cancer · parenting · special needs parenting

Runaway Mom

Lately I just want to run away. 

I make light of things like getting interrupted every couple of minutes, all day, every day; and having a child who needs less sleep than me. The reality is that lately I want to pull a Forrest Gump and take off for a run and keep going for a couple of years. 

I want to run away

Not permanently, but for a good, long time. 

My situation is somewhat extenuating, but I believe many of my mom friends would say the same. 

So many of us are tired, burning out, clinging to frayed ends of what once was a rope. 

I wonder if moms have felt this way for millennia, or if this phenomenon is new. Are we restless by the nature of the job we do, or is there something about 21st century parenting that takes a greater toll on a woman’s wellbeing?  Is it social media that tells us every day how trapped we are, or would we feel trapped anyway? The flip side of social media is the blessing of connections with my fellow frazzled moms. The solidarity I feel with other women parenting kids with complex health or behavioral issues gives me outlets I would otherwise lack. 

Maybe it’s a product of feminism, seeing our peers in the workforce doing things that look more meaningful or rewarding. Have we lost our sense of purpose because it appears that everyone else’s purpose is superior to our own? 

Or maybe there’s something wired into our children that make parenting more demanding, I have no doubt that’s the case with Ben. Many children who wouldn’t have survived infancy a century ago now live many years with need for extraordinary measures of care, which, of course, generally (though I realize not all cases), the bulk of which their mother manages.  While this is a marvel of modern medicine, something to be celebrated, it has created a new breed of caregiving parents without adequate supports in place to ensure that the caregivers can manage the extraordinary degree of care their children require.  The physical requirements of lifting children long after the days when a parent would normally be done picking up and carrying children can lead to painful, tired bodies. Adding in the economic strain that constant medical care miles and miles of driving put on caregiver families as well as many additional pressures and strains, and you get a quick snapshot of the reasons that caregiver parents get overextended. 

The factors are likely interwoven and complex, far more than a single blog post could successfully extrapolate, and it’s entirely possible that moms have felt this way for time immemorial, I don’t know. 

I do know that many of my women friends are feeling this too.  I don’t know what to do about, or how to change it, but dear mamas feeling like you’re never enough, like you’re desperate to bust out, cut lose and reset in every possible way, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, I hear your cries and cry with you. 

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Am I the only woman in the world who will never watch Gilmore Girls?

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So I hear that Gilmore Girls is a thing.  In fact, my social media feed is a bit of a black hole of Gilmore Girl marathoners who are going off the rails because they’re excited about watching upmteen hours of whatever it is that the Gilmore Girls do.

What is a Gilmore Girl?  I’m lost here.  I feel like I should at least know, but no matter who they are or what they do, I’m certain that my life is entirely complete without them in it.

Same with Amy Schumer, I recognize the name, but I’m pretty sure that if she knocked on my door I wouldn’t know her from Amy Poehler, or anyone else for that matter.  In fact, I had to Google to find more than one current celebrity I could name.

I simply could not care less.

Except at that point in every conversation with anyone anywhere when pop culture comes up.  “Do you watch ______?”  when I say “No”, the person asking proceeds to run through an extended series of similar questions, trying to discover common ground, which I sometimes allow, and sometimes derail immediately.

And then we have literally nothing to talk about.

I feel like a pariah.  A mood killer.

Am I the only one who doesn’t Netflix and chill?  I sure feel like it.

I turn on my television about once a week during the fall to watch football, otherwise it’s dormant unless my husband is home.  I have no interest.  I don’t even know why.

Could it be that I spent all my television watching hours in my youth as a depressed introvert that spent entire weekends glued to the tube?  That’s the joke I make about it anyway.

Please tell me there’s someone else, somewhere who doesn’t know or care about Parks and Rec or Modern Family or Parenthood or anything else that all my peers so dearly love.

Unless you want to talk about alternative rock music, that would be alright.

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‘Twas The Day After Thanksgiving 

‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving, when all through my feed

People lined up to shop whether for savings or greed. 

The damned elves have appeared and I still don’t get it,

I know I should get over it, but still tend to fret it. 

I’m still full of turkey and pies galore, 

Yet in my gluttony I keep eating more and more. 

Tomorrow the tree will go up, my puppy to destroy,

To her it becomes one giant doggy toy. 

Family gatherings are fun, we all get along,

No political discussions among our throng. 

Football games are the focus tomorrow,

I hope and pray that it won’t end with sorrow. 

Next week I will run, I’ve many calories to burn,

But the kids have a long weekend and I must wait my turn. 

If you’re reading this nonsense I send you my love,

You’re one of my people; a gift from above. 

Now I’ll sign off, rhymes aren’t my best game,

I realize this whole effort is terribly lame. 

Many blessings for the holiday and the new year to come, 

If you get them aplenty be sure to share some!

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The Heart of a Police Wife 


It’s the night before Thanksgiving. My husband just put on his badge and walked out to his patrol truck.  After he drove off into the night, not to return until morning, I logged onto Facebook to see that Officer Collin Rose died of the gunshot wound inflicted on him in an ambush style attack. 

In the same breath, I grieve for one man and fear for another. I don’t know Officer Rose, but having worked in emergency services and sent my husband off in a patrol vehicle for a couple of decades now, I don’t need to know the officer personally to hurt for the loss. 

And I worry. I’ve been in this police wife gig for a long time. I know the lines to tell myself: “It’s actually very rare for an officer to be killed in the line of duty.”  Or, “The most dangerous part of his job is probably driving his patrol truck.”  

But today those lines ring hollow. Today we remember the officers from all over the U.S. who have been killed ambush style in the line of duty in just a week, and I can’t help but think it could just as easily be my husband. 

The man who still makes me weak in the knees. The man who sings to our little dachshund puppy. The man who has loved me for better and one hell of a lot worse for many years. The man I hope to grow old with in a cabin in the mountains. The father of my children, my other half. 

Sometimes he whisks out the door a little rushed and flustered, but tonight he paused for an extra hug and kiss from us all, even the dogs. It was a bit more poignant than our usual parting. We didn’t say it, but tonight it’s a bit too real that there are no guarantees. 

Still I proudly send him into the night. He’s a sheepdog after all, a protector. He’s protected our family and our community well for many years now, and I pray he will for many years to come. 

Restless Leg Syndrome

My Relentless Quest For Rest

I love to sleep, and I do mean love. I fantasize about sleeping. Getting into bed at night is right up there with my favorite things ever. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who function perfectly on five hours of sleep a night; I couldn’t even imagine how much farting around I’d accomplish if I had that many waking hours in a day (Lord knows I wouldn’t use my extra time productively).  But alas, I’m terribly sloth like in my need for a good, solid 8 hours, and I’ll gladly take more when I can get it.  Double digits are my favorite!

This is why it seems particularly cruel that, in addition to a child who tortures himself and me with his own insomnia, I have been cursed with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), as have many of the women in my family.   My maternal grandmother suffered with an increasingly severe case until her passing in her 80’s. She’s the reason that I’m on this quest. I cannot abide another 40+ years of this. Cannot. The very thought of it, after a mere 15 years of living with RLS, brings me to the brink of hysteria. Come hell or high water, I will find a solution. 

RLS means that just as I doze into that twilight sleep, my legs get frisky. A kick here, a wiggle there, next thing you know I’m dancing a solo cha chat between the sheets for hours every night. Not only that, but sometimes I’m blessed with surges that feel like I’m getting frisky with Uncle Ron’s electric cow fence. When I really get going I get repetitive nightmares as well. This can go on for hours, night after night, worsening every year. 

Thus far in my quest for rest, I have tried medicine, to which I quickly develop a tolerance and increase my dose, as well as any number of supplements, essential oils, and medical workups.  So far I’m batting zero. 

I checked in with a surgeon that I see to manage my breasts which are not only lumpier than great aunt Edna’s mashed potatoes, but also rival a non-rotating black hole for density.   She also manages venous insufficiency and varicose veins (she’s a women’s surgical specialist and she’s fabulous), and she started spouting data about venous insufficiency and RLS. She ordered me some compression stockings as a preliminary measure, and scheduled a venous ultrasound. 

Low and behold, I have significant venous insufficiency. As such, I qualify for vein ablation surgery after a trial of compression hose.  I briefly considered just rolling with the stockings long term, but I quickly realized that she don’t care for the sensation of both my legs being digested by python-esque peristalsis all day. And I’m vain. I like my legs, thankyouverymuch, and heavy gauge hose is anything but flattering. 

I’ve read the data about vein ablation, and it looks promising, though it’s fairly understudied. But frankly, it’s a low risk procedure, and the possibility of even reducing my RLS symptoms is a siren call that I’m powerless to resist. 

This is the first in a blog series about my adventures with RLS, vein ablation and whatever else comes along. I hope that others can learn from my experience 

parenting · special needs parenting

The Totally Real Special Needs Christmas Emotional Survival Guide

Isn’t that picture absurd?  A skating Santa holding up a Christmas tree like Rafiki with baby Simba, as an offering or dedication of some sort.  Perhaps he’s hoping for some happy Christmas juju to descend upon him. Who knows?  

Speaking of happy Christmas juju, dear friends with kids who have special needs, I’d love to spray that stuff all over you you with a firehouse. 

I’m reading all kinds of articles with tips for families with special needs, some are great, truly helpful. I just took a different tack yesterday and wrote one directed toward extended family of kids with special needs, because we could really stand to have a bit of the burden lifted by others.  (It’s for my paid gig, not here).

But this is for all the parents in the trenches with me. 

Things might (okay will) go awry this holiday season. Channel your inner Elsa and start singing,”Let it Go”, like right now. Put it on a repeat track in your mind, your house, your car, your phone. Play it liberally and sing it too.  Your kid melts down at the holiday concert?  A huge spill (or bodily fluid if your kid is like mine) on Aunt Betty’s Persian rug?  You’re running an hour late?  Let it go!  Stuff is going to happen. Take a deep breath and move on. 

Be direct. My sister made it easy this year by asking what works for me, but if your family isn’t there yet, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t think that will work for us.”  I have about zero FOMO (fear of missing out), so it doesn’t faze me much when gatherings don’t work for me, but I do realize this is a stretch for many. If you’re on the bubble about whether to do something or not, jotting a quick pros and cons list can provide perspective. If it’s just not worth it, say it. If you need your host to help you make it doable, ask!
Enjoy what you can do. We have missed out on plenty over the years, but my parents and sisters make things doable, so I focus on these people who are nearest and dearest. I also truly delight in cooking and baking and making home made items as gifts. In fact, I took up many of my current hobbies because I can manage them at home with kids afoot. 

Cry about it. I’m being awfully pragmatic here, but I realize that even if it’s a simple solution to cut down on holiday jazz that it isn’t easy. You are missing out, and it hurts. Whether it’s because of medical issues or behavioral, you’re trading off something you love to streamline your life, that’s hard and it sucks. You are  the one whose child melts down at the holiday concert (whether it’s on stage or in the audience). You are the one who has to leave early for a medical procedure that doesn’t take a day off for Christmas. You are the one whose child is so overstimulated by the end of dinner that you spend the afternoon in a quiet space so the rest of the family can enjoy the day. 

Focus on your child. Yes, it blows to be the parent managing all this, but your child is so worth it. Every time you soothe a meltdown or empower your child to cope or prioritize their needs, you are holding space for your child and giving them what they need to become the best person they can be. It can be daunting to watch your friends carry on with their normal lives or complain about missing one gathering for the flu when you miss many every year because that’s your life, but your life is worthy and beautiful. Don’t ever forget it. 

Special needs don’t take time off for holidays. In fact they often ramp up.  It’s okay to be flustered or disappointed sometimes because things are simply different for you than the vast majority of people. But don’t make it a pity party, celebrate what you can. Whether that’s taking time to reflect on progress or be thankful that your child survived another year. Meditate on the blessings, the teaching and/or medical staff that has been there for you, or the family support system that you have. 

And if you’re having one of those days, you know where to find me. I get it. 

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The Best Guide to the Holidays for Terrible Gifters

Welp, here we are.  It’s mid-November, and once again I have no idea what I’m getting my loved ones for Christmas. This is the time of year that I find myself wandering around Target until I’m in a frenzy, spending hundreds of dollars and getting home to find that I have nothing of use. I’m a terrible gifter, and knowing that I’m a terrible gifter means that I enter this season of gift giving with trepidation, anticipating failure yet again.  In a concerted effort to avoid making the grandest of failures to date, I have come up with a few strategies for gifting this year, and because I’m both brilliant and generous, I thought would share them with you.  You could even consider it a gift.

  1. Have a few more election arguments.  It’s sure to pare down your gift-giving list and get you knocked off the guest list for at least a couple of parties.
  2. Avoid holiday gatherings at all costs.  This comes naturally to us introverts, and the plus is that you’re sure to save yourself time, money and sanity.
  3. Make a calendar of photos of yourself to give to everyone on your list.  There are great deals on photo books this time of year for a reason, man!  C’mon, who wouldn’t want 12 months of this: img_2631
  4. Socks and undies.  Everyone, and I do mean everyone needs socks and undies.  Especially the people who think they don’t need them.
  5. Food.  Everyone eats, so food is a great gift, right?
  6. Target gift cards.  They’re the ultimate solution.  If, on the odd chance that someone doesn’t like Target (and who doesn’t love Target?!), then they can regift the gift card for that one gift they forgot, and you just did them a solid favor.
  7. Gloves, hats, mittens and slippers.  Because it’s cold here in the northern hemisphere during the holidays.
  8. Regift!  You had to have gotten some things last year that you never used, hopefully you saved them and can pass them along to some other poor schmuck.
  9. Call for a white elephant gift exchange.  You really can’t lose with white elephant.  If your gift blows, then it’s a joke gift, if it’s awesome, even better.

Really though, chances are that anyone that matters in your life knows that you’re a crummy gifter, and they love you anyway.  So whatever you give, give with love and sincerity, and chances are you will make it through the holiday season just fine.