Friday, May 13, 2011

The woman with the walker

       You know that woman that would walk six miles around the track Saturday afternoons and stop, not because she was tired, but because it was getting late and she had other things to do? Well, I used to be that woman. Then we brought home our two boys. Their issues and behaviors were such that I couldn’t leave home much. Bringing them with me didn’t work either. Their issues were… extreme. We tried different things but the reality was that I became less and less physically active while at the same time I became busier than I could have ever imagined. We pulled them out of public school because nothing else was working. Things reached a climax of “horror” and difficulty a few years ago. My life was such that I spent my entire day pulling guard duty. I sat in the dining room making sure school work was done or I was in the livingroom trying to get NR therapy done. All day long. I couldn’t tell you what I did that day. I didn’t have anything to show. The house was mess, I was unshowered, dinner often wasn’t cooked… but I was exhausted. Have you ever spent the entire day trying to keep a child from tearing the flesh off of his own arm with his teeth while he threw himself off of furniture head first and you had to be there to catch him so he wouldn’t have to go to the hospital? All the while trying to avoid being spit on, kicked in the stomach…
I know there are many people, probably most people, that have no idea what it is like to parent a child, let alone more than one, with such extreme behavioral issues. You probably think that I’m exaggerating. You must be thinking, “Surely not every day was like that….” But then there are those parents that are reading this blog and they know. They painfully know that I am not exaggerating. We have a sort of bond, like soldiers that return from war. You few, you know my reality. 
        So for years I sat. Literally. Therapist after therapist telling me "They MUST be in line-of-sight supervision at all times.” And the sad reality was that they really did need to be in line-of-sight at all times. Personal bathroom breaks meant fires being started while they played with the gas stove etc. So I sat and watched. When they were asleep, that is when I cleaned house, made rice for the next days’ dinner. Mostly that is when I researched therapeutic approaches. I didn't get much sleep. One thing I can say, I probably eat healthier than most people I know. It was the one thing that I could control. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sons. Very few people knew what we were going through. But those that did often suggested that we disrupted our adoptions. I hated the question, “Do you regret adopting them?” It felt so poisonous. Poisonous questions. However, my efforts have paid off. They have been healing. Most of that we owe to their daily NR program. Today, my boys are doing so great. We are dangerously close to having a normal family hahaha! I actually had a teacher email me today to tell me what a respectful boy my son J is. Yesterday I watched R play catch with C (she couldn’t actually catch anything but he was so patient with her,) that happened after he helped put shoes on her Barbie because she couldn’t do it herself.  The boys are still working on some issues and we still have some bad days, but for the most part- I can honestly say things have never been better. My exhaustion has paid off. My kids are healing. I’m still getting used to not having to be on 24/7 guard duty. However those years of sitting on guard duty have taken their toll on me. I look down at myself and I hardly recognize the person I see. All that stress and inactivity… I have gained weight. A lot of weight. I still feel like I am the same person that I used to be so it always surprises me when I can’t get my body to do what it used to be able to do so easily. Lately I’ve been feeling rather depressed about that. I’ve starting exercising again but frankly that depresses me even more. I hate feeling my body’s INABILITY. I exercise, but my body’s resistance depresses me, so I stop. I think about my need to exercise but for some strange reason that thought embarrasses me. I can’t quite figure out why. So lately I’ve been trying to think of how I can motivate myself. I love to work in the yard, and with the warmer weather there have been plenty of opportunities. This morning I was turning manure into my vegetable garden bed, getting it ready for planting tomorrow. With each turn of the shovel I could feel my body’s resistance. I almost felt angry at it. I was thinking about the house we used to own before this one. We had an enormous yard, many times the size of the yard we currently have. I worked that yard like a machine hahaha! We had huge gardens: vegetable gardens, herb gardens, flowers gardens, a multitude of different shrubs etc. It was constant hard work and I loved it. I’ve spent the last few years in our current house trying to get my yard to be as nice as the one I left behind. My body yells at me now though as I pull weeds and dig holes. This morning as I was working I needed to pause for a break. As I looked up, I saw her. The woman with the walker. Whenever the weather is nice she’s out walking. She is elderly and needs a walker for support. She’s always there. You can see her in the morning or evening walking her two tiny dogs that look like poodle mixes. I remember the first time I saw her I worried for her. I wondered what would happen if her dogs pulled too hard? But they have proven to be more well behaved than my dogs:-) As I stood there leaning on my shovel I watched her. She was moving slowly but kept a steady pace. I think I’ve seen her every year that we’ve lived here. Always when the weather is nice. I have no idea who she is, I’ve only seen her from a distance. I suddenly felt such a surge of admiration for that woman. If I were in her situation what would I do? I know exactly what I’d do, I’d feel sorry for myself and way too embarrassed to be seen walking every day with my walker. I felt so ashamed of myself and simultaneously so proud of her. Her ABILITY. She’s probably twice my age. I thought about her and I thought, “I bet she’s the woman that walked six miles around the track Saturday afternoons and stopped, not because she was tired, but because it was getting late and she had other things to do.” She is who I once was and can become again. She has become my motivation. I want to be her. The woman with the walker. I finished my shoveling. I found what looks like a good exercise “video” on netflix instant watch. I’ve put it on my instant watch queue. I’m going to make this body move and another 40 years from now, I’ll proudly be the woman with the walker. Still proudly making my body move.

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