Category Archives: Parenting is Hard

15May/18

I did NOT see that coming! Mother’s Day 2018

My youngest daughter provided me with a brand new, unforgettable Mother’s Day experience this year!

The day before Mother’s Day was wonderful.  I volunteered at the MS Walk in the morning with my Girl Scout troop.  When I got home, my older daughter had finished the laundry and washed the dishes!  Then I got to volunteer with my younger daughter, helping the local Food Bank collect food from the National Postal Workers Food Collection. 

When we got home, the dog had already been fed.  We were off to celebrate a former babysitter’s graduation from college.  This meant that we not only got to celebrate but also that I didn’t need to make dinner (happy dance)!  To wrap up this great day, my family went to the Wind Symphony.  This is always wonderful, but this time they featured Rhapsody in Blue, one of my favorite classical pieces. After the show, we enjoyed visiting with a few band members (my daughters’ music teachers) and some close friends. But the day was not over yet.  I was treated to my daughters playing, or attempting to play, duets with new music they just bought that day. The evening lasted much later than planned, but I couldn’t interrupt the joyful sound of music and laughter coming from the other room!

And then Mother’s Day happened. 

M in ambulance

In last week’s post, I wrote how often times Mother’s Day dreams and expectations can be derailed. This is especially true if we do not make our wishes known or have unrealistic expectations.  I knew that this year I would be spending most of my day at the soccer field.  I decided not to plan or expect anything other than some time with my family.  My husband had a game at 11 and we did not have enough time to get home for lunch before my daughter’s team warmed up.  And while it wasn’t a fancy Mother’s Day meal, Subway was still lunch I didn’t have to prepare (another happy dance).

The first game went as well as can be expected in what my husband refers to as the “Old Man’s League.”  There were no major injuries or fights, so we consider that a win!  And my husband’s team did actually score one goal more than the other team, but it is really not about winning for most of the players in this league. It’s about not getting hurt, having fun/exercising, and then hanging out with adult beverages after the game.  Yes, in that order.

The second game, my daughter’s game started and the teams seemed pretty well matched and determined to win.  Towards the end of the game, the other team was up by 1.  Then we heard some thunder and I glanced up to see the lightning in the far distance. When I looked back, Megan was down.  She started to get up and then rolled over back onto the ground.  It looked like she was holding her arm.  Not the arm she broke (humerus bone) playing soccer in the Fall 2016 season, the other one. 

She didn’t get up and the coach was called.  She appeared to be talking but was not moving.  I know they were telling her to be still, but she wasn’t moving her legs at all.  No words can accurately describe the feeling of watching that from a distance.  My stomach varied from butterflies (maybe it was nausea?) to what felt like crushed glass rolling around.  My heart was in my throat, my breath being held and my brain was screaming for Megan to at least move a little so I would know she was going to be OK.  Someone from the other team left the sidelines and went to help and then my husband, who had been standing down at that end of the field went on. I  waited for them to call me over

After what seemed like an eternity, I didn’t wait for the call and I went out.  They thought at that moment was that she had possibly pinched a nerve in her neck.  She could move all of her extremities, but her entire left side hurt. I had a flashback to the season where she was kicked in her left leg and ended up with nerve damage.  She was eventually diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was much better than what was flashing through my mind moments earlier on the sideline.

Mother’s Day 2018 was not at all what I expected – but I did get to spend a LOT of time with my younger daughter.  We experienced a lot of “Firsts” together.  We had our first ambulance ride.  Megan had her first IV, visit to the ER, her first CAT Scan, her first CT arterial Scan and her first MRI… she also got to spend 9 hours in a C Collar to prevent her from moving her neck while the trauma team tried to figure out what was going on.  Megan couldn’t eat or drink until the results came back.  Besides the uncomfortable C Collar and a sense of restlessness from lying around and only being able to see the ceiling for hours, not being able to eat and drink was probably the hardest part for her.  She hadn’t eaten since noon, just played most of a tough soccer game and was very tired, hungry and thirsty.

Hospital Humor

Hospital Humor

After checking into the pediatric wing of the hospital at 1:30 am and waiting for the trauma doctor to bring results, the collar was removed and Megan was allowed to eat and drink.  We celebrated with chicken strips and fries at 2:30 am.

The good news, ALL SCANS were within normal range.  They aren’t really sure what happened or is happening, but there was nothing that the trauma doctors and neurosurgeons could see that scared them.  Megan was to remain under close watch for 24 hours.  It seems as if my soccer player has a common football injury known as a “stinger” (brachial plexus injury).  It will be a bit of work (PT) and a while before she is back to her active self again, but she should be fine.

As I sit in the hospital waiting for the final doctor visit and our release papers, I will gladly admit, I did not see that Mother’s Day adventure coming!  I am so grateful for Megan’s health and lack of severe injury.  I am grateful to the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who provided excellent care during our 23+ hours with them.  I am grateful to the concerned parents and players on both sides of the field. I am also grateful to the EMTs and Firefighters who took care of Megan on the field and kept a sense of humor (taking the picture in the ambulance) so I could remain composed and so Megan wouldn’t be as scared.

I was held together by our extended family and friends who continued to text and support us during the wee hours of the morning.  It helps that my sister’s family lives in a time zone that is 9 hours ahead!  And even though I am not proud to say this, I was also grateful that my daughter could text and connect with her friends through social media.  It really helped distract her, although my arm did get tired holding the phone in a position over her face so she could see it.  Megan was not able to see the TV with her neck in the C Collar so her friends provided entertainment and support.

So parents, please hug your babies of all ages close tonight.  Everything can change in a second.  I know I talk about the Self-fulfilling prophecy a lot.  Look for the good in your child(ren) and you will find it.  You will also find more of the good and less of the other stuff if you are actively looking for the good.  It’s in there!

Going Home!!!

Going Home!!!

TUESDAY FOLLOW UP

Since I didn’t get a chance to post this on Monday, here is a brief “Follow Up.”

We haven’t heard anything about Megan’s lower body – and now that I can stop and think things through a little more clearly, I’m realizing they didn’t do any lower body scans.  We’ll follow up at her doctor’s appointment on Friday.  However…

Amazingly as of today, the Tuesday after Mother’s Day, Megan is back at school! She’s using crutches and has access to an elevator.  She is still very weak on her entire left side, but her arm is much stronger. She is able to use crutches to and from classes as long as she rests during class.  I’m on call for when she needs to leave early.  She will be missing the Biking Unit in an elective class that she is re-taking because she missed it last year when she broke her humerus… but she IS up and moving!  We are so thankful!!!

23Apr/18
Overwhelmed Mom

The 90 Days of May

Here we are!  We have officially entered what I lovingly (?!) call the 90 days of May.  If you have children in school, you know what I’m talking about.  There are concerts and performances, last minute projects due, special ceremonies, end of school year events, all in between the regular practices, lessons, games and meetings.  And don’t forget Teacher Appreciation Week or Mother’s Day!  Or the groceries or the garbage that needs to go out! 

BREATHE.

It can be very overwhelming.  You will have days where you feel like you are a horrible parent. We all do!  It’s hard when you are exhausted, stretched to the max and everybody needs something from you. 

Remember to BREATHE!

It is likely that you will snap once or twice at your children, at your spouse, even at yourself.  That is OK.  It happens to all of us.  The trick is to not let it happen too often.  The ideal, is to get to a point where the exhaustion and snapping happens less and less.  When I work with my One on One clients, we create simple systems to get to that point where you can get through the 90 days of May and actually enjoy most of the activities and the chaos.

As parents, we think everyone else expects us to be Super Mom or Super Dad. Sometimes, we put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else.  When you have one of those moments when the world seems to be falling apart, take 30 seconds – that’s it, 30 seconds – to stop and BREATHE.  For some folks, deep breathing for 30 seconds can work wonders.  For the rest of us, or those of us who need to quiet our mind from racing, here’s another option: 

In just 30 seconds, pay attention to all 5 of your senses. 

– What do you hear right now? Even if it’s a crying, screaming child, remember that the child has lungs healthy enough to let you know something is not right. In the future, those lungs might power a solo in the choir or a musical instrument.

– What do you see? What is something within view that brings you pleasure? It could be a picture of your family or a bird on the tree outside.  Look for something that makes you smile. 

– What do you smell?  If you are changing a diaper (Hey, life happens!)  can you think of something that smells nice?  A flower, a candle, the honeysuckle bush outside, or hot chocolate?

– What do you taste?  If you are not currently eating, can you plan to eat something that makes your taste buds happy today?

– What do you notice about touch?  Are you holding a sweet little hand? Do you have fuzzy socks on that you enjoy? Can you pet your dog/cat?

Taking 30 seconds amid the chaos can help ground you. 

And what happens when you do snap?  Think about what you would say to your child if he/she was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed?  Think about what your child was feeling to cause the actions or the behavior that just happened.  What would you do?  Say these things to yourself.  Take care of yourself first.  Then you can go apologize to the person you snapped at earlier.

When you are ready to apologize for snapping, you can start by saying “Boy, I was pretty awful at being a parent/spouse earlier.”  You can explain why, or you can jump to talking about how you will try to avoid this happening again in the future.  By doing so, you are being human.  You are being real.  You are also teaching your children/spouse that they might have “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days (to quote Alexander from a book by Judith Viorst) and that’s OK.  It’s what they do with these days, what they learn from them, how they survive and get through them that counts!

It is OK to ask for help.  Email me at DrRenee@HelpingParentsParent.com to set up a 20 minute strategy session.  I make time in my schedule to offer 5 of these strategy sessions for free each month.  This could be your month to get out of overwhelm and back into enjoying parenting.

I anticipate a few “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” moments, but I wish you many more “happy and healthy” days during the upcoming 90 Days of May!

16Jan/17

You’ve Got This!

Focus on the Positive

Part II

Last week I wrote about the self-fulfilling prophecy: “You will find what you are looking for.”  So why not look for the good?!  I invited you to take some time to really stop to notice all the things your child can do and some things about him that make you smile.

This week, I invite you to focus on your parenting through a positive lens. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world.  And I bet, that even though you might not always feel that way, you are doing a pretty good job at parenting.

Stop and think for a moment.  What is one thing that you are doing right as a parent?  Do your children know that they need to stay buckled in their car seats to be safe? Are your kids going to bed nicely at night?  Do they enjoy grocery shopping with you because you keep them engaged?

We are very hard on ourselves as parents.  It’s so easy to dwell on the mistakes and regrets.  It’s easy to freak out in the moment instead of looking at the bigger picture.  Sometimes we need to stop and think if this will actually matter a year, or even a month, from now.

As a parent, it’s also easy to assume that every other parent has their act together.  I used to giggle inside when people assumed that because I was so involved and organized outside my home that the inside of my home was just as organized and spotless.  To be honest, the organization part isn’t bad, but even the few years that I had a maid didn’t seem to keep my home spotless!  I was spending more time playing with my kids than washing baseboards so that made it OK for me.

Think of this as permission for you to spend a few minutes as you are getting dressed in the morning, or ready for bed at night, to pat yourself on the back.  Think about some of the things you have done as a parent that have been successful.  Be specific and authentic with your thoughts.  Some days, that might include a sentence like: “My kids are still alive today!” and that’s OK.  The fact that they have made it this far with your help and guidance, is an accomplishment.

Congratulations!  Raising a child isn’t easy and you’ve made it this far.  There will always be ups and downs, but focusing on the positive will improve your outlook and spill over to make the downs not dip quite so low.

26Sep/16

Organizing the Disorganized Child

Organizing the Disorganized Child

Your son/daughter has been in elementary or middle school for a while and things should be flowing along smoothly at this point. Right?

Unfortunately, for many kids, this is not the case!  Papers from school might, or might not, make it into your child’s backpack.  Homework assignments that are done, seem to vanish into thin air between your kitchen table and the classroom.

Just like learning to read, learning to be organized to succeed in school, needs to be taught in small steps and reinforced regularly.  When a child first learns to read, he learns what the letters look like and sound like.  Then he learns that when you put letters together, you create new sounds and eventually words.  Many letters together in groups (words) can make a sentence, a paragraph, or even a story! 

Once we’ve taught our children to read, we don’t send them off to fend for themselves. We don’t even let them choose whether or not they want to read.  We encourage them to read, and even require it of them in school.  Our world constantly provides opportunities to read (street signs, words on food packaging, t-shirts, etc.).  And all of this happens at a stage where the brain is open to and able to learn this new skill.  Notice I said ‘stage’, not ‘age’ because this does happen at different times for different children, and that is OK!

The executive functioning of the brain, the part that acts as a personal assistant, or office manager, doesn’t fully develop in humans until they are almost 25 years old.  Our executive functions enable us to make a list, remember to look at it, and then cross things off as we complete things on that list. 

So, GIVE YOUR CHILD A LITTLE BREAK, and GIVE YOURSELF A LITTLE BREAK!

Your child’s brain is still developing!

Your child is really not mentally capable of keeping track of all of the things that he/she needs to keep track of during the school day.   Can some kids do it? Sure.  But many can’t remember all of the details without a little bit of help.

So what do you do? 

Put strategies in place. 

Just like reading, your child will get to practice certain skills on a daily basis (i.e., bringing assignments home and bringing completed homework back to school).  Many teachers will provide your child with tried and true strategies.  One example is having one duel-pocket folder for all papers.   One side is marked “HOME” and the other side is marked “SCHOOL.”  All papers coming home are put on one side and then all papers going back to school go on the other.  While this might seem obvious to you and me, it really isn’t that obvious to your child.

If you would like to learn more simple strategies to help your child succeed in school, please contact me at DrRenee@HelpingParentsParent.com

 

I will be facilitating a local in-person book club starting on September 30th: Register here.

organizing-disorganized-child

I will also be leading Evening and Online Book Groups in October: Pick your best date/time here.

05Sep/16

Happy Labor Day

HAPPY LABOR DAY

Growing up I always found it a little ironic that many people, moms included, need to “labor” on Labor Day.

To our military, safety/emergency personnel, and retail sales workers out there – thank you.  We appreciate what you do. I hope you get a Labor Day off at some point this week, even if it’s not on the official holiday.

If you are one of the fortunate ones that does not need to go out to work today, my wish for you is that you get to spend quality time with your family.  Find fun, EASY things to do so that you are not laboring as much as, or more than, your typical day.

Most kids are not typically cognizant enough to say thank you or to appreciate all you do.

But I am.  I will say THANK YOU for your kids.

Thank you for caring enough to set limits and boundaries, even when it’s hard.

Thank you for providing chores and other responsibilities to help your children learn to be successful adults.

Thank you for following through on things you’ve said you will do, even when you are not sure how you will find the strength to do so.

Thank you for all of the love, hugs, cuddles, and giggles. These fill your child’s heart with your love to hold on to when you are not physically present to do so.

I know how much work it can be raising kids, especially when they are little.

On this Labor Day, take a few moments to think about ways that you can fill your heart.  Find ways to take care of yourself so that you don’t get angry, exhausted, overwhelmed or burnt out.  Your children might not outright appreciate or thank you. In the long run, once they are out on their own, especially if they have children, they will be able to look back and recognize at least some of what you do!

If you need help finding ways to Take Care of the Caretaker (YOU), or setting limits and following through, send me an email and we’ll set up a time to talk (NO charge). 

DrRenee@HelpingParentsParent.com.