Thursday, October 29, 2009

Being a mom doesn't mean not having feelings

Long ago I had a job at a grocery store located in a bad part of town. I quit the job when I got married. Then, a couple of years later I returned to work at the same store, this time as a cake decorator. What I didn't know when I was hired was that the store was experiencing a big problem with employee theft. I found that out when the company's loss prevention department started an investigation and I was named as one of the people stealing.

When I was "questioned" regarding my involvement I was told that I had been named by one of the stock boys as someone who was stealing from the store. Why? I was never able to figure that out. The people stealing were largely high school aged cashiers and stock boys most of whom I never had any contact with at all. When I was asked about certain people's involvement in the "theft ring" I had told them that honestly I had no idea who the people they were asking about even were. The person questioning me seemed to think I was trying to cover for people and got angrier and angrier with me.

I was sent home from work that day and told I would be called in a few days about my "employment status". All the "evidence" they had been able to gather against me basically amounted to one time I had to take a pill with food and someone from the deli gave me a corn dog that was going to be thrown out because it was old.

Three days later I got a call saying I was fired. (On the exact same day we were going to court to finalize Joseph's adoption. So yeah, that was awesome.) I was humiliated and hurt. I had never been fired from a job before and to be fired for the reason I was, was extra painful.

Several of my former co-workers encouraged me to fight my firing and for a while I considered it. Jesse and I even spoke to an attorney who advised us that there was nothing he could do for me since I had been prosecuted for stealing. When I told him I had never actually been prosecuted he was pretty surprised. As it turns out the company I worked for ALWAYS prosecutes shoplifters. Always. Without exception.

So why wasn't I prosecuted? I really think it was because I wasn't fired for stealing. I was fired because the loss prevention person questioning was angry that I didn't help out his investigation. It didn't matter that I didn't actually know anything. He thought I did and he thought I was hiding something and that made him mad. And that was all it took. Minnesota's wonky laws allow a company to fire an employee for any reason at any time so in the end, even though I was fired without cause, I still didn't have a leg to stand on legally.

The whole event was pretty hurtful but you, know, life goes on. I got past it. Jesse now works for the same company that I was fired from. I've been to several office Christmas parties with the same people who "investigated" me. I've been to the head office several times to bring something to Jesse or to pick him up and take him to lunch. I have been in the vacation condo of the company's owner. I've even been on his boat. Joseph sat on his lap and helped him steer the boat! Company higher ups call our house all the time to ask Jesse for help with computer problems and I can have a friendly chat with them. I was even actually rehired by the company at one point. (Once the loss prevention person got wind of it he quickly had me refired with some lame excuse about paperwork not being done right but WHATEVER!)

The point is, I'm over it. I don't really think about it these days.

Most of the time.

The other day my mom took the kids over to my grandma's apartment. Several of my aunts and uncles were there visiting. Somehow the company that I used to work for came up in conversation. Joseph decided to cheerfully offer up this little fact: "My mommy used to work there but then she was fired for stealing!" Neither he (or my mom for that matter) decided to actually tell the entire story so everyone in the room got to hear the very worst part of the story and that's it.

When my mom called to tell me this a couple of days later I was pissed. I got off the phone with her and said to Joseph "I don't like you telling people that I was fired for stealing." He got a horrified look on his face and said "Oh no! Did T--- call you and tell you I told him that?"

By the way, T--- is his IEP case manager. Meaning not only has Joseph been telling family members this little story, he's also been telling people at school. And god only knows who else.

And you know what? It really, really upsets me. 99% of what Joseph (or even Elle for that matter) does I can laugh at as a parent. Even if they're little stinkers I can find humor in it. Not to say that I never get upset or angry at my kids but most of the time, by the end of the day I've managed to find a way to smile about what ever they've done.

Not this time though. People have told me that I shouldn't be upset about this because Joseph can't help what he says. I know it's true. I know that because of Aspergers he's missing that internal filter that says "Stop! This is not ok to say!" I don't think he said that stuff to be hurtful. The fact is though, he said it and it is hurtful.

Being a parent is hard and being a parent of a child with special needs is ... special hard. It means countless doctor and therapy appointments. It means juggling the imprecise science of finding the right mix of medications. It means managing, re-teaching and yes, even tolerating atypical behaviors. It means putting your own needs aside and focusing on what your child needs. Most of the time I think I do a pretty good job at that stuff. But dammit. Sometimes it's hard.

He may have Aspergers but I still have feelings.

One year ago today my brother and I debated politics.
Two years ago today I had Halloween overload.
Three years ago today I was ... drunk or something.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It was ... Soap! Poisoning!

As I was reading Elle her bedtime stories last night she kept making weird little noises and faces. I chalked it up to her being a weird little four year old.

When I turned off the light and climbed into bed with her* she started coughing and whining. When I asked her what was wrong she said the bubbles in her throat hurt. I assumed she was talking about saliva and saying that it hurt to swallow.

Then she started to stick her hand in her mouth and cry. All I could get her to say was that the bubbles were hurting her. Then she started to cry really hard. Jesse came in to see what was going on and I headed downstairs to check on Joseph.

When I got downstairs I could hear Jesse and Elle moving around and going back and forth from her room to the bathroom. About 20 minutes later Jesse came downstairs to report that Elle was in bed and waiting for me to lay down with her. What had they been doing upstairs? In Jesse's words: "Well she wouldn't actually admit to it but she told me that she might have taken a spoon from her tea party set into the bathroom and that she might have filled it with hand soap and that she might have eaten it. We've been rinsing and spitting for a while."

Soap. The little weirdo ate a spoonful of hand soap. Then she couldn't fall asleep because her throat was full of bubbles. God, what are these kids trying to do to me? And yes, I mean "these kids". Both of them. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post that I've tentatively titled "You may have Aspergers but I still have feelings".

*Yes, I get into bed with her until she falls asleep. I'm aware that pretty much every child rearing/sleep expert would scold me but I don't care.

years ago today I was afraid of becoming a zombie.
Four years ago today Elle pulled her own hair and no one but my family read my blog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Clearly Jesse is wrong about everything

My husband and I have been married for over 10 years now and for the most part it's been smooth sailing. We've never had to deal with the issues that face a lot of couple married for 10 years. No infidelity, no major blow ups about money, no significant differences in child-rearing philosophy, no fights about religion or politics.

Don't take that to mean that we never argue because we do. Sure, we might not fight about the big stuff but we make up for it by bickering about every single little thing that we can.

I love Jesse dearly. He's a good husband, a great father and my very best friend. He's also wrong about everything and it's my job to correct all his misconceptions.

In the past ten years we have had heated arguments over the following things:

  • What the proper name for "tortillas" is.
  • Whether or not Coldplay sounds the same as U2.
  • If Amish people can be autistic.
  • How many types of fish we should have in our fish tank.
  • How much water to add to the pan when you're making sausage links.
  • If it's possible to have thunder without lightening.
  • If jackalopes are real or not.
  • If it's ok to scream at an umpire.

Those are just a few examples. I've probably blocked some of the most ridiculous from my mind. I'm curious to know if we're alone in this. What is the stupidest, most pointless thing you have ever argued about with your significant other? And don't you think that tortillas should be called "tortillas" and not "wraps"?

Two years ago today I answered some questions about surrogacy and money and Elle thought that even her gas was cute.
Three years ago today I was scared of a toy.
Four years ago today Elle always wanted me to expose myself.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pail style 2.0

Yesterday when I picked Joseph up from school he was so excited. He went on and on about the field trip that his class would be taking today. His class has been studying early settlers and today they're taking a trip to a one room school house to see how kids back then went to school.

He went on and on about this field trip and he told me that part he was most excited about was that the class would be eating "sack lunches, pail style!" just like pioneers.

You can imagine how heartbroken Joseph was this morning when he woke up with a sore throat, cough and fever of over 100. "Oh no!" he cried. "I'm missing my sack lunch! Pail style!"

Since Joseph had the seasonal flu vaccine and we know he's been exposed to H1N1 (like every other kid in America) we're assuming he's got H1N1. Since pregnant women are at a higher risk for complications from H1N1 I've been banished to the upstairs while Jesse stays downstairs (and home from work) to take care of him. (I don't know if it's going to make any difference, the kid was slobbering all over me yesterday.)

I hate not being able to take care of my kids when they're sick. It's a very frustrating feeling not be able to do anything other than stand at the top of the stairs and yell "Be sure to drink more water sweetie!" and "Remember to cover your mouth when you cough!"

So this morning I went out to the garage and dug out a little metal pail. I'm going to wash it out and pack a lunch it it. One way or another my boy is getting his sack lunch, pail style.

Three years ago today I was tentatively matched for my first surrogacy.
Four years ago today I was getting used to having two kids.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My textures bring all the boys to the yard

I don't want to alarm anyone but it appears I have a stalker. Ok, maybe not a stalker but an admirer. All right, not an admirer but someone who acknowledges my existence. I guess maybe she doesn't know I exist but she at least likes my photography. Or rather, she likes one picture I took.

Pioneer Woman used one of my pictures in one of her "photo assignment" posts. This picture to be exact:

I expect that any minute now I'll be catapulted in the exciting world of high profile photography bloggers. I know that soon people will be knocking on my door to invite me to blogging conferences where I'll be given expensive cameras. Soon, very soon.

Yes, any second now...

Hey, in the meantime let me tell you about a few of my recent google hits!
no mustache could have been any clipper song - Ha! See? It's not just me!
does using dixie paper plates make me a good mom? - No. I've gone into great detail about this.
when i eat my head leaks - Err...
the problem with asking a girl to do the poop song - This is what I get for calling this blog Problem Girl. Everyone looking for help with their girl problems ends up here. And a lot of people have girl problems that involve poop.

I could do this all day but now I have to go and pack. I want to be ready when the people who want me to publish a book of my textured photos need me to fly to LA and do lunch.

Two years ago today I was not in the best of moods.
Three years ago today I had a tough day with Joseph but then the kids were cute and even cuter.
Four years ago today I no longer worried about pooping while giving birth.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Speaking of large and in charge...

Elle's not the only one in this house who's a great big giant. I have become rather huge myself. What's that you say? You say you need proof in the form of a fuzzy cell phone picture that doesn't show my face and makes my arm look it's twice the size it should be? Ok, you asked for it.

Need even more proof that I am starting to look like the Woman That Ate Minnesota? Last week I was 13 weeks pregnant and I was measuring 19 and a half weeks. I was pretty much speechless when the doctor told me that. Given that in the past I have always measured less than my actual dates, I was just not expecting to be this big this soon.

Since I am still 10 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight I know it's the babies that made me switch to maternity jeans at eight weeks. The babies, not the nightly bowl of ice cream.

Honsetly, I'm not sure how it is that I haven't gained a lot more weight at this point. Now that the morning sickness has passed (it was a lot more mild than I had expected it to be) I am hungry all the time. I feel like I eat constantly. Sometime I wake up in the middle of the night and have some toast or a bowl of cereal because I'm so hungry.

Everything that I've read says that at this point in a twin pregnancy I should have gained 10-15 pounds. I'm trying, I really am. It's 1:00 pm and I've already eaten a bowl of oatmeal, a banana, a large bowl of leftover spaghetti, a muffin, an apple and cheese, a few peanut butter cups and about 12 glasses of milk. And now I'm hungry again.

Can I just say that the milk consumption is out of control? I guess the babies are building bones or something because no matter how much milk I drink it never seems like enough. I'm starting to think we should invest in a cow rather than continue to pay for it one gallon at a time.

So I guess the long and short of it is that I am huge but not yet huge enough. Not nearly as huge as I'm going to get. I'm not vain, the idea of a fat ass doesn't bother me. I'm just starting to wonder how much longer I'm going to be able to fit through doors.

Oh, and if you need even more proof I'm huge? Look at this picture Stimey drew of me. It's in the first picture on the page. I'm there on the wall, standing in what's supposed to be Minnesota. In spite of the fact that Stimey clearly needs to practice her Minnesota drawing skillz it is the greatest shout-out that I have ever gotten, ever.

Two years ago today Jesse was a little bit of a butthead crab.

Monday, October 12, 2009

But she's still MY baby

Elle turned four yesterday. Eek!

This child is large and in charge. Literally. Being in the 96th percentile for height and weight kind of gives you an air of authority. If you ask her who the boss is she responds "I am!" in a voice that lets you know she thinks it's silly you would even ask that. It's not some "cute" thing we've taught her to do, she just really thinks that.

When I call the family to the table for dinner Elle is always the first one there. (In fact, she's often there before I even call her because she's been "helping" me cook.) If Jesse and Joseph take too long getting there she yells at them. "Boys! Boys! Come to dinner right now boys!" And if Joseph starts to whine about what I'm serving? "Oh, stop whining Baba. You're going to love it. Just take a bite!"

I could just throw my hands up in confusion and pretend I didn't know where any of this came from. No one who knows me would believe it though. The fact is, with Elle, I have given birth to my own karma. She's so much like me. Sometimes I fear for what she'll be like when she's a teenager.

Thankfully I still have a few good non-teenage years left. A few years where she still wants me to give her butterfly kisses and rock her on my lap like she's a baby. A few years where I can still hear her cute, chirpy voice in the next room as she makes her Barbies talk to each other. A few years where I'll pick her up from preschool and she'll still squeal with delight at the pure joy of seeing me. A few more years where she'll climb in next to me in bed in the morning and say "I love you Mama! I sleeped good!"

She might be four years old and large and in charge but she's still my baby. At least for a little while longer.

Note - As I was writing this I heard Elle yell angrily from my bedroom "These curtains keep falling down on me!" She had pulled the curtains down and was angry that they had the audacity to ... fall on her.

years ago today I was feeling sentimental about the kids getting older

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A very little problem

On Joseph's first day of school his class did a getting to know you exercise. They had to walk around the classroom and fill out a sheet that had things on it like "went fishing this summer" and "has two sisters" and "has blue eyes". Joseph had filled in all the spaces with names of his new classmates. All of the spaces except one. In the space for "is shorter than me" he had carefully drawn a large X. He rather sadly told me that he's the shortest on in his class. Again. Just like last year.

Every day when I pick Joseph up from school I stand near the front doors and wait for his class to come down the hall. I can never see him right away. He's always surrounded by kids several inches, if not head and shoulders, taller than him. I almost never see his face first. I just look into the forest of legs to watch for his trademark shuffle-shuffle-skip step that he uses to keep up with all his longer legged classmates.

Last week the kids had check-ups. Everything was pretty routine. Elle continues on her quest to be the next 50 Foot Woman by being in the 96th percentile for both height and weight.

Joseph is in the 5th percentile for height. He had a growth spurt this last summer that finally let us pack away his 5T clothes. I credit that for being what pushed him into the 5th percentile.

When his doctor plotted out Joseph's growth curve for me I got a dull ache in the pit of my stomach. He's spent most of his life well below even the 5th percentile. He's had the occasional little growth spurt followed by long periods where he didn't grow at all.

We've always played the waiting game when it came to Joseph's size. We always said "Well, he had a rough start in life. He just needs some time to catch up."

He's nine years old now. Shouldn't he have started to catch up by now? His doctor thinks so and she's pretty stumped as to why he's so tiny. (It's not just about where he's at now, it's also about his peculiar growth pattern.) She doesn't think it's genetic since both of Joseph's birth parents were of average height. She doesn't think it's nutrition related since he eats a healthy diet and a good variety of foods. So now we're at a loss.

The next step in trying to figure this out will come in January. We have an appointment to see a endocrinologist to see if they can figure out what's going on and what steps we can take to help Joseph grow.

What this doesn't mean: OH my god! My son is a little on the small side and I only want tall kids so now we're going to take him to a doctor who will give him painful hormone shots every day! Into his eyeballs!

What it does mean: We want to know if there's a way that we can help Joseph now so that when he's an adult people will just think that he's short, not that he's tiny. We want to know our options and know the risks and benefits of our options. The most important thing is that we want to do what's best for Joseph.

I think it's time to stop sitting back and waiting for things to happen. I think if there's anything that's going to help Joseph then we owe it to him to at least explore that option. We know that he'll always be small. We just want to give him a little boost if we can.
Small boy

Two years ago today I was huge and no purse could hide that fact.
Four years ago today Joseph was a sweetie pie.