There’s no doubt about it. At some point in your life, someone will utter those words at exactly the wrong time. Perhaps the words will be well-meant. Their intentions mean nothing, though, when they feel like a slap in the face. They sound beautiful spoken alone or said with a beautiful picture. As in the following:
“Oh, look at that mom with her children. I really do think children are a blessing! “
I honestly try to keep my personal junk personal, but I’d be lying if I said that stress doesn’t follow me to work. Lately, I’ve been trying really hard to find a child psychiatrist to manage medications for Squeaker. Our pediatrician is just out of his realm at this point, and Squeaker’s behavior has gotten to a point that we can no longer manage alone. His behavior has trickled into school some as well, and he’s had such a good year that I don’t want that for him. I even called a crisis line over the weekend because he went after his brother and we just couldn’t take it anymore.
Unfortunately, the person on the other end of the crisis line offered us no assistance. The advice I got? Questions as to why I hadn’t gotten him to a counselor yet. My answer: We had, and the counselor couldn’t get anything valuable out of him, even with play-based therapy, so that was a waste of my money. In this area, no qualified people exist to help with children on the spectrum. We’ve over an hour out of our way to see a psychiatrist before and it just doesn’t work with both of us working and his medications needing adjustment more frequently. He suggested contacting our insurance carrier for other people who could help us. I asked what to do for immediate help with our situation (our son hurting our other son and himself) and he told me his guess was as good as mine. Apparently my biggest mistake in that conversation was showing that I had any knowledge about how to handle anything. I sounded too much like I could handle it, so I got brushed aside and the conversation ended. My husband wound up leaving with Big Guy, I stayed home with Squeaker, and we, once again, could not leave the house as a family.
You see, I come to school with worry lines on my face. I’ve been searching for over a week for help in an area where no help exists. No one will do medication management for a 7 year old here. The psychiatrist’s office our pediatrician referred us to refuses to call me back at the time I’ve requested they call me at. They keep calling me when I’m at work. When I call them, they don’t pick up and I have to leave a message. Everyone else in the area won’t help us. I got in touch with RHA and they wanted to help us, but they couldn’t because they won’t take private insurance and we don’t have Medicaid. How frustrating that having private insurance means we can’t get help for our child, right? I’m worried about how often he bangs his head into the wall. I’m worried about Big Guy and what impact Squeaker’s attacks will have on his personality in the future. I’m worried that if we can’t get a handle on this soon, we’ll spend years trying to fix it. He’s so young. I want to enjoy more of him. I want his brother not to be scared of him so much. If I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t think these things.
Suddenly, I find myself at work thinking about home when someone says something about a child that upsets me because I feel they’re being insensitive to either a child’s situation or a parents’ situation. Or, something else will happen, and I’ll just squash it all down as best I can and save it up for home. My husband can testify to that because he hears all the venting about what so-and-so said about whatever and how it pissed me off. But yesterday, I left a meeting feeling that a team of people felt overwhelmed and went to ask if I could help one colleague, and I was tired. I was dead tired from the night before from my son keeping me up late, from making endless phone calls, and from stress. I got a cold reception and flat denial of anything being wrong, and it bugged me. On top of that, my period had started that day, so all of the forces conspired against me at once, and I could not stymie the flow of tears. I apologized for the tear-flow, stating that I’d had a rough night, and tried to gather myself together. Instead of waiting for me to gather my thoughts, she said, “You know, I’m not in your shoes and it’s hard for me to empathize, but in my experience, children are a blessing and I don’t see you smile a whole about yours.”
And for me, that was the end of the conversation. I love my children. Both of them. I don’t really talk much about my personal life at work, period. Maybe I don’t smile much at all. But, I don’t talk much about personal matters and there’s a reason for that. Unfortunately, I do not have my own classroom or an office, so when I have to call during planning to take care of something, I can’t help it if they eavesdrop on my conversation with a psychiatrists’ office about my son’s problems. I did make it clear via email that my lack of smiling was not due to lack of caring about my child, but worry. I do not take my children for granted. I love them, hug them, and kiss them frequently. I take advantage of every happy moment we have. I then got told that I should communicate my appreciation for my children by smiling more because my lack of positive communication is “almost frustrating.” This after first being told that although she did not fully understand my situation, she had a “good grasp” on it. I would argue that her grasp on my situation is far from “good.” From my perspective, no one actually asks about personal life nor do I wish to share it. No matter, though. None of my communication will include personal information, whether positive or negative, anymore. Unfortunately, the work place will have to be a sterile environment for me since those who do not walk in my shoes lack the ability to understand why I might wear a frown in my current situation. Honestly, I’ve just had too much of the judgement–enough to last me for a while.
I’ve had opportunities to smile during the week. Squeaker earned his purple belt, I had a nice dinner date with Big Guy, and Squeaker’s had a few green days at school. It ain’t all bad. Sometimes I’m just plain tired. And sometimes, the real reason I’m frowning isn’t my children, but disappointment in the people I work with.But I don’t think they’d ever guess that.