Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Part Two of Snapped Back

All of this was very difficult for Kayla to verbalize. Out of our three, she is the toughest to reach, and to read. She told me she prides herself in being this way. Surprisingly, during our conversation, I didn't get angry or defensive. Well, maybe I got a little defensive in the very beginning, because who likes being told they are not doing a good job?  I said things like "I'm trying", but it sounded weak and pointless, so I stopped. Because whatever I was doing, and however I was doing it, wasn't effective. I explained to her that I would actually start listening to her, and that being a mom has always, and will continue to be my first priority. I told her it is my main purpose in life.

I'm not going to say this was received with instant smiles and gratification, but at least I said what I needed. To a teenager, if they don't see an immediate, concrete change; the doubt, anger, and fear will usually linger.

With all that was going on, the party, the class, the wedding... my plan was to help her with her college search in two weeks, when I had more time. But two weeks, when she told me "this is urgent to me", is too long.

Do I foresee having a life after my kids leave? Of course I do. But none of them have left yet. And I'm glad about that. So why would I rush into the next chapter of my life, when this one hasn't ended?

After getting my parent's advice and opinions, (of course :) I did what I had to do. I called and asked if this opportunity to teach would be lost, if I didn't attend the class this week. Fortunately, the answer to this was that it would not. There will be other classes offered. And quite frankly, explaining our situation to someone in the mental health community, not surprisingly, was received with plenty of support and understanding.

I don't know why our family is the way it is. It used to make me feel angry and insecure, like we had done something wrong. So many parents, and more specifically mothers, work full time. This was one week out of an entire summer that I will be home, with the kids. But it's okay. Because what works for one family, or even one child, may not work for another. I guess we all just need to continue trying to do what feels right, and...  just keep swimming. Can you tell we all just saw, and loved, Finding Dory?!

Thank you,

Us Too

Monday, June 27, 2016

Snapped Back To Reality

For all you Eminem fans out there :)

You know when you think everything is going fine and life is rolling along smoothly, and then you're kind of snapped back into reality? Yep, Me Too.

I think I mentioned a while ago how impressed I was with the Mental Health First Aid class (MHFA) that Adam and I took. Afterwards, I reached out to one of the instructors, letting her know that I would be interested in leading the class one day.

One day. When my parental responsibilities were less demanding. Why do I have the feeling that some of you older parents get a chuckle from this statement?

But just the fact that Jordan has graduated, and will be living on campus, will leave me with much more free time. I still "help her" do her toiletries every morning and every night, so she doesn't get stuck in front of the mirror battling her skin picking disorder.  I still wake her up, make sure she eats and drinks... well, you get the picture. There's no resentment. It's how our life is, and it works for us. But I do realize my life will change dramatically when she leaves. In a good way. Because I have hope and faith that a big change is exactly what Jordan needs. Without it, I honestly doubt she would have the ability to move on and gain confidence and control.

Yes, it will be hard in all of the "normal" ways, but I see it as so very necessary. For all of us.

Back to the MHFA class. I found out the training to become an instructor was being offered today. Well, actually, this whole week. Today is one day after Jordan's grad party, and the class ends a few days before the 4th of July. Plus we have a family wedding on July 8th.

But the class did fit into this time slot. I could do it! I filled out the eleven page application, and was notified that I was accepted into the program. I felt honored. Nervous, but honored.

So in my mind everything was going fine, and life was rolling along smoothly. Busily, but smoothly.

Until I was informed by Kayla that I haven't been "hearing" her lately. She was freaking out because she has no idea where she wants to go to college in a year, she needs to email track coaches, she can't clean her room, she isn't living her life... And nothing I said helped. I told her she had plenty of time, she doesn't need to know what she wants to do yet, she has so much going for her, she's been working out, has a boyfriend... Nothing helped. Especially when I said "Last year when I helped Jordan, we didn't start this early." Her reply to that? "I am not Jordan!" Ouch.

She was telling me, loud and clear, that she needed me. She told me, "I can't do it alone." Now I am hearing her.

Let the snapping-back begin.

Thank you,

Us too

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Didn't Want To Be One of Those Moms

Jordan got a scooter. Her neighborhood friends also had scooters. Jordan wanted to ride hers with the handle down, more like a skate board. This obviously made it more difficult to balance, so she decided to sit on her butt, and scoot around that way. Which was all fine and good.

Until... when seeing her friend riding in the usual style, standing up holding onto the handle bar, she said with a very negative tone and attitude, "Her scooter is easier than mine." Just an FYI, they had the same exact scooters.

I'm not sure, but at this moment, there may have been actual steam coming out from my ears. It's great that she had the wherewithal to realize she didn't want to fall off her scooter. It was actually clever for her to figure out a safer, less risky way to use it. But then to say your friend's scooter is easier to use? I saw this as a blatant put down. It minimized her friend's accomplishment. Yes, this was because of Jordan's fears and anxieties, but it still didn't make it right.

In actuality, her friend most likely practiced using her scooter, until she learned to ride it. That's what people do.

So in my competitive, childish way, I began giving her a hard time. I said if she didn't practice using her scooter standing up, she wouldn't be able to keep up with her friends when she rode with them. At least I did have some proactive bits of information to give. I told her everyone needs to work at things in order to accomplish them, and if she practiced, she would also learn. Then she would be able to ride with her friends.

The funny thing is, I'm not even sure she cared if she could ride with her friends. I do know that I did. I made her feel badly, and then went inside. Cringe.

After I thought about what I did, I realized something. I didn't want to be one of those moms who pushed her kids. If she was having fun on her scooter, even while sitting on her butt, that's what was important. Why did it matter more to me, than it did to her? I had to remind myself that I only wanted her to be happy.

So I went back outside and told her my behavior was wrong, and I would try not to act like that again. I finished with, "You can ride your scooter on your head if you want to." This made her giggle.

Please keep in mind (and you will realize this if you continue reading Us Too) that I wasn't always this grown up, or this fair. For some reason at this specific time, I was. And I'm glad about that.

Thank you,

Us Too

Friday, June 17, 2016

Being Your Own Worst Enemy

This would have made no sense to me before having Jordan.

When Jordan was five, I began to get frustrated with some of her hang-ups. It drove me nuts when she would attempt something new (which was pretty much everything when you're five), got very angry, and then instantly gave up.

That was just never my MO. It takes patience, hard work, and a certain amount of tenacity to learn any new skill. If you think about it, nobody is born knowing how to do anything. Life has to be experienced and learned. But Jordan gave up so quickly, that she wasn't even giving herself the chance to succeed. Or to fail.

As you can imagine, the many small milestones in life were anything but small, when Jordan was concerned. This included learning to tie her shoes. I realize this takes coordination and precise small muscle control, but Jordan possessed both. It should have been smooth sailing.

But it wasn't. She would repeatedly say things such as: “I can't do it. I don't want to tie my shoes, it's too hard. I'm never going to tie them again!“ She would get so frustrated, and usually storm away in her sock covered feet. This was difficult for me to watch because she was so hard on herself. She wouldn't even give herself the chance to learn. If she couldn't tie the perfect bow instantly and perfectly, she wouldn't tie it at all.

She was her own worst enemy, and it sucked. Actually, it still sucks today.

It didn't help that Kayla sat down a few times when Grandma Weeze was helping Jordan learn how to tie. and just like that, she could tie her shoes. No anger, no frustration. Her reaction when she messed up? She would laugh. There were actually a few times when Kayla tied Jordan's shoes for her. She was only three years and eight months old, and she was tying her five year old sister's shoes. Not good. You would think having your younger sister master the skill, would be ample motivation to overcome your own doubts and fears.

Not so much. It took me many years to realize that not everyone works this way. Because even after Kayla could tie, there were times when Jordan still insisted that she couldn't, and wouldn't do it.

Thank you,

Us Too

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Some Thoughts and Reflections

After all of these blogs about Jordan, I felt it was necessary to share that she has officially graduated from high school!!  This is a HUGE hurdle to have conquered, as it is for all young adults. But for teens fighting on a daily basis with seen and unseen struggles, I believe that it is all the more poignant.

I guess I am writing this as a gentle reminder that everyone has crap going on. And during life's most meaningful events, this crap may be especially present in the mind's of the participants. Yes, graduation is a wonderful event, one to be celebrated and enjoyed. But it is also emotional and difficult. As are weddings, the birth of babies... all the good things in life. Because along with these circle-of-life events, also comes inevitable endings.

Life is full of endings. And I'm sure I'm not the only one out there, who hates endings. Because at the time, they pretty much suck.

Not surprisingly, I'm brought back to the memories of my high school graduation. Pictures of my grandparents, who are no longer with us, smiling proudly along side me. Which forces me to realize that this is only a snap-shot in time. And things will continue to move forward... whether we like it or not.

Please keep in mind that some people have difficulty handling these types of realizations and feelings. Depending on where they are in their lives, and what is going on, it may be too much. 

I think that I can say this, because I was in this scary place last year. And once you're unfortunate enough to have been in this dark place, you never really forget it. You fear it, and you don't forget it. You realize that just because things are going well today, doesn't mean that they always will. You are forced to give up some control, and hopefully you are able to enjoy today as much as possible.

So let's all try to enjoy our todays, both the meaningful and the trivial ones. And if you're struggling to do this, then please reach out to your loved ones for help. Because life is meant to be enjoyed. And I guess (she says a bit reluctantly) that it is possible for ending's to be "happily-ever-after".

Thank you,

Us Too

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

It's Not Always Fair. Or Fun

So I guess it's a mom's responsibility to address this.

Jordan began to complain about being the oldest child. She would tell me that it "wasn't fair". Yes, we were harder on her. But I personally do not think it was because she was the oldest. I think, (and I'm going to be completely honest here) it was because she could be a royal pain in our butts. Although, if you've been following this blog at all, you are most likely aware of this small tidbit of information. She pushed, so inevitably, we pushed back a little harder. Was this unfair? I don't think so. But was it crappy? Yes, it certainly was. And that goes for everyone involved.

I talked to her about all the positive aspects of being the oldest. She had a CD player (which believe it or not, back then, was a big deal), got to go on play-dates, and to ballet class, and she also got to stay up later than the other two. One of her friends even asked her mother if she could have a baby brother, like Jordan. Thankfully these explanations appeared to satisfy her. It was funny, because she was the one who initiated her playtime with Kevin. 

When I asked her why she spent so much time with him, her explanation was that she "didn't like to hear him yell or cry".  And here I thought she just enjoyed making him laugh.

Cringe... not a huge one, but still worth mentioning. 

Because what comes to my mind now, is that Kevin's complaining (which I most likely didn't bat an eye at, because, let's face it, he was our third child), must have caused her some anxiety. (As I sit here remembering what a neurotic nut I was when Jordan was a baby.) His fussing made her so uncomfortable, that she took it upon herself to try to appease him. I wondered if it was our responsibility to take off some of the pressure, by separating them a bit. I also worried that our actions were sending the message to Jordan, that we expected her, to help keep Kevin amused and content.

Because ultimately, that was exactly what she was doing. She was like the ever-so-popular iPad, of today's world... only much healthier and more acceptable. At least that's what I hope.

Thank you,

Us Too

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Rays of Sunshine and Tornadoes

And if this doesn't work, then what?

Quite often Jordan would transform from the sweetest almost-five-year-old, by saying things like “Mommy can I write Santa one more letter to say thank you for the great Christmas?” to telling her best friend's mother "no!", right to her face. Afterwards, Jordan proceeded to lose her mind. We had to take her down their basement, away from the four younger kids, until she was able to calm down.  I know... the dreaded basement again.

What child tells their best friend's mother, "no"? Here's what happened: The mother told Jordan her girls were going to bed soon, so we needed to get ready to leave. That's it. That was the whole scenario. We were close with this family, so they were already very familiar with Jordan and her behaviors. I wasn't at all embarrassed. I guess I was more shocked. This was a first, to witness her moods and defiance, directed at someone who wasn't a family member. Yikes.

But here's another positive, proud-mama moment. Her ballet teacher told me that Jordan was like a “ray of sunshine in her class”. Jordan saved the torrential rain, hurricanes and tornadoes for us, which I guess is okay.

She was just so extreme. Super easy at times, but also ridiculously difficult. Intuitive and mature, but then volatile and explosive. It was very confusing. She would say things that showed me how much she questioned, and tried to understand concepts that were beyond her age. When she was almost five she worried about Santa. She didn't understand how he could get to every child's house in the whole world, in one night. All I could think to say was “It's Christmas magic”. I'm thankful this answer was good enough for her.

Once when we were riding the train to Philadelphia to see the Wannamaker's light show, she said, “I've never been on a train before. Well I was last year, but I don't remember that, so it's like I've never been on a train.”

Who thinks like this, especially before they are five? She knew she was on a train before, but since she was younger, and really didn't remember the experience, it was as if this train ride was her first. I'm no expert, but this seems like a pretty logical thought pattern. It's certainly not how my brain works. My thought process when I was a child, would have most likely been more like, "Woo hoo, I'm on a train!".

Yes, we are very different people. It makes life more challenging, but also so much more fulfilling. It's almost like experiencing the world through a different set of eyes. Crazy.

Thank you,

Us Too