Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Things Klonnie Did Right
You guys. Another round in the email wars. Now it is a letter instead of an email because Ms. Pussy Couples Counselor doesn't have an email for her clients to use. (I'd like "Things That Make You Go 'Hmm'" for 400, please, Alex.) Anyway, here's some stuff I wrote to the counselor. It's called "Things Klonnie Did Right". I'm mailing it tomorrow. I'm copying Mr. K. Take what you need if you can use it. Nod in recognition if you recognize. Pound your fist on the desk if you are so inclined. There's another document in the works. It's called "Things Mr. K. Did Wrong." (It's at least twice as long). But anyway, here we go.
Dear Ms. Pussy Couples Counselor:
Your gross mis-management of our session yesterday was a real betrayal. You allowed Mr. K. to throw the equivalent of a three-pointer at the buzzer. And all I was allowed to do in response was sob and swear and cut a check for the privilege. Mr. K. stated that there was a direct line drawn from my issues with my illness to the family crisis in which we find ourselves today. He let that sit out there with no opportunity for me to rebut in my own defense. He should never have been allowed to make that kind of statement in the first place. But having done so, it should never have been the last thing said before the session ended. It was a clear violation of my emotional safety that you, as a trained professional, are supposed to maintain during sessions like these. I’m surprised that you have not called me to apologize yet. I was expecting your call by the end of the day.
I’m going to take the time and space to rebut what was said. I'm going to detail all the things I did for my kids in the twenty years that I have been their mom. I’m going to talk about all the good things I did. I’m going to talk about the good stuff I taught them, the positive messages they heard. Things we somehow don’t address when the accusations come up. I also have several pages worth of things to say about Mr. K. and the events of the last few months. I have created a separate document for that, so that Mr. K. has an opportunity for rebuttal, a courtesy that so far has been rather unevenly extended.
Before the babies were even born, I was thinking about them and planning for their arrival and what it was going to be like to have children! When the kids were infants, I took them with me to La Leche League meetings, where I could get support with breastfeeding and meet other moms. We developed play groups and I played a pivotal role in that. Throughout the time that the kids were little, I worked to keep the house clean and neat, to have clean clothes and healthy food, to nurture them and make sure they had what they needed.
As they grew, their needs expanded and they went to nursery school, where I volunteered and also watched other babies so their moms could volunteer. When it was time for kindergarten, we decided to take them to a parent participation school. I attended and eventually led the parent education workshops that were required for parents to work in the classroom. I studied child development and worked to implement the things I learned. I was concerned about concrete things like limiting tv time, performing chores, completing homework. I tried to teach them how important it was to have a little bit of work and a little bit of play, a little bit of healthy food, a little treat, all in balance, a little bit of everything each day. I encouraged their emotional growth by talking about feelings and how to handle them, how to interact with other children, how their behavior affected others, and how important it was to pay attention to that, to have respect for other people and their feelings.
I volunteered for everything that came up. I worked in the classroom and at home to make sure art was available, crafts, cooking projects. I babysat for other moms and arranged for play dates both at home and at the park. I coordinated music lessons, sports practices, and social lives (birthday parties, play dates, outings). We laughed about my calendar and how detailed it was – color coded for each kid and their activities, highlighting where events conflicted, etc. There were days when there were three different soccer matches on three different fields all at the same time. There were many days when I got up at 6:45 a.m. for school and didn’t wind down until after 11:00 p.m. And through all this, I still managed to stay out of the nuthouse, despite all the triggers I was facing, pretty much single-handedly.
Each year, in each child’s classroom, I was assigned a different project. I had two kids in two grades. That meant four hours in the classroom and multiple hours of prep each week. I also had a toddler at home to account for while the school activities required me to be away from him. There were field trips -- about twelve per year for six years -- I drove a carful of children and chaperoned every one.
I got up every weekend to make sure they were where they needed to be with the stuff they needed to have. I signed them up for every sport they wanted to do. We did swimming, soccer, whatever they wanted to try, every season. I was on the executive board of every group my kids ever belonged to, from soccer to swimming to PTA. I want to emphasize the fact that at times this kind of socializing was extremely difficult for me given the vagaries of my illness. There were many days when I felt overwhelmed by the tasks of the day that lay ahead of me, yet I got out of bed, got dressed and did what needed to be done.
I focused on Troubled especially. Soccer was extremely important to her and I made sure that she got to all the practices, all the matches. When there were weekend tournaments, I made sure she got to those. I rented motel rooms and socialized with other parents, way outside my comfort zone. I did all this precisely because it was so important for Troubled to foster her self-esteem and well-being by encouraging her to excel at something she loved.
I supported Troubled through all her academic struggles, arranging for tutors, trying to find ways to reach her when she was at her worst in high school. When she got caught shoplifting, I went down to the mall to get her. I single-handedly dragged her through the last quarter of high school, or she would not have accumulated the required classes to graduate. Troubled would not have walked with her class if it hadn’t been for me.
I offer all this not for any kind of applause, but to point out that, even in the throes of bipolar disorder, I managed a complex system for three children, keeping them engaged and active and stimulated and healthy. I created and maintained an incredibly nurturing environment in which the children were encouraged to do their best, to learn and to grow and to thrive. When I lost my temper, I did my best to calm down each time almost immediately and apologize and explain what had triggered it. I did have lots to work on, and I freely acknowledged that. I did a lot of work in therapy and tried to implement what I was learning at home. I explained what I needed and asked for support. We are done beating this dead horse. It is old news and does not need to be revisited. Ever again. Not even a little bit. Not even close.
Posted by Mina Klonopina at 10:46 PM