Saturday, November 5, 2011

I non-conformity

Public school is exhausting.  I'm sure plenty of people find private school exhausting as well.  Whose idea was it exactly to hoist our children out of bed at such an early hour, follow them around the house like a drill sergeant until they are ready, and shove them out the door to go sit in a drop off line or at the bus stop in the cold of morning? 

Oh, right, it's that whole "work while the sun is up" inherited by our forefathers who worked the land.  Are we working the land?  No...I rather think not.

But more than my predilection for all hours post-noon, the thing that bothers me most, other than the the bureaucratic BS and red tape, is the proverbial square box, square peg theory that most schools operate on.  Now before you start your defense of what I am sure is not an easy paradigm to operate, rest assured I know it's not easy.  We, as a country and a society, expect much but give little to our education system.  I get that, assuredly.

What I don't get and what I don't stand behind, believe in, like, adhere to and refuse to accept is that every child is the same.  And this is not just the rant of a mother of an atypical child.  There are plenty of typical children this argument would apply to as well.

Take me for example.  I've spent 95% of my life trying desperately hard, to the point of insanity, to fit myself into a mold I never belonged in.  Where did this start? School.  The conformity of school.  The "everyone do as everyone else" sensibility that sounded good on paper, I am sure.  Like most things that sound good on paper (Communism for example), it doesn't really work does it? 

What are we teaching our children?  That they have to be like everyone else?  Where, may I ask, is the fun in that?  Where is in the ingenuity?  The passion?  The imagination? 

One of my favorite things about life is the diversity of the world we live in.  I revel at other cultures, other religions, people who walk to the beat of a different drum....most of them really walking to a full on orchestra going on in their head all at once.  This is what makes life interesting to me.  So is that why I nearly have a panic attack every day when I drop my atypical son of at his typical school?  Absolutely.

You see I don't really mind that my son is atypical.  What I mind is how other people respond to it.  They see a box, they want to put him in it.  He is either one thing or he is the other.  Well, no, in fact, he's not.  He's many things -- brilliant, musically gifted, funny, extremely loving and empathetic but he is also stubborn, strong willed and sometimes socially awkward.  So what?  Is your typical child perfect or does he yell at you some times in Target?  Every parent has nuances within their child that make parenting, well, the hardest job in the world.  But also by far the most rewarding.

So why do we do it?  For the sake of education?  Let's face it folks, the system isn't really churning out generations of free thinkers.  What it is churning out is just another generation of rat racers who think it's absolutely necessary to have a house in the burbs with two gas guzzling cars and two kids.  That's a fine dream, but it. Is. Not. For. Everyone.

Furthermore, for those children who don't fit into the schematic that is the American philosophy, all we wind up doing is extinguishing their spark.  Not to get all spiritual and lovey-dovey on you this cold November morning, but G-d made people the way they are for a reason.  I really do believe that.  My son has taught me patience I didn't know I had; he's taught me to not care what people think even more than I did before; to laugh when things get broken, spilled or destroyed; and to just 'be.'  I'm pretty sure he saved my life on a lot of levels and sometimes I think I need him more than he needs me. 

But one thing he definitely needs is a different avenue.  He's not going to just sit at desk for the next 10 years so he can just turn out like the masses, be bored out of his mind, and wind up thinking there is something "wrong with him."  I always felt like that in school -- most kids who don't fit in do.  And I pretty much refuse to let that happen here.  Life is too short, people are too special, and something has to be done to break the cycle.

Monday, September 5, 2011

From a Jewish Mother's Perspective

I've been twirling the idea to write this around in my head for a few weeks now as we quickly approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 -- an event that has changed in its meaning for me multiple times over the past decade. Changes that evolved mostly in part to major life changes of my own: becoming a mother; reacquainting myself with my religion; and swimming daily, up to my eyeballs, in the constant unspoken rhetoric of being a Jew in a harshly anti-Muslim atmosphere; surrounded by the heavy ever-present question of my own personal view of Israel.

A lot of it has to do with my job; I am entrenched in the politik of my religion. It's assumed that you are 100% pro-Israel but when the conversation actually makes its way to the bubbling surface, you suddenly discover that there are two very distinct opinions on the topic -- and one which is considered correct. I'm not going to state what my feelings are about Israel but you are either pro-Israel all the way or pro-two state solution. I have my thoughts on both.

But let's rewind a bit, shall we? Where were you when the Twin Towers went down? I was in an English Lit class when suddenly it felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. The news began to spread and the pace of everyone's gait picked up as we all seemed to practically run out of the building, immediately picking up cell phones and staring wild eyed at the sky.

I was only able to get one (hysterical) relative on the phone and at that point, no one knew what was happening. It looked like we were under attack and no one knew for sure where the next plane would come darting from the clouds, it could have been anywhere. My heart racing, I grabbed my keys, went straight to the gas station to buy a pack of Marlboro's and drove at warp speeds (along with most of my companions on the road) to my sister's house where my mother was also on her way.

I don't remember much after that; I smoked a lot, yes. But I think my brain just shut down and I remember falling in out of sleep like I was in some sort of horrible trance that I couldn't bring myself out of. I couldn't watch anymore news coverage and I think, in a way, I was just waiting for the final blow -- a bomb, another hit, the world to come to a cataclysmic halt. It was mind-numbing.

When I stumbled out of the trance a few days later, I read something that hit me in such a way I have never been able to forget it. A young Israeli girl, probably near my age, was interviewed and her response on the whole event was humbling, "we live with this every day," she said,"I've lost friends, family...but I still keep living my life. It's all you can do." Who were we to think we were beyond the grasp of such terror? And what had we done to cause it?

Although it still makes me sick to my stomach, part of me feels guilty. Before anyone judges me for not being patriotic, know that I try to see things from a holistic point of view -- I'm very much a believer of the three-fold rule: what you do comes back to you three-fold. Yes, we've done a lot to help other countries but a lot of innocent people have died in the midst of our actions. That cannot be argued.

During this time, I also became a mother....a year and two months to be exact after the attacks. My head space was tremendously affected by the fear I had brought an innocent child into a world no one knew anymore. The name of the attackers daily ran through my mind as I sat in the hospital trying not to watch the news. It is not the way to become a parent but it's not as if there was a choice. Our present had been decided for us whether we accepted it or not.

The maternal perspective you gain of the world post-partum changes a lot of things. I really felt an enormous sense of guilt for what had happened, a connection to all events leading up to the attacks, a sense of responsibility. This thing did not just happen out of nowhere -- it was an accumulation of hate that had been spiraling for ages.

For the past few years, its been (sadly) easy to put out of my mind (like most traumatic experiences). Until my relocation to Tennessee, a hot bed of anti-Muslim hate speech.

It's no different to me what is being said now against Muslims than the lies that spread like wild fire about Jews during Hitler's hold. It's ignorance and it's embarassing. Not an hour from where we live, shots have been fired, buildings have been burned and people have been put on trial for their belief system. Esteemed scholars, clergy and politicians have been drug through the mud for their support of our Muslim community. And the reason? As so pathetically put by the plaintiff's attorney in the recent Murfreesboro trial regarding the building of a mosque, "this is not a religion [but] a way to train people to holler 'Allahu Akbar' while strapping bombs to their chests."

They defend their hatred for Islam by citing how Sharia Law requires them to treat their women and children. What I find so devilishly hypocritical about these statements is that most of the men (and women) who use this defense are those who seem to hold highly antiquated gender role stereotypes as truths.

If we took the Bible at face value, we would all have 10 wives and sacrifice our animals. But we don't. The Bible is what? A guide for those who would see it as a way to live their lives, not a literal manual from G-d. And honestly, folks, a lot of people who stand by their Bibles need to read them again. G-d does not judge. So let's all take heed to that, shall we?

Obviously no one can argue that there are radical Islamists who would like nothing more to infiltrate our oh so peaceful society (which, by the way, it is not.....our children kill each other in classrooms in case you haven't noticed). But you cannot judge an entire religion by the actions of some.

And please, for the love of all that is left in this world that is sacred, stop touting The Constitution as if its also a defense mechanism for this weak and wilted case. The Constitution actually protects our freedom of religion and as the plaintiff attorney and all those who padded his strangely-designed pockets in the Murfreesboro trial found out while they sat as petulant children playing a game of "he said, she said," the US Government also cites Islam as a religion, no matter your argument that it is not.

So what does this have to do with my being a Jewish mother? This: as a Jew, part of a people who have been persecuted since the beginning of time, I was taught not to judge. Ever. To love unconditionally. To see both sides. To be open to those who walk different paths for those are the people you may learn from. To understand that G-d created us, everyone, and so we are therefore not 'wrong' in our make-up even if we are misunderstolod. To not hate our enemies, but to try to find empathy for them. To see the world not as a person, but as a piece of something whole. It is with this teaching and these lessons that although we cannot forget, we can forgive. And we have. Time and time again.

It is also with these lessons that we learn to appreciate those around us and to debate on a respectable and scholarly level without insult or perdition.

And these are things I will try (until I am blue in the face) to pass on to my child. As much as I would like to protect him from terrorist acts, I would equally wish to protect him from bigotry, racism, and hatred. There is no use in any of it.

On this ten year anniversary, I will not just reflect on 'what has been done to us.' I will also reflect on what I can do to help bring change and understanding; and to stop the hatred that spreads. The Muslim community of Murfreesboro is not responsible for 9/11. But we are responsible if we allow them to be bullied and mistreated in the name of justice.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Oh, mothering blog, how do I neglect thee, let me count the ways. It's been a month. Honestly, in these 30 days, not much has happened on the Jude front that requires great and triumphant heralding on ye olde blog, but sometimes it comforts my psyche just to purge the parental vortex in preparation of starting over in a new month.

Last we "talked," we had been given the recommendation to try the Waldorf School for Jude. Since then, we find ourselves relocating into a much sought after public school zone so odds are, we'll just stay there.

What we are really looking forward to is in this move is a life lived outside of the car. The past year, as newbies to Nashville and residents of Franklin, we haven't really excelled in that whole "quality of life" thing people keep talking about. Most of Jude's free time is spent in my office or in the car. It's the sad side effect of commuting when you've got kids. He has probably consumed more "to go" meals in said car over the past year than he did in the 3 years prior to us moving here. What can I say, I fail at MOM 101 this round. I'm hoping the next year will bring a mountain of changes -- all positive.

Obviously, diet is (and probably always will be) an important aspect of raising an atypical child so this "cuisine de commute" doesn't win me ribbons in that department either. However, I will note that we have phased out of the GFCF obsession slightly as he's gotten older. Not just because of what the good doctor at Vandy told us but also because we hit that wall where it didn't seem to be making a difference anymore. Now don't get me wrong, we still don't get down with cow's milk (it's almond if you please) and we still maintain a low dairy to everything else ratio can only stress yourself so much. And the bottom line is: there is no diet that is going to magically reverse your child's behavior. It can make the behaviors better, certainly, but just like with medication -- you will hit a wall where the difference it's making becomes miniscule.

But speaking of medication, which we have not ventured to try yet (I will hold off on that as long as humanly possible), I will say that the above is NOT true for vitamins and supplements.

Most kids' schools have a daily behavioral rating system that mirrors your friendly neighborhood stoplight. Well, my child's daily folder has more so mirrored a Lite Brite over the past month or so instead. He has gotten into this very perplexing habit of just telling his teacher flat out "no!" Surely, some of this is genetic (I won't say which side of the family it comes from but I will note he has one or two blond streaks in that mess of black hair) but some of it is just him not getting that he is not a) an adult or b) in charge.

As is the truth with a lot of atypical children, they don't quite see those imaginary boundary lines that we all spend our entire lives dancing around. He is the star, director and producer of the "Julian Show" and we are all just extras, set crew, or (G-d forbid) catering staff (that would be my job, of course)!

So this behavior, as I said, has sort of hit an all time high with him lately. I'm not entirely sure but I'm guessing we have maybe given his teacher wrinkles and/or gray hair at this juncture. Ok, who am I kidding, we've probably given her both.

Between living in the car and working 800 hours a week between the two of us, I apparently forgot to refill someone's vitamin supply. Innocently, I picked up a new bottle at Whole Foods five days ago and it's like "POOF" bad child be gone! (I think maybe that's what they should call them -- Bad Child Be Gone: Now in Fruity Raspberry!).

Anyway, that whole lecture my mom used to give me (and, yes, this is where I say you were right, mom) about taking my B vitamins to rid my head of those angry monsters otherwise known as stress, anxiety and depression -- well she was right. And apparently it works on the little one, too. The B's mixed with magnesium and zinc, also great tools for fighting off the grouchy non-focus monster known to dwell in little boys under the age 39?

On another "typical" note -- I always like to mentally document and file away our typical moments for when I'm having one of my "oh my G-d, I am a terrible mother and my child is so out of control" moments -- the argument we had with him the other night was awesome! Strange for a parent to call an argument with their child awesome but in the world of things atypical, things that would make other parents maybe pull at their hair and gnash their teeth, send us into hysterics. Observe:

Julian: (storms half way up the stairs after having Wii turned off for not playing nice) "I'm never talking to either one of you ever again!" (storms rest of staircase).

Us: (silence)

Julian: (storms across the floor into bedroom and slams door; proceeds to do this repeatedly for about 8 minutes for impact, occasionally walking to the top of the stairs to see if any reaction has been had by parental unit)

Us: (silence)

Julian: (continues to open and close door)

Us: (hysterically yet silently laughing and doubled over on sofa)

Julian: (walks to top of stair case once he realizes slamming of door is have no effect on parental unit; in a huffy voice he speaks) Mom -- I have to come downstairs now to tell you I'm sorry.

Me: Ok, honey

Child comes downstairs, apologizes and we all move on. Well, except for when we tell this story to people repeatedly because in a way, we are proud. Any day we have "normal" behavior from him is no different than how proud we are when his teacher writes "finished in under 4 minutes" on his math work. Maybe I should make a bumper sticker, instead of "my kid's an honor roll student at blah blah school" it would say "my kid rocks at normal."

Which brings me to 1...2...3....the most simple of tricks to get your children to do your biding and it works! On my child! Oh hoorah, oh rapture, oh joy! If I'd known, I would have started doing it ages ago. A simple "1" gets his attention, a "2" puts him in high gear and a "3"...well he knows it's on if we get to 3. Who knew? (Well, I guess someone's not as if we invented it, right?)

Anyway, it's late and as we speak, I can hear him singing in his bed, the last few balls of energy deflating into the silence of night as we all count down the days until our Disney adventure and relish in the fact that as our own little tribe, we kind of rock. Typically and atypically.


Monday, February 21, 2011

An Interesting Turn of Events

This will probably come as no shock to you, but I don't believe in accidents. Nor do I subscribe to the theory of coincidence. I think things happen with reason and that more times than not, that reason only becomes evident after the fact -- and at times, it doesn't become evident until years (and years and years) after the fact (cue triumphant scene of girl driving in car listening to empowering fem-rock when she realizes she has moved on from something holding her in the past).

I constantly toy with the reasons "why" -- even when it comes to why is my amazing child the way he is? Well, that's a pretty easy one to answer even if it doesn't always provide the amount of patience I may need in the middle of a, how shall we say, child-induced-hysterical-moment?

My theory? Because everyone on this earth is constantly trying to shove themselves into what they consider "normal" -- not textbook normal, but what you specifically consider normal. For example, I think it's normal to have a streak of blond hair in my otherwise black mane. However, my boss does not think this is normal (but is, however, accepting of said streak because now he knows me and knows when I decide I'm doing something, it's done).

Jude isn't normal. He's eccentric; he's creative; he dances like Twyla public. That's ok with me because really we all need to slow down and learn how to accept those dancing so delicately on the fringe of our truly boring society. That sounds a bit "peace, love and happiness" doesn't it? Well, I assure you that while I often times have to restrain my inner-hippie, there are times my inner-hippie stays completely hidden at home in a dark closet (more than likely under my rainbow-knitted crystal bag).

Another example: my niece once attended a Waldorf School. At first, I was semi-fascinated with the concept. I know a lot of creative types have come out of Waldorf to have very successful careers in the arts. Obviously, I can completely get behind that. However, the lack of black crayons (again, for example) to color with because black represents something dark and potentially threatening to a child's growth...??? Well, yes, that is indeed a bit much for me. That's not necessarily what I would proclaim to be balanced.

So, when a recent visit to Vanderbilt's Kennedy Center to get some guidance on how to navigate the not-so-great public school system in Nashville and the overwhelming options for private school pointed us right towards Waldorf, I was a little surprised. Having had a terrible Montessori experience, I wasn't sure sending Jude to a (please forgive me for this terminology) touchy-feely school was really a great idea.

I've always stood behind the notion that he needed more structure; that routine was a wonderful thing for a boy with a wandering mind and the sometimes consuming need to constantly move. But apparently, I am incorrect in that thinking. And quite honestly, the school we are in now in all of it's wonderful textbook structure, red tape, and stereotypical public school ways, has actually sent our boy into a mild tailspin of regression. Sure, regression is normal for atypical kids, but the older they get, they harder it is to realign.

The great news about our appointment overall was that I was not only enlightened by the aptitude of this doctor but also by his support of what I've known all alone: that this isn't Autism. He asked that we forget we'd ever heard the word, that it had ever entered our brain. I felt like the pressure of the air had lifted to such an extent that I might actually float right off of my child-sized chair.

He also said that the GFCF diet we have tried really hard to maintain for so long now was great -- if you are trying to be healthy -- but that we'd be better off spending that money on private school tuition to Waldorf. (Where was he when I needed him three years ago? I'm sure the amount of money I've spent is beyond obscene.)

Not to say that we won't still stay as casein free as we can because we know for sure he's intolerant to dairy (and quite honestly, I prefer gluten-free at this juncture), we certainly won't allow ourselves to be as stressed out about as we have been. The number of waffles alone we've gone through to find the right taste, consistency and texture? We are a walking focus group for just about every brand in the market.

Another important statement he made that has continued to resonant with me since our meeting is "GFCF won't make your child talk." We certainly do not have the issue of him not talking anymore but those six little words would have made the world of difference to us three years ago.

I would like to say, however, that while that is probably true (and maybe we knew it all along but wanted to try whatever we could that was a natural approach to treatment), I still support the theory that it can help with the moods of those kids that fall into the atypical category. Any allergist/nutritionist will tell you that a kid with a dairy intolerance is going to be pretty cranky after downing a milkshake. And I can tell you that a less cranky atypical child is a whole lot easier to work with than one who just wants you to stop talking and find something else to do with your time.

But I digress. There is still part of me that's worried that the Waldorf approach may be too flexible for my child but I'm willing to (just like with the GFCF diet) give it a try. I'm beyond thrilled to throw the "A" word out of my vocabulary. We will still struggle with the "what," we just don't get caught up on the "why." What is it exactly if it's not ADHD, SPD, OCD, ODD, Aspie, ADD, etc. etc. etc.? I don't really know. We may just be GRAY -- in the gray area, and that's ok. If life has taught me anything at all, it's that I've met the most interesting people in the world dancing in the gray area.

More to follow...

Monday, January 3, 2011


This is the most neglected of my blogs so I am hereby resolving to either do away with it completely or make more of an effort. Sadly, it will likely be the former. It will certainly resurrect in some other form in the new year in the form of one catchall blog which has been put on the serious back burner since our relocation to Nashville. Unfortunately, I haven't had the creative time I'd hoped for but I can see that changing slowly and surely.

I don't really believe in resolutions. Not ones for New Year at any rate. I resolve to do loads of things during the year either with distinct and clear intention or in some lofty it-may-happen-one-day fashion. What can I tell you, I've always struggled with a mind that has the energy and interest of 20 but I am 1 and therefore attempt to cut myself some slack. But I feel the need to set some "rules" at least for this year and, as I've told my husband, make recovery and reinvention our number one goals.

Of course reflection would be a better word to toss around in the beginning of any year. If I can't reflect on what I did, what I didn't do, what I hope to be more of, better at, and etc. etc. I will doubtfully get any of things in my 2011 bucket list accomplished. Quite frankly that bucket list hasn't changed much but I feel like we have and are.

Recovery = finally getting back on solid ground post un-and-under-employment. The first few months of unemployment feel sort of like a vacation from reality. Not necessarily in a good way but (when you've worked for the Wicked Witch & her little flying monkey) not necessarily in a bad way. After about six months, things start to get pretty hairy and even now, six months in to gainful employment, we are still in recovery mode.

One thing I am grateful for that unemployment has taught me is how to be careful with our money. So on our path to full financial recovery, I am hoping we pass Debt Free Lane and can get off on it. Save the student loan that has a six year shelf life left on it, perhaps even seven, the forceful redirect of our funds have proven a mighty catalyst for getting things paid off. I like those bumper stickers, "be weird, be debt free." I'm down with that -- on both counts.

On the kid front, we are still holding steady in a pattern of progression, slight regression, then progression again. This is pretty standard fare for atypical kids and while on our worst day it equates a bit of exhaustion for all 3 of us, it is something we are able to handle quite easily now that he's 7 (most days anyway).

I've been doing a lot of research on Sensory Perception Disorder/Sensory Integration Disorder. It sounds so very familiar when I read it, like someone wrote it specifically about my child. But as I reflect over the accomplishments and the struggles we've had this year with the gray area he sometimes falls into, I am resolve to focus more this year on 'this is how he is' vs. 'this is what we are doing to change it.' My kid has a lot of spirit, he's ridiculously funny, incredibly curious, reads like a demon and has musical skills that I cannot really even begin to understand. Screw changing him to try to make him fit. We hold fast to the notion that if an environment cannot roll with our son, we will simply roll him out of that environment. Not always easy, but sometimes necessary.

Recently he wanted to buy a Barbie. Granted, this child spends hours playing video games and is known to be a shameless flirt. But he wanted the Rapunzel Barbie. So I let him buy it. Why did he want it, I asked. Because she's pretty, he said. Makes sense to me. He brushed her hair a few times and doted over her -- and now I'm pretty sure she's being eaten by dust bunnies under the couch. Most couples I know would probably flip the absolute hell out over their son wanting a doll. This year, it's all about embracing the different and whatever that means to him or us.

On the personal front, I'm exhausted. I feel a little bit like a whirling tree that is looking for soft ground to plant its roots in. Not to say that that land isn't somewhere in Nashville, we just haven't located the proper neighborhood yet. With the exhaustion, however, comes a constant spike of excitement. We have so much more opportunity creatively here -- it gets my heart racing just to think of. But like that whirling tree, my brain goes at about 600 miles an hour thinking I can do all of it. So, my other focus this year? Just that --- focus. Fine-tune the crazy. Reel it in and hone it. G-d gave me a certain set of skills and while I'd like to do absolutely everything I think of, I am 36 and it's time to get organized. Reinvention. (I realize most people "organize" in their 20's but I'm not most people and I believe in late blooming. I spent the first part of my 30's organizing my mommy self, now it's time to incorporate the rest.)

One other tender subject I've been want to post about here on Atypical Mother is the fun and enthralling conversation of weight and diet. Have I lost all of that weight yet? No, I haven't. But my stamina kicks ass lately and I'm looking forward to a full schedule of belly dance, ballet and burlesque. Apparently, I'm also looking forward to a half marathon. According to my sister, this is a good goal to have -- ok, it's been on my private to-do list for a year or so but she asked me to sign up and I conceded. I signed up -- doesn't mean its going to happen. This is part of the reinvention plan as well -- reach for that lofty goal of running a half marathon with your sister but don't beat yourself up if you only make the smaller 5k runs you'll no doubt have to run to prep for the big one. The point is to try, right? Yes!

While all of that sounds great and looks pretty right now, I really can't ignore the number one most abused New Year's resolution known to man: weight loss. Working daily in a health & wellness environment, I can tell you I was somewhat prepared for the onslaught of people at our doors today -- somewhat but not enough. Droves. People came out in droves. Every machine was full, every room was bustling, people signed up left and right for a year's time -- I Well, I was ready to run and hide is what I was ready to do. But I can't say they are alone.

I'm starting a weight loss program (never thought I'd say those words) on Jan. 8 because although I have never had a hard time losing when I put my mind to it, I simply cannot seem to shake these last 20 and (I hate to say this) I just don't have enough time in my day to go it alone. Bring in Ideal Protein Weight Loss. It's a 30 year-old program from France that made its way to Canada about 10 years ago and has now finally been available in the US for 2 years. Am I a little freaked out? Yes. Weight loss/gain/struggle/discussion is a very private thing to me.

But this is the way I see it now that I'm 36: if you aren't lucky enough to be a celebrity or have god-like genes, odds are post-childbirth fat did not leave your tummy looking super great. And as I near that fun fourth decade, I have no intention of slowing down. Statistically, adults with dense "belly fat" are more prone to heart disease and diabetes. No thank you to both. This is not about fitting into jeggings for which I do not have the thighs, it's about being proactive now to reduce the risk of complications later. Sure, I'd love to rock a bikini this summer for the first time in 8 years but I'm going to feel a lot better knowing that Buddha belly the obstetrician obviously forgot to remove post-c-section will no longer be wallowing underneath my ticker. The resolution? It's a good time to be more serious about my health. Reinvent.

Depending on how the first week goes, I may chronicle the journey a bit here on Atypical hinging on its survival. Either way, hopefully you'll be "seeing" a bit less of me in the months to come. Until then, here's to a new year, new perspective, new lives, new ideas and the rebirth of old ones, but most importantly new momentum. May 2011 be everything you want it to be -- and more. My only real hope is that we are all happy with who we are.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Obsess Much?

This is probably not a question you should ask the mother of a somewhat atypical child because the answer will always be, "why, yes, yes we do." Our current obsession of choice is Super Mario. I have finally lost my child to the horrific video game trance. I tried to avoid it for years but leave it to cousins (or siblings) to clean out the rubbish that is their room and turn up five Nintendo DS or DSi's. The world of Mario has invaded and it is here to stay.

But then I have to it so much the "uniqueness" of my child that brings about the ease of fixation or is it, say (for argument's sake) inherited...?? Ok, yes it is. I am a bit of an obsessive perfectionist when it comes to the creative, I admit it. But I will also highlight that I came by it rightly from either side of my collective gene pool. So blame not the tree from which the apple fell.

When I decided to not spend a small fortune on a gluten-free bakery made birthday cake for this weekend's party but rather to bake said cake myself, the obsessive part of my brain didn't hear me. The happy-go-lucky part thought, "oh this'll be easy. I'll bake a round cake and "draw" Mario's face on top and, voila!, there will be happiness! Surely there will be samples of such Baking 101 online; I'll just follow along and be done with it in a snap."

Then I Googled "Mario Cakes" and the obsessive part of my brain finally woke up...and I quickly heard a noise similar to that of an engine shutting down. Awesome.

I don't tend to overindulge in images here on Atypical Mother but, really, this I have to share. Behold...

Notice the number "4" on this cake. 4 PEOPLE!! Someone's 4 year old had a birthday cake that was maybe a hair smaller than my wedding cake!! What kind of expectation are we generating these days?

Um. Ok. You lost me at toadstool.

This is, undoubtedly, someone's actual wedding cake. Which really makes me wonder what kind of relationship did these people have that the bride relinquished creative control of her own cake? Because obviously this is the result of some serious negotiation.

I love the inset photos of the fondant work. It really makes me chuckle, having worked with fondant for his 3rd birthday cake (which was a full-sized pumpkin that took roughly 16 hours to craft). My hope was to make the stem and "some" leaves with the fondant. I made an leaf and that curly pumpkin thing on top. Fondant is for professionals. Or homicidal maniacs, I'm not sure which.

Wow. I mean, really. Wow. Obviously a wedding cake, obviously insane. Obviously I would resort to a hot glue gun which, well, probably isn't edible.

This one doesn't look so terribly complicated. In fact, it looks like maybe it was a bunch of mistakes thrown together and topped off with a giant rice krispie treat in the shape of a six. You know because there are so many rice krispie treats in Super Mario Bros.

This one made me twitch. A cake made to look just like the DS? What kind of parent put this out into the proverbial universe to make the rest of us feel inadequate??? Shame on you!

Duff? Duff? Are you there? Duff?

If I'm not mistaken, this toadstool is looking down at me in smug judgment over my lack of cake decorating expertise. What does he know anyway, he's just supporting cast.

That's just a sample of what's out there. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would find such a catalog of baked Mario options. I would like to take this time and give a most sincere and humble shout out to the Big Man/Woman upstairs for allowing my child's internet interest to not veer outside of the Pink Panther You Tube channel, Thomas the Train, and Roary the Racing Car. Because, Dear Lord, if he discovers, I am surely done for.

Now where is that number of that bakery....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

And....I'm 36. Woot.

Greetings and salutations from the closer side to 40. As is usual, I'm behind in posts. No, I'm not having a senior moment (yet) I've just been incredibly busy. That kind of busy where you aren't entirely sure you brushed your teeth? Or put on deodorant? Yeah, that kind of busy.

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote -- I started my new job (hoorah!), my child temporarily went of his gfcfsf diet (oops), I started working out like a fiend (most days at any rate), and I turned 36 (awesome).

The job is great; I forgot how fulfilling it can be to a) work with people not in immediate need of psychiatry; b) work with people you can trust; c) have total creative license over your job; and d) with people who trust you to do all of the things (and then some) you were hired to do. It makes getting up at the lovely hour of 6:00 a.m. (to which the unemployed become grossly adjusted to NOT doing), driving down the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway (and subsequently the somewhat ominous NTP Bridge), and working my butt off (literally I hope) absolutely worth it.

But there's so much more to it than that. My job isn't just a job, it's a connection to an entire communtiy and network of people that believe in supporting each other. In the 3 weeks since I've been there, I've met several people who are sincerely interested in helping us locate resources and provide the best support available to the little man. Bonus: there's a camp and a private school on our campus; camp is going swimmingly (despite the wicked swimmer's ear he's currently suffering from -- though not suffering so completely that he can't play Indiana Jones on his DS for hours on end) and it looks like private school may actually be an option (which is brilliant because they start later in August and as it is, the public school for which we are zoned starts when we are in Ireland -- and it is decidedly uncool to miss your child's first day of school).

Which brings me to his diet. Trying to maintain a gfcfsf diet when you are in the throes of a relocation, a new home, new job, new grocery stores, etc. defies the word challenege. So we got a little lax about it. Ok maybe a little more than a little -- especially with the dairy. Did it make a difference? Well that's kind of what we wanted to know. You see once a child's gut has had the chance to recover from that which ails it, you may be able to add dairy back into their diet.

I can say with a straight face, no crossed fingers and with out a trace of humor that my child is unequivocally, absolutely not that child. So we are back on track -- for the saftey of those around us.

Quite honestly we've gotten quite used to a gfcf life ourselves. I can't completely give up the soy because I just genuinely love (organic) tofu. But once you stop eating so much gluten and dairy (esp. gluten) your, excuse my French, ass feels a little less like a manatee floating in open waters. It's quite liberating really.

As for the other stuff...yes, the dreaded I-was-supposed-to-lose-all-this-weight-before-I-turned-36-thing-and-although-I-workout-a-lot-more-than-I-used-to-I-lost-barely-anything-but-it's-ok-because-I-decided-not-to-sweat-doing-it-on-such-a-strict-timeline-because-dieting-when-you've-just-moved-to-another-state-and-started-a-new-job-is-ever-so-slightly-masochistic thing. Yeah...that thing. I don't know if it's just that my body is in shock at the constant level of activity and therefore hanging on to all these excess fat cells in the event it thinks I'm going to up and stop feeding it and just run it all the time but nothing has moved as of yet.

I will say, however, that at the (tender) age of 36, I feel a hell of a lot better. Everything feels a little tighter although I'm not sure if that's some sort of dementia that is setting in as I get closer to 40, but I'm going with it's not and that I am actually doing something right. I'm trying something new tomorrow which I'm keeping to myself in the event that it doesn't work...but if it does, you'll probably never get me to shut up about it.

As for turning 36...what can I tell you? It actually feels kind of fabulous. 35 rocked my world (mostly because I was in a job that I hated passionately that was sedentary and ridiculous; oh, yeah, then I was unemployed for 8 months -- nothing like a little unemployment to crack the foundation of your self-confidence) but 36 feels kind of, well, like me. Maybe it's due in part to the new environs which are a step closer to what I'm looking for in life; maybe it's the physical activity; or maybe it's just that some feel a little more grounded as they get older -- a little more free to be themselves; a little more certain of who they are; and a little more certain of where they want to go.

Or maybe I'm just happy because I don't have any wrinkles!?!?!?!? (well except those squinty couple on my forehead but they are hidden by hair and so therefore do not count.)

Ok, ok, probably a combination of all of the above. Who knows? Whatever it is, I'm just happy it's here. Each day feels a little more me -- each day I am surrounded by beautiful places, beautiful people, all of the things I love; by music that defined how I thought about the world seems which seems to be following me everywhere that I go as of late; although my child has somewhat had a step back, I am lucky to have new resources, a new support system and lots of renewed hope in the treatment we've chosen for his behavioral/developmental "hiccups"; my husband is as dashing, brilliant and funny as ever; and the things we dream about seem just a little bit closer than they did before...things are quite simply good. Well, with the exception of an unexpected auto repair that cost a fortune, the aforementioned life-altering (he's a bit dramatic) swimmer's ear to which my child told me he was dying from (ahem) and the still recovering from unemployment bank account.

Sometimes you have everything you need and you don't even know it.

So I'll happily take 36; besides, in the words of Gertrude Stein, we are always the same age inside, which would make me 4 some days (dance recitals, tinkerbell and kool and the gang); 17 on others (newly found independence, shedding of the great dork factor of high school days gone by); occassionally 26 (a part of me will forever be overseas); and perpetually 72 (for my love of all things old). Does being 36 make me wiser? No, probably not. I don't feign to believe that age = wisdom or even that academics = wisdom. I think wisdom is based solely on life experiences. Of which I am not yet done having.

On that note, I'll leave you with a toast for my 36th and for your year to come: may those who love us, love us; and those who don't love us, may G-d turn their hearts; and if He doesn't turn their hearts may he turn their ankles so that we will know them by their limping.

Here's to life...L'chaim.