Navigating life with a teenager….who happens to have bipolar disorder

Posts tagged ‘Relaxation’

This is Not the Relaxation You Were Looking For

As I wrote yesterday, my family and I headed into the mountains of North Carolina for a lovely retreat.  We were part of a group of about 45 people from our Church. After arriving late yesterday evening, we enjoyed chatting with friends in the lovely lobby/common area of the inn. We got to bed pretty late and then were up and headed to the dining room by 7:30 for breakfast…..even the grumpy teenagers. After some group activities in the morning, we had the entire afternoon to fill with the fun that is Montreat and Black Mountain, NC.  I had been planning on taking the kids to a nearby town to go gem sluicing.  CJ really likes pick mining….but this time of year it is kind of tricky.

gem sluicing

Gem Sluicing…..running dirt through a screen in a water flume in the hopes to find something sparkly.


So, sluicing was our plan…..until the kids hung out with the other teenagers on the trip and found that they were all hiking to the top of the lookout.  I was out-voted. No gems for me on this trip.  I thought about sitting out the hike, but I didn’t want to miss out on an experience with the kids.  I figured, even though last weeks 5k hurt my knees for a couple of days, I survived… we set out. There were about 15 of us over-all on this so-called ‘hike’.  Mountain climb…..even rock climb would have been a better term for it. It started out as one of those ‘step’ trails, where the steps alternate between random pieces of railroad ties, tree roots and rocks. About 3/4 of the way up, someone was coming down….literally, sliding down a 45° rock face. That was the only way to the top. I looked at my husband…..who was the only person from my group still with me at this point, and groaned.  I pushed forward….or pushed and pulled forward, as it may be. When we finally got to the top, the rest were ready to head back down.  I managed to get a couple of shots from this well-earned ‘lookout’. Everybody rushed down the mountain….but my husband patiently helped me down, as my knees were not enjoying the decent.  Following the hike, the kids even agreed that next year, we will not be making that journey again……maybe we’ll go shopping instead.

mountain top

See that little speck of a building in the center of the shot??? That’s our inn at the bottom of the mountain.

We came back to the hotel, had some quiet time and then decided, as did many other families, to order pizza and eat it at the hotel rather than go out to dinner. We then participated in more organized church events and finished the evening by retreating back to the common room to listen to very talented members of our group play guitar, that lulled me into a relaxed state…….finally. It only took until about 11pm for it to happen.




The Long Road to Relaxation

It was supposed to be a 4 hour ride.  I finished work at 3pm and the kiddo and I hopped into the already packed van.  We headed out to pick up my bonus kid, Megan and then to the campus where my husband works to add him to our troupe of travelers.  By the time we left campus and made our way into the Atlanta traffic, we were already later than planned… was the start of rush hour on rt285.  Anybody that has ever driven in Atlanta knows that there is no point to even say you are actually driving….because the truth is you are sitting in a parking lot….sometimes getting the opportunity to creep forward for a few feet. It was about 30 minutes into our traffic sitting that I looked at my husband and said,” I hate driving in this, why didn’t I make you drive, again?” . He responded “I was wondering the same thing”.

I had mapped out our trip and we had the GPS in my van….but he decided to use the GPS in his phone….which took us a completely different way than I had planned. We had 2 teenagers grumbling in the back seat, asking how long it would take to get there. One of CJ’s wonderful OCD tendencies is to fixate on time.  If the trip is supposed to take 4 hours, then, according to him, we should be there in 4 hours.  No amount of traffic or the fact that he drank 6 bottles of water and had to stop to use the bathroom 3 times, would convince him that we weren’t going to be ‘on time’.

Into the mountains we went. The moon rose and was a glorious light to drive by.  The kids finally took a nap and it was peaceful for the last hour of the trip.  As we drove through the mountain town and pulled up to the hotel, at almost 9:30pm, the long ride was worth it. The kids were in awe of the mountain retreat, aptly named Montreat. They said it was like we were in a castle and I would have to agree.


Montreat Conference Center, NC

It may have taken us a while to get here, but hopefully we will all find a little peace and relaxation with some other members of our church family. There are more adventures in store for us, I am sure, before the course of this weekend is over.

All is Calm, All is Bright

We are in our ‘calm’ season.  For us, summer is always a period of rest. I am sure there are many parents out there with special needs kiddos that understand.  We don’t have the stress of school, no early morning schedules, fewer rules to follow to get through the day. It is sad to say, but our calm is coming to an end.  Two weeks from now my son, CJ, will start 9th grade. He has insisted, as he does every summer, that this school year will be different. I have already seen how ‘different’ it will be.  Tonight, we had a debate over the necessity of his summer reading.  I didn’t push it; I have to rebuild my energy before I can begin the school battle again.  I am hoping that, if I can get him to pick up one of the books I found at the library, The Empire Strikes Back written as a Shakespearean play, the content will engage him. I am not ready for the coming weeks. I used to love buying school supplies and clothes for CJ.  Now I equate it with the dread I feel facing each morning of the school year. So, instead of letting the dread over-take me, I have decided to approach it in a completely different way than I have done in the past.  Instead of wasting the last couple weeks of calm, stressing about what is to come, I am planning a luau.  I figured we would start the school year with a little bit of fun for our family and friends. I know I can’t prevent what is to come, I know that school will soon engulf our lives with the anxiety that it creates for CJ, but what I also know is that my attitude needs to be positive or his surely will not be. So I will enjoy the calm for as long as it lasts.  I will sleep in, I will sit under my shade tree by the neighborhood pool, I will lose myself in a book, I will spend time with friends…….I will enjoy the rest of my summer vacation.

Mom’s Time-Out

Yesterday was an unusual day for me. I took a time-out for the whole day. I didn’t have to do anything for anybody but myself.  I simply relaxed, all……day…….long.

Most Sundays tend to start out restful for me, as my family lets me sleep in.  My husband will get up and head out to church.  My son and I rarely go to morning services since he has a hard time sitting through them.  We will eat lunch and then maybe watch a movie in the afternoon before we head out to church youth group for the evening.  We will come home and end the weekend watching Once Upon a Time as a family. Usually by the time my son is heading to bed on a Sunday, I am already on edge. Although Sundays start out nice, by the end, I am a ball of nerves just wondering how badly our Monday will begin.

Yesterday was a change of pace.  There was no youth group last night, and since we are now on Spring break, I didn’t have to worry about how hellish our Monday might be. When I woke up, it was grey and gloomy and I decided, it’s going to be a ‘me’ day.

I make a decision like this on a regular basis, but it rarely works out in my favor.  Even if I want to take a day off, things don’t usually go as planned.  My son has a hard time letting me go anywhere and there are times when my going out can cause a complete meltdown.  If I want to relax at home, it is always broken up by my son making sure I am aware that he feels his needs aren’t being met.

Yesterday, I decided that I was going to have an Anne of Green Gables marathon day.  When I changed out of my pajamas, it was simply to put on a clean pair of pajamas.  I snuggled in bed and watched my entire collector’s edition box set from beginning to end.  Anyone that knows the Anne series, knows that this is about 10 hours of movies.  And I watched it all, uninterrupted. My son briefly poked his head in my bedroom door twice, simply to ask how my movie was. He didn’t ask me for anything else.  He didn’t make me feel like I was neglecting him in any way.  I think he knew I needed this day.  I was done with my movies in time to head downstairs and watch our weekly Once Upon a Time and snuggle with my kiddo before going to bed.

It has been an exhausting couple of months in our house, but I woke up today feeling more energized than I have in weeks.  I didn’t need to sleep all day yesterday to achieve that, I just needed to be a little selfish.

I think, as parents with special needs kids, we forget to be a little selfish once in a while.  We feel that by doing something for ourselves, we are being bad or neglectful parents.  If we don’t take a time-out every once in a while, how will we have the energy to be the parents they need?

I would really enjoy a time-out on a beach somewhere…..but will I take an entire day in bed by myself watching movies?…….in a heartbeat.