Family Life

The world of SPD never goes away

I’ve been posting a little bit about how the juggle of returning to work part-time was quite an adjustment for our family….

Initially, this mostly revolved around trying to accommodate drop-offs & picks-ups amongst terrible local traffic & a husband who has a completely irregular & all-consuming schedule in the land of our own start-up versus my not-an-inch-of-flexibility work schedule.

But as the weeks past, & we got more into the swing of a new routine, we realized there was another side effect to me working that we did not anticipate. Nor, did we manage very well.

As it turns out, my return to work, albeit part-time, did nothing but exacerbate Mylo’s struggles & SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) symptoms. I began working again sometime around April this year & now that October is approaching, Mylo is finally finding a place where he can cope a little easier with life.

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Once I returned to work & when summer vacation & the absence of school hit, poor Mylo just turned into a big ball of distress & frustration. Seeing him now much happier & more able to self regulate on occasion, has made any qualms I had about being at home, disappear in an instant.

Mylo is so much more secure & stable when I am home & that in itself is a huge blessing to witness as a parent.

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Anyone who has a kid struggling with SPD will attest to the fact that it takes many different shapes & can vary in degree. And just when you think you’ve got a strategy down… a new issue arises or an old one takes a new spin.

For Mylo, we’ve always struggled with shoes – over summer it could take us 40 minutes of massaging his feet & trying many different socks to find a way to leave the house without pain in his feet. And to his credit, he tries so hard to make himself comfortable, he really does (which in itself is naturally heartbreaking).

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He also suffers from a sound & smell sensitivity limiting our surroundings at times. So once out, he often wants to immediately return home.

He is easily overstimulated when his little body can no longer process the sensory input he cannot avoid and this tends to manifest in tantrums & bouts of rage where everyone around him can suffer. Socially inappropriate & the flying judgments are painful.

Another result of this, if Mylo isn’t consumed by frustration & rage, is a high. He can become so high in his behavior that trying to communicate becomes almost impossible. Sometimes he’ll fall asleep in the moment. But sometimes not.

Reasoning & trying to communicate logically is becoming more a part of routine as kids approach 5. They may not agree, or like the way things are, but unlike with a 2 or 3-year-old, they can form a much greater understanding & thus acceptance of circumstances & reason out a means of coping. Mostly.

Mylo though has delayed development & interacting with him currently, requires the recognition that he is more often than not, needing a 3 1/2-4 year old level of communication as opposed to a 5-year-old. But as he is very tall, no one else gets this fact.

There are many more issues that affect Mylo, resulting from SPD but for the most part whilst I was working, getting through the day was actually a challenge for all of us. Both Kevin & I had to constantly check our patience & empathy; I needed time out I wasn’t able to get & Ethan, the big brother, really has to adopt a much more mature stance in that living with Mylo requires flexibility, understanding & acceptance not usually required of a 6-7 year old. He is a trooper that kid. One I am so proud & also inspired by.

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Currently though, I’m pleased to say, we are all truly enjoying the here & now. It is like taking a deep, satisfying breath, as Mylo comes down a few levels of intensity post summer. He has always been the most personable, quirky & popular kid I’ve known. You cannot do anything but adore Mylo.

Back in OT, back in school & me being available for drop offs, pick ups, sick days & everything in between – means we can enjoy those parts of Mylo more & more often. And that is making our family unit, much more, a family unit.

We are coming back together again rather than feeling like we are splintered apart & barely holding on.

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Categories: Bigger Issues, Family Life, Life as it is, Mummyhood | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

How do people pull this stuff off?

As you may have read, I spent the final 3 months of the 2012-2013 school year in a teaching assistant role in my son’s elementary school. In my “Should I even be going “there”?” post (I fear posting this may have me tarred & feathered or at the very least have me NEVER hired by the District again!) I expressed my concern about both the state of school management itself but also where my perspective on that state comes from.

I began my writing with the intention of posting more about the power of leadership….but actually I think it was more about how I felt working there.

I did help me open up to some questions & self-reflection that are always useful though.

Now when I talk about “going back to work”, I have to be honest & admit, I was essentially “working” for possibly the shortest stint ever.

So why did it have such a significant impact?

I guess because until now, while I’ve done various projects, I’ve certainly not worked part-time or full-time, on someone else’s clock since the kids (& Ethan turns 7 in about 10 days so it’s frighteningly longer than it feels).

Thus for us, it was a major change in many ways:

For the first time, Kevin’s schedule wasn’t all about Kevin’s schedule. He actually had to be available for pick ups & drop offs, for the random sick days, for the odd kid appointment. He had to have Mylo sometimes whilst also trying to work from home & he had to do a little more around the place to keep things ticking over as I wasn’t as hands on as usual (and for the record, I have an amazing hubby who takes on a lot around the house in terms of chores – even when I’m not working, it’s often been 50/50).

The kids, had to put up with a more tired Mummy initially, who was also sometimes a bit over “kid stuff” after a long day with Kindergartners….or more often than not, was totally in love with her kids, appreciating them & their great behavior & loving ways after a long day.

I had to acknowledge a number of things: how much I treasure alone time as I no longer had any (!); how much I missed friends…while I consider myself more of an introvert & often quite a loner, I also realize I treasure some very special friendships, ones that feed my soul so to speak. Women that offer so much value to my life & not spending time with them on the odd hike or the odd coffee date really affected me.

We also felt the time pressure in the weekends which was unexpected – getting housework done, catching up on laundry, the gardening, getting groceries & meal ingredients prepared….

I realized that working part-time definitely has its bonuses – I got time with the kids in the afternoons & time to get some things done….

But working part-time as a TA has its disadvantages too – the pay does not justify a cleaner, after-school babysitter help, a gardener – any of the things that would help to ease the weekend load. So once I went back to work not only were the days full with work, homework, activities & daily chores, none of which I could complete in the hours without the kids (seeing as I non longer had any)…but the weekends became loaded with those particular chores.

All in all there was almost no balance & the pay barely covered childcare. On the days Mylo was not in preschool, a sunk cost, I only broke even for the child care we needed.

Didn’t really make it feel worthwhile given the experience I was having as detailed in my previous post.

It did open my eyes to all working parents – I feel like working parents do not at all get the empathy or support they so deserve. More often than not, they just get a lot of judgement. Their workload is not at all acknowledged in a realistic way… I barely touched on what many working friends do so I truly have no idea how they pull it off AND do so, so successfully!

Super women is one way I can put it. They really go that extra mile in all aspects of their lives & deserve not just respect but admiration.

And the Dads too… I don’t know many Dads these days that work 9-5, come home to a cooked meal, put their feet up with a beer (or perhaps as martini Don Draper would?) & read the paper… Dads are just as or almost as involved in chores, pick ups, drops offs, school activities & the daily kid-routines as Mums are.

Parents juggle a lot these days & I think are often our own harshest critics (or am I only speaking for myself?)…. I just want any working parent out there that may read this to know you are amazing. You are very likely pulling this whole kid/work gig off beautifully even though most days it doesn’t feel like it & I for one am giving you a huge pat on the back.

For now I’m no longer back “on the clock” so to speak… I’m on my own clock though as a friend & I work toward launching our online accessories/restored furniture store so right now that consumes me & I hope it continues to in the way outside work would…. here’s hoping or I might just be back to being on the clock & trying desperately to pat myself on the back for a job I believe being poorly done!

 

Categories: Family Life, Life as it is, Mummyhood, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2013 is the year..

This week has been one of those weeks where I’m not quite on top of things due to kids being home sick … but I have to admit, it’s also one of those times I’m really, really grateful for what “we” do  – as thanks to Kevin’s current profession, I get the privilege of being a full time mum.

Mylo & I 2013

Mylo & I 2013

This means when kids wake up with a fever in the morning, my only stress (other than making sure they’re ok) is possibly swapping out a classroom volunteer day & wishing I’d hit the gym at 6am instead of missing out all together. I feel incredibly grateful that Kevin & I aren’t arguing over whose turn it is to take a day off, that I’m not racing into school to provide relief work for my students (I was a high school teacher once upon a time) with sick child in tow or figuring out how to achieve what I need to depending on how many days my kid will be off school.

This state of affairs is to me at least – a privilege. What I have come to realize slowly is that I value being present & home with my kids more than I value what we could gain out of my extra income if I worked.

Green lantern (aka Mylo) 2012

Green lantern (aka Mylo) 2012

It took me a long time to reach this conclusion as I truly missed my workplace for years (seriously – years) after having children.

So for those who do work I fully appreciate that while there may be need, there is also more often than not, great joy in the workplace – qualities gained that I will never enjoy being at home full time.

That is not to say any of us have the perfect fit with work & home life, but we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have.

In my situation of full time parenting however, I also know that – being totally honest with you – I have very low coping mechanisms. I do not have the capacity to work & parent & am in constant awe of those who do. And I do not say that lightly. Prone to anxiety, I don’t do very well juggling too many balls at once. For us, the status quo works – having me home to keep things ticking over smoothly is something that goes with the territory of Cup work – long hours, little flexibility & frequent moving.

Exhausting work this traveling gig.

Exhausting work this traveling gig.

It also – for the time being – goes with the territory that is simply who I am. For a long time, I had “the grass is greener” attitude – feeling like an underachiever because I didn’t have the corporate position to use in discussions – I only had potty training bribes to offer; feeling almost ashamed that I couldn’t share the latest stats on the the market & that as a result, we couldn’t take the annual Hawaii trip & weekly Tahoe missions like so many around us here in the Bay Area.

This area we live can warp your perspective slightly – it can create expectations in life that can, I suspect create a sense is jealousy & discontent over lack of “things” & lack of “holidays”. It’s not what I’ve encountered in many, but it is present & such dissatisfaction over such privilege is something I still find confronting.

As time has gone on here in the States, I’ve remembered a number of things – one being that my values do not revolve around some of the things others value – I’m not arrogant enough to pretend I wouldn’t lap up such a lifestyle were it truly an option, but I am by no means unhappy nor wanting in any way. I feel satisfied in life & truly, truly blessed & grateful.  How did I get this lucky?

However – what I’ve noticed of late though is that  my ability to enjoy the “now” can waiver according to the future & it all boils down the the ending of another Cup campaign. I began this blog to partly chronicle our life in the America’s Cup community & thus far have not actually done much about that!

For the past two years, since we moved to the Bay Area for the next Cup, normal life has prevailed: we’ve become part of the community, made friends, joined sports teams, volunteered at school…. & Kevin has come & gone to work as in any other job. This year however, summer 2013 is the Cup itself & great change is potentially on the horizon. And while I boast about our gypsy life & how much I  love it (& I do love it for the most part) – my natural tendency toward anxiety will hang heavy in the coming months as we wait for events to play out which will dictate the coming two or more years of our lives.

 

On the Bay

On the Bay

The winner of the Cup has the right (within edicts of the Cup Rules) to choose where & when the next race will be held. Thus, should Kevin be hired for the next Cup by either Oracle or another team, that location will likely be home at some stage in the coming years.Some teams however only relocate for the final months or final year, not for the entire campaign. Thus there may be a return to a lot of potential commuting ahead.

In other words, we have no idea where or when we will be living anywhere after the Cup as it all comes down to who wins on that final day.

As New Zealand is “home” (I think?) & we are not US residents, we must leave the US … do we ship our stuff to NZ, wrench kids from school & friends, begin new school, make new friends only to pull them out again for the next location in 6 months to a year? We can’t stay here so that is the only plan I guess…. Unemployment between Cups is always daunting – …..but  we wish to continue what we’re doing & Kevin has worked hard to get to this point so we are committed.

We even eat Oracle boat cookies

We even eat Oracle boat cookies

In terms of life’s problems, this is hardly a hardship. We are not dealing with anything life-threatening.

However, despite this, the unknowns still manage to cause me great distraction & anxiety. Mostly as I worry about kids & their lives. I feel emotional about moving & leaving important relationships. I am longing for a permanent place of our own but feel suffocated thinking of settling down in one place.

How to wrap my mind around the ever-changing nature of this lifestyle I have decided is to be able to take either option & make it work. We cannot plan in concrete beyond October yet we need a plan for our family regardless of whether we end up implementing it or not.

This is Cup life.

While many will be out there this summer, on the Bay,  swilling champagne & debating design features of each team; talking over the skills of sailors & glamming it up at the Louis Vuitton Ball. Most of us, those of us on the non-leisure spectator side, will be anxiously awaiting the outcome of races to decide on our fate: on future income; kids schools;  home location; outside jobs & more.

We watch to support the endless hours our husbands have put into this boat & this race. It stops being a job & starts being a life when you relocate. We watch to see what the future holds for us. We watch to support what has become our family over the past many years – no matter what team you’re with, we all share Cup life & community together.

For some the America’s Cup is entertaining sport. And for some it is simply our life.

Categories: Cup Life, Family Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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