WeeWMrs. M tells me my six year old had a rough day in her classroom– she snapped at others and snarled, “Don’t look at me, stop staring at me!!” while screaming and crying. Mrs. M and I wonder if this irritability is a negative side effect of her current medication. She’s been on it for over 5 weeks. I am frustrated and disappointed and sad for her. I know she wants friendships. I know she wants that closeness, that special feeling of being understood and accepted. That shared giggle. The eye contact and physical closeness when seated together by choice at the lunch table. The request to play a game and she says yes. The yearning to disclose an experience, to tell another of a personal situation. I know she wants it.
I feel like I have had difficulties forming meaningful friendships the past ten years. Do I unintentionally annoy people, do I snarl? We’ve moved a few times, I have three kids a range of ages, we have not joined a congregation, I have not worked outside the home, we live in a city. I could go on and on with possible barriers. My therapist tells me I have justifications every time she explores this area of difficulty. I don’t want to come across as defensive. I want to be a good client– open, receptive, honest, willing to try. Why do I even have any struggles? There’s famine in the world. People are serving our country and returning disabled. There are refugees risking their lives seeking a safer place.
I hate being a whiner.
I want to connect.
I feel more alone now as a parent of a child with special needs.
I think my life could be a reality show on the Lifetime channel. Unscripted. The stuff that happens, the stuff that goes down, the stuff that I experience would make most people gasp and laugh. I’m sitting with a glass of Trader Joe’s cabernet sauvignon, listening to Radiohead’s In Rainbows cd and thinking back on a recent day.
The other day, a typical day, I had just placed the baby gate in the doorway to prevent my youngest from taking food from the kitchen. There is a lock on the fridge doors, a lock on the cabinet doors where we keep the garbage, and the yummies are placed high above the fridge. I got the bowls of cat food ready to take upstairs. (FYI- the cats seem to enjoy their space away from the dog.) As I ran upstairs with the bowls, I heard the baby gate get pushed outward which woke the dog from his nap. I plopped the bowls down and sprinted down the stairs, opening the kitchen door to assess the situation. The dog ran by me and upstairs. I snatched the food item out of her hands, gave her a nudge back to the playroom and placed the gate back in place. I then ran upstairs — AAAAAAAAAaaaaack! Too late. The dog had eaten the cat food.
We have completed a few weeks on medication for ADHD impulsivity. Maybe by the next appointment, we’ll feel or see some improvement. I think it is too soon to expect results. It’s too soon, right? I’m not missing something here, am I? I’d like some kind of sign that I have permission to job hunt. I have parent needs too.
I’ve lost a lot of self confidence over the years of staying home. I am efficient with running errands, planning meals that garner leftovers for another meal, and scheduling the kids to have appointments at the same time. But with the outer world, the one outside my front door, the world is changing. Fast. Sometimes I feel like time is running out. When will it be the time for me to leave the house, when she’s in high school? Who knows what behaviors she’ll need professional help with then? There is always a good reason with special needs kids to remain a stay at home parent.
We did not go away for Spring Break. Get the tissues out, boo-hoo. This happens for us with my husband’s career. I’ve been really supportive to his work and demanding hours. I get it. It’s just that sometimes seeing everyone around us pack up their cars, hearing everyone’s plans for the week off, and feeling the need for something different to our routine, I feel sorry for myself when we stay home during any of the school year breaks. This year I changed that.
My solution has been to rent a cabin for a few days about an hour away. We take the dog, we bring food for all the meals, and for two nights he is able to put work on hold. The boys take a respite from their electronic devices. They flip a coin over who will sit next to the pooch; the loser sits near her. My husband attempts to delegate duties of packing the car. This never goes well. He does most of it, huffing and muttering up and down the driveway. I opt to stay inside programming the auto-feeder for the cats. Every time we go on this kind of trip, we manage to leave an hour later than planned, our bodies are crammed into the vehicle, trash bags for suitcases stuffed in every space and my hubby annoyed that his guitar never fits. The excitement increases over car ride games. I pop in an old Pearl Jam cd. We’re off!