I took the first week of the school holidays off and it was great. I feel like I am actually (though momentarily) on top of things. I have new shoes; the girls have summer sandals; my hair is cut; the girls had hair cuts; they got new bathers; Pearl got some new t shirts; Ruby got new PJs; Ruby has one of the two new car seats she needs; we went to the library; Ruby did some OT; Pearl saw a counsellor.
The counsellor was the culmination of a massive amount of effort. Pearl’s teacher thought she might be dyslexic or maybe have ADHD. Which is to say she has no idea but finds her hard to teach. The school psychologist observed her and I filled out surveys so comprehensive that it took literally four hours to get through them. This is what I do in my spare time. The psychologist thought Pearl was a quirky and odd child who might have… something. Maybe she is on the autism spectrum? she suggested. I took this non-information to her paediatrician who sensibly thought that seeing a psychiatrist on a regular basis might help with a diagnosis in the long term and in the short term could give her some strategies on dealing with her anxiety and difficulties with focus.
Pearl was resistant to going and flitted about like a butterfly on speed during the first meeting, but *I* certainly found it incredibly helpful to have someone carefully observe Pearl. He pointed out that she is in the 99th percentile for hyperactivity which partly explains why I find life so exhausting. And I felt he was actually looking at her because he noted how she stilled when doing drawing, so she is capable of moving away from the stimulation seeking.
I have fallen slightly in love with the psychiatrist because he was certainly a good counsellor for me, in that he offered me heaps of praise for the way she responded to my Mum Voice and said again and again how hard it is to be a single parent to two kids with special needs. Honestly, I lie in bed at night wishing there was someone in the house who would say that to me while patting me on the back. Indeed, my last attempt at getting counselling for myself ended with a stand up argument with the counsellor about whether or not being a parent is hard.
Me: I’m just saying that, you know, when I came home from hospital with Pearl and the house was hit by lightning and I had no phone or heating and there was a hole in the window in the middle of winter. That was harder than it would have been if there had been heat, electricity and the ability to call for help. Objectively, that must be the case.
Her (young and presumably childless): Perhaps that is why you think of parenting as hard.
Me: Because it is hard.
Her: But why do you struggle with it?
Me: BECAUSE MY CHILDREN ARE SICK ALL THE TIME AND IT IS A MARATHON THAT I RUN ENTIRELY BY MYSELF. I NEVER GET TO REST.
Her: And yet….
Me: BURSTS INTO TEARS AND LEAVES.
Compare that with Pearl’s psychiatrist. He hasn’t offered concrete or useable advice yet, but just talking to him made me feel more competent and happier.
In short, I had an excellent break and things seem (fingers crossed) to be setting up OK for the return to work and school. The girls are ready for their swimming lessons to start, and while Dad is having dialysis on Wednesdays I am able to help out by taking him in. I am SO PLEASED that Dad is finally on dialysis as it means that the pattern for the upcoming months is becoming defined, making it much easier to make work and school plans.