Saturday, January 01, 2005

Countdown to My Fortieth Birthday

Well. Today is the first day of January, which means that my fortieth birthday approaches quickly. You'd think that maybe I'd be alarmed at the thought of such advanced age, but given the alternative, I think aging is a fine idea, even though it brings wrinkles and loose skin. I have a lot of things to do, work to accomplish, books to read, a storage room to organize, scrapbooks to update, and the never-ending laundry to do. I am nowhere close to finishing my life's tasks, so if I die soon, I will die with a big mess in my wake. And that's just not an option.

I've had most of the week "off," since my daycare child hasn't been here and I haven't been schooling the boys. I finished the dreaded paperwork for school at home. I switched the contents of a kitchen cupboard with the contents of a kitchen drawer. I threw away expired medication. I undecorated. I stocked the refrigerator with vegetables and low-fat dairy products. I shopped a few clearance sales. I saw a movie. I took Babygirl to visit my mother (just a few miles away) for the first time in a long time. I've slept until Babygirl has called my name at nearly 8 a.m. each morning. I took the cat in to be spayed. I cleaned up the storage room. I emptied out the front hall closet, sent a bunch of coats to Goodwill and tidied it up. Now the vacuum cleaner fits in the closet again. I bought more books at Value Village, because you never know when you might be bedridden and suddenly have enough time to read two hundred books.

I even sat down and edited a piece from this blog for submission to the local newspaper. I plan to send two pieces (600-700 words each) as a sort of audition for a guest columnist spot. This morning in the shower, I had a moment of clarity and panic. What in the world am I doing? If I don't get it, I will say, "Well, I am a loser." If I do get it, I will actually have to come up with an article once a month! What if I can't do it? What was I thinking?

I'm going to send in the pieces anyway because I'm a glutton for punishment. And I don't have anything to lose.

I've been reading a book by Mel Levine called A Mind at a Time. Each chapter brings 11-year old TwinBoyB to mind. He has difficulty paying attention. He has trouble with short term memory. He struggles with decoding language and writing. As I read along, I see him more and more in the pages of this book. He's a bright child, but really agonizes over schoolwork. Over the course of his public school education, he's come to believe that he is dumb. I am trying to reverse that idea, but I feel like I'm trying to stop a speeding car by holding the bumper with my bare fingertips and digging in my heels. So far, I just feel like I'm being dragged along, getting bumped and bruised. It's not supposed to be this hard.

I never anticipated having a child like TwinBoyB. I fit perfectly into the public school system's system. I am a visual learner. I love handwriting. I read voraciously. I pay attention and I remember anything I see and most of what I hear. I am sequential and was the first girl in my class to learn the multiplication tables because I thought it was fun. I wrote stories to amuse myself. I won every class spelling bee and math contest.

And as smart as I was, I never thought I'd be mothering a boy so different from myself. How smart is that? Not smart at all. I really didn't think there'd be much to this parenting thing beyond teaching manners and keeping the kids safe. Everything else I thought they'd "catch" from us. They'd learn from simple modeling of behavior. And I was a good student and had friends. My husband had plenty of friends and was an average student. Neither of us gave our parent's one second of grief--other than that time I wore mascara against my father's wishes (boy, he was strict).

Now I am having to practically earn a master's degree in the neurological development of children. I will be meeting with a team of specialists at the school to discuss my son. I feel like I need to be one hundred percent versed in the issues I see facing him. I need to have samples of his work and a timeline of his development. All this comes as such a surprise to me, for some bizarre reason. I thought frosting cupcakes would be the biggest issue facing me.

So maybe I went into this whole motherhood thing with my head in the clouds and unrealistic expectations. Even if I had known what would face me, I would have glossed over the trickier parts, the messier parts, the most aggravating parts because denial is my friend. I'd say, "Hey, how bad could it be?"

And so, that's how I go into 2005. I say, "Hey, how bad could it be?" and "Could I please have a refill? My glass is half empty."

Happy New Year!


Blogger Marykay said...

We ALL go into this motherhood thing with our head in the clouds. If we didn't we would never have gotten pregnant in the first place (aside from the sex thing). ha ha

4:20 AM  
Blogger I Am The Walrus said...

My daughter is now 36 and I am constantly amazed at how different we are and how very much alike. I was one of those "different" learners and it wasn't until I was her age that I learned how to learn. We all learn in different ways and you and your son will find his. He is lucky to have a mother who sees and understands the needs he has.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Tina said...

Hey, I actually did get my Master's degree studying about neurological issues for one of my children! Okay, I had to do a couple of other things too, but she was a big part of the reason I was studying like that.

I don't think 40 is bad at all...

Good luck on that Guest Columnist thing...

9:03 AM  

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