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    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Human Again



    I’ve found myself humming this song over the past couple of weeks. Between my extremely restrictive diet and my commitment to write two thousand words every day, March hasn’t been much fun.

    When I think about things I want to do, like eat a piece of cheese, read Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess, or get a pedicure, I say to myself, “I can do that in April when I’m human again.”

    When my friends ask how long I’ll be doing this ludicrous diet, I answer, “I’ll be human again in April.”

    When my husband asks if we could have a conversation about something other than airships and clockwork people, I tell him, “When I get this book done, I’ll be human again.”

    When Monkey asked me why I had so much gray hair, well, I couldn't say “I’ll have dark hair in April when I’m human again.” Monkey is a literal child and comes up with enough reasons to panic on his own. When he asked, “Is it because we’re driving you nuts?” I told him that was just something moms say. Then I promised to get my hair colored in April.

    It may seem like I’ve become some unkempt, starving, cranky writer. It seems that way to me some days. But in fact, this month taught me some really valuable lessons.

    1. I CAN write fast if I need to.
    2. I CAN stick to a schedule and prioritize tasks.
    3. I CAN encourage my boys to take more responsibility for their own needs.
    For most of my writing journey, when outside pressures pulled at me, I’d tell myself, “You need to put ______ first. After all, you don’t have a contract, so you’re not a real writer.”

    Yeah, it was a stupid, unprofessional message to give myself, but I don’t have to explain Mom Guilt to you. Some mornings it beats you to the coffee pot.

    But having this goal to finish my novel before the conference I’m attending next month legitimized the decision to put my writing first. It forced me to do laundry and meal planning on the weekend. Ok, so the meal planning involved dumping ingredients together and freezing them and having convenience foods on hand for the kids. But for me that's huge. My kids are going to look back on my deadlines with fondness, remembering those weeks as the only times Mom let them have Hot Pockets.

    And by getting my word count done during the day, I had more focus for mom stuff in the evenings.

    You might not think it to look at me with my grays showing and my house in disarray, but my month as a full-on crazy writer has done me and my family good.

    But don’t get me wrong. I’m ready to be human again.

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    A Slap in the Face and a Move Toward Grace


    I started this blog yesterday then abandoned it when the words wouldn't come together. The closer something is to my heart the harder it is to express it.

    Then, after a rough day in which I had to coax and threaten my son into to going to school, taking his medicine, and sitting down for dinner, I saw this meme.


    I was livid.

    “It’s on! I’m writing a blog.” I told my husband, who knew I’d already been stewing on this topic.

    I realize that when people post these things, they probably find them funny. Maybe they’ve heard talk of over-diagnosis. Maybe they work in some capacity where they see the worst of the worst in parenting. Maybe they themselves were perfect parents so they have room to judge.

    But probably, they just think this is funny.


     It’s not funny. Or cute.

    Every time a message like this is posted there’s a mom—many moms—who feel slapped in the face.

    Moms like me who knew something was wrong when their child stared at corners as an infant, couldn't talk at 3, and body-slammed people and furniture and walls.

    Moms like my friend whose son bounced repetitively and lined up cars in perfect parking lots as a toddler.

    Moms like an acquaintance who've had psychologists shake their heads in dismay over their child's emotional outbursts.

    Moms who research vaccines, food intolerance, and therapies and read every book they can find that might help them unlock the mystery of their child.

    Do they ask for ADHD drugs because they don’t want to deal with difficult behavior?

    No.

    News flash: ADHD medication doesn’t magically make your child easy to handle. And it DOESN’T WORK on a brain not affected by ADHD.

    Do these moms run to the teacher, crying foul because their child is disciplined for being disruptive in class?

    No.

    They spend hours in meetings with school professionals discussing ways to help their child stay afloat in the rapids of mainstream education.

    These moms pray, and cry, and face a relentless demon called Failure day after day after day.

    They get up in the morning and they love and care for those kids others label

    Bad
    Trouble-maker
    Spoiled
    Immature
    Delinquent               

    When I see memes like the ones above, my first reaction is, How dare you?

    How dare you presume to know what I’ve been through? What my friends have been through. How dare you label my child? And me.

    But last night, after stewing and praying and stewing some more, I realized there’s another possible motivation for posting these hurtful messages.

    These people suffered as kids. No one knew or cared that they couldn't concentrate in class, couldn't control certain impulses, couldn't “behave” like everyone else.

    They were called

    Bad
    Trouble-maker
    Spoiled
    Immature
    Delinquent

    And worse.

    Now, they see moms and schools and medical professionals trying to help kids suffering as they did, and maybe it hurts. Maybe they wish someone had looked at them with sympathy rather than censure.

    I don’t know if this realization will change my knee-jerk reaction, but I hope it will at least soften my heart toward those I'd like to pummel.

    I recognize that arguments rage about ADHD, autism, and developmental and behavioral disorders. I don’t want to feed the negative emotion associated with any particular position. I do want to applaud parents, educators, and medical professionals who seek answers and help, ways to cope, ways to overcome, ways to live with, ways to encourage, ways to uplift and not diminish.

    In that spirit, here are two links that blessed me this week. The first is a video featuring an exceptional child with autism and sensory processing disorder who explains what SPD entails. When I shared it on Facebook it was with the words, "This is my world!"


    The second is the story of a rock star waiter in Houston who stood up for a family with a special needs child. People like this man give moms like me a second wind. May God bless his socks off!


    Let's try to give each other grace people.
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