Thursday, April 29, 2010

Should the mother of a special needs child have a career?

We've all heard the term work-life balance. 

SAHM, WAHM, or WOHM we all play a balancing act between being a Mom and having something in our life that is our own.

In my case I'm balancing having a family, having a career, and trying to find the time to do the writing I love and the karate that is good for me. Of course being a mom and wife is the biggest chunk of this, but there are times when a deadline at work threatens to tip the scale. Or when a writing commitment I've made takes over a Sunday afternoon.

I am very lucky though. I have a husband that is more than just supportive of my career and my hobbies. He actively encourages me to succeed in both. I also work for a company, and have a boss, that is very understanding of my needs as a mother, and the extra stress of having a special needs child. Honestly, sometimes I get a little teary eyed when I think about just how lucky I am in this regard.

And I need to remind myself of this, because sometimes its the outside pressures that make me forget how lucky I am.

Recently I've felt an incredible (sometimes implied, sometimes direct) pressure from the mental health/special needs community that as the mom of a special needs child I should not be working. The system isn't set up to work outside of the traditional 9 to 5 hours and I am expected to fit our schedule and needs into those hours. 

Finding a therapist to see us in the evening is nearly impossible. And while Rich also has some flexibility with his schedule and we share the responsibility of covering sick days, and teacher in-service days, I'm enough of a micro-manager that I just can't NOT be at every doctor and therapist appointment. 

But again, I'm lucky because my work is so flexible. 

What has really made me feel this pressure lately though is trying to arrange summer camp for Noah this year. We would like him to go to the same camp he attended last summer since it is close and he enjoyed it. The problem is that they require him to have a TSS with him at all times since it is a camp for "typical" kids and the counselors aren't trained to deal with his extreme behaviors. The problem with this is that the insurance company is unlikely to approve the amount of TSS hours we need so he can go every day and keep a schedule somewhat consistent with the days he has during the school year. Which is also necessary for me to go to keep a similar work schedule

Our second choice is a special needs/social skills camp that theoretically should be better equipped to handle his needs, but because of his impulsiveness they aren't sure they will accept him. They have suggested we send him to their half day (9-noon) program. 
Which would be great, except that I have a job! And even if he attends their full day program it is going to be approximately 3 hours of driving a day for me to get him to and from camp every day and then me to and from work.

And that means I change my 6-hour four-day a week schedule to a five-hour five-day a week schedule. And that means I have to send Kiel to day care every day, instead of four days a week. And frankly, I am not OK with that.

But that may be a mute point because they probably aren't going to accept him into their program anyway, which is another blog post completely, because you better believe that pisses me off.

So that brings us back to the "typical" camp and the need for TSS coverage. There is a possibility that the insurance company will deny our request for a TSS and tell us that if he needs full-time support, a typical camp is not the right environment for him. And if they say that, they are under no obbligation (as it has been explained to me anyway) to provide us with an alternative placement. 

The insurance company could also come back to us and deny full-time support but give us fewer hours. Which puts us in a similar position as the special needs camp, because again, if he can only attend part-time what the hell am I supposed to do with my JOB?

I do honestly love my job, and I've said it before on here, I just don't think I would be a good stay at home mom. I am seriously lacking in patience and home making skills for a start. I am however very good at my job. And having a job helps me be a better parent. Not to mention me having a job is what allows us to pay for the psychiatrist that doesn't accept insurance, the therapists that don't accept insurance, and the extracurricular's like soccer and karate. 

Oh yeah, and summer camp. Which is damn expensive. 

So right now, despite feeling like in general I have accomplished a pretty good work-life balance, when it comes to getting my son what he needs I'm pretty much damned if I do, and damned if I don't. 

This post was inspired by the book JUST LET ME LIE DOWN by Kristin van Ogtrop and is part of the Silicon Valley Moms Group book club.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Two great giveaways going on at the MNT Review blog!

$50 LikeWear giveaway! Plus a discount code! They have really fun kids t-shirts. So come on over to my review blog and enter! Your odds are good right now!

I'm also giving away an 18x24 poster print sponsored by Shipping is included! You provide your picture and they turn it into an awesome poster! Enter the giveaway here!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I made the papers! And not because I was arrested or found running around the neighborhood nekkid!

Just in case you missed it, my latest Philly Moms Blog post, Return Receipt Requested?. I tackled the issue of the Russian boy that was "sent back" to Russia by the woman that adopted him last September. I'm very excited because it was one of two SVMG posts that was picked up by the McClatchy Company and syndicated in their 30 daily newspapers last Monday. To say I was excited is an understatement.

I also want to link to the post Parents Need Advocacy Too on the DC Metro Moms Blog, which is my inspiration for what I think will be my next post on PMB.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm alive, really!

Yikes, it's been over two weeks since I've posted! I've been a little crazyer than normal the last couple weeks just catching up on work and other writing commitments, not to mention the laundry and cleaning the bathrooms and just general mom/wife stuff! I even made a meatloaf recently! I know...I am rockin' this mom shit! 

Then I had a fun episode of strep throat thanks to the giving nature of my 7-year-old last week, and since I'm a big baby when I'm sick I got even more behind in everything. But I did get totally addicted to Virtual Villagers 4: The Tree of Life while I was lazing in bed, too weak to do anything but move my finger on the touch pad between naps.

I have a big deadline at work this week, then I should be able to breathe again. But in the meantime here is a little bit of what's been going on:

Two weeks ago Thor ran out the door on a rainy night and didn't immediately come back inside once he realized his little paws were getting wet. He spent that rainy night and the next miserable rainy day outside. When the sun came out again on day three he still wasn't home. We all freaked out and spent several hours walking the neighborhood and surrounding woods looking for him. We also put up 65 fliers around the neighborhood. 
We have awesome neighbors and one of them found him romping happily at the edge of the woods about two blocks away. He didn't seem all that happy to be home and I'd bet money he scored some kitty smack while he was gone, because he was pretty goofy. We've managed to keep him close to home since then, but I'm not holding my breath that he isn't going to try this again. Teenagers...ughh

Noah had strep throat, Rich stayed home with him for a day, then I got sick and spent four days in bed, because (see above) me = big baby.

I wrote this on the Philly Moms Blog.

And the post I wrote before that was one of the SVMG's Hot Posts of the Week.

I have some new reviews and giveaways up on MNT Review Blog here and here. And have two more to get up in the next couple days.

Earlier this week I dragged Rich and the boys with me to a blogger event hosted by MomSelect and Energizer to launch their Energizer Recharge Smart Charger and announce their "Kids Take Charge" video contest. The contest goes live tomorrow, so as soon as I have a link to it I'll post it here.

Yesterday I attended a mom blogger seminar sponsored by MomSpace. It was awesome! And I finally got to meet the gorgeous and super genuine Joey Fortman, who is going to be my new best friend, I just know it! And if not I'll just stalk her and pretend she is, until the restraining order takes effect anyway. And, Shannon from Chester County Moms, and one of the moderators of the event, absolutely made my day when she came up to me at the end of the morning and introduced herself. She's been a regular commenter on my blog and on Twitter and goofy me didn't put two and two together when she was up in front of all of us doing an amazing job keeping the panel on track!

Noah started spring soccer today and also has his academy soccer going on for another 5 or 6 weeks as well.

And, Noah and I will both be promoting to our next belt rank in karate this week! More about that soon.  

OK, you are now caught up on life in the MNT household. I'll be back soon with more fascinating blog posts, so consider yourself warned! Because at least one is about sex and one is about the frankenvulva, and they aren't even related!