Monday, December 27, 2010

Just The Way You Are

Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are" was playing on the van radio a few days ago, and as I really like the song, I turned it up. Jefferson, in the back of the van, asked, "What's this song?" So I told him, at which point he said, "I want it on my list." (The list is the ever-expanding catalog of songs Jefferson thinks he's going to get his dad to burn to CD for him...) I chuckled and said "It's a great song! I love it, but it is all about this guy's feelings for a GIRL." I thought Jeff would immediately reject the song, seeing as girls are not on his radar right now - but instead he said, "I know, he's talking about 'her lips, her lips.'" I then noted that many women would love to feel like their boyfriends felt exactly the same as the song said about them.

Jeff thought for a second and said to me, "Dad feels that way about you!" I said, "Do you think so? I hope so." To which Jefferson replied, "Yes, he does. He just doesn't show it." This cracked me up. Although Jeff did amend it to say, "He kind of smiles when you come into the room."

For a kid who apparently has Asperger's, I found that remarkably astute. Not to mention a sweet thing to say.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I've been silent here lately, for the most part.

Why? Two main reasons.

1. I've been trying to decide if blogging is a good idea. *I* love to write and somehow, narcissistically, crave an audience. But I'm wondering if it's fair to my family when I blog about them - even if they don't read it. My husband knows I have a blog (at least I think he does - I've mentioned it before), but I don't think he reads it. If he did, would he be upset over my discussions of our son? I don't know. So I'm pondering.

2. I've been failing. Food and healthwise, at least. I don't mean failing in that my actual health has deteriorated - although frankly it probably has, given my food intake for the last few weeks. I know this is NOT a diet blog, but yet I am silent because I had been doing so well and now have checked back into La La Binge Land. I'm embarrassed. I do keep saying I'm going to get back on track after Christmas - and I will. I have to. But these binges, the depth of this addiction - well, it's all-consuming, even as I consume all. It's frustrating. It's exhilarating. It's shaming. It's abandon. It's rebellion. It's sadness. It's ppllhhblblltt at you, even as it's f*cking me, too.

So I'm challenged - by WHY I need an audience, and whether or not it's good to pursue that, and by my fall into Food Frenzy again.

Enjoy the silence.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I'm used to writing long blog posts. If I can't say it BIG, why say it at all?

But the truth is today, sometimes I just wish I knew what the next right thing to do was.

And that's it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Unfairness Of It All

Ellie: "Jeff, I got a milkshake at pweschool today!"
Jeff, angrily: "What? No fair!"
Jeff, in a demanding, angry voice: "What do I get to make up for it?"

This is a common scene in my house. And I don't know how to deal with it anymore. My son seems utterly convinced that a) his sister gets way more of everything than he does, and that b) whenever she gets anything that he deems special, he ought to get something right then to make up for it. For example, one day she told him we'd eaten at McDonald's for lunch (which, sadly, we had). He immediately was angry and demanded to go there right then for him.

How do I deal with this? How do YOU deal with this? In the above milkshake example, after he had exclaimed it wasn't fair, I said, "Jeff, do you think I had anything to do with the milkshakes served in preschool?" To which he answered, "YES! You bought it for her! She always gets everything!" Talk about wanting to bang your head on the steering wheel. Ellie even explained to him it was because one of her preschool friends, Audrey, had had a birthday. But that means nothing to my son.

And yes, of course, I would prefer Ellie not run tell her brother everything she gets, because that's a form of bragging, which is also wrong. And I'm going to work on it with her. But I tell you, this angry, greedy, selfish, ENTITLED attitude my son has shown lately makes me alternately want to rip him a new one, rip out my hair, or curl up into a ball and cry over how terrible a parent I must be to have a son who reacts in such a way.

I did none of those extreme reactions today. Instead I chose to talk to him when we got home from school and Ellie was off doing Room Time. I explained when he was 4, he and I did all sorts of things together every day - even more than Ellie and I do, really, because he and I would travel to other towns and do fun stuff there, etc., which Ellie and I can't do because we're bound to his school schedule. I explained he and I would also eat lunch out. I explained that that doesn't happen as much for him now because he's in school and Ellie is not. It seems to fall on deaf ears. I even acknowledged he probably doesn't remember or care what happened when he was 4 - but I do. And that next year when Ellie is in school with him, she won't be running around with mom occasionally eating lunch out - she'll be in school, like he is.

I pointed out all the stuff he has. Even though "stuff" should NOT be the focus and frankly both my kids have far more STUFF than they need. But I pointed it out nonetheless, saying "Look at all the computer games you have. Look at the Wii games. Look at the Legos. Who did I get those for?" But Jeff tried to play that off, announcing they were for the family. Seriously? Seriously, kid? I said, "You think I bought Wii Harry Potter and Wii Star Wars for the family?" He said, "Well, dad likes to play them sometimes."

You see, it's an argument I can't win. And that's what's frustrating. Because I shouldn't even want to win it. But I want him to see that a) mom and dad do a darn good job of keeping things relatively equal, and b) his attitude is his choice. He can choose to focus on all that he has (material and not) and be grateful and thankful for it. Or he can choose to focus on all that he doesn't have and complain and grumble about so-and-so has this and so-and-so got to do that and he didn't. Which one will make him happier? Which one will make others want to be around him?

He can actually answer both of those questions appropriately. Meaning he knows the grumbling won't make him or anyone else happier. But that doesn't seem to matter, because literally 30 seconds later he was back to complaining about Ellie having 2 Christmas presents and having toys in the living room. "See? It's all Ellie, Ellie, Ellie..."

So I'm asking you, what would you do? I told him I'm at the point of being so frustrated and hurt by his attitude that I want to start taking things away. But I'm not sure it would work - it would just be another reason for him to be convinced life isn't fair and he's got the short end of the stick. Or maybe it would. I don't know.

What I do know is, I'm tired of it. I don't even feel like giving him any gifts for Christmas, so bad has his complaining and anger been about all he perceives his sister is getting. Yes, he's seen 2 presents for her. I even explained, "Do you think we would bring out presents for you right in front of you? Then you would see what they were and not be surprised by them as presents!" But that doesn't compute in his brain, apparently.

And it makes me sad, because my guess is behind all this is fear. Fear he's not going to get presents. Fear Ellie really does get more. And I'm guessing (projecting?) that maybe there's some fear that we love her more than we love him - even if he can't articulate that or doesn't even know he feels that. Because I know sometimes it MUST feel like that, considering how much we struggle with him and his anger.

There's no doubt about it, he is the more difficult child. Ellie certainly has her moments (although I'm not sure Jeff pays attention to that), times when she's throwing a fit or melting down or being bratty. But in general her temperament is sunnier, she's more easy going, and just happier by nature than Jeff is. She doesn't have the anger issues he does.

It makes me sad. Because I know I love him just as much as I love her. The love is different - for him it's fierce, for her it's easier. But sometimes, if I'm honest, I don't like him as much. He's much harder to deal with. And I think he can sense that.

What do you do when your kids act like this? And please, God, tell me some of them do!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ellie Tells It Like It Is...

"I'm strong, mighty, tough, AND I can climb up hills!"

(Ellie's response to my concern about her carrying a large picnic basket down the stairs. You go, girl!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Impossible Choice

What if you had the choice to be either fat and happy, or thin and witchy? Which would you choose?

I'm starting to wonder if these are my options. Yes, I'm sure there are shades of grey in there, but hear me out: my brain seems to have issues with its neurotransmitters. Namely, I don't think my serotonin/dopamine/beta-endorphin connections work properly. I say this from years of struggling with low-level anxiety (with some high-level flare ups), occasional depression, and pretty much daily irritability. I don't think my brain works properly.

It's possible my brain doesn't work properly because of the foods I choose to eat. I admit that. But I think it's more likely that the foods I choose to eat are impacted heavily by what my brain is screaming for, as there are certainly times in my life in which I've been avoiding lots of processed foods and still struggled with these feelings.

In the past I've gone on SSRI's for help - both times after my kids were born and I sank rapidly (hook, line, and sinker) into terrible, terrible post-partum anxiety and depression. Which is again a good reminder to me a lot of this battle is chemical, and nothing emotional reasoning seems to be able to change.

When I go on SSRI's, they do help with the irritability, and they definitely help when the anxiety gets out of control. They also have side effects. If I'm on a higher dose, I seem to be happier in some ways, but much less interested in my husband (sorry, honey). And, I've learned, I feel compelled to eat. Carbs. Chocolate. And lots of it.

The unintentional experiment which made me catch on to this happened in the last two years - I was still struggling with some irritability and asked to go up on the SSRI. Next thing I knew, I was eating all the time. I felt DRIVEN to eat. I gained 15+ pounds. When I realized this, I told the doctor I wanted to go back down. The compulsion lessened. I'm still a compulsive eater, I would still binge, but it was nothing like it had been when I was on the higher SSRI dose (plus, l got interested in my husband again! *waggly eyebrows*). So I stuck with the lower dose, even though my moods and my foods weren't perfect. The higher dose wasn't worth it to me.

Well, a few months ago I decided I wanted to see if I could get off the SSRI. Yes, I know, it seems silly - if it's working to ease the worst of the crappy moods, why change? I don't know. I wanted to see what I would feel like without chemical aid. AND we had decided to give our son 5HTP (a supposedly natural serotonin maker) to see if it helped HIS moods. I thought I'd try it on me, too - first, so that I could know if it did anything really wonky, and second, because the idea of having my body make MORE serotonin, rather than just keeping it from reabsorbing what little was there (a la the SSRI), seemed to make sense. So I've been taking 5HTP for about a month and a half.

I've been a bitch. No doubt about it. Yes, being sick for so long impacted that. But when your basic underlying feeling is witchiness, um, it doesn't feel good. So I decided about a week ago to up my 5HTP intake from 100 mg to 200 mg - I figured it was still half the dose I'd read might be appropriate (it's been hard to find dosage charts, but the one I did find recommends 2mg per pound of body weight, so at 200 mg I'm still well below what this chart recommends).

Have I felt better? Yes, actually, I have. Again, perhaps it's from coming out of the sickness. Perhaps it's even from trying to change my parenting style from Total Bitch to Gentle Counselor. Or maybe I could make that parenting switch *because* the 5HTP is making more feel-good serotonin? I don't know.

What I DO know is for the past week ALL I've wanted to do is EAT. EAT EAT EAT. And I have. I've been struggling with bingeing about every day. On bready sweet carbs. Today I even broke down and bought a chocolate bar - my binge food of choice. Yes, it was just one. But once I ate it, I went on to eat 2 croissants and some Doritos. Hello, Binge Monster. I hate you.

Battling the guilt in my head as I realized I'd just inhaled an entire day's calories in the space of about 10 minutes, I once again wondered what the heck was going on? I've been doing so well on SparkPeople, limiting calories and foods, dropping about 10 pounds. I wasn't even craving chocolate on Halloween and didn't eat any! But this week? Watch out!

And it finally occurred to me that the one change I had made was the 5HTP. I've doubled it. I've been nicer, but voraciously hungry for carbs. And I know some people say, "Well, just don't eat them! Don't keep them in the house! Eat veggies instead!" All great ideas, but it's like saying "Don't think about monkeys!" and trying to keep the image of a monkey out of your head, or turning on the faucet and telling someone not to think about peeing. It's not impossible, but it's darn hard.

I'm not saying it's 100% the 5HTP. Bingeing is a complex issue, compulsive overeating is complex struggle that tends to build on itself. However, it's going to be kind of easy to find out: I'm going to cut the 5HTP back in half and see what happens. *If* this insatiable drive to eat eases up, I'll know.

And then comes the choice: do I stay on a higher dose of 5HTP or Zoloft if it eases the Almighty Bitch, but drives me to eat? Because a side effect of all that eating is, um, more of me. And there's PLENTY of me as there is. Or do I decide to stay on a lower dose and want to bite people's heads off, but at least that's better than biting into chocolate? Is it true, as my husband jokes, that it really IS better to look good than to feel good? Because that's what it feels like it's coming down to right now: Medicate and gain the weight, or go au naturel and tell everyone to go to hell.

I'm sure in some ways it's not as Black and White as that. And perhaps forewarned is forearmed and I'll be able to summon the strength to resist the food now that I know (or have guessed) what's triggering the desire for it. But oh my GOD, I'm tired of this constant battle. It's exhausting. It's depressing. I may win a skirmish here or there, but overall I'm losing the war. And it's an impossible battle. I don't want to be this overweight. I CERTAINLY don't want to gain MORE weight. But I'm also really tired of feeling like such a grouchy, cranky, witchy, not-fun-to-be-around person/wife/parent. *I* don't even like me lately; I can't imagine what my family thinks.

So what would you choose? Fat and Sassy, or Bitchy but Thin(ner)?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mother, Can You Spare A Dime?

An excerpt from my afternoon.

The scene: driving home from Walmart. We are two minutes from home. I am entering the left turn lane to turn into our neighborhood.

Ellie: "Mom, I'm sorry I put dat coin in my moufh."
Mom: "What?!? You put the coin you found in the parking lot into your mouth? Did you take it out? Take it out!"
Ellie: "I can't! It's stuck!"
Mom: "What do you mean, it's stuck? Did you swallow it?"
Ellie, beginning to whimper: "No, it's stuck! I can't get it"

I look into the rearview mirror and see the dime stuck perpendicularly in my daughter's bottom teeth.

Mom: "You put it in there and bit on it, didn't you?"
Ellie, crying: "Yeth! Get it out!!!"
Mom: "I can't, honey, I'm driving the car. Don't swallow it!"
Ellie, wailing: "I wan it out!"
Mom: "We're almost home, I can help you then - right now I'm driving the car!"

Ellie, crying. Then calmer: "Oh, I got it out."
Mom, reaching back: "Hand me the coin."
Ellie, whining: "I don want to!"
Mom: "Give - Me - The - Coin."
Ellie: "But I wan it!!!"
Mom: "When you stick coins in your mouth, you are not old enough to have coins in your possession."
Ellie, throwing a tantrum: "It's not fair!"

And how was  YOUR afternoon?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Words From The Back Seat

A recent conversation from the car:

Brett: *grumpy sigh at stop light.* *grumpy sigh at next stop light* *grumpy sigh and slouch at third stop light*
Anne: "My, my, my, you're sure grouchy about the lights today."
Brett: "No, I'm not."
Anne, laughing: "Well, you're throwing hissy fits like you are."
Brett: "This is not a hissy fit."
Anne, chuckling: "Yes, it is."
Brett, wryly: "No, it's not - look up the definition of hissy fit and you'll see that this is not it!"

Jefferson (in monotone voice, as if taking dictation): "Look - up - hissy - fit."
Eleanor, from the back row of the van: "*I* will look up 'hissy fit' when we get home because I'm a 'PUTER EXPERT!"

O.K., it cracked us all up. And ended the stoplight sighing.


It seems like forever since I've written here. Apparently it's only been about 2 weeks, but that shows you how slowly times passes in the land of the sick. Sick. I've been sick. For what seems like forever.

At the beginning of October I had some sort of 2-day fatigue-and-oogy virus. No big deal. Except the next week I caught the Head Cold From Hell - which started out for 3 days feeling like allergies (although Claritin and Zyrtec did NOTHING), but by day 4 I could tell it was a cold with all the lovely phlegmy things a head cold entails. This cold stuck around for about 10 days.

Even that might not have been so bad, but then the last week of October I caught The Plague. O.K., it wasn't really the plague - just a bad flu-like virus. I'm guessing coxsackie virus, a..k.a. Hand-Foot-Mouth disease, based on the blisters in my throat. Then again, I'm not a doctor. But I saw one twice in the space of  5 days - that's how bad I felt. 101.8 temp for several days, chills, aches, severe sore throat, severe sore ears and swollen neck glands. Phlegm phlegm phlegm phlegm phlegm (I went through 7 boxes of Kleenex ON MY OWN). And a hacking, nasty cough. I just felt gawd-awful. And it lasted for pretty much 14 days.

2 + 10 + 14 = 26 days of illness in the space of about 5 weeks. Is that enough to discourage you? It was me. Because of course I'm not sick in a vacuum. I'm not sick in the times when it was easy to be sick - childhood, and college. I'm sick as a stay-at-home mom. That means I have to try to deal with my kids and every other mundane detail while sick. Or ask my husband to help, which means he misses work. And which means he gets in a bad mood after about a day or two. I don't exactly blame him, but I could do with a little more empathy and a little less Bitter Martyr Syndrome.

But by Tuesday of this week (11/9), I felt awesome! I went to the gym! I gloried in the sunshine! I had energy! Life was good! By Wednesday, my voice was hoarse for half the day. By today (Thursday), I have a mild sore throat and mildly sore ears and a SEVERELY bad attitude. I'm praying this does not turn into something bigger. And if it is, I'm hauling myself back to the doctor to find out if I have HIV or cancer or something. Because I don't know what else to do and I feel like I'm going to snap from the stress and frustration.

I guess it's like that dude from The Princess Bride said, "If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything..."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Count Me In!

I'm realizing lately how much I've counted myself out of. I've found myself saying I couldn't do this, couldn't be that, ought not to try the other. I've told myself I'm too fat and/or too old. Isn't that sad?

Yesterday I sketched out a list of all those things I've said "no" to (at least most of the time) "because" of my weight or my age. Here is the list:

  • Looking pretty
  • Feeling pretty
  • Dressing nicely
  • Running
  • Exercising intensely and regularly
  • Keeping my hair bleached blonde
  • Short hair cuts
  • Showing off arms or legs
  • Dancing (seriously? I LOVE dancing! Why don't I do it more?)
  • Jumping on the trampoline
  • Playing nearly any physical game
  • Thinking well of myself
  • Treating myself well
  • Eating well
  • Being able to eat just one of something
  • Thinking I can ever change
  • Being a model for my kids
  • Being able to achieve this goal, or most goals
  • Feeling sexy
  • Dressing sexy
  • Acting sexy
  • Sitting on most seats without worrying if they'll hold me
  • Being comfortable on airplanes
  • Being worried about fitting into amusement park seats
  • Being "normal"
  • Believing people like me just as I am
  • Thinking I can be like most people (size-wise - I kind of prize my weirdness)
Well, no more. I cannot change my age. I might not be able to change my weight as much as I would like (although I'm working on it). But I can change my poisonous thinking, starting today.

What has brought about this strong desire to permanently eradicate this mindset? First it was taking care of my face and wearing a little bit of make-up again. I didn't really initiate those things so much on my own; they're a result of a neighbor starting up a Mary Kay business, and me wanting to support her. And of having her say she thinks I'm prettier than I let myself be. That was kind of eye-opening to me. And what I'm learning on the days when I actually "do my face" - either just cleaning it well or adding make-up to it - is that I DO feel prettier when I take care of myself. Duh.

I'd read a few years ago about a woman who decided to love herself unconditionally, large girth and all, and started by rubbing lotion into her legs every night and praising them for all they did for her. That was it. Every night, loving actions and loving words toward herself - and apparently she lost more than 100 pounds. I'm experiencing a little bit of that self-love when I take care of my face. Now I just need to do it every day!

As for my body - yes, I have had hurtful things said to me. Most from my childhood, though, if I'm honest about it. People have made judgments about it, and I've certainly felt the sting of rejection from being too big. But NONE of those words, judgments, or rejections have been as harsh or as frequent as what I've done to myself, and still do to myself daily. That will stop. I wouldn't want my daughter or son to talk to themselves in such a way, so why would I think it was O.K. for me to? And self-criticism and condemnation rarely bring about positive change, they just bring about punitive, destructive behavior. I don't want that anymore.

I may never get to a size most other people would consider normal, but I can get to a better size. I will not get any younger, but I can take care of what I have and show it off to its best potential.

There are days when I will do better at this, and days when I might not. That's O.K. But when it comes to my own life, from now on: COUNT ME IN!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And I Ran... I Ran So Far Away...

O.K., not really. It was more like a slow jog, and it certainly wasn't far - maybe a third of a lap at a time, sometimes half. One whole one at the end, just to prove I could. And I did. I ran.

For most people, this is probably no big deal, especially such a short distance at a time. For me, it's huge. I'm not a runner. I've never been remotely interested in running. What I mostly remember about running in childhood is being embarrassed that I was always the slowest one in the 600m gym class race (which I usually ended up mostly walking). So embarrassed that I've HATED running ever since.

My husband's a runner and has been so for years. He claims he doesn't like it, but I just don't buy that someone can really dislike it that much and still do it for 3+ hours a week, every week. I enjoy watching HIM run (*insert eyebrow waggle here*), but have always figured it was not for me. After all, I'm a Big Girl. Big girls don't run. Do they?

Lately I've been mulling over trying to run, just a little bit, but when I'm thinner, of course. Maybe when I'm under 200 pounds. I certainly can't do it now. Right? But this morning at the gym, I don't know what happened - I walking along just fine, at the beginning of my 3 mile walk, and suddenly felt like running. It took me 3 more laps to get over my self-consciousness; the track at my gym goes around all the fitness equipment and the aerobics room, so people can and often do glance at those of us using it. I didn't want people watching me run. I didn't want them noticing my butt bouncing up and down, or the weight on my back moving in rhythm to my music. I didn't want anyone making fun of me for only jogging a little bit at a time, or for jogging so slowly.

O.K., in reality I know no one is really interested in me enough there to do any of those things. They're all concentrating on their own bodies. And hopefully if they saw me running, they might momentarily think, "Hey, good for her, she's trying to run!" But boy, was it hard to break through the nerves. Britney helped me, though. Who, you ask? Britney Spears, of course. "Toxic" came on my mp3 player - one of my favorites from her, but one whose beat is too fast for me to walk to. So I ran!

And for several more laps, I alternated running when I felt like it and fast walking. I have to tell you, I felt so awesome! I don't know if the beta-endorphins were from the jogging or the joy of having overcome my own self-consciousness, and I don't care! Because I felt wonderful! Powerful! Capable!

I started fantasizing about running an actual mile. Then I started daydreaming about a half-marathon. Then I laughed at myself and realized the goal for now is one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

We'll see how my knees feel tomorrow. But right now, *I* feel great.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Out of the Mouth of Babes (In this case, Eleanor)...

Ellie and I were driving on South Main Street in Harrisonburg today when suddenly she yelled, "I want dat house!" Looking around and seeing mostly businesses, I asked, "Which house?" "DAT one," she said excitedly. "The one wiff da pink and da BARBIE on it!"

Bwah ha ha. She was referring to Pamela's Secrets. The somewhat run-down white house with pink trim on it, with a sign that features, yes, a rather Barbie-doll looking blonde woman with big hooters. It's an "adult novelty" store.

Oh, Barbie. If you only knew. It cracked me up completely, I have to say. Although Ellie couldn't quite comprehend why I was chortling with glee.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ain't That A Kick In the Head? (Everybody Sing!)

This has been a rough week. I've been sick all week with an extremely nasty head cold that has me wishing to run away, and 2 children who are cutting me no slack and lending me almost no empathy. Yes, they're 4 and 9, so I know they don't really "get" it, but c'mon - does mommy really need EXTRA fits and behavioral issues this week? And O.K., yes, I admit I've been reacting to them much more than I've been parenting. I haven't behaved much better than they have on some occasions. But it's just made it such a crummy week and I just want to hide and run away. 

Usually, since I can't *really* run away (at least not without risk to my marriage and the chances of Child Protective Services getting involved), I run figuratively and escape - into food. This would be the kind of day on which I'd like to drown my sorrows in chocolate. Or ice cream. Or donuts. Or whatever else is around. It gives me 5 minutes of escape, 5 minutes of release. It lets me stuff down all these uncomfortable feelings, even if just for a little bit. And of course it lets me move the focus of what's really eating me (kids I can't stand, the realization that many times I just don't want to be a parent, even though apparently I have to since I birthed these kids out of my own body. Stupid me. Etc, etc.) onto what I'm eating - or at least the familiar feelings of the food cycle - binge, feel happy, feel full, feel guilty, feel angry, focus all the bad feelings on my body, blame the body, etc). 

Yes, it's all textbook. Yes, I've read it all before. But I know today that escape cycle is true - because it's NOT what I'm doing. Instead of going face down into the food, I'm left floating in these very uncomfortable feelings. And I don't like it. I don't like being angry at my kids. I don't like resenting them. I don't like wishing I weren't a parent. I don't like wanting to escape from everything as if I *were* a kid. I don't like that I feel as if my kids are selfish entitled brats, and then wonder if the same title couldn't be applied to me when I feel as if it's O.K. to escape the situation, the feelings, the what-have-you. 

So there's where I am today: really, really, really wanting to drown my sorrows in food. But somewhere, somehow knowing that doing so just drowns the rest of me, too - in unneeded calories and, eventually, in unwanted fat. So I guess I can't do it today. 

The other kick, the smaller but funnier one in the face of all of this, is I lost less than a pound this week. As if I should expect more, when I've been sick as a dog and not exercising. When I've lost 10 in the past 3 weeks, a sign it's about time for my body to slow down. As if it should matter - aren't I in this for the long haul? Don't know I know it will take time? That some weeks I may lose more, some less, but I just have to keep on keepin' on? Sure, I know it all logically. But instead I find myself angry at the scale today. A week like this, and all I get is one measly pound? The attitude *should* be one of gratitude - a pound? Really? During a tough week like this? Wow, I'm lower than I've been in 3 years! 

But instead of that attitude of gratitude, which I truly want to cultivate, I'm sitting here grouchy and angry, wanting the food and mad that I can't have it, wanting to throw a tantrum and run away and basically act like the selfish, overly-entitled child I've accused my kids of being this week. Pot, meet kettle. 

Monday, October 11, 2010


I have been on Zoloft since Ellie's birth in May of 2006 and my subsequent free-fall back into post-partum anxiety and depression - the same mess I experienced after Jefferson's birth in January 2001. (Can you see why I don't want more kids? I and my marriage can't take all of that again!)

Recently I decided to wean myself off of it. Why? I'm not 100% sure. I'm absolutely in favor of people who struggle with anxiety and depression seeking help, in whatever form they need it in - counseling, medications, whatever. Because living with anxiety and depression is no way to live. And I'm in no way ashamed to admit I struggle with those two things or to admit that I take meds for it.

Still, I've been wondering what I would be like without it. After all, I was on Serzone for a few years after Jefferson came along, but chose to go off when we wanted to get pregnant again. I didn't notice a huge difference. My mom said she did. So who knows? But I don't think the effect was as apparent as in the first few months of post-baby panic.

Today marks day 5 of being completely off it, after having weaned down to a half a dose for the past month or so. I haven't had any major withdrawal symptoms, as far as I know. I am cranky and irritable, but that's in part because I either have a cold or allergies right now. But I don't feel as if I'm any bitchier than I was when I was on it. I guess I should ask around. I do feel as though I've been too short-tempered with my kids, but, ahem, I've felt that way for months - so is that the lack of medication, or is that parenting?

Anyway, it's not that I'm not willing to take it. But I want to see if I can boost my own serotonin production through exercising. And in 2 weeks, once I think the Zoloft is mostly gone, I'm going to try 5-HTP, which supposedly helps create more serotonin (rather than just blocking the serotonin from being reabsorbed as quickly, as the SSRI's do), and see where it leads.

Am I nuts? Maybe. I just hope I have the perspective, or others around me do, to figure out if this is a good move, or a bad move. What I do know is that I don't have the high anxiety levels or immense feelings of worry/sadness/fear/hopelessness/anxiety that I had in the 6 months after my babies came along. That's something, right?

But seriously, am I nuts?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall Down 7(0) Times, Get Up 8(0).

Whoops. Since starting back to trying to watch my food intake 2 weeks ago, I had my first binge this evening. I am making cookies for a friend in L.A. who won a little FB competition I had. I was going to make pumpkin bread for a local winner (much harder to binge on unless I cut into the loaves), but decided on cookies for Kendra since she lives across the country. Only, duh, cookie dough is one of my major red light binge foods. 

I thought it might not be a problem because I'm coming down with a cold and wasn't feeling particularly hungry. O.K., next time the Queen of Denial needs to admit that's what she was doing - thinking in Denial. Because the minute I got some dough onto my fingers, I ate it. (And washed my hands, no worries for Kendra!) And then I scooped some dough onto the cookie sheets, and some dough into my fingers for me to eat. Dang. I think I ate at least 10 scoops. Maybe more. 

And boy is it hard to pull out of a binge once I enter that nosedive. I saw it for what it was. I knew I was bingeing. But just as quickly, I had the Guilt Devil and the Temptation Devil sitting on my shoulders yelling into my ears: "You blew it! But you've already had some, go ahead and have some more." And as I was trying to convince the Devils that part of the lesson this time around is learning how to get back up RIGHT AWAY after I fall, rather than floundering around in the muck and chocolate, well, their voices overrode mine for the next 3 or 4 scoops. 

And then... And then I stopped. I did stop. There are still mounds of cookie dough sitting on the cookie sheets on top of the stove, waiting to be placed into the oven, and I'm not eating them. Yes, I ate 10. But I STOPPED. I'm getting up. Guilt is still trying to drag me down into the muck, and boy, he's one strong Devil. But I'm stronger. Good-bye, guilt. You serve no purpose. Good-bye, temptation. You beat me for a few minutes, but I'm getting back on the horse. 

Fall down 7 times, get up 8. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Jeff: "Dad, do you have any money?"
Dad: "Nah, I have nothing in my wallet."
Jeff: "Do you want to borrow some money?"
Dad: "What?"
Jeff, practically with an eyebrow waggle: "Because I charge INTEREST!"

Oh, the boy is a true Tjaden.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Calgon, Take Me Away!

I'm kind of done being a mom right now. O.K., I know I can't really quit this job, but this is one of those days when I'd really, really like to. Or one of those weeks. Or maybe it's been the whole darn month.

Yes, some of it is related to the kids - I'm so tired of sibling squabbles and dealing with whining or yelling or fits or demands or dirty clothing dirty floors dirty dishes dirty kids. I'm tired of having a kid with different brain chemistry, so that I never know what is reasonable to expect and have to deal with the instant anger the apparently short-circuited serotonin delivery system produces in him. I'm tired of having a whiny 4 year old who just wants to watch TV and eat junk food and never do anything herself. Most of all, I'm tired of being a whiny, yelling, fit-throwing mom.

I'm envious lately - really envious - of the people who own their time. O.K., maybe nobody truly owns their time unless they're rich like Bill Gates - most of us have to work (and no snide comments about me not making any money since I'm an at-home mom - I know very well that none of my contributions are financial, and I'm feeling that pain acutely). But still, to be able to go read a book, go to a movie, go to a park, travel, go get a haircut, just because I wanted to?

I do love my kids. I really do. But the day-to-day drudgery of raising them is wearing me down, especially since I don't feel like I'm doing a good job lately. I just can't get a handle on it. It seems to come more easily and naturally to others. It seems as if their kids are better behaved. Maybe it's not true, but man, I just want to escape. And that makes me feel guilty.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Slippery Slope

Most people who know me know we've been adjusting our eating habits, mostly in an effort to see what might help Jeff with his Tourette's. Because of this, we now by and large avoid foods with artificial stuff or preservatives. Not perfectly - we still hit a drive-thru sometimes or give in to the siren call of candy. But most of the time, what's coming into my house is free of ingredients whose names you can't pronounce or recognize.

However, about two weeks ago I decided to really make an effort to drop some weight. I want the image of myself that I have in my head to match reality, and right now it doesn't (not that I am, ahem, skinny in my own mind; I'm just not as big as I am now). I had already debated the merits of allowing myself to drink a caffeine-free Diet Coke here and there, and decided for now it would be O.K.; it feels like a treat and has helped stave off some strong cravings. But... I've also brought some microwaveable meals back into the house, too - you know, the Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine types. Part of me feels this is O.K., as they are quick, easy, ensure I eat an actual lunch, and are calorie- and portion-controlled. Part of me knows that's hogwash. I don't want to be eating them - it's a step back in terms of health, if I'm honest.

So what's the problem? I don't know. I just kind of wanted to acknowledge to myself that I've been sneaking in some of these foods that really, truthfully, because of all the reading I've done, just don't feel right to eat in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, as well as a healthier weight. It's a short-term gain in terms of convenience, but a long-term loss overall. I need to find other quick options. Right after I go polish off my Weight Watchers Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ratted Out By My Four Year Old

I am normally the kind of mom who keeps her kids home when they show signs of illness. Throwing up? Home. Fever? Home. Bad cough / nasty cold? Home. Unless they've had the cold for several days.

So when Ellie woke up this morning sounding a bit sniffly and coughing in a mildly phlegmy fashion, I figured we were stuck at home today. Ellie, however, did not take kindly to this idea. "But I wanna go to pweschool! I not sick! I wanna go my pweschool!" I guess I should be grateful she loves her school so much, but then again, dealing with a snotty child (both literally and figuratively) was not how I wanted to start the morning. I compromised by telling her we'd see how she felt closer to preschool time, still planning to keep her home. But when Brett got up and saw her and heard of my tentative "ditching school" plans, he said she seemed find to him. And thus the seed was planted. By 11:30, she was not sniffing or coughing, but was still demanding to go to school. So I gave her some just-in-case cold medicine and off we went, me feeling mildly guilty over the fact that she might have a cold, because I certainly don't want to pass anything on to any other child. But I figured if she played happily, no one would be the wiser to our early morning mucus issues.

Boy, was I wrong. Never tell anything to a four-year-old you don't want the whole world to know. When we got to the parking lot, she ran over to her friend Gabriel's mom and practically shouted, "Gabwiel's mom! Guess what? I was sick this morning and my mommy said I couldn't go to preschool but she gave me medicine and now I'm better!" Gabriel's mom amusedly said, "I hope you're feeling better soon, Ellie," while I immediately tried to explain she really wasn't that bad - at which point she interrupted and said, "I had a gunky nose! And a bad cough!" Great, kid.

Once inside I thought we might be in the clear, but oh no - Ellie ran up to her teacher and proudly told Ms. Rachel the exact thing she'd confessed to Gabriel's mom: "Ms. Wachewl, I was sick and my mommy gave me medicine and now I'm all better!" Yeah. Ms. Rachel's eyes flew to my face so fast, and I knew just what she was thinking. "Does she have a fever?" Ms. Rachel asked. "No," I truthfully replied, and explained she'd been stuffy this morning, but seemed fine now (also true) and that she had really, really wanted to come to preschool (certainly true). Ms. Rachel smiled, but I suspect she really felt otherwise.

So tell me, am I a bad mommy? Guess we'll know in a few days, if everyone else starts coming down with colds at preschool. But seriously, aren't you most contagious in the first few days, usually before you even know you HAVE a cold? Right? RIGHT?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl

This is the title of the current book I'm reading, written by Shauna Reid, an Australian woman who, at 350+ pounds, decided to lose weight. She chronicled her journey on a blog (, which I have yet to visit), which eventually she published as a book. I am loving it. LOVING IT. Not only is her story incredibly courageous, but she's funny as all heck and real.

Here's a quote I stumbled across this evening:

"You know what's funny about losing a stack of weight? Nothing really changes. All that happens is that you lose the thing upon which you used to hang all your neuroses. Fat has shape and substance; you can poke it with a stick. It's a scapegoat and a handy excuse. Once you start to lose it, you realize you're stuck with the same moronic core." - The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, page 246.

Bummer. But also true.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Great Diet Coke Debate

Years ago I was a Diet Coke addict. And I mean addict - I used to drink a zillion (meaning at least 6-8) cans or bottles a day. This was sometimes very useful in grad school, until it led me to have panic attacks and a racing heart. I decided maybe I ought not to do caffeine. So I gave up Diet Coke... in favor of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. Ah, the magical elixir - no calories, no caffeine, no nothing, and still oddly satisfying. And addictive.

In recent years I have given up my soda habit. I decided I really didn't want to be drinking so much aspartame. I do think it gives me headaches. I didn't want to be spending money on it all the time. But I also was trying to be an example for my kids - we don't particularly want them hooked on any kind of soda, but how realistic is that if we're drinking it all the time? And once we launched our offensive on chemicals in our food, I really didn't want to drink it - how can I encourage Jeff to stay away from artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners when I'm eating or drinking them myself? Sure, we're not perfect. As I said, sometimes we still hit the drive-thru. Occasionally McDonald's still lobs a land mine our way in the form of  the coveted Happy Meal. A Blizzard can often overcome even my strongest feelings about chemical-laden food. But by and large, I avoid soda.

So what's the debate? Well, I'm trying to lose weight again the good old-fashioned way, by eating less and moving more. I'm monitoring my calories, and frankly it just doesn't feel like there are enough in the day (and I'm not eating a level most people would consider to be a restrictive level, believe me). So I have started to crave Diet Coke again - just that extra something, just a little treat for staying on track in all other ways. I haven't bought one yet, but I'm waffling. Should I? Is it O.K. to pick a no-calorie item like that and consume it for the emotional benefits? I mean, c'mon, I'd only be drinking the caffeine-free stuff!

Ironically, in my time since I've been "off" soda, I've read a lot more about artificial sweeteners and how they actually fool your body - it doesn't register the "sweet" factor properly. And in fact since the taste of sweetness triggers the desire for sweets, it can lead you to binge. All big reasons NOT to start up again.

Decisions, decisions... What do you think?


An awesome quote from my dear cousin:

"Think of this as a lesson in are working to align yourself. You are brilliant, beautiful, clever, compassionate, and you're making changes to make your outside match that fabulous inside AND by doing so, you will be demonstrating to the world how much you value yourself by caring for your vessel."

Just what I needed to hear this morning. I *am* out of alignment, especially with my own mental picture of my physical self, and my own sense of self-worth. Both are too small. So I'm back to working on it, bringing the physical down to match the mental, and the self-worth up to match the reality. I face a lot of challenges, given my history. That's O.K.

Plus frankly it's funny to think about - I wish I COULD go into a repair shop and say I need a rear end alignment. Well, I guess I could, but that would cost a lot of money and pain. Bwah ha ha.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vanity, Thy Name Is... Me

Anne in 1993
O.K., I've made a decision. I want to have Rebekah Girvan photograph my family. Including me. Her portraits are so stunning that every time I see them I think, "I wish I had photos like that of my own family." And I want to be in them. I still love the black and white portraits we had taken of my own family in 1993, and am so glad my parents were willing to shell out the money for an excellent photographer. I also still love them because they caught me at my thinnest point in adulthood. Sure, I was in the midst of bulimic behavior and had crash-dieted and overexercised to drop 40 pounds in just a few months. But I was pretty!

These days I shy away from photos, because I hate how I look in them. Namely, I'm fat. I don't like photographic evidence of this. However, I really want these pictures done. And I want to look beautiful in them.

See, the truth is, I'm vain. Most people might not guess that from the way I dress, or the fact that I don't usually wear any make-up, or that 90% of the time I'm running around with my hair pulled up in an unflattering ponytail. But I am. I'm vain in the way I would surmise many women are. Or at least women with eating disorders. I'm vain in that I'm constantly checking myself out in the mirror. I'm vain in that I love good photographs of me - to the point where I have them hanging up in my home. Who hangs up photos of *themselves* to see? I do. Because I like to think I'm pretty, and have evidence that, at least for that shot, I was. I'm vain, but don't often like the image I see, because it doesn't match the image in my head. I'm vain and hugely self-critical, all at the same time.

So I've made another decision. It's time to use vanity to prod me into doing what all my talk about healthy eating, modeling for my children (behavior, not my figure!), lowering my cholesterol or blood pressure, or whatever, has not been able to get me to do: really lose weight. It's time to admit while that all those things I mentioned are important, what supersedes them all for me is, simply stated, vanity. Printed vanity. See, in my day-to-day life, even as I check myself out in the rearview mirror or peer at my eyebrows in the bathroom, well, it's not permanent. I can look, and look away. And of course most of my day I'm NOT looking at my physical self. I'm doing my best to IGNORE my physical self. But when I see a photo, I'm transfixed, because there, on paper, for better or worse, is an image of what I really look like. And I've spent too long trying to convince myself I don't really look like that. I do!

Therefore, my goal is to lose weight before this photo shoot. I want the pictures to be taken sometime in March, around my 39th birthday. That gives me about 6 months. My goal is to drop somewhere between 17 and 37 pounds. Obviously I'd like it to be the higher number, but I need at least a bit of realism to pop in here to remind me that I will most certainly freak out over this effort at least a few times; I do have distorted eating and body image, after all, and the idea of losing weight is actually scary for reasons I both know and don't know. And my body may rebel even if I "do the work," since I supposedly have PCOS. So we'll see.

I know I've said time and again I'm going to lose weight. I've even said it here. I know realistically I may fail. So why publicly proclaim it (again)? Because, baby, I've gotta do something. All my dither-dallying, all my convincing myself not to "diet" because it won't work, all my certainty that my disordered binge-eating means I'll always be fat, hasn't moved the scale down. In fact, it's done the opposite. Therefore it's time for a good, old-fashioned, short-term dietary goal. I work best with a goal. I just haven't been able to come up with one that's as effective as the vanity card. So I'm playing it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chocolate vs God

With chocolate, all things feel possible.

With God, all things are possible.

Balancing Act

So this is Ellie's first full week of preschool, which is great in terms of meeting her social needs and giving me a little time to myself. But it also means adjusting to a new schedule. Apparently I'm not very good at this - I've found myself at loose ends too many times this week to count, trying to figure out what we should do next, what I should do during my "free time", and how to balance my needs with my kids' needs and my husband's needs and the house's needs.

One too many times I've found myself acquiescing to Ellie's request for more movie time, because it's easy; it keeps her entertained and lets me play on the computer. One too many times I've found myself swinging through a drive-thru or stopping to get snacks somewhere because I forgot to bring anything with us or there wasn't enough time to go home for a healthier lunch before our next activity. One too many times I've found myself making a short, manageable to-do list, but found reasons to avoid doing portions of it, just because I didn't feel like it.

Too many oopses, not enough good choices. I don't want my daughter eating junk food or spending all her time staring at a screen. So I need to figure out (i.e. PLAN) some good activities for us to do when we're not at the gym or at school or carpooling. I need to pack some healthy snacks in the car for the kids and for me, so I don't have the excuse to stop and buy junk that certainly none of us need.

Too often I just feel like I don't know what I'm doing, and/or that I'm not doing it well. I'm struggling this week with some serious body image issues (bat wing obsession, anyone). I'm struggling with money and the budget. Both of those make me want to shop and eat. But I know that spending more moola on dubious items like Blizzards or bagels isn't going to help physically OR financially.

So it's time to stop. Stop beating myself up about the choices of the last few weeks. Stop being willing to fail by being unwilling to plan and follow through. Stop and breathe and realize it will all be O.K. Some days we'll probably watch a little too much TV. Some days we'll frolic in the park. Some days maybe we'll end up at Mr. J's for a yummy sandwich. Some days I'll bring fruits and veggies in the car.

It's a balancing act, and what I'm really good at is the all-or-nothing approach. Time to be willing to walk the high wire, even if it's only in baby steps.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


On our neighborhood walk this morning, I was telling Eleanor about a cat I used to see in the neighborhood. "He was big and fluffy and fat!" I told her. "I want to be fat!" Ellie replied enthusiastically, to which I said, as nonchalantly as I could, "Nah, people shouldn't be fat." She said, "But you're fat!" Yes. Yes, I am. I said, "Yeah, but I shouldn't be." Then, as I worried about damaging my little girl's self-esteem and starting her down the path to body criticism, I decided to correct my words by trying to say that "All we can do is eat well and get exercise, and God will take care of our size." But I only got the first half out before she interrupted me to say, "Look, mom, my shadow is wearing SHOES!"

May she always be so blase when it comes to body size. And if she ends up being a bigger girl like her mommy, may she always be a happy little buddha. I love you, Pumpkin Girl, no matter what size your belly is, or ever will be.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Love And Marriage, Age 4 Edition

Ellie announced to me in the car today that she wanted to marry her friend Jack. 

"Why do you want to marry him?" I asked. 

"Because he's good," she replied. 

That's a ringing endorsement for a great spouse if I've ever heard one. Simple and to the point. I guess she's already looking for someone like her daddy. I did tell her she has to wait until she's at least 18, though.

A picture of the happy couple:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Good Day

Believe it or not, I actually have good days. I know I'm usually driven to write when something bad, or at least unsettling, has happened or is on my mind. The good days don't get enough mention, here or in my head. So I'm blogging today to say it was a good day. Nothing amazing or really unusual happened, unless you count Jeff not having any fits as unusual (which it can be!).

The weather is GORGEOUS. I felt so blessed to be able to open every window in the house and enjoy a COOL breeze. I vacuumed and steam-cleaned the rest of the basement. I baked pumpkin bread - a sure sign I feel fall is really coming, as for some reason while I LOVE pumpkin items, I so strongly associate them with autumn that I can hardly think of baking them any other time of year. We went to the pool and I played silly games with Ellie. We visited my parents in Staunton and enjoyed casual conversation, Hershey's kisses, and pizza.

Once home, Ellie did throw a fit about not being able to play outside immediately with friends, and got so mad during her fit she actually ripped her curtains out of the wall. Surprisingly, I wasn't all that fazed. Brett fixed them. She stayed in her room for a while as a consequence. We moved on.

So thank you, God, for this good day. And thank you, Brain, for recognizing and honoring it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Have We Hit the Teenage Years Already?

My son is changing. Gone are the days of automatic obedience. O.K., it was *never* automatic, but he's definitely challenging us and rules more and more, and often now just decides he's going to do something and does it without considering whether or not he should seek permission.

His anger is also getting worse. Or maybe it's his way of expressing that anger that's getting worse. I'm not sure which one is true. Now Jeff has always struggled with anger - it's his "go-to" emotion, for one thing; the one that seems to come out no matter what other more subtle emotion might be at play (frustration, fear, loneliness, embarrassment). As a toddler, anytime he got hurt, mad, scared, disappointed, he'd deal with it by hitting his parents. We spent nearly two years trying to get him to do other things except hit us - lots of time outs, removal of things from around him, sticker charts and rewards, etc.. We finally told him, when he started hitting his preschool teachers, that he would earn one spanking on his bottom for that, because we just couldn't figure out what else to do. Oddly enough, the threat of a swat worked - he only hit his teacher twice after that. Received two separate swats, and he was done.

Wish that would work as well now. Well, O.K., not really. I'm not really a spanker, don't like the idea of it, but know that 90% of parents do it at least once, and I have done it on occasions like that. But what do I do with a 9 year old who now is having increasingly physical reactions to anger again? He stomps, he bangs, he slams doors, he throws things in his room. Nothing has gotten broken yet (including him), but I'm sure it will. And I find it kind of scary.

I would like to say I'm one of those perfect moms who never raises her voice. I'm not. I try to stay calm and rational. Sometimes it works. Other times, I, um, raise my voice. I don't scream. I don't say mean, nasty insults. But I do get mad and I yell. So I know where it comes from and how it feels. I still struggle with anger, too. But not like this. In my HEAD I want to bang things and break things and hit things with a baseball bat. In real life, I don't. I do tend to go for the cookie dough... but that's another issue entirely.

So I'm not sure what to do with this kid who now feels he's old enough to make decisions on his own, but breaks down into fits of rage that are totally inappropriate. Last night he and his sister got into a fight while a babysitter was there. She sent both of them to their rooms to settle down. After a few minutes, he announced to her he was done being in his room and was coming out. She said, "Um, no - you're not." He screamed he hated her and slammed his door very forcefully and threw a fit in his room. My Lord, what do I do with that? Luckily the babysitter was very calm and told him when she was here, everyone was expected to treat everyone else well, and that her rules must be obeyed. And she had him stay in his room until he was calm. Exactly as we would have done. So she wasn't fazed. I was aghast and appalled, but she seemed fine with it all. Bless her.

But I don't know what to do now. Certainly there will be a consequence for that behavior choice, but Brett and I haven't figured out what it will/should be. And will it make a difference? When he gets lost in his anger like that, it's like he can't control himself. Last weekend we went to a church festival for kids (luckily not OUR church, and you'll see why...). Jeff decided he wanted to go in the bouncy castle with a slide. When he got to the bottom of the slide, however, I could tell immediately from his face that something was wrong. I thought perhaps he'd scraped himself on the slide, until he stood up and screamed "STUPID IDIOT!" at whomever was behind him. I said, "No! Jefferson, come here!". And he came running at me, crying, yelling that the kid behind him had pushed him, and lifted his arms and hit me. Hit me. His mom. I retrieved his shoes, as it was clear to me now that we had to leave, and as we were walking to the car, even as I was saying we don't call people names like that, he turned around again and screamed "STUPID IDIOT!" toward the slide area. I lost it and yelled "NO!" at him. In front of all those nice church people talking about God's children. I was mortified by it all.

I was also flummoxed. What to do with this? He stayed in his room for the day. We talked to him about name-calling and about hitting me ("sorry about that," he mumbled in response to my sadness at being hit, so at least he knew that was wrong). And we asked him how old the kid was who'd pushed him. "Probably four," he said.

Four? A four year old? And you're screaming "stupid idiot" at him? Granted, the kid should not have pushed Jeff. And had he been calm enough, we would have stayed there to work it out. As it was, I cried in shame. And I've been watching as the reactions seem to have gotten stronger, more intense, and over what seems to us to be ridiculous stuff.

I asked him this morning if he thought his behavior toward the sitter was appropriate."No," he muttered. "I was angry in that moment." I told him that's not an O.K. reaction to being angry, to which he replied, "I wanted to get my anger out but I don't know how." That's often his response these days - he needs to get the anger out but can't figure out how. I guess that's a small sort of recognition.

See, here's the other thing: I *know* anger issues are a major struggle for people with Asperger's. I've read that time and again. What I haven't read is how to really help with it. We have worked with Jeff a lot on things to do to calm down - run, jump, pound a pillow, count in his head, deep breaths, etc. We even had him work one on one with an occupational therapist to try to help him recognize when he's getting too worked up, and teach him some things he could do to calm back down when it was happening. But he doesn't do any of those. It's like he goes from 0-100 in a second, and all those options to slow himself down, they go right out of his brain. We know giving him time to calm down is about the only thing that works, but what do we do with the fits and violence?

I seriously wonder when I see these fits, when I hear him talk about how it's always someone else's fault, if I have another Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold on my hands. It's scary to me, how much anger this kid has and how little he sees his own culpability in it (or in the things leading up to it). He can bang his head on a cupboard and be convinced the cupboard leapt out and hit him - and that he has to pay it back and teach it a lesson. I spend a lot of time explaining that inanimate objects are, in fact, inanimate, and cannot think or do anything. He remains unconvinced.

I'm going to look into a counselor to help him and us with this issue. But in the meantime, it's scary to me, to have a 9 year old kid acting like this. We haven't even fully hit the tween years, much less teenagehood and actual puberty. If he's this prone to anger and physical reactions now, what's it going to be like when the testosterone is fully unleashed?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010



uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when caused by the inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
Psychology the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.

This is me. Annebivalent. There are so many things about which I either can't make a choice, or waffle between two choices. For example:

Job - what am I going to be when I grow up? What am I going to do when Ellie is in school full-time? Should I go back to work? Full-time? Part-time? What should I do? What am I even still qualified and capable of doing after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years? Should I work from home? What could I find which would allow that? Should I work at the kids' school? Would they have a position for me there? Or should I stay at home? Lord knows there's plenty of work to do here in terms of cleaning and food prep. And I've heard older kids often need their parents at home even more than the younger ones. If I don't go back to work I would always be available to help at school, to be home when the kids are sick, to provide carpool whenever necessary. I wouldn't have to worry about other people's schedules or how my work schedule fits in with anything. We'd also be broke. I just don't see how we can send two kids to private school without me bringing in money somehow. 

Which is why Brett wants me to write. Well, no, actually, I don't think that's entirely why he's encouraging me to do so. He fantasizes about me writing a bestselling novel and making lots of money, but really I think he wants me to write because he thinks it would make me happy. And in truth, if I could do anything, I *would* write. I have several ideas for books, an idea for my romance series, an idea for a children's story line. But then you know what? I wonder if it would be fair for me to be at home writing when the odds are my writing would never go anywhere. I don't actually know how hard it is to get something published. Well, published AND successful. But even more than the guilt (not only would I not be earning any money if I choose to write, but a lot of those cleaning projects and other stay-at-home tasks would continue to be neglected) is the fear and doubt: no matter how excited I get about any of my ideas, the devil in my head, that devil of self-doubt, rises up and challenges me. Every stinking time. I convince myself I can't do it before I even start. How could I possibly write a story as well as a "real" author? I read books and think there's no way I'm observant enough to get all the details right, or to know what to include. I did not pursue an English degree, much less creative writing in school, so how dare I assume I can become a novelist? I find reasons that I wouldn't do it well enough, so why even try? 

This self-doubt drives me nuts. And it seems to underlie everything I do - or don't do. How do I fix it? How do I challenge it? How do I STOP letting it STOP me? I don't know. I guess I need to take a clue from Nike and "Just Do It!"

Of course if I ended up playing on Facebook all day instead of actually writing, well, that would be a problem. But I digress...

Food/Weight/Body - My size has always been a source of ambivalence to me, in terms of how I feel about it and myself, my self-confidence level, etc. Having disordered eating, food/body/weight have always been central to my thinking. O.K. But lately I've been really ambivalent. Part of me wants to go all out and really try to drop some poundage before I turn 40. You know, get back to my wedding weight, or maybe even lower! Part of me feels like, "Eh, the beautiful years are behind you, and no matter how much weight you may or may not lose, you won't get back your looks or non-flabby body parts, so why bother?" This voice has been the loudest lately. The one screaming, "You're already fat, let's have ice cream!" I'm trying to challenge it by getting back to the gym more, but that devil, that devil is big. I have so much junk in my head when it comes to food and dieting and weight that I paralyze myself over it all the time - I have the diet parts, the Weight Watchers ideas, the SouthBeach or SparkPeople or Atkins or grapefruit plans, all fighting against the "diets don't work" mentality I learned in OA and from common sense. It's war! I have the part of me that is concerned about  my health at war with the part of me who figures it's hard to fix what's already broken and besides, we're all being poisoned by our toxic ways now anyway, so why not go out gorging? So I have borderline blood pressure and high cholesterol and have been worried about (but have no signs of) diabetes for a while now - there's nothing *really* wrong with me, right? And I see people fatter than I am who are much older than I am, so surely I won't die tomorrow if I eat the cheesecake today? 

It's so frustrating, this Stinkin' Thinkin'. Two years ago I was all gung-ho at the gym and really enjoying the working out and the physical progress I was making, even though my weight wasn't changing. Today I'm all kinds of "bleah." I'm trying to just do the next right thing and keep moving, even if I don't want to, because I know feelings are not facts. But just doing the next right thing hasn't happened with food yet. I feel rebellious again in that area - but I'm not quite sure against whom I'm rebelling. One of my favorite OA lines is, "You can't think yourself into a new way of acting; you have to act yourself into a new way of thinking." In other words, "Just Do It." Hrm, there's that idea again. 

But how can you Just Do It, when you don't know what the right thing to do IS? 

Parenting: I feel that way about my parenting right now. I simply don't know what the right thing is. I feel as if I'm not the mom I want to or should be, but I'm not quite sure what the want/should ideal is. I feel as if I'm not doing well with my son, who's showing increasing snottiness and negative attitudes and behaviors. And instead of being able to respond calmly and in a proactive way, I find myself exploding in a very very reactive way. I don't know what the best thing to do is. I don't know the best way to discipline. What kinds of consequences should there be for mouthiness? Should I be focusing more on a positive discipline / reward system? Even if it feels to me like one shouldn't be rewarded for choosing proper behavior? Should I make consequences harsher, or more lenient? 

Many mornings I wake up dreading the day, wondering what kind of fits he's going to throw this time, and how am I going to handle it? I so want to learn to not let other people's emotions influence mine, but I'm definitely not there yet, so if I'm faced with a whiny, complainy, negative son, I usually end up feeling whiny, complainy, and negative myself. 

Annebivalence. Annexiety. Why is it my two devils lend themselves so well to including my name in them?