Plus ça change…

Oh well hello, 2011. What? I’m two-and-a-half-weeks late, you say? (I know, you’re saying it gently, but I can hear you). Yeahhhh. The crazy thing is, I’ve been trying to stick my fingers to this keyboard for, um, about a month now, and it’s ONLY JUST HAPPENED. Seriously: they brushed up against it once in late December, but it was fleeting.

The holidays are nuts, to be sure, but on our end they’re slightly madder than most: we have three Christmas’, and seven – 7 – immediate family birthdays between December 10th and the 21st. And they’re not, like, second cousin Maude’s either: this year it was my father’s 70th, and Rob’s mom’s 65th. So a bit of a ‘do for each.

And then there’s the baking, and the wrapping and the sewing and the baking and the cleaning and the sewing and did I mention the baking? It’s like Little House on the Prairie on crack. Lots and lots of crack.

There is also some drinking. Just sayin’.

And in the midst of it, really, I’m usually exhausted, stressed, and happy in equal measures, which is often more than I can say for the rest of the year. I honestly love the holidays, I love my sparkly tree, I love having people in my house, cooking for them, topping up their drinks, watching the kids LOVE their presents. And I hate January.

September is hard, no question. The reentry into the whole school thing, and alarm clocks and making lunches… But mostly, it’s the fact of having to face going back out into reality with my boys, and picking up the mantle again of trying to help them negotiate the world. It’s the bulk of my life, it seems, and that’s just as it should be right now; I’m really ok with that. But getting back into it twice a year, September and January, feels like being forced to hop a careening box car that I don’t want to be on in the first place.

It’s made even less smooth, of course, because the boys don’t find it easy either. So the first few weeks or a month back at it are always, always, bumpy. Calls to and from teachers, renegotiating attitudes to school, homework, social stuff… it’s all weighty, and comes with lots of equally weighty fall-out from the boys themselves. Change is, well, crappy. Transitions are brutal, and that’s pretty much par for the course with any kid with a neuro-developmental issue, not to mention a whole bunch who are perfectly normal. So the tantrums are worse, the stone-walling about homework and computer time and going out are worse, and everyone’s irritable. Thank God for Bejeweled on my iPhone. Wait – was that out loud?

And then there’s the periscope. Not a real one, of course (Rory hasn’t built one. Yet). But a few times a year, and it always seems to happen at the same times – January and August – it’s like we look up for the first time in months, take stock, and realize, with what feels like crushing desperation, we’re in the same place.

It’s like we’ve been driving the submarine around for 6 months, checking the coordinates, taking all the best precautions, heeding expert advice, and using the most sophisticated navigational equipment at our disposal. And after all that, we surface to find we’re staring at the same bloody seagull on the same bloody rock. Only now six more months have gone by, and we’ve got to find more equipment, more advice, more expertise, and try to change course again.

Sometimes it’s medication: we spent several years trying different things with Liam before finally coming to the conclusion that “eh” is about as affirmative a pronouncement on whether it’s working or not as we’re going to get. Meanwhile, all the stock we put in a pharmacological solution, we then had to refocus on another sort.

Last year at this time, I tried taking Liam to the wonderful psychologist at the TS clinic, hoping she could help him find some strength, some coping skills to manage his terrible anxiety and rage. After six months, all three of us realized it wasn’t the right match, hers weren’t the right methods for him. So began again the phone calls, the inquiries, the putting out of feelers to every single person and organization we’ve ever had contact with to see if anyone could help us find help for Liam.

After a few months, we got lucky: a children’s health facility met with us, and after learning of the extent of our kids’ challenges, proposed family meetings twice a month. Again I felt that rush of optimism, of hope: here, finally, were people who were paying attention, who had Knowledge, and Expertise, and could Help us. Maybe we’d look back and see this as a turning point….

That was 5 months ago, and last week, Rob and I arranged for our last meeting with them. We went, diligently, all 5 of us, every two weeks. But here we are, and Rory and Liam are struggling at least as much as they were in the summer, actually more. Family therapy is great, but it’s a bit of cart-before-the-horse when at least two-fifths of you are so not-ok they can’t make any use of it.

So we’re on our own, and at the drawing board again. (Rory is his own story, and I’ll get to that soon.) For now, I’m going to finish my coffee, try to find my favourite pen, and start the phone calls. And between you and me, there may be some Bejeweled.

6 comments to Plus ça change…

  • Excellent material especially the analogy re the submarine.
    But what the hell is “bejewelledz?”

  • sharron hanna

    Hi Regan !!… ditto what you’re Dad said… “bejewelled” – one of my favourite words .. but its meaning in your blog rode right by me… Hugs en tous cas…Sharron

  • Claudia Carnevale

    Hi there,

    So wonderful of you to share. You are definitely a great writer! Your very popular cookbook suggests baking expertise as well! :-). And, based on your blog posts, it appears that you are an even better mama!

    I read about a place called Arrowsmith. You have probably explored that avenue already but just in case…..

  • Chris

    Ok first of all – your dad is now 70!!!?? How did that happen? My oh my Francis — I knew you when you were young!! You are now old – I’m old too, but not that old!!
    Second, Regan it is really so frustrating to have to keep starting over again and again. However if you don’t, you will never get the answers you need. You truly are the greatest mama!
    Also, Frank if you read this, bejewelled is a game. Check it out on Wikipedia – explains the whole thing.
    You really do need to keep current!

  • Toni

    Regan, this morning, as I almost always do when I’m thinking about baking, I went to your cookbook..My “go to” book that I for years since it came out have absolutely loved 🙂 Thank you! And I thought to myself.. I so love this book..I wonder if she’s come out w/another. So I looked you up and ended up here. And your posts made me laugh and cry. First I thought.. Oh my wonder she has only written one cookbook! Then I laughed and cried over your posts, as we have very similiar lives with our children. I understand the roller coaster of Dr’s and medicines..only to get the “eh”. And I’m in the US. My daughter has had several diagnosis since she was 5. And she’s 15 now. I understand Bejeweled..those few minutes of letting your mind go elsewhere. We need it. Your get the Iphone to play it on. I have to wait 3 more weeks for it to hit Verizon. All in sounds like you are already successful in many areas of your journey w/Liam, as your sense of humor and love with continue to carry you through. We have to laugh.. or I’d be drinking the Bourban with you..or using it to bake and eat my way thorugh your cookbook daily.

  • Hi Regan,

    I’m a big fan of _In the Sweet Kitchen_, and like the previous commenter, I looked you up and found your blog. Bless you and your family! I’ve been thinking about you over the past few months as I have “lurked” in the shadows of your blog, and praying the best for your family. I did read a very interesting (and encouraging) article recently on Tourette’s — you may have already seen it, but I thought I’d pass it along here if you haven’t:

    My baking life has not been the same since I first began using your amazing cookbook in fall 2009. Every recipe I make is such an incredible hit! I gave away dozens of packages of your butter-toffee crunch shortbread this Christmas, and I also devised a chocolate version that I’m moderately pleased with:

    Anyway, my best to you and your family this new year. May you flourish in 2011, struggles and all!

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