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Shame, Peace and Ostrich Eggs

In my last post I talked about shame. You might be familiar with the feeling.

“I’m not doing enough for my kids.”

“I am not making enough money.”

“My house isn’t clean enough.”

“I used to be a contender.”

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If you’re anything like me, you can do a pretty good job at keeping the tiger in the cage. You exercise. You pray. You keep a schedule. You try to let things go.

But sometimes you just have a day.

And that was my day Friday. Sure, I had missed the ONE day to test into full time employment – putting full time insurance off another month – but I gave myself grace. (“If the kids lose a leg, there’s always the county hospital.”)

Yeah, my bank account was running perilously low, but a check was going to land in my box on Friday. (“The kids are vegetarians now. A few cans of beans will sustain until pay day.”)

Alright, a huge vacation wasn’t going to happen this Spring Break, but I was blessed to have a friend give me a two night stay at her time share for $64 total. It was something I was looking forward to all week.

LOTS OF GRATITUDE!

And then I got a note – a terrifying note – from a friend I work with regarding permission to attend an out-of-district school that Stink had also applied to. Both our kids were accepted into the school, but it wasn’t in our district. We needed permission to transfer out – and that would take some work.

No worries! In true Andrea fashion, I pulled out all the stops to apply for this out of district permit – including gleaning a personalized acceptance letter from the high school secretary, to tracking down a fellow mom who had been through this with her own kids.

Based on fellow mom’s adventure through hell the Los Angeles school system, I knew in advance that I would be denied a permit and would have to appeal. I was nervous, but trusted the process. I told my friend at work that this would happen and, to save her the headache that the fellow mom from that school saved me, I told her what to do.

Only problem? Her kid got approved on the first go around. No appeal needed. This was not the case with Stink. Yup, lucky me – Not only was he denied a permit, I found out the lovely news an hour before my trip that Stink probably would not get the appeal approved because they are only taking theater kids this year. Stink applied for tech.

I was totally calm. Just like this!

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I calmly and rationally trusted in the Lord Jesus with all my heart, soul and strength. My heart hit my knees, I pooped a brick and belly cried like a drunk seal to my unsuspecting sister on the phone.

In my heart, I know that this is just high school. It’s not that he has cancer.

But in my head, it was the old shame tapes that played with his diagnosis. “You did something wrong,” they taunted me. “Your kid isn’t good enough.”

In my book, I recall a scene where all but one kids from Stink’s preschool got into a prestigious Catholic grade school. Stink was the one who didn’t make the cut. Which, well, sucked.

In fury, I made an appointment with the principal. (Note: In the book, I refer to Stink as Nicky.)

Excerpt from Chapter 3 – CinemaTIC

After finally being lead into the principal’s office, I was informed that Nicky didn’t grasp his pencil correctly in the interview process.

“You’ve got to be kidding…” I started to balk, but before I could continue she added, “He seems a bit immature.”

After peeling myself off the floor and holding back my urge to scream our Lord’s name—and not because there was a lovely oil painting of Christ hanging behind this woman’s head—I told her how disappointed I was. “He’s five. He’s not supposed to be mature. And why does it matter if he can grip a pencil correctly? Isn’t this what he’s supposed to learn in kindergarten?”

She gave me a fakey-compassionate half-smile. “His lack of coordination is disconcerting. It implies he’ll need some special attention that we just can’t give when there are thirty kids in the classroom and only one teacher.”

To which I responded, “With a ratio like that, why would I want to spend six grand a year on his schooling?”

To which she responded, “For the Christian education.”

“Oh, yeah, I can really feel God’s love here.”

And with nothing but a few cursory closing statements, I walked out of that office, enrolled my son in a public charter school, and have never looked back. It’s not as fancy as the private school of my dreams. But behind peeling paint is a structure built on joy that fosters creativity, self-worth and joy beyond my wildest expectations. And guess what: It’s FREE. Plus the student-to-teacher ratio is twenty-four to one. Jesus would be proud.

After firing off yet another letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District about why my son deserves entrance into that high school, it dawned on me that perhaps going insane was not the answer.

Perhaps my shame did not have to run the show.

Perhaps this “amazing” school for my kid is not to be, despite my best efforts.

Maybe, just maybe, if I can let go of the expectations I have for sweet Stink and allow what God wants for him, life just might be a bit more manageable.

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I can confirm that this thinking is correct because two things happened this weekend.

  1. My son told me quite calmly, “Mom, it’s not a big deal. If I get in, I get in. If I don’t, I’ll just to Big Scary Neighborhood School and I’ll survive.”
  2. We went to Ostrich Land over our weekend. It’s hard to live in shame when you’re feeding prehistoric beasts and sticking your head in germ infested wooden cutouts.d.jpg

The Moral of the Story

What we think has to happen for our happiness and security keeps shame front and center. Letting go and letting God direct the show keeps peace and laughter in the forefront.

The second option is so much better.

May your joy this week be like an ostrich egg: large and nourishing! (Did you know ostrich eggs are the equivalent of 30 chicken eggs? It’s true!)

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

bookcover profile pic

 

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Special Needs, Shame and Growing Up

By the title, I’d love to tell you that this post is all about my son. That I’m this awesome mom of a kid who tics and, despite his twitches and occasional shakes, I’m helping him work past his shame. You see, he’s growing up. In Stink’s case, literally. (He’s 6 foot 1. I’m in heels. He’s estimated to be SIX FOOT NINE. Um… I’m so okay with this no big deal sheesh dying on the inside a little bit each day.)

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You see, a well balanced mother… one with a full time job and freelance side job and a walk with Jesus and recently turned 37 47-year-old mother should be happy that her son is healthy.

Oh yes, he still tics. He does this head jerking up down/up down/arm thrust/arm thrust shaky shake every minute or so. He warbles a bit when he talks. But most people don’t notice it. And, more importantly, he doesn’t care.

I am quite certain many of you moms of tickers want to slap me. I know that many of your kids suffer from worry about their symptoms. I can say two things about the Tourette Syndrome diagnosis over the past 10 years:

  1. I can’t take credit for his confidence. I’ve sometimes been a real jerk.
  2. Sometimes I wish he were bugged a bit. It means I could offer him some supplements… some CBD oil… some new diet or medication or meditation or unicorn sperm to just calm. it. down.

But that’s not the real rub (not the unicorn sperm). The real rub is that when I can’t focus on changing tics, my husband, my daughter, my mother, my neighbors or my entitled pit bull, I can only focus on myself.

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This takes on a lot of different forms.

  • Manic busyness
  • Too much concentration on work (work I have, work I want, work I’m behind on)
  • Picking fights over stupid things (“The way you chew that food. Is it necessary?”)
  • Obsessive thinking (Most people have 4000 thoughts 4 times/day. When I’m anxious, I get 4 thoughts 4000 times/day. I’m lucky that way.)
  • Mood swings (8am – My job is awesome! 8:03 – Oh everyone can suck it and die!)
  • High highs and low lows

Lest you think I’m possibly bi-polar, one of my other amazing qualities is being neurotic. I’ve been down this road before, and anyone who knows me, or read my book, knows that I saw a shrink for anxiety. I’m definitely not bi-polar. I’m just a fairly intelligent writer who thinks to much, feels too much and is a bit on the shock controlling side. (I have lots of great qualities, too, but rather than see the prior list as “bad” and my generosity, humor and love of people as “good,” I’m attempting to see both sides as simply part of me. It’s the way I’m wired. God made me this way, so it must be good enough.)

Sorry, Mom

I write all this not to have my mother sit in her home office and shake her head with sighs of “Dear, Jesus, how did a calm Bostonion like me give birth to such a transparent wacka-do?” I say this because I’m pretty sure the only difference between someone like me, and others who don’t say it like it is, is that I’m attempting to be brave enough to admit I don’t always have it all together.

  • I worry about money.
  • I worry about not spending enough time with extended family.
  • I worry about my kids growing up too fast.
  • I worry about what other people think about me.
  • I worry about my husband’s job.
  • I worry that I shouldn’t worry about any of the things above this bullet point and I still do which means all these years of therapy and AA must mean I’m really more screwed up than I realize OH MY FRIGGIN A THIS SUCKS.

Oh, Wait, There’s Good News!

Yes, there is Good News on a biblical level. (My faith walk is so helpful. But this is not a Jesus post. Especially with a half naked woman in a cone bra right below the good Lord’s name. Though I’m sure Jesus would find her cute. He was a man after all! And don’t give me the “He’s gay he hung out with 12 men” speech because I call about 20 women/day and that doesn’t make me a dyke on a bike but, thanks to my obsessive mind, now I have something new to concentrate on. Hooray!)

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The good news is, like a random blue sock in a pile of white laundered gold toed stallions, I see the source of what ails me and drives my need to focus on others instead of myself.

The bad news? That sock is nothing but good old fashioned shame. Shame that reminds me that there’s this wee wee piece left of “you’re not good enough” left from some random experiences I had who knows when back in my childhood.

The good news is that, knowing I have old tapes in my head, there is healing. The good news is that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’m not the only one. My friends admit their shame. My close family members share it with me. Heck, random people in Costco tell me about it while we’re in line for five dollar rotisserie chicken. “I’m sorry I got so cranky just there,” one woman told me. “I have terrible anxiety about being late for dinner as a kid on the farm and it manifests itself in hormone injected poultry.” (I can’t make this crap up.)

Not Admitting It Doesn’t Make It Not Real

I don’t want to admit I have shame anymore than that blue sock feels comfortable in a pile of crisp white matching show off socks. (I hate them! Their perfect pairs! Their no hole perfection! Damn them all!) But knowledge is the first step toward freedom.

Tourettes – My Ticket to Freedom

Maybe like me you have a child with Tourettes and you’re scared. Maybe your child has a different disability. Maybe you have no children with disabilities but you think that maybe you might relate to my big “I have issues” proclamation.

If so, you’re welcome here. April is Shame Month on Happily Ticked Off! And that’s no April Fools joke! Lets talk about it. Lets support each other. And let’s have a few laughs.

If my ticking, estimated to be 6’9, goof ball son can deal with a disability shame free, then we can, too!

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(I hope Luna, the dog my son pets over the fence every day on the way to school, doesn’t have a “No Media” policy.)

Lets use our “special needs” as a ticket to stop focusing on what isn’t the issue (the disability) and get to the root of what is.

Until then,

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

book cover