Sigh. I’ve waited to post this (and actually wondered if I ever would) because it gets my emotions so raw. Let me start at the beginning…
Brian and I decided that it would be a good idea to put both kids in swimming lessons this spring. Liv has never taken “formal” lessons. Christian took “special needs” lessons last winter. Christian enjoyed the water, however, Brian and I were concerned that they didn’t focus enough on swimming skills vs. the-love-of-water. Christian has never had a problem with the latter. We really wanted him to learn some basic water survival skills.
About a month before the classes were set to start (and we were ready to register), I tried emailing the aquatics director to see if it was feasible for Christian to partake in “regular” lessons. I waited and waited. A week passed and I hadn’t heard from her, so I stopped into her office to talk with her directly.
She didn’t seem too concerned about anything that I wanted to tell her about Christian. She just asked (more than once) if Christian was OK without me in the water with him.
Well, yes, he is OK without me.
Her answer to me then was to enroll him in whatever class I wanted to. She didn’t seem to have time or attention to listen to any of my other concerns, so I left her office and signed him up for “regular” class at the same time as Olivia. Easier for me. Awesome.
…or so I thought…
I arrived with the kids on the first night of class. Both were excited and couldn’t wait to get into the water. When all of the children were divided into smaller groups, I could sense a rumble of concern about Christian from the instructors. They were nervous about him. One of them went and asked the aquatics director if she was “OK with him being here.” Her reply was, “If he’s OK without Mom in the pool, then I’m fine with him being here.”
I started to get nervous and anxious about my son being referred to as him. I was starting to get irked, but tried to stay calm and positive for Christian.
I backed out through the door and watched carefully. As I stood there I was horrified, crushed, and angry as one of the instructors (right in front of Christian), started tearing up and shaking. As I tried to read her lips, I could see that she was saying, “I can’t handle this! I don’t know how to teach him! I can’t do this!” She was panicking, shaking her hands, and looking at him like he was the plague! I wanted to run out there, grab Christian out of the water, and shield him from her reaction.
Eventually, the aquatic director came out and talked to the teary-eyed instructor, went and talked to one of the other lifeguards, and then headed my direction. Sigh.
Aquatic director walked right over to me, and in front of all of the other parents, started telling me that Christian could not be in these classes. She told me that he is not capable and that thankfully they were overstaffed on lifeguards that night so one of them could spend time with Christian for the rest of the allotted class time. She told me that I would have to enroll him in the “special needs” classes if I wanted him to continue lessons and that she supposed that she could “roll him over” into the special class that started in two days. She made this sound like she was doing me this huge favor. Sigh.
Had it not been such a long day by that point, I might have been more vocal with the aquatic director. However, as I watched my beautiful boy now happily splashing around with extra lifeguard, I just nodded and told her that I would like to continue the lessons and to go ahead and put my baby in the other class.
I’m sure that aquatic director said some more things to me, but I was done listening. I was too busy watching Christian and fighting back my own tears. I was lost in thought wondering whether Christian had heard and how much he understood about what the swim instructor had said about him at the beginning of the class.
As soon as aquatic director walked away, I could no longer hold myself together. I started bawling, uncontrollably, by that window, in front of the other parents. I tried to stop. I really did. But I just couldn’t. There were too many emotions washing over me all at once.  I donned as brave face as best as I could and attempted to pull myself back together by the end of the class.
Two days later, Christian started lessons in the special needs swim class again.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Three weeks passed and my emotions were not as raw as they had been. The kids are thriving in their swim classes. I made an appointment to talk to the CEO of the place where the kids were taking their classes. He agreed to meet with me the next day.
I recounted our story. He listened to my every word. He asked questioned and repeated me, just to make sure that he fully understood what I had said. He promised to use it as a “teaching moment” and asked that I let him know how the swimming class turned out in the end.
I was satisfied.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Swimming lessons have now come to a close.
Olivia did fantastically well and loved every minute of her class.
And Christian … well, Christian did great. He also had the most excellent of teachers, Mr. Tim. Mr. Tim was genuinely happy to see Christian every week. Mr. Tim was energetic, caring, and resourceful. He got Christian to try things that I wasn’t sure I would ever see him do – like putting his head underwater to grab a ring off of the bottom of the pool! I know! Awesome, right?!? Mr. Tim had him working on paddling with his arms. Once Christian could do that pretty well, Mr. Tim had Christian start working on his kick. Christian still may be a long way from swimming on his own, but he is now on his way thanks to the patience and understanding of Mr. Tim.
I wish that there were more Mr. Tim s in this world…
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I can’t believe that it has been so long since I have tapped out my thoughts on this keyboard, but perhaps this post will hold some explanation…

I have been struggling quite a bit lately with emotional problems.  I have been afraid to admit it.  Scared of how others will perceive me, even though I have never thought less of others struggling with such issues.  (I have always actually thought more of them for being so honest about themselves.)

I lived for years with pretty severe PPD (postpartum depression).  I never did anything about it.  Never wanted to admit to it.  Bucked up and pushed through.  The scary thing, though, is that I was always wondering when the day would come when I just couldn’t hold it together anymore.  Yeah, I was that close to losing it.  I never wanted to die.  I never wanted to hurt my children, but I did fantasize about car accidents (when I was out by myself), being injured enough to be in the hospital for awhile, and enjoying having rest.  I was that sleep-deprived.  That emotionally shot.  That afraid of showing my “weakness” by asking for help.

Honestly, I wonder if the PPD ever totally went away.  Or maybe it rolled into PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which some studies have found that parents with special children sometimes show signs of.  Or maybe I’m just steps away from being “cuckoo”.  I don’t know.

I have in the past couple of years sought out some help.  Therapy appointments.  Medications.  Vitamins.  Exercise.  I’m not convinced that the right combination has been found yet, but I do know that I need more sleep.  That is something that I will very have to work hard to achieve.  I know that I have to find ways that calm me down when the troubles start mounting.

But more than anything else, I know that I have to give up control.  For when I most try to control my universe, it seems to quickly spiral into chaos.  In steps panic, depression, worthlessness, numbness, frustration, loneliness…

God is teaching me his lesson again.  To trust in him alone, not in myself and my own power.  This is a lesson that I’m sure that I will be studying for the rest of my days. 

God help me.

Sigh.  This morning a train broke down on the tracks in the middle of our road.  The road that the bus uses to get to our house.  As the train was on its 2nd hour of sitting there, I got a call from the bus company saying that they were not going to be able to make it to our house because of said train.

Sigh.  I figured that much.  Either Christian would miss school or I’d have to drive him in.  I chose to drive him.  I knew this would not be what he wanted, but I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen for the next 1/2-hour.

He happily put on his shoes for me.  He happily walked from the living room through the laundry area and into the garage.  He happily ran outside as I opened the garage door.  Then he saw me unlocking the car.  He screamed like I was torturing him and ran back into the house.  Fine.  I continued to unlock all of the doors, throw in his backpack, and talk Liv into getting into her seat before chasing Christian down.

He was back in the living room taking off his shoes while  giving me the “stink eye” and he let out a ear-deafening scream as I walked towards him.  I did what I had to do — scooped him up, grabbed his shoes, and blocked out all noise and body blows as I hustled to the car.  He grabbed every doorway as we fought through, holding on like his life depended on it.  We were both determined, but with opposite agendas.

After finally getting out the car and Christian buckled into his seat, I started backing out the driveway as Christian attempted an escape.  (Poor Olivia having to endure the decibels in the backseat!! 😦 )  I rebuckled him before getting on the road, but drove with one hand over the release button so that he couldn’t pull a repeat “Houdini.” 

I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, we could get to school before the buses unloaded and that he could get on his bus, sit for a minute, get all of the anger (because of routine changes) out of his system, and go into school with his friends as happy as he is any other morning.

But because of all of the wrestling, we arrived as his bus pulled out of the parking lot.  I opened his door and unbuckled him.  He screamed and tried to rebuckle himself.  I picked him up as he threw his weight around trying to get out of my arms and back into the car.  He repeatedly talked about an “Airplane” and a “Ride.”  Does he want to ride on an airplane???  We scrambled across the parking lot to the building with Olivia following behind as I tried not to drop this flailing body.

We followed his class down the hallway.  He screamed and punched and kicked and dropped and jumped all the way through the school.  My heart broke a little more with every step.

When we finally arrived at his room, he dropped to the floor attempting to bang his head on the ground while trying to put his backpack on and flee back the way we came.  I wanted to cry.  But I couldn’t.  It was not an option in that moment.  I needed to stay calm and reassure him that he would be fine.  As I spoke those words to him, I think I was trying to reassure myself that I would be fine, too.  I said a quick prayer asking for strength, kissed him on the top of his head, and walked out the door while his teachers held him back from running after me.

Liv and I walked back to the car as I realized that I had dropped my keys somewhere between the car and Christian’s classroom.  Sigh.  We continued to walk back towards the parking lot as a man walked in holding a set of keys that he said he had found in the middle of the driveway.  Whew.  That problem solved.

As Liv and I started our drive back home, I lost it.  The tears came flooding and I could not stop them.  This cry was coming from deep inside my heart.  I had 10 minutes to get this out of my system before we got home as I didn’t want to have to explain to Liv why her mommy was crying like that.  (And we were having a playdate at our house this morning and I wanted to get a few more things picked up before they arrived.  KK, I know you would have understood, but I would have been embarrassed.  And thanks for the coffee!!! 🙂 )

We arrived home with me tearless, but emotionally shot.  I still feel that way.

Christian’s teacher was kind enough to give me a call after he was at school for an hour to let me know that he had calmed down after they had taken a walk outside to look for airplanes.  They didn’t find any, but apparently he was hungry for snack time when they came back in.  And he was fine for the rest of the morning.  He was happy to see me when I picked him up.  He was still talking about “airplane ride.”  Perhaps I need to find a pilot in the area who could take him up for 10 minutes.

I sure hope we don’t have any more broken down trains any time soon…

Some nights I dream about running away (but not long-term).  Not because I don’t love my family because I do.  I love my children.  I love my husband.  But I am tired.  Exhausted.  And I think that much of it stems from having to multi-task constantly.  All day.  Everyday.  (And I seem to do it even while I sleep.  Overachiever.  😉 )

Even while I typed this first paragraph, I have answered the phone, wiped a behind, listened to my child tantrum, gotten out snacks (don’t worry, I washed my hands! 😉 ), listened to my other child sass, given out tape, started supper, added to my list, etc.  I am pulled in so many different directions all of the time…

I know that I’m not the only mom/parent who goes through these emotions and while it’s nice to know that I am not alone in these issues, it doesn’t take the issues away.  I don’t feel any more rested.  I don’t feel any less overwhelmed.  I would like a vacation (without ANY responsibilities), but I don’t see that happening any time soon. (Some day… 😉 )

I guess, what I need is to figure out is how to multi-task more effectively so that I use less energy doing it.  Once upon a time, I was able to do this very well.  If only I could remember how…

Sunday mornings are difficult. 

Brian is off milking the cows, so I am left to get the kids dressed and cleaned, snacks prepared, myself dressed, breakfast made, supplies gathered — all in the car and out the door in time for Sunday School and then church.  For whatever reason, Sunday mornings are always the ones when the kids fight me about getting dressed and/or what they are going to wear.  What they are going to eat.  Whether or not they will stay dressed long enough to get into the car.  Etc.  By the time that I actually start driving to church, I am burned out.

I hear a whisper in my ear, “Is it REALLY worth it???”

And once we get there, it is a fight getting out of the car (like which door will be used as an exit).  We are usually a little late, no matter how early I try to get our Sunday morning routine started, so the classes have already started.  My escape artist likes to take a detour and run right through the middle of the adult Bible class.  (I try to shrug it off and not be too embarrassed, but sometimes it’s hard to fight the redness that creeps up my face.)  We barge right into the Sunday school class and my runner does a lap around the room, distracting the rest of the class.  And he just happens to be SUPER sensory, so his “happy yodeling” is EXTRA loud and there isn’t much I can do to control the volume of his stimming.  And I try to take a deep breath and calm my frazzled nerves.

I hear a whisper in my ear, “Are you SURE it’s REALLY worth it???”

Once Sunday school is over, I struggle to get both kids from the classroom to the church, stopping for drinks along the way, trying not to knock people over with my large “purse” that I’m dragging along, attempting to coax a “wet noodle” off the floor who really wants to play in the dark gym, chasing after one child running to the videos in the church library while the other runs toward the bags of colored pencils and children’s bulletins for the service — and I try not to lose it or shed a tear.

I hear a whisper in my ear,  “THIS is worth it?  Really???”

The three of us finally make it into the “child training room” where we spend the service and I break out a snack.  One child complains because I didn’t bring the right thing, the other one is climbing all over me and messing up the only “hairstyle” that I could pull off for the morning.  I fight to stay sane and pull myself back together. 

I hear that whisper again, “OK, this is worth it???”

Brian is finally able to join us.  The pastor has given us an advanced copy of the sermon, so I can read with him as my lap becomes a claim to stake.  And I hear about the gloriousness of heaven.  And I hear two little voices participating in “The Lord’s Prayer” and singing the “Alleluias” in the final hymn.

When that little voice returns, I answer it — “This IS SO worth it!”

I’m standing here in my kitchen longingly staring at our “Italy” calendar.  Wishing that somehow I could be magically transported into the serene atmosphere that oozes from the page…

…today is one of those days where I feel the need to take a break.  I’m tired.  I’m just overwhelmed.  Somehow, I am managing to put one foot in front of the other, but not really sure how that is getting accomplished.  I’m tired of the whining.  I’m tired of getting hit.  I’m tired of the fighting.  I’m tired of listening to the “fake cry.”  I’m tired of having to scrub out the carpet more than once a day…

…I’d love to just board a plane and jet off to some undisclosed location.  In peace.  Soaking up the serenity…

…BUT…

…I have too much going on…

…instead, I’ll stand here, gazing at Italy, trying to feel the warmth of the sun on my face through that breath-taking picture, dreaming that I’m there, even if it only lasts a few lovely seconds…

Towards the end of yesterday, I was letting my many stressors pile up on each other and I was feeling extremely overwhelmed.  The tears were hardly below the surface.  My patience was spent.  The guilt was lingering.  Tired was draining me by the minute.  Crazy didn’t feel too far away…

…and then Liv talked to Grandma (my mother-in-law) on the phone.  She is a most wonderful lady.  Grandma asked Liv if she’d like to come visit in the morning.  Without hesitation, Liv responded, “Yes!” 

Crazy backed off.

Crazy comes when it looks like there is no end to the stress.  And with our new sleeping arrangements going on, even the nighttime is stressful.  There is no break in the day (unless I get out to exercise).

This mama needed some respite.  At home. Not running errands.  Just being here.  In the quiet.  Knowing that everyone I love is being cared for by people I trust.  That stress can be alleviated (if even just for a couple hours).  Even though I was exhausted, I felt a calm sweep over my body, just knowing that I’d have a real break today.

And while I have SO much that I want and need to do around the house, my BIG plan is to nap.  In peace.  Setting the stress aside until I’m better rested, therefore better able to handle them.

THANK YOU, Grandma, for providing my mini-vacation today!  🙂