Thursday, February 23, 2017

It's not easy being green - part II

This time last year we were several weeks into the first term of school. While most of our school aged minions were happy & adjusting well to the new school year, Jack was waist deep & sinking fast. 

Drowning in negative self talk, nail biting to the point of bleeding, hair pulling, facial & upper body tics plus other anxiety related behaviour. There was sleeplessness, melt downs & mood swings, anger, tears - lots & lots of tears.  

In the morning, the closer it got to leaving for school the worse he became. Once we arrived at school he was compliant enough heading in to class. I won't write that he was happy enough, because he wasn't. More accurately put, he was resigned to it. Some days were better than others for him & I could usually gauge how stressful his day was based on how quickly he melted down once we got home. Or once he got to the car. 

So many days with so many tears of frustration, anger, self doubt. It was like the more he held it together at school the worse the personal fall out, or 'let go', was for him once he was in his safe space of being home.

We haven't even touched on the topic of homework. 

It's actually really heart breaking recalling how internally tormented he was, how different he was back then.

Over the years I had toyed mentally with the thought of homeschooling, it's always been on my radar since Ben approached school age. However with a reasonable selection of good schools around us in the suburbs that we lived in it was never more than a thought. Until it became a very serious consideration to try help our 'Jacker-knackers' come out of the swamp he seemed stuck in.

The school was great - it wasn't them, a school transfer was not going to fix this. It was Jack. No amount of meetings, compromise or additional help in any form was going to be able to fix what we were looking at. There was just so many areas, so multi-faceted, it would be impossible to ask a teacher to accomodate so many changes. Especially when our teachers are already stretched like an over used hair-band (& often doing an incredible job teaching a stacked curriculum to twenty odd students all of varying academic levels & backgrounds.)

After several weeks of researching, talking & sleepless nights, more researching & more talking, we made the decision to homeschool Jack.




The road we've traveled so far has not been without a few speed bumps & route re-evaluations. Especially with a pregnancy thrown into the mix. We completed our first year of homeschooling when Kade was eleven weeks old. It was not always easy, particularly in the last trimester when your body is all about growing a human & your brain is all about the sleep. Then we kicked off term four with a two week old. At least I could sit & feed, or stand & rock Kade to sleep while helping Jack. But the brain haze that accompanies the detaching of the placenta & the commencement of breast engorgement...the struggle was real. My brain was trying to nurture a newborn & support a nine year old with sensory issues, anxiety & still over coming the slathering of self doubt he was beginning to see past.

But my god. The changes we began to see, even just six weeks in. That was validation & all the confirmation we needed that this was right. 

The nail biting to point of bleeding & beyond began to ease, the nervous tics were dissipating, our mornings ran a lot smoother & after school was no longer filled with melt downs & homework battles.

The negative self talk-

"I can't do this"

"I'm so stupid"

"God I'm so dumb"

"Everybody hates me"

we even had "I wish I wasn't born"... 

*deep breaths, wipe away the tears.

I can't remember the last time Jack has spoken about himself like that. 

Last year when Jack was faced with a page of work that looked daunting, there was an immediate shut down response. It took a lot of coaching, coaxing & reassurance that I was right there with him to just get him to even consider putting a pencil in his hand.

Yesterday Jack opened up one of his English workbooks we're currently working through. He looked at all the writing, all the reading & said "Mum I can't do this one, it's too hard."
I came over to have a look & said, "you know what, I really think you can do it. I know it looks like there is a lot, but I think you should give it a go. Remember all the other times you have said something was too hard & we worked through it together? Then you realised it really wasn't that hard at all? I think you should just try. See how you go." 

Without any further comment, Jack put his head down & began to read. Then began to write. Ten minutes later he was finished & incredibly proud of himself. It may not sound like a lot to some, but to us it is huge. A complete contrast to seven months ago. 

Each day another brick is added to his wall of self confidence, it's slowly re-building but it seems we're getting a bit faster now. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Being an adult is like looking both ways for cars...then getting hit by an aeroplane

After getting the itch to start blogging again late last year I intended to get this post up within a week or two, definitely before the end of January. Then January rolled in...& rolled out with February hot on it's tail. Each week I told myself I must to find the time to get re-acqainted back here. Then the days all blended into a blurry haze of summer heat, school holidays, back to school shopping & soaking up every drop of toilet training fails from Clay. 

In the end life just kept on spinning by while we kept up with each day - much like the last 18 months really.

Since that last post (was it really back in 2015!?!) There have been a few changes for us here at House of many Minions. 

- We bought our home. 

- Expanded our family by 4 furry feet. 

- Made plans for the future...then found out lucky number seven was on the way a little earlier than we planned.

- Started homeschooling Jack.

- Welcomed lucky number seven into our family. 

- Bought a camper trailer large enough to accomodate all nine of us (plus the two dogs) for many adventures & spontaneous weekends away.

- Seen Will off to his first year of school. 

- Realised life in the coming future with numerous teens & pre-teens is going to be much like raising over grown toddlers with a talent for food consumption of epic proportions.

It's a bit like when you catch up with a friend you haven't seen in ages & you're asked what has happened since we last caught up...everything & nothing. There's all these big life events thrown in with the spinning of day to day life. You quickly float over the mundane threads to try pick up the strands of glittery sparkle. 

The brightest sparkly thread that has woven into our lives is Kade, our seventh little minion.

After buying our first home 6 months earlier, Doug & I had this great big discussion on long term goals, achievements & where we wanted to be in the next three to four years time. This included having another baby, maybe late 2017 or during 2018...Seems this discussion was all the universe needed - just a few short weeks later two pretty pink lines threw all our well made plans into the air & changed our course to collect another passenger.

Thirty eight weeks & a car upgrade later, the newest member for the blue team declared his intention to join us earthside with a small pop of waters after dinner. Baby sitters were called, bags were thrown in the car, contractions were mild...until they weren't. My back felt like it was going to explode, my belly was having the mother of all period cramps, my mind was struggling to let go of inconveniencing all these people who had been called out of their homes so late in the evening. Then just after midnight our wriggly, cranky, serious faced boy arrived. 

Our little passenger is now fast approaching five months old & an absolute sleep depriving, time wasting, delight. He feeds like a sumo wrestler & can out-stare even the most seasoned pro in a staring competition. He thinks our bed is a hell of a lot better than his own & I'm too tired to disagree. Which means our nights consist of me creeping into bed a lot closer to midnight than conducive for optimal sleep, only to stumble out within the hour to collect Kade from his cradle (still in our room - these apron strings are a lot harder to sever this time round.) He'll latch on like starving man in front of an all you can eat buffet, before passing out in a warm, milky stupor minutes later. 

If I'm still semi conscious I'll put him back in his cradle...only to be summoned again within the hour. Rinse & repeat until the sun rises & the alarm declares the day must begin. The other alternative is to remain immobile all night long, as only a mother can, while the little bundle contentedly dozes the night through.

Right now I prefer some sleep over no sleep, so I'll continue to push Doug near out the bed while I play sleeping statues in the middle, with Kade taking prime position on my side of the bed.

We're surviving, I'm functioning - though that is up for debate some days, my coffee consumption is keeping the coffee bean business thriving & this too shall pass.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The missing sisterhood

Growing up I often felt I was missing out not having a sister. The fact that I was an only child for the first nine or so years didn't concern me half as much, but not having a sister - another girl to share rooms with, clothes with, secrets with & fight with, almost felt like a missing limb. Occasionally now I still wonder what it would be like to have a sister to go out to lunch with, to reminisce together over our shared childhood, to wet our pants with laughter remembering the time Dad singed his eyebrows off after throwing a cupful of petrol on the wood in the combustion fire & then lit it. It felt like a little empty spot not knowing a sisters bond.

Back in the days when children were still a hypothetical, I hoped that our first born would be a boy, followed by a girl & soon after another boy. Then, if we decided to swap our family sedan for a people mover to accommodate more than five people, I envisioned our fourth child would be another girl. The perfect double pigeon paired family. 

When half of my wishes came true, my envisioned boy, girl, boy in the form of Ben, Rianan & Jack, I was almost certain that we were well on our way to the doubled up 'ideal'. When the sonographer pointed out our fourth baby's tackle during the 20 week ultrasound, we were thrilled to have a (near) houseful of boys. Somehow I convinced Doug that five children would be brilliant & Will came along shortly after, irreversibly tipping the scales in favor of the meat & two veg.

When Clay announced his presence via two pink lines & morning sickness that had me head down in the toilet bowl most mornings, we were suprised but no less excited. With a pregnancy that was noticeably different from the last three boys I thought there was a good chance we would be seeing a little squidette on that black & white screen while my belly was covered in cold goop. It was standing room only when we went off for a private early gender reveal scan at 15 weeks, filling the room with ourselves plus the minions. After many ultrasounds I'm fairly well versed in making heads from tails & certainly know what a penis looks like via ultrasound - our boys were not shy when it came to the big reveal. Neither was Clay. Our newest little squid was not a squidette but, well, a squid.

If I said I wasn't quietly disappointed I would be lying. I was excited to start imagining what our future would hold with 5 boys -  soccer balls & footballs all over the back yard, muddy boots by the front door & a stack skateboards by the back door. (Which is exactly what our house looks like - the neighbour is continuously finding balls in her backyard & you have to work your way through the maze of scooters, bikes, skateboards, helmets & shoes just to reach our front door.) But my heart still quietly ached that Rianan would now also be joining the club of the Missing Sisterhood. 

It's hard to voice that disappointment, because it is not to say that our boys are any less awesome, any less wanted or any less loved. The moment I found out we were expecting another child I loved them, when we discovered their genders I fell in love even further & with each little kick, elbow jab, hiccup & body roll I fell even deeper. By the time they were born my heart was filled with so much love it frequently leaks out my eyes. 

It's the potential dream that disappears, saying goodbye to a future that once was possible, now will not be. In the scheme of things it is really quite trivial, especially when you put it next to infertility, miscarriage & stillbirth, cancer, or any other life impacting & heart breaking experience. Though it may be trivial, it still impacted my life, my childhood & friendships. Enough for it to roll around my head for weeks now & to put all those thoughts & feelings into words here. Knowing that Rianan will not know what it is to have a sister. That she might try to seek out that missing limb in close friends, to elusively search for a sisters bond she'll never have. Speaking from experience, it won't measure up or be the same. It was only when I reached my late twenties that I stopped looking to fill that phantom void. That I realised it was simply a dip in the surface & not a desolate space that needed to be filled. 

I may not know what it is to have a sister, or to be the mother of sisters, but my life is not lacking in richness, short of love, or devoid in any way. With a husband who loves me, flaws & all, who gets me & lifts me up in every way, with six incredibly special & unique children who drive me to be better, to do better each day. To have seven people who own my heart. That is lucky enough. Then top it off with beautiful & enriching friendships with women who make me laugh, make me cry & I can be myself with. There is no missing limb. I hope that Rianan, as she grows up surrounded by her brothers, knows that it is a blessing to be a sister even if she doesn't have one herself. And that she doesn't need to fill the shoes of a non existent one either.