Where Are The Parents? {A Lesson On Not Judging Other Moms & Dads}

{This is a beautifully written post by a mom that was raising a child who was disabled. It had me in tears so I wanted to share it with you all. Reminds us to never judge other parents because we don’t know their situation and what they go through on a daily basis.}

Where Are The Parents? By Sue Stuyvesant, Parent

Hey everyone. For those of you who don’t know me (I’m only an occasional poster) I am mom to Michelle, 9 years old, microcephalic, athetoid/spastic CP, cortical visual impairment, seizure disorder — and CUTE! OK, now for the reason I’m posting.

To make a long story short, earlier this week a question was asked by some nitwit official as to why there weren’t more parents (of special needs kids) involved in the local PTA and other issues that have come up that directly involve our kids. His question, which was passed on to me was, “Where are the parents?” I went home that night, started thinking – and boy was I pi**ed – and banged this “little” essay out the next day on my lunch break. By the way, I took copies of this to the school board meeting that night, gave it to a couple of influential people and it WILL get around………….

Where are the parents?

They are on the phone to doctors and hospitals and fighting with insurance companies, wading through the red tape in order that their child’s medical needs can be properly addressed. They are buried under a mountain of paperwork and medical bills, trying to make sense of a system that seems designed to confuse and intimidate all but the very savvy.

Where are the parents?

They are at home, diapering their 15 year old son, or trying to lift their 100 lb. daughter onto the toilet. They are spending an hour at each meal to feed a child who cannot chew, or laboriously and carefully feeding their child through a g-tube. They are administering medications, changing catheters and switching oxygen tanks.

Where are the parents?

They are sitting, bleary eyed and exhausted, in hospital emergency rooms, waiting for tests results to come back and wondering, “Is this the time when my child doesn’t pull through?” They are sitting patiently in hospital rooms as their child recovers from yet another surgery to lengthen hamstrings or straighten backs or repair a faulty internal organ. They are waiting in long lines in county clinics because no insurance company will touch their child.

Where are the parents?

They are sleeping in shifts because their child won’t sleep more than 2 or 3 hours a night, and must constantly be watched, lest he do himself, or another member of the family, harm. They are sitting at home with their child because family and friends are either too intimidated or too unwilling to help with child care and the state agencies that are designed to help are suffering cut backs of their own.

Where are the parents?

They are trying to spend time with their non-disabled children, as they try to make up for the extra time and effort that is critical to keeping their disabled child alive. They are struggling to keep a marriage together, because adversity does not always bring you closer. They are working 2 and sometime 3 jobs in order to keep up with the extra expenses. And sometimes they are a single parent struggling to do it all by themselves.

Where are the parents?

They are trying to survive in a society that pays lip service to helping those in need, as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. They are trying to patch their broken dreams together so that they might have some sort of normal life for their children and their families.

They are busy, trying to survive.

***

Sue Stuyvesant 10/15/96: Permission to duplicate or distribute this document is granted with the provision that the document remains intact. [Sue passed away in October 2003. Michelle passed away a week before she was to turn 18 in September 2005].

Special Needs Moms {A Look Inside}

My cousin posted this on Facebook. I’m not sure of it’s origins but I just had to share :)

Parenting Advice Needed!

My oldest trying to get out of his crib when he was younger. I don't have any pictures of Luke doing so yet.

I am SO tired this morning. My youngest son finally learned how to climb out of his crib. He’s two and a half so I knew it was coming but I didn’t realize just how hard it would be to get him to go to sleep. He was up until MIDNIGHT last night! He kept climbing out of his crib. I finally had to bring in a blanket and pillow and lay there on his floor. I woke up a little after two extremely sore so I do NOT want to do that again. I should also note that he shares a room with his brother. I tried not going in there and figured maybe he would play a bit and then just get tired enough to sleep but he ended up waking up Jacob because he was poking at him.

We are going to transition his crib to a toddler bed today.

What advice do you have for getting him to stay in it and go to sleep?

Thank you in advance for your tips! :)

Signed,

One Tired Mommy

Remembering My Unborn Child

Avery 11/2007

Above is one of the only pictures I have of my child, Avery.

In 2007 I went in for an ultrasound and discovered I was carrying twins. At the same time the Doctor shared that most likely, baby “A” wouldn’t survive.

I was devastated. I had always thought that I didn’t want twins but once I found out I was carrying two children I couldn’t imagine life as anything but a mother of twins. I spent the whole next month hoping for the best but worrying that the baby would not make it.

In December of 2007, my fears were confirmed when only one heartbeat was heard. Though I still had one child growing inside of me I was filled with grief. I wondered what kind of mother I was that I could mourn when I still had life inside of me. That was one of my most difficult and confusing times as a mother.

June 4, 2008, I gave birth to Jacob who was baby “b”. He was healthy and I was thankful that God had given me a son.

In June 2009, I gave birth to Lucas. I had a hard time calling him my second son, since in my mind he was my third child, but I knew that calling him such would confuse people so I say that Lucas is my second child.

Two children later and I still think of baby “a” (who I have since named Avery). Would I be the mother of three rambunctious boys or two wild boys and one sweet, calm girl? Would Avery have had blonde hair like Jacob or brown hair like Lucas or maybe even red like grandpa’s? What would life have been like raising twins?

I will never know.

My prayer today, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, is that no other parents would have to wonder these things, that every mom would give birth to the child they carried and that no parent would have to bury their son or daughter.

If you are raising children I hope that this serves as a reminder of just how blessed you are and that you hug them a little tighter today.

Motherhood {Saturday Stumbles}

*I love this prayer calendar from Kat at Inspired to Action that gives us 30 topics we can pray for our children.

*Great post entitled: Motherhood is Application (here’s an exerpt:  “This isn’t a time for a gospel presentation because it is a time for gospel application. This is a time to take the grace that God has extended to you, and feed your children with it. Apply what you believe about God’s mercy and kindness and long suffering towards us, and pour it out to them — in a form they can believe in.”

*One mom shares how she enjoys motherhood here.

*Post about Balancing Motherhood With Career (Or NOT)

*A Motherhood Manifesto (Printable)

So true...

***

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! If you have any Motherhood posts you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below :)

Bullying: Words Can Kill

I normally don’t publish press releases but the preview for this 48 hours special brought tears to my eyes. Please share this with all the parents of tweens and teens that you know and please tune in on September 16th to learn more and potentially save your child’s life.

CBS NEWS PRESENTS A 48 HOURS SPECIAL ON BULLYING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
 “BULLYING: WORDS CAN KILL,” TO BE BROADCAST ON FRIDAY, SEPT. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT)
As a new school year begins across the country, more than 160,000 children will stay home every day because they are afraid of being bullied. That is just one of the startling facts in the CBS News/ 48 HOURS presentation “Bullying: Words Can Kill.” Reported by correspondent Tracy Smith, the program airing Friday, Sept. 16 (8:00 PM, ET/PT) reveals how the explosion in technology is only making bullying worse, as victims cannot find relief from their tormentors in a 24/7 digital world. The report will have important new information for parents, educators and legislators about how bullying affects children and how to address it.
For six months, producers and camera crews were allowed in-depth access to the classrooms, cafeteria and gym at a Rhode Island middle school that is one of the few in theUnited States that has openly acknowledged it has a bullying problem and has taken action to address it. The 48 HOURS special documents the real lives of students at that particular school, and has the powerful stories of other young people and their families from around the country who have felt the impact of bullying firsthand.One constantly harassed 13-year-old told Smith, “They got inside my head. They did it because they knew it would hurt.” His mother said dropping him off at school was like “sending him off to war.” Tragically, more than 150 children have taken their own lives in recent years because they were victims of harassment in school and online. Among those featured in the broadcast:
Dara Genovese, 13, bullying victim: “If you have ever been bullied, harassed, tortured, which I hope you haven’t, let me tell you, it is the worst. I mean, worst feeling ever. You’re laying in bed and you’re just thinking, like… what would it be like if you’re not here? Like… would it be better? Or, like, would people be happier – or just – just you wonder, you think a lot of questions.”
Johnny Cagno, victim of bullying who attempted suicide at age 14: “When you’re tortured every single day, it gets to you. I was very, very scared to go to school every day.”
Lisa Cagno, Johnny’s mother: “He was hurting himself. He was cutting himself, and he would just (say), ‘I hate myself, I don’t want to live anymore. I hate my life. Nobody likes me, no one cares about me.’ And I just – I would just have to constantly just reassure him. I couldn’t get those feelings out of his head.”
Cynthia Logan, a parent who lost her daughter because of bullying: “We have principals in our schools and superintendents who don’t want to acknowledge the problem. They don’t want it to be their problem. I did as much as I could do as a parent, knowing as little as I did.”
This broadcast is produced by Deborah Grau and Judy Rybak. The senior producers are Kathleen O’Connell and Paul Ryan, and Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.

Organizing For A New School Year

Jacob starts preschool next week so I am busy preparing our family and our household for everything that this new season of our life will bring. I thought I’d share 10 things I’m doing to get ready for the start of the school year and hope that you will share some of your tips with me (especially if you have done this whole school thing before!)

1) Establish a weekly schedule. Things won’t be exactly the same every week but for the most part our routine will not change that much from week to week. I suggest writing the schedule down and posting it so everyone in the family knows the routines. Consider adding in details such as when to leave the house if you are going to be having dad, grandma, or a sitter help with some of the routines. Make sure to also schedule time for yourself!

2) Pull out the calendar. Add all school meetings, days off, and events to your personal calendar.

3) Organizing clothes. First, start by catching up on laundry if you aren’t already. Go through all of the kid’s clothing you currently have out and put aside anything that doesn’t fit or is unwearable. Pull out the fall/winter clothes and put them away in the closets and drawers. It’s still going to be hot here for another month or so but this saves you from having to do this later on. I also am going to be putting out a week’s worth of outfits every Sunday night so I have one less thing to do in the mornings. If your child picks out their own outfits they can do this ahead of time, too.

4) Establish new routines. Every year something in your schedule is bound to be different. A week or two before the first day of school start practicing the routines. For me I need to see how long it will take me to get to Jacob’s school during rush hour so I make sure he’s not late on his first day of school. I also want to figure out where his soccer gymnasium is located so I’m not searching for it on his first day of soccer. I will also be practicing getting myself out of bed and ready before the boys need me so I can see how long our morning routine will take us and plan accordingly.

5) Cleaning. I will be making sure my house and car are clean so I can start the school year off right. I am also going to create a cleaning schedule for my family so I can {hopefully} stay on top of things.

6) Meal planning. I’ve tried menu planning in the past and not followed through with it because I often cook whatever sounds good in the moment but I am planning on trying a loose meal plan of just a few meals to make throughout the week. I also hope to get some freezer meals prepared ahead of time for nights that are really busy. This will save me from picking something up on the way home that isn’t very healthy.

7) Contain the paper piles. Establish a place in the home for school/extracurricular papers. For some families this might be a binder, folder, or shelf in a kitchen cabinet. Also, find a home for the mail so it doesn’t overtake your kitchen. For school papers I will be using a binder. For mail I use a basket that I stick mail in and then go through it once a week while I watch TV.

8) Put together an emergency bag for the car. This should contain an extra set of clothes and whatever else your child may need. This is good to have in your car for a last minute sleepover, an overnight at Grandma’s, or a muddy day on the playground.

9) Gather the school supplies. Look at what items you already have and what you need to purchase. Consider buying extra supplies while they are on sale so you  have them on hand if your child runs out during the school year.

10) Get yourself ready! Maybe that means scheduling a Doctor’s appointment for yourself, getting a haircut, or investing in a new planner. Whatever it is, make sure that in all the craziness of getting ready for a new school year you don’t forget about yourself.

***

So those are my top 10 tips. What tips do you have for me? What have you found works to help you start the school year off right?

Happy Mother’s Day!

***

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

Please take time to do something for yourself today!

National Mom’s Nite Out TONIGHT

Today, May 5, is National Moms Nite Out a day where mom’s can go out for the evening and not feel guilty {I even saw one site say that “even inmates get time off  for good behavior”}.

Simon Malls is hosting over 100 events at malls all over the United States tonight. You can see if your mall is listed here. To see some of the brands that are sponsoring the event and the list of blogging partners {including me!} you can view the list here.

Will you be attending an event at one of the malls or at another location? I’d love to hear about it!

Rainy Day Fun {Top Ten Tuesday}

As I write this we are having another dreary, rainy day in Chicago. Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is a list of fun things to do with your family on a rainy day:

1. Head to an indoor playground. Many McDonald’s, community centers, and malls have children’s play areas where children can play for free. There are also other indoor playgrounds that cost money including: Monkey Joes, Lil Monkey Bizness, and Pump It Up.

2. Have a movie day (and don’t forget the popcorn)!

3. Bake. Kids love to help in the kitchen. Even young kids can help! My toddler likes to do the pouring and stirring.

4. Create a rainy day box that only comes out on rainy days. Fill the box w/ craft supplies or special toys and take rainy days from boring to *fun*!

5. Head to a local museum or aquarium.

6. Bring the outdoor fun inside. If you have items outside that can be played safely inside bring them in. We have a slide that can easily be brought inside for the day.

7. Have an indoor picnic. Spread out a blanket and have lunch on the floor of your living room. Make sure to choose easy finger foods for the meal.

8. Build a fort. Using pillows and blankets help your children make a fort. Make it simple or go all out adding a flag, decor, and anything else they can think of to personalize it.

9. Play a game. Board games, card games, duck-duck-goose, and make believe games all make the day seem to go by faster.

10. Cuddle on the couch with some good books.

{And as a bonus…}

11. Run “drive thru” errands. This may not be too fun at the time but doing these things on a rainy day means that you can be outside having fun on the sunny days! Consider the following errands that can be done without leaving your car: dropping off mail at the post office, picking up prescriptions, returning books and  movies, making a deposit at the bank, etc. (As a bonus, how about picking up lunch on your way home?)

What does your family do on rainy days? I’d love to hear your ideas! :)

Guilt-Free Parenting Week

I am part of the BabyCenter blog network so I wanted to share about Guilt-Free Parenting Week which starts today! Here is more information from BabyCenter:

According to a survey of 5,000 moms on BabyCenter®, the #1 pregnancy and parenting destination worldwide, 94 percent of moms feel guilty about some aspect of their parenting, from the amount of time they spend with their kids to the kind of diapers they use. In response, BabyCenter today announced it will be hosting a Guilt-Free Parenting Week, urging moms and dads everywhere to let go of the guilt and celebrate the joys of parenting.

“This week is designed for moms and dads to take a step back, breathe deeply, and stop being so hard on themselves or other parents. We’re all doing the best we can for our kids,” said Linda Murray, BabyCenter Editor-in-Chief. “Perfect parents don’t exist, and kids don’t need them to thrive. Guilt-Free Parenting Week is about accentuating the positive, cutting ourselves some slack, and celebrating the joys of parenthood.”

According to the BabyCenter survey, moms feel most guilty about:

1.     Feeding their babies formula

2.     Using TV as a babysitter

3.     Being environmentally unfriendly

4.     Feeding kids junk food

5.     Leaving their child with another caregiver

6.     Yelling at their kids

7.     Not being able to afford all the extras

***

In keeping with guilt-free parenting week… My boys ate cinnamon covered french toast sticks for breakfast today and watched way too much TV. I realize those aren’t the best choices I have made as a parent but you know what? I love my kids and am doing the best I can for them.

Will you let go of your mommy guilt today?

Guest Post: Easing Separation

The following is a guest post by Jessica of I’m Not Your Everyday Average Mom!

I have recently started working out again. I figured after 18 months I can no longer say that I “just had” a baby and am carrying around baby weight. My husband wanted to get back into shape too from his “baby weight” and we decided that the best choice for our family was to join the local YMCA. They have a great work out facility, exercise classes for me, and a large adult pool plus a kiddy pool that is 10 degrees warmer than the adult pool. The kid’s pool stars off at 0 feet and slowly goes deeper so both of my kids can enjoy it without us holding them the whole time! Our kids’ favorite part of the YMCA is the gigantic water slide that we are allowed to take them down on. MY favorite part of the YMCA is the FREE childcare that is offered! They have an outdoor play area, an inside classroom area, and then a climber inside for kids to play on.

My son gets excited to go and play, but my daughter on the other hand develops superman like strength and clings onto me with a death grip. She then shakes her head back and forth and says “no, no, no, no!” I hate having to pry her off of me and hand her to the gal that works there, but I know in 5 minutes she will be laughing and running around with her brother and all of the other kids! It is just so heart wrenching to see her cry and get upset because I am leaving her there. It has gotten much better over the past 3 weeks and I feel like she is doing well because of a few things that I am doing.

I have had to remember what I learned in school about child development (I am a certified teacher birth-8th grade), and how to make transitions smoother for children.

Here are a few tips and things that I have been trying, and I find that they are working well!

  • Don’t sneak out…I know that it is hard not to, because you won’t have to see the melt down, but tell your child goodbye and that you will be back to pick them up soon! That way you are not disappearing, but telling your child what is going on.
  • Know the person’s name that is going to be looking after you child. I have been saying to my daughter “Look, it’s Amy! Remember her? She is going to play with you while mommy is in the gym!”
  • Let your child bring their blanket, stuffed animal, or other comfort item with them. I have been letting my daughter bring in her blanket. She usually ditches it within the first 10 min, but it helps her to have something of comfort when I leave.
  • Give them some extra cuddle and love time when you get back!

I know that things will get easier and she will soon LOVE to go and play! It is just going to take time!

What tips and tricks do you use when dropping off your child at a day care, or when leaving them with a sitter to make things easier?

To read more from Jessica visit her blog!
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Just a Bit of Perspective…

A few hours ago I was fed up. I had declared this day to be “one of my worst mommy days ever” and was literally ready for it to be tomorrow. Ok, so sometimes I can be a little dramatic… I’m sure I have had worse days but this day was seriously horrible.

A little background: Both my children have bronchitis which meant I was tired from being up a lot the night before cleaning out noses. It also meant the boys were extremely cranky because they were not feeling well. On top of this I think they gave me some of their sick germs because I was was congested and feeling a head cold coming on.

Since it was the weekend most of you moms out there would assume that I probably had help. Nope, not the case. Daddy was working which meant I was home alone. I was dealing with things up until that point but then I got a call from Sinisa that he was working 5 hours longer than he was originally scheduled to. This is when I lost it and demanded that he tell his boss no he couldn’t work overtime because he needed to go home to his family. Oh. Yes. I. Did. Long story short he stayed at work and when he came home I was in a better mood.

Why?

BECAUSE I PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE…

Sinisa was working all day BUT at least he has a job.

My kids are sick BUT at least they are home and not sick enough they had to be hospitalized.

Lucas didn’t want to take his medicine BUT at least we had insurance to pay for the medicine.

Jacob wiped snot all over me continuously BUT at least we had tissues he could have used.

Lucas spit carrots in my face BUT at least I had a sense of humor.

Jacob was cranky BUT at least he has toys to play with and TV to take his mind off of being sick.

Lucas had major diarrhea BUT at least I have other diapers and clothes to put him in.

Jacob dumped two bowls full of food on the ground BUT at least he has food to eat.

Lucas cried a lot BUT at least he can vocalize his feelings.

As for me-

I’m tired BUT at least I have a warm bed to crawl into.

I have a messy house BUT at least I have a roof over my head.

I have a huge to-do list BUT at least I have opportunities for future personal growth.

I was frustrated BUT at least I have friends to talk to that reassure me that things will get better.

I had a hard day BUT at least I am alive and have a family to complain about.

AND I have an awesome little sister who, as I type, is making homemade cookies *and she even offered to let me lick the spoon*. Chocolate cookies make everything a little better, don’t ya think? :)