if the news of the world is too much to bear

if the news of the world is too much to bear

If the news of the world is too much to bear,
turn it down, turn it off, take a break.
Get all of your news from the anchors at home,
Soak it up, breathe it in, come awake.

This just in: puppies still really cute.
Little kids still angelic in sleep.
Kisses fix boo-boos, hugs say hello,
children love fast and love deep.

Take it from kids, making new friends is easy.
Simply smile at someone you don’t know.
It does not even matter if you don’t catch their name
Just say “hi!” and then go with the flow.

Live from the news desk, a strange case develops:
“The case of the lone missing sock.”
We’re following leads, but they dryer’s not talking,
We have to go, so we’re fighting the clock.

In other news, moms and dads still bicker,
kids and teens still fight and whine.
But at the end of the day (or the week or the month),
everyone’s right back to “fine.”

After this break from the outside news,
return, it’s your duty to do.
And to fight for what’s right and teach your children the same,
It won’t always be easy, that’s true.

For the real world is hard, it is cold and unfair,
We don’t always find peace as we grow
But we cannot ignore it, not totally at least
It’s our job to let pure goodness show.

So let’s teach all our children that yes, life is hard —
But we know how to lighten the load.
Knowledge is power, friendliness can bring peace,
Be kind, and you’ll reap what you’ve sowed.

I don’t always know how to raise my kids now
In a world that seems so full of hate.
But I do know that hate cannot thrive on it’s own —

So we’ll love, and we’ll love, and we’ll love, and we’ll love
And we’ll love and we’ll make our own fate.

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My favorite news anchor, Jiminy Cricket.

focus, part 2

This is the second part of a two part series. If you haven’t read part one yet, you can read that here.

 

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Once we had Boone’s diagnosis and medication in hand, he and I sat down to chat. He had complained to me about having to do school work before, so I started with that. Our conversation went something like this:

“Hey Boone, you know how  you have trouble getting your work done at school?”
“Yep.”
“It turns out you have something called ADHD. Your brain has a difficult time focusing on things. So even though you know how to do your work, it’s harder for you than other kids to actually sit down and do it.”

Boone was quiet for a little bit after this. I didn’t know if it was just his trademark stoicism, but I didn’t want to let this conversation die. So I turned the tables and spoke about me.

“Boone, did you know I take medicine because I have something called Depression that makes my brain think I’m extra sad sometimes?”
He nodded.
“So it’s almost the same — you’ll take some medicine to help your brain focus, just like I take some to help my brain not be sad. Does that make sense?”
He nodded again, and since he looked like he was digesting this information, I gave him a minute. And then —

“Hey mom?”
I was sure we were about to have a hugely deep moment here. He’d ask tough questions, I’d give clear answers, we’d bond, we’d relate, we’d really share a moment–

“Hey mom, do any of those mosquitoes live in Michigan?”
OK, this is not what I expected. “Um.. what?”
“Those mosquitoes. YOU KNOW. THOSE MOSQUITOES.”
“Um, honey, I don’t know. There are mosquitoes here, but–”
“NO. MOM. The mosquitoes. The mosquitoes that make babies sick if they’re in their mom’s tummy.”

OK our conversation about ADHD somehow turned into one about Zika? What is even happening here?

“No, buddy, we don’t have those mosquitoes here.”
“So one didn’t bite you when I was in your tummy?”
“What? Honey, no.”
“So the mosquito didn’t make my focus not work?”

A part of me wishes I could say I fictionalized this conversation for the purposes of this blog, but I didn’t. My heart broke that he thought this diagnosis meant something was just plain wrong with him.

I told him ADHD doesn’t mean your body made some sort of mistake. It’s just means you’ll have to learn and do things differently than other people, but we’re all different in some way. This is one of the things that sets him apart. It’s not good or bad, it’s just different.

In the end, he agreed to try the medication, which I gave him the very next morning. Here’s where I’ll include that the week we tried the meds, he was in an afternoon camp at a nearby zoo. The first two days of the camp, before we’d started the Concerta, I’d said “Hey! What’d you do today?!” when I picked him up and he would, characteristically, mumble “I dunno.” But on this day, the third day of camp, the day he took medicine in the morning, he answered:

“Oh! It was great! I finished an art project I started yesterday, it’s SO cool, I can’t wait for you to see it. It’s drying. And we played a game called ‘Poison Dart Frog’ which was so fun, I want to teach Jonah how to play it. Except we probably need more people, so the next time we have all of our friends over for a bonfire, I’ll teach it to them. And we fed the budgies! It was a great day.”

And it was my turn to mumble a response.

The rest of the car ride was comfortably quiet, one of us asking or answering questions every now and again.

Since the start of this medication, for us, I’ve seen nothing but improvement. In addition to the medication, however, we have also implemented new methods for his continued success. He has very clear chores expected of him each day, he has a quiet space to work on homework, and for the most part, he stays on a very regular schedule. This is much easier to do in the school year, but that’s where we are, so we are sailing smoothly.

Before I go any further — we are a fortunate case. I have friends who have personally trialed several different medications and have yet to find the sweet spot. Our only negative side effect is that Boone occasionally has a hard time calming down for bedtime. This is still nothing compared to the hard bedtimes we had before medication, but it is noticed. That said, I have seen other kids have emotional breakdowns when they begin medications such as this. What works for one won’t always work for another — all I can share is what we have experienced.

Boone’s biggest accomplishment so far came in an email from his teacher. She wrote, in an email, that Boone was keeping up with his work at school. He brought home papers that were not only legible, they were completed far beyond the bare minimum. Just yesterday, he brought home his snack saying he didn’t want to stop what he was working on to take a break and eat it. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. However, I’m happy to report that he is also still bringing home his fair share of silly comics and drawings. He is still trying to play songs from The Legend of Zelda by ear in between piano practices. He is still our creative, inquisitive, intelligent boy, just with a little extra medicated help.

This makes me reflect on how I, as someone who has taken an antidepressant for three years, am calmer and more at peace in general, but can still unleash a lot of emotions at, say, a church worship set, or a particularly striking Hallmark commercial.

When used correctly, medicine can help us be our best self. It isn’t a crutch, or an “easy pill” — it is simply the missing puzzle piece. 

We are just at the start of this journey. I can’t speak to how middle school, high school, or even upper elementary will look. But right now, for at least a little while, I can see how second grade looks. And I like it.

If you or someone you love can identify with Boone (or me, for that matter), please speak to your doctor and see if there’s something that could help you. It might be exactly as simple as it was with Boone. It might be a heck of a lot harder to find something that works. But if you can have a similar payoff — if you can see this person that you love live their best life — it’s worth it. It’s very, very worth it.

Come back NEXT WEEK to hear from the resident Premeditated Pediatrician (I call him “husband”) who will give you the official doctor-y rundown on ADHD and what it means from the medical side. In TWO WEEKS you’ll find tips and tricks from parents JUST LIKE YOU. We’re all in this together. Share this post and grow our village!

the birthday boy, part 1

My baby is six.

Hi there, six year old.

He turned six on October 15, with all of the fanfare and excitement and sugar a six year old can handle. Our house is now overrun with pokemon cards, science experiments, and camping supplies. And the baby I held six years ago… well, he’s observing fly legs under the lens of his new microscope, and outgrowing shoes by the second. He is my first positive preganancy test, my first Mother’s Day, and my first walker, talker, first day of school-er. And now he’s my first big boy. Before I get all dramatic, I realize kids don’t generally stop growing at age 6. He’s got plenty of years to hang around and make his presence very known. But if the first six flew by this quickly, I’m pretty sure I’ll be moving him into a college dorm tomorrow.

Excuse me. I need to go weep.

I’m back.

When Boone, my newly minted six year old, was two and a half, we encountered a busy season in our life. In early May, Jason and I learned we were having another baby. In early June, we learned that baby had no heartbeat. Later in June, we bought a new house and moved. Jason started a new job. We adjusted to a new life. I had another positive pregnancy test. Boone turned three.

Let me pause for a moment and remind you that I love birthdays. I love my birthday. I love my kid’s birthdays. I love working around a theme, buying crazy overpriced decorations, ordering cupcakes (I love cooking, but hi, I’m not a baker), and generally being a fool about the birthday. It’s your special day! It’s your special month if you choose to take the month (I do)! 

Let me pause for another moment and say that from the second I saw that third positive pregnancy test before Boone turned three, I was in a panic. We had lost the child associated with the previous pregnancy very unexpectedly. I was burned. I was cautious. I lived each day in a constant state of worry, wondering if walking up the stairs too quickly would negatively affect my delicate state. 

(BREAK FOR PSA: It won’t. Nothing you can do can cause a miscarriage. Remember this, please. Thanks.)

When I planned for Boone’s third birthday party, though — I forgot those worries. We were doing a Toy Story theme, and if you’ll remember that I LOVE DISNEY, you’ll know this was right up my alley. I bought “toy” props for a photo booth. I made a backdrop of the iconic Toy Story clouds (I cut those clouds by hand). I drafted a menu with cutesy themed names, printed pictures that looked like they came right from the movie, and dressed Boone in a DIY (but impressive, if I say so myself) Woody costume. I was ready to forget about my worries, for just a day, and celebrate the birthday boy.

I logged onto facebook the morning of Boone’s birthday, prepared to post an obligatory “IT’S MY BABY’S BIRTHDAY!!!” status update. What I wasn’t prepared for were the many posts about October 15 being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

My one day to not worry became consumed by thoughts of loss. I wanted to celebrate my three year old. I wanted to think, for a day, that maybe this pregnancy wouldn’t end badly. I wanted peace. I wanted joy. I felt sucker punched.

For a moment, I felt like unfriending anyone who shared the Pregnancy Loss post. This was MY day! Ok, Boone’s day, but I was the one doing everything! Then I felt like putting up a post of my own, denouncing the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and letting everyone know that it was BOONE’S BIRTHDAY. MOURN ELSEWHERE.

(Can I point out that I wasn’t exactly in my right mind? And that I didn’t actually do those things? And that now that I think I am in my right mind, I feel bad about having those thoughts?)

I’ll be honest that I did not quickly find the peace I longed for on that first October 15 post-miscarriage. I didn’t want pregnancy loss to have its own day. I wanted everyone to know that it’s just normal and common. I wanted people to know you don’t have to keep your losses quiet until one day (that happened to be my healthy and alive son’s birthday). 

But then I remembered… like we all eventually remember… that we all handle grief in different ways. That some people won’t reach out and share their tragedies until it is socially acceptable. That those who haven’t experienced the loss of a pregnancy or an infant won’t have this issue on their radar until a handful of their facebook friends post a similar picture about being “1 in 4 who will experience pregnancy loss.” 

And I realized that Boone’s special day wasn’t tarnished by the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Boone was my redemption, the light at the end of the tunnel that was the mourning of the miscarriage. I saw similar posts when Boone turned six, but I didn’t feel attacked. I didn’t want to unfriend or lash out. I wanted to be a voice for my own miscarriage and let others be a voice for their own, whenever they were comfortable doing so. 


Mamas — if this is you — if you’ve experienced a loss, talk about it. Do it on your own time. Honor the child you lost by giving that child a legacy. Let your family, your friends, or total strangers on the internet know that your child was wanted, loved, grieved. And for the children you have on earth? Let nothing distract you from the joy that celebrates another year of their life. 

Maybe someday we won’t need a specific day for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. But until then, I’m ok to share it with my firstborn.