"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, May 2, 2013

my deep breath

I need to unload. I need to empty my brain that has been swirling and stressing and worrying and taking my heart to dark and scary places.

This kid.

This child who is so like me it breaks my heart.

This boy for whom life is So Hard, even though it doesn't have to be. Even though it isn't. It is.

My Evan who, since the day he was born, has kept me up at night. As an infant, he didn't sleep for longer than 2-hour chunks of time, day or night. And those were the good nights. As a toddler, when I was up in the middle of the night nursing Baby Max, I'd see him on the video monitor, wide awake at 2am, twirling his hair. He'd still be awake and twirling at Max's next feeding. Once he realized he could get out of that big boy bed all by himself, he would include us in his insomnia, needing one more sip of water or one more potty try or one more tuck-in because the stripes on his comforter were no longer straight.

I would get so frustrated and vent about my not-sleeping boy. Experienced parents would listen to me and chuckle. "You'll forget these sleepless nights soon enough," they'd promise, but then they'd finish with the ominous warning: "Just you wait. Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems."

They were wrong. Little kids can have big problems, too. And forget those sleepless nights? You can't forget them when you're still having them. Even when he sleeps, I don't. Now, I'm the one up in the middle of the night, worrying about my sensitive, worrying boy. Trying not to cry and promising myself that it only seems so bad at night. The dawn of the new day will bring clarity and I will find the answer I'm looking for and fix him.

Only, I still haven't found it. I'm not sure I ever will. I'm a Mom. I'll always worry about each of these three little people I gave birth to....but Evan? He's the one I'll Worry about. Forever.

We are, once again, in a bad, bad place...like we circle back to once every six months or so. This time is hard because his anxiety is starting to affect him physically. He's not eating and he's losing weight. My 5th percentile string-bean has lost three pounds in the last week.

Usually his anxiety manifests as atrocious behavior at home. Arguing, demanding, screaming, etc. He is stubborn and he explodes easily. He is never violent and he rarely loses control outside of our house, but to Sam and me, he can be Mean. We also see his anxiety in separation. He longs for the weekends, even though he loves school, so that we can all be together. We have struggled with getting onto the bus in the mornings at various times during this school year. We've explored everything and we don't think there's an issue with the bus or the driver or the other kids...we think it's the saying goodbye. As much as he would protest riding the bus, he was always equally adamant that he didn't want us to drive him to school either (which I gladly would have done to alleviate that one worry...). He "didn't like" the car drop-off lane, even though he'd never experienced it.

And then there was the worry about Art Class, because he's not an artist and is still developing his fine motor skills and doesn't work quickly enough to complete his projects in the 45-minute class period.

And then they started practicing for the Kindergarten Musical. Which will include, obviously, singing. And a stage. And, probably, thousands of people staring right at him the entire time. Never mind that the only people who will be looking at him will be Sam, Max, Molly, and me...never mind that no one cares if he actually sings or not. Never mind that it's just a Kindergarten Musical. To a kid with anxiety, nothing is ever....just.

He's a little kid, but these are Big Problems. School anxiety is a Big Problem.

I tried to talk to his pediatrician about some of these issues at his 6-year well check-up on Monday. He brushed off my concerns about his not-eating and losing weight: "Kids go in spurts with their appetites," he said, "Just keep offering healthy meals and he'll eat when he's hungry." The kid comes home with a full lunch box and eats four carrot sticks with hummus for dinner. This is not a control issue. This is not a picky toddler phase. This is real.

I wish our former pediatrician had moved here with us.

I wish I knew the magic words to soothe his worried mind, or my own for that matter.

If we're using the oxygen-mask analogy....how will I ever help him put his on if I don't even know how to put on my own?

Lesson Learned:
You know when your kid wakes up with a drippy nose and you think, "Hmm? I wonder if I should take him in to the doctor..." But you decide to wait and see...and then the next day, you take one look at his sick eyes and you just know it's time....there's not even a moment's hesitation before you pick up that phone and schedule the appointment.....I'm there....sitting, phone in hand, knowing it's time to call someone. Now I just need to figure out who to call.

And, in the meantime, I need to enjoy the many happy, carefree moments that are to be found between the worrisome ones...because they're there.

I love this boy.

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