Today, I had to remind myself… again

Today, I had to remind myself… again

That every person is as different as an individual flake of snow.

That no two social situations or family dynamics are the same.

That mankind is as unique as the tiny seeds spilled from a glossy envelope in spring. We all sprout in our own time – some of us thriving with little or no effort, while others hold on merely by a thread – under the most carefully controlled settings of an incubator.

That everyone’s brain chemistry and neurological wiring are as divergent as the blades of grass sweeping across the rolling plains.

That there’s no pass or fail in parenting and we’re all dealt a distinctly unique hand.

That an intelligent successful or talented child is not necessarily the reflection of a super parent.

That ALL accomplishments are relative to the individual.

That doing your best and giving your ALL can yield significantly different results in different people.

That doing your best is always good enough.

That the world is a ginormous fruit basket, and you can’t compare apples and oranges

That the outcome of any given situation is not always the most accurate reflection of dedication, diligence, effort and perseverance.

That shit happens.

That sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

That people will always make blanket assumptions and judgements about situations they know nothing about.

That some days this will sneak up on you and leave you feeling defeated.

That whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, validation and positive reinforcement from others are as crucial as the air we breathe.

That the world is a giant kaleidoscope composed of distinctly unique fragments all complimenting one another as a beautiful abstract whole.

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Job Title – Mother Extraordinaire. No Experience Necessary

Job Title – Mother
Experience – None necessary.
Duties – Caretaker, nurse, cook, housekeeper, educator, disciplinarian, therapist, security guard, events planner, dot. dot. dot.

*Note- Candidate must possess flexibility similar to the human pretzel lady at the circus, as the above description is subject to change without notice.

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Let’s face it, kids keep a running tally in their minds of every chore or good deed they’ve ever done – to be used as leverage when they’re campaigning for something.

They all do it.

For shits and giggles, lets closely examine a mothers job description.

In fact, let’s be completely outrageous and pretend the level of acknowledgement bestowed upon her on Mothers Day depends on it.

JOB DESCRIPTION – short version

Incubate alien life for 10 months (40 weeks = 280 days = 10 months) which is likely to cause nausea, vomiting, indigestion, strained and sprained muscles, back pain, hemorrhoids, constipation and weight gain.

This is the EASY part.

Deliver alien offspring – don’t worry, if you can’t manage to push the melon sized package through your peep hole sized opening, because the valiant obstetrician will just cut it out for you.

And quit whining – you have a baby to take care of. This is no longer about you.

First five years at a glance- feed, bathe, dispose of stinky waste products, ensure minions get enough rest or they’ll morph into rabid Gremlins and eat you alive. And oh yeah – keep those adorable little buggers out of harms way.

It’s all on you Mamacita, you’ve been enlisted for a 24/7 special ops assignment that will stretch into the better part of two decades.

Believe it or not, it doesn’t get much better than this. This is the tender era of hopes, dreams and endless cuddles. Embrace it with both hands – these sunny days are numbered.

Ages 5 – 12 The fruit of your loins are becoming more independent. Add education, socialization and extra curricular activities to the above basic needs list and you have a pretty accurate picture of your new job description.

At this critical point you’ll be forced to re-evaluate and adjust goals accordingly. You’ll be comparing your initial expectations set out of sheer blissful ignorance versus the reality of your child’s actual development.

This can be a bitter pill to swallow. A colossal bummer even, as most parents have a certain ideal vision of how they’d imagined their child to be.

Newsflash – Special needs and unique circumstances happen.

If you haven’t read the incredibly witty poem Welcome to Holland written by a parent faced with a special needs child, pause here and take a moment.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welcome_to_Holland#External_links

Ages 12 – 18 The slow painful transition to young adult. The good news is that your brood is now independent in hygiene, dressing and feeding themselves. Although some days this may be highly disputed. Your role becomes supportive- in addition to holding the gavel as wise counsel and disciplinarian, you’re their primary source for nourishment, clean clothes and transportation.

You perfect the art of eating on the run, prioritizing laundry into emergency loads like towels and underwear versus the rest, and that bucket in the laundry room once designated for potty accidents is replaced with a black caldron for panties caught in the red tide.

It’s important to state here that installing an aerosol form of Xanax in your home would not be overkill.

As your child nears the date of their high school graduation you learn to thank God every single day for the little things-

My kid is NOT…

*on drugs
*pregnant with innocent life
*incarcerated
*fighting for his life in the ICU
*runaway or lost
*suicidal
*DEAD

For some, these simple things are suddenly enough. Thoughts of college and it’s importance in the big scheme of things may be shuffled to the back burner.

Again you pause to re-evaluate your once naive parental expectations versus the reality of raising actual free-thinking creatures with intricate brain wiring and complex chemistry.

Ages 18+ The struggle for independence. For a few, the transition is relatively smooth. The honor students and those gifted with superior athletic or artistic talent may not miss a beat diving into this exciting next chapter. For others, it’s the beginning of a long painful journey through a dense cloudy tunnel filled with uncertainty.

You are the parental rock that keeps them focused, encouraged and grounded.

It’s important to remember that a person in crisis cannot always see the forrest through the trees. The stress of chronic crisis often leads to tunnel vision. Life is a game of survival.

That said, common afflictions like chronic anxiety and depression amongst other mental illnesses and special needs blow a dense fog into an already hazy and uncertain forrest. It’s not uncommon for the afflicted to become self absorbed.

Most moms with a special child or situation knowingly waive any hope or expectation of being lifted onto the sacred Mom pedestal every Mother’s Day, simply because it’s not in the cards… and it never was.

The rearing of special offspring requires a delicate yet potent combination of unconditional love, dedication, endurance and often times complete selflessness.

It’s the nature of the beast.

You were given this hand in life because the powers that be – knew you were up to the challenge; you were carefully chosen to participate as a member of the Parental Special Forces.

That’s like regular parenting, except with the grit of a Marine and stamina of a Navy Seal.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the special moms most deserving of exceptional recognition – who are also the least likely to receive it.

Hats off to you… the few and the proud.

May the sun shine on your face today and always.

You’re loved and appreciated more than you will ever know.

1000 Bloggers Writing About Compassion – #1000Speak

On February 20, 2015 One Thousand Voices will be simultaneously blogging for compassion – in an effort called #1000Speak.

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I’m very excited and proud to be participating in this virtuous effort.

While Extreme Mom is for the most part a humor based forum, I often use my voice to advocate in the areas of mental illness and special needs: Two variables that have influenced my life profoundly and have prompted me to view life with an open mind, in what I often refer to as Fifty Bazillion Shades of Grey.

Herein lies the serious, truthful root to my madness which incidentally keeps me focused and driven.

So no, I’m not giving up chocolate or Facebook for lent – I’m doing THIS.

The intent is to flood the Internet with positive energy through inspirational stories. ❤️

My favorite compassionate links and heart-felt postings from the Extreme Mom archives.

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Compassion and Depression-
https://extrememom.net/2014/08/13/the-nature-of-depression-my-uniquely-honest-first-hand-perspective/

Compassion and Special Needs –
https://extrememom.net/2013/11/08/marching-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer/

https://extrememom.net/2013/07/07/attack-of-the-clothing-tags-sensory-integration-dysfunction/

Compassion and Body Image/Teens-
https://extrememom.net/2014/08/01/i-met-a-girl-with-anorexia-and-she-stole-my-heart/

Compassion and Diversity –
https://extrememom.net/2014/08/14/people-are-like-snowflakes-no-two-are-exactly-alike-dont-be-judgy/

https://extrememom.net/2013/11/27/maria-kang-part-2-oh-no-she-didnt/

 

Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

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As a parent of four young adults- two faced with special life challenges, I’m often presented with rude comments on how I should handle certain situations.

Let me explain and hopefully open your eyes to a corner of the world that you’ve probably never visited.

An exercise in enlightenment, understanding and vast open-mindedness.

Chronological age is not the only indicator of where and what a person should be doing in regards to life’s milestones. This seems obvious, but trust me, it is not.

Many young adults are affected by invisible conditions which prevent them from reaching their full potential and may also make them appear lazy to the rest of the world, putting even more pressure on their already fragile self esteem.

Invisible condition (my definition)- a condition/disorder that is not necessarily obvious to the general public and may not even be detectable in a first hand social interaction with said individual. The person may appear completely normal. However, underlying condition(s) may be absolutely crippling thus preventing this person from being anything from marginally functional to ultimately meeting their full potential.

Examples- ADHD, autistic spectrum disorders, depression, anxiety, bipolar, post traumatic stress disorder, dot. dot. dot.

I live with two excellent examples of said invisible conditions, which in their cases are (at the present time) pretty debilitating. We get through life ONE DAY AT A TIME.

I love my SPECIAL children with all my heart.

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My children, whom I happen to know are misunderstood by society, certain close friends and family members, whom I will stand up for until my last dying breath and probably continue to protect in the afterlife.

Hell yeah.

It goes something like this-

My 19 year old son has pretty profound ADHD. *Note- There’s the ADHD where you take a pill and <<poof>> life is good, functional and manageable and there’s the ADHD where every waking moment is a challenge. I mention this to make you aware that ADHD is not the same on any two people. It’s a spectrum disorder. Your nephews ADHD may be a completely different animal than my sons ADHD. On a similar note, the higher your chronological age, the higher societies expectations become of you, making coping often more challenging as time passes.

KNOW that, APPRECIATE that and most importantly, RESPECT that.

As it rolled out for my guy, he did not grow out of his ADHD, nor did he learn to completely compensate. Every day is a challenge. He has chosen not to take meds, which at age 19 is his prerogative. My feeling is that he needs to manage his life in a way that feels right for HIM.

It’s a slow steady process in which there is no deadline.

I stand supportive pretty much… forever.

In addition, this same adult-child falls on the autistic spectrum. Aspergers presents an infinite number of social hurdles every single day. Add sensory integration dysfunction- another spectrum type condition and you amplify the same challenges by like ten fold.

Despite starting sensory integration therapy at the young age of five, being in sync with the outside world continues to be an every day struggle. Everybody’s brain is different. One of his major sensory challenges include a struggle with proprioception and spatial relationships- knowing how hard to press the gas/brake pedal in a car or how far to turn the steering wheel.

An example of how ordinary tasks that may almost seem second nature for most, may not in fact be simple for everyone.

This is REAL life stuff.

*For anything and everything related to sensory integration, check out the book “The Out of Sync Child” by Carol Kranowicz. Excellent read. My sister and I actually attended one of her conferences awhile back and she was lucky enough to be chosen to be part of the human sandwich exercise. I think she was the lettuce.. which figures because she’s teeny. I would’ve definitely been like the quarter pound burger.

Anyway, if you’ve absorbed the significance of the above challenges, you will most likely be able to better appreciate that things like driving a car, attending college and working are equivalent to an obstacle course within an obstacle course for some young adults.

On a completely different, but equally significant note, the oldest love of my life is afflicted by severe anxiety and panic attacks. No, we didn’t break her, nor did she ask for this or bring it on herself. She’s smart, beautiful and exceptionally talented, but doesn’t accept or acknowledge any of these things.

The current plan is to chip away at the anxiety, so that we may eventually step up the ladder rung to higher level challenges like college course work, getting a drivers license, maintaining a job and nurturing close relationships.

One step at a time.

This is not the portrait of a lazy person. This is a person who is struggling.

So, when you add your two cents that sounds something like- “You drive them to college??? They need to get jobs!! If you don’t force them to take responsibility they’ll never learn… use TOUGH LOVE or I would never tolerate THAT from adult children blah, blah, blah… ” you most likely have no idea what you’re dealing with and/or how unfitting your unsolicited advice actually is.

Let me say to you, in addition to treating those you love with much needed understanding, compassion and respect, first and foremost and even if it means simply just being there, a parental figure or caregiver must most importantly do no harm.

Let that sink in.

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Extreme Czar of Special Days

Dear Trigger-happy-Facebook-sheep who re-post anything and everything,

I have a bone to pick with you that goes something like this… EVERY day can’t possibly be Mental Illness Day, Special Needs Day, Autism Awareness Day, ADHD Awareness Day and Every Other Cause Under the Sun Day.

It just can’t.

This unnecessary grassfire of confusion is total bullshit.

Someone grab the BS extinguisher and douse the ignorance inferno already.

Each cause is entitled to an allotted day, month or whatever.

Fair enough.

I totally respect special cause days. Awareness and education are key in promoting support and acceptance.

My point is simply… the verbiage is all WRONG.

Let’s get it right people, because the inconsistency hurts my brain.

Think of it this way. How outrageous would you be if someone posted, “TODAY is Mother’s Day. Repost on your wall for 30 minutes if you love your mother” on ANY random day in July and December and wheneverthefuckever… over and over again?

It’s ludicrous.

Everyone knows Mother’s Day is in May.

So when this crap pops up repeatedly in December, your brains like “WTF man? Stop messing with me.”

The brain can only be pushed so far before you can fry an egg on it, like in that very famous this-is-your-brain-on-drugs commercial.

This is your brain on Facebook.

Ssssssssssizzle.

So, get your shit together people.

On a completely different, yet worthy note I’d like to officially hose down those lame bully tactics daring you to re-post or share if you’re not embarrassed or ashamed of the said cause or what-not.

Screw you, Facebook bullies. You’re not the boss of me. I’m a rebel who will re-post nothing when manipulated or threatened.

No can do.

Bite me.

Obviously, Facebook could use some sort of official calendar czar to sort through and regulate this ridiculous chaos.

Clearly, people are confuzzled over what-in-the-hell day it REALLY is and I fear that soon they’ll be stuffing chocolate bunnies into red fuzzy stockings waiting for the ADHD Fairy or Temple Grandin to leave them a shiny red choo choo train filled with common sense.

It’s very similar to the wise familiar tale, “The little boy who cried wolf.”

Let’s face it, when something shows up in your newsfeed every single damned day, the BIG event is reduced to background noise when it finally rolls around. It’s SPECIAL is kaput.

It’s kind of like the repetitive movie Groundhogs Day, which quite frankly makes me want to swan dive off a tall building directly into Rodney Dangerfield’s stinky golf bag.

I’m so confused.

This insanity just can not continue.

Here it is in OCD order. An incomplete listing of the days that seem to get the most Facebook air time, screen time or whatthehellever you prefer to call it.

January is Birth Defects Prevention month. (not to be confused with World Prematurity Awareness month which is actually in November and not January)

The March of Dimes who’s mission is to prevent birth defects holds their annual fundraising campaign Walk for Babies sometimes in August, September or October, which is why I diligently listed this cause on our very precise calendar.

Pencil that in.

February is African-American History month not to be confused with Martin Luther King Day which is in January. It’s also American Heart month and Women’s Heart Health month.

Women’s Heart Health month??

Let’s just chill the F out ladies. It’s already Heart Health month. Stop being such attention whores and just share the month with the men. THIS is exactly the sort of thing that gives women a bad name. JC on a stick. Just stop whining. Pretty soon you’ll be demanding your own planet. No wonder you have heart problems. Y’all are self righteous spoiled brats looking for an injustice to bitch about. Bitching raises your blood pressure and will eventually kill you.

Just chill the F out.

March is my birthday, Developmental Disabilities Awareness month and an excuse to drink green beer and kiss midgets. Go figure.

April is Autism Awareness Month. Did you read that? It says APRIL. Pack your Autism decorations away in a trusty Rubbermaid tote, so you may hang them appropriately in April.

Clarification- I post informative autism related information ALL of the time, because I have a son with Asperger’s so pretty much every day is Autism Awareness Day for me. The difference is, I’m not posting some dumb shit that says, TODAY’S Autism Day, so pass it on… every single day.

From hereon in, we’ll all KNOW that World Autism Awarness Day is April 2nd, so we’ll be ready to hang our Autism stockings by the fireplace and decorate our Aspie tree on cue… in APRIL.

In May we recognize Law Enforcement Appreciation, Teacher Appreciation, Nurses Appreciation and Mother’s Day. Under-appreciated service vocations or messy jobs month apparently.

I didn’t say Dirty Jobs you guys. Mike Rowe’s birthday happens to fall in March, same as mine. Lucky coincidence. Some day we’ll toast one another with warm tankards of Guinness and he’ll clean the green stuff outta my fridge.

A girl can dream.

June is Gay Pride month and Father’s Day. Don’t confuse these two. Not all dads are fond of rainbows and not all gay men like neck ties or maybe that’s multicolored rainbow designs on neck ties?

Whatever.

If your dad is gay, you can kill two birds with one stone, which is awesome if you’re a multitasker. (unless of course, your dad is straight and has incredibly poor aim. In which case, you can disregard everything)

September is ADHD Awareness month. Right in time for back to school. Perfect.

Was that a squirrel?

I repeat, “September is ADHD month.”

October is Aids Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness, Domestic Violence Awareness, Downs Syndrome Awareness month and Fire Prevention month.

*Note- there’s way too much going on in October. Spread that shit out. There are 12 perfectly good months on the calendar to choose from you psycho nut jobs. You’re like bratty little kids fighting over the only blue Popsicle. Someone’s going to have to chose a different month. I’ll just sit here and wait while you sort it out amongst yourselves.

Also, enough with every Tom, Dick and Harry cause having their own ribbon color. Aids started it and everyone had to be a copy cat. Originality is dead.

You need an answer key to figure out which color belongs to whom.

November is Lung Cancer and Diabetes Awareness month. Diabetes, really?? The same month that the Thanksgiving cornucopia’s overflowing with chocolate pudding and whipped cream. Who’s in charge of these things anyway, Homer Simpson?

Incidentally, the Great American Smoke-out also takes place on the third Thursday of November.

How convenient.

Grab a piece of pie to tame your craving and end up with dia-fucking-beet-us.

I’m calling Wilford Brimley to tattle on you.

Last but not least…

December is Political Correctness Awareness month. Seriously? You cannot make this stuff up. Which supports my point that PEOPLE (whomever the officials are) will declare just about ANYTHING worthy of having it’s own recognition month.

Appropriately enough, it’s the very same month people max out their credit cards like gypsies on crack, eat and drink themselves silly and overindulge in any and every possible way. All in the holy sacred name of Jesus???

Whoa…

Our society has successfully managed to reduce the once holy Christmas season to a batshit crazy stressful time measured in profit margins and sales. It’s the time of gimme gimme gimme.

I’m not a fan of the C holiday.

There’s no Christ in Christmas anymore. We may as well change the verbiage to Merry Cha-ching.

Christmas and political correctness share a common denominator in that they’re both equally out-of-control train wrecks caused by too much interference.

Some things should be left alone.

If it ain’t broke…

But, THAT’S a completely different post.

 

Shout out to the Special One’s…

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My response to the slew of well meaning parents whose Facebook posts read…

My honor student was just accepted at Kick-Ass Smarty-Pants University for advanced brain surgery and intermediate astronaut studies. So proud.

Well, my two oldest trialed (for almost an entire semester) Community College and they may even return some day. And yes, I am so proud.

The message- Don’t let COMPARISON steal your joy.

Ever.

Celebrate your own accomplishments

My two have come a LONG way, baby.

Perfection is over-rated.

I’m applauding their perseverance in a world full of obstacles.

untitled think i cam

My chosen vantage point is intended to lend support to parents of the child who constantly struggles, and  in no way to devalue the high achievers.

There’s no IEP for life.

Hats off to the special group of parents who are regularly pushed far beyond their limits and who’s trophy case will remain empty… for eternity.

I salute you… as I salute myself.

The Little Engine’s who Could.

*IEP- Individual Education Plan; adaptations made in general curriculum to better accommodate special needs of student found to meet criteria for disability as defined by federal standards.

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