Motherhood and self esteem….


 

As little boys my older two were so different. We lived in a neighborhood where there were a lot of little kids. This was awesome. They had playmates right within reach. I loved it.

My oldest boy was the calm, reasonable, compliant one and my second one was difficult. He was the one who argued. He was oppositional and sometimes not super fun to be around.

I knew when he was little something was different about him and by 3rd grade it was confirmed. He had ADHD.

Not a death sentence; a learning disability.

Like I said, we lived in this smallish neighborhood where our kids were all essentially the same age. At this point in my mothering career I began to recognize the nuances of insecurity in my fellow mommies. It’s no surprise that when so much of ourselves is invested into our parenting, our self worth gets shaky.



I think there’s something wrong with my little boy.


When my middle son was in kindergarten I suspected something was up. He had such a hard time trying to focus on his homework. Part of me attributed this to the fact that he was young for his grade and therefore was just a little immature……. The other part suspected something more.

He managed to make it through kindergarten but each year the struggle to complete his homework became more pronounced and his teachers all made the same comment.

“Mrs. Gallagher, C is having some difficulties. He daydreams quite a bit and he spends most of  his recess finishing the work the students do in class.”

By the time he was in 3rd grade I knew in my heart that my son had Attention Deficit Disorder.

C wasn’t necessarily hyper, he was more classically inattentive. He could quietly slide under a desk during class with out the teacher even noticing. He wasn’t disruptive he simply couldn’t pay attention.

While doing his homework after school, I would have him sit at the table in the kitchen so I could prompt him to stay focused.

I wish I’d known to let him take a break and run around instead of making him start on his work immediately after school. Hindsight tells me he needed to get his wiggles out, but I was too over-focused on getting him to obey me and complete his work.

 I didn’t understand what he really needed.

I was concentrating too hard on what I thought was necessary.  I felt C needed to get his homework done in a timely manner and I was determined to make that happen.

After 3 plus hours of homework both of us were usually reduced to tears. Every night. This was the routine for us. I knew children inherently want to please their parents and figures of authority, and he wasn’t getting a thing out of not completing his work at home. I wasn’t positively reinforcing his bad behavior. There was no reward in carrying on for 3 hours. It just didn’t add up.

He got plenty of attention otherwise so this wasn’t an attempt at one on one time with me. He was exhausted and I knew it

Thank goodness, C’s 3rd grade teacher was very in tune to what was going on with him. I hadn’t had any teacher even mention ADHD let alone admit he may have a problem. Each teacher prior to that point had all thought he was young and immature.

I’d read enough on the subject and I was pretty sure of what was going on in my little boy’s head. I just needed to get someone to listen to me. I wanted him tested at school but that’s no small feat to accomplish. It takes the right teacher to convince the school district to allow an assessment to take place.

Praise God, C had that teacher.

Test itself is actually a survey that my husband, C’s teacher, and I had to fill out. It asks questions about the student and the one completing the survey has to rate the behavior………..frequently, sometimes, and seldom.

During the process there were two meetings with the principal, his teacher, the learning specialist and the district psychologist. The initial meeting was to pinpoint the problem with my son and get some idea of what was suspected to be the cause of his struggles. Each of the professionals in that room were very supportive and truly listened to me; all except one.

The school district psychologist asked me about my older son, who happened to be a very good student and then insinuated that I was seeking help because my #2 son wasn’t a carbon copy.  He implied that I was annoyed he required more time from me.

Really?

I’m positive he could feel my contempt for him from across the room. I was infuriated, but I knew that there was indeed something wrong with C and the test would show it. The truth would make itself known; I just had to be patient.

And, lo and behold, once the questionnaire was evaluated the diagnosis was a plain as day. At the next meeting the idiot school psychologist had to eat his words. Right in front of me. Victory.

I tried limiting his sugar intake.  No caffeine. We watched out for foods that had red dye in them. I tried supplements. For him, nothing worked.

The course we chose to take is not always a popular one.

My husband wasn’t super excited about treating C with medication, but he allowed me to look into it. He himself has the disorder as well as my brother and my sister. I watched first hand as my brother struggled throughout school because they didn’t recognize his learning disability. I didn’t want that to happen to my son.

I wanted him to feel successful and capable. He was so smart but when you can’t get things onto paper you give up trying. I worried his self esteem would suffer greatly due to his inability to do well in school……….. And, once he got to that point, I was concerned he wouldn’t continue to try…….that he’d simply give up.

I couldn’t let that happen.

I made an appointment to see the pediatrician for the next step in treatment. As advised by the doctor, we went with a low dosage of a medication to start C out on to see what worked best.

What happened after that was a miracle to me.

The first morning C took his medication I was really nervous. I kept picturing my little boy in spontaneous combustion. I had him eat his breakfast first and then he took the tablet.

He must have felt my anxiety because he was anxious as well. I told him everything would be okay and we walked to school. He mentioned that his stomach felt funny but from the things he said, I knew it didn’t hurt so I continued to encourage him as we walked to school.

I heard nothing all day and at dismissal I went to pick up the boys from school.

Once at home he told me what his morning was like.

“Mommy in class I was very quiet and my friend Austin asked me if I was okay. I told him I was but that my stomach felt funny. He asked me if I wanted to tell the teacher and I said, no. Then he asked if I wanted to call my mom but I told him, No, because she won’t do anything.”

“Mommy,” he said looking at me with his crystal blue eyes, “I wanted to say to him, I just need a friend.”

That he could put that into words was amazing to me. My eight year old little boy. I’d never heard him talk that way before; about feelings. He’d never been able to express himself that completely.

I turned to him and stood him on our kitchen chair so that he could be eye to eye with me. Tears were streaming down my face. In his short little life we’d had plenty of run ins. From the time he was born it seemed he’d always hung on to me with one hand and pushed me away with the other. His inability to focus caused his anxiety to go through the roof. His brain was always running on on super-speed. I’ve had to be the target in order for him to decompress.

For him to be able to really talk to me was the best gift ever.

“Sweetheart,’ I said, “I promise you from this day forward your life is going to change.”

“Mommy, my life already changed when you told my teacher there was something wrong.”

 

Fast forward. C is now 17. School has still been bit of a struggle, but with help of a variation of an IEP and medication he has managed to reach his senior year of high school. Medication for him hasn’t been a cure-all and there were many years as a young boy that behavior modification came into play. We have done the best we could with the information we were given. Not everyone would agree with how we chose to handle his disorder, but for us, this has been the best way.

 



Stuff people have said to me that strikes me as funny…..


“You should be a stand up comedian.”

Cool, but I’d never make a dime……besides I’d only crack myself up and then  inadvertently pee my pants…..which people probably wouldn’t find very funny……..

“You know Karyn, you only have about 5 good days a month.”

My husband.  Yeah, the one who values me for my brain, although probably not my hormones……….thanks sweetie……jerk…………hope you’re in on one of those days………….

“Are you from Texas? Because you look like you should be from Texas.”

I was meeting some girlfriends at a restaurant for a birthday celebration and this would be a mix of quite a few diferent people; many I didn’t know.

I no sooner walk in and sit down when this little snip of a chick says this to me.

Uh, for reals? Have another tequila shot, Missy. We say these things to strangers? I think not……..

That was a backhanded b*tch-slap of a compliment……..which I didn’t find too terribly complimentary. Seriously. What constitutes looking like a friggin Texan. Hell, my hair isn’t even that big………..

“Oh Karyn, should have been a governor’s wife.”

What, because I look like the kind of woman who’d put up with my husband sleeping with the help?

I totally get how that happens, I mean I understand……..maybe mama is a cold fish or something………..but I’d probably be a teensy bit irate, do something irrational…..thereby making it not too super cool to be a governors wife…

Arnold was still in office at the time. So thank you, but no thank you.

Of course the money from the divorce would be pretty sweet.

You have the face of a movie star.”

A delusional old lady with a profoundly lazy eye .

I couldn’t figure out A, who she was talking to and B, which eye was looking where.

At 14 years of age, this may have very well been my first experience with someone touched by Alzheimer’s disease. I was puzzled.

I was at the height of my awkward stage. Not cute.

And, probably the beginning of me learning to smile when I don’t know what else to do…………then looking like an idiot so as not to appear rude.

I get my manners from my mother.

I think we were at the zoo, which explains a lot……..

When I said she was old I meant OLD. Bless her little lazy-eyed heart.

and…………..obviously it didn’t mean sh*t because I became a hair dresser…………

“Karyn has NEVER had a weight problem!

NOT an old boyfriend, but a friend from high school upon seeing me after 28 years. Once again, thank you Facebook…….I sound like a stalker don’t I?

Saaweeet! But uh, how in the world would he know?

He hadn’t seen me in 28 years.

I found my friend T and we made arrangements to get together. The four of us had a great time…T’s wife and my husband and the 2 of us. Wait that sounds funny…I mean he and his wife and me and my husband. Together but not together…..

While we were having drinks somehow the conversation turned to my and T’s high school years. My husband didn’t go to school with me so it was fun to have someone there who knew me “when”.

Hell, I’ve had 3 kids I’ve been fat plenty of times.

My husband of course, has been with me all this time so he knows how I’ve changed over the years. He thinks my life didn’t even start til he met me.

That’s okay Babe, think whatever you want…….

 



Isn’t that kind of personal?


I do very personal things to myself while thinking of you”….

He actually used only one word  to describe what he does to himself…..but I could barely write this so, you figure it out………
*heebie jeebie shivers*

Thank you little dude from 24 Hr Fitness….

This was a guy that worked at my gym; a veritable stranger! He ended up at a community party I was attending…….Plastered when he said it, while teetering toward me he proceeded to tell me that he knew who I was.

‘Scuse me?

Sh*t I thought it was his job to be polite and smile when I came into the gym. For God’s sake they ALL smile when you come in…..That’s what they do. They greet you with a ,        “Hi I’m so glad you’re here to work your fat ass out” grin………
While I’m having this revelation, I successfully dodge his 5’2 body.  I sh*t you not. I’m trying to maintain and one of my friends is cocking his fist…..from his wheel chair, no less………saying, “Karyn, you want me to take care of this?”
“No it’s okay, I got it. I’m good.”

He was harmless I was sure…..just a tad odd…….understatement of the year…….. and completely toasted.

Who am I kidding? I was totally weirded out. I kept thinking I couldn’t have heard right. Right? Who says stuff like that?! Isn’t that kind of personal?!

As I backed away from him he told me that work was moving him to another gym location the next week.

Hmmmmm, duly noted…

Totally disturbed to the nth degree, I waited a whole month to go back making sure the coast was clear…………I think he thought he was paying me a compliment.

Blechhhh….

 



I’m sorry, what did you say?


-“You rook rike Hiraly Crinton.”

Hmmmmmmmmm? Pardon?

I’m sorry, were you talking to me?
Thank you little Asian man working in a clothing store in extremely broken English.

Hiraly. Hiraly. Um, no?

 

I stood there totally puzzled smiling like an idiot because I didn’t want to appear rude. I squinted my eyes shaking my head with my hands up like we were playing charades. He elaborated by pointing at my hair. I have a hairstyle like someone named Hiraly? Wtf?

Oooh……H-i-l-a-r-y!  Hilary Clinton……I get it.

 

Hey……..wait a minute. She’s not exactly a looker. And I’m at least 15 years YOUNGER! Hilary. Huh. Really? Never heard that one before. This can’t be good.

 

My only consolation was that he was relatively new to our country, so maybe, oh crap, I don’t know …..
I wasn’t flattered.



Do you know who I am?


Don’t you recognize me?

I’m the girl that’s always smiling out in public……….the one who’s put together.

Every hair in place .

Make up impeccably applied so as not to attract attention.

I’m helpful and kind putting my best foot forward. Convincing enough so that no one will give me a second look. I’m in complete control and wishing myself into invisibility.

If I appear to be perfectly fine then maybe no one will guess.

I can fade into the wall.

Where no one can see who I really am.

 

I’m the girl who is suffocating under 25 feet of water….walking through waist- high mud.

I’m the one who feels saddness like a wet blanket flung over my shoulders.

My heart beats too fast to be healthy and I have an elephant sitting on my chest making it hard to breathe.

I smile working through it so no one will know how bad I feel.

I’m the girl who uses twice as much energy to work through a bad day…………waiting until I can get into my car turn the music up drowning out the sound of my own voice in my head.

I’m the one who’s tears burn behind my eyes on days when I can’t compose myself.

 

Do you know who I am?

I’m yet another face of depression……..



I won, I won, I won!


**Congratulations to Karyn Gallagher, winner of Rockin’ Wine’s wine tour giveaway!  Thank you all for entering; cheers!**

Ooo, have I got something special for my SoCal Mommy Friends!

Rockin’ Wine, Temecula Valley’s newest and hippest wine tour service is giving away a wine tour for two to a lucky Mommyfriend reader!

So excited to take my husband on a little mini getaway in Temecula!  Thanks @MommyFriend for choosing me!



A letter to my children


My Dear precious boys,

I  have loved you from the moment I learned of your existence. Immediately, so fiercely attached I couldn’t contain my happiness. It poured out of me as if nothing up to that point in my life has ever made so much sense or held so much importance……..

         Woe be to the person who ever bumped into me while I was carrying any of you. I would become downright indignant and practically hiss like a snake……yeah, I know, pretty….

Once I knew of you, I was never alone again. And I loved that while I carried you, each  of you were all mine. For nine months I didn’t have to share.

My heart swells to the size of Texas when I think of you three. I will forever be umbillically connected even though you’re seventeen, eighteen and a half, and almost twelve. When you’re not with me I can feel your absence as an emptiness in the pit of my stomach…believe me I have this feeling a lot especially now that you’re older……..

As different as you all are, my pregnancies and deliveries were very similar. Dad and I have always remarked on what fun we had the days you each came into this world.

   Jack,

The day you were born your dad screamed so loud I’m sure the entire maternity ward heard it. We believed you were going to be a girl and the best part was the surprise that you were a boy…..ultrasounds were not super clear then and the doctor wasn’t really looking at your “parts” he was checking the important things…..

What an incredibly peaceful baby you were. Thank goodness. You made it so easy on your dad and me. So completely contented, we’d pinch ourselves……and sometimes you….to see if this life we’d been given was real.

  Cole,

When you emerged you cried with a tiny quivering chin for a least five minutes….taking intermittent breaks and starting up again as if you realized this was not  quite what you were expecting. My butterball baby who grew up to be a string bean. As an infant there wasn’t one day that you didn’t have smile on your face…once you passed the colicky stage…thank God we all survived that.

  Chris,

You didn’t make a peep when you were born. You looked around like you were completely aware of your surroundings. I’d never seen anything like it. I even asked the doctor to make you cry so that I knew you were okay.

You obliged. I was relieved.

You were by far our easiest baby. Happy to be wherever we were going and when tired, you slept like no other child we’d had before.

As each of you get older my wish for you is that you realized how incredible you are. You are unique and special.

I love you, not because you’re beautiful……..although I believe you are…. and not because you’re smart……….although I also believe you are.

I love you so much because you are mine.

Nothing will ever change that.

As you embark on your separate journeys; Jack to junior college, Cole as a senior in high school and Chris a sixth grader and first year of middle school….I want to instill in you a self confidence so strong that you will be willing to try any new thing presented to you.

Self confidence does not come from thinking you’re better than everyone else. Self confidence comes from knowing you’re not and being willing to try anyway.

“Get big in yourself” is common thing I say to you. Now is the time to exercise that concept. It will not come from material things.

It comes from believing in who you are.

You are worthy, special, and valued.

You were made that way.

I’m so honored to be the mama of three wonderful boys and I’m astounded that someone somewhere entrusted me to do so.

Jack, Cole and Chris, I love you with all my heart and soul,

Xoxoxox, Mom

Karyn Gallagher is a mother of 3 boys, a blogger/writer and a wife who’s been married to the same great guy for 21 years. While her main source of income is hairdressing; her primary objective is to deliver her children safely into adulthood relatively unscathed. She loves to blog because no one gives a rat’s ass what she has to say at home…and luckily no one she lives with reads. She writes what she wants and resides in Southern California.

2 Responses to “Guest Post – A Letter To My Children”   

  1. jetts31 says…

    I’m stealing your line…”get big in yourself”. Such a fantastic credo and fantastic tribute to your 3 boys.  Bravo.

     

  2. diaper_dad says…

    Again…Jimmy’s coming and saying stuff better than I can.

    So, DITTO! :D

 

Twitter: @analogyqueen

 

 

 

 



It’s rough being the new kid.


I’m so confused. I don’t where anything is, or how I get to where I need to be. Uncharted territory.  I don’t know anyone so there really isn’t anyone to ask. Well……………I could, but what if no one comes to my aid?

I’m embarrassed at my lack of knowledge.

Like I was supposed to know all this stuff before I got here.

Sure there’s an information station, but it’s still a little confusing. A lot of it you simply have to figure out on your own.

This is a chance to try something new. Reeducate myself.

But, what if I get an ‘F’?! Oh, my gosh I could totally fail………..

To make matters worse, I don’t have any friends.

This is a brand spanking new situation for me.

Not to brag………….but I’ve always been sorta popular.

Now, I’m virtually no one.

I could use this to my advantage, you know, like create a whole new persona. This is an opportunity to truly exercise my intelligence, or lack thereof……develop my sense of humor.

But, seriously at my age? Trying to find people to hang out with is pretty difficult although I’m finding if I’m patient the friends seem to arrive.

Maybe once they get to know me things will be easier. It’s so hard when I have to rely solely on how I word something not necessarily on how I say it.

I can’t exactly count on my voice to provide proper inflection. I have to trust that how I portray myself, with the limited tools on hand, will be how I appear to others.

Yet, it’s so lonely!

I want to jump into conversations going on around me, but I feel like I’m butting in. I’m so afraid people will think I’m a total dork, like, “who is this woman?” I’ve been so careful about what I say.

When I do try to engage, I get a little panicky, hoping I’ve made a decent impression. It’s difficult to know how I’m perceived………….impossible to tell.

I have met some very nice people who’ve been kind and sort of welcomed me into their circle. On Fridays there’s kind of a meet and greet, thing but that’s a slow process too.

Although, finally after weeks of participation I’ve gotten

some acquaintances to introduce me to their friends.

Again, patience is a total virtue……………..unfortunately not one I possess.

God is testing me, I know it!

I’m fighting it…….trying not to let this whole experience affect my self esteem. I can’t take it personally.

They just don’t know me yet.

But they will.

In time.

Maybe I should just introduce myself, throw it out there and see what comes back. I haven’t been this shy since I was in junior high school!

It’s so hard being the new kid.

 

 

On Twitter.

And forget about  Google +  I don’t even know how that sh*t works!

 

 



Eat it or wear it………


My little boy had a friend sleep over last night.

Now, I like this kid okay….. except he doesn’t talk a whole lot. To me anyway.

I find this profoundly irritating…….but whatever…..

This morning my son comes in to our room and says, ” Mom, we’re hungry.” I reply that I’d get up and make pancakes. Pancakes! Not cereal, not toast, not cold pizza, but pancakes!

I’m thinking I’m doing great; not “Mother of the Year” great, but hey at least I’m trying…..

As I’m getting the ingredients out of the pantry, my boy comes in and says quietly, “Don’t make a lot. Bobby doesn’t like pancakes. He says he’s gonna go to his grandma’s and eat breakfast there.”

Seriously? Well you can just haul your lily white tail right on over to your grandma’s and see if she’ll make you a more exceptable meal.

Turd.

What kid doesn’t like pancakes?

I’ll tell you……..the kind of kid who’s mom brings him fast food of one kind or another for lunch every single day at school.

This is what I call the “Have it your Your Way” syndrome.

When kids get to choose what they’ll be eating EVERY FRICKIN MEAL they refuse to eat what’s put in front of them. My youngest has two friends who do this. Makes me want to strangle ‘em

My boys are accustomed to eating whatever I put in front of them because :

A) I’m way too lazy to go out, get in the car, and fetch food for them.

B) It’s expensive.

Next time that kid comes over I’m offering him a glass of water and a toothpick.



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