Spring Break

So many thoughts floating around in my head …
Spent last week with my parents in Monroe, Utah. Took my two youngest since they were on spring break. My sisters, Erin and Cynthia joined the party too. It was fun to watch our kids play together. I especially enjoyed the four year olds – they were “adorable” as my daughter likes to say. Haley loved carrying around baby Beth and playing “farm” with said four year olds. Andrew and his seven year old cousin played a lot of imaginary Mario games since we wouldn’t actually let them play on their Nintendo DS. The weather was typical spring – sunny and clouds, cool but not freezing. My mother’s hundreds of bulbs were beginning to bloom. At this point you might be wondering where the pictures are. I did take my camera with me. I did NOT take pictures. I am lame …

This past weekend was the semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is amazing to me that I can listen to actual prophets and apostles who represent Christ today. As always there were some great words of counsel and encouragement. I found my moments of “tender mercies” as some of the speakers mentioned challenges and sacrifices and included some of the ones I struggle with right now. It reminded me that God is aware of my life and has words of comfort for me. I was also chastised in the form of President Uchtdorf’s talk. I found much to improve in my relationships with my family and I’m definitely going to practice his advice to “Stop It!” when I’m tempted to hold on to grievances or grudges. Instead I’m going to do as he counsels and seek Christ’s Atonement to soften my heart and fill it with love. If you want to know more, visit lds.org – full transcripts of talks as well as audio and video are available.

Finally, some thoughts on parenting Andrew. Since his diagnosis, we have seen some improvements when his medications were working. Lately we’ve seen some major regression in behavior which has touched off my own emotional turmoil. Now we’re playing the experiment game with Andrew’s medications, trying to find the right combinations to stabilize his moods. I’m back on anti-depressants. I’m hopeful that things will improve. But here are some of my thoughts. First – I ask myself how long I should be “dragging” him along, making him do things that he would absolutely NOT do if left to his own devices. It is one thing to make a toddler get out of the street. Force is necessary. But where is the line for a 12 year old who does not want to do any school work at all? Now add into the mix a 12 year old who is about 8 emotionally (or maybe even younger). This was much easier with Spencer. Tom and I gradually pulled back as he became more capable of making choices and learning from the consequences. I want to pull back with Andrew, yet I know that the chances are good that he would choose poorly and NOT learn from the consequences (I’ve got plenty of proof of this fact). I keep thinking of the early Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains pushing and pulling handcarts. There are stories of people who carried a loved one – refused to leave them behind. Sometimes that is how I feel about Andrew. I’m carrying him along because he can’t do it on his own. I’m certainly on new territory here. Adding mental illness into the parenting mix just makes things so much more complicated. It’s hard to have faith in the long-term outcomes because I’m NOT sure if what I’m doing is right thing. Ultimately it comes down to one’s agency. I know what I want for Andrew and it is all good. I continue to teach him those principles that lead to happiness – honesty, respect, hard work. But I can’t MAKE him believe these things or do these things. I can let him suffer the natural consequences of his poor choices but I can’t MAKE him learn that they are linked to his actions. It certainly takes the joy out of the job to see my child unhappy so much of the time but refusing to turn around and try something different.

Now I’m back home – it’s been snowing all day! I had a full mailbox at work and it’ll take me awhile to get caught up, but it was worth it to have a vacation. Tom & Spencer welcomed us home with a clean house and a terrific dinner last night. It’s good to be back.

03. April 2012 by Johanna
Categories: Family, Trips | Tags: , , , | 6 comments

Comments (6)

  1. I really appreciated your comment on my blog. I was hoping you lived near me for some practical advice with the tile – I would sooo do it if I had a little bit of support, but vertical tile makes me very nervous, but when I read it was snowing at your house I knew there was no hope we live anywhere near each other. 🙁 Thank you for the support though. I still might do it.

    Mary

    • I totally wish we lived nearby! I would love to help you with your tile. Our kitchen backsplash was my first experience with vertical tiling. Home Dept gave us some good advice on what to use for sticking the tiles. We didn’t have to replace drywall, since it’s not wet. I’m sure doing a bathroom would require special “drywall” but maybe you already have that since you already have tile in your bathroom. I bet you could find some good instructions in other DIY blogs. I’ll keep my eyes open 🙂

  2. Just catching up on things after vacation. I can relate to so much to what you wrote here. Those dang handcarts get HEAVY.

    SOOO can’t wait to hug you again! Ohhh…I have a fabulous idea! Fly in a couple days early, stay at my house, and help me with my tile backsplash 🙂 It’s the last thing I have to do to finish my kitchen.

    • Diana, if I could, I would LOVE to come help you with your backsplash! I love DIY – such a great feeling when you finish up a project. But I’m already juggling things to cover my kids while I’m gone. I wish we all lived closer to each other so we could be “in life” supports for each other instead of just “virtual” supports. Can’t wait to see you in May!!

  3. If Andrew is emotionally or developmentally 8 then I would go ahead and treat him as such. Do not feel guilty about “dragging” him along. We need to parent each child where they are, not where they “should be.” It sounds like your son still needs major guidance in many areas.

    I do want to add though that school work may seem important now, but the reality is that our kids, especially those with attachment and mental illness, REALLY need support and love in relationships and emotional security more than academics. If they don’t have that, then being “book smart” is irrelevant. I struggled with getting my kids caught up on school work, and it damaged our relationship. Now that my son has graduated high school, I realize that that piece of paper was NOT more important than the fact that he’ll probably never be able to develop a positive, healthy relationship with a woman.

    If you can, get an IEP and leave the school work at school. If they won’t do homework, let the school be the one to deliver the consequences. Advocate for your child’s education, but not at the expense of his emotional life.

    Oops! Sorry about the soap box! Guess I read this at a vulnerable point for me. Anyway, you know what’s best for your child. Feel free to ignore me!

    Hugs and prayers,
    Mary

  4. Mary,
    Thanks for your advice about the school stuff versus relationships. Especially since you are at the other end of raising your child through school. Definitely food for thought.
    Johanna

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