Friday, March 30, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Blame this next post on Facebook shall we?
Every Friday morning (Yah...I log in everyday...)my wall is bombarded with "TGIF!"and "Week is OVER! COME ON WEEK-END!" excited posts from friends and family who have worked damn hard all week and can't wait for 2 days of home base time, family time and possibly activities and outings to nourish their 40 hour fun deprived soul and re-kindle with their spouses and little ones.
As a Domestic Engineer...This is not the case.
Sure Big Daddy is home.
Sure we plan an outing or two to have fun.
But it's just not the same.
I am here alllllllllllll week.
I do the same things over and over again, everyday.
Get up, have a cup or two of coffee, browse the internet, make breakfast for boys and myself, clean up kitchen, pick up clothes, start a load of laundry, workout, switch the laundry, shower, help boys get dressed, re-switch the laundry, fold the laundry, play with the boys, pack lunches, play with the boys outside, walk to the bus, walk back home, re-switch laundry, make lunch, all the while mediating, supervising, crisis solving, teaching, facilitating and comforting, eat lunch, pick one area of the house that needs cleaning, do it and then take some mommy time for myself...Until it starts allllllllllll over again.
TGIF is no longer in my vocabulary as Fridays are just as exciting as Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays...
I know what you are thinking.
This is the perfect time to be creative! Scrapbook! Work around the house! Meet with friends! Do what you love!
And you are right.
But the "everyday" is the same routine wears a mom down daily and pretty soon what used to look like fun just seems like...Another chore.
So for now I am looking forward to "TGIK"...Thank God it's Kindergarden!
Not because I don't enjoy my time with my Wild Things.
But because I am looking forward to enjoy new accomplishments that doesn't involve the dishwasher, the washing machine, the stove and general crisis solving.
At least not after I punch out ;)
P.S To all the hard working 9-5 mamas who come home and do what I do between supper time, bath time and bedtime...I bow down to you. Enjoy your TGIF...You DESERVE IT.
Posted by Elissa at 8:06 AM
Thursday, March 22, 2012
A powerful A-Ha moment was experienced yesterday.
On my way to pick up the boys from the school bus I walked past my neighbor who was raking leaves with her daughter and her own grand daughter.
This little pink toed pink tutu wearing 3 year old ray of sunshine was helping with her own rake by making little piles and then of course partaking in a little "leaves" party herself.
When she would venture out too far, both grandma and great-grandma would say "Don't go too far! Stay with us!"...She listened.
Actually listened and would return to her hard work of starting all over again.
Instead of comparing my sons to this little girl, I just watched.
Instead of comparing myself to the experienced mothers (great grandma has 4 of her own and grandma has 3), I listened.
Then I remembered.
I remembered how much time, energy and enthusiasm I had once invested in what looked like a fun and simple outdoor activity that is raking leaves...With my own boys.
And how much I would cringe, worry and cry every time it was over.
Cringe because a simple 2 step direction like "Hold your rake this way and make a pile" was too complicated.
Worry because the rakes would somehow become weapons between the boys and running down the street, without stopping, was much more appealing to them.
And cry because after every simple outdoor activity such as raking leaves, gardening, washing the car or simply getting the mail would end up a disaster.
Not a learning experience.
But simply an unachievable positive experience that would make me feel like a failure.
A failure as a mom.
But yesterday was different.
I remembered creating visuals to facilitate the boys' success.
I remembered getting down to their own eye level before, during and after and explaining to them what the task was.
I remembered praising them for each little accomplishment that might make me look like one "those" moms.
The moms that say good job to pretty much everything while others predict this will only make their children feel superior to the world.
But when you are the mother of children who develop at their own pace, not typically, you hold on to these little accomplishments like an infant holds on to their pacifiers.
If you are a mom of children with special needs, no matter how mild, and find yourself feeling like a failure...Chances are You are NOT a failure.
Simple activities and tasks such as raking leaves, landscaping, putting up pictures on the wall or baking might make you feel this way when you never seem to successfully complete them, let alone start them.
The most important?
You are surviving them.
Posted by Elissa at 8:04 AM
Monday, March 19, 2012
I don't remember these girls in High School.
I had no problems making lots of friends, didn't have any scary physical deformities and was pretty popular with the boys.
Only when I became a Mom would I experience perhaps the worst breed of Mean Girls: The supposedly grown-up version who has an opinion for everything, knows it all and how to do it and thinks her mothering style is the holly grail of motherhood.
I do admit to having some of these faults but all of the above combined with the ability to not only make you feel inadequate but to regress to adolescence and going back for more?
Meet the Mean Mommies.
Not the Joan Crawford ones.
Not the Casey Anthony ones either.
I am not even referring to the sometimes annoying-but-sometimes-charming mommies who are armed with their perfectly dressed up angelic babies, their PBA free bottled up breast milk, their "green" diaper bag filled to the rim with cloth diapers looking effortlessly striking themselves.
Mean? Nah. Well maybe sometimes.
Oh no, the mean mommies I am referring to are a particular breed.
These mean mommies love to gossip, and not in the "What the hell is she wearing" type of way.
Not even in the "Attachment parenting? That's all little weird!"
Gossiping with the goal of not only alienate one or more mommies, but to somehow feel better about their own selves.
And then comes to Mean Mommies wannabes.
The ones that surround the Queen Mean Mommy Bee as anchors to their own feelings of belonging.
Here is my only advice to the Mean Mommies and wannabes out there:
Your children are watching. They are listening. They are learning.
Mothers certainly can't be perfect all the time and a little harmless gossiping won't damage anyone to the point of no return.
But the mean look, the mean words and the mean attitude?
These have the power to shape future...Mean girls...And boys.
What is even more amazing is how these Mean mommies shake their heads in disbelief when they hear about the latest bullying horror story on the news.
It's closer than you think.
It's right here.
I should know...I am guilty of fulfilling my role as a Mean Mommy wannabe at times.
And it stops right here.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”- Yoda
Posted by Elissa at 8:09 AM
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Chances are if you have been reading this Blog you are well aware of my fears as a Mother.
Fear of messing up.
Fear of losing my patience.
Fear of being a less than positive role model.
Fear of loneliness.
Fear of a scooter, a 1:1 room the size of a closet and no birthday invites.
Fear of..Not being good enough.
But here's the good thing about fear, you have 2 choices:
You can either let fear consume you and cloud your being or you can face it, understand it, tackle it and dare I say...Move on.
The most consuming fear of mine has been that my boys were different.
And this coming from a Special Educator who's love for differences fueled her passion for the world of Special Needs.
When it became crystal clear to me of what my real fears were: Rejection and Judgement, I mustered all the courage I had and wrote an e-mail to family and friends letting them in on our real struggles as a family.
Communication and Social deficits trumping every part of our lives rather than just being part of our lives.
After all, everyone experiences these deficits to a certain degree...We might just have to navigate ours with Boardmaker, visual aids and reinforcement. Lots and lots of positive reinforcement.
The response I received from friends and family has been instrumental in my healing as a mom who was afraid.
I am no longer afraid.
Instead I am encouraged, supported and confident that my role as a mom to my boys is not only good enough...But the Best I can be.
"Fear can keep you from experiencing so much of Life and no one knows fear like a mother...Motherhood means going from a linear existence to a life of extremes-extreme certainty and extreme confusion, extreme bliss and extreme fear. And nothing can immobilize us faster than fear" (p.99).
One minute I am breastfeeding my boys at the same time at the hospital lookin' like a Rock Star, the next minute I am crying hysterically holding 2 crying infants who can't latch.
One minute I am comforting a colicy screeching infant, the next minute I can't breathe as I am panicked by the intrusive thoughts an overtired and hormonal mother experiences.
One minute I am scheduling a playdate with 3 other twin moms, the next minute I am canceling because I find myself comparing my boys over and over again and it hurts too much.
"Name your fears, start doing some research. When you begin educating yourself, you will probably find that the worries you deal with are not founded in reality but in your imagination. By feeding your mind real facts, you will lessen the impact of this fear on your life as well as establish a positive way to deal with your fears effectively" (p.101).
Now that I have stopped comparing, I not only see similarities experienced by other moms challenges but I understand we are all navigating this Journey called Motherhood the Best we can...And that is Simply just Good enough...Period.
"As a mom you will never be without worries, so embrace your fears. Fear is good for us when it propels us into positive and productive action" (p.102).
Knowing that I am not the only one with fears is half the battle...Bringing awareness and compassion to mothers through this Blog is the other.
"It's not a storm, a job loss, poor performance in school that is scaring us. It's what we don't know what to expect on the other side" (p.103).
Again we have 2 choices: We can become paralyzed by the Unknown...Or we can take dig through what the fear is really about and believe, even if it's faking it at first, that this is where we are supposed to be.
Not in the "Oh Well, Life is Life" way but in the "Is there anything I can do to ease my fear? If there is, where do I start...believing?".
"When you get down to the most basic truth, none of us has any idea what the next moment of life holds. We must learn how to be comfortable with not knowing...It's embracing the unknown, not controlling it, that should be your primary focus" (p.104).
The Buddha's writings on Impermanence reflect a powerful truth that has been constant in my own Life.
Everything changes..Nothing stays the same.
And although this has not always been the case (many times), I see now how this is a Good thing: Change means transformation...Transformation means growth...Growth means Empowerment.
Week 3: Day 1, Daily exercises (p.105)
1. In your journal, write down the fears that you are currently struggling with and next to them write down a plan of attack for facing that fear. How can you apply action in order to reduce your anxiety?
2. Look over your fears and consider how much time and energy they have robbed from you because of unnecessary worrying and unproductive anxiety.
Happy Week 3!
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies with in us."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Posted by Elissa at 6:03 AM
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
I have always been know for ruffling feathers.
In fact, I am fairly efficient at pissing people off when I open my mouth and defend my political, religious and sexual views.
My mom once told me NEVER talk about sex, politics or religion at work, or anywhere public really.
Openly express my views on Bush? Done.
Defend gay rights? Ditto.
O.J. Simpson? Guilty.
Children's sex scandals in the church? You bet.
But perhaps the most ruffling I have yet caused, in my opinion, has been to openly talk about my boys possible ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Let me be clear: My boys are energetic, fun loving, spirited, engaged and charming Wild Things.
Who started to talk at 3 and a half, can't focus for more than 3 seconds, have what looks like "ants in their pants" and who run. Run, run, run.
My boys will NEVER be odd enough to not attend regular school, play with friends they will hopefully make (Thomas the train interest required!) or to not say "Please", "Thank You" and "May I be excused".
NOTE: This is NOT because I am better than the other parents out there who can't make these things happen. It is because my boys can process good manners to a certain degree and I used my professional background to my advantage: I made visuals.
Sometimes, these visuals do NOT work. Like on Sunday when L crashed into L AGAIN on his bicycle and I lost my patience. After the guilt came the tears, and more tears which prompted me to write to friends and family about our struggles and what we are dealing with.
See after losing my patience I realized perhaps the biggest fear I was carrying around in my heavy heart was that others might judge us.
To judge us they would have to acknowledge us and for some...This is too painful.
Picture a bride-to-be whose best friend just found out her husband is divorcing her for another woman. Bride-to-be might be all bright eyed and bushy tailed but deep down she is thinking "Can this happen to me too? Is marriage really what it is cracked up to be? They were so perfect for each other...What if this happens to us?"
The same happens when a child is sick, disabled...or different.
"Can this happen to us? My child?"
"Why is this happening? How could have this happened?"
Some offer heart felt thoughts.
Others offer encouragement.
Some offer personal experiences as hope, and proof, that it will get better.
Others offer straight talk as in "This sucks! But I am here for you!"
And some can't offer anything.
Not a note.
Not a generic message.
Not even a simple "I don't know what to say".
Not because they don't care.
Not because they have better things to do.
Because I crashed the Baby Story they desperately hung to all these years.
Healthy Twin pregnancy.
More than healthy newborn twins.
Healthy babies who rolled over, crawled, cruised and walked ON TIME.
Healthy toddlers who walked, ran and laughed ON TIME.
Social and Communication deficits? Let's blame it on the fact they are boys, twins, bilingual and had too much fluid in their ears before the tubes were put in.
Boys will be boys.
Twins are different.
When you are surrounded by other twins who aren't so different and when EVERYTHING from dressing,eating, following directions, safety, brushing teeth, not sleeping and social and communication difficulties overlap your entire day...It's not a twin thing. It's not a bilingual thing. And it' not an ear fluid thing.
It's a L&L thing.
Life is unpredictable and some things can't be controlled.
I realize I might have crashed the perfect baby story to my loved ones.
But one thing I cannot crash is this:
L&L are 2 of the happiest, spirited and attaching little boys one can meet.
This is NOT a sad story.
Just a story which can be interpreted in our own way: Embrace it or choose to ignore it, it will be an interesting, challenging, fun, cringing, never ending story.
Just like everyone else's.
Posted by Elissa at 9:07 AM
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
I used to think I knew it all.
All that was needed was consistency, positive attention, the right reinforcement schedule and the proper interventions.
TEACCH, PECS, ABA, Social stories, Floortime, ect....
I had no clue.
No sleep, constant worrying, crippling anxiety and the overwhelming fear that would take over myself, my marriage, my friendships and my role as a mom.
A mom of twin boys who have not been diagnosed formally but who exhibit all the characteristics of...PDD-NOS.
What is PDD?
"Pervasive Developmental Disorders. To begin with, there is not a diagnosis of PDD. A service provider should not ever diagnosis your child with PDD. Why? Because there is not a singular diagnosis of PDD. Notice what PDD stands for: Pervasive Developmental Disorders. It is a plural umbrella term for several disorders and syndromes. These are considered to be mental and/or behavioral disorders that may or may not have biological basis or causes. These disorders are defined in two places. As with many things, there is the American version and the rest of the world version. The American version is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) a diagnostic manual printed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This manual is continually revised and the latest revision is revision 4 (DSM-IV). The other version is the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (10th Revision), also know as ICD-10. Specifically it is Chapter V that we deal with: The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders. And of Chapter V, there are three books, Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines, Diagnostic Criteria for Research, and Primary Care Version. The classification codes for PDD come from the first book of Chapter V, Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines."
PDDNOS from the professional's point of view...
Usually after reading and listening to parents and school staff's observations and encounters, a developmental medicine team will compile some scores, look into their mental health bible, The DSM, and diagnose the child.
Prognosis: With the right interventions, the child should reach his/her maximum potential. But nothing is sure. Ever.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is one of the autism spectrum disorders and is used to describe individuals who do not fully meet the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome.
PDD-NOS may be thought of as “subthreshold autism," or a diagnosis one can give a person who has “atypical symptomatology.” 2 In other words, when someone has autistic characteristics but some of their symptoms are mild, or they have symptoms in one area (like social deficits), but none in another key area (like restricted, repetitive behaviors), they may be given the PDD-NOS label."
PDD-NOS from the outside world's perspective
*"He/she will get there! Don't be (to the parent) so paranoid!"
*"My boy (because odds are 1:4...It is a boy) started talking at 5! Look at him now! He is the star of the hockey team and is headed to college with a full scholarship!"
*"Have you seen her child? He/she screams at the top of the hat, can't listen and won't eat anything but crunchy, salty, sweet food! What a brat!!"
*"Has she had his/her hearing checked? They probably feed him way too much sugar!"
*"Can you believe he/she isn't talking yet and OMG he/she bit my child during playgroup! Something is wrong!"
*" Wow...Don't know how they do it..WHAT A NIGHTMARE!"
PDDNOS from a parent's perspective...Not just ANY parent...One that once dedicated herself to...Autism.
* "Why aren't they talking yet? I have been signing, reading and singing to them since they were born!"
* "Something isn't right...Maybe they are visual? Time for PECS, social stories and task analysis"
* "Still not much success...Time for some serious positive reinforcement charts"
* " I am so tired...I can't go on like this without sleep anymore...They are 4 and a half...Time for melatonin"
* "Is it the gluten? The casein? The sugar? Will check out some ideas online..."
* SO overwhelmed with the Gluten/Casein free diet...And can't afford it"
* I should have researched the vaccinations more...It's all my fault. I should have NEVER vaccinated them"
* "This isn't fair...So angry at Life"
* "Compare, compare, compare...To EVERYONE'S children. Even the crack addicts"
* " Might as well do the bedtime, the baths and all the outings...Nobody else can handle it...I am the only one who can identify the ABC'S and deal with it the best I know how"
* "Well it's official I am the screaming mom who looks like Mommy Dearest at the grocery store, the playground and anywhere"
* " I am such a horrible mom. Not only do I used to LOVE my clients and their small success everyday...Now all I can see are the failures the boys are experiencing"
* "I am so lonely. I have alienated everyone by not answering the phone in the last almost 5 years because it is just too...painful"
"How was your day? Silence. Did you have fun? Silence. How are you feeling? Mummy...You know when Diesel and Thomas go fast on the track? That's funny!"
Mummy in front of them: "They did! What else did they do?"
Mummy in her head: "I CAN'T HEAR ANYMORE ABOUT THOMAS THE TRAIN, LIGHTING MCQUEEN OR STAR WARS!!!! YOU AREN'T A TRAIN, A CAR OR A ROBOT!!!TALK TO ME ABOUT YOU!! WHAT YOU DID, WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, WHAT YOU ARE THINKING!!!"
* 3 years of "No running! No touching the tv! No playing int he toilet! No yelling! Come here! NOW!!"
* "Will it ever get better? Will we feel like we are mourning each milestone as others celebrate them?"
This is what I now know for sure.
Not knowing can be worse than knowing at times...
It can feel like a never ending swim in the cold, torrid and unpredictable ocean. You know you can always float but it's not enough..You have to push harder and harder until you can get to the other side...And maybe just maybe you will be able to touch the bottom...And not sink.
Parents of children with classical and severe Autism would LOVE to trade places with me.
I don't have to worry about my children wearing a helmet to prevent serious injuries.
I don't have to worry about never hearing "I love you mummy". I hear it everyday.
I don't have to worry about my sons wearing briefs for the rest of their lives, they were potty trained at 3 and a half.
I don't have to ever deal with the most heart wrenching silence of all : Your child's.
Parents of children who are developing typically have their own struggles. Some challenging more than others.
Parents, like us, of children who just can't seem to receive the proper diagnosis never stop worrying or comparing.
Hoping that with the right interventions (diet, behavioral, sensory, other) our children will achieve ALL that they CAN, in their own time.
Which should be the pediatrician's, the multi-disiplinary team and the parents ONLY goals.
P.S. This is what PDD-NOS can also look like...Most people would just call it: Happiness. Period."
Posted by Elissa at 7:39 AM
Friday, March 2, 2012
WARNING: This post may contain some sarcasm and smart assness. You have been warned.
Facebook has changed the world. We know that. People from all around the world can connect, share and even laugh via a simple click. Pictures, jokes, political statements,news, views and everything in between is possible. 24 hours a day.
One world that has been rocked by the Facebook Universe is the SAHM's. No longer is a mom isolated in her home if she can't talk on the phone due to her hyperactive twins, no second car or the fact that she lives in what she considers a rural area. Thanks to Facebook she can connect with long lost friends, laugh out loud via funny shared posts and feel like she belongs...In the world.
Or does she?
Below is a conversation taken place in my kitchen a few weeks ago with a fellow twin mom...
Other twin mom: "If I see another picture of a friend of mine in a bikini on the beach, I am gonna lose it"
Me: "If I see another picture of another mom (who is ROCKIN' a bikini of course) sunnying her ass on the beach while her children are actually making sand castles and liking it, for the THIRD time this year, I am gonna scream!"
Other twin mom: " Sometimes I feel like Facebook makes me feel shitty about my life"
Me: " Which part? The part that clearly emphasizes the fact that we didn't marry into a country club or royalty? The fact that our kids can't make sand castles without fighting 1000 times for the same damn shovel (at the lake) or the fact that I wear Spanx UNDER my bathing suit at the beach?"
You get the point.
What started out as a Social experience (Where are those cute cupcakes and shoes by the way?)sometimes feels more like a cautionary tale of all the bad decisions I made in my Life. Should have done better in school...Maybe I would have my own Summer Home in the Hamptons. Should have laid off the bad food choices, maybe I would be rockin' that bikini body in the Tropics as well. Should have been a Better friend, maybe I would be drinking cosmos in that 5 star restaurant in Vegas with my besties....And on and on and on.
Then I thought, wait a minute? If you feel like crap after looking at your news feed, then maybe just maybe YOU make other feel like crap?
An old friend recently wrote to me that she has been experiencing lots of difficulties making a baby happen and to remember the grass is always greener on the other side. Toucher.
So in an effort to shed the light on "The grass is greener" theory, here is a little something in case I have made you feel like crap. Although I haven't traveled the world, swam with dolphins, shared a cup of coffee with a Diplomate or met the Dalai Lama I have 2 things that are priceless...
The Wild Things circa 2007...
The truth behind the picture:
Time it takes to dress the boys up all the while they scream, cry and try to get out of their snow pants? 30 minutes.
Time we spent outside? 10.
"Look at that! The boys helped pick out some gardening supplies...And look at them on those tractors!"
The truth behind the picture:
The boys BOLTED to the tractors, scared the poor cashier half to death and after giving them a 1 minute warning, counting to 3 (doing what the books tell you to), we had to PEEL them off while they were screeching...One day I will find that surveillance video and use it as blackmail for them. Ha!
"Is that them at the Fair? Too cute!!"
The truth behind the picture:
Lo almost managed to climber OVER the gate, Lu screamed so loud he woke up what looked like a 20 year old cow in the next stall...A farmer looked at us like we were the Anti-Christ and his wife...Pitied us.
"Wow...Is that a 4 and half year old WRITING?!?!"
The truth behind the picture:
DAMN STRAIGHT IT IS!! Both L&L started talking for real at 4...So this picture...Is to brag ;)
P.S. There was more "writings" on the wall...And the floor.
"Ahhh...Look at Vagabond! I wonder what they are looking at?"
The truth behind the picture:
After a whole 20 minutes of snowshoeing, the boys decided they had enough.
So they flopped on the ground.
Concentrating on getting them back up, we realized a few minutes later...The dog was no longer with us.
He was running towards what looked like a mud pit.
While I was yelling for the boys to get back up, Big Daddy was yelling out for the dog...
Fun times. Again.
That said there was sun after the rain and one of my favorite pictures was taken.
So yes the grass does LOOK greener on the other side...Or at least here's hoping!
Because if all those perfect beachy pictures of gorgeous mamas and papas and their gifted children hanging out with Mickey Mouse are what they seem...I will scream!
Actually will need a cupcake...Where are those virtual yummies so I can send one to a Facebook Friend?
Posted by Elissa at 5:24 PM