Sunday, August 23, 2009

The summer of so much

It's a funny thing: when I go for long stretches of time without posting much on the blog, it's rarely because there is nothing going on. More often, I'm quiet because there is so much - so much to do that there's no time to blog; so much to say that it's hard to know where to start; so much that's complicated or sensitive that it's hard to know how to choose words and edit well; so much I need to capture without saying too much. This summer has been no exception. The blog may not reflect it, but this summer, there has been so much, so much, so much.

It's been happening on all fronts. At work, at a time when things are usually slow enough to take a breath and a little time off, there has been a perfect storm of conditions that has made the summer one of the busiest times of the year. Some of it has been stressful and some of it energizing, some of it the function of conditions beyond my control and some of it entirely self-imposed, but as a whole it has simply been so much to manage - breakneck speed from the start of the day to the finish, full days worked on half-day Fridays, vacation days used to plan the classes I started teaching this week. So much, so much, so much.

Home has also been busy, with both of my parents experiencing health issues we had not quite anticipated. My mom's situation has been logistically complicated but, thankfully, not serious. Still, though, there has been so much - so much scheduling, so much childcare shifting, so much wondering and asking and re-asking and confirming, so much phone-calling and doctor-talking and appointment-making - so much, so much, so much.

On top of her own health issues, my mom has been managing my dad's issues, which have been so much harder to take. My dad, the man who started aging one day in his eighty-first year, the man who at 79 was so young for his age, is now, at 86, so much older than his years. There is so much overtaking him at once - so much pain, so much sensitivity, so much exhaustion, and yet so much escaping him - so much missing, so much misunderstood, so much, it seems, forever lost. It feels as though there's so much I should do, so much I should say, so much intervention that I should make - and yet, it seems there is still so much I don't know, so much I can't learn, so much that a misstep might put at stake. I fear there is so much risk of pushing him further away, so much chance of increasing his feelings of vulnerability, so much more of him to lose. And so I sit, and I hover, and I wait, and I wonder, so much. So much, so much, so much.

Then I watch my son with my father, and am so much in awe of the friendship they've forged. I see between them so much compassion, so much forgiveness, so much unconditional acceptance. I look at them - this man and this boy, the bookends of my life - as they look past the limitations and see in each other only possibility, as each in his own way struggles so much to find the words that escape him and works so much to understand the words spoken to him. I see between them so much unspoken, so much understood. I feel so much gratitude that each has the unwavering certainty of the other, and yet, I can't stop myself from looking ahead - a year, two years, ten years - and thinking, what then? So much, so much, so much.

For Bud himself, there has also been so much this summer, as so much growth has meant so much change, and so much new to grapple with. This summer, we added a new diagnosis to the list: OCD, the disorder of so much, so much, so much. For Bud, it has meant that so much of his anxiety has had an obsessive focus - All is not right with my world. But if I can just have this thing/do this thing/arrange this thing, then order will be restored. If I can just dothisthing-dothisthing-dothisthing-dothisthing-dothisthing-somuch-somuch-somuch... until it is done. But then I see that all is still not right in my world... and so I realize that the real answer must have been thisotherthing-thisotherthing-thisotherthing-thisotherthing... So much, so much, so much.

Bud's Extended School Year experience imploded on itself, as another perfect storm of so much -medication changes, the sameness-but-differentness of being in a familiar school with unfamiliar people, the inability to establish a predictable routine for himself - became too much for him to manage, and I decided to pull him from the program early, so we could focus on medication adjustment with an eye toward a smooth transition to fourth grade.

And now, with that transition just a week away, I worry about how it will go, because I have seen so much in Bud this summer - so much that is frustrating, and yet, perhaps, typical of an almost ten-year-old - so much argument, so much defiance, so much assertion, so much rancor. And then, mixed in and among the unpleasant moments, there is so much that is exciting, so much to celebrate. This summer, Bud has taken on so much in his own head and heart. He has conquered his longtime fear of dogs, now approaching strangers to ask if he can pet their dogs, and spending long hours begging for a dog of his own. He has learned to manage his fear of thunderstorms, drawing on so much courage, so much inner fortitude, as he names his fear and heads for the windowless bathroom with the overhead fan, riding out the storm with his iPod or DVD player, never once needing his anxiety medication. He has embraced swimming lessons, overcoming his trepidation with men and bonding with his swim instructor. He has visited our friend Kiki's farm, allowing her teenage son to help him mount a horse, then sitting calmly in the saddle as Kiki led them on a walk - all while I stood, snapping pictures yards away, my supportive presence entirely superfluous. So much, so much, so much.

And so, you see why I have been absent on the blog lately - why there has been so much empty space masking so much activity and movement. But I think of this blogging community often, and I lurk on your blogs to catch up when I can. And even when I am not actively reaching out or chiming in, I am still moving through my life secure in the knowledge that you are all out there, just a few clicks away - that the cavalry will be there when I need them. It's a reassurance that carries me, a certainty that buoys me, even in - especially in - a summer of so much.

18 comments:

Niksmom said...

So much going on! So much love being sent your way as you grapple with all the things facing you. We're here; we're always here. xo

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

I'm breathless reading this. You have, indeed, had a lot going on this summer. As Niksmom said, we are here. (((hugs))) to you ...

Pia said...

I can understand 'so much' !! I often wish for the calm after the storm, but it seems like it just leads to another storm... or at least a good shower.

I appreciate your blog... thank you for what you do...

KAL said...

What a summer, I understand the "so much." I love the picture of your dad and Bud as the bookends of your life. "So much" can often flirt a little too close to "too much." Hope you're taking care of yourself!

gretchen said...

So choked up after reading this. So glad to know you as our boys head toward 4th grade and 10. XO

Anonymous said...

Just sending my support amidst all that is in your life.

Stimey said...

That is so very much. I hope the very much good is balancing out the difficult parts. Even when you're not here writing, you are such an important part of our community. Thank you for keeping us updated about you and Bud.

sarah said...

I am in love with your son, and with you. (Does that freak you out? ;) ) I'm a special educator and have worked with assorted ages over the years. Most recently, I've worked with ages 5-8, and Bud reminds me so much of a little boy I taught several years ago. I watch his progress and your joy and a tiny part of me pretends that my ex-student, J., is making those same leaps and strides. I thank you for your joy and love and honesty, because it brings me hope and cheer that my students are continuing in their progress with cheerleaders as special as you right beside them.
I thank you, and without even knowing you, I love you for all that you do.

drama mama said...

Oh, why did this make me weep?

Perhaps because I understand the feeling of overwhelming emotions - of transitions and age and change and letting things come and go -

And yet.

This post leaves me hopeful - the things Bud has come to do! - and grateful - wonderful grandparents! -

and still so glad that you post when you do.

Anonymous said...

I always look forward to your posts. Many have made me misty eyed or caused me to laugh out loud as I read them. You always hit so close to home. Thank you for sharing your stories over the years.

Club 166 said...

I look at them - this man and this boy, the bookends of my life - as they look past the limitations and see in each other only possibility, as each in his own way struggles so much to find the words that escape him and works so much to understand the words spoken to him. I see between them so much unspoken, so much understood.

I really miss reading such beauty.

Happy to see you back in the "neighborhood".

Good luck with school. We're just starting our second week of 4th grade here.

Joe

Christine said...

Oh my! This was worth the wait. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this.

pixiemama said...

Wow. It really is so much.

When I say "so much" it's riddled with angst and exhaustion, but you, you sound like you're in such a wonderful and healthy place with all of these changes.

It's so good to hear from you. Know that no matter how often you post or comment, this support net is always here.

love.

David said...

Perhaps it's amplified because I know you IRL, as it were, but I have to say that this was one of the most beautifully written and resonant (for me) blog posts that I have read in a long time. It was like the perfect blog post. Really. That SO makes up for any perceived frequency issues. We need to have lunch sometime soon.

California Girl said...

MOM-NOS,

I thought it was so beautiful when you wrote:

"Then I watch my son with my father, and am so much in awe of the friendship they've forged. I see between them so much compassion, so much forgiveness, so much unconditional acceptance. I look at them - this man and this boy, the bookends of my life - as they look past the limitations and see in each other only possibility, as each in his own way struggles so much to find the words that escape him and works so much to understand the words spoken to him. I see between them so much unspoken, so much understood. I feel so much gratitude that each has the unwavering certainty of the other, and yet, I can't stop myself from looking ahead - a year, two years, ten years - and thinking, what then? So much, so much, so much."

Too many people would only see a frail, declining, elderly man--a drain on the resources of our health care system--and an impaired child who may never be an independent, functioning member of society. Too many people would miss the beauty, compassion, and love; instead they would worry about money being misspent.

To quote Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, health care adviser to President Obama, "services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia. A less obvious example is guaranteeing neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason.'

This is why the current HR3200 bill scares me silly--I have three nephews on the spectrum, and many elderly relatives. What then?

Accidental Expert said...

I know how the "so much" goes. Sometimes it inspires me, but more often than not it paralyzes.

What a special relationship your son has with his grandfather. My father was one of the only people to reach my son at a young age and they had a wonderful relationship until he passed a couple of years back. It is wonderful to witness, but heartbreaking to do without.

Glad to have you back.

Jean

Accidental Expert said...

Just wanted to let you know...I just nominated you for Kreativ Bloggers. Hope that's OK. I do love reading you blog.

Jean
http://accidentalexpert.blogspot.com

Shawnda said...

Hi, I just came across your blog on Accidental Experts blog. Blogging about the spectrum and country music...two of my favorite things! I enjoyed checking out your site.