don't know how to cure Anxiety. If I did, many of my children would feel a whole lot better. It breaks my heart that I don't know how to fix this for them. 

The other night, Ella was crying about going to school the next day. Finally, she said "I'm weird." I asked why she said that. She explained that no one else in her class cries because they miss their moms, and she does, so she is weird. Dagger to my already-fragile Mama Heart. Sometimes I just want to gather my child tenderly in my arms and cry with them and not ever let go. Why isn't that a Thing that Mama's can do? 

Sorry, I know you're 47 years old, kid, but I'm not ever letting go of you. 

We talked about how lots of kids feel like Ella does, some just don't cry at school because they can hold it in. Ella said she's weird because if I leave her at a friend's house to run an errand, she cries there too. I told her that it's ok to be sad when you miss your Mama. It's ok to cry. But it's also ok to be ok, and have fun when you're not with your Mama. I told her how lots of kids have this problem of being sad when they're not with their Mama. In fact, look how many of those kids live right in our house! Even her big brothers sometimes have to go to their school nurse and call me to come and get them because their Anxiety is too close that day.

My pep talk didn't help her feel better. But I tried. I ended up just tenderly gathering her in my arms and letting her weep until my shirt was drenched and she fell asleep. 

It's as hard for me to peel my baby off of me and put her onto the bus as it is for her to walk up those bus steps. Kids should never know how hard life feels to their parents. 

Ella's teacher emailed me that Ella was just laughing hysterically about something in the classroom, so at least she's having moments of joy today. I'm trying to have moments of joy too. The weather is not helping- all gray and morose. Ben stepped out of the house today to go to the bus stop and asked "Why is it so blurry out here?" I said it's called fog, kid. He cracks me up.

I guess today is a day where we just keep putting one foot in front of another and get through it. Maybe someday I'll find The Fix for all those broken beautiful angel wings my babies have.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Head Bonks and Bus Swearing

The last couple weeks around here have been pretty typical. Let's see...a principal called because one of my darlings was swearing on the bus. A kid told his mom. The mom called the school. My boy was identified as The Swearer. My boy admitted it guiltily so the principal admired his honesty and the punishment was just a call home. My boy failed to tell the principal that his friend told him to swear on the bus. And when a friend tells my boy to do something, he usually does it because he can't control his impulses very well. Not that that makes it acceptable at all, but just that there is always more to the story when my kids are involved.

Ella got bitten by a neighbor's dog this week. Poor little thing was running away from it when it bit the back of her leg. Broke skin, teeth marks are still embedded in shades of swollen purple. My poor baby was terrified and heartbroken and couldn't stop gulping and sobbing. She kept wailing "This is my WORST OWIE EVER!!!" Until she fell down on the sidewalk yesterday and her knee bled and then that was the worst owie ever. The doctor said to watch Ella's dog bite to make sure it doesn't get infected, so I'm on leg watch this week. So far so good.

Ella is also struggling with self esteem and school. Our speech therapist is testing her, and is starting to be able to pinpoint where exactly Ella is struggling, and surprise surprise, it's in the area of auditory processing. That's what the preliminary findings are, at least. Just like Aidan. So following multi-step directions is hard for her. That's why she says she can't keep up with her class. The class goes too fast for her and she says she's stupid. 

*ouch. mama's heart cracks in half.*

I've reached out to our fabulous teacher and told her what Ella's therapists and I are seeing, and what the therapists have suggested as interventions to help support Ella in school. The teacher does her best to implement these supports, so we'll see what happens. But worry worry worry. These kids, geez. Thanks for the gray hair, kiddos. Luckily I have a fabulous hair artist who can conquer the stress that exhibits itself in the graying of my hairs.

Two days ago the middle school had a suicide prevention day. The kids filled out risk assessments to see if any red flags were raised about depression or suicide. I expected a call. I waited for it. I anticipated it. And sure enough, the phone rang. Just because I knew the phone would ring about this, doesn't mean it was any easier to hear. Terrifying, actually. 

One of my boys had been pulled by the social worker because of his answers to his assessment. Nothing too major, but enough to cause concern. The social worker had talked with my sweet boy about his answers. He said he had thought about suicide last year but not this year. This year he is on new medication, he told the social worker, and in therapy. The social worker felt he is not at risk for suicide. I explained that my twins frequently talk about suicide, and have since they were five years old. It's almost a way for them to cope with their extreme feelings. I take this seriously, but I also know, to the best of my Mama Knowledge, that they are not actually suicidal. But I'm always on watch. Always on watch. 

We reinforce over and over that suicide is not ok. The world would not be ok without my boys in it. They are not allowed to hurt themselves, and if they do or feel like they will, they have to come to us and tell us so we can help them. Because we will move heaven and earth to help them. Because we love them more than is even fathomable. 

They get sick of hearing The Suicide Speech.

But I know that I've talked with my boys about it, so they are informed and knowledgeable. That's all I can do. Bottom line, their lives are in their hands. But I will do everything in my power to make their lives happy and healthy. 

I had an IEP meeting for one boy yesterday- just an annual review, so not too much fighting. It actually went very well! I know, what a surprise! My boy is improving. Things are getting a little bit better in many areas. We still have some work to do, so we tweaked some things, but overall it was an extremely positive, productive meeting and my boy will have even more support at school now.

One of my boys has been crying his eyes out since Saturday. Well, he took Monday off from crying, but was back at it yesterday. He is worried about some family health issues in our extended family. And he is worried about leaving me. For days, he has either been raging or crying. Yesterday he literally could not get out of bed because of his depression. He laid on the couch most of the day, crying on and off. I couldn't get him to school. He was incapacitated by his anxiety and depression.

And get this. At the IEP meeting that went so great yesterday, the SOCIAL WORKER had the AUDACITY to say that it surprised her that my son was so distraught because she had seen him just the day before and he was fine. Excuse me. What kind of social worker is this? Let's use the term "social worker" loosely from here on out. Why is it that 2 out of the 3 social workers my kid has had in middle school are so jaded that they have the gall to say my kid is lying about his feelings. I've never heard of social workers being so incompetent. I trained to be a school social worker, a lifetime ago, and I've done social workey things my entire adult life. I would never, ever say the things these school social workers have said to me. Unbelievable. I didn't even know how to respond to the ridiculous accusation that my kid is faking his distress. Luckily, my advocate jumped in and wisely said we should be very careful when making assumptions about my son's emotional state. Luckily for the social worker, my advocate was there, because I was about to jump across the table and throttle her. Seriously. 

While I was at that IEP meeting yesterday, I got a text from our babysitter saying the school nurse had called from the elementary school. Aidan had gotten bonked in the head with someone else's head during gym class. THEN he got hit in the face with a lunch box and it cut his skin above his eye. I swear, every time I'm at an IEP meeting at the middle school, Aidan goes bonkers at the elementary school. I don't know if he senses my stress from a mile away or what. Poor kid.

And then to top it all off yesterday, one of my darlings had a big, stinky rage. Because he couldn't get the TV to work to play his show. This is the same boy the "social worker" accused of lying about his distress. Like I said, he is either raging or crying. He can't regulate his emotions well, and can't control them either. 

I did find out one bit of pertinent information this week. My son told me that when he and his wife are trying to have a baby, he is going to eat pickled herring and sit on ice. Hm. Ok...why? Because that's how you have a boy, he informed me. And if he wants a girl, he will eat lemons. I asked him how he gleaned this very interesting information. He said he learned it from the TV show "How I Met Your Mother." Aha. Mystery solved. 

So you know, just the usual around here lately. A few calls from the school about suicide, head bonks and bus swearing. Dog bites and cracked skulls from lunch box attacks. Fits of rage and weeping. Social workers who doubt me and my children. A few million extra gray hairs. AND IT'S ONLY WEDNESDAY. Fabulous. I expect only amazing things from the rest of the week. 

At least I do know now what will need to happen in order to have a boy or girl grandchild. I can rest easy, now that I have that information.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dude, Where's My Manual?

Here's what I'm wondering: where is my "What To Expect" book? You know those books- "What To Expect When You're Expecting," "What To Expect The First Year," etc.

There are bookshelves full of helpful books for pregnancy, the first year, toddler-hood. There are books about how to be a good mother to boys. About how to raise a teen. There are books about how to get your kid to clean their room. About how to raise responsible kids. About how to get kids to sleep. There's probably one about how to get your kids to join a circus. There are books about every special need out there. Trust me, I've read most of them. There are books about how to get your special kiddo to eat better, play better, be better. There are books about everything. Except a book that tells me how to help my unique kids. Where is that book? Where is my manual?

Where is my "How To Parent Kids Who Have:
Bipolar Disorder
Tourette's Syndrome
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder
Auditory Processing Disorder
Visual Processing Disorder
Speech Issues
Gross Motor Issues
Fine Motor Issues
Low Muscle Tone 
Learning Disabilities
Compromised Immune Systems
Autoimmune Problems

Seriously. I know we parents all joke "I wish kids came with a manual- ha ha." But seriously, in this day and age, why isn't there more help readily available for families like mine who struggle with so much? Why do I have to be Mama Detective and find the things to help my kids all on my own, all by myself? Sometimes just by coincidence, or being at the right place at the right time and overhearing someone else's conversation. Why isn't there more help?

Jonah and I did genetic testing recently. Ben refused to spit in the tube because the idea of it grossed him out so much he almost vomited. Not joking. They can't test vomit, only saliva, so we gave Ben's tube to Dad. His results are still pending, but Jonah and my results are back. This is some crazy stuff, people. Here's what I've learned during my crash course in genetics: A genetic snp is a genetic defect. Sometimes you can have a snp that's not turned on, so even though you have the defect, it doesn't impact you in any way. But sometimes you have snp's that are turned on and are causing your body to go completely haywire. Jonah and I have a few snp's that are turned on, and that's not great. 

I got the results from our testing, printed out a report, and brought it to our chiropractor who had said he would help me interpret all the mumbo jumbo. I knew enough to know that I have the dreaded snp that causes your body to not be able to process and use folic acid correctly. This snp, if turned on, can cause pregnancy complications, birth defects, you see where I'm going with this. So I knew this going in to my meeting with the doctor. But as he and our nutritionist and I sat at the table discussing the ramifications of our results, I burst into tears. Of course. Because lately I can't do anything without crying. I couldn't even talk for a moment. I said I just feel so badly that so much of the kids' problems come directly from me. My genes have even caused all three boys to be tongue tied- a result of that snp I was just talking about. If I could have known this before becoming pregnant, I could have had the right nutrition and the correct form of folic acid that my body requires, and who knows how many less complications we would have had. Why isn't genetic testing mandatory for anyone hoping to have a baby? Just so we can prevent so many things, so easily. 

My doctor said it's not my fault, none of the kids' problems are my fault. That's easier said than accepted. I feel guilty. Stupid genes. Between Alex's and mine, whew, it's a miracle these kids are even walking and talking and don't look like aliens. (No offense, Alex. Your genes are perfect and pristine, I'm sure. We'll see in a couple weeks when we get your results back!)

I am still researching Jonah and my genetic snp's. One thing I found out about Jonah is that he has a genetic defect nicknamed "The Warrior Gene." Ok, seriously. Could this be any more completely on target with what he is experiencing? Wow. With this genetic defect, people get out-of-control angry about things most people can easily handle without being disrupted. I have watched videos of people with this genetic defect and they look exactly like how my boys act. 

I have always believed that there is some way I can uncover what is going on in my kids' bodies. Then I'll know what to give them that will heal their brains and hearts and bodies. We'll get their neurotransmitters working correctly, their guts healthy and whole, their immune systems strong. It's taken me 13 years of painfully slow research to figure out just a fraction of what is happening in my kids' bodies. I think that's terrible. And even more terrible- I still don't know what to do to help them so that they can take off the bandaids of pharmaceutical medications and heal in wholistic, natural ways. Medications aren't healing or fixing what is malfunctioning in their bodies. Medications are our bandaids to get through the symptoms until I figure out what will heal their little bodies. 

Now I have one more piece of the puzzle- some insight into the kids' genetics. I know their, and my, neurotransmitters are all wonky. Our nutritionist is helping with homeopathic remedies to get all our neurotransmitters working the way they should. I thought neurotransmitters were only in the brain- did you know we actually produce them in our guts? So if your gut is out of wack, and leaky, and malnourished, of course your neurotransmitters are affected too, causing problems all over your body. (When I was telling a friend about this the other day, I laughed because she said "You're so smart!" But sadly, I can't take all the credit. I just repeat what smart people have told me.) 

My question is why did I have to figure out on my own that we needed genetic testing? Is this The Answer to all our problems? I don't know yet. But it is something significant. Why didn't a doctor somewhere along the line say hey, I think you should get some genetic testing done to see what we can help through non-pharmaceutical routes. My chiropractor said to me that this is cutting edge stuff. That what I chose to do with this testing is not the norm yet. He asked me who else I know that has done this specific form of testing. I said no one. He said see? He told me once this type of test is able to make money for some company, some day, then we'll see healthcare start leaning towards this type of testing. Until then, we're left to figure it out on our own. Crazy.

Am I asking too much? Is it too much to demand that someone, somewhere have a wealth of information in one place to help complicated cases like those that live in my house? Where is that person? Where is that book? It should be like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book: if you've tried A, B, and C, and your kids are still having rages, try D! There's still hope! And you don't have to reinvent the wheel, trying to figure out where to go from here, because someone went before you and has another idea you can try! Parents should have some place to use as a resource for finding help that is effective. 

I remember reading books about parenting even before I had kids. I studied children in college and grad school. I had a ton of experience with kids. I thought I would do all the good things good parents do, and my kids would respond the way 'normal' kids do, and we would all grow up together happily. Time outs- a minute for every year of their age. Present beautiful, healthy meals that my darlings would devour. Teach right from wrong. Play and love. All the things you are supposed to do. But from the very beginning of our Child Journey, I realized whoa. We've got our hands full here. This whole parenting thing is not going according to plan. From the time Ben's water broke- 12 weeks too early, and probably because of that damn genetic snp I have- I knew our journey would not be one found in a self-help book on our local book store's shelves.

Part of the problem as I see it is that information is constantly changing. There are new things being discovered and tried all the time. But I think there has to be some way to have information in one place for parents who struggle like we do. Can anyone really comprehend all the zillions of interventions we've tried over the years? I mean, zillions. I always feel like I am not an expert, I don't know much about stuff. But if a friend asks me about a special need, or therapies, or interventions, or whatever, I surprise myself with how much I know. It's only because we've tried so many things. And so many things haven't worked, so I keep looking for the next thing to try. 

As I was sobbing in our chiropractor's office about my crappy genes that have been passed to our innocent babies, our nutritionist said "Just think if you hadn't done all the things you've done for your kids up to this point. Think how much worse off they would be. You work SO HARD to help them." My brain knows this is absolutely true. But my heart aches because nothing seems to work. Granted, if we hadn't tried anything at all, I'm sure all the kids would be much worse off. So maybe I'm mistaken when I say so many things haven't worked, because if we hadn't tried those things maybe we'd be in an even more horrible place. But out of all these zillions of things we've tried, why isn't something working better? The boys are on some heavy duty medications. Why do they still have all these difficult symptoms?

A friend of mine totally hit the nail on the head this week. We were talking about our kids and meds. She said (I'm paraphrasing her pearl of wisdom here) --oooo I love this, it's just so perfectly true--It would be one thing if a medication took away all the horrible behaviors. If we could totally stop rages with one med. Or get our kids to concentrate as well as a typical kiddo with one med. But the problem is, we have to choose between living in absolute hell without meds, OR putting our sweet babies on meds that have a million bad side effects just to see a little improvement. The med doesn't even totally fix our problems! And now our kids are dealing with weight gain, elevated liver enzymes, high cholesterol...and we still have to deal with the horrible things that the med is supposed to treat because nothing is treated 100%. It's awful. 

That's exactly it. Those of us who have to walk the tightrope of meds have to weigh whether it's better to give our little loves obesity, high cholesterol, elevated liver enzymes, and maybe a little relief from rage (or whatever you're treating), or just let them create a living hell that they cannot control and that the entire family has to navigate. 

It's not fair. It's not easy. It's not the way it should be. Someone, somewhere, should say well, I don't know if you're into "alternative" stuff, but you could try essential oils. Or homeopathic remedies. Or interactive metronome training, brushing, or Feldenkreis. Or MNRI. You can also try medications. Or maybe accupuncture, cranial sacral therapy, or therapeutic listening. You could try developmental optometry. Or counseling. Medications are sometimes necessary, but I wish someone had told me about all these other alternatives, and the other zillions we've tried, before we went down the med route.

It's so impossible, and lonely, and dark, and hopeless, and heavy, searching for the next thing to try because all the zillions of things you've tried over the past 13 years still haven't made life tolerable with, or for, your kids.

Where's my manual?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Birthday Blessings, And Only One Throw Up

Today is my birthday. Here's how my 24 hours of celebration began: as each of my three sons came downstairs to where Ella and I were slumped on the couch, they each exclaimed, one after the other, "EWWWW!!! Is Ella THROWING UP?? Happy birthday, Mom."

Nice. Motherhood is so glamorous.

My little sweetie had a fever, tummy ache, and threw up once today. Once I can handle. Plus Ella is the best vomiter in the crew. She knows exactly when to demand "BOWL." She aims, she fires. No muss, no fuss. Then after she throws up (I was informed by said sickie today that she prefers to say 'throw up' instead of 'vomit,' 'barf,' or 'puke.') she is almost manic- giddy with relief. She talks a mile a minute until she collapses from illness. So one throw up isn't too bad.

I had a wonderful day. I only got sworn at by my boys a couple times. And, NO RAGES!!! What?!? Do the happy dance with me, people! No rages. I went to the psychiatrist yesterday to talk with him about what our Boy Plan should be. Our psychiatrist is brilliant when it comes to psych-ish things, but not so warm and fuzzy. Not a hugger.

So it was with great embarrassment that I dissolved into tears on his couch as I was trying to explain the challenges we're facing right now with our sons. To my surprise, our psychiatrist was very understanding and compassionate, and really 'got it.' We talked for a long time about what our next step should be and decided some medication tweaks were in order. I'm scared- I always am when we change any meds. But I'm also desperate, so we've got to take a step forwards no matter what that step is, and even if I'm scared.

I worry because both of the meds my boys take specifically for their anger can cause weight gain. Ben has been on his med for a couple months now, and he has gained weight because of it. Jonah no doubt will also, because of the medication he started yesterday. On a Facebook page I belong to for parents whose children have Tourette Syndrome, a mom asked if other parents struggle with giving their kids meds that cause weight gain. A whole host of comments followed. As I read these comments from desperate, passionate, wonderful parents, clinging to the hope that THIS medication will help their kiddo, I thought how absolutely unfair this is. As a parent who is desperate to survive their children's rages and emotional problems, our choice is to give our child medication that can cause weight gain, prediabetes, high cholesterol, and a host of other health problems, OR--live in a home with screaming, raging, out of control children.

That is not a choice! That is not fair! There's no good answer here. Make your kid fat and unhealthy or just deal with the violence and abuse your kid can unleash on your entire family. Not fair. My sweet, smart, beautiful boys deserve better than either of those choices. They are being betrayed by their brains that are malfunctioning, and it's not fair.

I console myself with the thought that I am sneaking up on the boys' mental health and neurological issues. I'm coming around the back, all in black, in the middle of the night, and those darn diagnoses won't know what hit 'em. I'm working with our nutritionist to get all the kids' bodies healthy from the inside out. I feel that medication is a bandaid. It helps us in the moment, or for many years of moments. But it's not healing the body that it is put into. I'm working to help the kids' bodies heal so that they won't need the medications someday, or maybe will need less of them. My hope is that someday we will be able to slowly peel off all our bandaids and expose the newness, the whole-ness, of my healed children. That is my goal. Therapies, supplements, essential oils, healthy diet, chiropractic care...everything we do is so that someday, the bandaids of medication can come off.

I took Aidan to see our nutritionist this week. She's the one that does the "Voo doo," as Alex calls it. She hooks you up to a computer and is able to test your entire body and all its organs by using a probe on one of your body's natural energy paths- a meridian. I love it. On the computer screen, you can watch the nutritionist work through each body part and organ, seeing which ones are enflamed or clogged or in need of support. It's incredibly interesting.

Aidan's little body is a hot mess. He's just one big clogged-up blob. It takes time to slowly help a body heal and clean out toxins, but it is possible. I'm living proof of that slow recovery. Aidan is taking a few supplements to start his body in the direction of healing. Each of us goes to see the nutritionist every 4-6 weeks to see how we are progressing with our nutritional protocol and to tweak the process as needed. It's fascinating.

So that's my plan. I'm sneaking up on all these little brains. Suddenly they're going to wake up and realize huh! We just got healed! Then I will laugh and say "Take THAT, you rotten old brains! We fooled you!"

It isn't fair, but it is what it is and we're trying the best we can. My brother lifted my up yesterday with his words. He said that a physical side effect, like weight gain, can hopefully be combatted sometime in the future. We can work on that. We can try to do the things necessary to reverse that side effect. But the anger and rages- that's something that is tearing our family up right now, and it's something that can't be changed with diet and exercise, or any of the other strategies and interventions we've tried. Living this way is changing the way my non-raging kids see life. It's exhausting Alex and me. It's hurting the souls of my ragers. It can't continue. My brother said he thinks we've made the right decision with our medication changes, based on all that.

It's important to feel valued and uplifted and supported, especially by the important people in your life. Knowing that someone I value as much as my brother thinks Alex and I are making the right decision for our kids means the world. When you're in this position as a parent, scrambling in the dark for a tiny beam of hope, the love and support of friends and family means everything.

I know the med changes haven't kicked in for the boys yet, but we did have a good day. Friends and family took time out of their busy lives to make sure I felt loved and appreciated. My chiropractor and her office assistant did "The Birthday Song and Dance" for me all the way down their hallway. Friends from, literally, far and wide made sure to show me how much I'm loved. Goodies found their way into my mailbox! Facebook posts went bonkers with all the birthday love! Alex worked from home and took care of Ella so I could keep the appointments I had scheduled today for exciting things- like a blood test! And lunch with a dear friend.

I'm speechless and humbled by the love of my circle of friends and family.

The kids and Alex made me feel so special tonight. We actually ate dinner TOGETHER, and there were NO fights! It was a birthday miracle. (Or maybe just that fact that there is one meal in this world that we all love to eat--tacos. It was Taco Night. Even though everyone eats their tacos differently, we all agree, we love tacos.) Everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to me as my candles burned to waxy stubs in my cupcake because it took so long to figure out who was eating which flavor of cupcake and the candles had already been lit. Jonah asked Aidan what flavor of cupcake he wanted: caramel, vanilla, or chocolate. Aidan looked over at him. Aidan paused a long, full, Aidan-Pause. Minutes of silence as we all watched Aidan and waited in suspense for the answer...then he said "I'll have Gatorade." Classic Aidan.

Ella, Ben and Jonah had to have candles on their cupcakes along with me, and we had to sing the birthday song to Ella also. We went on a scavenger hunt, led by Ella, to find all the presents she and Daddy had wrapped. She was so excited, even though she was sick. They would say "hot....cold" whenever I got near or far away from a present. I'd find the present and then Ella would snatch it out of my hands and rip it open. I hope by the time I turn 80 that I'll get the privilege of opening my own presents! But by then I probably will have great-grandchildren who will want to open my presents, and it is so fun, who can deny a child that gleeful experience?

My last present of the day was listening to the rain storm outside. That was a beautiful gift. I love rain.

I adore birthdays. Mine, other people's, doesn't matter. I don't know what it is, I just get so filled with excitement that someone special was born on this particular day. Each life should be celebrated and cherished! I don't understand people who don't want to have birthdays or don't get a huge kick out of them. I LOVE them! I embarrass the people around me with my birthday excitement. Too bad. You only get a You Day once a year. Enjoy it. I even told my phlebotomist that is was my birthday. She had my Driver's License in her hand, so she already knew, but I told her anyway. She and I go way back (I've had many, many blood tests) and I thought she had the right to celebrate with me over my 6 tubes of blood. And get this- me dear lunch date friend? She snuck a GLUTEN FREE chocolate cake into Panera for us to eat after our gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, meat free, soy free soup! (We laughed like crazy when my friend read the ingredients in the cake. Pretty much everything on our Do Not Eat list was in that cake. Except for meat and gluten. You have to live a little, especially on your birthday.) Now that is my kind of birthday celebration!!

Here's to a new year of my life. I can't wait for the changes and adventure that are coming my way. I'm so grateful to all the people who fill my life. Thank you for knowing me and loving me anyway. Thank you for sticking by me during my dark moments, and holding the flashlight so I can see my way out of the tunnel. Thank you for letting me know you're there, you understand. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for reassuring me that I'm not a bad mom. Thank you for walking through this life with me. Thank you for making my special day so special, just by being in it.

And most of all, thank you, God, for only one throw up today.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Backpack of Sorrow

In addition to having a troll on my shoulders, with his scratchy socks and bony butt a constant reminder that at any time the world could come crashing down around me, and my heart full of chosen joy, I also wear a backpack full of sorrow. Raw sorrow. 

Sorrow about many things, but today it's especially heavy because what mother wants to think things like "At what point is this too much? At what point do we say we can't handle life like this anymore? Life with constant verbal abuse, emotional and physical abuse, all from our children?" What parent wants to think those thoughts?

This morning the big boys had to go in to school early for a study group for a test. They have multiple tests today. They're a little stressed out. I woke them up with my cheerful Mama voice, like I do every day. Daddy came in to their rooms, singing a wake-up song from their toddler years. We were all happy happy joy joy. 

At some point, the tides turned. As usual, there was no single thing I can reflect on that was The Trigger. Irritation, swearing, inappropriate language, and anger decided that they would rule the boys today. For no reason that is apparent to me. It's not like normal teens who swear or act a little manic because they're nervous, or fight over who gets the last bit of chocolate milk. It's deeper than that. More malicious than that. More mentally ill than that. It's indescribable, the feeling of having to live like this and somehow make sure everyone's needs are being met, everyone is safe, and not lose my mind. If the thought "I may not be able to live like this with my children" even enters your subconscious, that means it's serious. It's serious. 

What if a boy holding a knife while threatening me trips on a dog, falls, and actually stabs me? What if a shoe hits my head while I'm driving and I'm knocked unconscious while toting my dear little ones around? What if my smaller two grow up thinking this behavior is acceptable and they choose abusive relationships because it's what they grew up watching their brothers do? How do you protect all of your kids, and yourself, and still make decisions that are the best for all of them?

I know many families struggle with these thoughts, this backpack of raw sorrow. No one talks about it. No parent wants to admit that they are struggling in a verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically, abusive home because of their children's actions. But the reality is that there are places for kids to live and go to school away from their homes because they just can't live with their families anymore. The reality is that some parents would rather die and take their child with them to death than deal with living one more day the way they have been. That's not ok, in any scenario, but my point is that there are parents struggling with a backpack of sorrow that grows too heavy for them to handle. At what point do you know it's too heavy to handle? 

My boys have severe separation anxiety. Almost every evening they get teary, saying it was a hard day at school because they missed me so much. They can't stay anywhere overnight without having panic attacks. Even at grandparents' homes. They can't go on outings with grandparents or stay home with a loved babysitter without having anxious meltdowns and completely falling apart. How in the world would they live somewhere else without Alex and me? How could we even ever fathom doing that to them? 

Nothing seems to work to improve the boys' behavior at home. I'm busting my butt, I'm exhausted, trying absolutely every thing I hear of that might help them be calmer, be happier, be healthier. Years and years of therapy hasn't helped. All kind of other interventions haven't helped. No consequences help. No positive rewards help. What else is there to do? As a parent, are you supposed to just take it? Take it all? Be verbally abused, literally abused, because you asked your son to put his shoes on or brush his teeth, or God forbid- do his homework? I really don't know. I don't have any answers. 

One time  a few weeks ago when a boy was having a rage, I got very angry and smacked his tush. I was tired of taking his verbal insults, his swearing, his physical attacks, on and on it went. We don't spank, as a rule. But I totally lost it, I screamed at him, and I spanked his tush as he struggled against me. He was shocked. I asked him what does he expect me to do when he is being so completely horrible to me? Just take it? He replied "Yes!" 

Parents are supposed to love unconditionally, and we do. The love that we have for our kids is not in question in the least. I just worry about our family if these behaviors continue to get worse as the boys get older and bigger.

I know the abusive behaviors come from their diagnoses. I know it's the mental illness rearing it's ugly head. I know it's the ADHD causing impulsivity. But knowing this doesn't make it easier to live with it.

My sorrow comes from so many things about being a parent to these children. Sorrow about the things we can't do as a family. The way my kids struggle in the world. The way they struggle in their own heads. The way Alex and I have to struggle so hard to get the kids to do things that typical kids take for granted. The fact that I don't know how we will live together as a family if things continue to get worse. That's where my biggest sorrow comes from. Where did my sweet toddler boys go? How did they turn into this? 

My kids souls are raw. They wear their souls on their sleeves, and so nothing is hidden at home. They let it all out- the good and the terrible. Sometimes their good, kind, pure selves come out and it brings me to tears- how tender and innocent and beautiful they are. The other day I was sitting on the couch. Ben came over and sat down, putting my legs up on his lap. He said he wanted to give me a foot rub. I said that's so nice! He said he had read a couple of my blog posts and he knows I struggle with life sometimes. He said he wanted to make life easier for me. 


Then I reminded him he is not allowed to read my blog yet. He has to wait until he is a grown up. I don't want the kids to know this Mama. I want them only to know Mama. Someday when they're older they can read all this if they want to, but not right now. They don't need to know my perspective right now.

The kindness of my children is remarkable. They are wonderful people. There's no doubt about that. I just don't know what to do when the Bipolar takes over, or the ADHD, or the rages. Alex asks me what we are supposed to do. I don't have the answer. 

All I know is that my backpack of sorrow is too heavy today.