We received Owen’s progress report this week from his school. It’s a seven-page document outlining all of the goals set for him in his IEP, and addresses how much headway he has (or in some cases, has not) moved forward towards meeting those goals. It is filled out by his teacher, his speech and language pathologist, his occupational therapist, and the psychologist that he sees weekly for social skills.
This document holds so much promise in it. It is something of an actual promise in and of itself – from his teachers and therapists to him and vice versa. It says “We are working hard together and we will continue to push forward no matter how hard it gets.” It documents his struggles and his incredible work ethic. It highlights how much more he can do now, but in that also shows how far he is from where he should be. I cried while reading it – both happy tears and sad.
Of this seven page summary, a single line stood out to me and somewhat took my breath away.
In Objective/Benchmark 1.5 When playing with pre-math manipulatives, Owen will respond to directives involving pre-math concepts such as big/little, empt/full, more/less, same/different, etc. in 4/5 trials over the duration of this IEP. (Criteria:Post Base Line Data/Score; Method: Pre & Post Base Line Data; Trials: 80%)
Report of Progress: Satisfactory Progress – 6/2013: Owen is learning to identify big and little.
I’m not completely sure why that specific line stood out. It’s clear that he’s pretty far from “mastery” of that particular goal, yet making some progress (which is wonderful). I think it’s less about Owen my son, and more about the place that I am in my life as his mother.
I have been making a conscious effort lately to find the happiness that surrounds me. Seek out the positive people and the experiences that bring me joy; while distancing myself – both physically and emotionally – from the people, places, and expectations that don’t. I am trying to move away from placing so much power in the hands of those I feel judged by, and along those lines stop judging myself so harshly. I am trying to learn to take deep breaths, and appreciate moments as they’re happening. I am trying to get out of “Henny Penny the sky is falling” mode, and attempting (with admittedly mixed results) to pause before
completely freaking out reacting. I am trying to gain perspective because I do not have the energy to keep going at this pace.
I am learning to identify big and little right alongside Owen.
I am trying to enjoy my children. I am trying to be the kind of parent that my children enjoy being around. All of the moments that I am stressed out about all of the big and little things that happen on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual or once-in-a-lifetime basis affect me. They have an effect on our family. I am distracted. I am making phone calls, furiously texting and emailing, etc. How am I to learn what is worth stressing over and what isn’t? What’s a mountain and what’s a molehill? Some of these things are clear and some are clouded – they are shrouded in a mist of anxiety that has blanketed my entire perspective since Owen was born. I don’t know how to get off of this treadmill of dread, of waiting for the other shoe to drop – the perpetual state of being “on alert”, playing both defense and offense.
And I know that all of this was/is necessary sometimes to propel both of my children to reach their greatest potential – whatever that may be – but how much is it taking away from the quality of their “regular” lives as kids? Sometimes I feel like all of the advocating for them and fighting for them and being hyper-aware of each obstacle they face is beginning to take its toll on the quality of my parenting.
I want to be present, to not be thinking about the eleventeen things on my to-do list that I could be doing, that I should be doing. Because I shouldn’t. I should be cheering Owen on as he takes swings on his new t-ball tee in the backyard. I should be playing “school” with Parker and all of her dolls in her little pink bedroom. I should be focused. On them. On now. Because it will all be gone soon. Sooner than I’d like to admit. And if we’re lucky, one day Owen will be off with his friends playing ball and will be more interested in what the girl he likes thinks of his base hit. And Parker will one day grow to love then hate then love then hate me and would much rather be at the mall or the movies or anywhere that I’m not nearby to potentially embarrass her.
And now is the time to lay the groundwork to make sure that the foundation of our relationship is strong. That they come back to me one day. And it won’t matter to them, or they won’t be able to comprehend, that I couldn’t play with them when they were little because I was too tired after fighting for them.
And I want them to remember me having a catch with them, splashing with them in their inflatable baby pool, having pretend tea parties with horrible British accents, and nights out at the movies in our pajamas. Because all of those little things are just as important as the big things. Those are about really living and the rest of it feels like it’s just not dying. And I want my children to really live – because they deserve it. Because they have both earned the privilege of happiness.
So I need to learn these lessons now. Before it’s too late. Before I lose any more of their childhoods.
How do I downgrade from Warrior Mommy to just Mommy?
How do I learn to identify big and little?