I woke up this morning fully intending to craft some kind of meaningful post here. I also woke up intending to finally begin exercising hard. I woke up determined that I wouldn't yell at the boys to hurry up, get their teeth brushed, get their shoes on and make their beds. I woke up knowing that the whole day stretched in front of me, with all three kids in school and no appointments or conference calls for my job or grocery shopping to do.
It's now about noon and I've done none of those things. The boys were their usual desultory selves in the hour before their carpool came and I yelled a few times. Hollered, really, because it wasn't like I was mad. Boys generally like to look out the window at the squirrel hanging upside down or fiddle a bit with their PSPs in between the necessities of life. Those parenting books that tell you not to yell, not to bargain, not to bribe -- well, they're full of shit.
Sophie had a big seizure and fell back asleep so I dropped her off at school, finally at 10:30. If I don't exercise before 9 am, well, let's face it, I'm not going to exercise. While she slept, I didn't do anything but talk on the telephone with an LAUSD bureaucrat. There's still much to iron out for Sophie's transition to a new school in the fall, and with her IEP coming up on Friday morning, lots of anxiety. I recently reread a bit in Barbara Gill's Changed by a Child: Companion Notes for Parents of a Child with a Disability this passage:
Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat?
Then crouch within the door -- --Emily Dickinson
Here is what a few mothers have said about their experiences when trying to secure an appropriate education for their child.
Inga: I felt I was going crazy. Only once before in my life had I felt so low, and that was the year my mother died. Sherrell: I was constantly depressed. I gained twenty pounds; I couldn't focus on anything. Jennifer: For the entire year after they threatened me, I did not go to school unless I absolutely had to, even for concerts or programs. Every time I walked in the door, my eyes would fill with tears. Andrea: In order to avoid doing what we wanted, they attacked us at the meeting. I was completely unprepared and totally humiliated. Even now when I think about it I feel ashamed and enraged. Toni: I feel the teachers and I are rivals instead of partners. The message I get is that they know what's best for Tom, and that I am not doing everything I should be doing for him. Brenda: My experiences as a teacher led my husband and me to adopt two boys with disabilities. The only times I've regretted doing it have been in relation to school -- the years when things were horrible at school.
These women are describing anguish, suffering and despair at the deepest level. They are not an isolated, unstable few who cannot work with other people or solve problems effectively. They are diverse in backgrounds and education, and what they say is representative of the experience that mothers have with school systems. Something is clearly very wrong.
Today, if I am involved in a struggle at school, I will know that I am not alone and I am not the problem. I will recognize that I am engaged in a real battle in which my child's future and my mental health are at stake. I will get help. When I go where my risk of injury is high, I will protect myself in order to protect my child.
Most days I feel in control and empowered -- by my work, by my children, by my husband. On days like these I feel like if not already completely broken, I'm falling apart. Typing out the above words helps (especially the Emily Dickinson quote!), because it affirms that THIS IS HARD. I'm not sure why I need an almost constant affirmation that I am indeed coping the best way I can, but I'm grateful that I got it.