Warning: if you are looking for a blog about how wonderfully a mom copes with her child’s disorder, you are in the wrong place.
My five year old has a tic. He looks up at the ceiling, closes his eyes, then lowers his head while he squeezes his eyes shut. He looks like he’s trying to hold back a whopper of a sneeze. This movement is sometimes preceded by a loud grunt or throat/nose clearing. Its frequency vacillates. Apparently he does not exhibit this tic at all in school (or so says his teacher), but around me it’s on a cycle of two minutes or less. Yesterday, a particularly bad day for all of us, it occurred every 30 seconds. This tic is very bizarre and I fear that it’s a precursor to Tourette’s Syndrome.
I’m not the type of Mom who will seamlessly handle a child with a disability. I have friends dealing with a host of issues: Attention Deficit Disorder (i.e. school is BO-RING!), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, (i.e. school is SO boring…get me out of here!), Selective Mutism (I’m NOT talking to YOU!), even Oppositional Defiant Disorder (I’m a real fucking brat…good luck). I feel for these moms, especially when I hear their extreme stories of hour-long tantrums and emotional meltdowns; endless behavior modification, therapy appointments and medication woes. Wow, I think my life is tough!
I love my boys and would do anything to make their lives comfortable and happy; even if admittedly I hate the whole process. Tourette’s, however, is a whole other ball of wax. I remember that episode of Ally McBeal. People with Tourette’s are known to scream obscenities: “Bitch, Whore, Slut!” They do weird things like shout and bark uncontrollably. I read about it online. There is no medication to cure the tics associated with Tourette’s; no behavior modification. There is no treatment at all; you’re just stuck learning to cope with this peculiarity while trying to shield your child from being ridiculed by his peers and praying it goes away before college.
I don’t mean to be insensitive to those families who are dealing with this disorder. To the contrary, I hold these moms in the highest regard and revere their strength. I am acknowledging, however, that patience and maturity are not my fortes. Having “healthy” kids is hard enough. My behavior thus far indicates that I won’t be a good mom of a not-so-healthy kid. Every time Cole snuffles or blinks, I cringe inside. Sometimes I yell at him and tell him to stop or kids will make fun of him. Yesterday I threw a box of Kleenex into his lap and demanded that he blow his nose or I’d do it for him, knowing full well that his noises have nothing to do with needing a tissue. What kind of monster says this shit to a five year old who is clearly having coping issues?
Another fear of mine is that I will laugh at him. I know myself; I’m already the type of parent who stifles a giggle when my kid trips and falls (assuming he’s not hurt…too badly). How will I cope if my kid suddenly starts barking at the supermarket cashier? Just thinking about it makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
Our family is admittedly under a lot of stress right now. We relocated to RI from San Diego in October and the adjustment for Cole was tough. He left behind some great friends and a school he loved; not to mention our frequent trips to Sea World and the country’s best zoo. We started our time here in a temporary rental until we could buy a house and settle down. That time has come so in a few weeks we are moving again. Unfortunately the whole buying a house thing has been a HUGE source of stress for Mommy and Daddy (lesson #1 in home buying: never purchase a house from a couple getting divorced; lesson #2 in home buying: never purchase a house with a pool). I’m sure Cole is feeling some of this, along with his own stress of leaving behind yet more friends and another school he loves. I’m fairly certain this is the cause of his tic.
But what if it’s something more? Worse, what if it’s not? I’m either the mom of a kid with a serious but untreatable disorder OR I’m stressing my kid out so badly that he presently looks like a deranged bobble-head doll. Neither answer thrills me, but both make it clear that this family needs life-altering change. Of course I will have him evaluated before I change anything but I think this is yet another sign that I need to chill the fuck out.
For over a month now I’ve been writing here about my quest to enjoy motherhood. I’ve made some changes in the way I parent, mostly by taking control. I’ve also pledged to take better care of myself, but let’s face it: I’m trying to move and buy a house and raise two kids; self-care just isn’t a priority. I’m talking the talk, but the walk? Not happening…
Today while I watched my son’s tic being activated with record frequency, I realized that those other blogs were right: self-care is NOT optional. Life is particularly stressful right now but unfortunately life with kids is always stressful so I need to get my shit together. If my son has a serious disorder, he can’t have some crazy, stressed-out mom who can’t cope. He needs someone strong who will fight for him at every turn. If it’s not a disorder and just a sign of his own stress, then I need to be his rock and teach him how to manage that stress. So I get it now. Self-care isn’t about me; it’s about them. I guess that’s what it takes to light a fire under my ass. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do. I don’t have a grand plan yet though I have some ideas. I’ll be back in a few days to let you know. In the meantime, maybe I should try sniffing essential oils. What do you think???
© 2012 KIM KINZIE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPUBLICATION OR REDISTRIBUTION OF CONTENT, TEXT OR IMAGE, IN PART OR IN WHOLE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM THE AUTHOR.