Friday, January 15, 2010

We Have Issues

It's no secret. Our family has issues.

Who doesn't?

I think each of us is dealing with stress in our own way. Some of us are finding better ways to deal with it than others. I won't name any names.

I do want to remember what this time was like for us and I want Jason to be able to see what we're doing while he's gone. I'm not going to completely embarrass my kids, but I am honest and sometimes that's embarrassing. Ok, usually that's embarrassing.

Matthew turned 7 a few months ago and he's very much the man of the house right now. He thinks that he is also the boss, but that is just not so. He's too smart for his own good, but he is definitely not smarter than me. Yet.

Matthew has always struggled with self control and has frequent (meaning hourly) outbursts. I think much of that is his Asperger's Syndrome and some of it is just his personality. When he's stressed though, watch out! This kid can be so volatile that it's scary. He usually takes his frustrations out on his siblings, particularly Joshua. Although I had seen major improvements since Matthew graduated from Occupational Therapy a year ago, he's had a lot more trouble since Jason left. I try to be sensitive to that, but in all honesty, this boy exhausts me. I could spend all of my time just meeting Matthew's needs but that wouldn't exactly be fair to the other 5 children who also need me. It's tough to find a balance.

Matthew is enrolled in the Army's EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) and I'm hoping that because of Jason's deployment I can qualify for some respite care. Respite care means the Army gives you several hours of free childcare to give the parent a break. Hello, sign me up for that! I don't know for sure if we'll qualify because there are certain rules & regulations that apply. However, I can't help but feel like we are worthy of some kind of relief over here!

Matthew is doing wonderfully in school, although that is another challenge. Matthew has great difficulty writing and learning to read was very difficult because he reverses letters and numbers and can't remember right from left. His occupational therapist worked very hard with him to develop a dominant hand but he still has trouble in this area. Matthew is a math whiz though! That boy is doing 2nd and 3rd grade math problems with ease. He amazes me!

I think Matthew's way of coping with Jason's absence is to try to ignore it, like his mama. Like if we just pretend it's no big deal, it won't affect us. Like if we don't cry, we aren't hurting. But Matthew has asked a lot of questions about death and war and I know that he is struggling to comprehend this new situation. I keep telling him Daddy's coming home and he took it upon himself to organize the other kids in a big card-making effort for our care package. This kid really does have a kind heart, as mean as he can be sometimes.

Joshua is definitely having a hard time. He's cried and said he wants to move back to Georgia. He's hidden under the covers of my bed and told me he hated Daddy being gone. He's refused to sleep in his own bed. He's had some random episodes of crying. It breaks my heart.

Joshua is like a little version of Jason. He's kind, affectionate, passionate, and selfless. He'll do anything to make his siblings happy! He makes me smile when I'm sad and he loves his family with all his heart. He's just a sweet, sweet kid.

My second son shares some of the difficulties that my oldest son has when it comes to school work. He has trouble writing and he's not reading yet (although he is only 5.) He still has a significant speech delay but we're working on that. He's speaking 1000 times better than he was before his surgery. Josh loves to draw and he's quite the artist.

Tonight the 4 big kids are supposed to be spending the night with my sister-in-law but so far Joshua is the only child to actually stay away from home overnight. The others have always chosen to stay with me. We'll see what happens tonight though!

Leila is an emotional wreck. Geez, girls are dramatic! She's just such a girl. She has some terrible fits and crying spells and emotional outbursts. Although she's been potty trained for over a year now, she's having accidents again. She did this when Jason left last January and now she's doing it again so I'm not surprised. I'm just sick of cleaning the carpet.

Leila is articulate, smart, and sensitive. She's much more cautious than her sister, but she's very confident when she has Sarah by her side. Those two are still mischief-makers, although Sarah is usually the mastermind behind such incidents as drawing on walls, stealing cupcakes, or hiding my phone.

I am having a hard time believing that Leila is nearly 4 years old. She's so tiny that the babies are catching up to her in size! Jason is going to be so sad to miss their birthday. We'll have to do something extra special.

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. This child exhausts me! She's spunky and smart and loves to cause trouble. She is a bit sneaky and she's stubborn too. She's braver than Leila and isn't afraid to try new things.

Sarah is also a potty training mess. Seriously, I have never heard of anything like this before. None of our tactics have worked with her. She will clean herself up but often she destroys the bathroom in the process. She'll drop a load in her pants, go upstairs, and dump it without telling me. Last week this proved to be disastrous when she had diarrhea and it splattered all over the bathroom floor. And then Nathan walked through it right in front of me as I tripped trying to grab him in time. I am so sick of poop!!!!!

Sarah tells me that the poop won't let her do it in the potty. She has said the poop needs to eat dinner first and then clean up the playroom. The poop's mommy said he is in time out. The poop doesn't know how to swim. What? Obviously, there are serious issues here. Do I consult a child psychologist? I don't think potty training boot camp is going to cut it. This girl's poop talks to her. A little help please?
Nathan and Ryan are doing well and love to kiss Flat Daddy. I took the sweetest pictures of that that I need to upload. You've never seen anything so cute! These boys miss their Daddy and they haven't been sleeping. That means I don't sleep either. It sucks.

Both babies have started head banging. They throw their heads back into the headboard at night and if I don't respond they smack me. Ryan even bit me 2 nights ago. Something is bothering them and they don't have the words to tell me. It breaks my heart.

Nathan started walking this week, finally! Ryan is still a crawler. I'd forgotten how adorable it is to see chunky, little toddler legs walking across the room. I love it! Only now I have 5 kids to chase. Still, only 5 out of 6 are mobile so it's not that bad yet.

Me? I'm holding up I guess. I don't sleep. I have nightmares sometimes about Jason dying, or me dying, or intruders in the house, or terrorist attacks. I guess my wild imagination is in overdrive! I was doing good with my New Year's resolutions until this week when I didn't shower for a few days. (Yuck, I know!) Hey, it's life when you have 6 kids ages 7, 5, 3, 3, 1, and 1 and you have no husband, no babysitter, no relief. That's why I'm praying the big kids decide to sleep over tonight at their aunt's house. I need a break! I won't even know what to do without them!

Oh, and Swing Set Witch called last night. I can pick up the swing set anytime this weekend. As if.

So yeah, I guess you could say that we all have issues.
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