There's been a lot going on the past few weeks that I've been hesitant to blog about because I'm just not sure how to talk about it because I feel an incredible amount of guilt over it for various reasons, so I'll try.
We had a pre-k readiness evaluation for Magpie at the insistence of the daycare director. We have always known that Magpie is quirky. She certainly absorbs the world in a different way, and this in intensified by the fact that she is extremely smart and a problem solver. The J and I often joke that we have indeed given birth to a female Sheldon Cooper, and that honestly may still very well be the case. And like the J said, I have nothing to be sad over because Mags is the same wonderful kid post eval as she was pre eval.
As a parent though to hear that your child is developmentally delayed and that her quirks and type of intelligence are markers of ASD, I'm not going to lie, even as I sit here typing this, weeks after the fact, I am still about to cry. Now, it also may very well be that her delays and indicators of ASD are solely related to communication and speech delay, and that once we get that mastered, as it were, everything will right itself. But to be told that that ones child will be in a special education pre-k classroom still hurts me. The J is very zen about this. Enter my guilt.
First of all, I know I have nothing to feel sad about or mourn, and this is why I feel guilty, reason number one. I'm worried about how the world or other kids or parents will treat her. She interacts with other children differently--she prefers either younger or older children, not really children her own age, and I saw a mother getting annoyed with me and my child the other day because I was so proud of Magpie for wanting to play, for taking the initiative in trying to engage another child, but this mother was leery of my child and did not like the Magpie was saying "come with me! come do this! come color! You color this!" (this was a younger child). I think the mother's annoyance was in part that she didn't want to have to supervise her child--I was watching both of them, but she wanted her kid to sit still. Anyway...
I also wonder if this is my fault. Should I have stopped pushing sooner and insisted on a c-section sooner to get her out rather than waiting until it was almost an emergency? Was my own selfishness in wanting a "natural birth" (+ epidural) a factor here? Or is it because of the c-section and my inability to nurse her that promoted allergies and thus something that makes her little body so different? I know I will drive myself crazy with this because I cannot go back in time and try something different. Nor would I want a child who is different than the spunky little feisty one I have. And I know that it is very selfish of me too to look at this as being all about me and my guilt, but I can't help it.
So this is the big stress right now. Worrying about my child. And trying to finish the SF chapter. This worry has caused me the most painful TMJ flare up I've had to date. More steroids. More valium. It's affected my ability to work on the sci-fi chapter and my summer job a little bit, and it's getting better. But it's not the best. Also, the J is gone for two weeks. Fortunately, my mom is here, otherwise, I'd be up the creek. And, we finally came to the realization that my meds were no longer working. I've got different ones. Upped the dose of the one I was on before and dramatically decreased the dose of the one I was one, so I have a little cocktail, but it seems to be working well so far.
Anyway, we've made some decisions though about the kid and about my work schedule (and my guilt). One, we're putting her in the public school where she can actually get a lot more help and therapy and attention that she needs than to keep her in the school she's at (although many of those same resources would be available to her, she'd be in a much larger room with more kids, and she needs to be in a room with fewer children right now). We are also NOT going to put her in an after school program this year either. She will have gymnastics one day a week and hopefully soccer one day a week, and the goal is for me to spend more time with her and give her calmer afternoons so that she might better adjust to school. The other part of this is that I am not taking on anything new this year. No new writing projects. Nothing. rather, we decided that lowering my stress this next year will be important for Magpie's success because it will mean less tension in the house over all. So we will focus on time together as a family next year rather than have the frenzy of deadlines and tenure looming over me day and night. She gets to stay home for the summer with my mom (which is going to save us over $1000 to put toward bills and the house down payment). Since she will start school early, I'm going to teach earlier in the morning so that the afternoons are not a rush. Of course my boss is going to have a duck that I want a different schedule now although she's the one who keeps telling me that I can't expect to have the same schedule all the time until I try to change it and then she yells at me for wanting something different than the year before. But that will not faze me.
I will be finishing the sci-fi chapter soon. I have been getting up early to work on it, but I realized this morning that I needed to do this instead. I knew I would be working on it most of the afternoon, so I needed a break from it, despite the looming deadline. When the chapter is finished, I will spend the rest of June putting together my tenure portfolio so that way it is about 90% done by the end of June, and then in the fall, I'll just have some odds and ends to take care of.
On July 1st, I'm going to start what will tentatively be called "The Happiness Project." I will have a separate blog link for this. It will be a year long project in which I will actively work toward becoming happy here. I am happy and I am not happy. If I were really "happy" or even truly content, I don't think I'd be having TMJ flare ups, guilt, be as depressed as I am (which I know that clinical depression has nothing to do with "being happy," but I think you know what I'm getting at here), be as stressed as I am, be unable to cope with life's stresses. Now this is not to say that I'm going to make the year stress free or that bad or very stressful things won't happen (I'm not picturing a perfect year), but rather what I'm working toward is a place that allows me not to be filled with hate when I go to work, with anxiety when I come home, with stress about how my clothes don't fit because I'm eating my anxiety. This will also involve trying to figure out how to deal with financial stress. I don't want Magpie, as she's getting older and more aware, to see that. She's already very sensitive to my (our) stress, and I don't want her to be in an environment that oozes that. And, there are things that *I* want to do that worrying about tenure, worrying about deadlines and publications hasn't allowed me to do these last six years (SIX YEARS! holy shit!).
This, this thing above, this has me hopeful. I realize how privileged I am to be able to do this. But I also feel like it's something that I *need* to do. And a lot of this is for my family and not just myself. So if you're interested, stay tuned.