Friday, September 28, 2012

You are not alone!

Easy to Love but Hard to Raise
I had always intended to have reviews of books and products I have read or tried on this blog, but so far I think my only review has been of a movie.

Until now...

If you have been an ADHD parent for any length of time, chances are you have seen the book "Easy to Love, but Hard to Raise."  I'm here to tell you that you must buy this book right now!

The folks over at DRT Press contacted me over the summer to ask if I wanted to be included in the book's "blog tour."  I was very honored and thrilled for the opportunity to read the book, and even more thrilled that it arrived just before we went on vacation for a week at the beach so I had time to really dive into it.

You know that moms are consummate researchers, whether it's about feeding, sleeping, natural childbirth, diet, or a disorder. So much of that kind of research, however, can make you feel like you are doing it wrong; you are the only one who ____ (fill in the blank with your own special guilt); you just can't handle it.

"Easy to Love" is the first book I've read that helps you see that you are not alone and that you aren't doing it all wrong, or at least any different than someone else in your position would do.

The book is a compilation of stories by many, many moms and at least one dad. Some of the stories will comfort you. Some might even scare you, especially if you have a long way to go on this journey. And some will relieve you when you realize how much more challenging it could be.

You especially learn that there are as many ways to raise an easy to love (ETL) child as there are ETL parents!

It is surely difficult to raise a child with diabetes, or cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy, but all of those are at least somewhat obvious conditions and no one will point a finger at you for causing it or for the outcome. The diagnosis for ETL kids is so often invisible; therefore your parenting - especially what goes on behind the scenes - is also invisible. When your child acts out, you are a bad parent. When your child can't write an essay, you are too permissive. When your child is bossy, causing him or her to lose friends, obviously you sheltered him and let him have his way too much.

This book erases all those negative thoughts and myths and replaces them. It shows how other parents just like you also feel judged and feel guilty. And survive.

Probably my favorite part about the book are the short blurbs after each story telling you about the author. Often in those short, italicized blurbs, you learn how the child in the story did overcome his or her challenges, at least the ones in the story. You hear of ETL kids growing up and going out on their own, which at times seems impossible to imagine when you are in the thick of it.

We need to hear these stories. We need to know that while it's tough, it's a journey we will get through. We need to know that we are doing the right thing and that if we believe in our children and believe in ourselves, we'll reach our own, right conclusion to our own story.

You can learn more about the book and about the wonderfully supportive Easy to Love community at their blog site. The site provides links to purchase the book directly from the publisher or through popular booksellers like Amazon or  You'll also find a link to their Facebook page which is a treasure trove of daily encouragement.

While I was provided with a copy of the book reviewed, all reviews and comments are my own. (c) Argonne Chronicles, 2012.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Farewell to a Princess


Although I normally write about my one Trouble Child, I have another... or I did until last night. This Trouble Child didn't keep me up with homework or talk back or refuse to take a bath.  Her special brand of trouble involved escaping and running through the streets of our neighborhood and digging her way through couches to escape thunderstorms.  Here is my remembrance of her.

It is with much sadness that I report the passing of Princess Nikita of the Great White North.  Nikki, as she was known to family, friends, and acquaintances, was an independent but loving spirit who never met a stranger, human or canine.  Rumors abounded about her early life as a princess in a Siberian ice palace, where she had countless servants meeting her every need.  How she went from a life of luxury to life on the streets, no one knows, but her family is grateful that she found her way to them.

She was employed throughout her New Orleans life in pest control, a job she undertook with great zest, instilling fear in the hearts of rodents, birds, and lizards everywhere.  In later years, she also did some acting, portraying Snowball, mascot of our local school.  In that role, she appeared at events such as the Husky Fun Run, the groundbreaking for the new school building facility, and the building dedication, an event attended by numerous local dignitaries. She reveled in the opportunity to meet her fans, but always shunned the paparazzi.

Nikki was also known for her singing, wailing melodies that were haunting yet beautiful.  In the last year of her life, she had largely given up singing although she still did occasionally say a few words in husky speak. Throughout her life, her family encouraged her vocalizations, often joining in with her, comforting her and making her family feel more like a pack.

She enjoyed late night forays to the Saturn Bar in the Bywater, where she would sit at the bar, drink martinis, and smoke cigarettes. In fact, she enjoyed independent forays anywhere, choosing to slip past unsuspecting guests as they entered the front door or dig out from her backyard to pursue adventures far and wide. Nothing was more fun to her than being chased by family member!

She leaves her loving parents and her boy, Dylan, whom she loved from the moment she met him, choosing to believe that her parents had brought him home especially for her. She joins her big brother Oakley, a gregarious golden retriever who preceded her in death five years ago. She will be missed by many and a certain window on our street will look lonely for the lack of a watchful husky.

Donations in her memory can be made to the Louisiana SPCA, where her family found her, or simply choose to adopt rather than buy. So many beautiful animals like Nikki need homes.  Until there are none, adopt one and make your house a home for a homeless dog…or a princess. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Primal Scream

You would think with the Spark of Hope and all that things would be on the upswing. And maybe they are, but I guess no path is without its bumps.

It was one of those mornings. You moms know what I mean. Arguments every second of it. Practically dressing the child to get him out the door. Running back inside for something. Arguing on the way to school.

It shouldn't have been.

I told warned Dylan that I had to be at a meeting at 8:00am and that he had studying to do in the morning. Of course, he didn't think about that at 6:00am when I first turned his light on, but he also didn't think much of it when I finally got him vertical and he started getting dressed.

He did "study" as in read the words on the page, but I doubt strongly he was prepared to read it in class from memory (which he was supposed to).

I warned him again that TV (which wasn't even supposed to be on until he was dressed and had fully studied) had to be off at 7:20am.  At that point, all that should've been left would've been to brush his teeth. In reality, there were shoes to get on, a belt to find, and the teeth to be brushed.

I said I wanted to be out the door by 7:25am at the latest. Of course it was after 7:30am when we finally got out. 

I did harp, I'll admit. Dylan's response was, "Well, you know I'm not the fastest boy on the planet!" which launched a discussion argument over whether that was an excuse or not. (NOT, when you've been warned every step of the way what is coming next and why.)

When he finally got out of the car, I lost it.  Alone, by myself, but I lost it.  Screamed.  And screamed.  And screamed.

When I was in college, "the primal scream" was very popular. They even had primal scream events when everyone went to the green and screamed to release stress.  I thought it was supposed to help, but it just made my throat sore, and may have primed me for more screaming later.

That additional screaming occurred hours later when I realized I had forgotten to give Dylan his meds. I really lost it that time.  Totally broke down. Cried, screamed, yelled, you name it. For at least 30-45 minutes. Fortunately, I had a surprise reprieve from work and could do so. 

The stress - so much stress - has obviously been building up. Dylan's ADHD. Lots of negative stress at work. A less-than-stellar relationship with RockStar. Worries over money, nutrition, weight, my mom, cub scouts, our dog, our roof, you name it.

Now, I'm not a worrier by trademark. But a lot has been going on. Too much and I cannot get a handle on any of it. Or rather I try to get a handle on all of it, and everything suffers.

I don't know what happens next.  I read Tsh's blog letter to her 15-year-old self and I know I am feeling just what she describes toward the end when she more-or-less breaks down in Greece. My only question is:  when do I get the plane ticket to Santorini?!

Seriously, something has to give, but I honestly have no idea what it will be. I'm, gulp, talking to my pastor tomorrow (something I've never done - talk to clergy about a problem and get pastoral care). And I made an appointment to talk to a social worker next week. And I'm "talking" here. I feel like burrowing under my covers for...forever. But I know that is not an option.  I'm just so tired of being responsible for what feel like everything.

If you've read this far, thank you for listing to my rant. When I was screaming and crying I kept yelling, "I have no one to talk to." It was like all this stuff was coming out. Stuff that apparently has been bothering me, under the surface, but has been hidden by all the stuff I do.

No one primal screams anymore.  When I looked it up, I had to hunt for it amid bands with that name. Considering how it turned out, I don't recommend it. When you feel like screaming, please, just stop and get a latté or something. Don't unleash the furies like I did.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Spark of Hope

I finally met with Dylan's new teacher. He's been back at school for a month already, but two previous meetings had been postponed, first due to the teacher's car trouble then to Isaac. I was initially nervous, but after so many cancellations, I was just happy to have it be over.

I was a little afraid that the language arts teacher would be there.  Every solo meeting I scheduled with Dylan's main teacher last year ended up also being with his language arts teacher.  Even when I asked that it be just her.  It's hard to stake your ground when you always feel outnumbered.

So I entered the classroom unsure, but it was just one.

It was so much more like what I had expected of a teacher meeting. More like what they had been like in third grade.  She really wanted to find out what interests Dylan, what helps him, what makes him tick.  She wanted to know about medications but she agreed that they are not the end all, be all.  

She reported about how she knew he had writing issues, but that she was still encouraging him to write what he could. In fact, she talked about a poem she asked the kids to copy. Dylan was spiraling out over it, but she calmed him down and told him to write half of it; that she would write the other half.  That calmed him down. 

She said his former teacher scoffed that she would have to write everything for him. The way she described the conversation I could hear the other teacher dismissing Dylan, dismissing his abilities and willingness to try. It made me angry that he ever had her, but happy that he has this new teacher who understands that he has issues, but she wants to help him overcome those issues.

In the end, I gave her a packet of information. Some specifically about Dylan. Some about ADHD and executive function deficits. Despite its prevalence, I don't find that the teachers really understand it, so I wanted to be prepared. I didn't want to seem pushy, but I want to advocate and get that information out there. I don't know if she'll read it all, but at least she has it as a resource.

I felt awesome when the meeting was over!  I had a Jazzercise right after and I worked out so hard I was beat the next day. But it felt great.

It felt like hope.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

And then there was power

Our task of waiting for Isaac turned into a task of waiting for power once he arrived. The first few days weren’t so bad.  It was still windy and rainy, so the temperatures stayed reasonable. But once Isaac moved completely out of the area, the heat set in.  And the boredom. 
I have to admit, I wasn’t always as nice as I should’ve been.

We were fortunate - no blessed - that we bought a generator the morning of the day that Isaac came ashore.  It was noisy and needed gasoline and meant that wires ran all over my house. But it also meant that we could keep our food cold, we had light to read by, some entertainment via DVDs, and moving hot air courtesy of a fan.

I’m never as creative as I think I’ll be in a situation like this.  I always think I’ll come up with games and activities to keep us amused and pass the time.  When it comes, though, I’m just thinking, “Gee, I’m hot” or “Gee, I’m tired” from not sleeping well.

I actually slept pretty well the first couple of nights. Dylan slept with me because the complete and utter lack of lights made him scared. RockStar slept on our futon with the fan. It worked out pretty well except for when the hot box rolled over onto me and shared his sweat.

Today, the power came back on.  It was almost a religious experience.
And so the whirlwind begins!  Mountains of laundry to do. Wires to roll up. Dishes to wash. Beds to strip. Normalcy to get reacquainted with.

We are blessed every single day, but I must admit that so often I ignore it.  I ignore the beauty of electricity, the joy of plans made and accomplished, the freedom to go anywhere and find it fully open, with power and supplies.

This limbo we’ve found ourselves in seems to have refreshed me somewhat. I feel slightly more ready to deal with what comes. Ready to make some changes for myself.  I find it difficult to focus on myself, but having experienced my negative reactions, lumbering through this powerless experience, I can see how if I can make some small changes for myself, it will help my family.

I’m turning the light on.  And trying to see clearly.

(c) Argonne Chronicles 2012