I’ll preface this post by saying that I am not saying anything disparaging against princesses, glitter, pink, stereotypically “girly things,” or the girls that love them. However:

My daughter is a Coraline in a sea of Elsas.

If you’ve never seen it, Coraline is a dark “children’s” movie based on a book about a little girl who finds a passage to another world where she can be happy. But she soon realizes that happiness comes at a price too steep for her to pay, and she has to fight her way out and back to her family. We hesitated in letting Sophie see this movie because even we were a little creeped out by the button-eyed antagonist. See for yourself:

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Told you.

But, of course, just like her mother, she jumped right on the bandwagon and fell in love. She decided MONTHS ago that she would be Coraline for Halloween and we spent hours scouring thrift stores for the aspects of her costume and braving the glue gun to achieve the perfectly crafted dragonfly barrette. Because, again, just like her mother, she is a sucker for accuracy. She didn’t mind a bit having to explain her costume over and over again to every baffled parent. She thought it was “awesome” that she was someone no one had heard of. My weird little heart swelled with pride when she slipped on those yellow rain boots and said, “Yep, I look just like her, Mama! This is the BEST!” I hope she never, ever grows out of this. 

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That’s her on the left and her buddy Zombie Alice.

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I Volunteer

I’ve taken the plunge and decided to volunteer at my daughter’s school this coming Friday. They’re throwing a fair and I signed up to make cupcakes AND take tickets for the pony rides. I figured if I was going to be so out of my element, I may as well allow myself to be surrounded by ponies. It’s such a small thing, but for me, it’s momentous. Not only will I be in a crowd of adults I don’t know, I will also be hedged in by KIDS. Not only that, but I will have to interact with them.

It’s not that I don’t like kids, (I kind of don’t like kids, actually, they are so weird) I just have a hard time talking to anyone who won’t listen to reason. How do you tell a seven year old that no, she can’t actually eat an entire pack of peach cobbler flavored gum and have them see the clarity in that? To be fair, though, a lot of adults I encounter don’t abide by common sense either, so, maybe it won’t be too bad after all. Either way, it will be a new experience for me, and I can’t say I’m exactly looking forward to it, but the thought of it isn’t sending me into convulsions, either.

 

 

kids are so weird

Also

If you’ve been reading this for any length of time, you are well aware that my daughter has ADHD and a sensory issue. Something I DON’T talk about very often though, are her physical issues. She has a very weird and difficult to diagnose gastrointestinal disorder. I’m not going to go into details for the sake of her privacy and my sanity, however, I will tell you what it’s like to be bipolar and have a kid who’s plumbing isn’t hooked up quite right.

The emotion I feel the most often is guilt. I feel a crushing sense of guilt and defeat because I feel as though somehow, I am the one who did this to her. As though there was something I did, some great rage or lull I had when she was in utero that made her tiny parts come together incorrectly. Was it that time I had sushi? Or that time I fell into a depression and slept for three days? Maybe I laid on my left side too much and she got squished? What exactly did I do to hurt her?

Even parents who aren’t Bipolar suffer from these feelings of guilt. I think from the very first second you see that positive test, your guilt levels rise. For the rest of your life, your actions really have consequences that could ruin a life OTHER than your own. Scary.

Besides the guilt there is often a serious anger. Why my kid? With all the other things that happen in our lives, why MY KID? This feeling is always followed by that familiar weight of guilt the second we walk through the children’s hospital doors and I realize I have no idea what it is to truly suffer. At the end of the visit, I will walk my daughter right out of those doors again, get back in the car, and she will sleep, unencumbered by tubes and wires and beeping machinery, in her very own bed. The selfishness of my feelings is often overwhelming. How dare I be upset that there is this hiccup in her health? But don’t I have a right to be angry? There is no “winning” in this situation, just getting by.

Today, she is missing school because of her problem. This is the fourth time this year so far. And today, we are getting by. One hour at a time, but we’re getting by.

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Yesterday.

I want to pretend that yesterday did not happen. I wish I could erase it like chalk from mine and everyone else’s lives.

The day started out normally. Daughter had a sleepover the night before which equated to no one getting any sleep. The kids played in the morning, and in the afternoon, we all went to my parent’s home for a cook out. Direction: downhill. My daughter does not like to greet people. She doesn’t like to introduce herself, shake hands, touch strangers, or be the first to speak. She even goes to a social skills group that is trying (in vain, it seems) to teach her how to respond appropriately in these sorts of situations. Cook outs, or any family gathering, can be stressful. Will she greet her family today? Will she look her uncle in the eye? Will everyone just think she’s a rude brat? No two situations are ever the same and there is no formula for a good time with her. Sometimes, things fall in pieces around us and we are stupefied and can do nothing but watch it happen.

Eventually, she wound up inside the house, ignoring her friend and the rest of the family, under a blanket and being alone. She was given dessert on the couch, and after a while, I tried to get her to come back outside. “We will be leaving soon, you are running out of time to play.” Blank stares and whining followed this speech. I went outside. Time passes and suddenly, she is before me, wanting to play with everyone and engage with the family. “I’m sorry, but now it’s time to leave.” I could never have predicted the amount of fury and emotion that would come out of her at that point. And then; from me.

Back inside, I am trying to employ damage control. My own anxiety levels are spiking and I immediately feel as though I am pinned under a microscope. Walking into the living room, I discover that she has left ice cream to melt into my parents couch, and cake and frosting like mouse droppings on the floor and in the cushions. I can’t say for sure, but this might have been the moment when I lost. My. Shit. At this point, I don’t know who was screaming louder: her or me. Suffice it to say, it did not end well.

At home, as a family, we sat down and discussed what had happened. How lately, there seems to be a trend of disrespect, slacking off and a general disregard and even disdain at the house rules and codes of conduct. We’ve been letting things slip and not following through on consequences for anyone. This is fairly typical in a depressive state. I don’t feel as though I have the right, the authority or the energy to enforce rules in the house. I consider myself to be a joke of a mother and, as such, am treated as one. It is interesting to me to see how my affliction trickles down and creates chaos. And of course, along with that realization is the: “boy, they would be so much better off without me.” Not that this is a serious thought, more like a passing banner in my mind. I know something has got to give, but at this point, I don’t know what that something is. And I’m terrified that before I get it figured out, I’ll lose my daughter entirely and all of her thoughts and memories of me will be miserable.

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V is for Focus

After a while, we noticed that our dear little offspring was losing weight. A lot of weight. And fast. We knew this was a potential side effect of the Adderall, but we didn’t think it would be such a large amount. Her pediatrician switched her to Vyvanse which has a smaller chance of loss of appetite and, therefore, weight loss. So far, the one pill in the morning is working some serious wonders. We can DO things again. Does she still flip out sometimes? Yeah. Does your kid? Yeah. One of the hardest things I have had to do during all of this mess is keep myself in check. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to slap someone for telling me what’s is or isn’t safe for my kid. Oh, there are risks with giving an upper to a little girl? YOU DON’T SAY! I’m aware of these risks and have weighed them against her constant suffering. She might hate me for it later. But, she might also hate me later for not buying her a pony. So, if you choose to medicate, or not medicate, go organic, buy drive through, shun sugars or pile on the Peeps: good job! You are doing what you think is best and I cannot and will not judge you for it. We all make mistakes, and as parents, especially as mothers, we need to support and lift up instead of dragging our peers through the mud.

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Backwards

The other night, my husband and I watched old home movies with our daughter. In the videos, she was just a baby. Mostly smiling, laughing, wiggling around like babies do. Where was I? I barely remember this time in my daughter’s life. Before the diagnosis; before the medication; before the occasional level headedness that I now enjoy. I DO remember spending a lot of time out of the house. Working, running “errands,” anything really to get me out. I hated life as a new mother. Some days I would call my mother or mother in law to take her, just so I could lay in bed and sleep. My husband would come home and find me still in bed; I would mumble something about not feeling well and would tell him where he could find our baby. Looking at the videos is cutting for me. On one hand, I get to see these little snippets of life that I missed due to my illness. I can see how happy she usually was. I can look at how messy our house was in the way that ALL new parents’ houses are; and laugh at the chaos. However, I mourn the time I lost with her. The disdain I felt at parenthood. The irritation and the anger I felt every time she cried. There was a lot of “faking it” in those early days. 

Now, I see my daughter for who she is: the joy of my life. Of course I still get irritated and angry with her; but there is no more faking it. I can smile genuinely at the life we have because of her. Her quirks and nuances fill my heart and sometimes I can’t help but cry over what an amazing kid she is. I know a lot of parents feel this way about their mini-me’s. But after spending so much time in darkness, the light that my child gives off is so immense that my heart can barely stand it. 

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