We just call him Ryan

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I love this picture. This is me and my son at Christmas 2010. This Christmas marked the change in his life, in our lives. About a month after this picture we finally found out what was really wrong with him. He has Epilepsy. But at the time we took this picture we didn’t know that yet. We were told my son was genetically defected and diagnosed with every mental disorder. ADHD(attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), PTSD(post traumatic stress disorder), depression, mood disorder and even bipolar disorder. All by the time he was 8 years old. He was on just about every type of psych med with 9 prescriptions. About a month before this Christmas photo was taken I was fed up and finally stood up to the doctors. I educated myself about any and every thing the doctors labeled him with, the medications and the side effects. I obsessed over it. I was fed up with them just throwing on another pill when his side effects got worse. I was fed up of him getting worse instead of better. I was fed up of believing those doctors and giving them all the power to do whatever to my son. If he was bipolar I was ready to accept that but damn it I was fed up with all their damn guesses. 9 prescription pills my son took each day and I was angry at myself for allowing the doctors to let it get to that point. After three attempts at partial hospitalization, we admitted him into the hospital. At eight years old my son was placed into the psychiatric unit in the hospital. He was in the hospital for two weeks and we even celebrated his 9th birthday there.

I look at this picture and realize there was a before and after. Before the diagnoses and after. I think back of all that has happened and there was one night that literally saved us both. 

My son had been released from the hospital and home for the first time in years without any medication. What was scary was we found out he really had Epilepsy but the hospital couldn’t get a pediatric neurologist to see my son. So after my constant badgering and bitching the doctor finally agreed to release him and gave me a list of appointments I needed to make. To get in with a neurologist was a 3 month wait. But I didn’t care, I was so excited to bring him home!! 

He started reading. He just sat in his room reading!! Now that’s just crazy talk…nope it’s true. I remember him telling me before he would look at the pages and it just looked like alphabet soup. But now when he looked at the pages the words came alive because he could read them. I think all those meds really messed with him but they also numbed the pain of our past for him. See three years before this we had moved from our home, the only one my kids knew and started all over leaving the past behind. The past being my son’s father who was abusive in many ways and we finally got away.

Fast forward. Extensive neuro psych testing found the rest of the pieces. No depression. No bipolar. He has Epilepsy, ADHD, non-verbal learning disorder(think high functioning aspergers/autism), and sensory processing disorder. But we just call him Ryan. 

Now Ryan is almost 16. He’s a sophomore in a regular high school with an IEP (individualized education plan). This year will likely be his last year needing the social skills class which will allow him to take an elective class like photography. Next semester he’s signed up for ROTC. He wants to be a police officer and help people. He has a girl friend and loves who he is. He is thoughtful and caring. Funny and still obnoxious. He is a great kid and I am in awe of who he has become. Somehow this amazing kid with a shocking past is beating the odds and this mom couldn’t be prouder.

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Aside

Frustrations of being human

 

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My son, I love him dearly, but oh.my.god…can that kid drive me to my limits. My day consisted with kind of a crummy work day, then going to Walmart to pick up groceries for our Thanksgiving dinner. While shopping my son’s teacher called, a 20 minute conversation was had standing by the frozen turkeys. My son just decided he didn’t want to participate today, no work was completed for 6 periods. He wasn’t combative which sadly is good news. I spend my $150 in the self check-out. Come home to him in his “mood”.

Long story short, my son was upset his teacher embarrassed him in front of the whole class. He’s yelling and let me tell you, this kid has some lungs, and it pushes my limits. My daughter decides this is the time to inform him he was being selfish two days ago when he ate the last package of cinnamon rolls. So here I am, trying to discuss school and listening to them argue over fucking cinnamon rolls, both yelling over the other.

Finally my son and I get to discuss his day, his version. Sounds to me his lack of attention and honestly, I feel, his lack of respect has pushed his second period teacher to her limits. I listen respectfully and calmly explain “hey bud, do you think it’s possible when you have to be constantly redirected because of your lack of focus, do you think it’s possible that in a class of twenty something kids and the teacher who has a plan set by the school district how much work she is “REQUIRED” to teach all these kids for 9 periods a day, and that doesn’t allot her extra time to constantly redirect you or pull you aside for a lengthy explanation of how your actions appear disrespectful to her and the whole class…do you think it’s possible in her day she can, I don’t know, become human and get frustrated with you? Lose her patience?” Mind you while I said this, I had to snap my fingers a minimum of three times, and tell him no I will not let you speak yet at least two times. Sigh.. he is exhausting.

The night moved forward. Then Ryan begins to tell me how he was then yelled at after school because he was startled and did his extremely high pitched scream in someones face who then yelled at him to “knock of that god damn girly shit”. Sigh… big sigh… I’m expected to address each and every person who doesn’t have the ability to calmly explain in detail with compassion and honestly, I’m exhausted. Did I do this? Did I cause his thinking the world has to tip toe around his feelings?

Then I’m cleaning my house preparing for a big Thanksgiving feast and my mom visiting, that’s stressful, my mom! I always want things perfect for her, even though I can’t compare to hers, I want her to know I try, that she taught me what’s important. I must have told my son a minimum of twelve times tonight to lower his voice, stop yelling. I use hand gestures to remind him, I give him the look that says “Dude! Enough!”. I am calm and patient at 5 pm… even 6 pm.. but by 7:30 when I’ve had him purposely scream like a girl terrified on a roller coaster in my face, I’ve had enough. I’m now yelling at him, firmly. Even popping him in the mouth with the reminder “I’ve asked you how many times to stop yelling!?”. In the end, I kick him out of the living room which took at least twenty minutes to make him go, and he’s in tears might I add. And I’m sitting here pissed and feeling guilty.

In 3 hours I managed to turn his shitty “I don’t want anyone here for thanksgiving! I hate school and I hate my life and I don’t want to see anyone!” to cheering up and being back to his goofy self and laughing…. to sending him to his room in tears. And I’m sitting here blogging my frustrations to avoid going in my room and popping a xanax. I am afterall, human. Extremely amazing and strong, but still human.

One decision

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One decision..
One choice..

To take you to a completely different direction, open a whole new journey. Like a fork in the road, but there’s no guarantee which one is better for you. So fear is shouting “what if it’s worse than where I’ve been or where I’m at?”, then hope whispers softly “but what if it’s not?”.

It is necessary to put yourself first

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This is a difficult lesson for a mom. Especially a single mom who over compensated to make up for the crappy men I chose to father my children.

So what I volunteered for school and sports. So what I threw numerous class parties; because mind you I always made the effort to do as much for all 3 of my children, so it wasn’t JUST what I had to do for you, but your sister and brother as well.

-valentine’s with a whiney mother who complained the whole time but I managed to keep the kids unaware of the “mommy” drama while I plated 29 plates of cupcakes, cookies, candy & poured 29 cups of fruit punch while keeping the classroom of kids occupied with senseless games and listening to that whiney mom..that yes cost me money I didn’t have and time off work.. along with
-Halloween party with 30 rolls of toilet paper so the kids could wrap each other as mummies, and again treats and goodies to sugar up all the 5th graders
-dressing up as the “candy witch” for Halloween (several years) and combing the halls of the elementary school with a cauldron full of candy to pass out to all the kids, teachers and parents (which the kids loved..teachers not so much..lol)
-softball field 6 days a week for 4 months every summer for 5 years; while working my full time job and a part time job to help pay for these things
-spending every Friday night or Saturday morning driving you across town for a job that was all about teaching you the value of earning your own money; even though it would have been easier to just give you the $12 you earned in the 2 hours of driving I did
-Working the concession stands several times at high school games to help raise funds for the student council – of which my daughter was president and vice president 
-donating blood twice (and doubles once) for same student council, even with my anemia knowing I would suffer for weeks to build my iron back
-volunteering to host the 6th grade graduation ceremony – not because I had a 6th grader that year but to be involved in your school- having to stand on my feet for nearly 4 hours (miserable!)
-all the baked goods I stayed up late to make, after working all day, for school and sport bake sales 
-attending nearly every single parent teacher conference and definitely every single awards ceremony or art show. Taking the time off work wasn’t an issue for this mom because I was going to show my kids how proud I was and how important they were to me (& remembering how sad I was when I was a kid and my mom wasn’t there)
-sitting through more than my fair share of 3 hour musicals, sitting right in front even though I absolutely hate musicals
-volunteering after work or a Sunday off that I should have been sleeping or catching up on laundry to help tear down play sets or paint and build the new ones
-going to thrift stores and searching for costumes for not just your character in the play, but kids I didn’t even know, and paying for the ones we found, and refusing to be reimbursed
-spending ridiculous funds that I couldn’t afford to spare on raffle tickets, and jars of shitty $10 soup mixes, cookie dough and family sets of $30 sweatshirts and tshirts promoting your school plays (even the teacher was blown away at my orders)
-helping sell hundreds of chocolate bars over the years to send you on weekend out of state school trips
-being your parent and your friend, always proud and accepting of whatever choices you made. Never asking you to “hide” or “pretend” who you are and encouraged you to be proud of yourselves
-never wanting to deny you opportunities that I missed out on so I made sure it happened, whatever the expense; even though in your whole life I was never able to afford a family vacation 
-doctors appointments, counseling appointments, orthodontist appointments, eye and dentist check ups- all of which I had to constantly request time off work to do..the job that paid for our roof, food, and all mentioned expenses
-attorney fees to stand up for you to ensure you were treated right because of the awful stories you came home to tell me in tears; and I’d curl in a ball on my bedroom floor crying feeling so helpless and worried when you were there..just so after a 2.5 year court battle finished, 6 months later you drag me back to say you want to live with said crazy step mom (obviously she wasn’t as crazy as you said..why did I spend nearly 10 grand on the attorney again? That’s right, because you felt unsafe with her!)
-6 months later you decide you want to live with your dad… after
-I bought a 4 bedroom house blocks from your dad’s family so you could be closer to them
-which meant I had to buy you a car for school, COULDNT AFFORD IT BUT DID IT

I can’t help but remember dad not there and refusing to participate in any of your fundraisers or even help with ANY of the costs. Didn’t get involved with you until he looked like an idiot in court. Aunts not there, charged me to babysit you. Grammy was there for a lot of it, but ALWAYS your exhausted overworked single mom. I fought to raise you into good people who know the value of love and to work for what they belive in. Over the years I fought the schools, doctors, your dad and his “crazy vicious” wife, I stood through court battles that dragged out for years, ALL in your honor.

Clearly it was too much. I forgot about myself. Doing so, I also taught you to forget about me. How dare I expect you to grow up and respect me for my sacrifices, or to value me enough to also show I’m a priority in your lives.

I know I’m not perfect, I’m full of flaws. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and having my children so young, they grew up watching me beat myself up over and learn from the mistakes. And yes, the last few years have especially been difficult for me and my traumatic life finally took its toll on me. I’m sometimes emotional and usually stubborn.  But I can honestly say I always did my best, tried my best, and loved with my whole heart and accepted the lessons life presented me with. Yes, sometimes I’ve had to learn and relearn some of the lessons. But my god, if you think you’ve had it rough, try to live in my shoes and we’ll see how great you do without one person to count on and no stable support system or even a close friend to call.

My mom always told me “when you grow up and have kids of your own, you will understand.” This was always in response to my judgement and opinion of her choices and her mistakes. Being a stupid selfish kid, I “knew” I would do better. I wouldn’t do this or that. I wouldn’t allow that or put up with that. I would be better. What. A. Stupid. Kid. I. Was.

I’ve learned not to judge others; life will put me in my place eventually to show me I need to understand everyone makes mistakes but that doesn’t mean they are bad people. I’ve learned I’m not as perfect I once thought I was. I’ve also learned life flies bye; I’m going on 38 and somehow don’t realize how I got this old so fast. I’ve learned people that shouldn’t let me down, most definitely will; Usually in the worst ways. I’ve learned I should have made myself a priority; becoming a mom, I immediately forgot that. I’ve learned that I don’t even know “who” I am. I’ve learned there isn’t a rewind or reset button, and by the time I realize I need it (been a bazillion times) the damage is done. I’ve learned I need to be my own friend first; if I can’t enjoy myself, how can I expect others to? I’ve learned my dysfunctional life trained me to make poor decisions in who I let inside my walls; and it’s something I’m working on and probably will continue to my whole life. I’ve learned everyone needs to be around good positive people, distance yourself from negative ones; it will drain you. I’ve learned life is preparing you for the next chapter; because some of my most miserable times prepared me and gave me tools to use in my next chapters. I’ve learned I need to say “no” more; going out of my way for others doesn’t earn their loyalty to me. I’ve learned people don’t want to hear about all the really awful things I’ve survived and conquered; they usually pity me instead of respect me and the stories make them uncomfortable because they don’t know what to say to the unimaginable; and the ones who are intrigued and want to learn more are the ones who are the most fucked up and will use the information to tear me down tomorrow. I’ve learned bad people can hide in good programs/organizations so don’t trust everyone just because they’re involved in good things. I’ve learned enough is enough; no more judgement or listening to others opinions. No more desperation of wanting others to like me, who gives a shit what they think. I’ve learned I truly can’t count on anyone but myself, and that’s okay. I’ve learned life will change in a minute; so if I’m struggling, I just gotta remember “today will never happen again”.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go and move on. I’ve done the best I could. And when these selfish kids of mine grow up and have children of their own, my mom’s message will ring true to them as well. And for the other people? Well they can all just kiss my ass!

Magic of beginnings

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24 hours

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Life lessons bottled up

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