Thursday, October 27, 2011

Parents Don't Have All the Answers

Three years ago our daughter was diagnosed with ADD. It made perfect sense and in fact we could look back over the years and see that the evidence had been there for years. You may or may not know that 3-5% of children are diagnosed with ADHD or ADD and that the actual percentage that have it are probably closer to 7%, meaning that 2-4% have it and are never diagnosed.

Many parents don't want their kids on medication, and I certainly understand where they come from. Who wants their child on a medication that they may have to take for the rest of their lives? There probably isn't a medication that exists that doesn't come with a warning about side effects and sometimes they're scary ones. The chances of your child having them may be slim, but do you really want to take that chance? In our case, it was not a matter of choice so much as one of necessity. She was so completely miserable and struggling to such a degree, that something had to be done.  She just couldn't take it and neither could we.

To spend 2-3 hours a night fighting to get homework done in the second grade? Got to be something wrong there. Unfortunately, I just thought she was not wanting to do it and was simply being difficult. After all, I certainly knew she was more than capable to do the work.  By the time her work was finished we were both completely exhausted, in tears usually and I was feeling like the worst mother in the world, and that she was lazy and what were we going to do with her?

Third grade was more of the same, then in 4th I started wondering if she could possibly have ADD/ADHD. I met with her teacher at his request and I mentioned it. He thought we should definitely speak to the pediatrician and explore the idea. Talk about feeling like a bad Mom when I found out why things were the way they were. To think of all the times I'd yelled at her for dawdling and just not getting down to it. Breaks my heart.

Since then we have tried a few different medications to find the one that works for Kaitlyn. Just as everyone is different, so is our chemical make up. Sometimes that means trying a few different things to find out what works best for the individual. Finally in December of 2010 after two years of different medications, we found one that seems to be doing what she needs it to.

With the correct medication in hand you would think it would be smooth sailing from then on, right? Wrong. We have a daily routine to make it easy for her to remember to do things, and we help her keep herself organized. Still she is struggling with anxiety, oppositional behavior, insisting on being alone most of the time, not seeming to have consideration for others' feelings, and a temper that goes off over seemingly nothing. So what are we doing wrong? Does she just enjoy being difficult? The answers to those questions are "I don't know", and "No"respectively. So what in the world is going on?
We're having her tested for special needs at school, although the people doing the testing and we both agree she'll probably blow those tests out of the water. She's highly functioning and seems to be able to compensate where she needs to at school, at least most of the time. The thing is, we know she's bright enough to do much better in school, and so do her teachers, so it seems like she's not trying her best, when in fact she is. They are accommodating her in several areas to help her out, but still she struggles. What can we/they do to help this child live up to her obvious potential?

Since the end of 4th grade, she has been in therapy to help talk about the things that bother her, and help her to learn how to handle her anger. This past summer she had to switch therapists because of a change in availability, and now we have recently found out that her current therapist isn't covered by our insurance. Ms. X is trying to get authorized to see Kaitlyn and we hope that she can. They have a good rapport so having to switch yet again would mean starting all over from the beginning relationship wise. Not exactly an optimal situation. For now, we wait. On a positive note, Ms. X was recommended that we have our daughter evaluated for language processing.

We are going to have a neurological psychological evaluation done next week. Hopefully this testing will answer some of our questions regarding language processing, and the other issues. Within the next month we're optimistic that we'll learn what tools she needs to equip herself for life. It would mean so much for her to have the "tools" to cope with her difficulties and overcome them.  Right now she's merely living with them and continuously struggling, feeling stupid, friendless, and self-conscious. I am excited to know that we don't have to continue on the way we have been and that we are going to have a happier, more self-confident child. She is truly amazing and we couldn't be more proud of her.

Little by little, step by step, I'm finding my way every day.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ordinary People

Have you ever wondered why you're here, or what you have to contribute to the world (at least your corner of it), or if you're even special? If we're honest, I think we can all say we've asked that question at one time or another. I know I certainly have.  

Truthfully I can't think of how many times I've asked myself, or asked God, "What's my talent? What's my gift?" All I ever saw was just me. I can carry a tune, but not well enough to think of myself as having that talent. Do I enjoy singing? Absolutely. I have a hard time NOT singing, but is it a talent/gift, I really wouldn't say so. I enjoy "making a joyful noise." I'm not an artist. I can't draw or paint any better than or even as well as my 4 year old daughter, Alexa. Ha ha! And my photographs are just everyday run of the mill family pics that anyone could take. Nothing special about that. I just don't have an artistic eye. I'm definitely not academically gifted, and so on. For approximately the last 20 years I've been wondering and thinking about this question. I do believe that once we discover our gift or talent, we are responsible to use it in a manner that benefits or enriches the lives of others.

 Several years ago, sometime after I was married and before I had children, I received a piece of junk mail from some school I'd never heard of. It was a writing school, correspondence I guess. There was a test you could send for to have your writing evaluated to see whether or not you should consider taking their course. I figured there wasn't any harm in asking for the test, since it was free and I wasn't under any obligation to sign up for the course. So, as you've already guessed, I took the test and they recommended I take the course because they thought my writing was "good enough." I was excited to think that I was or could be a good writer. We didn't have the money for me to take the course, and I was fine with that. I was simply interested in their response.

Two days ago I decided to start a blog, simply to encourage myself to write, just for myself. That might seem selfish to someone, but it's not really. We all need to take time to do something just for ourselves once in a while. Unfortunately, I can never manage to get past the initial writing session. That is why I decided that using the computer would be a better medium for me. 

After I posted my first blog entry, I received comments and/or "likes" from the two or three people who read it. I even have two followers. How excited am I?!! Now I have to produce, right? Motivation! There was a comment from a friend and former co-worker that rocked my world. 

 "glad you're using your gift to write things personal to you, but shared by others... Kudos :)"

When I read that, I read it again. Did you catch it? She said GIFT. Talk about an aha moment! I hadn't thought about the question in months and suddenly the answer was right in front of me in black and white. I'm a writer. This may well be the only form of publishing my writing that I ever do and that's ok. The number of people who read my musings may be very small, but maybe one day something I write will lift someone's spirits or encourage them in some way.

Then this morning the thought occurred to me that God makes ordinary people. That in itself makes us extaordinary. When we allow Him to use our gifts, talents, or our most basic abilities to help or enrich the lives of others, we are being the best selves we were created to be. Then we are doing what we were meant to do, and making a difference in our own way. That is significant. That is why we were put on this earth. 

Suddenly the gift/talent question didn't seem so important anymore. Do what you love to do, use it to make others lives better if you can, and be the best you you can be in everything. Chances are you'll find the answer to the "question" somewhere along the way. The only thing you need to be the best at is being your best you. Whoa, that sounds corny! True though.

See you next time!

Little by little, step by step, I'm finding my way every day.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finding My Way

I keep wanting to write down my thoughts and musings and I can never seem to get it down on paper. Since I always seem to find time to be on the computer, I thought I'd try my hand at blogging. Just how often I'll post and whether or not I'll have anything to say that anyone besides myself wants to read remains to be seen. The fact remains that I'm taking the time to do something for myself, which I seem to have a hard time doing.

My life revolves around my girls, and as a Mom, I think that's the way it should be. Most everything I do, I do for them. I think about them, talk about them to anyone who'll listen, basically eat, sleep and breathe about them. They are my whole world. I guess it's natural that I always want to do and be more for them. Sometimes I feel overworked and under appreciated, but not usually. 

Alexa is my precocious,  curious, silly, funny 4 year old, who lives to dance and sing and dress up. She'll perform for strangers in the middle of Burlington Coat Factory or tell strangers, "I really like your baby!" We can be anywhere doing most anything and Alexa will come out with a compliment or an "I love you, Mom, you're the best girl." Or maybe she'll just be grouchy and want to be home and not driving to the train station to pick up Daddy. Perhaps she'll be excited that it's time to drive to Providence, yet again. She lives to give Daddy a kiss goodbye through the car window, regardless of the weather or temperature outside. Pretty much she's a happy, funny, sunny girl. Don't get me wrong, she can be just as crabby as the next kid, but it's not typical of  her. She's Mommy's girl through and through, and I couldn't be happier about it. Will she still be 6 or  7 years from now? Now that's a question. If she is, I'll be the happiest Mom in the world, but I'm not holding my breath. LOL!

Kaitlyn is Daddy's girl. She is 11 and loves most everything science related, is a voracious reader (who'd-a-thunk-it a couple years ago?),  and is very smart. She may not have the best grades in her class, but once she learns something it's not going anywhere. Besides, being smart isn't necessarily about grades anyway. She cares about the environment, and goes around turning things off if they're left on and scolds us about it. In Kaitlyn's perfect world, everyone would have a job that needs one and things would cost a lot less to make life more affordable. One day a couple of years ago she had a very long conversation with her Dad and I about how she was going to have a Dunkin Donuts and everything was going to cost a penny so everyone could afford to go there. Because everyone could afford it, everyone would have food for their families. It didn't make a whole lot of sense financially and obviously wasn't in the least bit realistic, but her caring for mankind more than made up for it.

I wish Kaitlyn and I were closer. I'm always asking her if she wants to go with me to run errands, or to do something for fun, just the two of us. She never does though. She won't go out for lunch with me, or to the mall or for manicures, or just to go for a walk. I ache to spend time with her but she's just not interested. A couple of weeks ago we were in the car just the two of us and I just started talking to her about this stuff and how much I love her and wanted her long before she ever came along. I cried, I know she did too. I explained how we almost lost her and I spent weeks 18-36 of my pregnancy with her on strict bedrest. That no matter how much I hated being by myself all day and not being able to go out and take a walk, or sit up in a chair, or eat at a table, I did it for her. I loved her and wanted her badly enough that I was willing to do whatever I had to to help make sure she got here safely and when she was supposed to rather than far too early. Kaitlyn unfortunately ended up feeling guilty rather than desperately loved and wanted. I said what I needed to get off my chest, but to what end? The last thing I meant to do was to make her feel bad. 

Nobody's perfect, I know that well enough, especially when you're a parent and in charge of shaping a child's life. We all are human and make mistakes. I'm doing the best job I can with what I have and I feel like I'm succeeding, whether Kaitlyn and Alexa agree or not. Ha ha! All I can do is to show them love, tell them I love them, care for them the best I can and apply discipline when necessary. Hopefully along the way or down the road they will appreciate these efforts and come to know just how loved they are. Not a day goes by that Josh and I don't tell the girls we love them, and show them in several ways. 

Being a parent is both the best and worst job in the world, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Little by little, step by step, I'm finding my way every day.