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What a long, strange… well, you know

In an interesting the-universe-has-a-weird-sense-of-humor turn of events, I received a fairly heartbreaking question for my Alpha Mom column on the same day that Chickadee received her first college acceptance. (This is the school she’ll attend, but not her only application, so I say “first,” but really, it should be “one and only that matters so far as she’s concerned.”)

It was right around this time, about four years ago, that we started a long, slow slide into the darkness ’round here. Every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did, and usually exponentially so. There were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of tears and worry, LORD, years and years of worry, even after things started getting better. Can you hold your breath for years? It sure felt like it.

During the worst of it, I would’ve punched you right in the face if you’d tried to tell me how that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, blah blah blah. Whatever. And yet… I look at my daughter, now, and while I know that there will always be challenges, I also no longer doubt that she can best them. She lived. We lived. We’re all stronger for it, even if maybe we would’ve happily stayed a little weaker. (Ha!)

What I remember most about the bleakest times is not how sick she was or how scared I was, but how those who loved us held us up. And so in response to a distressed auntie worried about her nephew, mostly my advice is to keep being there. I promise, it will not go unnoticed.

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Whoops, it’s okay

I realized I may have—in my attempts to be privacy-shielding and vague—accidentally left the impression that the sky was falling with that last post. And no, I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out on my own; rather, after a bunch of concerned emails followed by one from my dad asking what was going on, it occurred to me that sometimes I need to distinguish between “feeling miserable here” and “genuine crisis here.” So. Um. Oops? I’m sorry! And thank you for the concern!

Long story short, Monkey has been ill, but in that special Monkey-licious Aspie way of “NO I AM FINE I JUST HATE EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING AND LIFE IS TERRIBLE!” It doesn’t matter that we’re coming up on 16 years of this, every single time I have to go through this trajectory of “Oh my God what is WRONG with him?” and “Wait, I think he’s sick” and “But no, really, WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM??” before we get it figured out. And in the meantime, it’s frustrating and he’s in pain and everything sucks. (Long story even shorter: Did you know that a severe Vitamin D deficiency can make you feel like garbage? True story!)

In the meantime, life marches on, and as we continue preparing the other kid for college (hey, at least she can tell us when she’s sick, so she has that going for her), I made sure that even though things are going really well in Chickieville, I still have something to worry about. I’m great like that. Fellow parents of ADHD kids, you’ll want to check out my post at Alpha Mom today.

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Getting through a rough patch

Everything is fine. In the grand scheme, that is. Everyone’s basically okay, there’s nothing here we can’t handle, and yet… it’s been a hard week or two for various reasons. I’m finding that the interesting thing about being a family who’s weathered some Serious Shit is that when a problem crops up, you’d think (correction: I’D think) that we’d sort of go, “Oh hey, no biggie, we’ve handled WAY worse than this!”

The reality is that a problem crops up and everyone melts into a puddle of OH GOD NO NOT THIS AGAIN because emotions have a way of beating out rational thought, every time. It’s just plain hard, having someone you love hurting, and when it’s not an easy fix (or even, sometimes, an identifiable cause) and your family unit has spent so much of its life prostrate to emotional wreckage, problems can feel bigger than they are.

Oh, look. I just used a lot of words to say, “Don’t panic, we’re fine, but I can’t fix everything for everyone with a magic wand and that sucks.” This is totally different than your experience as a parent, I am sure. HAHAHA.

Anyway! In the midst of this I read a hundred different iterations of articles reporting on this new(ish) study about kids and religion and generosity, and as usual, I have some thoughts. I’m over at Alpha Mom wondering if I’ve failed my kids, because I spend an awful lot of time wondering if I’ve failed my kids. It’s my favorite hobby! (That word favorite may not mean what I’m using it to mean, here….)

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It’s scary in there

So my folks were here visiting for a bit, did I mention that? My father checked the blog one morning and then said, “Your readers aren’t going to like us.”

“Huh?” I said, because I’m eloquent and stuff.

“When we’re here you don’t blog,” he said. And then I laughed and laughed, because I barely blog when they’re not here, but I like that he’s willing to take the blame. Oh, I didn’t write here for several weeks? Totally my dad’s fault. Sorry.

Our house is laid out such that 1) our master is on the first floor with the kids upstairs (this will be important in a minute) and 2) although there are technically 4 rooms upstairs, only 2 of them qualify as bedrooms with doors and closets. I would draw you a picture if I could draw, but basically you go up the stairs and the bathroom is ahead of you, with a pass-through room and then a bedroom on either side. This means we don’t have a designated guest room, but as Chickadee has the larger of the two bedrooms (and the larger bed), she gives up her room for guests and sleeps in the pass-through room on Monkey’s side as needed. This is all preamble to explaining that I don’t go upstairs very often, and I almost NEVER go into the kids’ bathroom because I have a strong gag reflex, but before my folks arrived I checked Chickie’s room and then their bathroom and then I killed both children because they are unforgivingly disgusting and cleaning up the blood seemed easier than dealing with the mildew. (Just to give you an idea: Rather than attempting to clean the existing tub mat, Chickie threw it away and bought a replacement with her own money. THAT BAD.)

Everything got cleaned and we had a lovely visit. The end.

It did, however, get me thinking about how I view my children’s rooms now vs. when they were smaller and I still believed I could force them into cleanliness. HAHAHA. And then I got this very timely question about kids’ room privacy at Alpha Mom and mostly I was relieved it wasn’t a question about how to make your teens realize they are standing on a solid rectangle of mildew in the shower, because I don’t know the answer to that one.

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It was a very merry Halloween

For some reason, we don’t really get trick-or-treaters at our house. This means I buy a bunch of candy “just in case” and then no one comes and then a month later I wonder why I’m fat. It’s a mystery! I wonder if I’ll ever solve it!

Nonetheless, some Halloween merriment did commence. Monkey had been declaring himself the symbol of American freedom for months, so it was a natural choice for AP Dress-Up Day for him to go as, well, the symbol of American freedom:

monkey-eagle

(I think his teacher liked it. At least, midday I got a text asking where I’d gotten the wings. I’m going to assume Monkey got his extra credit.)

Chickadee and a pal spent the night watching Saw, and I earned bonus Cool Mom points the next day when they went looking for Saw 2 on Netflix only to discover the Saw movies had, apparently, only been available until Halloween, and I went ahead and rented it for them on Amazon. The thing that’s nice about having a nearly-18-year-old child with similarly nearly-adult friends is that I don’t have to stop and think, “Is this movie appropriate?” Instead I can simply think, “Can I possibly curry favor by aiding and abetting the viewing of this terrible movie?” It’s great.

Anyway, that sort of got me thinking about the passage of time and other such “my baaaaaaaybeeeeeees are growing up!” sorts of things, so today I’m waxing nostalgic over at Alpha Mom about how much things and have changed (and some ways in which they haven’t).

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Well THAT never happens

You are just never going to guess what happened to me today. NOPE. NOT THAT.

Why, today marks the fifth time in 4 years that my Discover card was hijacked. I have no idea why I’m so popular—or why the dirtbags who try to use it always go spend it so stupidly that Discover immediately catches on—but there you go. (Lest you think I exaggerate: I give you January of this year, August 2014, January 2014, and November of 2011, otherwise known as Saladgate.)

Feeling a little light in the wallet? Just steal my Discover number. Everybody’s doing it.

Anyhoo. That put a crimp in my day, and so I felt like I needed a little levity to take my mind off of it. I bet you didn’t know I’m super artistic, but I totally am. In fact, I made you some great illustrations of parenting teenagers. (If you want prints you can just pay for them with my credit card, apparently.)

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Don’t sweat the cold stuff

It’s time once again for an installment of “Mir pretends to know things about parenting.” I’m your host, and you probably shouldn’t listen to anything I say.

With that confidence-inspiring intro, I give you my latest Q&A over on Alpha Mom: How do you make your kid dress appropriately for the weather?

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Never a dull moment

I really thought that once Chickadee got her license, my life would become less complicated. Like: immediately, and exponentially less complicated. Because everyone knows that just when you feel like your kids have reached an age of relative self-sufficiency, you are then relegated to 24/7 chauffeur status for years while they are too old for you to micromanage their lives but too young to handle their own transportation.

To some extent it’s true that things are easier now, in the sense that I am no longer driving back and forth to school more often than not, because I can let the kids take my car and they do many of the same activities, and then I can just wait at home in my apron to serve them a hot meal they don’t want when they get back. (I almost never wear an apron, so that part is hyperbole.) And while Chickie doesn’t have her own car, we happen to have a spare (you know, the haul-the-camping-trailer truck which, now that the camper is gone, is mostly the haul-the-Costco-shopping-trip truck), so it’s not a hardship to let her take my car and leave me out of the daily GOTTA GO TO THIS THING AND THEN GO THERE BE HOME LATER BYEEEEEE thing.

On the other hand, sometimes the kids don’t have the same activity, and sometimes they still need me for something other than rides (the NERVE), and I’m supposed to be working on work stuff and I am also working on book stuff (shhhhhh; the first rule of HolyshitIamwritingabook Club is that we don’t talk about HolyshitIamwritingabook Club) and I am trying to get back to exercising regularly and it’s getting colder so I need to cook and bake stuff to make the house warmer (that’s totally a thing) and sometimes the dogs need me to play with them. Stuff is still going on, is my point. And mostly it’s manageable.

The thing is, it’s a delicate balance, and it doesn’t take much to upset it. CUE OMINOUS MUSIC. (more…)

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Problems I can solve

I find it very tempting, when bad things happen in the world, to become furious with everyone and everything and assume that life is hopeless and awful, etc. But I’m trying to figure out how not to do that, so much.

Yesterday Monkey called me from school because he was unwell, and I tried to focus—step by step—on all of the good things this showed me. Yay for a kid who has become able to identify problems even though his own body is often a mystery to him! Yay for ease of communication to relay that information! Yay for flexibility of schedule (me) and health insurance (us) and transportation (despite the fact that Chickadee now drives my car way more often than I do) to take him to the doctor! Yay for meds! And yay for being able to follow specific, useful steps towards making sure my child is safe and healthy, at least for now.

It helped, a little. Not much, you understand. But some.

Before all of that happened yesterday, I put up a new piece over at Alpha Mom, but then the news about the latest school shooting broke and I couldn’t see interrupting that with this. So you get it today, albeit now you get it along with the disclaimer that I’m feeling sad and helpless about the stuff I CAN’T solve, but I’m trying to cling to what I can. Like helping my kid when he needs me, or dispensing advice about how to handle mean girls. It’s not enough. But it’s what I’ve got.

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Always bucking the trend

I love reading articles about “today’s teens” because they never actually sound like they’re about any real-life teenagers I’ve met. Granted, my special snowflakes are the specialest and the flakiest (haaaa) and their friends also tend to be anything but regular, but still. “Kids today” are risk takers! “Kids today” act first and think later!

Well, okay—that’s true even of my kids, I guess. Except instead of using drugs and sleeping around, my kids are doing things like stabbing each other in Minecraft “by accident.” (OOOOOHHHHHHHHH! Rebels!!)

Therefore, I humbly offer as an antidote to umpteen articles about how kids today are all suffering from FOMO: A piece about teens dealing with the opposite of FOMO, over at Alpha Mom, because ’round here, that’s how it goes.

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