Since I’m making up medical terms…

3 Mar

Someone has to, right?  Since no one knows what Maura has, we call it Sherlock Syndrome (it’s a mystery!).

But then in chatting with that super-awesome sister of mine about my bottle of Prozac that helps with my anxiety, she said “Gee, what do you have to be anxious about?  I mean, besides spending twenty hours a day wondering what the hell Maura is getting into now?”

Sarcasm is our first language in our family. And the sister even said how Maura was a peach the whole time.  But even so, she’s a stealthy peach with mad ninja skills who might decide today is the day she will push all the buttons on the microwave.

Hence the bottle of Prozac.

It was inevitable I think.  Anxiety runs in the family.  Usually it just manifests as being a worry-wart.  But Maura tips me over that edge of “manageable” to “hiding in the bathroom trying not to hyperventilate from the stress of it all” at times.

As I told my sister – “It’s like having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, only you’re never post trauma.”

“So Ongoing Traumatic Stress Disorder then?”

Something like that.  Except in thinking about it, it’s not always traumatic even.  Just stress.

And then I figured it out.  I have OSD – Ongoing Stress Disorder.  If it’s not a thing, well, I’m making it a thing.  My stress, just like the rest of us in the special needs parenting category, is ongoing. It’s every day and never ending.  It’s not always bad.  It’s not always traumatic.  You actually get used to it.  Or more accurately, you stop getting worked up on the littler things in life, and save the worrying for the bigger things, or for afterwards.  I can be quite the calm person during a seizure now.  Afterwards, I’m either laughing, or locked in the bathroom breathing.

It’s a weird balance of shrugging and embracing the roller coaster of emotions while having that little voice playing in the back of your head telling you how everything could go wrong.  Which is where the Prozac comes in, to quiet that annoying voice.

It is mentally exhausting in a way you get used to.  You know that the day could be golden or go south in a split second.  You are always hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.  You are ready for anything knowing that life will throw you a curve ball and you’ll be flailing about trying to figure out what to do.

And you call all this your normal while being aware of how very not normal it is.

That all said – I cannot emphasize enough that I think my life is pretty darn good.  Yes, there’s an underlying level of stress, but our good days outnumber our bad ones by a lot.  We have learned to embrace the sometimes ridiculous nature of our lives and have grown stronger with the challenges thrown at us.  But I think that realizing that it is also hard and constantly stressful has helped me achieve this state of acceptance.  The lifestyle causes me ongoing stress, and so to ensure that we have the best life possible, I need to deal with that stress in whatever way is best.  There’s no shame in admitting this life is hard, because it IS hard.  It’s damn hard.  But it’s also damn rewarding, and pretty damn wonderful.  It’s the only life we’ll be given, and despite all the stress, I choose to make it the best life possible for all involved.  And if that means that I take 10mgs of Prozac every morning with my cup of coffee, then so be it.  It’s how I keep my OSD manageable.


And now, a guest post from my favorite sister

26 Feb

My ever-so-fabulous sister is holding down the fort so the husband and I could go to Barcelona.  She asked if she could guest post, and of course, I said sure.  I mean, she didn’t Uber the hell out of there during Maura’s poopscapades, so I should humor her whenever possible…but I have added some peanut gallery comments in italics along the way….it’s what sisters do…

today's guest blogger and my younger sister, Maryrose

today’s guest writer and our blue VW

Hi there….

This is Phoebe’s wildly cool and fabulous younger sister, who so graciously agreed to come stay with her favorite nieces and nephews while she runs away to foreign country.  Let it be known, I might have be slightly inebriated when she half jokingly brought up the idea.  ok.. so I was hammered, but in polished off a good bottle of champange/ i love everyone type of way.  But what can I say?  The thought of skipping out of Chicago in the dead of winter was still quite appealing despite the known obstacles, or should i say adventures, that go hand in hand in life with Maura.  Plus, I figured this should buy me a few points in the ol’ karma game or at least a good bottle of wine from Spain.
Being that I’ve no children of my own, this was going to be a crash course in the seventeen years of parenting Phoebe has figured out.   Which of course, makes the idea of life with Maura to me seems pretty similar to trying to write a grad school thesis in ten days after never going to class in college.  A few times, I’ve had the image in my head of Phoebe giggling and chuckling to herself about what I’ll endure in the month leading up to my stay. We’re sisters, you’d think after thirty years of tormenting & teasing each other we’d grow out of it.  Nope, we are no where near done and probably never get past it.  Not as long as she keeps insisting that she’s the smart sister while I get stuck with being the pretty one. (I’d like to think we’re both smart and pretty, but she does win in the youth and height categories)  But at the end of the day, we’re family and even if we won’t give each other the satisfaction of telling one another we love them, we do. And family should help family. Always. So even if our mother raised us to be a band of fiercely independent gypsy’s that will never ever ever need help, there actually still might a time or two we might have to call on each to pitch in. Anyways, did I mention getting some credit in the karma department cant hurt or a good bottle of wine yet?
 So I’ve read the posts and heard all the tales of pooping and tantrums and the everyday hijinks of the Holmes household, put on my big pants, said goodbye to my cat and found myself two thousands miles away from home and in the Holmes kitchen.  I wont lie, now that I was face to face with a house full of  teenagers, whom I haven’t seen since they were in diapers and the screams of the poop-a-nater herself, I did have an “oh s…t, what did i agree to” thoughts in my head.  But it’s still negative temperatures in Chicago, and besides, what’s the worst that could happen? I’m former military and currently working in the nightlife industry…. adult tantrums are my specialty or so I’ve always thought.
Now I’m sure you’re all waiting for the big reveal.  The part where I tell a tale of disaster and chaos.
Nope.  Not going to happen.  You see to the clan, I’m still an anomaly, an enigma, a bright shiny new thing.  Did I you catch the part where I said I was wildly cool and fabulous?   So to the teen girl, I’ve got a little mini me, we share a family nickname (nicknames, attitudes), so naturally I wasn’t too worried with her. The teen boys,well, they aren’t quite sure yet what they can get away with and I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. (see, smart!) Once again, thanks to our mother, there’s no question when we’re annoyed a la the “two inches speech”.  For those that don’t know, it goes “two inches! two inches!!! the dishwasher is two inches below the counter.. why on earth would you put dirty dishes on the counter when the dishwasher is two inches below?”  and would continue on until you put those dishes in the dishwasher and then probably moved some furniture or something. (there was a LOT of furniture moving in our youth).Whatever it took to get out from under the glare of a hairy eyeball and two inch speech. I’ve caught our brothers giving that same speech to their roommates, so I know it’s a family trait at this point.
And then there’s Maura… the energetic and confusing little magpie that she is, I’ve found myself a shadow.  Ok, so a sometimes sticky, burps in public, takes a little a longer to get out the door shadow.  But still my favorite shadow.  When she laughs she lights up the room. It’s hard not to smile when you hear the sound of pure happy, laughter from a beautiful and innocent girl.  So what if we take a little longer to get through the line at Starbucks or maybe I cant do all the exciting activities the cool aunt is supposed to do with her nieces and nephews.  So I’m learning what Phoebe goes through on a daily basis from in home heiny wipes to trying to sneak in a quick stop at Starbucks for much needed coffee with an impatient and sometimes loud companion. (I probably should have shown her where the drive thru Starbucks was, huh?)
Because the moment we were at mass, and Maura scooched over and put her head on my shoulder during the priest’s sermon, my heart melted and every little test of patience she’s thrown  and will throw my way because it’s totally and absolutely worth it
So wish me luck that the rest of my call to arms continues to be a success, and if not then, well we all saw it coming…  oh, and Phoebe, if you’re reading this, I’d really like that bottle of wine about now ;)
(Mental note – don’t drink the bottle of wine on the flight back…)
Auntie Mim and Mad Madam Maura

Auntie Mim and Mad Madam Maura

That time I did not have enough hands to wipe all the things that needed wiping

25 Feb

Last night, I was telling my husband Josh about how I was trying to get things ready for our trip.  Most people plan on going away and have lists like “Pack cute shoes” and “Don’t forget passport”.  Those were on my list, below “Maniacally organize Maura’s closet so even she can get herself dressed” and “Get Maura to poo.”.

The former went okay, though my fabulous plan of hanging up each outfit to stall Maura in her quest to unload every drawer onto the floor in search of the right shirt didn’t quite go as planned.  The latter though….


There was this moment, after dosing Maura with “special chocolate” – aka Ex-Lax – not once, but twice, and realizing that we had hit the stubborn “I really have to poo but I refuse to, I refuse!” screaming stage, and that I was leaving town the next day, and she’s a hot mess of needing to poo, and screaming at me in the bathroom, working herself up into a fine mess while also realizing that if she pressed her wet face against my shirt, it left wet marks, so I was now a bit of a hot mess myself, and I sat there, gently using phrases like “If you let the poo out, your tummy will feel better” and “It will stop hurting if you just let the poo out”, and she’s screaming, and I’m now certain my sister, who agreed to watch my offspring while I was away, was quickly packing as she ordered an Uber cab, and I’m trying to remember which saint is the Saint of the Constipated…

…or, you know, 5 pm on a Thursday…

But finally, the girl pooped.  And there was much rejoicing and high fiving and relief.

For one moment.

Because as my daughter bent over to have her hiney cleaned, and as I took many a baby wipe to do the job, I hear her go “Oh no!” and she stands up just as I notice blood on the floor…and her hands…and her face…

One of my superpowers is deducting where the blood is coming from within five seconds.  I realized that Maura had a nosebleed.  She was most concerned about the blood on her fingers as I tried to wipe her nose and keep her from stepping in the blood on the floor.  Then I realized I still needed to wipe her bum, yet that became impossible as trying to do that just caused her to bleed on the floor more.  Meanwhile, she of course stuck a finger in her nose, as if that would help.  It didn’t.  So then she once again was most concerned about the bloody finger.

And I realized in that moment, that I did not have enough hands to wipe all the things that needed wiping.

Did I panic?  Did I give up?  Of course not.  I decided to just start wiping in the order of importance – to Maura.  Finger, then nose, then floor, then bum.  And all was well again.

The moral of the story?  You can’t always do everything at once.  And sometimes, the priorities that need to be followed are not your own.  And never agree to watch your sister’s kids.

Oh, the things I go through for this little face!

Oh, the things I go through for this little face!


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