May is Mental Health Awareness Month…

…It’s also the month that has Mother’s Day and, for Tyler, the end of his school year.

Due to physical and mental illnesses, summer can be a tough and guilty time for me. I don’t always feel well enough to take Tyler out. We have missed so much.

This summer it is going to be even more difficult. Due to Grant’s father being very ill he can no longer take Tyler on a part-time basis so he is staying with me full time. Seven days a week to entertain him and give him a good summer.

Last week Tyler and I were talking about summer and he said, “Do you know what I wish for you?” “What?”, I asked him. “I wish you would go outside more.” Between depression, anxiety and agoraphobia, getting outside is often difficult for me. Sometimes two weeks can go by before I can make it out of the house.

That was a lovely wish that Tyler made for me. But what really touched me is that he said he wished it for ME. He didn’t care about his summer, he just wanted ME to go outside and enjoy my favorite season.

I can’t believe I have raised such a compassionate, selfless, loving son.

So, for ME, I am going to try harder to go out more often. And to of course I’ll take my son with me and we’ll create memories for the summer of 2018.

TBT: Disney Vacation

Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt #1  Throwback Thursday: Choose a photo from a previous April and write a poem or a blog post.

It was three years ago this month when my husband, whom I am separated from, my son and I went to Disney World. Although we are separated Grant and I are amicable enough that we could go on vacation together. Tyler was seven at the time, a perfect age we thought.

The vacation was a bit more than we could afford but Disney World had been a dream I had had for my child pretty much ever since he was born. Besides, we had never taken him on a vacation. I remember him being five years old and asking me, “Mommy, what’s a vacation?”

Since then we haven’t gone on another vacation but we do have enough money every year to join our city’s pool which Tyler loves. We’ve also been able to enroll him in a few weeks of various camps so I think his summers have been pretty good. I just want to create happy memories for my child.

This summer, however, Tyler and I will be taking a road trip. My cousin who lives in Rochester, NY invited us over to her house in June. She lives in a beautiful home in the woods. Her sister is going to come too. They haven’t seen Tyler since he was a year old!

So I’m really looking forward to the trip and to Tyler seeing my father’s side of the family whom he doesn’t remember. I know they are going to eat him up!

Oh, Fudge

This year my fourth grade son Tyler has gotten into trouble four times for using profane language. He’s had to miss recess a few times because of it.

Truth be told (I know, I’m a horrible mom), Tyler has been swearing since he was probably five years old. Hearing it on the school bus, and yes, from my ex and I. While we’ve always tried to correct him, cussing didn’t rank much on the scale of raising my child to be a good human.

Indeed there are several studies that say cursing can be good for you and that it even is a sign of intelligence, showing that people who swear more tend to have extended vocabularies.

But now it’s a different ball game as he doesn’t seem able to control where he uses profanity, so we have a declared swearing to be off limits for ALL of us. The only one who I have never heard utter a cuss word is Jacques who can’t even say “He*l”. I’m doing it for him too as I know it bothers him when he hears me say a bad word.

The punishment for using profanity at home (at school they punish him) is a one minute time out on the porch stairs, again for all of us. So far I’ve only had to send Tyler out once.

The hardest time to avoid cursing is when you stub your toe or something similar. That “Oh sh*t!” just pops right out. That happened to Tyler the other day at school and as he started to spew that “s-curse” he said, “I mean oh shoot!”

Words like “shoot”, “darn”, and “heck” sound really strange to me but that will be what will be flying out of our mouths from now on.

How do you deal with bad language in your own home?

(Photo credit: quickanddirtytips.com)

For My Son on His 10th Birthday

If you would like to see other birthday messages to my son, you can click here.

Dear Tyler,

I am three days late in writing this and for that I do apologize. It’s been a year since I have been sick with nausea and a low grade fever and the doctors still don’t know what’s wrong with me. You have been absolutely great about it, letting Jacques take you to Tae Kwon Do, to school, swimming, etc. Even though it’s out of my hands I have enormous “Mom Guilt”, although I always make it for the big things in your life, no matter what.

Ten is such a big year! Double digits, a decade old! Where has the time gone? Every year, just like most mothers do, I look back on your birth day and remember what was happening at what time. It still seems like yesterday.

You had your school birthday party with cupcakes and candy and are looking forward to your birthday party with laser tag, pizza and cake. Your dad and I are hoping our money will stretch this month but we really wanted to give you a special party since this is such an important birthday.

You love watching videos on youtube. Your favorites are Five Nights at Freddy’s and Undertale. You love playing with the FINAF collectibles and you still love your Imaginext Batman playset.

This was also the year of “My Little Pony“, even though you are totally embarrassed about it! You and I watch it together and we collected some of the characters. Nobody but dad knows about your pony love and I like having something that only you and I do together. We also play this action figure game “Kracas” that you made up. We’ve been playing it for years and it’s just for you and me. I am amazed at your imagination and creativity!

You hate school. You do well in it but don’t have any friends in class this year. You have problems with people teasing you which makes my heart break. You punched a child last week and part of me was happy about it, even though you got punished in school. You are working on anger management, control and learning how to make friends in therapy.

This year you did develop two new really good friends. David, a boy in your grade, and Daphne, a neighbor in our complex. You pretty much play with Daphne every waking hour and it makes me happy to see that you are having fun with her.

After having some bad times with your OCD you are doing better and your anxiety is decreasing. But you do tell us that you have problems with your self-esteem and even though you look happy, you are sad most of the time. The therapist, your dad and I are trying to determine if you are depressed. I hate to see you hurting, Tyler, I wish I could transfer the pain to me.

Despite all of this, you are so courageous, compassionate and smart. You are the best thing that I have ever done with my life and I pray every night that God can give me the wisdom and health to be a better parent.

I hope your tenth year is a magical one for you, my amazing (not so) little boy!

Love,

Mom

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My Son and His OCD

(This post contains strong language and may be upsetting to some. However, it is a true representation of what happened with my son this weekend.)

Tyler has been in therapy and on medication for his OCD for a while now but it only seems to be getting worse.

Lately one of my nine and a half year old’s rituals is to put his hands together and form a triangle and look like he is praying. Then he has to touch something. On Saturday night it was particularly bad. Not only could he not stop the rituals they would not allow him to get up from his chair. It wouldn’t stop.

Suddenly he started saying, “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck My Life! Fuck My Life!” I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to help him. Nothing I tried was working. Tyler often gets frustrated with me because I can’t understand what it’s like to have OCD. He’s right, I can’t. One time he told me, “Mom, you just don’t get it”, a phrase that was all too familiar for me in dealing with people and my chronic illnesses.

Tyler kept screaming and he said, “I want to kill myself, I want to kill myself, where are the knives?”

I said, “Tyler, are you serious about wanting to kill yourself? Because if you are I have to take you to the hospital.”

“I am serious!”, he said.

I called Grant, who does have OCD and he said he would be right over but first he was going to go to the pharmacy to get some Benadryl which had been recommended to us by his doctors, which would hopefully make him relaxed and sleepy.

As I waited I thought about what taking him to the hospital would really mean and how damaging it would be for him. I have been in-patient four times and while I did improve my stays were never without some form of damage or scars. I had often heard that the children’s unit was the worse in the hospital, that the kids were “crazy”. It would also mean Tyler staying in the hospital, spending the nights away from us, something that he has never really done. While I knew he could be helped, the visit could trigger some of his other issues.

While we were waiting for Grant he started to calm down on his own and was finally able to break the rituals. When Grant arrived we decided not to give him the Benadryl. As Grant made calls to his doctors, I asked Tyler if he still wanted to kill himself and he told me no. He also said he didn’t really want to kill himself and that he would never do that.

Grant was able to speak to a Child Psychiatrist at an emergency room who told him that it is unlikely for a child Tyler’s age to actually try to kill himself but we should monitor him very carefully over the next couple of days. He also told him that Tyler should be on double the amount of medication he was taking for his OCD for the drug to work effectively.

We see his psychiatrist and therapist on Wednesday.

No one wants to see their child in pain but I have felt mental pain and it is by far worse than physical pain. I worry about what Tyler’s mental health will be like as he ages. He has Tourette’s and has inherited Grant’s OCD and our anxiety. Will he also be bipolar like we are?

When Grant and I decided to have a child we went for genetic testing. We were told our children had a 50% chance of developing some sort of mental illness because of Grant’s mental health issues. My mental health problems started postpartum. While I will never regret the birth of my son I question whether or not Grant and I would have decided to have a baby if both of us were mentally ill.

I think about the teenage years and know they are difficult enough for any child, but what will it be like for one with mental illnesses?

I pray nightly for Tyler’s health and feel that we are doing the best we can with having him be in therapy and on medication but I just feel so sorry that we have brought these conditions on our son.

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