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    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Paying for a Weekend Away

    Captain ADHD aka Monkey aka yes-my-kids-have-real-names had a meltdown this morning. Somehow 7:50 AM snuck up on him. He’d finished breakfast and was watching Fairly Odd Parents when I told him we needed to think about getting dressed. Yes, that is how I phrased it. We have a system.

    7:50: “It’s time to think about getting dressed.”

    7:55: “You’ll need to get dressed soon.”

    8:00: “Go brush your teeth and get dressed.”

    8:05: “We’re running out of time. Go get dressed.”

    You may think this is nagging or that not making him go immediately is a poor parenting tactic. But this is how we handle pretty much everything in Monkey’s life. The reason? ADHD. Monkey needs to know what’s coming and be reminded of it several times in order to process the change in his activity. In many cases it’s not about obedience. It’s about easing through the most difficult parts of his day—transition times.

    But this morning, the reminders didn’t help. He lost it. He told me, “I didn’t have enough time. How can it be 8:00 already? I didn’t get enough time.”

    Guilt washed over me as I cuddled him, trying to lay out the day and our week in reassuring, positive tones.

    This breakdown was my fault. I’d been gone all day every day from Thursday to Sunday. I attended a fabulous writer’s conference here in town then on Sunday after a half day at the conference, I drove up to Denver to join Mom at the Englewood Library’s annual Meet the Faces author event.

    Kory was awesome while I was gone. I am blessed beyond the stars to have a husband who supports my writing. But it’s hard on my family.

    This weekend an important homework project was overlooked. The laundry staged a coup. Chunky had no clean underwear last night, and Monkey didn’t have shorts to wear today. And this morning my son suffered because our routine was off. He didn’t get enough time. With me.

    I drowned in the weight of the moment.

    Moms out there, I know you’ve felt the same way. I know you’ve asked, “How can I take time for myself when my family pays the price? How can I be that selfish?”

    Hear me on this.

    Being a mom is wonderful and important, but you are more than a mom. You are a woman with talents, abilities, and interests, and it is not wrong to develop those. It’s not selfish to pursue the God-given desires of your heart.

    Selfish is spending your family’s food money on alcohol.

    Selfish is neglecting your kids because you’re too strung out to care.

    Selfish is running down another mom because she works outside the home. Or doesn’t. Sends her kids to a certain kind of school. Or doesn’t. Goes to the gym. Or doesn’t.

    Yes, we might’ve been ahead instead of behind on the homework project if I’d been home this weekend.

    Yes, Chunky would’ve had clean undies, and Monkey would’ve had the shorts he wanted to wear if I’d been home this weekend.

    And, yes, Monkey probably wouldn’t have had a meltdown this morning if I’d been home this weekend.

    I wouldn’t have sat with him on his bed as he panicked about all the unknowns of his week. I wouldn’t have told him that when we go through something un-fun, like a test, we can remind ourselves of the good things coming—a family outing this weekend. When one more day of school feels like eternity, we still know that summer is around the corner. When we’re miserable we tell ourselves, “It’s not always going to be this way.”

    My little boy needs to learn that lesson. He’ll need to hear it over and over again. Because I was gone this weekend, he heard it this morning. That’s one down. 99? 1,000? Who knows how many to go?

    photo by flickr contributor Earls37a


    Kay Day said...

    You are absolutely right.
    I am always a better person after I've had some time away.
    When my kids were 2 and 5 I had a night away. I LOVED it! It was my first one.
    They didn't miss me a bit. Potato chips for lunch? Ice cream for breakfast? Mom should do this more often!
    Now they try to "guilt trap" me when I go away, but I don't fall into that thing. Nope. I need this. And in the long run, so do they!

    Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you for putting it into words!


    kersley.fitz said...

    I think the only trip alone I've taken since I got married, without Tom or the Creature, was to my grandmother's funeral. The two of them have gone off together, though, leaving me alone at home.

    Similarly, I think Tom has only gone off by himself for family events or TDYs. Nope! That's wrong. He has gone to men's retreats.

    Beth K. Vogt said...

    Will you com over and tell me it's going to be OK?

    You are the best of moms, E.
    And the best of friends.

    Anonymous said...

    Candyland guilt =
    False guilt!

    Nothing more to say about that!
    Love you so much.