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About BooksandBoys

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  1. I’ve ajwats done this. Currently, we pay everything except the mortgage and electric bill this way (those companies require a bank account). I have never carried a balance and only ever, in 19 years, paid 1 late fee when I accidentally tried to pay the credit card with an old bank account that was somehow still saved in our linked accounts. I used to use the rewards to fund Christmas, but now I use them to buy most of our homeschool curriculum. I don’t like debit cards, personally. I’m much more comfortable with this method.
  2. I don’t know how to vote. DH and I both have advanced degrees. We want our children to be well-prepared for their adult lives, whatever that means for them. I have two kids on the spectrum (aspie type). I try to remember what someone, was it Jean in Newcastle, once said about wishing she’d spent more high school time focusing on on developing the skills he’d need to actually support himself in adulthood rather than acedemics. I mean, if my kid happens to need to live in my home for an extra decade or three and work at Target while writing code in the basement, so be it. I just want him to have a plan. If he can handle going to college, awesome. If he can handle trade training, awesome. If he wants to go to the military, and they’ll have him, awesome. If he can’t do one of those things, ok. Pick any of my 3 boys for that “he.” Now, voting would have been easy before I had kids. 🙂
  3. It seems to be that at some point, some of the posters started feeling like all of us posting that mental load issues are really hard, etc were also glomming onto gender lines. I don’t think that’s actually the case. I have never thought this is just a gender thing. And I never will. It’s just that all of us (in this thread) telling stories here happen to be telling those stories from the perspective of women who carry the mental load. Like you, I know a couple of women who don’t contribute. One is a SAHM with her one child in school who is very similar to the woman you described, only the husband didn’t do much more, so they live in squalor. Another woman I knew incredibly well for over a decade did not do any household tasks (also a SAHM with kids in school), but between her husband and me (I was the multiple times a week babysitter), we kept the house to a reasonably clean level. But that means that a 14 year-old babysitter was vacuuming, doing laundry, and doing sinkfuls of dishes. She did carry one portion of the mental load - the social schedule. She enjoyed that part and did it well. But he carried the rest. One of my good friends had such severe anxiety at one point that while she was able to do the household work, all mental load went into her husband. I’ve never claimed that this mental load thing falls completely along gender lines. It doesn’t. But carrying 90% plus of the mental load is a crushing weight, whether you are male or female. And, for me, that was the conversation. Not “bad, lazy men” but, “holy crap, carrying the mental load sucks.” I happen to carry the mental load in my marriage. It’s crushing sometimes. We have A LOT going on here. But, as I said, my husband is now (again) willing to fully contribute within his own abilities. He’s a good father (again). He loves his work and earns a good living (even though he’s scattered at work too). And even though I still carry the mental load, the fact that he does what I ask most of the time makes all the difference in my ability to carry that mental load. Also, my choice to accept that the mental load is mine and will stay that way, helps me so much. He’s a (mostly) good guy who is very, very scattered. And he’s trying. That’s important. He’s slowly becoming open to scaffolding techniques like alarms and to-do lists and routines. That’s life-changing for both of us. But he had to come to his own realization that he needed that scaffolding. Oh, and I’m naturally a scattered person. I use alarms, lists, calendars, routines, post-it’s. I sometimes ask other people to help me remember things (I’m looking at you, mom). I don’t carry the mental load because I’m naturally good at it (I recall that that was claimed earlier in this thread too). I carry the mental load because I have to. And I read books and take classes on better mental load management so I can do it better. My more naturally organized friends think I’m over the top with all my lists and routines, but I need them so that I can manage the mental load. The buck stops here. 🙂
  4. My spouse has been, in the past, exploitative. Was he that way because he was so overwhelmed by his own EF/mental health issues that he couldn’t not be? I don’t know. Now, though? Now he’s not. Now he’s reasonable again, contributing to the household work, and works hard at his job (he was always a hard worker at work. He loves work.). But he doesn’t appear to be able to think about anything except what is immediately in front of him. And that means no mental load. Because mental load, by definition, is the planning that goes into execution of the thing that hasn’t happened yet. The thing not in front of him. Is this all a big ploy? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m that fooled? This man who taught ME how to cook 16 years ago calls me to figure out which meat to cook with the pasta he needs to feed his children, even though I always say the same thing, “you pick. I don’t care.” He’ll figure it out eventually, I’m sure. But buying gifts for the children, calling his mother on her birthday (I leave that to him, though I have the kids call her separately. He hasn’t remembered since I stopped reminding a decade ago), even remembering that I’m very, very sick and maybe he should not work late, these are all mental instead of in front of him. Not happening.
  5. The irony is that I was like you. I grew up with a father who never lifted a finger in the house or yard (though he usually handled the cars...we stayed away when he was doing that though! He was scary!). So, I was on guard. I was going to marry an equal. A good man. And what I saw was a few warning signs that I didn’t really recognize for warning signs (because I know people are human and make mistakes, and one of my default settings is to assume that people are always trying to improve themselves. Even now. I still think that). A few warning signs and a man who cooked! And vacuumed (even if he sometimes broke things when he did it). And I was so impressed by how much more he did than what I had grown up seeing. How much kinder than my dad this man I loved was. I really did marry better. I did. Which, yes, says something about the stories I could tell about my dad.
  6. She she sounds so much like my now 7.5 year old, it’s eerie. He’s on the spectrum, but because there were no obvious delays just EXTRA (until later), we missed the diagnosis until he was 6. At 5, we started treating the (very obvious at that point) ADHD with an alpha2 agonist (an atypical med for ADHD, tackles the hyper part not the attention part). A week after he started the med, he sat down and built a 24 piece puzzle. He had never sat down to do anything independently before that. It was remarkable. The autism diagnosis came a year later. And given how helpful ABA has been, lifesaving really, for me, I wish I had known to push for evals when he was younger. I'm certainly not diagnosing your DD on the Internet, but I’ll suggest evals. And PM if you want more info/stories. One thing that helped, even at that age, was time in the swimming pool. Something about the pressure of the water on his body has always calmed him. Not IN the water, mind you, that was just crazy making, but after the fact. He was calmed by a weighted blanket too. I’d drape it over him while I carried him around because he wouldn’t sit still/lay still with it. 🙂 edit: that should have said “not while we were IN the water” i mean: taking him swimming was hard. So, so hard. But it was worth it.
  7. This is actually a great point. I have very little resentment about my mental load now that I just accept that it’s ALL my mental load. It was all the years of thinking I had a partner who would share the mental load - and wasn’t sharing it (even along stereotypical gender lines. I mean, if he’d just have done the cars, yard, it would have taken something off my mind)...that was what was so hard. The hoping. The expecting. When I started accepting that it really was all on me, I started feeling better because I planned my life differently. I don’t know if that makes sense? And after I shifted to accepting that the mental load was all mine, then I’d only get really resentful when something I couldn’t possibly manage popped up. Like the health insurance renewal. Anyway, I’m a lot happier now that I pretty much expect that I have to handle it (and I stay out of the things that don’t affect me or the kids any time I possibly can. I don’t frantically look for his car keys, for example. Or get up when he tells me we are out of mayo and it’s right in front of his face in the fridge...and there are two more in the pantry. He’ll figure it out. Or he won’t.)
  8. That’s, of course, complicated. As life became more complex (bigger, harder jobs, more kids, kids with serious health issues) my husband’s EF and mental health issues became more and more obvious, until he completely shut down at home for about 5 years. In the last 2 years, it’s been steady improvement. I’m very thankful for that. Looking back, sure I can see those challenges in our dating years. But there were fewer demands in him, so he handled what he had to handle better. And I didn’t know what I was seeing. I was young and in love, and I figured he’d learn to pay his bills on time. Or take out the bins. Or learn to vacuum without accidentally breaking furniture (which, thankfully, he would fix) . He did cook, probably 90% of the time, and that was so foreign to me (a man who cooks) that it blinded me to a lot of other things. But he stopped cooking the moment our first child was born (even though I worked full time until our second kid was born 3 years later). Nothing I said would convince him to cook again after DS1 was born. I remember thinking it was so bizarre. Now, I think it was just the beginning of the executive function overload. Who knows?
  9. Mine too. He schedules his stuff, on the rare occasion that he even thinks to schedule his stuff (because I don’t remind him about HIS stuff...,I have enough keeping track of my three kids and myself). He schedules his stuff when he wants to. He doesn’t think about the family schedule or my work schedule or any of it. He just figures it will all work out. My example of mental load: I manage all the bills/budget/etc that I possibly can because he’s never paid a bill on time on his life. Our health insurance is through his employer. Last year, first year at this job, so unpredictable timelines for the wife who manages this stuff for her family’s functioning, he didn’t forward any email reminders about open enrollment, or mention it to me at all, or do a thing. He just ignored them. I don’t receive them because it’s HIS job. We missed open enrollment because by the time it crossed my mind to wonder out loud to him when it was, it was a week after it ended. Our insurance, thankfully, auto-renewed, but we lost our access to our flexible spending account . We have a lot of medical expenses in our family, so this was a big blow, financially. When I asked him why he didn’t get us enrolled or talk to me about it or anything, he said, “You should have reminded me!” How, husband? How would I know? I do not receive this correspondence. You do. Same year, he failed to notice that his renewal due date for HIS student loans repayment was approaching, even though they were sending emails left and right (I later learned). I had made a note on the calendar when the first letter arrived in the mail (cause I manage the mail). If he misses the renewal, our payment goes up by $1000 a month. Needless to say, that can’t be absorbed by our budget. The day it was due, I asked him if I’d missed the email asking for my spousal signature on his renewal. He was all, “I didn’t know I had to do anything to renew. You should have told me.” Right. Because you havent had to complete a renewal application EVERY YEAR since you finished your PhD. Smart man. No mental load. EF challenges. And just to make this story better...he almost missed the deadline for the student loans the year before too (so 2 years ago) so I had asked him to add my email to his student loans or give me access so I could remind him/help. He opted to be offended at my suggestion and refused. Thankfully, he finally learned that lesson last year and this year, I received emails too...and, oddly enough, he handled it all without a single reminder from me. I’m hopeful for future growth. I manage almost all of the mental load, inside the house and out, food, bills, finances, medical, cleaning, cars, lawn, house care, his travel schedule and it’s inpdct on our family, his work meeting schedule and it’s impact on us, sometimes even his work requirements - because when he has more papers/grants to write, he stops being home predictably/checks out mentally more, and I work part time. My kids have special needs. My husband is much more helpful than he used to be, thank the universe and all that is in it (because he used to do his own version of the “heads or tails” when I’d ask for help, mostly refusing to do anything but sit on the couch when he was home from work), but he’s not taking on the mental load. I’m slowly but surely trying to get him to, but it takes ME pushing it. Like, I work three nights a week now, so he’s in charge of dinner. I menu plan/shop in categories. So, Tuesday is pasta night, Thursday is tacos. But he still calls me at work on pasta night every week to ask he if he should make meatballs or sausage. And every time, I tell him “it’s your choice, pick one, you’re in charge, heck I don’t even care if you make pasta. You are in charge.” Someday, I think he’ll just decide. Maybe? Hah! I almost forgot the time he blew up the engine in the car because he just kept ignoring his check engine and low oil lights. On a car that we knew was leaking oil, so it’s not like the problem was unknown or a surprise. After it happened, he said, “oh, I kept meaning to check the oil.” It had never occurred to me that I needed to be monitoring the status of HIS car as well as mine. You better believe I (discretely) monitor his car health now.
  10. A combination of methods: I write it on my tadk list in my bullet journal if that’s accessible. Write it on the mirror in my room or the white board in the kitchen (I keep markers handy) audio memo on my phone if I’m driving or otherwise away from my writing options and alarm on my phone or Echo (Amazon Alexa) if I can’t stop what I’m doing to record it (Siri, in 45 minutes, remind be to write down toilet paper) . post it notes for reminders. I consolidate all the notes/reminders regularly....
  11. Yes. You think about every single detail at every moment, hoping you can avoid setting him off. And in the in between moments, you think about how you have to survive this until the kids grow up because separating will be worse/dangerous (for the kids). And in the rest of the in between moments, you think about how you are surely making the wrong decisions about whatever you are deciding. You feel crazy. All the time.
  12. I have a 10 year-old (almost 11) with ASD, and he has two younger brothers (7, also ASD, and 5). The 5 year-old goes to public K. DS10 does most of his work on the couch. We do writing intervention work (due to dysgraphia) together at the dining room table. If his brother (DS7) is having a particularly hard day, DS10 night do his schoolwork in my room. He reads wherever he likes, but usually chooses a chair in a quiet corner of the dining room or his bedroom. DS7 is not in the same room with DS10 at any point when DS10 is doing his schoolwork. Either DS7 is doing schoolwork with me, he’s working with his ABA therapist, or he’s assigned other activities elsewhere. No schoolwork can happen for DS10 if DS7 is around. DS7 schools in the dining room or kitchen with me, usually. DS5 is in public K because he is a very, very extroverted little man who cannot bear to not be entertained at every moment, but the boys struggle to play together without careful supervision due to ASD challenges. So, if older boys are doing school on a day DS5 is off, I try to get him set up in his room with toys and an audiobook, which usually works long enough to get DS7 though his schoolwork, then DS7 and DS5 can play (with my supervision) while DS10 continues his own work far away from his brothers. I’m lucky. Once DS10’s meds kick in in the morning, we usually have several good, focused hours. And he’s happy to work hard because once he finishes his book work, he earns screen-based schoolwork (math games, brain pop, coding, documentaries). Structuring his work to include the “reward” of some screen-based school really makes him happy to work hard at the bookwork (of which he has plenty :-). DS7 doesn’t have a “good” couple of hours, so that’s always the more challenging piece.
  13. If I had had to answer this question 2.5 years ago, I would have said I’d change everything. All of it. The mental illness, the autism, the attention issues that make adhd look like a crack diagnoses, the marriage, the place we lived, the homeschooling, the SAHMing, the giving up my own career to let my husband grow his, the never sleeping. All of it. The single, high-powered career life for me, please But I started making changes slowly. We moved back from the not-great place. I started to find medications that worked for the kids. I got better and better at boundaries in my marriage and other relationships. My DS2 (then almost 7) finally started sleeping through the night. I started dreaming again and looking for opportunities to restart my career. Now? I’m pretty happy with the direction my life is going. I’m working part time in a position that I love. It’s challenging, it’s fun, and I have a ton to learn. I have a great boss and most of my coworkers are lovely. Trying to homeschool and manage the home while working part time is hard, but worth it right now. We’ll see where that goes in the future. I’m also very slowly building some freelancing things. I need to be out of the house feeling successful at something because raising/educating my kiddos feels like a daily flogging of failure. My marriage is a bit better as my DH is making different life choices. I rediscovered cross-stitch. Turns out it’s a shockingly centering activity for me. I try to fit in about 2 hours of cross-stitching each week. My kids currently have great ABA therapists. I’m slowly untangling DS3’s challenges and he’s doing better and better. So, today. Today, I wouldn’t throw out my whole life. I would have worked hard for 5-10 years establishing my career before having kids so that I could have kept working part time throughout parenting and also be able to hire regular help with my kiddos. Like 40-60 hours a week of help so there would always be 2 adults present (because I need an extra adult with the challenges this family brings). Or I would give my kids the gift of life free of autism/mental illness/etc. or at least the gift of a mother/world that knows how to help them. Jeez. That was long.
  14. I thought it looked familiar. I just completed her gorgeous “The Castle” pattern for myself (after putting it away for ten years so I could raise tiny people). I love her work. I’m so happy you found it!
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