Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Summer of Independence

I haven't been around lately because not only are we sweating our way through all the hottness, we are working toward independence here in the Mumford house. I have lit a match and started a revolution and I carry my banner of hope through every room, proclaiming parental freedom.

We started with Connor. The week between the end of school and July 4th we went into lock down with pants down—that’s right we potty trained. The first two days were a blurry mix of anxiety, crying—his and mine, OK mostly mine—pee, frustration, poop and lots of laundry. But by his 3rd birthday on July 6th, he had nailed it. Sure there have been a few accidents, but I no longer worry about him, he knows when to go and goes…
Independence from Diapers: Check

Next up Liam. We are tackling the “helplessness.” The never-ending asking us to do things for him, from getting his shoes to cleaning the playroom is over, starting now. We are working very hard on this, starting small and gradually building confidence and self-assured-ness to be more pro-active and not so reactive. One thing we have done is give him chores, which he is starting to earn a weekly allowance—to buy Legos of course….
Independence from Asking: Work in Progress

Last up: me. My goal for the summer is independence from self-shaming. I need to make healthy decisions, but why is it so hard? It so delicious to eat ice cream and sleep in, but I need to build my stamina to keep up with the boys. And fitting into my clothes is good for my self esteem and wallet, so fruit and working out in the morning BKW (before kids wake) are on the agenda with the occasional treat, because I mean, come on, a little chocolate has to happen.
Independence from Bad Choices: Work in Progress

PS: For Connor’s last challenge of the summer, we will be phasing out the BOBO! So be on the lookout for a crazed post about pacifiers in the near future.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Special Discovery

So, I just sent off an email to Boston Children’s Neuro so they can review Liam’s Individual Education Plan—or IEP as it's called if you're in the know, which I guess we are now…

I have been quiet on the blog-front for several weeks now trying to decide if I should talk about this very private matter. Then I realized the whole reason I started blogging was to share experiences with other parents so we all don’t have to feel like we are going it alone… So here we go.

A month ago my husband and I went to a meeting at Liam’s school. It wasn’t just a meeting, it was result of weeks of testing to see why he hasn’t been meeting the same academic goals of his peers. We were there for two hours, in a room where a panel (I like to call them Team Liam) of PT, OT, psychological and special education specialists revealed their findings.

I was so anxious walking in, I think my teeth were chattering and I had to remember to swallow—although then I forgot to breathe, which only made the swallowing even harder! But once they started talking, the anxiety rolled off my body and super tense muscles gave way to a full-body feeling of relief.

A while back I talked about the importance of trusting yourself, your gut, when it comes to the health and happiness of your child. And it was in that room that I finally let the gnawing feeling, the whispers in my self conscious be recognized. Because the truth is none of what they had to say about him or his development was in the least bit surprising, I already knew it instinctively. But unlike in the past, I was not as open, I was less willing to see it, and so I didn’t.

It was also in that room, in that meeting, that every decision we had made since leaving NYC felt right. The town, the community, the school. This was the perfect choice for my two boys and for us as a family. And was gratifying to know that all of the second-guessing, the late night talking, the what if-ing, it all lead up to the right fit for us.

And suddenly I was grateful, so insanely grateful to be there, to be sitting with these incredibly smart, talented people who all want nothing more than to see my son succeed—I mean how amazing is that? I was worried they would only see him as a number, as a “result” of their testing, but they all had such wonderful insights into his personality—how charming, funny, creative, loving he is.

So Liam is now a Special Education student. It feels strange to say it out loud like that.

And after a bit of a rough year—leaving NYC, living with my parents, living in a new, very different town, meeting new people and moving to a new house—and some small academic set backs, we are all going forward with a plan customized just for him. It starts with Summer School and then goes into Speech Therapy and extra help sessions in the fall to work on a developmental delay and some attention issues.

And that’s it, he’s still the same Liam—the crazy kid who announced last night that he wants to name his future kids Johnny, Michael and Ultron (Ultron Mumford, poor guy….) But now we have a better understanding of how his mind works and how his body responds to that—and that understanding is the ultimate gift.

OK, that it. It’s all out there, I am pulling myself out of my rut and hoping nothing will stop me from writing again. And please share your stories if you have them I would love to hear from any parent out there.

Friday, May 29, 2015

DAY 20: Glimpsing Happiness

The power of an ice cream sandwich
I was listening to the radio in the car yesterday and the hosts were talking about the passing of U2’s tour manager. It was part of the Entertainment Update segment but quickly transitioned into something more. One of the DJs (do we still say disk jockeys? I feel 100 years old saying that, but what else do you call them?) became very serious, talking about how we must cherish the little moments in life.

It stuck with me all day. And the more I thought about it, the more I focused on how I sweat the small stuff. Not even just the small stuff, I sweat all of the stuff, all the time. Then I started to question whether or not I could even recognize the good stuff, these mysterious moments I am supposed to hold on to.

It was a little terrifying, honestly…

Then my 2 year old and I ate some ice cream sandwiches. I watched as he grew an ice cream beard. He laughed at the simple deliciousness that only two chocolate cookies and vanilla goodness can bring. It was quiet, there was no TV, no distractions, it was just the two of us, grinning at each other. And I thought oh wait, this is it, isn’t it? This is the small stuff, a sweet moment I am supposed to be savoring.

And what did I do? I tried to hit pause, I tried to burn this into my memory, but by then he was looking for a napkin and ready to run away to play with toys. And I was left sitting with sticky wrappers, dripping with melancholy. It was right there in front of me and I didn’t grab it, I didn’t “get” it until it was too late.

But maybe that’s just it. Maybe breathing in the moment, recognizing it’s importance and letting it drift slowly away is part of the experience.

I can be hard on myself, we all can be hard on ourselves. We strive to make every day magical for our kids (and ourselves) in big, loud, Pinterest-soaked ways while the little happiness-es are floating by unnoticed and unappreciated. And you know what? I don’t want that. It's about time I got out of my own way.

It's time to open my eyes, open my heart and open myself up to the incredible possibilities, and joy, that surround me. It’s not going to be easy, I am pretty set in my hard-edged, anxiety-thriving ways, but I am going to try because not-trying to see the joy is not an option. Not any more.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day 19: No Fun in the Funk

Even Connor knows being in a funk is frustrating
Hey there….
I know it’s been a while.

Last week I fell into a funk and I am having a hard time pulling myself out of this slump. I am hoping this entry will help me to do just that—simply by posting this I will regain/reactivate that muscle memory and be able to write again.

I will try to address this more in the coming days, but last week we met with a team of special education specialists to put Liam on an individualized education plan, something we as his parents knew was likely to happen, but sometimes being right isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…. and I really love being right.

But also last week, I had dinner with two longtime friends—there is a beauty in being with those who know your history, even if you haven’t seen then in many years. Oh, and we had a Taco Party—it was so fun and filled with tortilla chips and what’s better than that I ask you? Pretty much nothing.

OK, so more to come about all of this and other exciting happenings in Mumfordia, maybe even tomorrow.

Friday, May 15, 2015

DAY 18: The 3s Are Coming!!

He's cute when he's cute
Connor will be turning three this summer and over the last two weeks he has transformed from the terrible twos into the atrocious threes! I don’t know about you moms out there, but I found 3 to far worse than 2 with my older son.

I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen of our NYC apartment, I was 9 months pregnant, due in just a week with Connor and sobbing. I said to my husband, “it’s not fair to bring this baby into this house with that monster.” Jesse responded with a quip about how there is no turning back now, ha ha. Then I said, then we should find someone to adopt this new baby. I didn’t mean it obviously and only a couple of days later we welcomed Connor into our crazy family.

Like childbirth, I have blocked out most of the threes. It’s like I placed it in a neat package in my brain and burned it. I have no idea what happened at that time, nothing at all, nada. Well that’s not totally true, I have vague memories of fits in the street and him finally using the potty but it’s really blurry, almost like it happened to someone else….

So here we are again, only my little guy is an over achiever—he is starting early. Every day this week (every. single. day.) he has thrown a fit at drop off at school. Screaming—high-pitch, ears-bleeding, screeching—in my face, telling me to get away, then begging me to stay.

Today he laid down in the middle of the hallway so everyone had to walk over him. And you know, you start talking in that crazy Stepford Mommy voice, the calm sing songy one—come on sweetheart, let’s get up, listen to Mommy, I am going to count to 3, now, 1-2…. When really inside you are secretly screaming and dying of mommy-shame because you cannot control this little mad mad as you watch all of the other parents bring in their beautiful, well-behaved kids—none of whom have yogurt dripped down their shirt by the way.

I finally wrestled him into the outdoor play area, where he wails for me through the fence. I walked quickly away without turning back. Pulling on my sunglasses and keeping my head down so no one could see the tears. Not sure where the tears came from, was I frustrated, humiliated? I don’t know, but seeing him reach for me and call my name can be physically painful—my heart aches and my stomach flips. He makes me so crazy and yet, I love him like crazy.

As we enter the threes, I am going to approach it like a sergeant preparing for battle, because that’s exactly what it is. I will fight the good fight, through the potty training, the meltdowns and eternal stickiness until we reach that golden age of four when the clouds part and we see the sun once more.

And maybe, just maybe I will have Jesse pick him up from school today….