Category Archives: parenting

Dusting off the keys

I see it’s been four months since my last entry. Here’s the short list.

  • I recently got over a relapse – “flare” didn’t seem to cover it – that lasted almost a full two months.
  • I developed optic neuritis, which has improved since its initial appearance, but has not left me yet.
  • I switched medications from Rebif to Rebidose, and it is SO MUCH BETTER. No more painful injections (much smaller needle), no more loss of medicine because of loading my own syringe , (I lost four one night in less than 20 minutes), and only a slightly more obnoxious auto-injector (inasmuch as the whole thing is use and toss, so it must be left to warm and disposed of as a single piece).
  • We lost Tucker (our GSD female, and my “pregnancy nanny”) to complications from lupus in March. She now has a comfortable bed covered with roses in the backyard.
  • We brought home my Service Dog in Training (SDIT) from 5L Farm German Shepherd Kennel in North Carolina, a 16-week-old German Shepherd we named Abram. He will be trained mainly for balance and mobility, to offset my physical losses during a flare; for medical alert, so I can be aware that a flare is imminent (if possible – I’m not sure how or if it’s possible to scent-detect a MS flare); protection, since I will be out on my own with our son and can no longer trust myself with grip or aim on a handgun; and of course, obedience. His first public open testing will be for his AKC Canine Good Citizen, so that I can ensure that he is ready to be publicly acceptable (beyond the SD vest).
  • OUR SON TURNED A YEAR OLD. It’s a miracle we all survived. This year has been much easier than everyone says, though.

Nothing has really changed. We still live with my in-laws, and they still find new and different ways to drive me batshit. I stepped down from my nonprofit position and became a SAHM only, though I still keep my fingers in various pies. The boy, the dog, and my husband are my primary concerns, as always. When they are taken care of, then I can concentrate on the next thing, which generally means cleaning some room of the house AGAIN; or scrubbing the dog(s); or something along those lines. It’s been a rough couple of months, I’ll admit, but there have been a lot of good points, and a few bad ones. I’ve changed a lot, and my temper has flared more often than it used to. My memory is often shot, as is my eyesight some days. Not every day is bad, and not every day is good.

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The Village that “they say” is so important.

Breaking my silence only to say that the “village” it takes to raise a child should consider appearing only when and/or if requested, and its opinions can be left at its home base. Nobody said anything about needing a village for unwanted advice, opinions, orgrabbiness. It’s not that I need time off from my son as much as I need time away from the village. I’ve never had the village offer to clean its shit out of my truck, or offer to fix the door panel that mysteriously broke while I wasn’t driving it, or spontaneously clean house. It just shows up and dicks up the things I’ve cleaned, put away or fixed.

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MS will lead you down a rough road.

Two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I went to the ER after I fell trying to get to my son one morning
, and they did a CT scan, which led to a neurologist’s appointment, which led to KRIs and a lumbar puncture and blood draw after blood draw – all culminating in a diagnosis of MS due to the lesions on the white matter of my brain.

Initially, the positives of my diagnosis included ruling out mini-stroke and cancer – essentially untreatable – and knowing why I was often off-balance, and experiencing site-specific paralysis. Now I have been prescribed a tested interferon-b drug (Refib), and I feel like the rug has been jerked out from under me, and rolled up around me. You can’t breastfeed or get pregnant on an interferon drug without running the risk of harming the child, or losing the fetus. I have been successfully breastfeeding my son for 8 months, and now I’m told I have to stop immediately before I start my therapy.

My in-laws mean well, but do all they can to whisk my child away from me at every juncture, especially to church. Don’t get me wrong: I like our church, and I appreciate the impact of raising a child from early on with a solid moral foundation. But I don’t think it’s my church’s job to introduce or reinforce it. Church is not perfect, because its full of people, most of whom mean well, but generally end up using church and “fellowship” as an excuse for gossip and snark. It is my job to parent my child, not “the village.”

I’m not exactly thrilled about jabbing myself three times a week, ir being on lifetime therapy. I am looking forward to regaining full use of my left aem and leg, clear vision in both eyes, the ability to drive on my own again.

Yes. I have MS, but it does not have me.

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Worthless day.

The MIL is at home for the week, since she took off three days and the county gives them two for Thanksgiving. I don’t know if it’s that it seems like she has gotten so much done while I barely managed to get eight invoices typed, or that I just had an off-day. It’s hard for me to adjust to sudden changes in schedule when not on my dime, and having her in the house with me 24-7 is not something that I would opt in to given the choice. If she helped me get more done, then yes, but it usually just ends up that I’m taking the boy back. It didn’t help that I had no real schedule for today, and somehow I feel guilty for that.

I don’t know how women did it in the 40s and 50s. Raised to it, I guess, because I can’t do it all. I can barely keep the floors swept. But then, I am cleaning and cooking for four grown adults, four dogs, and a baby – and most of the time, the dogs seem to be better at keeping their space clean than the people. It never fails that by the time I get to the back part of the house, the front needs cleaning again. And before you say anything about getting the rest of them to pitch in, let me add that I can’t even convince 354 to put his socks away in the hamper most days. (And he wonders where they all go…)

I need a maid. Or, a decent babysitter. Either would help me out tremendously.

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Walking the line.

The other morning in church, I was in the restroom “fixing” my son his early lunch. I came out of the restroom with him under a blanket, and met a woman with a young girl in tow. She had that “look” on her face, the one that says she’s headed to the parking lot, and someone isn’t going to be happy when they get back. The girl was trying not to cry; as Daddy called it, “sub-subbing” through the end of a fit. As they crossed the foyer and passed me, the woman stared me down as if daring me to say something. I smiled a little, and headed for the water fountain before I went back in the sanctuary. About the time they made it past my shoulder, the little girl said fearfully, “But I don’t want to go see Daddy.” I turned to go back into the service, just in time to see the mother, jaw clenched, grab the girl with one hand around her jaw and the other on the back of her neck, and jerk her into the ladies’ restroom. The girl immediately began to cry again, nearly screaming, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Mama!” I heard the skin-to-skin contact even after the restroom door swung closed. My stomach knotted up. I was torn between going in there and saying something, or minding my own business. In the end, I walked into the sanctuary and took care of my son, feeling like a coward.

I am all for corporal punishment. I was spanked and thumped and snatched as a child, and I turned out fine. I think the reports of increased mental instability due to spankings are a load of shit, and the folks doing the studies are largely tweaking their findings to support the anti-spanking “movement.” As cliche as it will sound, my parents were spanked, their parents were spanked, and so on. I don’t have any axe murderers in my family, just a few crazies. And we all know how to use our heads and our manners, even the lead-than-stable members of the family. I think a lot of parents in my generation, and the previous one, are using corporal punishment as an excuse to get out of the scary parts of parenting – the discipline – and they are doing their kids a huge disservice.

That said, there is a distinct difference between corporal punishment and outright abuse. My husband saw abuse everyday at his old department. Domestic situations turned violent over something small, like a dirty sock or a book out of place, often fueled by alcohol or drugs. A child routinely coming to school with new bruises every time his mom broke up with another boyfriend. Teenagers out sleeping in vehicles, at friends’ houses, in the garage, or at the park – anywhere but at home in their own beds. Abuse goes beyond discipline. Abuse is violence done for violence’s sake, done wholly out of rage on a weaker individual because of their inability to retaliate. It appears in all walks of life, from the worst-kept projects to the highest-bid mansion. It doesn’t matter where it happens or who is doing it. Abuse is unacceptable, no matter what reason you can come up with to try and justify it.

Discipline is unpleasant, but it is not ugly. It is necessary, however unpleasant. Everyone disciplines differently, and that’s fine. I believe corporal punishment works, for one, because my father implemented it (Momma tried). I knew my limitations, and I knew where the lines were drawn that would get me a serious talking to, and the one that would get me a spanking. My father never beat me, or yelled at me just for the sake of it, or told me that I was worthless or stupid or a waste of space. He spanked me when I did something I deserved it, raised his voice when I raised mine, and told me that I wasn’t using my head, that I could do better, that I was wasting my talents. To this day, I respect my father for doing his best to raise a daughter as a single father. His methods may have not been the greatest or the most appropriate by current psychological standards, but he was effective. I learned manners, I learned right from wrong, I learned limits. I was not a kid that could be talked to, or reasoned with, for a long time. I required corporal punishment because I was hardheaded, and that was what got through to me. Not every kid works that way.

But that isn’t an excuse to take it too far.

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