Hashtag nofilter

“I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.” –Vitruvius

Since Tuna died, the question “How are you?” has been hard to answer. I’ve considered answering with, “Never been worse. Living my worst nightmare, you?”
If you’re not sure how to answer the question “How are you doing?” when people check in with you during isolation, it’s totally normal for those going through grief and trauma.

My suggestion (since you asked) is to be honest. Don’t say you’re doing great when actually you can’t stand the sound of your cat eating for one second longer. Don’t say you’re fine when really you’re ready to douse the house in bleach because it smells like PEOPLE, your couch is developing permanent butt-indents, and you can only go so far on a stationary bike. If someone checks in and you say all is well, but really you’re having conversations with your dog while watching the Golden Girls (true story), try a more honest answer. Just say it: “My anxiety is through the roof and I need some help with coping right now.”

For me, after Tuna, I started saying “We’re getting by,” or “I’m doing ok,” or “Doing my best.” Those are the family friendly versions of, “I’m living in hell and can barely cope right now.” People don’t want to hear that. Most people don’t know where to put that, it gets awkward, so you water it down.

During these times right here, when we’re contemplating the pros and cons of wearing a fishbowl on our heads to go toilet paper hunting, we might answer the question, “How are you doing?” with the answer, “I’m doing as well as can be expected.” Or, “I think I’m ok, but are you experiencing depression and worry, too?”

Guess what? It’s ok that you’re experiencing that.

If you’re new to grief and trauma (because that’s what the world has been plunged into – – the cold world of drastic, traumatic change), everything you’re feeling is normal. If you’re crying, that’s OK. If you’re acting really weird and loopy, that’s OK. If you’re escaping, that’s OK. If you’re trying to laugh at it all, it’s cool. If you’re over-achieving, that’s fine too. Just be sure to come up for air. Be sure to answer the questions with brutal honesty. Don’t insta-filter your pandemic state. Hashtag no filter that answer: “I’m freaking out, and I need to see your face”, “I want to know what to do when I feel depressed and lonely”… You get the idea.

So this is where I say, “Hang in there!”, which is a watered down version of, “Yeah, this is a really freaking twilight zone state the world is in and I have nothing helpful to say. At all. Hang in there.”

Please talk to your people. Face time. Message. Call. And if you don’t have people, call a church, or look at the Google thingy for a counseling hotline–some are free–just to talk to someone who will listen.

If you’re feeling like hurting yourself, call 1-800-273-8255. Go here if you need to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. I’m not asking you. I’m telling you.

Sorry, the world is closed. The whole world is just hanging in there until further notice. People tell me that it gets better, this grief crap. People are nice. I guess I’m not people… I’m telling you that it doesn’t get better, just different. It never goes away–we’ll all be changed by this crisis–but when further notice comes, we’ll get to let go.

Because Boys 2.0: Not Entirely Because Boys

Screenshot_20181202-233843_ChromeOnce upon a time there was a storyteller with three sons.  She wrote about them, and many readers in the land praised her work. The boys’ ridiculous antics made the townspeople slap their knees, and their stories spread far and…well maybe just a little ways away…

The storyteller eventually moved to the land of Full Time Job where she thought she was exhausting all of her creative energy, and that must be why she stopped telling tales of her boys. But then, there came a day when the real reason revealed itself in a disguised message, delivered from the nearby town of Facebookland. On the surface it was indeed an interesting exchange, but between the words came another voice: “It is time to do another brave thing:  It is time to tell your whole story, and spread your truth far and maybe wide this time. This is why your writing has stopped until today.”

So the storyteller opened up and shared her whole story and sold lots of books and became a successful writer.  The end.

I hope you liked my totally true tale of the storyteller who is actually me. Yeah, it’s all true…it’s just that that ending part isn’t true YET.

If you’re just joining us, I started this blog about my three boys in April of 2014. Tuna is now 13, Binker is 8, and Squishy is almost 6.  I’ve shared a lot, but skated around the whole truth: I am a special needs mom.

It’s time to include that part of my story.  It’s time to talk about it. So, just as I jumped in and wrote one of my first entries about floor food, here goes: Tuna is gifted, has Tourrette’s Syndrome, ADHD, and food allergies. Binker is autistic, has ADHD, and is gifted. Squishy is autistic and we suspect giftedness. These diagnoses make myself and Latefordinner special needs parents. 

There. Done.

I have my dear friend to thank for unknowingly jump-starting my blog again, and showing me it’s time to come out. 

I’ve chosen to keep writing here, rather than starting a new blog, because I want you to understand why I stayed in the special needs parenting closet–those of you with neurotypical children may have related to the chaos when you read my stories. However, the differences in special needs families add several layers of challenges that I left out of those stories.  The wonderful news is that neurotypical families can relate to our stories!  We really are “normal” (because no one is normal, so we’re all normal), so there are tons of things we all have in common. Whew! That’s comforting for special needs families. My charge now is to talk about those unspoken layers.  It’s time to pull them out of the closet, dust them off, and show you how they fit if you’ve never worn them. And if you do wear them, maybe we’re matchy!

I hope you’ll stick around for some knee-slapping, eye-opening, ignorance-squashing stories–Because Boys 2.0: Special Needs Edition. AKA “God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle”, and “You’re Their Mom For a Reason”. Also, “I Don’t Know How You Do It.” 

(Psst, I don’t either.)

(Pssst, actually it’s magic. Special needs moms have magic. Don’t tell anyone.)

 

 

Fathead

Ok so this happened today:

I was at the store with Binker and Squishy.  Hum de dum, just getting some groceries, when suddenly Binker’s dark side came out.  A lady was just doing her shopping, walking past us, when he looks at her and says “you are a fathead.”  

WHAT?!

I did a double take, asked him what he said, and she answered “He said I am a fathead.”

Wellll, this is a new one…  My sweet little Tuna would never have called a stranger a name like that.  He’s more of a tell-stranger-his-life-story kind of kid, with a lot of charming smiles going on, maybe a song and dance.  This whole calling strangers mean names thing is, um, weird, wrong, and kind of funny!  Binker just turned four.  He is learning.

Now, if a four-year-old said that to me in a store, I would handle it much differently than this lady.  I would call him out, tell him that’s not nice, and that I, in fact, have a very nice head.  I would probably tell him he had a nice, regular-sized head too, laugh, and move on.  This would definitely take the embarrassment off of mom, and tell the kid in a nice way that he shouldn’t say that.  But that’s just me, I guess.  This lady seriously looked like she was going to cry!  Like really, she was going to cry.  Of course I explained that he should apologize, and, uh, say something nice to her… I really think that he psychically picked up on her deep insecurity and unconsciously aired it for her.  (To be fair, she did kind of have an extra large head…)

He felt bad, said sorry, and I think he was embarrassed.  He is four.

It ended ok, but…wtf?  A fathead?!  (Snigger, snort.)  And would a four-year-old make you cry?  I don’t get embarrassed easily, but I did today.  I also thought it was hilarious.  A little conflicting, I know…. Normally I would dive into the psychology of this and try to figure out if I have failed him somehow by not teaching him before this that he shouldn’t call strangers mean names (only friends and family of course). Is there something happening to his psyche that makes him mean and cruel?  Blah blah, worry worry.  But I just didn’t this time.  I think he is just four, and learns things from his big brother and neighbors that he doesn’t understand.  It’s really that simple.  Now he knows, and some lady has faced her insecurity thanks to my psychic preschooler.  Yep.  

 

modeling honesty and also not procrastinating

2014-05-09 14.02.24Tuna (my oldest) was scheduled to get a filling at the dentist today. I was going to have to wake up the baby and drag all three monsters to this appointment, and probably have to leave Binker (the middle boy) in the waiting room alone while I took Squishy in to comfort Tuna while he tried to talk constantly (his M.O. always) with his mouth cranked open. I have been dreading this appointment since I scheduled it. So has he. I know that he knows I was dreading it because of the gloom in my voice when I warned him that I had to bring the babies, even though I assured him that it would be ok…that and he may have overheard me talking to my sister about how much I was dreading it…

So he gave me an out:

“I feel sick to my stomach and I feel hot and I also feel like my throat is goopy.”

I said it was probably nerves and gave him the “I’m on to you” mom look.

“No really, I’ve felt sick since before snack at school.”

He swears it isn’t nerves. I told him to try to poop. He humored me.

“Hm, well if you really are sick you have to rest.” (It’s raining, he has to stay inside anyway.)

“Ok, I paused LEGO Batman downstairs, can I go down and play that? That’s resting.”

*skeptical mom look* *pause, pause*

Ahem, so he knows that I know he’s faking, and he also knows that he gave me an out. Win win!
(What?! I don’t WANT to go!!!)

So I say: “Yes, I’m trusting you this time.”

And his big NOT SICK grin as he trotted downstairs was a serious foreshadowing of my future relationship with this boy…I’d better be careful how many times I actually let this “I’m trusting you this time” wink wink actually fly.

Eh, whatever. Blah blah be careful blah blah

It’s a win win anyway, for real, because I really really didn’t want to go.

(Yes, I rescheduled. Told them he’s “sick”. Geez, moms.)