Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Balancing Act

I often wonder if our journey would be different if Aiden were my first child and not my third? This journey is an amazing one, but it is not simple. I don't know if I could have handled the stress then as I do now, especially with two older kids. The one thing I learned, and continue to learn, is to not let Aiden's deafness define who he is, but even just as important, don't let it define who I am either.

But it's easy to do.

It's so easy to get caught up in Aiden's world of appointments, research, and telling his story. Everyone asks about Aiden ... "Guess what Aiden did today!" ... explaining the equipment on his ears ... the questions and stares when we're out ... the questions from family, friends, and complete strangers ...

... when I take a step back and look into our world, my older kids often hear ALL ABOUT AIDEN.

Then things happen. Grades have slipped, behaviors have run wild, Kailyn continues struggling in math but has now added reading comprehension to the list (it shocks me though that they expect a second grader to multiply and divide - you gotta be kidding me) and I'm flooded with a downpour of mommy guilt.

  • Have I spent too much effort on Aiden and not them?

  • "What ifs" constantly running wild in my head

  • Overwhelmed with the feeling of having to possibly learn two new disorders (ADD and puberty ... really, puberty should be classified as a temporary disorder!)

    • In my make-believe world, Ryan would be responsible for his learning. He'd do his homework without us constantly checking in. He'd clean his room and pick up his wet towels and dirty underwear. Puberty would be easy and he wouldn't argue about every.little.thing. He'd go above and beyond showing how bright he truly is, without us constantly pushing him to do it.

      In my make-believe world, Kailyn wouldn't struggle in school. She'd be able to hold her attention much longer, and maybe, just maybe, things would just click for her. We wouldn't battle everyday after school to get homework done. She'd always feel included and know she's just as loved as her brothers; she wouldn't get so down on herself. She'd always be the charismatic, charming, lovable, entertainer that she truly is.

      In my make-believe world, Aiden wouldn't have so many appointments RIGHT in the middle of the day that disrupt so many other things. I wouldn't have to talk to him ALL day, narrating every thing we do to the point I have little patience for talking, much less arguing with his siblings by the end of the day.

      But this make-believe world would be boring (easier, but boring). Perfect is boring.

      We do our best as parents to balance our life between each of our kids and ourselves. This is not easy when one child takes up such a big percentage of the time. We're very open in discussing our feelings and obstacles faced. Are we doing enough though? Am I giving enough? Are my kids reaching out? What I do know, is that my older kids need their mommy just as much as their little brother.

      I've come to realize that it's so important to find that balance between full time language therapist and mommy to three kids.

      I've come to realize I expect so much more from my 12 year old son, yet he still needs lots of guidance and LOTS of mom hugs. He's my first born. That always holds a special place.

      I've come to realize that by just having mom/daughter time each night, whether playing teacher or nail salon, when all I want to do is crawl in bed, makes her feel just that much better. She's my only daughter, another, totally different special place.

      I've come to realize that my babies have had such an 'effin rough year plus some. Their grandpa, whom they absolutely adored, became someone they didn't know, then passed away; three months later their baby brother was born deaf ... "Deaf? You mean he can't hear us talk to him?" they'd ask; seven months later they were uprooted after living in one place their whole life to new schools and all new friends; and to top it all off their mom has been consumed with trying to understand how to raise a deaf child in our family's hearing world.

      They should be the ones screaming "I can't take anymore!"

      But they don't. They're such damn good troopers. They don't complain. They just go with it. And they are always so happy to see Aiden, ask how his day was. They love on him all the time; with no regrets shown.

      So Ryan, my straight A student, brought home a D and two Cs a report card ago. Who cares. It's seventh grade.

      So Kailyn, my "loves herself more than anything" entertainer, is struggling keeping her attention in school and therefore with her own insecurities. We're testing her for ADD, will deal with the results, sign her up for karate (which she wants to take), and keep reminding her of what a wonderful, smart girl she is, all around.

      And Aiden ... we'll just keep trucking along with what we do ... teaching him to listen and speak. All in the mist of raising his siblings, who by the way, are excellent language opportunities for him!

      This whole "balancing" act isn't easy. We'll get there though, like my dad used to say, come hell or high water.


      Bill and Shelly said...

      I truly believe that God does not give you more than you can handle. Your kids have a great mom.

      I feel the same way that you do about Jordan. I feel terrible that I have to drag him to all of the appointments for his brother and sister, but he happily goes along(like he really has a choice) :0)

      Hang in there, things are going to get easier and pretty soon you will only need to go to the audiologist every 6 months or so. We are at that point with both Jared and Allison and it is great.

      leah said...

      What a great article! It can be very hard to balance everything- we're starting to run into issues with the Matt-man because Nolan gets a lot more speech therapy and play time with our SLP (who both boys love). And the medical appointments for Nolan keep bumping into Matt's preschool schedule, which is another thing he loves. I moved one of Nolan's medical appointments because they scheduled it for Matt's last day of preschool- enough is enough. Matt needs to have some sense of normalcy!

      You guys have certainly been through the wringer this year. Moving is really, really hard on kids- my grades took a decent dip when my family moved (I was in the 4th grade). And then add in everything else- I am sure things will settle down next year!

      And I can't believe they are doing division in the second grade! They really are pushing everything much earlier than they used to!

      Danielle said...

      beautiful article.

      Tiffany & Tristan said...

      Tammy you are such an amazing mom. God gave you each of those precious children for a reason and I admiring you for realizing that. It's so sad to see parents trying to change their kids or make them into something who they are not; but you are not doing that. You embrace each one of them for who they are and love them just the same. Not only have you been a mom to them but all the students you taught and me. I will never, ever forget everything you did for me when I was going through such a rough time. I love you and can only hope to be half the mom you are to my son.

      kkohler said...

      For what it is worth, reading your blog always makes me feel better and normal. I know we all struggle, especially with "mommy guilt", but you always seem to have a positive attitude and outlook - thank you! Someday I hope all of us can get together. It would be fun to meet and see everyone in person!

      tammy said...

      Shelly - I believe that almost all of the time ... that God does not give you more than you can handle. Thank you so much for your sweet comments! You were one of the first that gave me hope that I could do it all with three kids and you still do!

      Leah - YOU are an awesome mom! I love we have found each other out here ... I learn so much from you!

      Dani - Hoping to be in NY for the walk-a-thon! Would love to meet you!

      Tiffany - love you and miss you tons! You are a great mom! Tristan is a lucky little boy and I'm a lucky person to have YOU in my life!

      Karen - THANK YOU! Your words mean the world! Really.

      Christian and Lily's Mommy said...

      Tammy, I loved this post. I have now started worrying about some of your same worries when it comes to Liliana Grace. Here I have this gorgeous baby girl, who always seems to get "eclipsed" by her brother. I often worry that we celebrate only Christian's successes, and forget about enjoying all the sweet things that we did when Christian was a newborn.


      They say it gets easier, and with time we'll figure it out.