November 30, 2012 | 2 Comments
Part of being a mom bloggers is knowing that the actual “mom” part of that equation gets in the way of your blogging. There are also times that blogging gets in the way of mothering, and since I am now running two sites, unfortunately that sometimes happens more than I would like.
But recently I have taken an oath to step away from the computer when the kids come home. Partially because nothing is more important than my kids — even though I love writing and running my local family site — and partially because I felt as if I had dropped the ball along the way on my third child’s education. Yup, nothing like feeling your youngest got a little lost in the shuffle to bring on the MOMMY GUILT.
School has always been pretty easy for my kids. Thing 1 has soared through school since kindergarten, except for a minor struggle with some seventh-grade math last year. So besides helping quiz her for upcoming tests and helping with a project or two, we’ve just taken for granted that academically she’s pretty independent and successful.
Thing 2 struggled a little in first grade prior to an ADHD diagnosis, and then again in third grade when an auditory processing deficit was recognized. And elementary school was all about teaching him how to organize himself, manage time and not save important projects for the last-minute. But he’s alway been a bright kid, who compensated for his deficits with his intelligence.
Then there’s Thing 3. The third child who “avoids” doing anything at all costs. Who has to repeatedly be asked to do things and if you don’t follow him around like a toddler, chances are it doesn’t get done. At the same time, this little 11-year-old has more confidence than myself at 40. He’s a performer, an athlete, a musician and dancer. He’s one of the most creative individuals I know and until recently he considered himself a top-notch student. But the start of fifth-grade has become a struggle for him, and the difficulty he is having stem all the way back to kindergarten, when he was put on a “watch” because his physical ability to write was poor and his ability to tell you a story or relate something he had learned verbally far exceeded his abilities to write it all down.
So we watched in first grade and at the end of second grade we were told to still keep watching. And then in third-grade I went to work full-time and stopped watching, but despite his inability to follow-through with anything at home, he seemed to be doing fine. Sure he forgot to tell us about the family holiday party in his classroom, so he was the only one without a parent there that day (GUILT. GUILT. AND MORE GUILT), and he occasionally called my husband and I during the day after realizing he forgot something at home, but the writing struggles seemed to have disappeared. So I assured myself that my working wasn’t getting in the way of my parenting. The kids were doing great.
The last year I began working for myself so I could have a flexible schedule to still be a mom and I started watching again. “Boy, Thing 3, that doesn’t look like fourth-grade writing to me,” I’d say.
“Nope, it’s fine,” he’d reply, and when he came home with a check-plus or an A I’d hear, “See mom!” (and I knew the “I told you” so was squeezed in there, too, by his tone).
I continued to question his writing ability and my husband, Thing 1 and 2, and I, were still frustrated that Thing 3 seemed to be the only one who would disappear at home when something had to be done. Everything was halfway done, and when it was completed it was messy, rushed and disorganized. But still the As came, so I continued to watch.
Finally, after watching for the entire year of fourth grade and one month of fifth-grade, I couldn’t stand it anymore. “Thing 3 is driving me crazy at home,” I told his teacher in an e-mail. “He can’t remember anything, he never finishes a task and his grades are not even close to what they’ve been in the past.”
Come to find out, Thing 3, was struggling a bit in the classroom, too. He was fidgety and talkative, he often removed himself from the group because there was too much noise and he was overwhelmed and his spelling, language arts and math grades were steadily dropping. My husband and I had a few meetings and e-mails with the teacher, we set up a plan to help my son and we spoke to the doctor. When things did not improve significantly, the doctor referred us to a Psychologist who could do some testing — social, educational, etc.
That testing will take place on Dec. 20. Merry Christmas Thing 3! But he is not dreading it. In fact, he is begging for it. “What’s the matter with me?” he often asks. “Did something change with my body? Can we do the testing earlier?”
And I tell him we don’t know. “I think it’s a combination of bad habits and some of these struggles not being recognized before,” I say as some sort of justification of it all. Because in the grand scheme of things he’s a good kid. Personable, friendly and not a troublemaker, so he’s just gotten by (on his charm I think).
Though I answer that way to save face with my 11-year-old, because I don’t want him to find out one of the reasons behind his struggles is my going to work, that’s not what’s going through my mind at all when he asks that question. My heart breaks and I can feel the pangs of guilt traveling through every cell of body, resting uncomfortably in the pit of my stomach, and what I’m really thinking is …
“No buddy, thing haven’t changed. Mom just dropped the ball and stopped watching for a while. I’m sorry.” But I’m back.