Sunday, March 14, 2010

We got da pox

The chicken pox has descended on our house. I am guessing the girls got it from Matt's shingles (oh, right, did I mention Matt had shingles?), but it's a little annoying because the doctor told us that unless the girls (or anyone else) were directly exposed to the shingles they wouldn't get chicken pox. Well, surprise! Not having vaccinated the girls against CP I did realize it was bound to happen. I'm not the type of parent to send my kids to a CP party, but I did hope they would come by it naturally. If they hadn't gotten it by the time they were in to later childhood we would have gotten the vaccine for them. So, yay, cross that one off the list, right?

Not every person has the same experience, of course, but the girls' hasn't been too bad. Iris is absolutely covered with spots and did feel cruddy for a couple of days but seems to be mostly back to normal. Eloise has many less spots and hasn't acted sick at all. In fact, I'm a bit worried that she didn't get a vigorous enough case of them to become immune to them later in life. I might get her titers checked to be sure. If she didn't develop enough antibodies I will likely do the vaccine at that point because oh my goodness, we are not going through this kind of quarantine again!

I must admit I'm getting a bit frustrated with how sick we've been in this house since the beginning of the year. It's getting a bit out of hand. My new motto is "we will all be well for vacation!" which is coming up over the girl's spring break. We do know they will be over the CP by then, but really, who knows what else the universe has in store for us?

It's been difficult to get everyone's needs met lately while also doing everything else on the list. I've on the auction committee for the girl's school (as a co-chair, so yeah, pretty much running the show!) in addition to trying to squeeze writing time in wherever I can. It's a juggling act and it certainly feels like every second something else is falling to the wayside. I constantly wonder how those super-moms do it. The ones who have amazing marriages, thriving children, creative outlets, enough exercise and sleep, clean homes, nutritious meals on the table, volunteer jobs taken care of, pets healthy and happy, perfectly landscaped yards . . . . you get the picture. It's all a little overwhelming. If you happen to be one of those super-moms reading, can you let me in on your secret?

Monday, March 08, 2010

How I learned to toss out the books and just raise my damn kids

This post has been a long time coming. I finally--FINALLY-- learned what should have been rule number one when it comes to raising kids: I don't need any damn books or classes to tell me how to do it.

I realize that many of you are sitting there snickering as you're reading this and have just smacked your hand against your forehead while uttering "DUH."

You see, I have this interesting affliction where I pretty much can't do anything without second-guessing myself, parenting included. Surely, I figured, the experts know this stuff better than I do and if I read enough and seek enough outside advice my kids will pretty soon turn in to these picture-perfect little creatures. Again, duh, how wrong I was.

Recently I bitched and moaned about how much I felt like the parenting class I was taking had really let me down. I do believe my exact words were, on more than one occasion, "this is bullshit". What I was attempting to do was force MY kids to fit in to someone else's mold of how this whole thing should work. Like there was some system where if you follow all of the steps, out pops Wally and the Beav.

It felt like I was getting angry and frustrated trying to follow what I deemed to be a set of rules and regulations and nothing was changing-- well, at least for the better. I was getting more stressed. My kids, Eloise in particular, were acting worse than ever. The screaming in our house escalated and I was faced with more situations than ever where I worked at not "flipping my lid". I guess it's a good thing we learned that trick on night one of the class because dear lord, did I ever need it over the next six weeks.

And let me be clear, I am not saying that the class was bad. No, no, no. Rather, it wasn't the right class for me. In fact, no class is right for me, because no teacher teaches a class that focuses directly on MY kids and what MY issues are. This is what we pay our therapist for, you see.

The morning after the last class the director of my daughter's school pulled me in to her office (sort of-- at least, that's what it felt like) to find out what I was so pissed off about. I started crying. I explained to her that I felt like I was doing everything by the book and yet everything was getting worse. It was during this conversation that it finally occurred to me, with some gentle nudging from our director, that I needed to do what was right for my kids, not what someone else told me was right. That I needed to follow my heart and take the parts of the advice that worked and leave the parts that didn't. Oh, but I protested, the information was so convincing that this SURELY was the right way to parent.

And she reminded me that my kids are awesome. They aren't a pile of problems needing to be fixed. Sure, they have issues, but holy cow, there is so very very very much more to them. How sad is it that in the last few weeks I've focused so much more on their problems than their attributes? That I've become so frustrated with this set of guidelines not working that I missed that my kids are really crazy awesome?

What was happening here is that I wasn't seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

My dear friend posted a message to me on Facebook as I was complaining about all of this last week. Part of her note said "It's difficult if you are intuitive AND easily influenced by others" and I felt like she hit the nail on the head for me, except for I've lost touch with that intuitive part of myself. I have two kids that are extremely different and both difficult to parent for different reasons. I felt like when they were babies all of my attachment parenting stuff came very intuitively to me, but not that they are growing older, I've started floundering and grasping for answers. So then once I started floundering I started looking outside of myself for the answers and getting frustrated when the answers I found weren't working.

All of this isn't to say I don't need any help and support because, believe me, I do, but it's going to come from speaking to people who know my kid, who know our situation, who know how to help US. And that IS the help that is working to change things. And, to be honest, alot of the change is me. Just today I had a meeting about Iris with Iris's therapist, her teacher and the school's director. You know what the take-home message was? That I needed to let go more, to give Iris her space to do her thing, to flourish at school. Yes, I need to keep up the routines and all of that, but besides that, I need to back the heck off. To trust my daughter and trust the school and know that it's all going to be fine. That my kid wouldn't benefit from me being overly involved in her school life because it wouldn't allow her the space she needs to create who she is, seperate from me. Crazy, huh?

So I was thinking I have a new book idea. The title is going to be "put down this damn book and stop trying to fix your kids, because they are awesome." I suppose the problem with that is that I wouldn't have any text it in. Hard to pitch that to an agent.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Flailing about

Lauren over at Hobo Mama just nominated me for one of those super cool bloggy things where you tag the other bloggers you really like for some reason. It was extremely touching. I am too lazy (I mean, really, let's call a spade a spade) to go through the effort to pass along the bloggy love (and I wonder why I have so few readers???) but I did want to say, go read Lauren's blog. It's really so lovely. Her recent post on making a sling for her son to wear his baby dolls in had my LOLing. Literally. LOLs everywhere.

So, thank you, Lauren. You grow more sweet by the moment! I'm glad to know you not just through Twitter and blogging, but in my real live world, as well.

I've had a really rough night. One of those nights where you want to crawl in a hole and not show your head again. It started with the auction meeting at my girls' school. I am a co-chair and we have been working our little butts off on this thing. We called a meeting for the entire school with the specific intent of assigning auction jobs to people. We offered childcare, brought snacks, sent out a meeting reminder and we got TWO parents at the meeting. One of them was a co-chair for a previous auction. I am so angry and sad. I know it's not, but it almost feels like a personal snub.

At the end of the meeting I was speaking with the school's director about something to do with how Iris was coming along in therapy and her anxiety at school and it was a lovely little chat. Then she asked me if I had ever talked to Iris's therapist about Eloise. To which I replied "um, why would I need to talk to her about Eloise?" and she let me know about all of the god awful things Eloise was doing to some of the other kids at school. Including (but not limited to) pulling her friend's hair and smacking her in the face right in front of a horrified parent who was there for a tour. Apparently Eloise's behavior has been getting worse and no one freaking told me. Truth be told, her behavior has been worse at home, too, but I didn't realize it was at school, too.

The kid Eloise hit was her favorite school friend and she had just been to our house for a very long (smack-down free) play date on Friday. I sent the girl's mom an email letting her know what I just learned and apologized profusely and told her what we were working on. It just seemed like, I don't know, if my kid was on the receiving end of those smack-downs (and don't think I've never wished she had a taste of her own medicine!) I'd want to hear some acknowledgement from the other parent that they are aware of it and felt badly.

So yeah. One kid in therapy at five, the other being suggested for therapy at 3 1/2. I don't even know how to deal. I've been taking these positive parenting classes and lord knows I'm not even doing it ALL of the time, or even MOST of the time, but I am doing some of it. So is Matt. And you know what? My kids have gotten so much worse. That's it. I'm blaming this all on Alfie Kohn. And sending him my kids' therapy bills. And my bar tab.