Friday, July 20, 2012

Letting the Cat Out Of The Bag

I'm free to finally share the news.


It's hard to keep one's mouth shut with news of this magnitude.  You've probably already guessed - or if we're friends on facebook have already read the big news - drum roll please... We're Moving!!!

We.  Are.  Moving.

Exciting.  Scary.  Nerve-wracking.

So after five years of looking for a new job, Deonne finally landed a great one.  Snatched up the proverbial golden ticket.  He'll be working for CDM Smith, an international engineering firm, heading up the new structural engineering department in their Fairfax, Virginia office.

I'm so proud of him.  For five long years he's been overworked and underpaid.  And I don't mean that in a cliche way - he's really been overworked (taking on the tasks of four engineers) and grossly underpaid.  His new salary is 67% higher than his current one, if that tells you anything.  He'll be working with the top engineers in his field - and mentoring junior engineers as he builds his team.  He's finally being appreciated for his worth - for the engineer he is - for his abilities and his creativity.

I can't say it enough.  I'm so proud - my heart is about to burst.

And here's the great part for our family.  Because he'll finally be compensated for what he's worth - I'll not have to work.  Let me say that again. I.  Will.  Not.  Have.  To.  Work.

I'll get to stay home with the kids, catch up on my soaps, and eat bon bons all day.  (that's total sarcasm there.)  What I will actually get to do is stay home with the kids.  Focus on them.  Work with Anna.  Not have our days consist of yelling at my children to hurry up and get in the car to get to daycare, then to hurry up and get in the car to go home, then hurry up and eat dinner to get in the bath, then hurry up and get the bath over to go to bed.

Oh, I know it will be hard - and I may run the risk of losing my sanity with involved conversations on a daily basis about Barbie and Thomas and Super Why.  But this is what I want.  What I crave.  I feel like I've missed out on my children's early childhood.  I missed their first steps and their first words.  They may not remember - but I do.  And while I don't want to beat myself up about what I missed in the past - I'm thankful beyond measure to focus on the things I'll be able to participate in - chaperoning field trips, volunteering in classrooms, taking leisurely trips to the library, spur of the moment picnics, lazy afternoons.

I know.  I'm making this out to be a lot more magical than it probably will be.  I'm sure after two hours I'll be begging to put on work clothes and get behind my desk.  Remind me of this fantasy when I start complaining.

But there's another part - the really good part.  My company wants to keep me as an employee on a part time/hourly basis. So I'll still have my foot in the door - and I'll still be needed to do the things that I like - from home - without having to be in an office.  I'll continue to write grants, design websites, create project brochures, update websites ... basically all of the things that I really like to do.  (And drop the tedious project management crap that I hate.)

I can't wait.

However, it looks like I'll have to.  Deonne reports to work on August 20.  Thankfully my rockin' cousin who lives in the area is going to rent a room to him in her home so he'll be with family - and won't have the expense of setting up an entire household until we can be together.  But even though he's getting a ginormous increase in salary - it's not enough to fund the expense of two households - especially given the housing prices in the DC metro area.  Meaning I get to stay in Columbia until our house sells.  With three children.  And a full time job.  By.  My.  Self.

Yeah - I'm a bit scared about that.  Not about the work involved in parenting three children (even though it will be significant.)  Rather it's the 'what ifs' that I'm so good at festering over.  What if someone needs to go to the hospital in the middle of the night?  What if I get a horrid stomach bug and can't function or take care of the kids?  What if a toilet breaks or a pipe bursts or Jack decides for the umpteenth time to turn on every light in the van on his way out, effectively draining the battery, and I have no means to jump start my car?

I think it's just the anxiety of it all.  The worry of caring for these three little lives without their Daddy around. (Not to mention that I'm going to miss my husband tremendously - well, except for his habits of leaving dirty socks all over the house...)

But if I keep my eye on the prize - if I keep focused on the good things to come - we'll be fine.

I hope.

In the meantime we'll be packing and throwing out and donating and preparing to spiff up our home for a (hopefully) very quick sale.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Girl

I've been hesitant to write about my girl.  It takes a lot to share the good, the bad, and the ugly about your kid - but even more so to share the struggles and challenges we face as parents.  I've wanted to keep this close to my heart - to protect my daughter, my love,  from the negative undertones that seem to accompany what I'm about to write. To shield her in some way from it being true.  I guess in some strange way, I want so badly for this not to be true that I've held off on writing about it - as if somehow - in some way - forming letters into words and words into sentences will make the truth 'real' - and not writing about it will keep the situation in the imaginary world where it belongs.

But the truth is - in order to face this - to truly help my child - I need to come to terms with her - her needs - her challenges - and quite simply, who she is.

When the school psychologist hinted around that Anna displays some typical AD/HD tendencies - I shuddered and immediately thought 'wrong - not my child.'  When her pediatrician gently discussed that there might be some issues we need to get her some help with - we shrank away and chose to try to discipline out the behavioral problems.  When her teacher kindly told us that while our daughter is not on the 'radar screen' as a typical problematic or disruptive child - her inability to focus or stay on track has started to affect her ability to learn - we chalked it up to her being super smart and bored in the class.

But as time marched on - we couldn't overlook our girl's ability to follow simple three point directions.  Nor her tendencies to lash out at other children (particularly her brothers) when she became frustrated.  Nor her habits to stare off into space, sometimes whisper to herself, and spend hours upon hours playing pretend games in her head.

So we sought help.  We enlisted the help of the top child psychiatrist in our area.  We paid out the you-know-what to have a full psycho-educational evaluation (or whatever you want to call it) where our girl spent the better part of a full day testing and playing games with said psychiatrist and her staff - figuring out her abilities.  And her weaknesses.

And Friday we got the results.

We heard how remarkable her reading and comprehension skills are.  (Beyond off the charts.)  We heard how creative and truly thoughtful she is.

And then.

Then we heard how she has a significant delay in Executive Functioning.  How her impulse control is not only very low but borderline.  How her ability to process things efficiently for skills like math are within 'normal' ranges - but are being hindered by that delay - by her inability to apply her intelligence in an organized fashion to accomplish real, day-to-day life goals.

In other words - the classic display of AD/HD - as represented by the gap in her intelligence and her ability to use it.

And that's a hard thing to hear.  One because I have to face the fact that there's something wrong with my child that I can't fix.  As a mother, I want the best for my child.  I don't want there to be anything wrong with her - to have anything different about her that will make her life more difficult.  Further, I don't want her to be looked down on - or given weird glances because she's doing something strange.  I don't want to see the exasperated sighs from teachers or instructors or other moms because she's yet again, out of control.  I want to protect her - wrap her in my arms - keep her safe from the world at bay.  From the judgments.  From the negativity that often accompanies any type or sort of mental health diagnosis.

But here's the other thing.  The deep, dark, horrible part.  I don't want my kid to have AD/HD for the mere fact that I'm not sure I can handle it.  And what kind of a mother does that make me?  I have never been one for patience.  I get extremely frustrated with things that take too long.  Repeating myself fourteen times to get my child to act drives me insane.  I think Deonne is much more sympathetic and empathetic about Anna's struggles.  Honestly?  I just get mad.  Even though I know there is a clinical reason why my child spaces out - even though I understand why she does the crazy things she does - why she's not able to focus or stay on track - I still can't stand it.

So we go forward.  Starting to take the steps to initiate medication - as well as continue therapy to learn behavioral strategies to help Anna achieve the things her intelligence allows but her inability to stay focused won't.  It's going to be a steep learning curve, that's for sure.  One where Anna will have to learn how to follow simple three-point directions.  One where I'll have to let go enough to accept the fact that even though my daughter is nearly eight years old - she still needs a chart in her room to remind her to put on underwear after a bath, and one in the bathroom to remind her to rinse her toothbrush after using it.

I covet your prayers as we begin this new journey with our child.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Times Are A-Changin'...

After five long years of ups and downs, highs, and lows, and a lot of in-betweens - we're finally on the verge of making a very important decision.

Well - the truth is the decision has already been made - but I'm not at full liberty to disclose what that decision is.  Give me about two days - and I'll be able to blab.  Spill the beans.  Shout from the tree-tops.

For now, suffice to say that our little world is being turned upside-down.  It'll be good.  Once we get through the thick of it.

But I'm finally able to breathe a sigh of relief - knowing that the decision has been made.  And that's always half the battle, isn't it?

So now we hold our breath - hang on for the ride - and let go enough to let things fall in place.

Easier said than done.

Stay tuned.

More news to come.