Taking a slower approach and re-embracing physical books

The summer of 2018 was rough. I felt like I was in a tornado of awful. Every single day felt like my amygdala was gushing the fight or flight response to the point that I took a week of vacation just to get a short break from the near-constant roller coaster I was on.

I decided to try something slightly different on this vacation since I needed to slow down and escape in a major way: I booked a one-day/one-night trip and I bought a bunch of books, with a plan to spend the remainder of my time enjoying my patio with beverages and snacks.

Buying books before I take vacation is nothing new for me. I literally never go anywhere without books since I have my phone with me everywhere I go. However, for the first time in years, I bought physical books. And I wanted fluffy books. That second part I pretty much failed since I bought books that mirrored, in various ways, the tumultuous period I was living through.

Despite my questionable judgment about the suitability of certain books for light, escapist vacation reading, I really enjoyed settling in for a book that requires two hands and a light source to read.

Since last summer, I’ve doubled down on reading physical books, making sure I always have one on the go. I still read on my devices and listen to audio books because this allows me to read more books more quickly and I love to read as much as I can get my hands on.

But I’ve learned to appreciate the calm that descends when I’m surrounded by quiet broken only by the crinkle and swish of a page turning. I’m still a fast reader but sitting down to read a physical book forces you to pay attention and forego other distractions, except some background music to help ward off distractions from ambient noise.

As long as I’m able, I’m not going to stop reading ebooks and audio books but it’s been nice to get back to my old ways of devouring books that aren’t quite as easily mobile.

The sweetest words I've heard in a year

This week has been rough. 

I was away for part of the weekend at Social Capital Conference and it has thrown Brandon right off. He missed me - a lot. I can’t help but feel bad about that. It dampens my personal excitement over the success of the conference. I know I can’t be with him 24/7/365, but it doesn’t stop the guilt I feel about not being there when he feels he needs me.

Monday, Matt had to take most of the day off to be with Brandon. His daycare tried to accommodate him, but when a single child out of 50 needs one-on-one attention for a significant portion of the day, it can compromise the safety of other children and stress resources too thin and that’s not fair - to the children or the caregivers. 

Tuesday, we met with the Developmental Pediatrician. For the second time Brandon didn’t want to cooperate with completing the assessments. He has it in his head that when he goes to her office he gets to play with Lego. Sigh. 

In the end, she was once again flexible. She gave him the Lego and then observed him. She spent a lot of time talking to us about our concerns and asking questions. It wasn’t productive in the way we’d hoped, but it wasn’t a waste of time. The most important part for us was when she looked me in the eye and said (I’m paraphrasing):

You know this isn’t about your parenting. You’re doing a good job with him. 

I told her that was good to hear because we’d had it implied that we’re not doing a good job as parents. And, of course, we all need as much fuel added to the fire of doubt that comes with parenthood. Yep, we sure do. She responded (paraphrased again):

I figured you had. This isn’t your parenting. It’s definitely something else and we have to figure out what that is.

Sweet relief. Music to my ears. Confidence booster. Tear-inducer.

You see, we do what we have to do to maintain peace. Sometimes that means we spend money on Brandon that we’d rather not spend. Occasionally that means giving him food that isn’t exactly the healthiest. The odd time it means that we don’t go places we really want to go because it’s easier than forcing him.

It never means that we compromise his long-term health, immediate safety or security. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent it’s that everything I believed about parenting before I had a child was mostly a load of crap and I’m quite willing to go completely against those things to reduce the stress on all of us. We have enough unavoidable stress that we don’t need to add to it by trying to force a child to do things that he’s absolutely unwilling to do.

If that makes me a bad parent in some people’s eyes, that’s fine. If people think I’m spoiling my son, that’s fine. They’re entitled to their opinion, even if it’s wrong.

Today we had another rough morning. Brandon’s daycare was going on a field trip to the beach and all children are required to wear a tee shirt. He didn’t want to wear one. He only wanted to wear his life jacket, which he can’t safely wear in the car. So, he didn’t get to go on the field trip and that breaks my heart. I know he needs those times to help him learn. He needs those opportunities to develop socially. It won’t happen when he’s at home with Matt or myself. That’s three days in a row this week that he’s stayed home (or been sent home) from daycare.

I don’t know what to do. I’m nearly out of vacation and I have no more sick days and though Matt has more than I do, it’s not realistic that he carry the load alone. It’s especially unfair to him when Brandon really needs me and doesn’t respond positively to Matt’s presence. Sigh.

One day we’ll figure it all out. I hope.