Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bare Bones

My day began with exhaustion, but it's Thursday, and that's normal, as I climb the wall to Friday.

My day got just a little bit more deflated when Conor, who apparently decided that he couldn't sleep when he was put to bed last night and went downstairs with his blanket, turned on a movie, and laid on the couch sucking his thumb until his Dad found him around 11pm and shuffled him, crying, back to bed, came downstairs at only 6:30am. Too early for me to see him. I need some time in the morning to warm up to motherhood on my exhausted days.

But then my day spiked to horrible, when Conor, who was carrying a fist full of "guys" dropped his Lego skeleton guy, which slid across the kitchen floor, just in time for me to land full weight on it with my bare foot. And I screamed. I even said, "Stupid, freaking Lego guy" as I picked it up and hurled it into the living room. And then Conor cried, because really, his day must have started out exhausted too, and the last thing he expected when he came to me with his Curly Supreme Bedhead for morning love was to hear me yell and throw a Lego skeleton guy past his face.

My foot throbbed for about 30 minutes. (This is why my own dad always called them 'foot-os' instead of 'leg-os', but I digress.)

I worked, quietly steaming, through preparing blueberry waffles, strawberries, and wedges of cantaloupe for breakfast. The pain in my foot only helped me further fine-tune all the other rotten things in my life as they flew through my mind in a flurry of woe-is-me. Children ate, and I shuffled them over to the couches for scripture study. It was pretty much a going-through-the-motions kind of morning as far as spiritual nourishment goes.

And to make it harder, we're in Isaiah.

Just read.

Reading. But then Conor won't sit and eat. He wants so badly to sit at the table with the kids, but then we all finish, and he's still taking a bite, and then getting up and running around the room. Which. Drives. Me. Crazy. Especially when I wake up exhausted, as I mentioned before. So I threaten him with his high chair. To no avail. And, since I never issue a threat I don't intend to carry out, into the high chair he went. Which is not as much fun, because it's in the kitchen, away from the table, because it faces the television where he can watch a video while he eats his lunch. But not his breakfast, because now he was in trouble. (And please don't leave comments about what a rotten mother I am letting my toddler watch videos while he eats, because, well, if you've been reading, I am exhausted, and I can only handle so much. This confession can be filed away in the minds of anyone who dared to claim that I was 'perfect'.)

But then he sat there with his plate of waffles, all cut up for him, and the bright colors of his fruit, and he just cried. And the big kids started laughing at the chaos of it all.

And then I lost it. I didn't mean to. I just started sobbing. Blubbering something about how I needed them to STOP and cut me some slack, that my foot hurt, and I'm tired, and I'm just trying to do the right thing.


I sniffled my way through the rest of the verse, and then couldn't manage any more, so Lyndsay finished up the chapter. Dylan said a sweet prayer asking Heavenly Father to "please help us not be overwhelmed," which I'm pretty sure was aimed just at me, but I was grateful anyway.

After dropping the three older kids off to school, I took Conor to his Speech Therapy at "Pat's Office", as he calls it. He loves "Pat's Office". I sat in my car for the hour, barely keeping my eyes open with that kinda-nauseated-tired feeling and studied nucleic acids. DNA, RNA, chromosomes. Oy vey. My head was spinning with the complexity of it all. And then when I go in to pick him up, Pat tells me that maybe Conor should start seeing an Occupational Therapist for a possible sensory integration issue. Seems he's a bit clumsy. Walks into things, steps on things, I don't know. I just started to laugh. "Forgive me," I said deliriously. "It's just been a crazy morning, and I'm so tired, and I'm not used to my kids needing any therapists at all, and suddenly this little one needs one of each. I can't help but laugh! I don't know what else to do."

"Well, since you're in the system," she said, consolingly. "And maybe you could take him to the park every day and let him swing. That will help the channels in his brain orient themselves better till he can really get a feel for where his body is in space."

Oh goodie. Let me squeeze that in. Two speech therapy visits, one developmental therapy visit, now an occupational therapy visit, and daily visits to the park? What a life this kid has! Therapists getting paid thousands of dollars to play with him. And I don't know whether to feel grateful that I don't have to pay for it, or like an utter failure that he even needs it. He skipped out to the car with his ABC cookies. U and S, I believe. That spells 'us'. That's what we are, for sure, he and I, always together. My little buddy.

I drove home, no, I drove to the stinkin' park, because that's the kind of mom I am. (Actually the kind of mom I am hates parks, but I am the kind of mom who will do whatever is in her child's best interest. Well, except for eating in front of the TV, that is.) I put him in the swing and pushed him back and forth. He was losing interest after a bit, so to keep it exciting, I said, "Reach for the birds!" Which he did, right before he fell out of the swing, going high. Stupid, exhausted mother. I didn't mean with your hands!, but then what's the point? He's 2! He claimed to be done, but I didn't want him to have some fear of swings, now that his mother practically encouraged him to fall out of one, so back in the swing he went. Face the fear! A few times, back and forth, a couple of laughs, and that was enough of that. Then I drove home, thinking of DNA and chromosomes and my poor baby, and how this all happened, and why is talking so hard for him, and what's this now with sensory integration, and should I feel guilty or place blame, and I know the answer is none of the above. (whew!)

I know he's perfect, just the way he is, and we all need a little help now and then. I am grateful he can get it, despite the sinking California economy especially. I know whatever trials we face are for our good, for our benefit. And I love my Conor with all of my soul, like the other three I have. All of their imperfections are perfect for them, perfect for me. And with that comfort, doused with a measure of peace, I suddenly realize that all is well, and that Dylan's prayer has been answered.


Rachel Sue said...

I'm feeling for you. i've had days like that. And I have to tell you, those are not the days I choose to make blueberry waffles. So, props to you.

Abby said...

I don't even MAKE blueberry waffles on a weekday muchless on a BAD goodness, woman!
Who *cares* that you let little man watch a cartoon while eating? Who cares? Anyone who reads you and honestly has a problem with it needs to find something better to do with their time. Sometimes my kids watch..sometimes they don't and ya know what? I don't care! And you shouldn't, either. We all grew up with the tv constantly on and check out how much random trivia we all know! Hahaha

I laughed about the fall out of the swing ONLY because I would have put my hands up, too. Poor Conor..little man. Ruffle his hair for me..give him a hug..and know that being young is just hard sometimes. For everyone involved.

I love you!

isshou ni said...

okay, I laughed the whole time through. It was that relieved--oh-thank-goodness-I-am-not-the-only-one! kind of laugh. Also, the I can SO relate to that kind of laugh. Hang in there!

Mindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenna said...

I have to leave a disclaimer here, because I'm getting far too much credit for blueberry waffles on a BAD day. If you're a long-time reader, you know I'm big on breakfast. I'm also cheap on breakfast and so I plan out what it is we are going to eat for the week's breakfasts so the kids can go off to school full and healthy. The waffles were already in the plan, and they're easy to throw together, really. I was already doing that when Conor came down and things got crazy. So, please don't think I'm some kind of saint or something!

dcr said...

what i love about reading your posts is your honesty! ask any REAL mom around and they've had days like yours. i do reserve the right, however, to be impressed by your blueberry waffles, planned or otherwise!

and as far as the dna stuff goes--learn it for the test and then forget it!

take care! know we're cheering for you!

Mindy said...

I deleted because I can't spell very well sometimes...

Anyway! Just wanted you to know that I'm thinking about you! GRANOLA is good on mornings like that!
You sure you don't have an "S" on under that shirt you're wearing?

I'm pretty sure that Looney Tunes saved my mother at times, and as much as I hate to say it, I know that Barney saved my sanity at times!

Hugs! It will get better!

Wonder Woman said...

Jenna, I freakin' love you. Love your honesty, and perspective.

I'm sorry you had a rough morning. I hope things will go better today. ♥♥

Luisa Perkins said...

Ah, Sugar. I'm so sorry you had a rotten day. It sounds like it was a real doozy. I wish I were there to bring over a casserole and some brookies.

Let me just put in a plug for occupational therapy when it comes to Sensory Integration/Processing issues (SPD).

As you know, Tess was diagnosed almost 3 years ago with SPD. We put her in a special therapy class; it has done MIRACLES.

I only wish I had known about Tess's issues when she was Conor's age; the earlier SPD is diagnosed, the faster and more easily the kids can address their challenges.

In Kindergarten, Tess's teacher didn't think she'd ever read at grade level. She now reads way above grade level and is one of the most expressive "out-loud" readers I've ever heard. She's still lagging a bit in math, but I know she'll get there.

The proprioceptive and vestibular senses (knowing where your body is in space and the balancing system) have a profound effect on our capacity to think in the abstract. It's not just a matter of correcting "clumsiness." I'm not sure I would have believed this if I hadn't seen the difference in Tess with my own eyes.

I know it looks like the therapists are just playing with the kids, but there is an entire whole-body theory, pretty well-tested and proven, behind the "play."

Anne just finished nine months of weekly therapy. I had her start at 3 months, because preemies who spend any amount of time in a NICU are at high risk for SPD. Our very talented therapist (Suzi Tortora--she has a marvelous book out called Dancing Dialogue) saw some very early tendencies with Anne, and she and I worked hard to correct for them. Now Anne tests completely SPD-symptom-free.

We didn't qualify for state help, but paying for the therapy was some of the best money we've ever spent. If you're already "in the system," absolutely go for it.

I once blogged about the book The Out-of-Sync Child. It's a comprehensive look at the different SPD profiles; you might want to check it out at the library in your "spare" time. I found it immensely helpful.

Stepping off the soapbox now; I hope I haven't offended anyone, but my feelings on this issue are very strong. Get Conor the therapy; you will be so glad you did, and he may not need very much at all if his sensory issues are mild.

Julie Wright said...

You make waffles? I am so moving in with you! Disclaimer aside, you are a saint. I haven't ever made waffles. I have days like this (without waffles) all the time.

* said...

I like how you put it -- that our imperfections are perfect for each of us. (((hugs))) Like that old Howard Jones song, let's hope "Things can only get better"...

family said...

Ahh....TV what would we do without it? You know I take a nap almost everyday pregnant or not and I am not in school and do NOT EVER make blueberry waffles. I do throw Eggo Waffles in the toaster but...Jeff thinks are kids are spoiled. He thinks cereal is plenty and they can get it and clean up themselves. Apparently he has not met Super Jenna!

Life as I Know it said...

I'm sorry you had such a horrible day. I've had many days like that... why me, why now, what else can I do. But I have to say I laughed so hard tears came when I read of the swing event. I could see that happening to me. You are a wonderful mother, with beautiful well rounded children. Keep your head up. Love you tons

Amber Watt said...

Every mom needs a good cry now and then. You have wonderful children...and it's not by accident. I had to chuckle picturing you in Pat's office laughing. Conner is a very bright fun sweet boy and I love him too!

Can't wait to see you

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I only ever took my kids to the park because I thought I should. I do make waffles, but they only rarely get served with fresh fruit. I'm with Julie. Do you have an extra room? By the way, I gave you an award.

Saint Holiday said...

The Sufferings of Saint Jenna, Part
One. And you do it so well, as if you were tutored by an expert. Why am I laughing? Poor thing! I do love you.

The Ancient of Weeks

Jen said...

I was just looking for Dylan's marathon pics, and saw this... I feel heartbroken for you, but I think you are being too hard on yourself... I remember a nice talk I got from you a year or so ago reminding me that even I have do have a son with Bi-Polar, he can go on to do great things despite this, and it makes him who he is. Remember this when you get down, it has helped me alot! Conor is a beautiful soul, as are all of your children. He will talk when he is ready, and for now he communicates everything he needs to. Take advantage of the help you can get for him... it sure can't hurt.
And most important, just keep loving all of them the way they do, with that head start in life they have no choice but to be great!

Turleygirl said...

Jenna, you are a wonderful Mother! Kudos to you.