Wouldn’t it be lovely if the holidays really WERE like those sappy movies we see this time of year? Wouldn’t it be great if the holidays were some magical time filled with snowflakes, roaring fires, mistletoe, singing and that toothy holiday party grin?
We see ads, commercials, cartoons, and movies all depicting this time of year as happy and magical. And we want that. We want it so badly we can taste it.
But what is the reality? Our schedules are full. Work doesn’t stop. School doesn’t stop (at least til holiday break), and the demand of the world and bills and appointments does not stop. Yet we add more to it this season. There’s the baking, the decorating, the festivities. We want to go to Christmas Bazaars, light displays, concerts and such. We want to drink hot cocoa and spend time with family and friends. We want it all.
Is that too much to ask?
I think it is. Even for the best of us. I think we set ourselves up this time of year with expectations that are too high.
If you, or a child or spouse, lives with mental and/or mood disorders your expectations have to be just a bit more realistic.
Too much noise can send me over the edge. I don’t like it, but that’s just the way it is. Even if the people making the noise are my favorite people in the world. Holiday get togethers are sensory overload. I look forward to them every year, and end up feeling bad when I have to leave early, or I get anxious and pull away, or if I have to excuse myself before having an anxiety attack.
I’ve learned in recent years that I can’t expect more of myself than I can do. I have to listen to my body and brain and do what’s best for me.
Holidays are hard for my kid. She LOVES them, which is kind of like a cruel trick, because while she looks forward to holidays they stress her out, cause PTSD symptoms to roar, and the depression usually kicks up a notch.
So what can we do? We simplify. Routines have to stay as much the same as they can. School, work, church, activities that are part of the every day routine stay the same. If there are events we are interested in, we decide which are a must and we look to see where we can put them into our schedule during a less demanding time. (if that is possible, such as a holiday light display, or something that isn’t a fixed date and time) For things that have a fixed day and time, such as a party or concert, we just have to play it by ear. If it doesn’t look like she will be able to handle it on that day, we skip it.
During family get togethers, I remind her to take frequent time outs where she removes herself to a quieter spot, even outside, and breathes for a minute or two. It helps.
I used to love the stores during the holidays. So I like the sparkly displays – I admit it! But sometimes the crowds are just too stressful. I do most of my gift shopping online and I have discovered the joys of ordering my groceries online and then just picking up. In a crowded grocery store with mile long lines, this is a life saver!
No matter how much we would like to, we just can’t do it all. We have to pick and choose. We also have to get those advertising images out of our heads about what a “perfect” holiday season is supposed to look like. A perfect holiday is one you enjoy, and one where you keep your sanity intact and your stress levels under control.
If that means skipping a family dinner because your kid needs to stay home in their pajamas eating junk food and watching one of those sappy Christmas movies with you, then so be it.
The holidays aren’t about how much you can cram in and endless lists. They are about living with love and joy.
~ by: S.S. (It appears my first post here at ADHD Kristi is a bit of a rant. Hopefully these will be few!!)
Today was a rather difficult day. We were short handed at work, and the very SECOND my shift started (like my child had it timed or something), the texts started. My child, who has ADHD as well as Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder, was having a panic attack. A raging, full blown, no way to conceal it, feels like the world is crashing in on you panic attack. At school.
Normally when they feel a panic attack coming on, or feel the anxiety rising out of control, they can excuse themselves, go to the bathroom, take their medication that they keep on their person for panic attacks, maybe text me, breathe a minute, and then go back to class and put on at least a semblance of keeping their shit together. Usually.
Today was not that day.
They needed me to come get them. The texts were pleading and awful. They were crying. They were throwing up. The medicine didn’t help. They had never had one THIS bad, they said.
I couldn’t even really check the messages. I’d grab a second and read three or four, try to type a quick “I’ll be there as soon as I can. Just go to the nurse’s office.” And try to get my work done, all the while feeling horrible and wanting to just get to my kid. I knew the anxiety was only going to increase as time went by.
And then when I started to get a minute to breathe and knew that soon I could run to the school, I got another text. My child was texting me apologizing for being selfish. Apologizing for texting me at work with their problems. Apologizing for being too needy and having problems.
After talking with the school counselor and taking more medicine, my child could probably have calmed down enough to take a few more minutes and then possibly even finish the school day. But what happened?
Another teacher, one that taught my child last year, but not this year, decided to go in and talk to my kid. This teacher told my kid that she was only saying these things “Because she cared” and because she believed in “tough love” and proceeded to tell MY kid that they couldn’t run to me every time they felt bad. They needed to figure things out for themselves. They needed to “just” calm down and not be selfish by expecting their mom to drop work and come to school. That they couldn’t worry about stressful things going on in the home because that was my job, they needed to just let it go.
My child was unable to calm at that point because on top of everything else, now they were panicking because they were an awful human being. Now it was rising all back up because they were bothering me. Now they couldn’t stop crying because they were the worst child ever and were stressing me out.
Excuse me?? Who in the world does this woman think she is? Does she tell someone having a heart attack that they just need to stop? Does she tell a person having an asthma attack to “just breathe”?? First and foremost this was none of her business.
Second, does she have any idea the kind of damage she can do?? I know teachers are there to educate and not deal with mental health issues, but I really think teachers should at least get a crash course in how to deal with mental health issues. Why make it her business in the first place? Why did she feel the need to say anything at all to my child?
You don’t know a child’s background. You don’t know that my child suffered years of abuse and already feels like they have to apologize for living. I try my hardest to convince my child that that they are NOT a burden and you just waltz in and tell them that they are? Just suck it up? Don’t bother your mom?
And unless a child is a complete selfish asshole, yes, they are going to be worried about things that could be happening in the home. (We are undergoing some major changes at home) Do you tell a child whose parents are getting a divorce that they don’t need to stress about it, it’s their parents’ problem? If a parent is out of work, don’t you think the children worry? Any big change or stress that occurs in a household affects the children living in it. Yes, my child knows it’s “my” problem, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to worry about it. And if a child already has Anxiety Disorder, they are going to worry about it even more. It’s up to ME how to handle that situation, not someone else.
I became so angry I started to shake when my child was texting me apologizing profusely for having a bad panic attack and needing me. Asking me to please forgive them and not be mad at them. There was absolutely nothing to be mad about and nothing to forgive.
Most teachers are at least understanding, but there are a few that need to learn if you don’t know something about a topic, such as how anxiety works, you need to NOT interfere. And don’t ASSUME you do. I don’t care how many years you have been an educator. That doesn’t mean you know how to handle a panic attack or an Anxiety Disorder.
I’m afraid when I got to the school I was so mad it just might have looked like I was angry with my child. But I walked into the nurse’s office, took my child’s face in my hands and told them they are NEVER a burden and they NEVER had to apologize for needing me, or for having mental or mood disorders. Their health is my first priority and that was not going to change.
If you can’t call your mom for help when you need it the most, who in the hell are you supposed to call??
I guess we are all lucky that this particular teacher was not in the office when I got there.
No, I was definitely not a happy Mama today.
Is there a connection between understanding rules and following them?
It seems easy enough. A rule exists, you follow it. Things don’t change much from childhood to adulthood in this respect. Our parents have rules, school has rules, there are rules in our workplaces, neighborhoods, vacation properties, town, city, state, and country. (Just to name a few.) The world, it would appear, runs on rules.
Following those rules comes easier to some than others. We all know the people who appear to struggle. Some just choose to ignore, others just seem confused.
But what about our ADHD kids and the rules that make our households and life run more smoothly? Sometimes, as parents, it feels like our kids are trying to push us to our limits. All kids do. Still, we have all had those days where we just want to scream because our kids are pushing the boundaries right out the window and then claiming to have “forgotten” or even argue about the rules because “they don’t make sense.”
What are parents supposed to do?
My child doesn’t give me any major discipline problems. She’s pretty good at trying to be “good.” When she was smaller though, I didn’t have to make a whole bunch of “rules” because she really didn’t do anything. I mean, we never had to make like an official list of rules of the house, or anything. Things just sort of sailed right along without any real incidents. Getting her to remember something like brushing her teeth on the other hand, well, I swear wars were started over things less frustrating.
One of the issues I am finding though with my child getting older is the need to set more rules. I like to say boundaries, really, because to me, everything I ask of her is pretty much common sense. She doesn’t go out and get into trouble, she doesn’t give teachers grief, so it’s not like I have any reason to nail down the do’s and don’t’s. Of most things, anyway. Getting older however, comes with more responsibility. Getting older means more freedom and the need for very specific boundaries.
For example: In a world where technology and social media abound, I have to admit I’m a bit lost. Yes, I use and even enjoy social media, but I wouldn’t be lost without it. I grew up without it. Way back in olden times our friends weren’t available to us 24/7, and we did not have a direct line to our friend’s friends, or to complete strangers.
Today’s kids might as well have a charging port on the side of their heads. Their phone is the equivalent of that tattered blanket they carried like a lifeline as a toddler.
This constant access to other people is changing the way people interact. Teens no longer have to go out of the house to “meet” new people. They no longer have to attend events or parties to meet their friend’s friends. In fact, friends of friends just add you on social media without having a clue who you are, and this is acceptable by standards of teens and most adults nowadays.
But does that mean it’s a healthy way to interact?
It’s pretty normal across the board for parents and teens to butt heads about phone and screen time these days and our household is no exception to this. Yet, in this case there is something else at play.
I don’t like the idea of my child just “friending” everyone on the planet. I don’t like the idea of her talking to someone via social media that she has never met just because that person is a friend (or social media acquaintance) of someone else.
Let’s leave safety alone for the sake of this article. Every now and then I find someone added to Snap Chat that she is hard pressed to be able to tell me exactly how she knows. Sometimes I find that she has been having a conversation via Instagram with a friend of a friend. She looks at me with confusion when I blow my top because she is ignoring the rules. But, she says, it’s not like she messages complete strangers. Why is it a problem to message someone or reply to a message if it’s someone your friends actually know? How is she supposed to make friends if I won’t let her talk to anyone?
We go round and round. She has had social media taken away because of this failure to follow a simple rule: you don’t talk to someone unless YOU know them personally.
The other night we had our umpteenth argument about it, and I told her I was taking social media away indefinitely. I was tired of going over the same old things. She did the usual begging, but then she started to cry. Really cry. Not in a whiny, spoiled brat kind of way, but in an actual heart wrenching, something was wrong kind of way.
“If I understood what it is I keep doing wrong, I could fix it, but I don’t know what it is I keep doing that upsets you.”
I was still miffed (and more than a little mystified as to her saying she didn’t know what she was doing wrong), so my response was it was pretty danged simple. All she had to do was follow the rule. Don’t talk to people she didn’t know personally. Why was that hard? How could she claim to not know what she was doing wrong??
Then it was sort of like a light went off for me. Even at school, the the things she has the most difficult time with are the things she doesn’t understand the reason for. The things she struggles with are the things she is not interested in, or doesn’t understand.
Why are rules different? If an ADHD brain kind of zones out on things it finds boring or is not interested in, and comes alive when interest strikes, is there a connection when it comes to rules too?
If a rule is not understood, or seen as simple, or contrary to how kids are thinking, does that make it harder to remember and thus follow that rule?
I’m not really sure if I’m onto something here or not. Still, we sat down and talked about it. It isn’t like we have not sat down and talked about it before. I’d state my case, she would nod and say okay, I thought I had explained sufficiently enough – so that’s why I would get angry when she would fail to listen. So was it her ignoring me purposefully, or her actually forgetting because she didn’t understand, or even remember, the rule?
I told her that she was an impulsive person and that honestly, although she is friendly, she is not always conscious of social cues. For this reason, if she starts a conversation with a stranger they can very easily misinterpret her “interest” in them.
She has dealt with her share of guys (and girls) that were interested in inappropriate conversation, but she has never realized that her impulsive nature and starting a conversation with something like “Hi, I’m bored, wanna talk?” could be the equivalent of walking into a bar and going up to a someone and saying, “Hey, wanna party?”
In that moment, her eyes grew large and she said, “Oh. So sometimes I can start a conversation with someone because I know my friend knows them and tells me they are really funny and we have a lot in common, but then when I message them I don’t use the right words and they think I’m a whore.” Well….ya know….
We talked about not only how her lack of social skills at times could be misleading, but about the dangers of feeling like you know someone because you’ve been talking to them over social media, but the reality is that you don’t know that person at all. You can’t go hang out with someone you’ve never actually met because you’ve been talking for two weeks and they “seem” nice. I don’t care how many of your friends know this person. Because that raises the other problem. If your friends are also doing the same thing on social media, do THEY even know this person? (I also thought I had sufficiently covered THIS topic…but maybe I hadn’t covered it in a way, or using words, that got through to her ADHD brain.)
It took a while to sink in, but coming to her own conclusion that her wording and impulsive nature could mislead people about her character or her intent really sunk in.
Maybe there is no connection at all, and maybe when she gets her social media back there will still be problems, but it really seemed like a light bulb went off inside that gorgeous, mixed up head of hers.
Still, I’m going to be exploring this theory of understanding and following rules as it applies to my ADHD child. Maybe it will help me to find ways of helping her that I never thought of before. Goodness knows we can all use more tips and tricks in our tool belts!
It seems over simplified, really, and while I have always known things such as giving her a blanket statement like “Go clean your room,” will NEVER work, I didn’t think that saying, “Don’t do that,” could also pose a problem inside her brain.
We’ll see what happens.
A and I had the chance to attend a local Out of the Darkness community walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Weather didn’t cooperate and the event had to be moved indoors, but we were still grateful to be able to take part.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from A emotionally, but I was hoping it would be a good experience for her and not be too overwhelming.
We got into the building, drenched and dripping despite our umbrellas and made our way to the registration table. We got signed in, handed over some donations we’d brought with us, picked up our fundraising t-shirts and our beads. The room was filling with people fast.
We wandered to the information tables, made our way to the memory wall where families and friends place photos and notes for lost loved ones, and the the Why I Walk board, where you can fill out a card stating why you walk and post it on the board if you are so inclined.
A was looking around, sizing things up in her way, making herself comfortable with the room and the situation. So far so good.
I’d put some tissues in A’s purse before we left home, sure that at some point I’d get emotional. A made the comment that she probably wouldn’t need any for herself.
I worry about her most when the depression is bad enough that the nothingness takes hold – when she stops crying, stops feeling. That’s where she’s been the last few weeks.
I thought to myself that a good cathartic cry would probably be good for her, but I know that the tears will come in their own time, just like the depression will fade a bit and feeling will once again begin to shine through.
As the room gets very crowded I find a corner to hide myself in. Apart from the social anxiety that can render me frozen in these types of situations, there is also the ever present sensory issues. The more people there were, the noisier the room became, the more sound seemed to bounce and echo off of every surface.
The weather had not only moved us indoors, but the possibility of actually walking was looking slim. So here we all are, stuck in this building and normally there’s like an hour and a half of the time reserved for the actual walking, but with no walking in sight, it just gave more time for people to wander the room, talk and share with one another. There was music, but even though I could hear them I couldn’t hear them. It was just noise added to the noise to me.
So A obviously does not have social anxiety. She can talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Except when giving a formal speech. Or presentation to class. I can never understand how someone who talks as much as she does – and in class too – will freeze up at the thought of a more formal oration. But I digress…
A leaves me and goes back to the memory wall. She knew a couple of people on that wall. There she also started talking to two teenage girls who had lost their father. I watch her, talking with them, and then hugging them tightly and I knew she was where she needed to be. I watched her as she wandered around the room, stopping to talk to someone here and there. Sometimes a teen like herself, sometimes an older person.
Before long I lost sight of her in the growing crowd, but I knew that she was aware of where I was if she needed me. I thought it was probably better for her to mingle around on her own, free to stop and speak with anyone she wished without having me looking over she shoulder every second.
At one point, she came barreling over to me, and I could see she was trying hard to hold herself together. She said she was going outside and practically ran from the room. I gave her a few minutes to be by herself, then went to find her. I walked past her at first because I saw a boy with her. He was hugging her while she cried. I gave her some more time after he walked away before I joined her.
She told me she had been talking to the mother of the girls that she had spoken with at the memory wall. She said the woman had really touched her and she didn’t know how someone who had lost someone they loved so much could be there for other people, to show them inspiration and caring.
I think it really gave A a perspective she needed to see the loss survivors. Maybe it gave her some insight into her own mind. Maybe it showed her what life was like for those who had lost someone they loved.
She was so touched by the courage of those willing to share their experiences and she was touched by the feeling of acceptance and understanding that being at a gathering of people sharing a common bond could bring. There is no way I can describe it accurately.
As the afternoon progressed she spoke to many people, both those like herself who struggled and those who had survived loss.
With a brief break in the rain we made a quick loop of the parking lot to call it a walk. When that was over A said she’d had enough that she needed to leave before the loss survivors did the release of the butterflies. She said she didn’t think she could handle any more.
As soon as we got home she crawled into her bed, pulled her covers up tight around her and went to sleep. She slept for hours.
When she woke up I asked her if she needed to talk about it but she just shook her head no. I asked her if she could tell me if it was something she was glad to be a part of, if the tears she had shed were a good thing, or if it was an experience she wasn’t ready for, one that triggered her emotions in a negative way.
She said it was most definitely a good thing. She said she needed to be there and it is something she is looking forward to being involved with every year that she is able.
I’m really glad that she was able to take part – glad that she was able to fundraise for something she believes in and happy that she was able to be a part of something so special. The courage of these survivors is astounding.
I feel like there is so much more I should say – but there are just no words to get it right.
I was asked a question the other day that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. The person asked how I dealt with my daughter’s needs. “How do you do it?” They asked.
The short answer is quite simple.
I love her.
I love her through the pain. I love her through the bad days. Love. It’s all I have.
When the depression strikes and she doesn’t want to move off the sofa I sit with her. I hold her when she needs me to and I sit quietly when she doesn’t. When the nightmares come and she won’t sleep for fear of them – I sit in her room so that she feels safe enough to try to sleep. When she has a panic attack I try to help her focus on her breathing. When she has flashbacks, I rub her back. When the anxiety is too much for her I try to help her find a distraction. When she harms, I smile and tell her it’s all right. I tell her how much I love her. I tell her how brave and beautiful she is.
When my heart is breaking for her I go into my room, close the door, and shed the tears that need to be shed. I emerge dry eyed to help her through. I help her find the good and the beauty in every day. I direct her as best I can to find coping strategies to move her into adulthood.
I wrap her in warm blankets and let her cry. I watch television with her when I have “better” things to do because she needs me to. I color with her and let the dishes sit in the sink. I take her for drives to calm her down no matter the gas prices or the miles on the car.
It’s as simple as love. That’s all it is. I have no special abilities. I don’t have all the answers. I listen. I encourage. I do it again. It’s all I can do. Do I wish I could do more? Of course I do. All parents have that same wish. I rely on her counselor. I rely on her doctor. I do the easiest thing of all – love her.
Depression. Anxiety. Self Harm. PTSD. ADHD. Panic Disorder. Those are terms we are very familiar with at our house. We are also very familiar with laughter, gratefulness, respect, kindness, and love.
I want to teach her to be proud of who she is. I want to teach her to accept herself for who and what she is. I want to teach her that her mental illness does not define her. I want to teach her to shine her light brightly. I want to teach her to embrace the good days, feel the joy that is inside of her, and accept the magic that is found in the world and in her own humanity.
She is a survivor. And the only thing I have done – is love her.
Do you ever just feel like you are stuck? You’re going through the motions of day to day life, but you are only taking care of the minimum to get by?
Things are sliding, and you find yourself exhausted for no good reason and instead of doing the things you should be doing (in my case, working on my book revisions, second draft of another manuscript, freelance articles, my blog, or cleaning out the garage, getting the yard mowed…yeah, you get the picture) you find yourself instead watching mindless television or even playing some dumb game on your phone.
It’s hard to move forward and you just feel claustrophobic and disinterested.
I’ve been feeling like that for a while, and I’m trying to force myself to sit with these feelings and figure them out. I have a strong suspicion that my disinterest and general feelings of blah-ness (can we pretend that’s a word?) are probably more closely related to being overwhelmed than anything else.
What is this ADHD girl good at? Shutting down when I get overwhelmed, that’s what.
Is it good for me? Of course not. Does it happen before I realize it? You bet. Is it hard to then break out of the vicious cycle? Absolutely.
So here I sit. At least I’m blogging about it, right? That’s something. A step in the right direction maybe?
What I hate the most are the feelings of guilt that come along with it. My manuscript has been sitting on my coffee table for two weeks. I moved it there from the study because I was going to work on it. Sitting on top of that manuscript is a box of photos I just got back of our summer vacation, a paper with a list of Spanish speaking soap operas because my daughter was supposed to watch them for Spanish class, and an order form for sheet music. Next to that is four notebooks, all open, stacked on top of one another. Each for a different purpose, such as note taking for my freelance articles.
The point is that it is all just sitting there. Doing nothing. Collecting dust. Because I haven’t had the energy to look at any of it.
I have some major changes coming my way and I have to figure out some extremely important stuff. And yet here I just sit.
My daughter is in tenth grade, just turned fifteen, and suddenly there is extra car insurance to think about, the fact that I need a new car altogether to think about, college application and funding to think about, and yet here I just sit.
In the back of my mind I am thinking about the steps I need to take to expand my freelance writing. Yet I’m not doing any of those things. I’m thinking about the novel I’m working on, my desire to find an agent, but again, it’s like I’m just blocking it all out and riding some wave to my doom.
I recognize the overwhelm. Things are changing, I have huge decisions to make about my own future as well as oversee my daughter’s future – and I just don’t know where to start.
I know what it is. I just need to figure out a way to crawl out of it now that I’ve gotten myself down into it.
I tried to blame it on the chaos that always comes with going back to school and getting back into routine, but school has been in session for a month. I’m so far behind now I’m not sure if I will ever catch up.
My writing has just come to a standstill. I don’t work on anything at all. How can that be? I have too many plans to let each day slip through my fingers without writing.
It’s the disinterest. Which I don’t think is disinterest at all.
ADHD can have its good points, but it can also have it’s difficulties. Like my brain tuning out when I need it the most.
I just want to feel like me again. I just want to feel some excitement at the thought of a blank page or the next round of re-writes.
I want to care that there is a cat hair tumbleweed floating across my living room floor.
I want to know that when the times comes, I’m going to have a plan for my future.
I want to open a new book and be excited to read it, instead of mindlessly binge watching NCIS on Netflix.
I wish I had some lighthearted, funny remarks to make about all of this, but I just don’t.
A’s battling the depression right now and I know part of it is also being worried about her. Cold little bugger, depression is. No big triggers – comes along and slaps her in the face when outwardly things are going pretty well. Lots of friends. Youth group activities. School going well. Enjoying school clubs.
Overwhelmed. That’s what I am. But I’m taking care of my girl and that’s all that matters right now. I’ll figure the rest out later. I always do.
I lied when I said I was okay.
I sit here outside the bookstore watching the sunset and I realize that at this very moment you are sitting on a bench somewhere by the water watching the same colors roll down the sky.
But it isn’t the same for you.
You are at the cusp of a new relationship. He probably has his arm around you right now. Maybe you are talking and laughing quietly, but maybe you are silent, watching the sky, your heart beating just a bit faster as you wonder what will happen next.
And I am not ready for this. I’m not ready to share you with this new boy in your life.
You have been through so much and we’ve managed it all together – we’ve barely begun to live a life free from the demons that haunted you for so long. I’m used to being the arm wrapped around you. I’m used to being your confidante and your place to run. I’m used to being the one that chases the bad dreams away, who kisses your tears and holds your hand. I’m not used to sharing your smile or your infectious laughter.
But I told you to go. I told you that you could go on this date. A date with a boy that packed you a picnic; a picnic at the beach to watch the sunset.
The orange sky is mocking me. It knows I lied. It knows I’m not ready. It knows that while you experience the first excitement of a budding relationship that I’m holding back the tears.
This means you are growing up. This means that soon you won’t depend on me as much, you won’t need me as much. You’ll need me. Sure. But things are changing. we will always be close but you are just one more step closer to womanhood. One more step away from me. It’s selfish, I’m aware, but I fear for you.
Will he understand your ADHD? Will he understand your Anxiety and Depression? Will he look beyond the self inflicted scars and see how amazing you are? Will he respect you and will he hold you when you are afraid? Will he chase away the ghosts that rear their ugly heads sometimes? Do you even want him to?
Will you remember all I have taught you? Will you remember that you are priceless and worthy of respect not just from others but from yourself?
I am no longer the first person you tell your secrets to. You have girlfriends now that you share things with. And there’s him. Oh, I know you are just starting to get to know one another, but he won’t be the last. This is just the beginning. For you. While I feel as if something precious is ending.
Is it because of all that we’ve been through that I feel this way, or do all mothers feel this same sadness and disquiet when their daughters reach a certain age? It’s been just the two of us for so very long. I’m not really sure what to do with myself, honestly.
I know we have much ahead of us and many memories left to make, but tonight I am forced to admit the reality that you are a sophomore. In less than three years you will be college bound. You have a life ahead of you that will not always include me. You will not always need me the way you have needed me up until now.
Do you guess how difficult this really is?
I don’t begrudge you this time or your friends or the life you are finally starting to live. I’ve pushed and pulled to get you to this point for this very thing. So that you may live. The rest is going to be up to you now.
No, you aren’t grown and you will still need my guidance, but let’s face it. As far as your values or the kind of person you are; it’s all set. My sphere of influence is waning – I’ve tried to teach you all I can. It’s going to be up to you to make wise choices.
I will no longer be with you every moment of every day and the hardest thing I will ever do is to entrust you to strangers – to smile and wave as you go off with friends, or dates, hoping that you will stay true to yourself and hoping they are worthy of you.
The sky is growing dark and you will be home soon. I will feel better then, but this is only the first of many nights where I will sit just waiting for you.
I love seeing you happy. I love seeing you enjoy friends. I love that you have confidence and want to do things when not too long ago you had to be forced to even leave the house. Not long ago you had no one to socialize with – no one to understand you or to dare to look past the face of mental illness and see who you really were. They had no idea what a truly amazing individual you were – but they do now. They know it because you no longer try to hide your light.
Friends abound and dates will too, I suppose. And I will be here through it all. I will always be here. I will do my best to smile when you come home. I will do my best to get used to the idea that this is a typical teenager’s life. A life you deserve.
Forgive me if I struggle. You’ve had too much pain already. You have had too much torment and grief. I never wish for you to return to the terrified, sad girl you have been. I will do my best to protect you from all I can. But I also have to let you go.
And trust your wings.
I always kind of dread back to school time, because I am selfishly having just so much darned fun with A- over the summer. Summers are GREAT – they really are. But they are awfully short too.
A loves high school, though, and after a couple weeks break she was pretty ready to go back to school. She said she honestly has started missing the routine that she used to balk against. I suppose as she gets older she sees the value in having a routine to help tame the ADHD symptoms. Personally, I think she was just missing seeing her friends every day. 🙂
Regardless of how ready (or not) we were, school was back in session today. If I am completely honest I’d have to say I understand what she meant about the routines. While I love having so much extra time to spend with my favorite girl, routines are good. I’ve gotten next to no work done this summer because I just get in the habit of, oh I’ll do it later. Sounds much better to veg out on the couch with A and watch a movie or play a game or draw when we don’t have to worry about homework and bedtimes.
But along with not getting much work done, not much else gets done either. Once the routines start slipping it trickles right down into everything. Clutter creeps in and rooms aren’t kept as neat as they were. Chores get pushed back “until tomorrow,” and everything starts to pile up.
So, maybe I’m happy to get back into the routine too. This morning I did some yard work after I dropped her off at school. Tonight while she worked on homework I tackled a writing project that has a deadline looming. Yeah, routines are good.
Getting back into the swing of things will feel pretty good. I need to get moving on the rewrite of my manuscript. I need to figure out what I want to do with Finding Home, the release of which I put off because I’m just ultimately not happy with the novel. I still have my freelance articles come due every month, and I really would like to finish up the short stories and put them together in a collection.
And then there’s all the other fun stuff that being an adult entails. The laundry. The cleaning. The driving your kid all over creation for this that or the other.
And I’m still launching that newsletter in October. Pretty cool!
We’ve been adventuring into the land of sustainability and greener living. Actually that is one reason why I haven’t gotten much work done. I’ve always been interested, always wanted to learn more, but in the past couple months it has been the source of my ADHD hyperfocus.
We’ve upped our recycling efforts, are working on our precycling and elimination of waste. I’ve begun making bottle bricks, which is actually oddly satisfying. Don’t ask me why.
I’ve made home made deodorant and household cleaner. I’ve begun composting. The amount of waste and needless consuming of even our household of two just really caught up with me. No more. I have a long way to go in my efforts, but I’m excited to be making lasting changes to our lifestyle and habits.
So bring on the school year and the routines. We’re ready!!
We’ve finally come to that point – the last day of our zig-zagging, wandering, hilarious, serious, fun, amazing, wonderful, jam-packed road trip.
I let A sleep in since we really only had one place we really wanted to go. The knowledge of this place is what first put A onto the idea of visiting some of Alabama’s most unusual spots.
Located in Seale, Al on the side of the road (Highway 169, specifically,) you will find the Museum of Wonder drive through museum.
This collection of oddities and artwork is surely something to see. Peeking inside — and let’s face it, you just can’t get a good look from the car, you have to get out — you will see a collection of things removed from children’s throats at the St. Francis hospital in Columbus, Georgia, the world’s largest gallstone removed from a woman in 1972, a two headed chick, and a great many other odd and assorted items, including the very unique artwork of Mr. Butch Anthony, the man behind the Museum of Wonder.
Now when I first read of this drive through museum I showed it to A and she immediately was fascinated by Mr. Anthony and not only his unconventional museum, but his artwork. His style is his own, and as far as we read, he is a self taught artist and carpenter. Seems he can make anything with any materials at all.
Okay, now this is where events get a little well, anxiety filled. We’d looked at the website for the Museum of Wonder and saw the drive through museum, but it also showed photos of an indoor museum, saying it held art, artifacts, and antiques. There was a map that came down from the top of the webpage, and also, when you scrolled over the area that said come visit the museum, a pop up said to just drive up and honk your horn. It gave a separate address than the one given for the drive through museum.
Hmmm. Now I had thought about using the contact page on the website to ask about visiting, but I wasn’t sure what day we would get to Seale, or if we even would. A reminded me that the website said to drive up and honk, so she figured no advance notice of arrival was necessary. And there is no phone number listed on the site.
There was a map of the compound to show you where to go, and believe me folks, this place is way, way off the beaten path. So that morning, I gathered my courage and figured after we saw the drive through museum I would see if I could actually get through my anxiety and do this. The thought of “just driving up” basically to someone’s home and workshop made me just a tad nauseous.
Still, I knew A wanted to see this unusual collection.
I was wishing though, that I had not trusted that “drive up and honk” pop up on the website and had emailed Mr. Anthony in advance. I started wondering if I’d misunderstood. What if I should have emailed and requested an appointment and THEN he meant for a person to just drive up. Besides, WHO in their right mind drives down some long driveway into the woods with nothing to go on but a name painted in white on an old mailbox?
I hastily pulled out my phone to see if I could call up the website – and I did – but it looked all different on my phone. There was no map. There was no “just drive up” message. There was nothing but a bit of information on the drive through museum. Did I dream the rest? Did I dream there were photos of different objects in a room somewhere? Now what if I really WAS intruding?
A is usually the more adventurous one, but turning in at said mailbox, while the gate was open, it was plastered with a huge No Trespassing sign. Furthermore, the sign warned that shotguns go bang and something about anyone stealing would meet said shotgun.
Well, I wasn’t out to steal anything, but…
We slowly drove in and got to a place where you could keep going straight or turn off to the right. The turn off to the right looked fairly overgrown, not overgrown exactly, but you just couldn’t see very far through the trees and brush. The drive before us kept going straight, but I didn’t see anything in that direction either.
I was having serious doubts and A looked at me and she said, “Why don’t we skip this part?” She said she’d seen the drive through museum, she was happy.
People, I turned my little rental car around and got out of there. Now I have read that Mr. Anthony is a super nice fellow, and I’m sure he is, but my anxiety about not finding the information I had previously seen on the website and my even worse anxiety about showing up on a stranger’s doorstep got the best of me.
What if it was a bad time? What if there was nothing to see? What if no one was home? What if I had misinterpreted the website altogether? What if what I had read several months back was no longer valid?
I would like to say that about an hour down the road I seriously regretted my chicken-ness, but I really didn’t. Maybe next time we get a wild hair we will try for another visit – this time emailing to ask questions beforehand.
We decided here that there was really only one way to end this road trip. We desperately needed ice cream and surely we could find ONE MORE odd thing in Alabama.
Oh yes. How about a monument built to honor a destructive little bug?
On to Enterprise, AL where you can see a statue dedicated to the Boll Weevil.
Yes, you heard me. Alabama grew a lot of cotton once upon a time and once upon a time an infestation of the malicious boll weevil destroyed crops. The area was devastated, but forced to diversify agriculturally. So what happened? Farmers planted peanuts. Peanuts were the byproduct of the nasty critters ruining all the cotton. Enterprise decided to honor the weevil for forcing diversity.
Smack in the center of an intersection right in downtown, there stands a statue of a lady (actually she stands in a fountain) and her two hands are raised above her head holding a boll weevil.
The boll weevil monument was a worthy (yet somehow strangely creepy) way to end this road trip. It just seemed fitting somehow.
But what else? Just a couple doors down from this little piece of Alabama history is a place called Milky Moos. Homemade ice cream, folks.
We rolled back to the car under the haze of an ice cream high – the result of a caramel sundae and a banana split — and no, we are not sorry one little bit — and declared ourselves exhausted and ready to get back home to our own beds and our sweet cats.
All I can say is — What a trip!!
A had a hard time deciding just what her favorite stops had been, but she finally settled on the Berman Museum and Old Cahaba. Me? I was just impressed that a girl her age appreciated the crazy trip we’d just taken, and felt proud that not only was one of her favorite places one of the more historical spots, but proud that she is happy to spend time with her mother. That gives me happiness. 🙂
This is a trip we won’t soon forget – or recover from, for that matter!!