Updated: Jan 20, 2020
Today I am taking a page out of the play book of the only two (social) blogs I semi-consistently read, Cup of Jo and Swiss Lark. Friday is my favorite day to check in on what they are up to because both of these ladies do an easy round-up of all of the interesting, inspiring, or funny things they see around the web. Joanna is originally from Michigan, so I have a soft-spot for her, and Lindsey pines for her previous life in Switzerland, a nostalgia that tugs on my heartstrings because I have sustained a deep love affair with the south of Spain after living there for a year in college.
Reading their stuff is like a mostly-light conversation, that you can quietly participate in without having to share too much and can opt-out of at any moment without guilt or judgement. Exactly the kind of social interaction I feel like I can tolerate right now, outside of my immediate family and old, trusted friends. A little bit more personal than Netflix, but not so demanding has having a cup of coffee with an unknown entity (e.g. another mom from the new daycare).
Anyways, I wanted to share some of the sources of light that have been sustaining or helping me through the last eight crazy months and since T's diagnosis and our cross-country move. They are not as light as lifestyle blogs, but might be helpful if you find yourself raising a differently-wired kiddo.
This book has provided a foundation for my understanding of the developmental trauma that T experienced because of Sensory Processing Disorder. It also explained a deep mystery that my husband and I hadn't understood until recently: why our son's behavior in summer of 2019 looked so similar to that of abused and neglected children, despite the fact that we have barely even raised our voices around him, certainly never man-handled him, and are super hands-on parental units. The book has also helped me realize why occupational therapy is effective for T - it's a visceral, body experience. Also, why talk therapy and an intellectual approach to healing for me is necessary, but not sufficient for recovering the trauma of raising a kiddo with a disorder, without knowing it. Before summer 2019, I had basically just been parenting by biting on a leather strap and trudging on.
I read this book before we had T assessed for anything and I thought it was a beautiful and compassionate read on why some kids just have a more difficult time in the world, regardless of whether they are "typically" wired or not. I loved how the findings about individual children were tied into research on larger issues such as public health, social justice, and inequality. Here is an NPR interview with the author, if you prefer listening over reading.
This podcast is a treasure trove of information and interviews with specialists for parents who are raising differently wired children, whether their challenges are sensory-based, ADHD, ASD, or other cognitive or developmental delays. It is very non-judgmental and positive. The experts offer non-punitive approaches for dealing with behavioral issues that arise with kids who are not "neurotypical". I especially liked this episode and this one and this one. This is an interview with one of the speech pathologists, Sherri Cawn, who assessed T in Chicago last summer.
This Modern Love article, "Four Castaways Make a Family". It is a beautiful reminder of the healing power of play and unconditional love.
Oprah. Full stop. Love you, Oprah! But also, Oprah's interview with Brene Brown on vulnerability. I tried to read the book, but I didn't find it as compelling as listening to Dr. Brown talk about it with Oprah. I listened to this podcast twice when I was on maternity leave with D and would actually stop my walks to take notes. So good.
This book, written by a rabbi, was recommended to me by my aunt who raised a child with a rare chronic illness. I am not a religious person, however, I loved the approach Harry Kushner took when explaining what (G)od can and cannot do for us mortals. He posits that the relationship between humans and (G)od is not a quid-pro-quo relationship. As in, if you are a moral person, then good things happen to you, however, if you defy (G)od, then you will be punished. It is the anti- everything-happens-for-a-reason, this-is-meant-to-be, bullshit that you don't want to hear when things just suck ass for no reason and you got unlucky or were dealt a bum hand. Yet it is still a religious take on things. Anyways, he recommends asking (G)od (I felt free to substitute the "Universe", or "Energy", or whatever) for strength and to ask that higher power to put people in your path who can help you. Earthly angels. And I have found many earthly angels who have helped me along this path - my dear friend in Chicago, both T's occupational therapists, his teachers at his new school in Michigan, our new babysitter.
So my prayer in my darkest moments and when I truly did not know what else to do has been simply, Universe/God "give me strength, guide my steps". I figure praying can't hurt. And it's a little easier for me than meditation because my Catholic/Episcopalian upbringing must have left enough of a residue to make me feel on a subconscious level that someone was listening. This serves as a strange, but effective accountability mechanism.
This book was a gift from my aunt and is - on its surface - about finding your vocation. But it is also amazingly about faith, overcoming depression, healing, and setting good boundaries. After getting a PhD and having a pretty intense job in D.C., then quitting the professional world for now, it was exactly what I needed at the moment I needed it. I listened to it on audible while chopping veggies, which is something I find soothing.
This may seem kind of a random one to include, but both my husband and I read it. It made me realize how much stress affects everything - yes, even sex drive and pleasure on a fundamental level - and that it's all normal and beautiful and fine.
I mentioned this in my first blog post and I have turned again and again to these poems when I felt scared to make a change and quit my job, exhausted and spent at my very core, and adrift and unmoored during the interim time between D.C. and Michigan. I just gifted the book to both my biological parental units. Separately, of course. Because they are divorced.
And then, randomly, this Daily Podcast series of episodes, titled "The Jungle Prince". I listened to it while packing up the rental to move into our forever place in December. Cyrus was just such a beautiful character. So human.
It is supposed to drop bucket loads of snow this weekend here in Michigan, which makes me excited for the beauty and sledding, but a little nervous about driving conditions.