Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘working mother

Easy

with one comment

I’ve got so much going on this week that I don’t have time to post.  But I’m such an excellent procrastinator, I’ll do just that.  This week, for instance, I’ve got a video conference tomorrow, a cocktail reception on Thursday evening, organise our family to fly out to the states on the weekend, and I need to draft the presentation for a conference upon my return.  Oh, and the thousand other things that I need to do in my job.  But I only work part-time (32 hours a week), so it should be easy.

And then there is the day to day dealing with kids with special needs.  Trying to eke out time with each to put what they learn in therapy to good use.  I’m effectively dealing with three different schools, and two sets of speech and occupational therapists.  Yet somehow I only have two kids, and their needs are comparatively mild, it really should be easy.

I was talking to a colleague today who said I make it all look so ‘easy.’  I had to laugh.  Of all the things my life is…easy would be the worst adjective.

I’m dropping balls, but somehow my juggling act keeps going.  I forgot that one of Pudding’s schools has spirit week this week, and I forgot to dress her up like a movie star on Monday.  Lucky for me that Hello Kitty is a movie star (shut up, she is!) and Pudding always opts to dress like Hello Kitty.

She is helping out in other ways too.  Taking on more little duties as I shirk them.  She has been making leaps and bounds with her reading and writing since starting in an inclusive classroom.  On Thursday Spectrummy Daddy and I will be taking her in to school for a teacher conference in which Pudding will demonstrate her progress.  

One thing I’ve made certain of, even as we get busier and busier, is that Pudding always reads her reading book from school every evening, then I read a story of her choice.  After she has finished, I comment on the reading log sent from the teacher.

I guess Pudding thinks that she’ll save me a job here, because tonight I went to write, and I found she’d already done it.  Her verdict on this book?  Easy.

Image

 

I don’t think any of this is easy, my love, but thank you for always reminding me that it is worth it!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Juggling

with 7 comments

…I’m humbled by your ability to juggle…

…you’re obviously skilled at finding balance in your life…

…am in awe of your ability to handle so much at once…

These were comments on a recent post.  You know- the one with Hillary Clinton.  Yes, I’ll keep name-dropping, because it is now years since Hugh Grant smiled at me, and I need to bump up the star quality of this blog.

The last couple of weeks have indeed been just like a circus.  But I can’t juggle.  When I try to walk the tightrope, it becomes clear there is no balance.  You might think otherwise, because you don’t know what happened last week.  So I’ll tell you…

Last Saturday, there were two very important meetings that both Spectrummy Daddy and I had to attend.  There was nobody to take care of the kids, so I took them into work with me.  I’ve done this before, and the kds are usually happy there.  I have a TV and DVD player in my office for some reason, so that and playing with office supplies is generally enough to keep them occupied.

We bought some ready meals from the supermarket that we could heat at work for lunch.  The kids food was allergy-safe. but mine contained cashew nuts.  And because I had so many balls in the air, and my eyes were on those, I didn’t see until too late that Pudding had reached across to my food, scooped a tiny bit of sauce and stuck the finger in her mouth.

It was the first time she’d ever actually consumed cashew nuts.  Her allergy readings are from RAST tests.  Her face started to go red, and Spectrummy Daddy ran to get the epi-pen.  By the time he got back her eyes were swelling closed, and she’d got hives all over her face.

Her breathing was still normal though, and her lips and tongue didn’t seem swollen.  I held off on using the epi-pen, but her reaction was fast and serious, so I grabbed her and drove straight to the hospital.

It would be an entirely different post to write about how awful the hospital experience was for an already overloaded child who hadn’t been prepared to go there.  I was terrified, and I lost my mind.  When asked who her doctor was, I gave them the name of the pediatrician she had in Luxembourg when she was first born.  The one who told me that she “loves herself like a kitten” when I tried to question some of Pudding’s puzzling behavior.

The nurse asked if she had any other conditions.  I knew they were unlikely to have heard of Asperger’s, so I went straight to Autism.  And no, she hadn’t heard of that either.  Or ADHD.  At this point the doctor from the Consulate called and asked if I needed him to come.  Yes, I did.

They quickly administered an anti-histamine injection and oral steroids.  Her vitals were all normal, she never developed anaphylaxis…this time.  She responded immediately to the medication, and I took a photo to reassure Spectrummy Daddy, only I was shaking so hard I couldn’t manage to actually send it to him.

Image

In fact, 30 minutes later, we were free to go.  I was still shaking, but relieved.  As we drove back I remembered that I’d missed the meeting, and I’d left Cubby with Spectrummy Daddy.

It wasn’t so much that I felt the balls dropping, as I looked down and realized they were already on the floor.

I’ve had a whole week now, before writing this.  Time for things to return to our version of normal.  Time to let the guilt ease away, and learn the lessons I need to instead.  Like always keeping her environment allergy-free.  Like if the circus comes to town again, I’d better fly in some carnies to help out.  And by carnies, I mean grandparents (in the nicest possible way)!

Perhaps some mothers can manage this juggling thing better than I can.  But in that hospital last week, I knew I was holding on to the most important thing, and I wasn’t going to let her go.  Let the other balls fall as they will.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Working Mother

with 3 comments

I went to work today, for the first time in seven years.  I’m now a working mother, or a mother working outside of the home for the first time.  I ate lunch today with my colleagues, and only when somebody asked for a napkin did I realize that I’d taken a pile of them, to deal with the inevitable spills that I invariably deal with.  But not any more, during the weekdays at least.

And when I went to the bathroom, I did so much enjoy going alone, yet I still forgot I could use the hand dryer with no Pudding and Cubby around.

But those were the only times I noticed a big change.  I’ve arranged my hours so that I collect the children at 3.  Aside from the fact that I’m wearing make-up and nicer clothes,the kids haven’t noticed a change in routine.  As transitions go, this has been effortless.  I told you I was prepared.

In fact, working as a mother feels so far like, well, working.  It helps that I’m only working 32 hours a week, and it helps that my supervisor is family-friendly.  It helps that I’ve already put trust in other people to take care of my kids.  But I don’t feel at war, with other mothers or with myself.  In fact, my views on the “Having It All” debate are largely unchanged.

I didn’t work for the early years of child-raising because I had the privilege of staying at home.  Yes, we made sacrifices.  We couldn’t afford to visit my family for three years, and things were tight, but having a parent stay at home was an option for us, at least in the short-term.  We were fortunate to have that privilege, I have never felt like I made a sacrifice.

And now, we’re fortunate enough to be in a position when I can return to work, and it can be my choice.  That choice is a privilege many women will never know.  I don’t feel like I’m making a sacrifice.  Maybe because I’ve seen both points of view, I didn’t feel like making a choice between family and work was the right focus…but having the ability to choose really is.

I want my daughter to have these same choices that most of us take for granted.  I don’t know how Pudding will progress.  Autism is a lifelong disability, or difference, or disorder.  Call it what you will, it makes it hard to predict the future.  I can’t say if Pudding will be able to work, or if she will have a family.  Maybe she’ll want both, or neither, or just one.  I only know that we will do everything we can to make sure she has those options, just like the choice was always there for me.  And making that choice available?  That is the real privilege for this working mother.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm

On the Job Training (at Hopeful Parents)

with one comment

This post was originally published at Hopeful Parents.

A job.
It looks strange as I type it. I haven’t worked in six and a half years, and time has made a that three-letter word look incredibly daunting. I don’t have work clothes. I’ve forgotten more office skills than I ever developed. I was stay-at-home before I even became a mother.
As a stay-at-home-mother of special needs children with several years experience, I find it hard to imagine another identity. If I’m uncomfortable with the shift, my children are vocally despairing. But feelings of inadequacy and fear of change prove to be no match in the face of a bank account straining after years of therapies on a single income. To work I go!
Of course, I haven’t exactly been idle these last few years, and in terms of self-development and transferable skills, with a hopeful outlook my CV looks positively marketable.
How can I be discouraged by an interview panel, when I’ve faced the eligibility board for special education services not once, but twice?
Will I ever have to face a meeting in the world of work with anything like the pressure of an IEP meeting? Setting goals and meeting deadlines? I’m well practiced.
You need someone with excellent communication skills? Look no further than the caregiver of someone with special needs, particularly when language difficulties are an inherent feature of the condition.
If a presentation doesn’t go over well in words, I’ll just skip on to pictures. Imagine social stories merging with powerpoint- I’ll find a way to get my point across with any audience.
I can work under pressure, think outside the box…be flexible, organized…a team player. If there was something to learn over the last few years, I’ve mastered it. We all have. Even if every day still feels like we have so much to learn.
This position is actually going to be about playing a strong advocacy role and strengthening community. Reading the job description, it felt like it had been written for me.
But there is one more thing that makes this job perfect for me. I’m the sole applicant. A job that nobody else wants? I’m your woman. You’re just going to have to pay me in more than hugs and kisses this time.


Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Testing

with 4 comments

I took a test yesterday.  It has been years since I sat for an exam.  I kept waiting for that familiar sensation of worry mixed with dread to appear, but it never did.  As I typed away, I kept glancing up at the clock ticking down, but was surprised to find no panic there.

Not like there used to be.  For every test, big or small, throughout my academic life, and on into the world of work, my nerves always got the best of me.  But not any more.  In fact, and I know this sounds a little odd- I enjoyed myself!

This test- a business writing exam- was the first of many steps I’ll be taking for possible, potential, one-day reentry into a career.

Or starting a career.

After six years of staying at home, I’m pretty sure this classifies as the start.  And if I do, you know, return to work…then what?  What about…everything?  It almost feels to big to tackle.  Just the coordination of school and therapy for two kids feels like a job in itself.

There it is- there are days when parenting feels like a job.  I said it.

It is really hard work at times, and I don’t get to clock off.  That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy being home with the kids, or that I think going out to work would be better, it is just that taking an exam was so different that it felt like a break.  Perhaps the last few years in the trenches of motherhood have taught me more about how to handle myself than climbing the corporate ladder could ever have done.

The thing I used to fear most as a student- taking tests- is now a walk in the park.  For our family an actual walk in the park can be exhausting, and it can be exhilarating.  But it is rarely just a walk in the park.

Then again juggling work and special needs parenting isn’t going to be a walk in the park either.  It will be more like a series of tests, and I won’t know until I take them whether I’ll pass or fail.

The fact is that for our family like many others, going back to work isn’t a choice.  Just like how my husband has never had a choice when it comes to working.  We need a second income to help ourselves out of the debt we incurred on a single income family paying for therapy on top of other bills.

I’ll never regret the time I’m spending at home with my kids.  I felt like I needed to be there, during the earliest and most critical stages of their development.  There are no right or wrong answers here.  Staying at home cost us a great deal, and when I return to work, that will come at a price too.  I’m just hoping it will turn out to be worth it.

When I return to work, it will be a testing time for our family.  But you know, it turns out I quite enjoy taking tests these days.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm