Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Our enemy snuck in slowly. We didn't notice we were at war at first.
A child too tired to trick-or-treat? A little guy not excited for Christmas and Santa's arrival? Is he sick? Something going on at school? What are we doing wrong?
Now we recognize when we are under attack, because like clockwork every fall a thief arrives embodied in the heart and soul of our child.
The first sign is the dark circles under his eyes. Then the weepiness follows shortly. Lethargy arrives thereafter. And if we are unawares or unprepared or just too busy to notice, suicidal thoughts sneak their way into our lives.
"Mommy, did you think alot about dying when you were my age?"
"Mommy, do you ever think it would just be easier to be dead?"
Questions that stop the heart of a mother. Questions that force you to face the reality that your child, your beautiful, amazing, perfect in every way child is facing a battle they cannot win alone. Questions that force you out of denial and into action to save your child from themselves.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a chemical reaction in your body that causes depression when you do not have enough exposure to sunlight. It affects many people to various degrees. It affects our son to an extreme degree. He is two different people depending on the season.
There is the summer child. Blond hair lightened to almost glowing white, twinkling eyes and an easy smile. A healthy glow that belies the battle we know is soon to follow September.
There is the winter child. Dark circles, a smile that never reaches from his mouth to his eyes. Tears always under the surface. A sadness the belies the joy we know spring will bring to his soul.
We live in winter country. When time change arrives next week, the sun will slip behind the hills at 4:30pm not to be seen again until 7 or 8 the next morning. And we lose another piece of our son.
I do not often share the exact labels, diagnosis or battles we deal with in our family but fighting SAD is a battle many don't even know they face. Special lights offer an almost unbelievable relief for those with this condition. Vitamins support our son by offering him what our weak Canadian winter son doesn't. Counselling helped him address those suicidal thoughts and gave him the internal power to deal with stressors that were triggering him continually to think that life wasn't worth living.
We count the days until we have our son in his wholeness of spirit, joy and energy back. We wait for March to spring our boys out of the prison of snow, clouds and cold weather and send them back into the yard to absorb the life and warmth of the sun.
Depression is real. SAD is real. It's real in a 5 year old. It's real in a 35 year old. It's real in our family.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I reminded myself of that repeatedly today.
When Eric threw a fit before saying good morning. When we realized the milk had gone bad. When kids at school forgot to do their homework, despite the three day weekend. When the science experiment didn't work as expected. When the boys all gagged on the dinner I cooked. When I had been to the rink for 3 separate ice times by 5:30pm.
Today is significant.
Today a neighbour buried her husband killed in an accident last week. I don't know her, but she and her 4 young children aren't far from my mind. Today is significant.
Today a woman I have never met but know of is taking her last breathe. Robbed by cancer, she leaves behind two children and a traumatized husband unprepared for the road ahead. Today is significant.
Today someone lost a loved one. Today a baby was born. Today some grieves. Today someone rejoices. Today is the best day of someone's life. Today is the worst day of someone's life. Today someone became a victor. Today someone became a victim. Today someone beat addiction. Today someone became an addict. All today. Because today is significant.
Today I hugged my sons. Today I snuggled my husband. Today I talked to a friend. Today I made a choice I am proud of. Today I could work. Today I was healthy. Today I had enough food to eat. Today I was loved. That, and so much infinitely more. All of that, ALL OF THAT, I fit into TODAY.
TODAY is significant.
I never want to be so busy that I forget I want tomorrow to be significant too.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I can hear the sighs and groans now. The support. The ideas for disciplining him. Hockey time? Youth events? Wii privileges? Gone. Gone. Gone.
Except? Things aren't quite that easy.
Our dilemma ... my dear son has been leaving the house in the mornings right after I leave for work. Earlier than he is supposed to be leaving. Not by much, but still against the boundaries we had set up so that Son #3 wouldn't be left at home alone.
Where is he going, this sneaky son of mine?
SCHOOL. Yes, school.
The idea of disciplining a child for going to school EARLY? I suppose there are bigger parenting issues in the world.
Still, he looked as guilty as sin when I returned home unexpectedly this morning and found him sprinting down the sidewalk a block from the house a good 10 minutes before he is supposed to leave. ( NOTE: SERIOUSLY when someone makes a nylon that doesn't run within 15 feet of my front door I will enjoy wearing skirts. Until them, I will resent dress code with a passion!)
He THINKS he is in trouble. I made it seem like we would be "chatting" when I got home from work tonight.
Is it bad that I am laughing at him behind his back?
Saturday, October 18, 2008
To occupy some time, I let Caden put three tickets into draw basket today during our 14 hour marathon at the rink.
We sold thousands of tickets. Thousands.
And I won. A new Wii Fit is waiting for me back at the rink (where I will be again in a mere 9.5 hours). Very, very, very happy boys.
In hockey update news. Son #2 whose tournament I am slaving away at? He has lost every game. But did manage a "thank-you for helping out mom" this morning. At 5:10 AM.
Son #3 who is attending a tournament in Vernon? Lost every game. By a total score now of 30 - ZERO. Yeah. Not so fun for them either. Spent some time on the phone with him doing some long distance mama-hugs and tear wiping. Yes, he's a goalie. 30 to zero. Yeah. Not fun.
Son #1 won his game today. Deservedly so too. And he got son #4 out of his gear for me and was generally only slightly teenagerish for most of the day.
Son #4 had his first scrimmage and spent the entire time skating around trying to show me his very wiggly tooth through the glass while managing to avoid touching the puck EVEN ONCE.
And get this ... Shel was hanging around the hotel wearing shorts. A STRANGER came up to him and said "heh do you know Allan ***?".
"Yes I do" said Shel.
"I've heard about your knee" said stranger, while grimacing at the gruesome scar. As I said, they are now sharing a rye and coke and comparing dirt biking stories. Men. I knew one day those legs would get him somewhere, someday.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Ever have those days? weeks? months? How about years?
Last year sucked. This year? Not much better.
At the moment hockey is killing me.
Shel left Friday morning with Son #3. For a hockey tournament 5 hours away. (Readers in Vernon, BC - go meet Shel. He's the tall one, limping, with the goalie son). He probably looks relaxed and well rested. Thoroughly enjoying his quiet nights with the "easy" kid accompanied by plenty of adult conversation and more than a few rye and cokes. He has a grand total of 3 games to attend this weekend. Did I mention I might be a TAD resentful because I was SUPPOSED to be the parent going away??
Son #2 has a HOME hockey tournament this weekend. That means in ADDITION to transporting 3 boys, feeding 3 boys, catching up on house work and watching hockey games, I have to (yes HAVE to) volunteer an additional 15.5 hours a the rink.
I had 45 minutes after work this afternoon off.
5 hours after that of volunteering.
I have to be back at the rink for a 5:30 am start. I volunteer straight through until noon. Then I watch Son #1 play a game, then Son #4 play a game. Then I volunteer again from 4:00pm - 7:30 pm.
Then I have to be back at the rink for 7:30 am on Sunday morning until at least noon. Then I have my weekend off. Ok, its only 3 hours because Son #1 has to be back at the rink by 3, but you know, how much rest does a woman REALLY need?
I am not sleeping. I am stressed. I cry over nothing. My emotions feel like they are on a yo-yo. And there is simply NO TIME to process anything. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G!
So enjoy my 4 minute blog post whine because its the only time I am going to have to think about anything in between running to the rink.
By the way, I forgot to brag last weekend and while I was in Edmonton visiting my Nan, Greg was attending a tournament. He won MVP ... TWICE. Well done son. Remember, you are paying for your own damm college education after how much it cost to send you to that tournament so keep scoring those goals.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
And the present calls me back and I watch my sons gently show her love while she so gently offers it in return. I want them to remember her. Her little parties, their sleepovers at her house. The $5 that came in the mail for "an ice cream with your mom" every few months. The card games she so patiently taught, and then lost, for their sake. Her pictures of them that invariably had a thumb in the middle. Her legacy of college funds for each of the 8 great grandsons saved out of her own self sacrifice. She has loved them all. Equally treasuring them and honoring them. For Tanner's gentle nature. Eric's beautiful smile. Greg's love of hockey. Caden's love to snuggle. She is a GREAT, Great-Grandma. And she is so loved.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
You find, however, that there are three distinct ways people react when meeting you.
The first group we will call The Happily Indifferent. The T.H.I. meet you and notice your difference and then in a space of around 5 seconds think "oh a facial difference. Cool." and move on. They are neither emotionally vested in your face nor personally affected by it. Some might make a passing comment about it but to them, its not important or relevant. You might look different but are still normal and they treat you as such. You find this group easy to deal with and they don't affect your self esteem in any negative way. You don't share personal information with them about your disability, but that's ok because they really aren't interested in it anyways. You find that most children and 98% of men fit into this category.
The second group we will call The Supportive Set. T. S.S.'ers understand that life is more challenging with your disability. Often they are personally connected in some way and have taken the time to educate themselves about what life is like with a facial deformity. Mostly this group is comprised of your closest friends and family, but sometimes strangers fit in to it. They might approach you at the grocery store and gently say something like, "I have spent time at Facial Diffrence Hospital too, some days are hard, aren't they?" or "I am genuinely interested in understanding Facial Differences, would you mind sharing some generalities". T.S.S.ers know not to pry for your personal information. The reason why your face is deformed. How this has affected your life. They know, when you trust them, you will share those reasons. They respect you. They respect your privacy. They instinctively know your boundaries. These people are your "safe" people. The ones you trust. The ones you cry with and share with. These are the people that make life worth living.
The third group we will call The Nosy Wenches. T.N.W.'ers and their questions make you want to throw acid in their faces and stab their eyes out with little tiny sharpened pencils. You don't. But boy do you have fun imagining it some days. T.N.W.'ers see you not as a person but as a deformity. They pry. They prod. They offer unsolicited advice because their sister's cousin's son has a club foot and they obviously know ALOT about your facial issues. They ask intimate and personal questions in public places. They feel entitled to know the why's, the how's and the happenings of your history because you do not fit their idea of normal, and as such aren't entitled to any privacy. They think you should be willing to discuss your personal life no matter where you are or what you are doing because you are differerent, and they are curious. They do not respect you, or your personhood. When you try to protect yourself and your privacy by not answering their questions, they are offended. Hurt that you DARE not understand that they "just want to know". You become the benchmark by which they judge all future interactions with people with your disability. So some days you grit your teeth, smiley nicely and answer their questions. Other days you do not have the strength. You find that almost 100% of the T.N.W.s are women. "Nice" women who use politeness to hide their biting comments and morbid curiousity.
Now imagine for a moment that its not YOU with that disability, but rather your child. You smile and breathe a sigh of relief every time your child interacts with The Happily Indifferent. You cling to The Supportive Set and surround your family with safe people. Now imagine being the mother when you have to constantly protect your child from The Nosy Wenches. How you are judged if you don't protect your child from their rude questions, but also judged if you DO protect your child from having their privacy violated just because they are "different". You face questions like "Wow what did you do to cause that?" or "Does that mean they can't talk" or "You are such an angel to keep a child who looks like THAT around". Your child hears themselves discussed by strangers as if they are unable to understand, despite the fact they are close by.
Now obviously, the vast majority of my readers would understand that questions about a physical disability of a personal nature are rude. Inappropriate and completely unnecessary. A good mother protects her children from the nosy wenches. A good mother surrounds her children with supportive people.
Now imagine for a moment being a transracial adoptive family. Obviously, being a minority is not a "birth defect" or a "deformity" and I by NO MEANS am implying that, but what I am doing is hoping that people begin to think and understand. Being visibly different in ANY way does not automatically mean all rights to privacy are sacrificed to fulfill curiousities. If your child was missing an eye, I would hope you wouldn't feel it necessary to tell me it was caused by your prenatal drinking binge because I am standing behind you in line at the grocery store and am curious. I would hope that OTHERS wouldn't think it necessary for you to answer that question if I asked it of you (ESPECIALLY in front of your child) just because I wanted to know.
If you dont get that basic privacy rights are still held by the minorities of our society - By the different, By the visible - you have some learning to do.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
On edge? Teetering? An infinite pause?
We sit and wait. We celebrate the fact that end isn't here, but we all breathe shallowly because we know its close.
I grasp at hope that I might get another visit, another few days together, and carry the reality that I really shouldn't count on it. I need to be ok if I don't. I have said what I needed to say. And still I hope.
And we focus now on the visits. The memories. The pictures. We laugh and reminisce.
We talk in circles around the idea of a funeral. Burial.
But what we all avoid is the reality of the shattering that will occur when we are plunged off that precipice. There will be no going back. No holding it together. No repairing the damage.
She is the glue that has held us together. The reason we hold on to our facade of a family. For her, we try.
My heart will break. And then my family will crack along the lines of difficult relationships.
And we wait. Until today? Tomorrow? Another week? Another month?
We sit upon this precipice of death.
Monday, October 6, 2008
What I did do this weekend?
Attend 3 hockey games. One of which required me to be at the rink by 5:50 am.
Volunteer at a free "Celebrate Family" swim
Volunteer at a free "Celebrate Family" skate
Teach Sunday School
Teach a Preventing Child Abuse class to Sunday School Teachers
Handle various travel arrangements for kids and cousins
Do assorted shopping, planning and baking for a birthday party.
Have a dozen kids over for a birthday party.
Fit in a couple conversations with friends, my husband and children.
Fall asleep by 9 every night.
Friday, October 3, 2008
We got a notice yesterday for JUST Greg's hockey expenses for THIS week.
- $275 - fee for "carding" which essentially means drafting him by his team and registering him with Hockey Canada so he is eligible for the "bantam draft"
- $250 - Team Fee. This is to cover the team start up costs.
- $200 - Tournament Fee. The cost of travel, bus, food, hotel for next weekend's tournament. The first of MANY tournaments.
- $85 - Track Suit. New track suits required this year because the team logo is changing.
That is $810 THIS WEEK. So our 13 year old can play hockey.
Did I mention Eric has to be carded. Has a team fee and goes on a tournament the week after next?
Did I mention Tanner has a team fee and is also going on SEVERAL tournaments this year.
Oh and they both need new track suits too. And you know ... food, a roof over their heads, heat and shoes.
Their college education fund has evaporated (or more accurately, froze).
We are practicing applying for scholarships starting today.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
We had a little chat, my son and I. Responsibility. Privileges. Expected Behavior. You know, mom rhetoric.
I got his interim report card today. His french mark? 95.36%
And his teacher attached the following note;
We won't be having our next quiz until next week. Some of the students are
struggling with the concept of verb conjugation, so I'm going to allow them
more time to practice. Greg, however, is very capable with grammar tasks,
and has been able to help other students in the class. He's making excellent
progress, and I'm really pleased with his mature behaviour in class.
Did you notice the part about MATURE BEHAVIOR? I handed him a gallon of ice cream and told him how very proud I was.
Mature Behavior. MATURE Behavior. From MY 13 year old son. It's a miracle. This almost makes up for the You Tube video circulating right now his "friends" posted of him beating the tar out of another student during a school club wrestling practice while hordes of students stood around and chanted his name, cheering. All school sanctioned of course. But not overly mature.
BUT I HAVE HOPE. Maturity shall find us. One day. One day ... MATURE BEHAVIOR. Today, I brag.