To make the parent/writing thing work, you definitely need to be on top of scheduling and making the most of what time you have. It’s a huge, huge part, but not the only part – which I’ve come to realize.
The other half is dealing with the mini ‘life rolls’ our children bring to us.
Now, what I mean by ‘life rolls…’ these are events that derail all that is normal in your life. Events that sweep in and shut down your creative voice so fast you can’t even finish reading a book by a favorite author (and you sure as hell can’t write one). Because we’re grown adults, we deal with the typical life events normal adults face – you know, losing a job, relocation, sick parents/relatives. BUT we also have these mini ones that come and go as life dictates….
Playground socializing and hoping your kid isn’t the one who goes around hitting people.
(And trust me, the last one is an event as there’s nothing quite like carrying your naked toddler to the little potty and a trail of pee… or poop… following behind you.)
Now, granted, none of those I mentioned are the true kind of life rolls that take you out at the knees, like Kristine Kathryn Rusch talks about here, but they still do a hell of a job derailing everything that is normal in your life. Certainly with the writing.
Interestingly, though, is I wasn’t planning on writing this post. I mean, I was all set to talk about schedules (yours and yours kids’ ) and slowing down and how that allows your creative brain to start playing again….
But that’s not what came out.
Instead, I’ve got a very real life event ahead of me, and it’s there only because I’m a parent.
Big events can, and do, shut down the writing. Especially as parents. In fact, as parents we have to shut it down because all our focus, all our emotions, are needed to face This Big Thing.
Life rolls can be good: like the birth of my son.
They can be bad or hard: I needed a cesarian because he was breech (the recovery part definitely qualified in the ‘bad’ and ‘really, really not fun’ category).
Both affected my writing.
In fact, when this life event happened, I had to tuck the writing away… and simply wait. Wait until life had stabilized enough and my creative voice finally peeked out, saw that I was holding my own, and was ready to get writing again. (Okay. The process wasn’t that easy, but that there’s a post for another day.)
Still, this Thing, the one I’m facing right now, is probably the first life event that hasn’t hit me, directly… but instead, hit one of my kids.
And just so you know, my blood is absolutely racing right now and my hand really, really wants to shake.
I’m afraid to share this.
But I know I need to. If, nothing else, to guide other parents who might be on a similar journey. Or even just starting on one.
For the past two months we’ve been on a journey to understand, and clarify, Kate’s speech delay… and all the extra tests and assessments that go with it… including judgements by people that don’t know Kate, and some who truly don’t care to.
Hearing tests and screenings.
The feared, and now very often used term, autism.
All are on the table. All are in some state of limbo.
Okay. And just to say straight out, we have friends with autistic children. Beautiful and smart and wonderful children. I love them and I love their parents. If this is who the child is, on the spectrum or not, let the child be who they are. All the quirks and differences and uniqueness included.
I truly believe this.
I don’t want to change my daughter. I don’t want her to be ‘normal.’ I want her to be who she is… and adventurous, climbing, little explorer who joins any child in any kind of play at the park and who’s also ‘walked’ a duck at my parent’s house.
But, I do want to help her.
Help her in whatever way she needs.
Unfortunately this journey has brought into sharp clarity that not everyone else – medical professionals, state-funded early intervention therapists – feel the same.
Kate is not yet three years old and I’ve already found myself defending her. Standing up to a system and a program that, as a parent, I know would break her.
Destroy her spirit.
Strip away all those little quirks I love about her and make her unique.
This is a life roll about her, but it hits me because I’m her mother.
I’m a parent.
This is a topic I’ll be talking about a lot, simply because it’s what I’m living right now, but also, because I’m still finding a way to work on the writing. That’s right… I’m stumbling my way through, with two young kids, figuring out how to make the writing work, and I’ve also got very real, very intense fears about my daughter’s future.
Fears about this being my fault (should I have read to her more, played Patty-Cake and Itsy-Bitsy Spider more?).
Fears about her future (the last evaluation mentioned a brain MRI and genetic testing as possible options if she didn’t respond to therapy).
Fears about whether I’m making the right choices FOR HER. (Finding a cure that ends up killing her spirit is not something I’m interested in.)
And yet, I’ve found a way to write.
I’ve decided to use what I’ve got, which, right now, is all these intense fears, beliefs, and desperate need to defend who my child is. I’m writing stories about that, and it actually helps.
First, the writing heals me.
Writing is such an essential piece of my own happiness, but it’s also giving me the opportunity to explore those fears. And while I know nothing I write will ever truly come close to what I’m feeling, still, it helps.
And here I am, now writing a blog post about it. I certainly wasn’t planning on doing that!
But, I think it’s important to share this. Important so other parents aren’t blindsided the way we were. How, when we walked into our local state-funded assessment center, expecting their main concern to help our child and instead realized all they wanted was to make her ready and prepared for the school environment. To sit and attend and do what is asked on command. To learn that it doesn’t matter what we, as parents, think or want. And, if you let them, will shove your kid right into a system that you know, in your heart, isn’t right for THEM.
(Here comes that ‘defending’ part I was talking about, though I’m definitely not saying this is the same kind of experience everyone has, just that it was mine.)
And you know what?
We decided to go with Door #3.
The one where we have the most control over the process and the ‘who.’
Kate will be receiving private speech therapy, at home, starting on Monday. Paying out of our pocket because we know it’s what’s best for her (and we’re thankfully in a position where this is possible).
I have no doubt it’s the right choice.
Kate already opened up and engaged more with this therapist than any other. My very much introverted child who, after only a moment, sat on down next to her (not by me), and started playing.
This is a long-term journey I’m on, a long-term life roll that’s certainly going to have some calm, even surfaces and then some pretty steep, jagged ones. I may not be mentally equipped to handle my epic fantasy series, but I can write about this.
So, I’m going to work with what I’ve got. I’m going to try to be the best parent I can be. Some days are certainly better than others, but I’m definitely going to keep striving, keep trying, keep learning.
And somehow, I’m going to keep writing.
It started out that I wanted to keep this search/discovery into Kate’s speech delay a secret, even from family. People I thought who would judge her or label her, and that judgement would be something she’d sense. That it would change her. But then I read from other parents who’ve described their own journey, especially their fears, and you know, it really helped me. Helped ground me and realize that I wasn’t the only one.
So I’ve decided to speak out and offer help, or guidance, or maybe not even that. Maybe just throw it out there to the world that I’m terrified about this process, of what the outcome will be, about somehow staying true to who Kate is.
If nothing else than to say, ‘you’re not alone.’
(With that said, this is my blog and any negative comments will not be put through. This is my child we’re talk about and it’s taken a lot to decide on sharing to begin with… but I believe if Kate were older she’d agree. I’m sharing this for the right reasons, to maybe offer help and comfort to other parents, which would in turn, help those other children be who they truly are.)