Exploding Head Syndrome


I think I have this condition where my head spontaneously explodes.  It is triggered by stuff that would seem fairly mundane to you, but completely pushes my brain into overload.

It happened recently after Jack’s karate class. 

Let me back up.

Our schedule is precariously balanced between work, dropping off and picking up kids at school and daycare, extracurricular activities, and the other chores of daily life such as cooking and cleaning.  We keep our routine fairly consistent, without being too rigid, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the children thrive on it.  Second, it keeps us sane, and also keeps us on time for work.

So when Jack’s karate studio decided to change class times, I went apeshit crazy lost it a little bit.

You may be wondering why shifting my schedule around a little entirely would make my head explode.  Let me explain:  Since I spend a lot of my time as a clinical social worker trying to wrap my head around all sorts of gruesome child abuse, my cranium is already stretched pretty thin.   Being a working mom means already living in a constant state of hyperarousal, exhaustion, and overwhelm.   So it doesn’t take too much to short my circuits up there. 

It is usually something little that tips the balance and sends me into “mommy needs to go live in the hospital” mode.  Something like burning a grilled cheese or someone fucking with the delicately erected scaffolding of my life. 

I also got upset because Jack crushes it  in karate.  It means a lot for me to bring him.  As a working mother, I miss about 40% of my children’s lives.  Or maybe even more.  I don’t know, I don’t do maths.  Ferrying him back and forth to karate is important to me because it gives him and I time together, and also allows me to see him in all his glory on the mat. 

He’s worked hard, and he’s super motivated.  Watching Jack do everything he is told, the first time he is told, with grace, enthusiasm and perfect compliance, for an entire hour, is nothing short of miraculous.  It is awe-inspiring.  Go now and sign your “difficult” child up for a martial art and you will see exactly what I am talking about.   

If the classes Jack needs  had been shifted just a bit earlier of later, that would be one thing.  But they changed the days and times all sorts of all around.  Short of keeping Jack up way past his bedtime, or quitting my job to bring him super early on other days, it is basically impossible to bring him to the new classes.

His entire lesson, I sat there with an upset stomach and on the verge of tears, thinking about pulling him out of this awesome venture because of a stupid scheduling issue.  Being a working mom sucks ass in so many ways, but never so much as when you want your child to have something of great importance, but can’t give it because you are at your job.  And in my case, I have to neglect my own children’s needs to take care of the needs of other people’s children. 

I chatted with some of the other moms, who were annoyed and concerned by the schedule change as well. 

It didn’t help that Jack’s instructor paused the entire class to point out Jack was totally bringing it as a warrior in class, and that he looked even more fierce and intense than some of the more advanced kids.  He made Jack demonstrate his hammer punch on the Wave Master and had the entire class applaud.  I kept looking at the little slip of paper with the new schedule on it, as if it would somehow change when I looked away from it.  It felt impossible, even as I swelled with pride. 

So, after class ended, I kicked off my shoes and strode onto the mat–  a mother lion approached the black belt.  He asked me what was up and I explained my- uh- concerns with the new schedule. 

“Okay,” he said.  “We have a couple weeks to figure things out so, don’t worry about it.” 

“It’s just I would hate to have to pull him out now.  He’s worked so hard and this is so important to us.”

“Okay,” he said again.  “Let’s not get all worked up–”  I cut him off. 

“Oh, I’m already worked up,” I said, half-joking. 

“I can tell,” he replied with a straight face.  “But let’s not make ourselves crazy here.  We’ll figure something out.” 

I thanked him and walked away with a mixture of feelings.  For the rest of the night, I was upset and anxious.  First of all, I felt like Mr. Black Belt (who is almost half my age and not a parent) had been condescending.  Second, I felt like he saw me as a hysterical parent who was complaining, as opposed to advocating for her child.   Third, did I have lipstick on my teeth? 

We walk a fine line as moms, don’t we? 

What I’d like to go back and tell him is this:  “Look.  It may seem like I am being histrionic here.  But I’m not.  You need to understand that behind every little warrior you have on your mat, there is a Mama Warrior right behind them, and it is our job to stand up for their needs.” 

At the end of the day, the guy did say he would try to work things out, so I am going to wait and see what happens.  I can’t be the only batshit crazy parent who has complained about this new schedule.

I hope he saw some of my pride and passion I had for my son, and not just the exploded brain bits I left all over his dojo. 

How do you advocate for your child’s needs?  Is it ever awkward for you?  How do you react when your schedule gets messed with? 


16 responses »

  1. Ahhhh!!! So much to say to this but alas, I have pressing stuff at my job that allies me to live. Ugh, so I have to wait and come back later. I’ll end in this: I feel ya — from one warrior mom to another. I’m living with Exploding Head Syndrome these days, too!!!

  2. Truth. Even having to swing by the gas station on the drive home seems to upset our evening routine. On another note, I admire your career choice. I’m an MSW but working in higher ed – now as a mom I’ve often wondered if I could ever hack it working in child protection or if it would hit too close to home. But people like you, who CAN do it, are amazing gifts to the children you serve – and save. Kudos.

    • OMG thank you so much for your super awesome words. Higher ed sounds like a dream job. I’m actually not in child protective services, but some days it feels like I might as well be. I sort of wish I had other options at this point, but hearing such supportive encouragement from people like you definitely keeps me going. And yeah, stopping for things like milk or gas is just one more straw. People really don’t realize what goes into orchestrating these schedules, right?? Thanks again. xoxoxo.

  3. I hate that advocating moms end up being perceived as crazy bitch complainers. I can already feel myself getting defensive about this, in preparation for when my fetus escapes my uterus.

    • I feel like there are definitely ways that some moms advocate that are not helpful. . . but when I am speaking my truth and trying to explain why something is important to me, for my child, I don’t necessarily appreciate being told, “Let’s not go crazy.” I did feel that was somewhat condescending. . . but I am trying to refrain from judging until I find out what his solution to our issue is…

      • Absolutely.
        It’s also hard for me to advocate in the moment when I am still feeling all the initial feelings and make it so that I can be heard the way I want to be heard.

  4. While not about my kid, the yoga studio I’ve been faithfully attended has moved the Tues/Thurs class up by 1/2 and hour and is totally fucking with MY ability to be a Mama Warrior Two (haha, yoga joke 🙂 ). It makes it so my friend can’t go with me, and it’s all weird to change schedules, and BLERGH.

  5. I’ve been thinking (again!) about the craziness of working and raising young children. Trying to look at it in a considered manner. Trying to see other options. I think that next term I will see if I can spread my 4 days work over 5 so that I can (gasp!) pick up my children from school and spend some lazy, quality time with them. I feel a bit antsy about this in that I will lose my full day off from work. But I think it will be more restful for all of us. Have to see whether work will go for it, of course.

    I love your description of little warrior Jack. And I’m thinking that doing the work you do definitely makes you a special class of warrior.

    I also like smilecalm’s response 🙂

  6. Pingback: Advocacy | momaste

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