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Cheap Pink Wine Helps Heal Everything

Trying to keep my son healthy is sucking the life out of me.

I sort of recall feeling that way when I was 20 years old and trying to breast-feed my firstborn. She was like an angry badger, my boobs were hanging on by a bloodied nipple hair and I was pretty sure with every feeding time I lost a little bit more of my life force.

This post is not about breast-feeding. 

I heartily endorse breast-feeding. Everyone should do it. Even men. 

I'm scared of the pro breast-feeding community. 

I'm writing about breast-feeding and I'm not supposed to have a mommy blog anymore. Oh my god, someone please take away my computer.


I'm trying to write a post about how my son's health is sucking the life out of me. Which, I know, sounds like a typical mommy blog post but it's not. It's only disguised to read that way. The reality is my son is a lifelike android who was sent here by an alien life form to study the breast-feeding patterns of the humanoid. 

Again with the breast-feeding. 

Seven years I wrote over on Redneck Mommy and NOT ONE POST ABOUT BREAST-FEEDING. 

Just saying.

Here's where I would typically delete this post and start again.

NOT TODAY people.

You know why? Because what little energy I have left after spending all damn day in a hospital yesterday with Knox I plan on using to beat level 73 on Candy Crush. I don't even feel a bit guilty about it.

Okay, I feel a little guilty. But only because it's a Facebook game. It's my secret shame.

So yesterday Knox was scheduled for a routine dental procedure. Except when you are a quadriplegic, with Cerebral Palsy, who is a little deaf and a lot blind and non-verbal to boot, nothing is routine. 

Of course not. 

Eight hours later, a little blood (his), a few tears (mine) and only one mild episode of rage for each of us, and Knox now has a set of clean choppers. 

Knox woke up cheerful and sparkly and beside the bloodied nostril from where they intubated him; you'd have never known he was in a hospital bed only hours earlier.

I wasn't so lucky.

Something about hospitals, the scent of death (and apparently, dental decay) ages me prematurely.

I swear I went to the hospital a young, spry woman.

I came back a lifeless old hag.

My teens winced when I stumbled out of bed this morning, my joints creaking an announcement of my arrival before I actually walked into the room.

I fully plan on picking Ken and Nash up from the high school while looking like this. I know how much they'll love it. 

This? This is what parenting a special needs child looks like. I often write pretty prose about how awesome Knox is (and Skjel was) and how rewarding and beautiful it is to parent these unique special snowflakes my sons' are/were.

And it is. 

But it is often grueling, frustrating, exhausting, overwhelming and zit inducing. I've lines on top of my lines and I'm feeling about as haggard as I look. 

The only thing easy about kids like Knox is how easy it is to love them. Everything else is hard. From haircuts to toileting to routine dental exams. It is hard. Sisyphus hard at times.

It's so hard it makes breastfeeding a rabid porcupine look easy.


(This is all Mr. Lady's fault. Damn you Shannon and your bizarre chestal activity. I've now got boobs on the brain.)  

Yesterday, while I was stuck in the bowels of the pediatric day surgery department, with no cell service, a cranky non-verbal child who didn't understand why he was hungry and with no relief in sight, I was reminded how hard this parenting gig can get. The stress overwhelmed me and for one single second, as a tear slipped past my fingers, I broke. I quit.

I was done. 

It was too hard, Knox is too hard, I am too damaged, and he's too broken. Usually these are the moments I'll hand Knox off to Bruce and take a moment to breathe, but I was alone yesterday. It was just him and I. 

There was no magical moment that made any of it easier. That's not how life works. I took a few minutes to feel sorry for myself, and feel sorry for Knox and then I carried on. That's my unvarnished reality.

But at the end of the day, when I finally got home and poured Knox into bed and myself a glass of cheap pink wine (on the rocks!) all the hardness of the day was worth it.

Because yesterday I walked into the hospital holding my son and I got to leave the exact same way.

A few years ago, I wasn't so lucky. 

Hard and haggard will always be worth it. But cheap pink wine helps too. 

Reader Comments (36)

Thank you, Tanis, for putting into words how hard it is to parent a child with special needs. My daughter can't have her teeth cleaned at the dentist either. She's only 30 lbs but man, her jaw is f-ing strong! So to the hospital we go every year for something that should be so simple. It's so hard, but it's so worth it.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

It is impressive how honest you are.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJB

You've hit the nail on the head once again with this post: IT IS worth it...even during our moments of meltdown. I've been a follower of your blog for years, with very few comments ever left by me, but wanted you to know that I value every word you write. You're a beacon of hope for many of us with developmentally challenged children.

Side note: I am totally addicted to Candy Crush. ADDICTED.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen

It is SO hard. Impossibly hard, at times, and always worth it in the end.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMomo Fali

I love that boys smile! You migth want to try some avon for that morning look.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkyooty

yep. I took Aiden to the dentist last Monday because last Saturday he broke off most of his front tooth on the side of a sled while he was out with his respite worker. He started freaking out the second we pulled into the dentist's parking lot. The words "why are you bringing me to this torture chamber" were screamed at me.

The visit involved 3 hours of my son sobbing, the dentist being ... someone who probably shouldn't work with special needs kids ever again, and me having to hold down Aiden's legs so he didn't kick people. My son was convinced he couldn't breath. He maintained the whole time he was in pain. The dentist gave him 8 or 9 shots of freezing - so much that it took until the next day for it all to come out. I just had to keep saying things like "it's ok honey, you can breath. I know you can because I can hear you telling me you can't breath. Also I can see your chest going up and down - feel my hand on your chest? That is me feeling you breathing. Try and calm down..." etc.

The dentist just thought I was being an overprotective mother and my kid was just being a jerk. He should read a book on Autism. Or go jump off a bridge. And then at the end of it all? They said "you'll have to bring him back for a thorough cleaning because his teeth really need it" and I could feel the judgement dripping off of them. And as my son screamed "I am NEVER COMING BACK TO THIS FORTRESS OF DEATH AND PAIN EVER AGAIN" I smiled and said "sure, thanks."

And then I went home and cried.

And that was just one thing that happened this past week.

love you xox

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTarasview

Just popping in to say how much I love what you're doing with the new place. I'll be back often. :-)

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKyran

I grew very weary and had a first, but sudden urge to have a drink of pink wine after reading about your day. I salute you...your family is so blessed to have you!

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Jean

I love your honesty... and Foxy Knoxy's sweet smile. It is, however, hard to figure out who you're talking about without their code names, lol.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Being a mom is hard.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine Burden

Yesterday's mascara is often the only kind I wear. I think the epic hair and nose-ring detracts from the zits and wrinkles. Maybe I should go pixie short and get pierced?
Personally, I'm so grateful that the grocery store can now legally sell wine in this grand state, I don't care how cheap/inexpensive (inexpensive doesn't sound as bad..) my wine is. As I slurp a sub-$10 bottle of pinot grigio. Because my usual brand of potable but inexpensive chardonnay wasn't on the shelf. I didn't cry, but I did check the shelf 3 times.
Parenting. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, have a go at it again. I type this as I listen to my completely clueless child go to the bathroom with the door open. Yes, she's in middle school and I'm becoming concerned at her obliviousness.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura in Little Rock

If you don't embed that Vine in here, you're a fool. SHOW THEM HIM GIGGLING.

relatedish: I'd still hit it.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMr Lady

You rock. That is all.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisLannin

Even when you have reached the end of your rope, you're still wearing fashionable glasses.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNeil

Always so good at sharing the moments we all have... even without the special needs. Cheers to you!

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWendynicole23

We need to say it isn't always easy more. That doesn't take away from the beauty, if anything it adds to it. Like you, you add to the beauty and ability to make it through some of the tough minutes. Thank you.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Even if it's not a "mommy blog", mommy is still part of who you are. We are women hear us whimper through our pursed lips and tightly squeezed eyes.
Parenting is a hard gig no matter the child, but I admire your honesty and raise my own pink wine to you in solidarity.

PS, i love the flip side just as much as the first

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersuper mommy

Awesome. You are.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Redneck Princess

This is a very timely post for me, and I completely relate to your emotional turmoil when it comes to dental appointments. I took my son (severe CP and in a wheelchair, blind, epilepsy, profound developmental delays, profoundly strong jaw) for his 6 month cleaning last week. I declared it a complete success....no cavities, no screaming (my son usually does the screaming, not me), no back spasms for me as I leaned over his wheelchair to keep his hands from grabbing/hitting the dental equipment/hygenist, and nobody bitten. It takes me days to recover from his doctor appointments, even when they are a success....maybe some wine would help.

March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

I am with you on nothing being easy, the procedures that should take 20 mins end up taking 3 hours worth. My daughter has a rare gentic disorder and when it comes to procedures that normally are easy I end up pissed off and wanting to tear someones head off. At this moment I am battling her damn sinus infection and have been for the past two weeks. I am ready for a vacation

March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

Lmao! You are hilarious! Here! here! here!here! Thanks!!

March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

I subscribe to your blog on email, so I hadn't actually read this yet when we talked last night on Twitter. Of course a diabetic cat is NOTHING like a special needs child, but the questions we ask ourselves about caregiving for someone/thing we love desperately were so similar.

Your strength is Herculean and I admire the shit out of you. *passes pink wine and KFC*

March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRita Arens

Epic hair is EPIC!

March 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersumo


March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIvy

I love your posts. They are real and honest and show how much you love your family. Today was a day I didn't want to do it anymore either, I also wrote about how I felt parenting a sick kid and it was awesome to come here and find someone else, who for just a moment wanted to say screw it; then took a breath, and moved on.

Just keep swimming. You need that tattooed somewhere you can see on a regular basis.

Okay, Side B. Stop changing names on the characters! I get so confused...Knox, Ken, Bruce...arg!!! I can't keep up!

March 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

What you look like, just rolled out of bed is what I'd look like if I got out of bed, put effort into not looking like ::vertical hand sweep:: AND had never smoked, drank, had a child or slept less than ten hours in a night with allergy-safe bed accoutrements.

I'm sorry it was a tough day, Gorgeous.

March 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerra

This describes so many of my days lately. I'm kind of shocked, actually. I'm still getting used to the idea that my son is special needs. It's different, I know - he wasn't special needs until a year ago and after this cancer business is cured in a couple years, he likely won't be special needs anymore. But still - these days - the frustrations and worry and aggravation and self-doubt are SO SIMILAR.

Thank you for putting it into words.

March 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEwokmama

This is beautiful, Tanis. Every line on your face tells your story, one that's inspiring and painful and beautiful. So honored to know you. Thanks for this glimpse into your heart.

March 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjana

I'd still do ya.

You are spectacular. Every mom, especially special needs mom, is blessed to have your voice and perspective.

March 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermoosh in indy.

That is some epic hair.

March 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZchamu

I love that you can find the bright spot in it all. And that most certainly is the portrait of an awesome person.

March 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElaine A>

That boy of yours is gorgeous! As someone upthread said, Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Love everything about this post but especially the photo. A special needs mom myself, that is pretty much exactly how I feel alllll the time. Even if I manage to put myself together and look "good" (relatively speaking of course) on the outside, that image is pretty much how I see myself. This post made me laugh AND cry!

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

Beautiful! Thank you.

April 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharona Zee

My son has spina bifida and seriously, on most days, I am a mirror image of your "Portrait of Awesome"! Great post and I totally feel ya. I just found your blog today and I'm glad I did. Also, I just love your sense of humor. I don't think special needs moms can last very long without a good laugh!

PS: Now I'm thinking you should write a blog about breast feeding. I have a feeling it would be hysterical...

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary Evelyn Smith
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