Monday, November 5, 2012

My Son, the ETL Kid

I will never, ever, ever forget the day my gynecologist informed us that we would most likely never have children of our own and that we should start considering other options. Until then, nobody had ever said the dreaded word: infertility. But let's face it, when you're in your early 30s and you've been trying for more than two years to get pregnant, you pretty much jump to that conclusion yourself.

I remember sitting there, talking to the doctor so very calmly. We discussed IVF and why it wasn't a good fit for us. We discussed further surgery and how it wouldn't likely improve our odds of getting pregnant. We discussed adoption and how that was probably our best bet. And through all this I felt TheODDDad's eyes on me, although I couldn't figure out why.

I remember smiling and thanking the doctor for all her advice on our way out. I remember holding hands with TheODDDad as we walked back to the car. I remember him opening the car door for me and helping me in. I remember laughing to myself at how gentle he was being with me despite how strong I obviously was. And I remember falling to pieces in the time it took for him to walk around the car and get in the driver's seat.

The doctor had confirmed what I had figured out a long time before -- that children were not in my future (or so I thought at the time). That I would never know the feeling of lying in bed with TheODDDad's hand on my stomach, feeling our little one move. That I would never have a child with TheODDDad's eyes or smile. And I was devastated.

Once the tears subsided, self-preservation kicked in. I'm a researcher and a writer, so I knew exactly what I needed to help me through: a book. At the book store I perused the shelves, which only served to make me angrier. It seemed that every book was a "how to" book that offered false hope to desperate women -- how to eat your way to pregnancy, how to exercise your way to pregnancy, how to meditate your way to pregnancy, how to relax your way to pregnancy. And then I found it, the book that would become my lifeline. This book validated everything I was feeling and everything I was going through. It helped me deal with my emotions and gave me tips on talking to friends and family members about what I was going through. It was written by someone who had been through this herself, and it made me realize that I wasn't alone in what I was feeling. And that is what gave me hope. Not hope that I would get pregnant, but hope that I could get through this. That I would be OK.

One of the lessons I took away from my experiences with infertility is that there is no more powerful feeling than knowing you're not alone in what you're going through. There is also no feeling so alienating as believing yourself not only to be alone in what you're going through but to be responsible for it. As parents of children with mental health issues, that's very often a place where we find ourselves, especially as we begin the journey to understanding our children. We feel alone, trapped, judged, and to blame. And those aren't good feelings.

Recently I was asked to review a book called Easy to Love but Hard to Raise. If you've noticed, I don't review products or take part in give-aways. Not normally, at any rate. But Adrienne Ehlert Bashista and Kay Marner are both writers, bloggers, and mothers like I was interested in reading their book. That, and I got the book for free.

What I discovered was a book full of stories from parents like me. Real parents. Real stories. Real children. Real laughter. Real tears. Real love. It's not a book that offers false hope to desperate parents -- how to feed your children to "cure" them, how to discipline your children to "cure" them, how to play with your children to "cure" them, how to work with your children to "cure" them. Rather, it's a book that validates everything I've been through and everything I see coming towards me (duck!). That tells me that I'm not alone in this. That tells me that I'm going to be OK. That we're going to be OK.

And a book like that can be a lifeline.

If you'd like your own copy of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise, leave me a comment sharing one thing that makes your child easy to love and one thing that makes them hard to raise. The winner will be drawn at random. The contest closes on November 16th. If you can't be bothered to do that, head on over to Amazon to order your own copy.

[Note: Other than the free book, which I had planned on purchasing anyway, I was in no way compensated for this blog. All opinions are my own. It takes a hell of a lot more than a $13 book to buy me, but go ahead and try.]


  1. Just one thing....hmmmm....His smile on the good days...and his temper on the bad days. Great post btw!

    1. Thanks, Deborah. I'm not a big fan of reviews and sales pitches on blogs, so I tried to keep it relevant to my experience. As for the smiles...ya, they keep you going, don't they? Bear's smile can melt me on the worst of days.

  2. little man has this amazingly kind heart and while he cant always control his own emotions he never fails to see and help someone when they are having a hard time. Now what makes little man hard to raise? I would have to say the never ending revolving door of moods and emotions. But all in all I wouldnt change anything about my life with little man and his ADHD, ODD and Social Anxiety.

  3. My boys eyes are easy to love Their eyes show they love just have a hard time controling their behaviors. Their behaviors are so hard I never know if this will be a right way of doing something or will it upset them. The oldest is FASD, ADHD and youngest RAD, ODD and ADHD. The Lord blessed us with two amazing little boys and I thank Him daily for them

  4. well I'd say my lil man's sweet nature & loving to make me smile w/his silly faces & kind words .. oops that's two ;D the hard part would have to be the moods/tantrums but we're hanging in there .. happy to say the "easy" makes it worth it!!

  5. The easiest thing to love about my daughter is that she is just like her father, whom I fell in love with at first sight, and my love for the both of them grows more every day.

    The hardest thing about raising her is that she is just like her father!!!!!!!!! He also has ADD (with a touch of Asperger's) and the two of them together somedays are enough to make me want to drive off into the sunset and never return! (Well, I would return but not for a few hours anyway!)

  6. My son is not the easiest to love nor the hardest to raise as everyone has their own limits. What is easiest to love about my son is his never ending boundless energy if I could figure out how to pipe that into me somehow I have often wondered if I could even catch up to him. I'm sure not but small 3rd world countries could be fueled by him. LOL

    Hardest to his absolute lack of respect for anyone in authority. He knows it all and he is it all. My hardest task so far as a Mom (which I fail at over and over and over again) is teaching respect by example. It is so hard to be respectful when someone is hitting you or spitting on you or telling you that they hate you and hope'd you just go away.

    I keep in my mind's eye the day when he was 5 and held my hand for the first time willingly and told me that he loved me (and he really meant it). That is my fuel.


  7. The easiest thing to love about my little blue eyed blond haired boy is that he is my son, my baby, my first true love. Through everything he can make me smile, make me laugh, and at times make me cry. His heart is amazing and through everything it finds a way to shine! He is my best friend.

    I really honestly think the hardest thing about raising my son is the labeling I am encountering. When I first found out that he was ADHD, ODD, and possible Aspergers I was devastated. I immediately thought what did I do? I blamed myself. These feelings are ones I struggle through with every outburst, every violent action, and every extreme action that WE endure.

    Angela H

  8. easy to love: her open spirit. despite all her anxiety, olivia always expects something good from the day.

    hard to raise: the kind of emotional roller coaster you describe in the next post. she drives me to madness, then immediately needs my love, compassion and forgiveness. sometimes i need more time to transition my feelings.

  9. I am new to your blog...just recently cam to the realization that my 11 year old son with Aspergers also had Odd. The easiest part to love about him is his pure heart. He can be so sweet and profound when he is relaxed and unthreatened. The hardest part about raising him is the humiliation and/or embarrassment and/or anger that arises in me with some of his behaviors or the reactions of others to them. I am coming to understand that the hardest part of raising him might have less to do with him, and more to do with me...
    Thanks for your blog...will continue to read...

  10. My Sarah faces challenges daily in dealing with her ADHD as well as ODD, we try really hard to help her see that there are good sides to this!! Probably the easiest thing to love about Sarah is her bright spark of imagination and insight-it sure keeps life interesting. The most difficult thing about raising her is that she knows how to push every button I have, this means we are often at loggerheads and I worry that this is damaging our long term relationship.
    You try to cope at times by telling yourself, "one day at a time!" But in reality, this is a shortsighted parenting method.

  11. Infertility..yeah, I get that. I never got to feel a baby move in my stomach. My daughter was born in someone else's tummy but grew in my heart. But she is definitely the child God wanted us to have.

    My daughter has OCD and Anxiety thanks to prenatal drug use by her birth mom. She may also have FASE but we're still investigating that. She is funny and smart and independent and she reminds me to take time to notice things like the taste of the snowflake on your tongue, the way the Christmas lights seem to wink at you, and when she murmurs "love, love, mama love" as she drifts off to sleep, my heart melts.

    The OCD and Anxiety mean that things that should be a treat, like a feather in her hair, cause her to play with it incessantly and fret that she will lose it. The OCD means that if routines are changed, she can't cope. Having a shoe thrown at me on a regular basis because something on her dresser or in her room was moved a millimetre makes her hard to parent. But she's worth it.

  12. My son is my baby, I love him so much. He has the best personality ever and can always make my day bright, Even though......He doesn't listen, constantly getting out of car when we drop brother off at school, thinks that just because the neighbors pull up he has to climb the door, unlock it and run out of the house without consent. Constantly hurting his brothers and raiding my kitchen and he is only 4!!!

  13. A couple of days late-but I'll take a crack at it. The easiest thing to love about my daughter who we adopted 8 years ago is her creativity and resourcefulness. She can build a full size tee-pee on her own using sticks from the woods and all the fabric scraps she can find in my sewing room. The hardest thing about raising her right now is watching her lack of social skills impact her ability to maintain friendships.

  14. What makes him easy to love? Hmm Now I could write a book. Truth is from the moment I saw the positive sign on that oh so small peice of plastic test I was in love! It was only confirmed the moment I held him for the 1st time. He is and always will be my love and thats all he has to do. What makes him hard to raise, The embarrassment I feel in public with bad behavior. I use to think (Before I became a Mother) I would never let "THAT KID" be my kid. What bad parenting that must be. LOL Now I totally get it.

  15. He is so easy to love because even the teachers cry when they have to punish him for hitting/hurting others because they know how sweet and caring he is at other times.


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