Thursday, January 12, 2017

When you lose a small piece of purpose

It happened.
I didn't see it coming, and I missed it.
So caught up in the business and busyness of the days, that there was no warning, so  heads up, no way that I could have known it would be over when it seemed like it had just begun.
In the midst of child rearing and being a wife, I realize now that I took it for granted and even though I uttered the words, "it's just a phase, and it won't be forever"; I wasn't ready for it.

It was a normal evening and a normal day.
Christmas had come and gone and with it the events, dinners, gifts, and on top of it all, the flu had blown through my house the first week of holidays like a tornado.
I was tired.  I was spent.  I had gotten up more times in a night than I have since I had newborns waking me with their hungry cries.
I even laid in bed one night while my twelve year old had her head buried in the toilet at 3 am, because I just could not get out of bed again.  I listened to my husband coaching her from the hall (because he's a joiner) saying, "You're doing great Em. Are you ok?  What do you need?".
Maybe I should have gotten out of bed.  He sounded more like a personal trainer than a Dad with a sick child in the bathroom; but he was doing the best he could.  But I missed that moment as well.

The point of all this?  It was a week; a busy week.  And I was tired.  Bedtime rituals came and went every night more like a flurry of panic for my crying, over tired, fighting young children.
And when my youngest asked me on Wednesday evening to lay down with her for 5 minutes like I do every night, I looked at her and said, "Mommy is really tired.  So I'll lay down, but you need to close your eyes and go to sleep."
She knew what that meant.  No braiding my hair, while she lay there holding her bear.  No poking my eye lids to see if I was really sleeping.  No games of me opening one eye as I turn to face her so she would giggle.  No playing with our bears, pretending we were putting them to bed.
I wanted her to sleep, and fall asleep quickly.  And she did.  I was out of her room within fours minutes.  I dragged myself downstairs to fold a load of laundry on the couch while watching TV.

Thursday came, and I had more time.  I was trying to get all my children to bed on time, because after the busy Christmas week end, and a New Years week end coming up, I thought it important that they have a few nights of good sleep in between.
As I read them a book, sang their night time prayers, and walked the stairs that night, I was not prepared for what was coming.  I tucked in my seven year old son, and did the regular hugging game, where I nuzzle my nose into his shoulder and tickle him.  He doesn't want a hug or a kiss usually, and so I take what I can.  And after the "I love you to the moon and back" and "good nights", I made my way over to my four year olds room.
"Do you have my bear ready for me?"
"Ummm, yes Mom, but I am big now.  I don't need you to lay down with me ok?"

What?  When did she decide over the course of the last 24 hours that she didn't need me to lay down?
Had my fatigue and warning last night discourge her?  Why would she say this?

"I can lay down with you Honey.  Is it because last night you had to go straight to sleep?"
"No Mommy.  I just am big now.  It's ok right?"
"Yes sweetie, of course"
So I leaned in and kissed her and hugged her, tucked her in "snug as a bug in a rug", put "my" bear beside her and told her to keep him company for me.
She just smiled, and said, "Good night.  I love you."
And as I turned to walk out of her room, I realized; that was that.
I missed it.
I missed enjoying the last night I got to lay down with her.  I missed that moment.  And a piece of my purpose seemed to fall away.

It easily happens.  We're Moms, and so it's much easier to deal with life in a quick, orderly, and efficient manner than to actually stop and look at what's happening. It's hard to stop and take a breath and wonder if we're dealing with the moment the best way we can.  And we're human, broken, sinful, and imperfect.  We get tired, sick, discouraged, and even overwhelmed.
But in that moment, I had to stop and go over the previous night in my head, and I decided that I could have done things better.

And so, I have come up with a little check list of how I am to go about my days now.
Some of these tips I have heard from others, some I have thought of myself, and some although I'm not sure where, I am certain I have seen written somewhere. It's not a New Years Resolution so much as it is a way of living a little differently.

1. BE KIND.  Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Even our children.  There are bad days, good days, discouragements, frustrations, peer pressure, disappointments, joys, and everything in between.  Being kind to them even in their lowest moments will teach them that every moment matters, and hopefully they will see how simply being kind can change a moment for the better.

2. WILL THIS MATTER? Ask yourself in any moment where you feel you may be losing grasp on a situation,
"Will this matter in the future?"  Will my 4 year old want me laying down with her when she's 18? Probably not.  So what does it really matter?  Or that 3 year old that just will NOT use the toilet. Will it matter next year? Will they still be using a diaper at age 5?  And if the answer is, "Well maybe" or a definitive "Yes", then this brings me to number 3.

3. A DIFFERENT APPROACH.  So often I find myself stuck in my OWN ways that I fail to see what way will possibly work for my child.  You would think that after 6 children and having an Autistic son that I would be better able to roll with the punches.  But sometimes I find myself frustrated because what I am doing is not working.  I could possibly alleviate my frustrations (and theirs) if I look at the situation through their lense, and determine what would work for them.  And here's a crazy thought, let's ask them what they think of the situation and what would help!?

4. SPEAK to our children (and others) how we wish to be spoken to.  My oldest and I often get into great discussions which on occasion will end up as an argument.  It often becomes about who is right as opposed to viewing two different ways and coming to a compromise.
I realize now, that I did this to her.
When she tried to discuss things with me in her early years, I was often quick to settle the conversation because I had lots of little ones to tend to.  And I thought that I, being the parent and thinking my way was the only way, realize now that I have probably instilled in her a "fight" till your right mentality, and so..

5. LISTEN is key.  This is a hard one for me.  I tend to hear what someone is saying and already in that instant am formulating what I want to respond, missing the last piece of whatever it is they are telling me.  I do this with my children.  I must learn to truly listen to them.
It is so easy to hear, "Can a friend come over", and I already am thinking about driving them around, that I have so much to do, that I now have to worry about what to cook for dinner because perhaps the friend does not like chicken, or potatoes, that I miss, "...her parents can drop her off at 7 and pick her up on their way home at 11...", and I say, "No."
Which leads to "Why nots?", anger, and frustration on both sides.

6. Lastly, just STOP.
This one dear Moms is the hardest one by far.  Stop what we are doing and take a moment.  Watch them, hear them, speak to them, understand them.  So often as mothers we are multi tasking and although we mostly multi task well, I fear we are missing something.

So if I had stopped to actually think about all these things, then I most likely would have realized that laying down with my youngest had nothing to do with her trying to get her way, or me being tired and annoyed, and everything to do with just 5 minutes of time that she had with me.
Time that was not shared between siblings, cooking, cleaning, and the other one thousand things that I do when I'm with her.
So if I had been kind, tried a different approach, spoken to her correctly, listened and stopped, then maybe I would have seen laying down with her as a time she had me to herself to just laugh, enjoy and relax.
That was her battle I'm sure, being the youngest.  And it wouldn't have really mattered how tired I was because I would have realized that one day it would be over.  A piece of my purpose seemed to slip through my fingers.

And yet, I am human.  I make mistakes, and the blessing from that one mistake is that I have learned and grown from it.
If it would be as simple as 6 steps, then I'm sure I would go documented in history as the perfect parent, but it's not that simple.
And if I'm perfectly honest, I am sure that in the future there will be more missed moments.
But this is a start for me.  One step to slow down, and re-evaluate parenting.  Because what good is growing if we believe we have learned all we can?

And so Happy New Year.  Bring on 2017;
My purpose and calling on this earth is being a Mom, and sometimes I feel I am failing;
but by grace, and at times crying out on my knees, I realize that this purpose is never lost with the moments.
So, I will try to cling to knowing that through this life that I am changing, and growing, and I will try to catch  as many of the moments as I can...before they're gone.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dealing with Loss this Season

It's Christmas Day.
I can hear laughter from my living room where some of my children are playing a game.
I can hear my son playing by himself with his new lego.  The smell of home made soup is wafting in from the kitchen, and the sound of  Pentatonix Christmas songs is soothing and surrounds me.

I look forward to time with my brother and his family this evening, and I smile at the laughs, the conversations, and the joys of last night; when I spent Christmas with my family.
It's a beautiful time of year, and yet, I hear the quiet of a child that will never join us for Christmas.
I see a smile, and a face that I will never know.
I know a child, who will never grace my presence during the holiday season.

And then it prompted me to think of those who have lost a loved one.
I have lost a boy whom I never knew.  I heard his heart beat fill the doctors office, and I felt his small kicks within me, but yet, he was still a boy I never knew.
So what about those who have known someone; whether for hours, days, weeks, months or years, and have had to say good-bye.
What about the void that is there for them this season?
The empty place at the table, the silence at gatherings, and the missing link to a chain of family and friends when we gather around with those we love during the holidays.

Perhaps there is a way to help those who are struggling with the loss of a loved one this season.
I have sat thinking about what I would like people to know and it's only through that, that I can even have a glimpse of what to do for others.
So if you know someone who has lost a loved one in the past year, or perhaps even 5 years ago,
consider the following things this coming week.

Respect those who may be struggling this holiday season.
We may not understand, we may think it should be easy to embrace and surround others and be joyful.  It's far too easy for us to look at those suffering and think, "Well focus on the positive.  Don't be negative".
But we are all individuals who find different things difficult, who cope in different ways and who struggle with different issues.
So let's respect that there  may be some just going through the motions for others, or perhaps do not feel like celebrating at all.  It may even be that many people find it difficult just to get through the holiday season.

Allow the person grieving to vocalize and show emotion.
Sometimes all we need is a good cry, or an ear and shoulder.  We need to shed tears for those lost, those never known, and those we are missing.
Or perhaps the memories of Christmas' past will take them to a place of bittersweet joy and sorrow. Remembering with a smile and yet having the memories hurt. Allow them to do this with you, or perhaps they need space to do this on their own.  Let them lean on you if they need it.

Maybe in memory of the lost loved one, ask them if they have considered starting a new tradition. Rejoice in the life that they have lost.
Maybe this means buying them an ornament for their tree.  Maybe it's a time of sharing eggnog (and rum) over anecdotes of the loved one past.  Whatever it takes to have the day perhaps surprise them; do that, and be there.

Be patient and give them time.  There is no hard and fast rule for how they should get over the years. Everyone must go at their own pace.  But one thing is for sure; the support they receive will be a direct reflection of how they are doing this holiday season.

Every year around Christmas, I feel an empty place for my child.
His ornament adorns my tree, and every day on December 16th, I tell my children his birth story, just as I tell them their own.
It still amazes me that 5 years later, amongst the laughter of my six children, that I still hear the silence of a laughter that is missing.
He is missed, and he is loved.  I still think of him, but the pain is not what it was that first Christmas.
But I had support, and I hope that whether you know someone who may be struggling, or are struggling yourself; that you find the support you need this Holiday Season.

May we be surrounded by love and family and friends, and yet if you need the space this year just to simply reflect; may you have peace and love in that as well.
Merry Christmas to all... from my house to yours.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Remember them; even when they are back home.

I have lived in a dark place. 
A place where there is no sun and the pit is deep. 
And try as I may to climb out,
the earth keeps giving way beneath my fingers.
But what I have not done is live in a dark place
with memories and images
that are etched upon my delicate brain.
I have not closed my eyes and frequently seen things
too graphic to be drawn,
and I have not seen faces, or places I would rather forget.
I am not often afraid to close my eyes,
wondering what will be on the other side of slumber.
And the tears I have shed
have not been for “brothers” whom I have lost.
I have heard noises that are too much for me to bear
when I am trying to shut the world out. 
But the noises are high pitched squeals of delight
from my healthy children,
or music that just does not allow me to concentrate.
But what I have not done is hear noises
that bring me back to a place I would rather not be. 
I do not go to sleep and hear cries that do not exist,
nor do I hear gunfire. 
I do not remember the screams of those lost
and hear the sounds of war. 
I do not open my eyes in panic
because explosions have resounded in my head.
And I have never associated a slamming door
with prisoners being taken away,
or tanks I must enter.

I have lost my appetite,
and said things I probably should not have
while struggling to get a handle on my ppd.

But what I have not done is lost my appetite
and refused to speak of my struggles. 
I have never had to walk around with the stigma
of being a soldier who should be tough enough
to handle their “feelings”. 
I have not had to bury my heart deep in my chest
for fear it may seem that I am not “strong enough”
if I have to receive help from a professional.

And I cannot imagine that life.
I cannot imagine removing myself from reality,
and then trying to enter back into reality
as though there was never a time when I was gone.
I cannot imagine removing myself from family,
and then not having family understand why I have changed
while I was away from them.
I cannot imagine having all of my senses be awakened
by a nightmare,
and then feeling I cannot talk about the nightmare itself,
but must place it on a shelf in my memory.
I cannot imagine giving myself for people
who do not know me,
and then wondering if those people even care
about what I have done for them.

So this Remembrance Day,
I will adorn my jacket with a poppy.
But more than that,
I want our veterans to feel that when they are home,
that we will embrace them back as different and changed
and new.
PTSD, Depression, Anxiety;
or whatever may come home with them
in their back pack of possessions, it’s ok.
And we will welcome them back with open arms,
regardless of whatever they may be afraid to unpack.
Let us stand up for our minute of silence,
but help them break their silence.
Help them feel safe, and be compassionate,
because the trauma of war does not end
when they return home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Take Five....Living the dream and then accepting reality...

I just re-heated my coffee for the 5th time.
I'm not lying, nor exaggerating.  FIVE TIMES!!
How hard is it to make a cup of coffee and just drink it?
Well, that depends; are you a Mom?

Every Saturday morning, I make bacon and eggs complete with toast and sometimes fried potatoes (depending on what time I went to bed the night before, or how much I'm feeling like Superwoman, or let's be honest; it truly depends on how much effort I want to put into making something only half of the brood enjoys).
But after serving 7 mouths, I finally sit down to enjoy my eggs, and yup; my coffee is cold.
I held it up for my son last Saturday.  "Could you put this in the microwave for 30 seconds?"
The debate was whether or not just to make me a new cup, but really; twas no debate at all!
Could you imagine making me a new cup of coffee??!!!! It honestly takes me 3 hours, and 5 re-heats just to have time to drink the first one!!!  Why on EARTH would they make me a new one and prolong this coffee into mid afternoon?!

I do everything in increments of five minutes.
Flip a load of laundry, fold half a load, make a few beds, peel some potatoes, dry a few dishes, vaccuum a room, get dressed, and in between I clean, taxi children, wipe a nose, wipe a bum, wipe some dirt off a face with a spit shine, wipe a hair in place, and threaten to wipe a grin off a face.

And those things that take longer than 5 minutes; well forget about it.  
All things that take longer than 5 minutes you will either cease to enjoy or try to get done in 5 minutes so that you will not be interrupted.
Such things include; showers, eating a meal from start to finish, watch a tv show, getting ready to go out, read a book (or even a chapter of a book), prepare and cook a meal, cleaning your house in one day, enjoying a coffee, time with friends (unless you bring your little minions with to the friends house or "forget" your phone at home), and of course; sleep.

I have found that as my children get older, it does become a little easier.  They are gone during the day, and yet I still find myself ingrained in 5 minutes.

I start to clean my kitchen after they leave, and realize, I should fold the laundry because it's been in the basket since yesterday, and it's sitting on that table I have to wipe.   
When I'm folding some socks and one has a hole, I make my way to the garbage to throw out the sock, and I realize I should empty the garbage.  
As I take the garbage to the garage, I see in the back hall, that my child has left a binder at home, and so quickly slip on my shoes, with no socks (because they have yet to be folded), and drive the binder to school.  
Getting home, I realize the garbage is still by the door, so I finally bring it into the garage. 
Upon entering the garage, there is a coat, which is dirty and should be thrown into the wash, which reminds me the laundry.  Oh yes, I must still fold those socks!  
But when I enter my home to fold the socks, there is one sock that fell to the floor by the closet, and I remember as I reach down to pick it up that yesterday I was going to clean out that hall closet.
I open the closet door;
But what was I doing before all this?
I stand there for 5 minutes and try to go back in my mind to where I was when this all started and then I remember; Oh yes,  I was cleaning my kitchen, and still have not finished!!!

It sounds exhausting, and I should be, by all accounts, ready for a nap; but it's 9 a.m.
My brain is but spaghetti I realize, because one idea (noodle) is very difficult to pull away from the pile without twenty more noodles clinging to it.
I jump from thing to thing, knowing that the final destination is just to empty my plate of what I must do today.

And when I finally sit down at the end of the day with that laundry basket of socks,
I am thankful that my husband did not come home and ask me, "What did you do all day?".
Because my answer would be a resounding "Nothing, and everything".
He wouldn't understand, but that's ok.  It's the same reason he doesn't understand why when I'm in the shower and the three year old is banging on the door that I don't answer her.
I like to think that if she doesn't hear me speak, then maybe she'll just wonder if the shower is running for no reason, and that her Mother is, well; gone.  Gone to a far away place where there is a waterfall, a bar of soap, shampoo, and me; just me.

You may think I'm exaggerating, and although I have been known to do that, I am not. This post took me 5 weeks to write.  
I have had this writing saved in my drafts for FIVE WEEKS! 
I work on it in 5 minute increments when time allows, which is not very often.

And as I quickly try to finish off this post;
I have two teenagers arguing about who ate the left over pizza for lunch. Paw patrol is on in the other room, with a 3 year old steadily increasing the volume.  A 16 year old asking me how long it will be until I'm off the computer, and a bus with 3 more children on their way home from school.  In fact, they'll be here in 5 minutes;
Maybe if I'm lucky, I can finish my coffee from this morning, and go to the bathroom before it is occupied.
But more than likely, I will dump the coffee down the drain, and as I open the dishwasher to load the cup, I will realize that it is half full of clean dishes; because I started to unload it this morning, and then I saw a spider that needed to be killed on the floor, and when I killed it, I realized how dirty my floor was........

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Special Moms for Special Needs?

I forgot my cape today!
And I left my super powers in bed, tucked under my pillow.
I stepped out of bed and I forgot that I should have put on all my super power gear because I needed to be super Mom.
Oh wait; that's just a dream.  It's just me.  A woman who is trying the best she can to navigate through waters she has not been.  
Only I'm on a raft, with no paddle, no compass, and no life jacket.  So I will sit here and enjoy the ride.
My Mom always told me that I wouldn't understand why she did what she did until I had my own children, and boy was she right.
The whole, "...just wait till you have your own"...although I still believe deserved my eye rolling, was so true!! I just didn't know it.

I realize something now that I did not realize in the first 6 years of my son's life.
That for special needs, you don't get special Moms.
You simply get women who fight, love and do not give up...EVER.
I prefer to think of myself as his number one fan, his biggest advocate, his teacher and his rock.  I have no hidden super powers, talents, or gifts.  In fact, I think I'm pretty regular. I'd actually say I'm on a border line of "unspecial" if I was perfectly honest.

I teeter on a fence most days of what to do, what to say, how to say it, and how to live it.
For most people when they see my son, they think many things;
"He's not that bad if he is on the spectrum."  "He's fine". 
And in a perfect world, if he knows what to expect, and the day has the same order, same routine and same shirt, he's ok.
Throw in a class trip, his favourite shirt in the wash, or a day he's been regulating himself so hard to be "normal", this raft I'm on starts to sway and dip and rock in the torrents of waves, and winds that I do not know how to control.
And today I felt I almost slipped off my raft into these waters.  I was folding laundry, and what did I see but this;
To most, what you see is folded laundry.  Piles for kids, and yet, there was my sons on the end.  ONE shirt, and ONE pair of pants.  I realized then, that I must have let him wear the same shirt for almost an entire week!!!  How did I miss that?!  How did I miss that he had but one shirt he wore.  This is typical for him, but usually I try to convince him to change it after 2 wears.  How did I fail as a Special Needs Mom?!!! Should I not be better than this?!

But I am "just" a Mom.  And it's no different I suppose then trying to figure out my other 5 kids.
I'm left trying to figure out not only how to maintain a house with a 16 year old who has teenage problems, and life; and a 3 year old who wants to dress herself; even though those hot pink shorts and light pink shirt are so not the way to go;
but I'm also trying to manage all the in between stages of life, school, home, bookkeeping and a special needs son.

My husband got a letter of recommendation the other day for doing a job so well on renovating a kitchen.
Sentences such as "...his team was absolutely amazing", "...very professional and reliable", "...timely manner", "...are the best in the area", "...beautiful...high end quality.", and " ...Thank you".
Yes, for sure, if you need a house built or a renovation, he is quite something.  He is a "Jack of all trades...and he can do it".  Insert business card here :)
I was happy and pleased for him, honestly I was.
But when I went to my mailbox today, sadly, there was no letter for me.

There was no one telling me that I am doing a great job, or that I am the best Mom in the area.  I do not receive reassurance that I am amazing, or reliable, and there is seldom, if ever a thank you.
My life (and hair) is often messy, deadlines are not always met, quality is sometimes missed, and some days I'd rather let them watch tv than hearing them argue.
But I do love, and I do it FIERCLY.  I do it when I say "No", or when I take away a privilege. I do it when I call the paediatrician weekly, and I'm sure they'd rather not pick up, or when I read more articles than I understand.  I love them when I cook, clean and wash, and when I drive them for their sports and school.  
When I give them chores, or not allow them to do something they so desperately want to do, I am loving them.  They just can't always see it.

But I believe my biggest challenge as a Mom today is trying to teach my children that what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander.  Trying to show them that what I didn't do for them and I do for my son is not spoiling.  I have raised them all so similar, and now I have to raise one different, because he is so.

And it's hard.  Being a Mom is HARD.
So to all you Moms out there;
consider this your letter of recommendation.

Dear Mom;
I am writing this letter to you in reference in regards to all you Moms.
I have the pleasure of being among you, the elite group that call yourself Mom.
You are amazing.  You are holding your profession well and are reliable in fulfilling your task.
Your quality of work is second to none.  You clean and work and do what you do always in a timely manner; the time deemed and set by your employees.
The people you are working with are the best in the area, because they are yours.  
From the 16 year old who thinks you are too hard on them, and the 3 year old who wants to do everything on their own, to the special needs boy who has made life special; they all have individual tasks in your job, which will allow you to push yourself to limits you never thought you'd be able to achieve.
You are the "Jack of all trades", and no matter what needs to be done, you can do it.
You are hard working and I am pleased at how beautiful your heart is, your strength, and your courage.
Thank you Moms for being who you are!

And so, I wish I could go and grab my cape now, while I fly off to do the various things I am called to do.
I sometimes think it would be nice as a Mom to have x-ray vision, super powers, super speed, or super strength, but I don't.
I'm just me, on this raft, floating along the ocean of life, and this raft is not even my own.
I'm clinging on to a rope of faith behind it, because I have precious cargo that is on it.
I do not know where this raft is going, or how I will get there most days.  But all I can hope is that when I hit shore, I have survived. 

I may be beaten, broken, and changed, but I will land knowing that the journey was hard, but that I made it.
And when I take in the sight of the beautiful vacant white sanded beach that I finally land upon...and I think I am alone, and that I have finally finished my travels, I will not be surprised when I hear someone yell, "Mmmmmom".

Because that is what I am, and always will be. But I hope that I will know that the job of Mom and the journey of being Mom, has made me who I am.
And although the journey is tough and surprising, I can only cling to the hope that my children will see that the journey of life is absolutely worth it, and hopefully it prepares them for a journey of their own.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Spectrum; ASD - the truth

If you had talked to me a year ago, words such as "The Spectrum" or "ASD" would have meant very little to me.
Those letters, "ASD", however insignificant or little they may seem, have the power to turn your world upside down while at the same time turn it back the right side up.

I used to think I was crazy.  No, honestly, I did.  I always knew my son was "different".  
But to be honest, after having 2 colicky boys before him, I welcomed the silence.
I had 4 children when my son entered my life; so life was busy.  The fact that he never wanted to look at me, or touch me while I nursed him; the fact that he would fall asleep without cuddles, or rocking; the fact that he showed no desire to be picked up when I would near him were actually welcomed things to me in my already crazy world.  He was a "good baby", but as he neared his first bday, the easy going nature started to grow into a boy who craved isolation.

He was a little "slower", in crawling, walking, and speech; but he was #5 in a family of 5 children.  I figured his easy going nature, and older siblings left him not needing to advance the way my other children had.
With the growth of my little man came the challenges; slowly at first - he did not want to play with other children, or even his siblings; he was quite content to be on his own.  And when he wanted to play, he would just steal a toy and run away.

The challenges became my own; it would annoy me when my son would cringe and cower away from his own grandparents and aunts, when they tried to hug or kiss him.  I felt I was always apologizing for him.  Apologizing he didn't want kisses, apologizing he was stealing toys, apologizing he was rude and disobedient in the store, apologizing when on my last trip I ever took with him to the grocery store, I had to pick him up and place him crying while in the fetal position in the buggy with groceries stacked around him.

When he was 4, my dear friend broached the subject of "Aspergers" with me over coffee.  I had never heard of it, and so turned to our good old faithful friend "Google" after she left.  I'm not going to lie; I cried.  This was my son, and yet, there were differences in what I was reading.
Kindergarten had a new set of challenges.  A boy who only wanted to sit and watch others play, unless he could play with his cousin. A child who would forgo recess to sit and do work one on one with his teacher (bless her heart, because I'm sure she would have rather enjoyed a coffee on her own,lol).
And so after some testing, and talking, we were off to see a paediatrician.

I remember that day clearly a year ago.  The day that I was told that my son was on the Spectrum.  It turned my world upside down, with questions of what now?  Where do I go from here? How do I approach, deal, tell and live with this news?  And yet, it turned my world up right.  I had a new found relief of finally accepting that he was different for a reason, and realizing I had no need to apologize anymore for who he was.

He's still just my boy,
and as he grows, he and I are learning; and we face new challenges.
I have to figure out ways to convince him he is not dying when he scrapes his knee.  The blood curdling screams are sure to make anyone believe he is on his last leg. Or figuring out how to curb his anger.  How do I make him go from 0-60 in 2 mins as opposed to 2.2 seconds.
I have to find ways for him to tolerate loud noises and busy places.  
But the real battles lie among the every day things; 
teaching him to say "hi" to people when they greet him.  Teaching him that he can not mimic people or mock them when they ask questions he does not understand.  Teaching him to say simple things such as, "I did not hear you", or "I do not understand what you're saying".
Trying to help him see that the world is not such a scary place.

And it's exhausting.  I have fought systems, people, and services.  I have spent more time talking, researching and teaching.  I have spent hours on the phone, and computer.
I have realized that some days, I do not have the patience, the know-how, or the ability to do this.  But I have love, and trust, and faith in God, who placed this boy in my life, that I can.

I have come to realize that most people do not understand what it's like to have a child on the Spectrum.  They see a healthy, normal boy, and don't realize the inner struggles behind closed doors.  But I'm ok with that.  I'm ok that some people may never realize or know the truth.
The truth is, that it's a different world.  But it's beautiful.  It's beautiful because he has taught me more about myself then I have ever taught him.  It has given me an opportunity to teach my other children, and it has made me realize that of all things; I am to be humble.  Humble in how I look at, judge, and treat others.

And that's really the truth of it all; and for that, I am thankful. 
I am so blessed to be able to learn from my little boy.

So take a look around you today, and ask yourself;
"Who's going to be able to teach me?"
And will you let them?
Try being teachable; you may find it's a beautiful thing,
and you may be surprised at what you learn about yourself!

"God found some of the strongest women in the world, and unleashed them to be Autism Moms"

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Scrooge Me

I have decided that it is possible to love the Christmas season, and yet be a scrooge.
And so, enter- me.

Yes, my house is adorned with all the normal things you would see.  The lights, the wreaths, the tree, and I believe I may even have a stocking... or 8 hanging around.  
And I love the look of the festive season, I do.
I even went to my Mom's the other week to dress up her home.  I put up the tree, trimmed it, and stood back to admire my work of 2 hours.  Mind you, I did receive a free lunch for my daughter and myself in exchange for all my hard labour; but honest, I would have done it anyway ;)
And please, do not even get me started on the baking, the egg nog, the music, and the time with family and friends.  I love it all.  I do.  But I am a Christmas Scrooge.
This may not sound possible, but it is. 

So what exactly is it that makes me a scrooge during this festive season?
The pressure.
I have a massive disdain for the pressure of this time of year.  No, it's not a really a disdain, it's a loathing of sorts, it may actually even be a kind of hate.

I was speaking to my sister on the phone the other day, and I was glancing at my calendar.  
Let me clarify, that I actually only do this because, to be quite honest, I am stuck there when I pick up the phone.  
We no longer own a cordless; and really, most people call us on our cell these days, but there are the few who call my landline.  
The few people that actually take the time to punch in those 10 (maybe 11 if they're long distance) numbers include people such as my sister, my Mom, and.. the telemarketers. Oh, and those few that don't have my cell number because I have either not given it to them, or we're just not that close that I feel it necessary that they have it.
I suppose now is the time to apologize to that friend who doesn't have my cell number, and calls me on my landline.  If there is such a friend out there; I am sorry.
But I digress.  

So, I was standing there looking at the calendar, and what I saw were 27 little boxes in December that were covered in ink. With my quick and brilliant math skills, I figured out that there are only 4 - FOUR - 4 days that were "free".
The events that encompass this time of year are things such as,
Class Skating, Donating blood, Christmas dinners, Christmas concerts, Kids sleep overs with friends, Christmas parties, Christmas Assemblies, Open Houses & Family dinners. Now on top of this, normal life continues on, and so enters Hockey, Volleyball, Parent/teacher interviews, Birthdays and birthday parties, and keeping up with friends. Are you tired yet?

Now, all of these things are great.  They're fun, they're what remind us of the fact that the holiday season is actually here.  
But I don't like or appreciate the pressure of what is expected of me.
I do not enjoy that some radio stations pressure me to listen to Jingle Bells on December 1st, because they have decided that NOW is the time to be festive.
I love Jingle Bells, and yet am not so convinced that I need to listen to it 24 days before Christmas as opposed to 7.

I appreciate the concerts, the parties, and the get togethers.  I do not however, enjoy the pressure of feeling I must go to one party and leave early to go to another, because everyone, and I mean EVERYONE (in my head) is expecting me to be there.
I do not enjoy the feeling that perhaps I have let  someone down and so I stretch myself thin.  I go where I perhaps do not want to, and give myself to as many functions as possible, when all I really want to do is slap on my yoga pants, and watch netflix.

Oh, and the gifts!!  The hideous pressure of gifts.  
As a couple, we have decided that we are taking our children to Florida in the March Break of 2016.  
And nothing was more liberating than sitting at the supper table one night with six faces around me and saying, 
"Kids, you are getting NOTHING for Christmas this year, because we are taking you to Florida."
Now, after the initial tears, teenage jaws dropping and confused, deer-caught-in-the-headlights-look, they were actually ok with it.
Ok, and really, I was kind of lying.  I am buying them games for in the car, perhaps one needs a swimsuit, and another flip flops.  
But there will be no walking in a store aimlessly trying to spend money because I've spent $100 on my eldest and only $5 on my youngest.
The best part of giving gifts is that no one really expects them.  OK, again, a lie.  The kids expect them.  
But I use to have a list the length of my arm, or maybe my leg, or maybe both put together.  It included my parents, his parents, the piano teacher, the teachers, the coach, the mail lady, the bus drivers,etc.  
That my dear readers, are a LOT of gifts.
Why is it not sufficient to give a card with a candy cane and say THANK-YOU.  Or, as I do quite often, write a poem and give them maybe a little bag with some hot chocolate and marshmallows.  
I fear we have become enslaved into thinking that if we want someone to know we love or appreciate them, that we have to buy a gift.  And not just any gift, NO.  The PERFECT GIFT!
Well, I do not appreciate that pressure.
I would rather buy all 6 of my children a canoe together for the summer than buy 6 shirts, 7 toys, candy, a slinky and maybe that playstation game which doesn't work, because I forgot that I got rid of a perfectly good playstation 3 to upgrade to the 4 because I needed to waste money for Christmas one year. 

So where does all this leave me?
As a flamboyant Christmas Scrooge.
I love the season, but I loathe the pressure of trying to "keep up with" the season.
It's supposed to be a time to reflect on Christ's birth and spend time with family, and friends.

So here is my apology to all those I may offend this holiday season;

If I do not make it to your Christmas party, and offer no excuse; know that I am sitting in my PJs all day with my 6 children watching Santa Clause 1,2,&3, or maybe even ELF.

If I do not show up to the concert you wanted me to attend; please know that I love the music you are singing and I hope that it brings you joy to sing it.

If I do not make it to your Open House, Dinner, or Assembly; please know that I either could not make it to everything, or perhaps there just happened to be a date I had with myself, my couch, netflix and a glass of wine.

And if you do not get that top rated A-1 perfect gift from me this year; know that I still love and appreciate all you do, but you may just have to be OK with a thank-you and a hug this year.

I will sing Jingle Bells now because it is 10 days before Christmas, and I may even crank a City Harmonic song.  
However if you're driving with me tomorrow and I am harmonizing with Adele and her new hit "Hello"; please do NOT touch my radio.
Because I do not feel the need to be pressured to listen to Christmas music, and you may find yourself pushed out of my truck, and left to be picked up by one of those mini vans with the antlers out their doors and a red nose on their grill.

So exscrooge me and my negativity, but I will not be pressured to be something I am not this holiday season.
Merry Christmas everyone!  I do hope that your holiday is filled with happiness, family, friends, memories, and wonderful events; but do it all...with no pressure.