PASSING TIME

Maya Angelou

Your skin like dawn
Mine like musk

One paints the beginning
of a certain end.

The other, the end of a
sure beginning.

Day 16

“And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.  It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.” Rumi

I experience quiet when I awake in the morning and listen to the birds, when I flow through a yoga practice and when I experience nature.  From the outside, I am sure that I look mindless.  I am not mindless but one with my mind.  My mind, my breath, my body and my surroundings are one.  I am filling my body with peace and strength just as the roots in winter are gaining their strength.

Roots Journal-Rerooting

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I am back to my roots journal.  I didn’t even make it half way through last year.  The crazy part is that I had no idea that was a full year ago!  Obviously, I still need rooting.  I am floundering through.  I know my beliefs.  I know who I am at the heart and soul of me.  It saddens me that I am unable to permit myself to be vulnerable and open to the one who loves me most beyond my parents.  When I looked at the next journal entry prompt, I knew what I wanted to draw.  My gut was to draw a kitten cowering which is how I feel inside at times.  Next to the kitten, I wanted to draw a lion standing proud which is how I feel the majority of the time.  I am confident in myself 90% of the time.  For some reason, I didn’t.

Below are some of my previous journal entries that I did not post about last year.

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When the Bears Came Back but the Horse Won

Life has been good.  We have had a few rough patches, but overall life has been easy.  The holidays are always tough because there is less routine and a lot more sugar.  However, we made it through.  I thought that we were on the home stretch.  We have been going to counseling for almost one year.  My little guy mainly has happy thoughts and draws happy pictures.

Unfortunately, all of this changed in two weeks.  I wish that I had a time machine so that  I could go back and observe the past two weeks.  I think I would have noticed some of the small signs that we were in for the big one.  Life has been so happy and good that I didn’t see the bear slowly creeping back into our lives.

He appeared on Sunday.  None of know what triggered the rage that my little guy experienced.  He doesn’t know why he couldn’t stop it that time.  He was not in control of himself or of his emotions.  Luckily, he is only eight so we have time.  Since Sunday, he is still quite manic.  He explains that he cannot slow his body or his brain down.  He does not want to be here.  He does not want to feel this way.

Today, we went to counseling.  He verbalized his feelings and his inability to control those feelings.  We decided to meet again next week because he didn’t change much in this session.  Then I took him to go horse back riding.  Horses are amazing.  Horses may save my child some day.  They can feel what their rider is feeling.  You must be calm.  You must be quiet.  You must confident, in control and yet humble.

My little guy started on the horse slumped over and looking at the ground.  The horse remained still.  The instructor explained again that the horse can sense your feelings.  If you feel inadequate, the horse will not trust you and he will not move.  Slowly over the hour, I watched my child transform.  He sat up tall on the horse.  He was focused.  He remained calm. He willed the horse to work with him.

We walked out together smiling and amazed at the power of horse.  The horse saved us from the bear-at least for a day.

When the Bears are Gone

Just a few months ago, I wrote a blog about holding your judgements. I think back to that moment. I realize how important that day was for me and my family. For years, my family walked on egg shells. We tried to make sure all transitions went smoothly, all changes were communicated, and everything was scheduled. Why? We have a child with anxiety. He feels the need to be in control because he feels so out of control. We know this now, but for the past 7 years we didn’t.

Our life was stressful. I recently read an article “The Bears in the Park: Anxiety and the Autism Parent.”  (No, I do not have a child with autism, but the article hit home.  As parents of a child with severe anxiety, we experience similar feelings.)  The article speaks of parents (and in our case, a whole family) who constantly live in the “fight or flight” part of life.  We are constantly on guard-ready to fight the next bear that will pop up.  When you are in this mind set, you cannot relax.  You cannot think.  You cannot be your whole self. 

Fortunately, we now know what it is like to live without the bears.  I feel for the parents who will not get this feeling back.  I only lived it for 7 years, and I know the toll it paid on me. 

A few days ago, I walked through the store.  I lady with three kiddos-one teenager, one tween and one on her hip- had her tween exploding with anger.  She was amazing.  She stayed calm and responded only to him-not the onlookers- and in an amazingly respectful manner.  As I heard the commotion, I sent the mom some positive thoughts and then reflected.  Wow, how much my life has changed.  5 months ago, I was this mom and this was my family. 

After 5 months of therapy for everyone in the family(which may be a necessary part of life for my little guy for a long time), we are in a new spot. We are working together.  We are communicating in amazing ways.  I am able to relax when we go to the store.  I can think.  I am awakened to all that is around me.  I see the flowers and the bees.  I can sit without any thoughts in my head while my children play at the park.  I am not on the lookout for the bears every moment of the day. 

 

Hold Your Judgements

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A few quick stories about a little boy.

We were camping at a lovely, family-friendly music festival-our first time at a venue such as this.  Our family was young with three kids ranging from 2 to 5.  We got to the festival early because we knew that our kiddos would need to adjust before the crowds appeared, so we went the night before the festival actually started.  The first day of the festival went terrific.  The kids adjusted and all was fine.  The second night of sleeping in a tent with music playing until 2 am and throughout the day (which means no nap time) was a little rough but we made it through.  The next day, our little guy was exhausted-three days with no nap and two nights in a tent.  He was melting down and screaming at the top of his lungs words such as these- I hate you! I am going to kill you!- very loud and very clear and throwing everything that he could find in sight.  I simply brought him back to the tent and placed him inside (obviously this does not change the fact that everyone can hear these words) and sat in my chair outside of the tent-waiting for that moment.  The moment where he would finally fall asleep out of pure exhaustion.  Unfortunately, there was a lady camping next to us who decided to put in her two cents.  She told me that her family had a cure for that type of behavior.  I simply replied with a simple-oh.  She continued to tell me that she gets her husband to use his belt to clear up issues ‘like that.”  I politely answered, “ok.  I do not believe in beating my children.  I do apologize if he is bothering you.  He should stop in a few minutes.”

And yes, in about 5-10 minutes he was sound asleep on his cot.

Story two happens 5 years later.  Yep, this stuff is still going on.  He participated in a hiking class without me.  Before the class, I asked what was in his backpack and he told me a spear and his survival supplies (magnifying glass, band aids and a snack).  I sent him off knowing that this is his FAVORITE class.  Unfortunately, he forgot to mention one item that was in the backpack-a hammer.  Now he decided to take the hammer out and use it in a semi-destructive way.  It was not ok.  Now, when the teacher asked him to give her the hammer-he did.  The down side was that he them proceeded to yell his lovely words-I am going to runaway!  I hate this class!  I don’t trust you!- and run ahead of the class.  The teacher then told him that she did not care if he spoke to his parents that way but that he would not speak to her that way.  At the end of class, they came and told me the story together.  He was calm but embarrassed and the teacher was not happy about the situation mainly because she feared he really would run away (legitimate fear).

So what happened?  He got in trouble, as all kids do.  Unfortunately, he does not know what to do from there.  He was embarrassed.  He needed to get away.  He does not have the strategies to work through situations like this.

This same little boy will save every living creature he can.  He will open the door for others in need.  He visits our neighbor almost daily as he thinks of her as his extra grandmother.  He is a giver.  He loves to give presents and to share what he can-when he can.

So what is going through your head?  Are you thinking-yes, maybe you should tighten up your parenting and get a hold of your kid? Or are you thinking-yes, I know how you feel because I have been there?

Well, in fact, he has an anxiety disorder.  When he feels out of control, he does not know what to do.  Unfortunately at a young age, he doesn’t;t have enough tools in his toolbox to pull out when he gets into a situation that he doesn’t know how to handle so he reacts.  In our case, he is also VERY VERBAL.  He was speaking in full sentences by 15 months.  He still speaks very well with a large vocabulary.  When you hear him speak, you assume that he understands everything that he is saying and what he is hearing and you forget his developmentally appropriate age.

Why do I write all this?

I am begging  asking you to hold your judgments.  When you see a mother and a child or a child with another adult in the midst of a melt down, please keep your negative thoughts to yourself.  If you can not say anything positive, then just stay quiet.  If you can muster up a smile, do it.  If you are able to crack and appropriate joke to give the person some support, do it.  It is tough to be the parent.  It is tough to be the child.  It is debilitating to be the parent or the child and to be judged as well.

Picture credit: Q-Cards

My Best Job

Over the past two weeks, I have done a lot of thinking and creating with my roots journal. The more time I take to ponder my life right now, the more I realize how amazing it is.

During my adolescence and teenage years, I babysat for some amazing families and some not so amazing.  I watched as the kids ran to their parents when they arrived home or how the parents went straight to the kids’ rooms to check on them when they returned home if the kids were asleep.  Next I worked as a life guard and a gymnastics instructor for many, many years.  Through life guarding, I fell in love with meeting new people and being around the water.  Teaching gymnastics, I found my passion.  I taught a class with a pediatric physical therapist.  She wanted her patients to get to experience gymnastics for real.  We worked together to create a class for kids with disabilities.  We watched along side their parents as the kids flipped on the bars, “jumped” on the trampoline, crawled through tunnels, swung from the rings and experienced exhilaration as they never had before.

Throughout college, I continued to life guard and teach gymnastics.  After college, I tried to find my niche by working in the field of recreation therapy and then moved to catering and ended up as a Physical Therapy Tech.  Finally, I decided to follow my gut and go back to get my Physical Therapy degree.  As I said earlier, this was my passion.  I loved being a pediatric physical therapist.  I tear up even thinking about many of the moments I lived with the families whom I worked with.  The experiences were amazing.

But those experiences were not mine.  I get that now.  Those experiences belong to those families and to those kids.  I will always be the therapist that was there-no name, no face.

The most wonderful happened to me on April 15, 2003 and then again on November 26, 2004 and finally on November 10, 2006.  I got the privilege of owning those experiences.  And they are AWESOME!  Now as you know, in my kids’ early years, I did continue to work, and I did enjoy it.  However, nothing like I enjoyed being a mom.

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Today, I am honored to be able to not only be at home with my children, but to teach them, learn from them, experience life with them and simply BE with them.  It the BEST job that I have ever had.  They are the hardest bosses that I have ever had.  They have very high expectations (such as-“Mom, I am sure that if you learn to roll sushi that yours would be better than theirs.”)  They require me to be dependable and honest (they are not too happy when I try to sneak the last brownie and I get busted almost every time).  They require me to constantly be learning and relearning- have you ever tried to teach three grade levels with three different methods of teaching all in one day?  Some days I struggle.  Other days I flourish.  The crazy thing is that no matter how much I screw up, they continue to love me and support me.  I know I am doing things right when they compliment a very burned dinner and still get it down.  They know that I am not perfect and that never will be.  They also know how much I love them and that it is because of them  (and my wonderful husband who works so hard to let me get to have this job) that I am experiencing the best job I have ever had.  I cannot imagine how it could get any better (unless, we add on…smile).