If it had been my time to write this post a few weeks ago it would have been very different. It also wouldn't have been a post that belonged on a site called Hopeful Parents. No, it would have been the antithesis of hope. It would have been an extremely dark and depressing piece.The month of April and most of May were so depressing that I completely lost that time. I didn't just forget to write my piece for the 27th of last month, I didn't even know the 27th had come and gone.
Grief and sadness and desperation and fear and worry and angst and exhaustion and and and . . . . the list is endless. They all hit me hard yet again this year. But somewhere in the midst of it I suddenly found a way to stop and catch my breath and pull myself out before the undertow took me down for good.
Mother's Day is what turned it around.
I've never been big on Mother's Day. All I ask from my family is that I am not expected to get or do anything for anyone that day, in particular I do not want to make meals of any kind or even fetch a kid a snack. I think the homemade cards and crafts from the kids are sweet and do enjoy them but overall the day just has never seemed to mean to me what it does to so many others.
Then this year as Mother's Day approached I was going through reports and notes for my oldest son. I was desperately trying to piece together his history (that I had always meant to organize but never had) and now we needed information quick and I was sifting through 3 binders and 2 boxes to find what I needed. While looking at a particular report it hit me that the date was exactly one year ago.
Then, stuck in with all the papers, was a card. A Mother's Day card. I pulled it out and looked at it. It didn't look familiar but I knew it was my youngest son's printing. When was this from? A glance inside showed my printing in the corner - May 2010. I had written in the corner of this card that I had no recollection of. Then I started trying to remember May of last year and moved to the pictures folder on the computer. Yes there were indeed some pictures from Mother's Day. And I couldn't remember any of it. NOT AT ALL. I realized then that I would in fact I'd be hard pressed to tell you anything about January to June of 2010. We were in survival mode and while we all eventually emerged from that dark place, obviously my memories did not.
And so, while sitting on the floor surrounded by all the reports, IEPs, Meeting Minutes, government forms and applications - it hit me. I could put every last little bit of energy I have left (and believe me after 9 years and 11 diagnosis I don't have much - but then I don't have to tell YOU that) into "system" things like meetings, phone calls, letters, worry and advocacy OR I could be a mom.
I can continue to be every last bit of my heart and soul into being my child's: advocate, protector, defender, interpreter, pharmacist, behaviour therapist, security guard, expert mediator, speech therapist, occupational therapist, attachment expert, data analyst, symptom manager, crisis manager, dietician, fitness trainer, case manager, social worker, psychologist, service coordinator, teacher OR I could be his MOM.
In fact - to go a step beyond - I could be a mom to BOTH my boys.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to stop standing beside my son to make sure he gets what he needs. But I am trying to go about it a different way. If it's been a rough day and I have a choice between eye therapy or cuddles and story time - guess which one wins?? If my kids want to play in a puddle and I am dragging them to the car because I need to get home to make a phone call about a service that I have been trying to unsuccessfully get for 8 years - guess which one wins now? If we get home from school with a plan to fly kites and the phone starts to ring and I know of I pick up the phone it's going to be a long conversation with the case manager - guess which one wins??
Our family has been through a lot. Many other families have been through a lot. I know many many mothers who wage a war everyday on behalf of their kids. I understand it, I honour it and I too have done it. But when my children are grown I don't think they will ask why I didn't get around to starting that visual schedule for them or why I didn't fight for them to receive weekly therapy sessions. But I do think they will wish that they had more of their mom. That they will be happy if they have grown up with a happy, connected mom. They far too often have received stressed, depressed and angry mom instead.
So that day, just before Mother's Day, as I sat on the floor with that card in my hand I made a decision. I put away the reports and files. I decided to take the chance that I wouldn't finish the research I needed to and I called to my boys and we went to the park and played in the mud and they rode their bikes. When we got home my youngest gave me the BIGGEST hug and kiss and the smile on his face was enough to tell me THIS was the war I wanted to wage. To be their mom and to enjoy time with them again.
It's not easy. The phone rings or it makes that sound to announce a new email and I want to jump at it. When someone calls to invite me to a community meeting about Children's Mental Health when I am supposed to be doing school work with my kid I feel the pull to go, to make the voices of families heard. But I know my reality. I know I cannot save the world, it is not mine to save. I will love my children and my husband. I will try to reconnect with friends that I have let drift away. I will do things for myself and I will work hard to not work so hard. There will be times where I will need to put on my body armour and fight but I will make sure I have exhausted other avenues first and I will retire the armour as soon as the fight is over. Who knows, there may be a period of time where the armour just sits and gathers dust. But I'm ok with that. My sons deserve to have a mother and I deserve to mother my sons.
mom2spiritedboys is the mother of two very spirited boys and is now embracing extreme parenting in the trenches after trying to fight it for many years. She is married to a wonderful man who works hard to ignore the state of disrepair of their home and made her the happiest woman on earth when he took over laundry duty in its entirety in September 2009. You can read more from her at her personal blog Spirited Blessings