Mission Statement

We are a people who tell stories in one form or another.
After all isn't blogging just another way to gather around and tell those stories?

Motherhood is Painless is about finding the humor in the every day. In finding the happiness in those stories that we tell. What would happen if we *all* learned to laugh at ourselves? Maybe then the dark corners would recede a bit and we would all rejoice at the love we find there.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Loss for Words

For years, I've told people the same thing "I'm a writer." when they asked what I did. "I have a blog" I'd say, sharing this name with them.

But the fact of the matter is, I haven't written here in months. I've opened up new posts, stared blankly at them and shut them again. I've written an introduction and saved it as a draft a handful of times too, but the last published post was at the end of May. The whole summer, and a hefty chunk of the autumn has passed with nary a word from the likes of me.

The past two years, I went to a fantastic blogging conference, learned a ton, made fantastic friends, and owned my blogging mojo. This year, I'm not going. I'll miss it, but I'm slowly realizing that unless I were making money at this, or any online pursuits, it's not worth the expense to attend.

So what?
Am I a blogger anymore?
When I stare into the void what do I want to stare back at me?

I wish I knew what I was supposed to do next.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Zoo-topia? Zoo-mazing!

Sometimes we get the chance to do something as a family that is memory-making. Sure, we’re supposed to strive for that all the time, but how often is it that we’re just trying to occupy the hours of a weekend, keeping the kids from whining the whole time.

This weekend was one of those special weekends. A while back I signed us up for the Bronx Zoo Family Overnight Safari.

It’s one of my bucket list activities. And it was worth every penny.

We arrived in the late afternoon, as the daily visitors were just leaving. Checked in with the organizers and were given a packet of information and were directed where to pitch our tent. Once we were set up, we could go to the starting point.

It was easy enough to get our tent and sleeping gear ready for the night. The kids spent their time getting to know neighbors (Ben) and leaning against a tree, reading (Claire.) Once the gear was ready, we headed over to the picnic area.

Insert photo of Ben in tent

Opening the envelope, I found four buttons with our names and the animal that represented our team for the duration of the event. We were armadillos! There was also a schedule for the team for the evening, and a passport of sorts.

(I have pictures I want to add, but technological issues are keeping them safe, ON MY PHONE.)

Once the groups finished dinner and broke into their groups, the fun began.
At each location, we had certain tasks to complete on our way to becoming “Zoofari Adventurers”

We went to the reptile house, where the kids’ made terrariums of their favorite habitat. We learned about field research and helped a team of researchers hunt for poachers, while riding the zoo’s tram. We helped a team identify animals with a night vision camera. Claire loved this part, since it involved some of the kids dressing up as their favorite animals. We also attempted to mimic owl cries and hunt for bats in the evening sky.

For me, the highlight of the evening was the portion where we went to a classroom and learned more about identifying animals from the clues they might leave behind. It wasn’t the lesson that was important, but the animals that we got to meet. We met a pair of juvenile penguins! And got to pet a baby American alligator and were introduced to Callisto, the two-toed sloth.

(This is supposed to be a picture of penguins, damn it.)

Once the tour portion of the evening was over, the whole group met up for a snack and a sing-along. Then it was off to bed. The only blip in the evening was the location of our tent, which was directly under one of the bright white street lamps. Which stay on all. The. Damn. Night. Long.

Dave was able to wrap our tent in a tarp to soften the light a little, but we were all so tired, I don’t think it would have mattered either way.

I was awake with the sun, early the next morning. The Bronx Zoo has a healthy population of birds - roosters and peacocks especially - that like to make a huge fuss in the morning. Still, it was nice to lie in my warm sleeping bag and feel the world around me. I love waking up next to my kids like that. Ben was burrowed so deeply that only the barest wisps of his curls peeked out. Claire was so snuggled in she was all but invisible.

Once we were awake, we packed up our gear and headed to breakfast. Afterwards, there were a few more events we had to complete in order to finish our “graduation.”

I’m so glad we had the chance to make these memories with our kids.

Insert picture of t-shrt?

#bxovernight #makememories #familystrong #familyfuntimes

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Back in the habit

I started something, a while ago.
I’d come to our friendly neighborhood indie coffee shop once a week - sit here with my laptop and write. I worked through some stuff, and I was able to put my thoughts about Ben and his ADHD into order here on the page, and ultimately on the blog.

It worked, for a long time.

But then the coffee shop closed down for a while to renovate. I didn’t want to write someplace else, and I am loyal. I loved the cozy atmosphere here. It was usualy quiet, and I could spill my words out and find a quiet place inside. I tried writing at home, but it didn’t work for me.

After months and months, I am back. I’ll have to get used to the space again. It’s different. The cafe expanded, so it sounds different, it feels different.

But I have something else on my side. During the winter, while I wasn’t writing, I was walking. Miles and miles, actually, with two friends. Two women who share this same journey with me. Stay-home moms of older kids. (Our daughters are all the same age, turning nine this year.) Facing the same struggles and questions about ourselves and our place in the world. Figuring out our older kids.

All winter, we’ve been helping each other answer a lot of the same questions that I have been writing about. We’ve held each other up, found solutions and found some peace in this phase of the journey. (I’ve also discovered a capacity for walking five or six miles at a time, developed a serious Michael’s craft store habit and probably could use some new pants. Whoo!)

Today I’m writing, and one of those moms is next to me - finding her voice too. We’ve decided to meet here at the cafe, once a week, and work on our craft.

Of course, it’s not without a hiccup or two. I started writing today about bullying and whatever I wrote is lost to the ether...it didn’t save. I’ve also lost the piece I started about a week ago, about the general bitchiness I feel whenever anyone talks about the Mommy Wars.

But it’s OK, in the end, I’ll be back here again. And again.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Catching Up

Now that the holidays are well and far behind us, I can start to think about other things.

I could tell you so much - but where to begin?

I'm reeling. It's been a long, nutty of a month. Both kids had lice, and I spent days and days, washing things, vacuuming other things and generally being a boss about it. Thanks be to God that we've seen the end of that.

I could tell you about the uptick in Dave's travel schedule. Seriously, I should dedicate some time to that one. He's been home one full week since the holidays. He's never gone the whole five days of a work week.

I'm worried about the long-term toll that having a traveling dad is having on our family. We both hate that he can't be involved as much as he'd like to be. The kids are confused. They become so accustomed to just relying on me, that when he is here, they bypass him for me. It hurts him so much when they walk by him, and head for me. And I hate that I feel like the linchpin holding the family together. I hate that there seem to be an ever evolving set of rules for "Mom's Time and "Mom and Dad time."

I've wanted to talk about it for so long, but when I try, I feel like I'm whining. Give me time to sort it out.

It's Sunday, the kids are playing Minecraft, and I'm taking a moment to stop and breathe.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Back in the swing

Now that we've settled all of that, I needed some space. I needed to get the words I wrote out into the universe.

Ben is still Ben. Some days are great, and some are downright awful. And that will always be there.

Winter has been slow in coming. It's warm and rainy today. A year ago, there was snow, and cold. On the one hand, it doesn't feel like Christmas is a a week away. But, on the other, it's really fantastic to have so many opportunities to play outside.

I wish I had more to say, but I don't. So Happy Holidays everyone.
God bless us every one.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Boy - Part Five, or The End of the Beginning

Thank you all so much for sticking through this. I promise, after today we will be up to date. (In case you're new here: One, Two ThreeFour.)

First Grade. We made it.

When the year started, I wanted things to start off on the right foot with Ben’s new teacher. I wrote a long letter to Mrs. P, and let her know the issues that we were facing with him. I explained about the ADD diagnoses, and that we were trying our best to treat him without medication. I took the time to sit down with her and talk to her. She is amazing. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. She’s made as many accommodations as possible for him in the classroom. She’s gotten a wiggle cushion for him, allows him to use pencils with grippers and fidgets. She’s even set aside space for him to work quietly or stand, if that helps him focus. 

Basically, she gets Ben.

Most days it’s a game - what works for Ben. I mean, let’s face it, there is a huge gray area of what the typical six year-old is going to want to focus on, and what the ADD brain is going to do. Ben lives in that space.

But now it’s November, and time to get serious. We’ve completed the first marking period, and his grades reflect his inability to sit and focus.

So, we have submitted paperwork for his first ever IEP. For those of you who are learning this along with me, an IEP is an Individualized Education Plan, and comes after a range of meetings. We had our final meeting on Friday and we found out what services Ben will be eligible for at school.

Ben will get twice--weekly sessions with the school occupational therapist, to help him address the attention issues and some of the fine-motor challenges. I hope there will be more. He can keep all the accommodations that have been made for him in the classroom. He can have extra time to complete tests if he needs it. They have also requested that a physical therapist evaluate him to see if he needs PT as well.

Lastly, we have a list of things to tackle at home. He has trouble with executive function, and needs to be guided along to learn how to break down tasks and transition from one activity to another.

In all of this I am so grateful for the support that I’ve found. From family offering their love and willingness to learn; to friends sharing their experience; to all of you reading - thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Boy - Part Four

Read Part One, Two, Three

So, there we were managing the best we could with the tools we had. A great deal of what we did was based on the fact that boys are still fundamentally different than girls, and that Ben is relatively young. His birthday is in September, which puts him behind the curve when compared to kids that were born in January and the rest of the first half of the year.

As the school year went on, we began to notice a few patterns start to emerge. If it was a week when my husband traveled, we could expect Ben to be much less agreeable than the weeks when the family was together. And the wiggle factor was HUGE. Days where the class had recess or gym, or days when we could get outside and play, were guaranteed to be better.

Ben still had trouble sitting in school - both in terms of sitting still as long as was required of him, and in terms of sitting properly. He has a lot of trouble sitting “criss-cross applesauce” style. So if he has to sit that way, he’s way more likely to fidget.

When the second report card came, and I met with his teacher, we were beginning to realize that Ben had more going on than just immaturity. She recommended that we start the process of getting him evaluated, so that he could start receiving therapy at school. Given my husband’s own history, we agreed. Now we could get some answers.

We made appointments and pulled Ben from school for three days at the end of May. Before that happened, my husband and I sat with the neuropsychologists ourselves, filled out paperwork and answered our own set of questions. Everything dating back to “What was your pregnancy like?” was taken into consideration.

And then Ben’s part. He sat with them for nine hours, broken up over three days. I was astonished at how well he did. Lastly, the therapist came to his class to observe him there.

Then she delivered her report.
Ben has Attention Deficit Disorder, with hyperactivity, or ADHD (depending on who you’re talking to.) He’s also extremely bright, but has a word recall delay (meaning, he has trouble thinking of a word from time to time) AND he has sensory-seeking behaviors.

Nothing surprised me. I’d suspected he had ADD all along, the other parts were interesting. And even better, now that we had names for what was going on in his head, we could start helping him.

By that point, it was summer, and we couldn’t get any help for him at school. So, I found a fantastic OT for him that we saw all summer long. Claudia was sweet, capable and helped him in so many ways. She taught him some coping strategies and gave us some tools to add to his “sensory diet.” We have a yoga ball, and a climbing bar for the apartment. My mother-in-law helped to - showing us some deep tissue massage techniques that calm him when he’s starting to go haywire.

A bit more about that climbing bar. I cannot recommend the Gorilla Gym enough. It is a chin-up bar that braces into a door frame. In addition, it has a swing, trapeze, rope ladder, set of rings and a climbing rope that all attach to it with carabiners.

One of the most effective activities for Ben is swinging. Having that tool in the apartment has been a life saver.

And that was summer.
First grade was on the horizon and things for Ben were going to change. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.