My new normal (and possibly my new, new normal)

Having children who are five, four, and almost three is a lot of work. That’s obvious. I also work three days a week. There are definitely days when I think it would be easier if I stayed home, but first, that’s not really financially feasible, and second, sometimes I think I just need that time away to have adult conversations and to have a professional life. Christian and I are very lucky that both sets of our parents help out on the days that I work.

Our typical week looks something like this:

Monday: I take Colin to school at 8:30am and then go to work. Christian takes Noah and Zoe to school at 9am and then he goes to work. My mom picks Colin up at 12:30pm and then Noah and Zoe at 2pm. She keeps them at her house until 6 or 6:30pm when Christian or I can pick them up.

Tuesday: I take Colin to school at 8:30am and then go to work. Christian takes Noah and Zoe to school at 9am and then he goes to work. His mom picks Colin up at 12:30pm and then Noah and Zoe at 2pm. She keeps them at our house until 6 or 6:30pm when Christian or get home.

Wednesday: Christian takes Colin to school at 8:30am. I take Noah and Zoe to school at 9am then I have 2.5 hours of “free time.” This is when I go to the doctor myself, go to Colin’s conferences, meet contractors at our house, etc, etc, etc. I pick Colin up at 12:30pm and then get Noah and Zoe at 2pm. We come back to our house where we meet Colin’s nutritionist and/or developmental therapist.

Thursday: I take Colin to school at 8:30am and then go to work. Christian takes Noah and Zoe to my parents’. Noah and Zoe go with my mom to pick Colin up at 12:30pm, and then she keeps them all until we pick them up at 6 or 6:30pm.

Friday: Christian takes Colin to school at 8:30am and then he goes to work. I’m home with Noah and Zoe until we pick Colin up at 12:30pm. Then we come home to meet Colin’s psychologist and/or occupational therapist.

Saturday: The kids all have some sort of lessons. We did gymnastics for a while, just finished swimming, and started soccer this weekend. Amazingly, I have been able to find places where all three kids can take lessons at the same time. Right now, Noah is in “Big Feet” and Zoe is in “Hoppers” soccer from 10:45-11:35am. Colin is in a parent/child “Thumpers” class from 11-11:45am.

Sunday: We attempt to recover.

OK, so that’s a typical week. In a typical week, one can imagine that it’s difficult to do all of that, plus laundry, cook dinners, bathe children, clean the house, go to the grocery, etc. I was telling someone about my typical week lately, and she freaked out a little, like, “How do you DO all of that?”

I just do. It’s my new normal. It’s stressful, but it is what it is.

What is really stressful though, is when we have stuff on top of the normal stuff, and we seem to have a lot of that lately. Two weeks ago was bad, last week was even worse, and I don’t think this week is going to get much better.

Two weeks ago:

  • Christian’s dad had a cardiac ablation to correct an irregular heart rhythm. He is doing well, but he also has a leaky valve, and it may need to be replaced. Obviously we are worried.
  • I had a transition meeting with representatives from our state’s early intervention program and our school district. When Colin turns three in July, his services will become district-based. After the meeting, I think he will qualify for the developmental pre-school in our township, so he would go to his current school in the morning, to the developmental school in the afternoon, and then he would ride the bus home. It would be great if it all works out, but we won’t know for sure until May. I am anxious about the whole thing.
  • We had to get bids to replace our stupid sewer pipe. Water started backing up in our basement around the beginning of the year. We had the pipe rootered and the water went away. It came back several weeks later. We were told we needed to replace the whole thing for thousands of dollars.
  • We had an appointment with Colin’s developmental pediatrician (we see him every three months) and he is suggesting we put Colin on Adderrall. We knew this was coming because he has mentioned it before, but I am uneasy about medicating my child who isn’t even three yet. When I have questioned the doctors on things like this before though (not wanting to give Colin Reglan, not believing he could have FAS), I have been wrong, so maybe we should do it? We haven’t decided what to do yet. I am so conflicted.

Last week:

  • Noah started off puking Monday morning. I stayed home with him. He seemed to be feeling better after a few hours, so we picked Colin up from school and then went to my office for a little while. I had to get our newsletter out. We weren’t there very long, but Colin ended up going into one of his rages and threw my desk phone. I left crying.
  • Zoe decided she doesn’t like sleeping in her own room, so she started crying two to four hours a night. We let her come in our room the first night because we thought she didn’t feel well, but we couldn’t keep doing that. One night she cried until 1am. We’ve rocked her, talked to her, tried to leave a light on, tried leaving her door open, etc, etc, etc. It’s down to about an hour of crying now, but it is awful.
  • We spent thousands of dollars to the sewer line replaced. It had been raining forever, so not only is there a big pile of dirt where they had to dig 50 feet from our house to the street (we have to leave it there to settle or we end up with a giant whole), but the entire yard is messed up where they drove the back hoe. I don’t think we are going to have any grass left. They also had to take out a bush and two sections of the walk to our front door. I don’t know how we will afford to have it repaired or when Christian will have time to do it himself.
  • We toured the developmental pre-school. It went well, but again, Colin won’t be evaluated until May and I am anxious about the whole thing.
  • I went into work on Wednesday during my “free time” to try to make up some time from Monday (so I didn’t have to take sick time).
  • Colin had a speech evaluation.  The result of the eval was that he could probably use services, but we’re not going to do it because I don’t know WHEN we would do it. We’re going to try to just work it into his other services instead, so I don’t think I’m hurting him by turning down speech services, but again, I am conflicted.
  • We got some news about Colin’s birthmom, and we will not be seeing her for a long time.
  • Christian’s parents went on vacation (so obviously his dad is feeling better), and we dog sat for their new puppy. Remember how I posted that we are crazy because we got a third dog? Well, imagine having four. She would not use the dog door, nor would she go when we let her out into the backyard. She would only go when walked. Poor Christian had our little carpet cleaning machine out at least twice a day. Plus, with all of the melting snow and then rain we’ve had, our backyard is just muck, and the four dogs constantly drag it in. I am so tired of mud and dog hair!

This week:

  • We have someone coming tomorrow to tell us how much it will cost to put our yard back together. We’ve always wanted to add a front porch to our house since it is really plain, so we are also going to get a quote for that. On one hand, it doesn’t make sense to spend money putting the walkway and landscaping back together if we plan to just rip it out someday, so doing the porch now would make sense. On the other hand, it will probably cost a lot of money and we don’t have too much of that right now. We have a big tax refund coming, and we had planned to use part of it to take the kids to a Vietnam culture camp this summer and then spend a few days in New York City, but we may have to put that on hold if we do this porch. We’ve already mentioned New York and the camp to the kids and I’m afraid they will be disappointed (and Christian and I really want to go, so we will be disappointed, too).
  • On Wednesday, we have our first conference at Colin’s new school. I have a much better feeling about this school than I did the other ABA school, so I am hoping the conference goes well, but I have to admit that I am freaking out a bit.
  • After the conference, I have a doctor’s appointment. The I will pick Colin up from school, go get the other kids from school early, and take all three of them to the dentist. I have a few concerns about Colin’s teeth. I’m afraid his alignment is a little off because he is having difficulty biting things. We still have to cut his food into tiny pieces. Also, his enamel doesn’t look quite right to me. A lot of FAS kids have thin tooth enamel, and I’m afraid that’s the case with him. His developmental therapist is going with us to help, because I’m not sure how long we can get him to stay in the chair. Also, I’m worried about Noah. We’ve been talking about going to the dentist and he says he’s going to be OK, but the last time we went he had just gotten out of the hospital and he freaked out.  I’m nervous. I hate the dentist anyway and I freak out when I go, but it’s ten times worse to see your kid freak out.

After that:

I am just looking at my calendar for the rest of March and April, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get much better.

  • We have a neighborhood association meeting coming up, and they have been sending out e-mails that they desperately need board members and event chairs. I KNOW I am going to do it, because I’m silly like that. What’s one more thing?
  • Colin has an appointment with the gastroenterologist. Hopefully he will say it’s OK to take Colin off the Reglan, so maybe that one will be a good appointment. I have to take off work for it though, so then I have to figure out how to make up that time.
  • Colin has an appointment with the ENT. If his tubes are still in his ears (where they were still firmly planted eight weeks ago), he will have surgery to remove them in April. He’s had them for two years, and in most kids they would have just fallen out on their own in that time. Not my kid though!
  • Colin has to be re-evaluated for the state’s early intervention program so that he can recieve services in June 9th-July 8th. His IFSP expires June 9th, and then he turns three July 9th. If we want him to have services for that single month, he has to go through a whole new evaluation.
  • Christian and I are meeting with a financial planner to set up a special needs trust for Colin, and then we need to meet with an attorney to change our wills. If Colin ever qualifies for Medicaid, he can’t have more than $1,500 in assets. Obviously we hope for the best – that he will live a normal, independent life – but we have to plan for the worst. This trust will protect him if he can’t live independently. It’s a smart thing for us to do for him, but it’s stressful to have to think about the worst-case scenario.
  • My mom is looking for a job. I’m stressed for us because I don’t know if it will affect her ability to help with the kids, but I’m pretty sure we’ll figure it out. I’m stressed for my parents because I know they need the extra income, and I’m stressed for my mom because I can tell she is frustrated by the search. It’s just hard for everyong to be in the waiting phase.
  • I’m getting a new boss, but I don’t know when. I work for an order of nuns and my boss is the Mother Superior. The Mother Superior can only serve two three-year terms in a home, and our Mother’s time is up. We’re expecting the announcement any day. I know what the current Mother expects of me and she has been very understanding when I have had to take time off because of the kids or because of my back. The new Mother could be wonderful, but transition is always difficult. And, what if she’s horrible?

So maybe this is my new, new normal?  Ugh, that’s kind of depressing. Someday my life has to stop going warp-speed, right? I keep telling myself that things will settle down in the fall, if Colin gets into the developmental pre-school. Then OT, DT, speech, etc would be school-based instead of appointment-based, taking some pressure off of me, and off of Noah and Zoe, since they usually have to deal with these appointments, too. Plus, Noah will be in full-day kindergarten and we signed Zoe up for pre-school five days a week (but I’ll have to write a whole new post on how we will manage all of the pick-ups and drops-offs).

And, by the way, kuddos to you if you have read this whole thing. (You rock!) I didn’t mean for this to turn into a 2,400 word post. Sorry for the whining!


19 thoughts on “My new normal (and possibly my new, new normal)

  1. Just getting caught up on everything here… wow o wow…. thoughts and prayers coming your way for ALL you have to process and all that is going on…

  2. Holy cow Tracy, that is a lot… I’m pretty sure you need a vacation scheduled in there somewhere just to get away from all that stress. (hugs)

  3. Okay, first? Don’t apologize for whining. Not on your own blog. And not with your life. Wonder Woman is allowed to talk about her hectic life and we do not call it whining. We call it Winning (sorry. couldn’t help it).

    Second? I’m worn out just reading all that.

    Third? What time does the drinking start?

    • I think the drinking needs to start very soon. The only problem is that I have zero time for a hangover.

  4. Ain’t life grand? I am exhausted just thinking about yours!

    My advice on the HOA…skip the meeting and just meet me for a margarita. You will thank me later.


    • Jan – I know you are right, but you know I’m going to the meeting. We’ll have to do the margarita another time. I just can’t help myself. Besides, I’ve met some pretty great people on the HOA in my other neighborhoods!

          • Jan – I am not President! We’re hosting the dessert round of the neighborhood progressive dinner in the fall, I’m researching our 501(c)3 status, and Christian is going to work on a website, but I’m not President!

    • Christian is really pretty good about letting me sleep in on Sundays. I don’t know what I would do without that!

  5. Trace : I’m gonna tell you what I tell my students in one of my many yoga classes…”Breathe in deep using a diaphragmatic manner…exhale, allow the sholders to lift, roll back; then down and inhale again. Now gently shake your head from side to side, as if you are saying NO…remembering it is OK to say NO once in awhile…you don’t have to shoulder the world alone.” I seriously need to get over there to see you and the kids again. Maybe teach you some meditation and breathing techniques for calming…quieting the chatter of the mind. Much love girl.

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