Enjoying Work

I have to say that I am really enjoying my new job.  And it’s been since about 2007 since I could say that.

It’s a great feeling.

I Need You on the Job Every Day - NARA - 534704

For many, many reasons, teaching became less and less enjoyable over the years to the point that I would cry on the way to work in the mornings because I really just didn’t want to go.  Might sound juvenile, but it’s a pretty desparate feeling, especially when you are a single mom and have to provide for your son.  There is no opt out, there is no quitting to try to find something more enjoyable.  And teachers really don’t have that luxury like some other professionals do.  They don’t have the possibility of quitting and making the same pay in a lateral move, which is absolutely ridiculous, but I digress.

And it hasn’t been easy being unemployed for half a year, either.  I wouldn’t recommend it for the weak of heart.  Your self esteem takes quite a few dings.

But opportunity arose when The Man bought this house outright, and I had to take it.  I didn’t want to be miserable anymore.  Today, I’m so glad I did, and I’m so thankful for my new job that I enjoy.  I feel capable and trusted, appreciated and challenged.  I’ve been waiting a long time to feel like this again.

Have a great day, People! :D

This is a Stepdad

Today, The Man and I got up early and went to the store to get 6 gallons of paint – we were finally going to start painting the house!  The Man has single-handedly remodeled this place, and this summer, we replaced the siding, which was 20 years old.  To save money we used panels that were “seconds” and therefore marked on the corners with blue paint.  Because of those marks, staring us in the face every time we drove up, we were anxious to finish the job, and the exterior paint was almost the last step.

I’ve helped the man do a fair share of painting, in our own house, as well as on a few large jobs he’s had.  But I am not a painter.  I was doing pretty good this morning, but got extremely frustrated after lunch and quit.  I am not usually a quitter, but it was beyond what I could handle, so I walked away.  The Man finished that side of the house on his own, and then moved on to cutting the lawn.

He had asked The Boy if he wanted to “drive” the mower today, so when he was ready, he took him for a few rides around the house before he started mowing in earnest.  I took a few snaps, and came inside to relax for awhile (the sound of the mower tends to put me to sleep).

mowing101

And then I heard voices.  I looked through the back doors and saw The Boy and The Man on the mower.  The Man was directing him where to go, and The Boy was actually mowing the lawn, steering, going in reverse, slowing down, and keeping his lines straight.  It was a pretty neat sight, and erased all of my earlier frustration.

Because this was more than a stepdad showing his stepson how to mow the lawn.

This is a stepdad who understands how fascinated his autistic stepson is with cars, and watches how he pretends to start his own car every time he climbs into a vehicle.  This is a stepdad who took his stepson to his favorite hardware store, and asked them to give him one of the mistakes from the key-making counter, so he could have his own set of car keys.  This is a stepdad who watched his stepson pretending to steer and use turn signals in his truck this very morning, and decided to give him an opportunity to steer something with a real-live running engine, while throwing a hands-on lesson in there, to boot.

This is a stepdad.

Blended Boys

Blending families is an ongoing journey, even when you only have one school-age child.  Differences in parenting styles become apparent fairly quickly, and when your child has special needs, it can be even more challenging.  We have been lucky — The Man and I dated long-distance for several years, which gave us an opportunity to glimpse each other’s parenting styles and transition to a blended parenting style over time.  To say that it’s a finished product would not be right – it continues to evolve, but it’s functioning, and a positive thing for The Boy to have two parents in our home.

The Man continues to learn about The Boy and his challenges.  It can be unfortunate sometimes to have a disorder like autism, because it isn’t oustwardly visible, and people who don’t know will judge, while even people who do know will forget, myself included.  Not forget that he has autism, but forget The Boy’s struggles and needs, even if momentarily.  This happens with The Man from time to time, but we continue to communicate and progress on our journey.

The Man is a natural-born dad — he doesn’t know it, but sometimes I almost burst into happy tears at his small gestures towards The Boy.  He doesn’t even realize that he is doing things for The Boy that have never been done for him before.  And I have found that the one best thing for their growing relationship has been to force them together without me for awhile.  I have had to leave for work for a few hours on each weekend, and they have gotten to hang out a lot more this month.  And you know what?  We’ve had fewer meltdowns from everyone involved.

Yesterday, The Man pulled into the yard, home from work, and immediately grabbed our knock-around bike from the shed to go join The Boy who was riding around the neighborhood with some other kids.  And I watched, with those happy-tears in my eyes.

The Boys

5 Tips to Being the Best Mom Ever

I don’t claim to be the best mom ever, but I did have the best mom ever, so I have some familiarity with the subject.  This list is from the perspective of a mom of a tween, so bear that in mind.  I still think it applies at many levels of development (both yours and his):

  1. Never stop showing them how much you love them.  I’m lucky that The Boy still allows me to hug him, kiss his face, and cuddle him from time to time.  He even holds my hand sometimes!  I tell him I love him when I wake him up, when I say goodnight, and any other time I feel like it.  To me, it never loses its meaning.
  2. Try to remember what it’s like.  The Boy is in middle school, and unfortunately, I remember middle school.  No one wants to re-live it because it’s not a fun time for anyone.  When I can remember this, I am much more compassionate towards him.
  3. Put down the phone.  Step away from the TV.  I still struggle with this, and truthfully, he does, too.  But we have so much more fun, and make so many more memories when we spend time together, often outside, doing stuff.  And that’s what builds relationships.
  4. Make him a priority.  Notice I didn’t say the highest priority.  But moms need to be involved and know what’s going on in a child’s life.  If you don’t know every teacher’s name, and who he gets along with best, you’re behind.  You don’t need to be a nuisance (like I am becoming, albeit for very good reasons), but you need to show through your actions that you are present, to both your child, and the school.  Education works so much better that way.  Trust me.
  5. Try not to take it personally.  When he gets snippy or disrespectful, doesn’t want to hold your hand, or seems aloof, it isn’t you.  He’s figuring it all out, so give him the space to do so, while realizing that every kid does this.  He still loves you, and may even like you ;)  Conversely, when his behavior needs to be corrected, take the personal out of it.  Pretend you are the teacher (you know — the one that can’t scream back at a kid or curse) calmly trying to teach him a lesson about life… Because that’s exactly what you are.

As I said, I don’t claim to be the best mom ever, but I’m the best one The Boy’s ever had ;)  I’ve seen a lot of good moms during my time in the classroom, and I had the best mom ever growing up.  The biggest thing to remember is this:

No one is the best every day.  Just keep trying.

Your kids will love you for it.

Winter at the Beach

Non-Warrior Pose

I’ve been in Warrior Mom mode since yesterday, sending emails to the school, rapid-fire (pew, pew, pew!), making phone calls to the county social services department to make sense of the mailings they sent in the wrong order, spending over an hour to modify an assignment for The Boy to do last night, and making an executive decision to skip Tuba practice as he fell asleep while doing said assignment.

And then the special soup I bought for dinner was gross, so I basically had cheese and crackers for my evening meal.  And I had to wait for the boys to use the microwave for their own dinners, and mine was last and turned out to be yucky anyway.

And the ex emailed with more promises to call later this week (yeah, right).

And then the cop directing traffic this morning looked at me funny…

and I burst into tears.

I sent another email this morning, and had planned to do some medical legwork since I didn’t get anyone from the county to answer my questions yesterday.  But I’m thinking I may just not.

I may just take a day to not fight the world.

I may do some yoga, may attempt to draw some more Zentangles.

I think I need to heed my own tears, spend some time in the sun, stop communicating with the sources of my frustrations, breathe, cry if necessary, but slow down and take a day with no anger or fear guiding my actions.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Golden Gate Tea Garden

Amidst the Angst, I’m Really Thankful

I know lots of people do “Thankful Thursday” posts, but I wanted to pause in my week-long rant/neurosis/panic attack about The Boy and our concerns with his current schooling situation to express how really lucky I am.

  • I’m so happy that we’ve moved.  We have a very, very nice home that is paid for – no mortgage, no rent.  This has allowed me to avoid panicking about still being virtually unemployed.
  • I’m so happy to be married to my husband.  We waited a long time to be together on a daily basis, and now that we are, I still have to pinch myself from time to time.
  • I’m so grateful to have a partner to help me with the daily routine.  He’s still learning about The Boy, especially now that we are all in such close proximity, but it’s not all on me anymore, which was a heavy burden to bear.
  • I’m so happy that we are so close to my parents.  They are some of my closest friends on the planet, and having them 15 minutes away is something I haven’t had in a long, long time (and The Boy hasn’t ever had!).
  • I’m thankful that I have enough in the bank to lean on until I start getting paid regularly, and until I find a more meaningful, full-time position.
  • I’m really grateful that I have the time, background, and fortitude to do what’s apparently necessary for my son’s education.
  • I’m so thankful that my son had such a good education up north, which has shown us that he is capable, and that he has this solid foundation on which to build in middle and high school.
  • I’m happy that my son is apparently enjoying middle school, even if he isn’t getting everything out of it that he could be right now.
  • I’m really glad to have a fledgling support network down here: even though I don’t know many people, I have hooked up with some great people in our local Autism Society chapter who have been so helpful to answer questions and offer support.
  • And I am so thankful for my boy.  He makes me laugh just about every day, even on the days he makes my head spin, and my eyes roll.  I don’t know where I’d be without him!

Deep breath.  I have a lot to be thankful for! :D

Happy at the Beach

Headache With a Chance of Migraine

It takes a lot to stop me in my tracks.  And thankfully, migraines don’t affect me on a daily basis.  But they do catch up to me every so often.  I have learned what can lead to a migraine, and I have learned how to cope.  Besides that, there’s not much I can do.  And when one happens, I am so thankful that The Boy is of an age to take care of himself for the most part.  It isn’t an ideal day when mom is dead to the world and incapable of functioning, but he can feed himself and occupy himself, even if his teeth don’t get brushed.

Deutsch: "Kopfschmerzen". Die wohl b...

I had a migraine yesterday, and it started as day four of a tension headache.  But I knew this one was different  because it became centered on my left side, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to ease the pain.  I slept most of the day.

I’ve said it before – being ill and having to provide for others is one of the worst parts about being a single parent.  Migraines are a lot worse than just “bad headaches”.

I know there are lots of others who don’t have it as easy as I do.  If you know someone who gets migraines, make sure to ask them in advance how you can help.  Can you take the kids for a bit, make sure they eat?  Do some laundry?  Come over and make sure the house stays quiet for awhile?  Every little bit helps, and we have to take care of each other!

 

Wedding Day

Well, today is the day.  Today I marry The Man (does that make me “The Woman”?), in a short, simple, civil ceremony under a gazebo, in a park across the street from where his great-grandmother (and grandmother, and mother) lived.  Today I become a wife again, and cease to be a single mom.  Today, we become  family.  Today, it all becomes official.

There was a time when I never thought this would happen again, indeed there was a time I never wanted it to happen again.  But this isn’t “again”.  This is the first and only time with the right man.

We didn’t hire a photographer, so as soon as people at this shindig start sending me pics, I will share.  Until then, it might be a few days.

I’ll get back to you real soon. <3

More Liebster Answers…

Awhile ago, I was nominated for the Liebster Award and decided to take my time answering the 11 questions, because you’ve all heard plenty about me, and I didn’t want to be all in-your-face, yet again…  So here is another gripping installment of Liebster Answers…

tombstone4.  What would you like written on your tombstone?

When I graduated high school, our principal, who was a rather small, forgettable man in most ways said something that I have never forgotten: “Live your life so that no one has to lie at your funeral”.  I have always remembered this and tried to live up to it.  Along those same lines, I would be proud of a tombstone that quoted my grandma (in a way): “She did her best, and that’s all she could do”.

5.  If someone is reading your blog for the first time… which post do you want to make sure they read?

It really depends on their perspective – are they a single mom, a special needs parent?  Both?  Just looking for crafty ideas?  What I usually do is read the latest post.  If I like the style, I read back a few, and then really dig into the archives.  Some of my personal favorites are this one, this one, and this one.

6. “Hypothetically speaking, If my kids have allergies but they are not really affecting them right now, is it still okay to give them Benedryl so I can take a nap?”

Ummm.  I’m not a doctor, but in your situation, I would make absolutely sure their allergies were not affecting them…

Hope you are all well, and looking forward to summer!

 

Progress That Doesn’t Look Like Progress

Wow, what a mess we have here.  Four days left until we pick up the truck and begin to vacate this house!  And the place is messa wreck – no visible counter space, the contents of our medicine cabinet on the floor in the living room, boxes obscuring every view in the house… But I’m keeping my panic at bay, because as a special needs mom, I know that progress doesn’t always look like progress!

The Boy is holding up well, being a real trooper.  I have shared our “moving book” with him, and he seems to be doing pretty well, even with the house in so much upheaval, even with the end of the school year upon us.  Today we talked about the lady with the son who also loves Cars who will be coming to pick up his Cars bed this week, and he was OK.  We talked about how he could sleep on his mattress on the floor until we head south, and he was accepting and conversational… he was fine!

My parents have been here for four days already, helping me in numerous ways, as they always do when life throws me big change.  And together, we’re chipping away at what needs to be done.

So, while I can’t exactly walk across the floor without impediment, and while I’m sleeping on a crash pad in the basement, and even though there is much yet to be done, we’re making progress.  And that’s more than OK!