Monday, March 8, 2010

Trying Hard

I came on here to write a light & simple blog post about the art journal mail project that I started with my sisters, but I am having a heavy heart-ed morning and it just isn't working out.

I am full of fears today.

About jobs and money, but mostly about my boys. My sons (and one in particular) tend to get more and more worn out as the school year progresses. They actually do pretty well at the beginning of the year (after we sort through the inevitable initial difficulties of dealing with a new routine, teachers etc.), but then starting around the end of February things begin to go downhill fast. Last year the last 3 months of school were a constant battle just to get them through. One in particular was so constantly and deeply stressed, that there was talk of a possible dysrhythmia or a manic depression diagnosis, but in the summertime the curious, engaged, hopeful kid we know is from cumulative school stress as the year goes on, not a clinical depression. But at his age how much does it suck to have that level of stress?

It sucks big time.

They are exhausted (this is not a sleep issue, but more mentally & physically drained), and ill from stress (headaches, nausea, lack of appetite, stomachaches etc.). They also suffer from seasonal allergies, so as the snow begins to melt they will also get those symptoms exacerbating the stress related illness and draining their energies even more. We are still mostly in winter right now (so no allergies yet), but already the school refusals, constant illness, dramatic downturn in mood and increase in meltdowns has begun.

I am working really hard with the school to try to mitigate their stresses there. IEP meetings were last week, and I fought the good fight, and the school is concerned, invested and willing to do as much as they can (with the exception of a sprightly yet stubborn new teacher, who really doesn't get it, but thinks she does, who will unfortunately be my Everest in the months to come), and so far they have both had their best school year ever. We also try really hard to make sure they are getting the best possible nutrition, some exercise and plenty of down tonnes of down time because they have no energy for anything else. It almost feels like our whole family is held hostage by school until the year ends...can't go on an outing or trip or anywhere else that adds sensory stress to their already overflowing bodies, must keep our home life as carefully structured, quiet, peaceful and routine as we can.

And everyday I get to make the call about whether or not to force them to go to school. This is not easy. Even though it is not a virus, they are legitimately sick (can't keep down breakfast, feel dreadful), but I know that illness will fade quite quickly after I give them the green light to stay home and then I will feel doubtful and duped (I type this as one kid sits quite contentedly reading his book beside me, the same kid who was too ill to move 2 hours ago). I also know that learning to manage their stress will be the key, not just opting out of the stressful activity, because although it isn't fair, they are wired like this and will just have to learn to cope. On the other hand, if we push too hard they spiral down much quicker. The psych actually recommended giving them regular "mental health days" off from school when it all becomes too much for them. I don't want to push either of them to a breaking point, which we came far too close to last year, and every mommy instinct is telling me to protect them from danger. To scoop them up in my arms and run away from whatever is hurting them!

This is a problem when so many "regular" things hurt them now, and likely always will, and I will have to push then into those dangers and stresses in order to be a good mom..

*heart heavy*

I know we will get through this one day at a time. I know that many mornings will be a battle, but some won't. I know that they will slowly learn to manage their stress better. I know that summer will be glorious.

(It's not too early to start looking forward to summer is it?)

Alright, anyway, that's my truth today. But my truth is also gobs of love & support, and unquenchable hope.

Hear that world?

*shakes tiny fist*


And speaking of hope & love, how about that art journal project?

A large watercolour moleskine,decorated with some wonderful Japanese fabric I got a while back on Etsy. Two of my sisters will each have their own and we plan on choosing a new theme and trading books about once a month. I can't wait to see where this project takes us.


  1. Yep, life takes a lot out of our kids. They spend so much time just trying to make sense of the world (visually, vestibularly, etc) that they have little energy for everything else. ((hugs)) til it gets better.

    Oh and the journal! I love it! And I love that idea!

  2. Oh E, so much to cope with and worry about. I wish there were an easy litmus test for whether or not they should go to school. My daughter has stopped begging me to home school her, but now insists I drive her the one minute it takes to get to the bus stop and pick her up each day, after giving up on making me drive her to and from school. Some days I feel sorry for her, other days sorry for me, as I feel manipulated just a bit.
    Your boys have much more on their plates than my high maintenance guilt ball of love, and it is so hard to know when to push and when to relent.
    And so easy to get tangled up in the demands the real world will make on them someday, and the wondering how to help make them stronger and self sufficient, which runs counter to the urge to keep them home safe and sound, stress free.
    This too shall pass, right? And summer will be here soon. My son still thinks of school as a chore, to be endured and suffered. I'm sad that he doesn't love to learn, doesn't get interested in much that school has to offer and just thinks it a collosal waste of his time. It's a collasal waste of his bright brain, probably your boys too, because I know how bright and smart they are. Hang in there, go with your gut and enjoy the new, wonderful art journal. I'll be thinking of you, hoping for the best on all fronts. :)

  3. oh man. what a beautiful post, evangeline! i wish i could give you words of advice, but i have no kids. I do work with them every day, and just see the exhaustion it tolls on parents, and not even kids with "special needs." You are so strong and resilient and so caring, it blows me away. AND full of hope too? HOw do you do it?!


  4. Oh E. I'm so sorry you're all so exhausted. I don't know what to say except what I always say/think - that you are sooo uniquely capable of doing this so well. And that the boys are lucky to have you. It's not fair. It's not fair. Summer is coming. Regroup, refresh, revitalize. The journal idea is awesome. xo deb

  5. @Brenda Hi, and exactly! It takes so much for them to navigate an ordinary school day. Kind of like us having to go for a BIG job interview or some other high stress event day after day after day.

    @Mel I had to laugh at "high maintenance guilt ball of love" :) This parenting gig, I tell ya, so wonderful, so dang hard some days! Thank you for all your support and encouragement. Yes, this too shall pass, and they are already doing so much better than last year. Last night was a good night, which was much needed after yesterday morning, and so far today both are at school. *crosses fingers*
    I agree, it would be so wonderful to actually get them to where they found joy in learning, but I think we may have to settle for just getting them through. (then again, if schoolwork revolved around Lego & Star Wars I am betting my sons' motivation would be through the roof!)

    @Dawn You are so sweet. <3 I look at my boys and couldn't be full of anything other than hope. They are truly amazing, and I am so lucky to be their mom. :)

    @Deb Thank you. I agree, it isn't fair and sometimes I just have to say so, and then I feel better. And summer, how much do I love summer? And Spring break is just around the corner (although the boys have already requested that we do NOTHING, they desperately need to maybe not looking forward to that one as much, but still an opportunity for them to catch their breath). Meanwhile we will take it day by day...and today so far, not so bad. :)

  6. Oh, I wrote you a nice long comment and it never showed up. Shucks.
    I'm sorry I don't have the wherewithall to repeat. I just wanted you to know you are amazing and wonderful and brave and doing an amazing job it's so important for you to write things like this, raw and heartfelt and true. I'm sorry this is so tough for everyone. Hang in there. It is not too earlier to dream of summer, it's right around the conrer, REALLY!

  7. And the journal is a fantastic idea, can't wait to see more!

  8. well, i am not a parent myself, so perhaps can never really understand exactly what you and mel are experiencing, but i have, through nerdfighteria been getting bit of a taste in having younger nerdfriends, some of who seem to have taken me as a kind of surrogate nerdelder of sorts. it's a new experience, so i find myself relating to some of the entanglement feelings you both have related. it's confusing and i find it hard to find the line between love and what is best--maybe there is no one right thing, for that is ultimately what i seem to want to do, the right thing....i dunno...

    but you E and mel have my love and warm thoughts. you are true nerdwarriors!


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