Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Philadelphia Marathon...Done!

Two days ago I ran the Philadelphia Marathon. I am DONE and couldn't be happier about it. I had a goal of completing within 5 hours and I finished in 5:13, so I was a bit slower than I had hoped. But I can honestly say I gave this race everything I had and I still ran faster than I did the Boston Marathon four years ago so I really can't complain. I ran not one but two marathons!
My friend and I at the finish line on Sunday
This was the first time I went away without Christopher and I was really nervous about it. I made sure he stayed at our home with people that he loved. At night, his babysitter "Pammy" stayed with him. During the day two of my friends entertained him and he knows them all quite well so I knew he was in good hands. But I still worried about him because I know he has real separation anxiety due to his trauma history. Was he going to be able to handle two days away? Was I going to be able to handle two days away???

I am very relieved to say that all went well. I called home several times and Christopher seemed happy and well cared for the entire time.

That didn't mean I didn't worry about him and miss him The Entire Time though.

I thought about Christopher just about every waking moment and I missed him SO much! And of course I felt terribly guilty about the fact that I was doing something for myself for two days instead of dedicating myself 120% to caring for the physical and emotional well being of my child...all by myself as a single mother of course.

For the last three years, I have focused completely on Christopher's needs over my own and I've been happy to do it. I mean come on...this kid needed someone to seriously love on him and the attention he's received has made a dramatic difference for the better. He's really a different kid, in a very good way/ But after three years, I'm spent and I realized that I need a little break occasionally.

So that's why I trained for this marathon. I missed having something that was just about ME. I've made sure that Christopher had great care while I was of running and he really enjoys the time he has with his babysitters, so that has helped. This is probably because when I'm home, I'm cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and running errands, while the babysitters just play with him. It's like a great big play date several days a week for him. Who wouldn't love that?

That said, I've gotten this break all out of my system, for a while at least, so I'm back to focusing on the kiddo again. I want to spend more time playing with him and less time being distracted and/or exhausted. I want to focus on doing homework, to ensure he's meeting his potential academically. I also want to just sit on the sofa with him, doing nothing and enjoying our time together. Christopher's at a great age and I want to enjoy this time for as long as I can. Someday he's going to be a teenager that has no interest in being with mom so I am going to enjoy this time while I can. That is, until I need another break, of course

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

This morning I ran 11 miles with the Melrose Running Club. This was our last long run together before a group of us heads off to Pennsylvania next Friday to run the Philadelphia Marathon on the 23rd. It's a bit chilly out today but dry and we had a great run.

It's amazing that I, a single working mother with a behaviorally challenged former foster kid could train for a marathon but I've been truly blessed with the most amazing community of friends through the Melrose Running Club.

Whenever I've fallen down (which I did twice, scraped and bloody), they've been there to bandage me up. When I needed help with childcare, they stepped in to watch Christopher. They refused to let me run alone at night in the dark. They got me through some hot weather long runs where I didn't think I'd be able to finish but did because they were there running beside me. One week when I was feeling overwhelmed with life, I almost started crying on the running trails and they hugged me and said it would be okay. And after a good night's sleep, it all was.

After spending so much time with these amazing, warm, compassionate people, I know that if, God forbid, some illness or accident were to befall me, that they would be there to help me in whatever capacity I needed them. It goes without saying that I would do all the same for them as well. Quite frankly, the friends I have made through the Melrose Running Club have become my community and I feel truly blessed to have them in my life.

Just two of the amazing rock stars that I ran with today
I recognize that this lovely community I am a part of is very special and not everyone has this much support. For example, I have a dear friend from college who is a faithful reader of this blog and I feel so badly for her because she is going through a very difficult time right now. I wish I could be there to help support her but she lives so far away from me that all I could do is send money and a lots of virtual hugs. I know she's having a tough time navigating life on her own right now and I wish she had a community of support like I have because I think she could really use some help. I hate hearing how difficult life is for her right now. Hugs to you my friend.

I'm also a member of a Facebook support group for parents of children with ADHD and I see the struggles these parents have; very similar to many of the ones I've experienced as well. When life gets them down (which sadly, it often will) they come to the support group looking for a little understanding and camaraderie from a group of people who get what it's like to raise a child with ADHD. It's hard! And with so many people getting in your face to tell you that you're just a bad parent because ADHD doesn't really exist, sometimes it can feel even harder. How can you pick yourself back up when people all around you are telling you it's your fault for being down in the first place? Life can be so demoralizing.

At one time in history, we thought "it takes a village" to raise children. Nowadays everyone's so isolated and doing everything on their own, which makes the daily grind so difficult. On top of that, people can be so unbelievably judgmental! Plus, we're at a point in America that seems to be dominated by people who are all about "me, me me" and there is a serious lack of compassion, even from people who claim to be Christian. I have to say, you can claim to be whatever you want but unless you choose to be kind and supportive towards people who are suffering, then you are not following the path that Jesus forged. Selfish and Christian are mutually exclusive and frankly you need to pick one.

That is why I feel so blessed. I have friends who truly care about me and are there to support me when I need them (and I am happy to be there for them as well). It's a tough world out there and we all need all the help we can get. I hope our society stops choosing to be so selfish and narcissistic but in the meantime, at least I've got my community and you know what? I will take it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just Another Day in the Life

CRYSTAL_eThis isn't me but sometimes I feel like this sure could be me: overworked mom multi-tasking with cleaning, shopping, laundry and the occasional quick work out so you can somehow manage to keep your sanity And as for that smile on her face? That's not happiness. It's called embracing the chaos. That smile is frozen there on her face due to lack of sleep. Trust me...been there done that. Too many times.

Lately it seems like I keep saying, "this weekend I'm going to..." and I finish that sentence with, catch up on emails to friends or organize the spare room or do something else equally productive. For example, I really need to swap out my old wallet for a new one because every time I open it now, I have to hold onto my credit cards in place because the sleeve that holds them is ripped and they've on more than one occasion, come flying out all over the floor in front of me, so I have to stop whatever it is I'm doing (buying groceries, going through the turnstile at the train station, etc.) to pick them up. And I'm always afraid I'm going to miss picking one up and some random stranger will max out my account just because I'm too frazzled to switch out my wallet.

But then somehow the weekend comes and goes and it's Sunday night and somehow I've gotten none of these things done. How is that? 

It's because my life is CRAZY. Sometimes just super crazy. Like for example, last week, I had a one hour lunch break before I had to be back for a work meeting, so i decided to run a quick errand. I drove the car literally two miles, parked in a parking lot of a sunny, warm fall day, came back to the car and...it wouldn't start. Ugh. Seriously? I asked around for anyone with jumper cables and thankfully a very nice man responded yes. He jumped my battery, I thanked him profusely and then he handed me some Jesus literature.  I was like hey sure, thanks. Good to know that Jesus was looking out for me in downtown Malden I guess.

After that experience, I took the car directly to the gas station up the street to have them replace the battery since it was obviously dead. Took them literally 30 seconds to tell me, nope. It was the alternator. Double ugh. Long story short, my car runs again but I am now $360 poorer. The good news is that I did manage to somehow miraculously make it back in time for my 1pm meeting. Impressive right?

Earlier this month, I also discovered that my dog walker was stealing from me! I've noticed stuff disappearing over the course of the last few months but they were such random things (Christopher's flip flops, my Uggs, etc.) that I really just thought I was losing my mind. I also thought that maybe i was just cleaning the house and forgetting where I put them. But I live in a small condo and that argument could really only just go so far.

Then one day my Kindle disappeared and I knew something was going on. I turned my condo upside down and it was just gone. So I emailed the woman who owns the dog walking service I use and asked her if she had heard anything about Kathy (dog walker) stealing. She said OMG, I was the second person in just a few days to say the same thing and she was now totally disgusted. 

Okay on the one hand I was relieved because I finally knew that I wasn't actually losing my mind, On the other though...SHE'S disgusted?? I am the one who's seriously disgusted. I let this woman voluntarily into my home, paid her money and she stole belongings from my 6 year old son? Who steals from a child??? The dog walking service replaced my stolen stuff and I changed my locks thankfully but this did NOT make me happy. By the way, changing your locks yourself is HARD. It took me several hours and a lot of F-bombs before I finally got it right. I am not destined for a career as a locksmith, that is for sure.

In other unrelated news, my dog has horrible seasonal allergies and the poor thing is literally scratching himself raw, like he's got the DTs or something. I feel so badly for him. And I feel badly for me because he would wake me up in the middle of the night scratching, and shaking my bed and I wasn't getting any sleep for weeks on end. I gave him liquid Benadryl but he hated the taste and would run away and hide under the bed, which made giving it to him rather difficult. Not to mention, Benadryl only lasts four hours so he'd wake me up at 2am with more scratching and then I was really awake.

Turns out if I change his diet to this super high end dog food, the scratching is cut way down. I went to Petco last weekend and spent $40 on dog food for just one 12-lb dog and that was with a coupon. Seriously, this dog eats more expensive food than my son and I do!

Oh and on top of all this, I am also training for a marathon! I will be running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23 with several friends from my running club. Thankfully I'm in taper mode now so life is a bit calmer but I've been running a LOT the last few months to prepare my body for 26.2 crazy miles through the streets of Philadelphia. I've fallen and scraped my shins twice and also pulled one calf muscle but I'm all healed now and excited for my race. Hoowah!

And that my friends is why I said I am not able to change my wallet out or organize my spare bedroom right now. Because I'm insanely busy! The good news is though that I did email my best friend who I kept saying I need to email and she wrote me right back saying she was happy to hear from me. So check that off the To Do list. Only 400 other items to go!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy belated Halloween to all my loyal followers! And a happy All Saints Day today.

This year, my little dude dressed up as the Minecraft Creeper and I was the Cat in the Hat. We got a fair amount of use out of these costumes this year too because there were just so many events to attend. On Monday we went trick or treating at Texas Roadhouse and then inside for dinner.They had little stations set up in the parking lot where you could get candy and coupons from area businesses. On Tuesday I had the Melrose Running Club Ghost Run (yes I washed my costume before wearing it again!) and then yesterday, Christopher could wear his costume to school where there was a costume parade featuring the Kindergarteners and first graders. O course after that, there was Halloween night trick or treating. Whew. Yeah I'm tired today.

It was no small feat getting this costume together for Christopher either. He really wanted to be the Minecraft Creeper but the head mask was an adult size and I knew that it would be too big. But he reeaally reeeaallly wanted it. And he promised that he would wear it all night (right) and begged me to buy it for him. So I did. After that, I went to Amazon to buy a Creeper-themed sweatshirt I saw. After I ordered it, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. On. Oct. 27 I finally sent the vendor an email asking, hey where's my sweatshirt? They wrote back saying it was out of stock. Um, seriously? When were you planning to tell me that the item I bought and paid for wasn't in fact going to arrive??? 

So at this point, I am scrambling for back up costumes. My friend loaned me her son's old cape and Batman costume but Christopher refused to wear either. He still wanted to be a Minecraft Creeper, big head and no sweatshirt be darned.

So all I could do at this point is get him some camouflage clothes (shirt and shorts), put the head mask on and call him Minecraft. It wasn't the most well-coordinated costume, considering the amount of time I put in. I went to Party City twice! But he was happy, so that's what really matters I guess.

Christopher loved his Minecraft head when we went trick or treating on Monday night and also for the costume parade at school. However trick or treating in the dark did not work so well last night. That head came off about 10 minutes into the night and guess who got to hold it the rest of the time? Yep...me. I decided to be a kind, generous mommy and give the kiddo my Cat in the Hat hat so that he was more costume-y. And thus, the Creeper in the Hat was borne.

For the last three years, we've gone to the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston for some of the country's best trick or treating. I mean, where else can you walk along cobblestone streets next to beautifully decorated homes while also getting candy from the wife and daughter of our current US Secretary of State? In the picture below, that's Teresa Heinz Kerry on the right (wife of Secretary of State John Kerry) handing out candy to kids. It is not the same experience from when I was a kid, that's for sure.

This year was great because (a) Halloween was on a Friday so today we get to chill out and recharge and (b) this was the first year that Christopher didn't get completely overstimulated and was able to control himself all evening. That was huge! The last two years I dealt with a kid who would try to run away constantly or who had some epic meltdowns, which would make us have to leave immediately. This year no such problem. We spent about two hours trick or treating among the throngs of people and then called it a night at 8:30.

The weather held off yesterday but today's pouring down rain thanks to a nor'easter coming for a quick visit to New England. That means we'll have a great reason to be lazy and do nothing all day today. After such a busy week, I have no complaints on that one either.