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6 Observations From an Hour at the Beach

Have you heard enough swimsuit conversation yet this summer?  If you’re like me, the answer is probably, “a million times, YES!”  But here I am with my two cents to throw into the conversation.

Yesterday, since our day was already a shit show, I decided that nothing could get worse if I took the shit show on the road, and since the boys love water, we went a few miles down the road to a local lake, in hopes that we could “blow the stink off” as my mom always said.

I don’t actually enjoy swimming, I think it’s because I sink like a stone and have zero coordination, which makes it ironic that I own quite the collection of swimsuits.

I’m constantly in search of the swimsuit.  The one that covers all my scars, stretch marks and cellulite, as well as flattering the girls and magically making me look like Gisele Bundchen, which not a single suit ever made could possibly do, but I hold out hope anyway.

For no other reason than my failure to shave my bikini area before our impromptu trip, I chose a skirted suit, threw it on, and took off.  (After slathering children with sunscreen, getting all the necessary equipment, and having to back up the driveway twice for forgotten items, that is).

Upon our arrival at the lake, I scanned the scene.  You know what I saw?

  1. A bunch of people, mostly women, in a wide array of swimsuits.  Not a single one of them looked like Gisele Bundchen!  NOT A SINGLE ONE!  (So that was a relief).
  2. Every single one of the women had flaws.
  3. Not a single one of them stood out.
  4. It didn’t matter if they wore a bikini, a tankini, or a one piece or any other combination.
  5. Not a single person showed any sign of caring that my girls aren’t perfect, that I have cellulite, stretch marks and scars.
  6. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure every other woman there had imperfect girls, cellulite, stretch marks and scars, or at least 3 of the 4.

In other words, every single person there was entirely nonplussed by the whole thing.  As a group, people were having fun, playing with the kids, beating the heat, and enjoying summer.  And on my way home I had to wonder why on earth we get so darned haired up about putting on swim suits.

I get it, I’m not the same as I was when I proudly stood on the dock in a bikini, posing for pictures at age 16, but neither was a single other person there; not a single one!

I don’t know where it comes from, this toxic obsession with looking perfect, but I, for one, am over it.  I don’t want to be self conscious, or believe that everyone expects me to be perfect or notices when I’m not.  That, my friends, is a load of crap, and I’m not buying it.

 

parenting · special needs parenting

When You Can Never Win The High Stakes Game

It’s a high stakes game, this parenting gig. We have precious little folks that we’re responsible for turning into responsible adults, and there’s no single right way to do it.  With all of the factors going into human nature and nurture, getting it right for each child seems to be a crap shoot at best.

Then we add in developmental differences and the learning curve steepens, necessitating therapies and strategies that typical parents never have to consider. Or even the odd combination of phases that occur when cognitive development is delayed. For example, Alex is 15 years old, and is mature and savvy about many things, but has just discovered lying. You know that clumsy way your first grader lies to cover for his transgressions?  We’re right there with a 15 year old.   It’s just as annoying as when a six year old gives it a whirl, but all the more ridiculous with Alex’s man-voice. Just chalk this up to another parenting issue I never saw coming.

Overall Alex is easy though. He’s pretty straightforward, and super fun and funny. His quirks just add a little dynamic to the game.

Then there’s the truly complex child.

I took Ben to a new psychiatrist last week and she was stymied. She called him bossy, challenging, severely hyperactive and puzzling. And that was only a snapshot from 30 minutes in her office. Maybe it was the complete meltdown that resulted when she told us to go, then called us back into her office that bemused her. Or it could have been him splaying full out on the floor of the waiting room when our exit was delayed. Or any of the couple dozen uncomfortable interactions in between.

In this high stakes game I don’t know how to win. My child leaves experts at a loss.

I know he needs me to stay calm, but sometimes I lose my cool.

I know he needs structure and routine, but how do you stick to it with appointments and phone calls and all the necessary behavioral interventions?

I want more than anything in the world to do the best and be the best for him, but I swear it’s like being an actor and switching from “The Jungle Book” to “Rain Man” with “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” running constantly in the background.  All along I feel like I should be Mary Poppins.

I can’t keep up. 

I can’t switch gears fast enough. I have a hard time hugging when I just got kicked in the face…even though I realize he needs it. I have a hard time playing after recovering from an epic public (or private) meltdown. And that’s not even taking into account the learning and medical needs.

How do I keep up, let alone maintain the therapeutic environment he needs to thrive.

When I write it out I realize how impossible it is, yet I sink into an abyss of guilt when I fail to be absolutely everything he needs, plus parenting my other children.

This is no attempt to garner kudos or warm fuzzies, there is nothing anyone can say that can change the truth.  The kind words are nice, but it doesn’t change our reality.

 

Yet we carry on, ever moving forward, and keep trying, trying, trying.  He’s our baby.  How can we not?  How can we ever stop trying?

Someday, maybe, we’ll find someone who can really help.  Each day we get up resolving just that.