Viewing category ‘mom guilt’

The Same But Different

with Susan Wagner

Susan Wagner is a freelance writer and editor, an avid runner and a mom of two boys. She's tentatively navigating the teen years with her oldest son, who has ADHD and an anxiety disorder (because puberty isn't hard enough already). [Insert blog name here] chronicles her efforts to balance science homework, basketball practice and panic attacks without completely losing her mind. Follow Susan on Twitter and Instagram (@workingcloset) and at her personal blog, The Working Closet

Why My In-laws Don’t Get a Say In How I Parent

Categories: family, mom guilt, parenting, support system

No Comments

It takes a village to raise a quirky kid — or at least to keep that quirky kid’s parents from losing their minds — and my husband and I are fortunate: We have a wonderful support network of friends and family who are there for us, all the time. And while it would seem that there would be no down side to that, there occasionally is, particularly when we talk about people who are super invested in our son and his life, and who have strong opinions about how we should be raising him.

For example, the grandparents.

We’ve always known that Henry was different, but it’s only been in the last few years that we’ve clearly identified what is different about him and begun to find strategies that really work for him. When he was younger, we would talk with our parents about how hard it was to raise him and how much we were struggling. And they were always there with a sympathetic ear and a suggestion.

My mother-in-law thought we were just too hard on Henry, too strict, that if we would just relax a little, we would all be less stressed. My dad, on the other hand, recommended that we push him a little harder, make him do more things, challenge him a little more. Their suggestions, while always thoughtful and well-meant, often left us feeling even more defeated, because we had tried all those things and nothing worked. Clearly we were failing at parenting — everyone could see it, even the grandparents.

Read the rest of this entry

Goodbye Life List, Hello To-Do List

Categories: mom guilt, parenting, stress

No Comments

iStock_000019124471SmallA couple of years ago, I went to a retreat in Palm Springs. We were asked to create a life list and to come for the weekend with five items from the list that we wanted to prioritize in the next year. We would each present our five items to a small group — the idea was that if you put something out there, said it in front of other people, then you would commit to doing it, and you could enlist the group to help you get it done.

I decided that my five things would be big items, because why not? Go to fashion week, run a half marathon in Paris — I don’t remember the others, but they were equally over the top. They were all things that I genuinely wanted to do, but even at the moment that I was sharing them with my group, explaining why I chose these as my five things to accomplish in the next year, they seemed unreal and unattainable.

Over two years later, I have not done a single thing on that list. (Even though I cannot remember what the other things were, I am positive that I’ve not accomplished them; I feel like I would remember if I had, right?) I would still like to go to fashion week, someday, and I still think a Paris half marathon would be super fun, but those goals don’t have anything to do with my real life and they’re not a priority right now.

Instead, I navigate my days with the help of short to-do lists, little post-it notes covered with reminders about work deadlines and housekeeping projects and dinner menus. Every morning, I sit at the table while my kids eat breakfast and write down all the things that need to get done that day; as I finish them, I cross each item off, frequently with a little flourish because look! I have accomplished something! Even if that something was just scheduling a dentist appointment or running a few miles or wiping down the bathroom counters with bleach. I’m calling that a win. Every single time.

Read the rest of this entry

What To Know About Asperger Syndrome: A Quick Primer

Categories: mom guilt

No Comments

iStock_000011314635XSmallI spend a huge portion of my parenting life explaining Henry’s quirks to people. It can be hard for someone who doesn’t know him to understand why he acts the way he does – why he only eats 10 things, why he won’t sleep over at anyone else’s house, why he can’t watch television in our living room. The easy answer is always because he has Aspergers, but that’s not necessarily helpful; while people are familiar with the label, they often don’t have any real idea what it means.

Aspergers is a syndrome; it is a collection of behaviors which, taken together, comprise a specific profile. Unlike cancer or diabetes or any number of other illnesses, Aspergers cannot be diagnosed with a blood test or a brain scan, even though it is clearly a set of neurological issues. There are a variety of theories about how exactly the brains of people with Aspergers are different from the brains of neurotypical (or “normal”) people but there is no real answer to why some people exhibit these clusters of behaviors and others do not.
Read the rest of this entry

Why I Drink (And Why I’m Trying to Stop)

Categories: mom guilt, parenting, stress, support system

No Comments

wine glassYesterday, when we left the house for school, it was 22 degrees with a brisk north wind. I suggested that the boys might want to wear their winter coats, which we almost never do because it’s almost never that cold here. The coat Charlie is wearing is one I bought Henry last winter — he outgrew it before we even took the tags off.

Henry’s coat, on the other hand, is brand new. I bought it a month ago and he tried it on then and said it fit. I did a little happy dance because the whole thing was so easy.

I should have known better.

Yesterday, as we were leaving the house, Henry put the coat on and announced, “This coat is too small.”

“Ok,” I said, a little skeptical, “can you wear it just for today?”

“Sure,” he said.

In the car on the way to school, he started to flip out. “It’s TOO SMALL! I can’t wear it!”

“It’s not a big deal,” I told him. “Just wear your sweatshirts today. You’re not doing to have recess if it’s this cold. You don’t really need a coat.”

“Stop talking,” Henry said. Because clearly, the talking was making it worse. For all of us.

This is a fairly typical morning at my house. Henry’s anxiety means that little things — like clothes that don’t fit exactly right or his backpack not holding everything he needs or a contact lens not going in perfectly the first time — seem overwhelming and horrible. His day, he will tell anyone within earshot, is ruined, already. And he hasn’t even gotten to school yet!

Yesterday was, on the scale of things, not a particularly bad morning. On the best days, I feel edgy and anxious; on the worst days, I wind up crying on the drive home from school. Either way, I usually text one of my other quirky mom friends with a joke about how it’s 8:00 am and I really need a drink. Already.

Read the rest of this entry

Guilt Trip

Categories: children, mom guilt, parenting

No Comments

Fall S CurveI’ve been trying to practice guilt-free parenting, but it’s hard; while I’m getting better at letting go of the little things, that still leaves a lot to feel bad about. Always.

A few weeks back, we had one of those nights where both kids had something big going on. Henry had a concert; Charlie had a baseball game. They were in two different places at the exact same time.

It was going to be tight. “If we take two cars,” I told Wade, “then I can take Henry home after the concert and come meet you at the game. And not miss anything!”

Of course, that’s not at all how it happened. After the concert, Henry was in one of those happy, communicative moods that are hard to come by in teens — and even more so in Aspie teens. He wanted to tell me all about the songs they sang (country music, loosely defined, including Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Mumford and Sons “I Will Wait”) and about the crazy things that had happened in rehearsals that week and about everything that was going on at school. He rarely opens up like that, so of course it happened on a night when I had planned to be somewhere else.

I drove him home and fist bumped him and told him to text me when he was done with his homework, and left him happily eating cookies and doing his math, all alone at the kitchen table.

I stopped to put gas in my car on the way to the ball field, and that’s when I started to feel guilty. I go to a million baseball games, but I have so few really great moments with Henry, especially lately — what if I just skipped this one game?

Read the rest of this entry

Subscribe to blog via RSS