Oregon Trail

Location: Oregon, United States

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Moon Phase? Stephen. Collision

Two weeks ago was absolute chaos. Paul was in Vegas for work at the Caesar's Palace in an upgraded room with a jacuzzi that he never used. Here, the kids all got sick and stayed home from school while I ran back and forth from work managing them and doing my job at the same time. To top it off, two of the people on my caseload went into crisis mode and stayed that way the entire week while a third silently stewed, frustrated because his paperwork was being pushed to the back burner continuously. Unreal. I swear it was the moon phase, or the sunspot activity, or something because EVERYTHING went crazy.

Stephen was in a community production of Alice in Wonderland. When he introduced himself to the group at the beginning of practices, he said, "My name is Stephen and I like to play video games because THEY ROT YOUR BRAIN!" After that, he was given a couple roles where his personality could shine - the walrus and the Ace card. He had a blast, and got some good laughs for his comical performance. Now Thomas wants to be in a play as well, so we will see about signing them up for the next go-round.

I was in a fender bender yesterday - ironically, right in front of "Dave's Collision Center". Hmm, I wonder if they set up a collision vortex there? Anyway, no one was hurt. I was in the left lane of a one-way street when the woman in front of me in the right lane decided to take a left turn. She was thinking it was a two-way street, so didn't expect me to be there. I was ALMOST able to stop in time, but we made contact, so we had to call the police and go through the hassle of calling insurance companies, etc. The girl that made the turn was about 20, and was shaking and crying, so I ended up coaching her through the process - "Okay, it's going to be fine, but here's what we need to do..." Strange element of the surreal about it.

Another funny note about that event was this: these two guys stopped in the parking lot where we were filling out paperwork with the police. One of them came over and asked one of the officers a question. Then they went into a bank, did their business and came back out. As they were backing out of their parking place, the officer's back was to them. The guy was about halfway out of his parking spot, then suddenly remembered that he didn't have on his seat belt and there he was right in front of the police! He got the funniest guilty look on his face, quickly buckled himself in, then noticed that I had seen the whole thing. I just grinned at him and he grinned back, then left.

The kids have two more weeks of school. That just seems like a really long time. The pool in our neighborhood opens next week, which is none too soon. Too bad it will be cool again next week - it has been in the upper 80's lately. I put up a 10 x 10 gazebo on our deck in the back yard - a very happy, shady place. I will post a picture later when the flowers are all in bloom.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

William Update. Motherhood.

First, a William update. In case you haven't been following our story, the short version is that, in William's mind, Oregon SUCKS!!! And, in case you don't know us very well, we don't encourage the use of the word "Sucks" in our household, which tells you how very Suck-y it is. William has good, although misguided reasons for "disliking" it here, mostly centered around all the hard/sad/awful things that have happened since moving here. The tricky part is that most of it would have happened if we had stayed in Minnesota anyway, so it isn't really fair to blame it on Oregon. But he needs something to blame, so Oregon it is.

Being in the mental health field, I often check in with him to see what we can do to make it better (besides moving back, which is always first on his list). The other day, he mentioned two things: 1.) that he wished he could find some people his age to play Pokemon with, and 2.) he wanted to volunteer at the local Wetland Preserve. So I went to the internet to see what I could find. After entering "Pokemon Portland Oregon" into Google, an amazing thing turned up: There is a Game Club for kids from 12 - 18 with Asperger Syndrome in a nearby city. They bring their Pokemon cards, YuGiOh! cards, computer/video games, other board games, etc., and food to share and play their hearts out from 6 - 10 p.m. once a month. Needless to say, we decided to check it out.

Friday night was our first try. We decided to eat first and I had to laugh at the food choices - it was an Asperger's dream world. Pizza, strawberries, popcorn, lemonade (not fizzy pop), chips, more pizza, more strawberries, and the list went on. Nearly every favorite food of William's. There were large and small children all over the place with Pokemon t-shirts, backpacks filled with video game equipment and stacks of games to play. They would notice one another, ask what games they had with them and what systems they worked on, and have an entire conversation with one another. These are the kids that no one will talk to at school. The ones that get bullied for being "weird". That have no friends. But here, somehow, they have created a place where it is safe to be themselves, talk to one another, move around in clumps, bond over their infinite knowledge of Zelda or Samurai Warrior or Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi. It was a beautiful thing. So beautiful, in fact, that Oregon's rating has gone from a -25 to a -15, a huge improvement in only a few hours.

William and I also signed up to volunteer at Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve and got trained in yesterday to be "hikers wildlife survey" participants. This means we can go whenever we want, hike around, and write down any evidence of wildlife we see: scat, nests, tracks, actual sightings, carcasses, whatever. Very cool, and something both William and I are looking forward to. This brought the Oregon rating up from -15 to -13. Not a huge jump, but still an improvement.

I honestly thought that, at the rate we were going, William would not be ready to start plugging in to things here until next year. But all of the sudden, he was ready! This is a tremendous breakthrough and I am very thankful.

Motherhood. I've been thinking about motherhood lately for a couple of reasons: 1.) Because I've been reading my friend Amanda's blog as she struggled with the loss of freedom that often accompanies motherhood and 2.) well, duh, because it's Mother's Day. Then our pastor asked a few of us at different stages of motherhood to share a one or two minute bit about what it is like to be a mother at this point in our lives, so I had to put it into words.

When I read Amanda's blog, she was in the midst of a mini-crisis - all around her, people were having fun, going to concerts, shopping in New York, etc., while she mucked out the barns and turned down opportunities in preparation for her baby to be born. She asked, "Is this what it's going to be like from now on?" and I thought about it. My answer? Yes. This IS what it's going to be like. And no, it isn't. So I wrote her. "Answer: Yes. And no. Ultimate sacrifice meets unbelievable joy. Loss of freedom meets incredible peace. Tears meet laughter. Welcome to motherhood, Amanda."

Isn't this just the way it is? Motherhood is the epitome of dichotomy, a study of opposites. First of all, it's DISGUSTING. Who in their right mind would sign up for cleaning up every body fluid imaginable, especially when it never ends up where it's supposed to? Puke is never in the bucket, poop is often outside of the diaper, and pee is seldom in the pot - mostly all around it. On the other hand, motherhood is full of BEAUTY. I look at my children's faces and watch them make right choices and I'm convinced it's worth every disgusting moment. Motherhood is TERRIFYING. I've watched William waste away to almost nothing, I've watched Thomas drift away out of control in a kayak, I've watched them all go under anesthesia. I've watched them leave the house to go to school or go to a friend's house and thought, "Oh God, keep them safe...". Part of the terror is the WONDER. If they weren't wonderful, it wouldn't be terrible to lose them or see them hurt. But they are wonderful. They hug me and say they love me. They smile and laugh with me. They want to be together. Lastly, motherhood is EXHAUSTING and EXHILARATING all at the same time. I'm so sick and tired of doing 4th grade homework I could scream. (Didn't I already pass 4th grade?) If I have to mediate one more fight or snide, hurtful comment I may burst. If I have to remind ANYONE to follow the long-standing household rules and get a blank stare like it is new information, I might climb the walls. If I have to go to Target or the grocery store for the 5th time in one afternoon AGAIN because my brain is so flipping, utterly stupefied from doing homework, housework, mediation, meal-prep, rule-reminding, or any other mom-ified chore, I may just resort to just banging my head against the wall until it's over or someone else goes to the store for me. And yet, I would never give it up willingly. It is exhilarating to watch my children grow, to develop into unique, amazing, gifted human beings that have a place in this world. And I get to be a part of it! To watch, nurture, hold and ultimately... release. Again and again and again. Welcome to Motherhood.