Changes are hard

Sunday night the kids and I talked about the changes that were going to come our way on Monday.

Mommy starts school again on Monday, just like you do. We will wake up early. We will go to school everyday. Mommy will pick you up from school after snack. Mommy will be home every night.

We have been having this conversation and this social story since winter break started in December. The only thing that changed is the start day.  Monday came and we woke up early. Lil man and Lil girl both made it out of the house on time without meltdowns! (win for me)

As we get into the car and are driving to school lil man tells me “It’s sleep time, sun sleep.”  Lil girl puts her two cents in “sun sleep.” Yes kiddos it is dark out. I’m sorry that you are having to be to school at 6:30 in the morning before the sun has even come up in the morning.  As we finish our short drive to the preschool and get out the car lil girl is excited to be back. Lil man knows that it is his job to press the smiley face so I can sign him in.

But now comes the change … We don’t drop off in the cafeteria for breakfast, it’s still too early for that. We don’t go to lil man’s class because his teacher isn’t there yet. He and his sister both go to the two year old room where they will wait for their teachers to come in for the day.

Where was mommy’s head? I didn’t think to prep them for this. How will they handle this change?

Lil girl was great about it. It was her class and her teacher so it was normal. Lil man threw himself on the ground crying as I tried to leave. He stood up as I walked out the door and ran after me.  Change is hard! 

At the end of the day Daddy and I pick up the kids from school. They tell us that lil girl will be transitioned into the three year old classroom. That it will be done in a single day.

Mommy isn’t ready for this! She isn’t able to fully communicate. She isn’t developmentally where the other three year olds are. She is below where most two year olds are. 

She made it into the three year old room with no issues. I watched her today when I picked her up. She loves the room and the new toys. She loves to sit by the other children doing her own thing. But she is there. She was ready even though I wasn’t.

Change is hard. It’s hard for a mom to let go and watch her children go into a new situation when you aren’t sure how they will do. It’s hard to accept that children change and grow. But change also teaches you things. This change taught me that lil girl loves the babies in the classroom and all the kitchen stuff to play with. She loves that she can do her own thing and still not be worried about the others in the classroom.

Lil girl taught me that while I might not be ready for it, she was and she is happy there. Change is hard, but needed if a child will progress to the next step. Whatever that may be for that child.

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Remembering who you are

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Ohio State Marching Band

Friday night football games were a way of life for me in high school. I was the ultimate band dork! I had dreams of attending Ohio State and being part of this prestigious band that dots the “I” in script Ohio. Ultimately I did not attend Ohio State, rather I stayed in Florida to build the life I have today.

Fast forward 12 years to present day.  I have three beautiful children, I am finishing my degree in Special Education in May of this year. I have an amazing husband that supports me. He helps me find myself when I lose myself in the family roles and the delicate balancing  act that these roles require.

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Before the game

This year my mom helped one more of dreams come true. I got to see Ohio State play live and in a bowl game no less. My amazing Hubby took over parenting duties for the day so I could be free to be me. For one night I was able to go out and know that my children were being taken care of by their daddy. As I got ready I realized I was doing things for me that I rarely do anymore.  I shaved my legs, I put on pants that were not sweats or yoga pants, I did my hair and I did my make up. I left for the game feeling like a woman and not just a tired mommy and wife.

With two children with special needs and one who is as typical as can be but still needs more attention to combat the amount of attention that the younger two need, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. It’s easy to forget that before you were a mommy or a wife you were a woman. Not only did I get to feel like a woman. I got to spend a lot of time with my mom and my sister bonding in a way we have not done in a very long time. My mom has been a strong support to me throughout all of my life. She has stood there and pulled the strong hand when she had too, even though I know it nearly killed her to do it. She knew when to push me and when to let it slide. She did all of this so that I could become the best version of me. That is what a mom does, this is the type of mom I strive to be for all of my children

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In the midst of this great night and getting to be the part of me that is rarely seen these days because of all the other roles I have to fill in, I came to a realization. In order for me to be the kind of mom my mom is, I need to take care of me. I am not just a mom, wife, teacher, advocate, friend, sister or any of the other roles I take on. I am all of these and more. If I intend to keep going at the pace I do for any length of time without burring out I need to take time to take care of me in the process.

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I’ve got my sexy jeans on, my make up done, and getting my drink

Sometimes we just need to put our make up on, a pair of nice jeans, some heals and live it up like the beautiful women we are.

Here’s to remembering to put your sexy jeans on, do your hair and make up, get your drink and celebrate being the best version of you!

Judgmental stares

Dear Walgreens Employee and Shift Manager,

As Walgreens is a proud supporter of the Dan Marino Foundation 4th annual walk about autism I expect a little more from you in the area of awareness. However I should know better.

When my three year old daughter is having a melt down because she is fixated on a baby doll that she can not have at the moment it is really not your place or the time to look over your shoulder as the cashier to your manager and ask “Does your child act like that?”

You see, as I told you my child has autism. She is not reacting this way because she is a “spoiled brat.” Your unkind eye rolls are not going to change the fact that she is having a meltdown. This is not a temper tantrum. She is fixated on a baby doll. She is always fixated on a baby doll. It does not matter that she has on in the car or another 19 baby dolls at home to play with. She is fixated because all she plays with are baby dolls.

This mommy would love to educate you more about autism, but when you questioned her age and put her, by size, at four. I told you she was three and you rolled your eyes at her behavior. Well again I explained that she has a developmental disability and that while her chronological age is three she is functioning at the level of an 18 month old.

During a moment like this I am not sure what is going through your mind. What you think of my parenting skills or of how I should be treating my child’s behavior. My only focus at that moment is keeping my child from harming herself or others. I don’t have the time to educate you or any of the other three cashiers that are staring at my child and me.

In those four sets of eyes I am watched and in those moments I am judged, I am alone. I have accepted my children and the challenges their differences bring to the table. What I have not accepted is the ignorance that the general population has brought to the table. I have not accepted your judgmental looks and snarky mean spirited comments as the norm.

This mommy, will continue to educated the masses, but she will not be made to feel less by anyone!!!

Regards,

One pissed off mommy

Roller coaster

I am angry at you! Yes you, the ones who are making it impossible for my children to succeed in the typical functioning world.

You push these children aside and leave the parents to feel helpless at best.

I am jealous of you! Yes you, the one with the two year old that is speaking in full and clear sentences.

You don’t understand how hard it is when your child has words but can’t use them to tell you what they want or when they are hurting. Yet I am grateful that either of them have speech to share their words with me.

I am sick of you! Yes you, the mom or dad that is bragging on Facebook about that trip you are taking while your family takes care of your kids for you.

I hate that I cannot find a sitter that is capable of watching my two children with special needs. I hate that my own family cannot even watch the children long enough so that I can share a hot dinner with my hubby or hell take a nap.

I don’t want to hear it! So you couldn’t sleep for one night. I have lost track of the nights I go without sleep.

I am so angry, it seems like it is at the whole world, but honestly I am angry at myself for having these feelings. I am at a breaking point and need to have some time to regroup so that I can take care of my family. We are quickly approaching the winter holiday where all three of the kids will be home. Where I will spend 14 days with no help and no breaks. 14 days of meltdowns over schedules being off and things being different.

I DON’T WANT TO BE ANGRY ANYMORE!

Autism Speaks does not SPEAK for HIM OR HER OR ME

I have remained silent on the Call To Action published by Mrs. Suzanne Wright …. until now!

Each day across this country, those three million moms, dads and other care-takers I mentioned wake to the sounds of their son or daughter bounding through the house.  That is – if they aren’t already awake. Truth be told, many of them barely sleep—or when they do – they somehow sleep with one ear towards their child’s room—always waiting. Wondering what they will get into next. Will they try to escape? Hurt themselves? Strip off their clothes?  Climb the furniture? Raid the refrigerator?  Sometimes – the silence is worse.

These families are not living.

They are existing. Breathing – yes.  Eating – yes. Sleeping- maybe.  Working- most definitely – 24/7.

This is autism.

We are talking about the parents here. Let’s look at this realistically. It is true that many of us don’t sleep much. I know in this house sleep is a constant battle. Yes I worry every night that my children will wonder off from the security of their home, and because of that I make sure there are alarms on all doors and windows in the house. Isn’t that what a parent does? We keep our children safe no matter what it takes. That is not specific to autism, that is specific to being a parent of a child. Honestly my children stripping their clothes off are the least of my worries in the middle of this night. We are not just existing, we are living. OUR AUTISM has shown us a new way to look at the world. Our Autism is not the end all of our children’s life, it is a different path we take to ensure they succeed in the ways that they can.

I won’t sugar coat autism either. There are days I scream from the mountain tops that I FLIPPIN HATE what autism has taken from my child. Those days, days like today and the majority of this week SUCK, but that isn’t every day.

Life is lived moment-to-moment.  In anticipation of the child’s next move.  In despair.  In fear of the future.

This is autism.

I live my life in the moment, not “moment-to-moment.” Actually we have schedule and a routine that we follow. It is pretty much the same thing every day, but never the same day. If one of my children need to adjust something in our schedule or change where we are going we do it. I do ask a lot of my children as they learn to cope with the NT world around them, but I also allow them to have a “get out of jail free” pass when it is too much. Does this mean my life is lived in despair? Not a chance in hell. Do I have days where I am sad, where I cry, and scream this is not fair? Most definitely. Do I fear the future? Sometimes. I worry that my child will not be able to take care of himself and wonder who will do it. Will his older sister take care of him, who will take care of my youngest if she can’t do it herself. That is part of autism or any developmental delay actually.

AUTISM SPEAKS DOES NOT SPEAK FOR OUR AUTISM! OUR AUTISM SPEAKS FOR ITSELF! 

I speak for my children, I speak for my students with their parents, and I will not allow anyone to say my child is missing. I will not stand quietly while Autism Speaks instills fear of my child into those around him.

Will you allow Autism Speaks to speak for you and your autism?

I have taken quotes from the original post at Autism Speaks. To read the full post please visit: http://www.autismspeaks.org/news/news-item/autism-speaks-washington-call-action

Words from me to you

Dear Son,

I have watched you grow from before you were born. I have been with you through each step of your journey. Somedays I have cried tears of anger and sadness and others I have cried tears of joy and pride. Today though I did not cry as I watched you decided to pull a wall around you and your world.

Sunday morning you woke up and decided you were not going to speak. You see, for me this hurt. I wanted to scream at you to speak. I wanted to shake the words out of you. Those words are there, yet you choose not to use them. We have spent hours upon hours working to get to your words and here you are five years later locking them up inside you.

I know you don’t understand why I am frustrated right now, but I am. I hate watching you pull yourself into this world where only you know what is going on. You lose all eye contact when you do this and it scares mommy. I feel like I am losing the little boy I know when you go to this place.

I think it would be pretty cool if you could take me to this place with you. I know it’s got to be pretty amazing since you have been going there more and more these days.

Son, I know you don’t understand but Mommy misses you so very much these days. I am learning to accept that this world of yours is a safe place and that you will go there when you need to. I am learning to accept that you are not gone, rather just handling your thoughts in a way that you know how. Mommy does that too, I just don’t have any one to say “I wish you weren’t there” to me.

I can’t promise you I will always be the one who is okay with you going to your world, but I will always be the one who loves you no matter where you go or what words you decided to use and when.

So you think she wants …

Little girl turns 3 in just one short month. I’m not sure where the time has gone, but it has gone. While I will readily say she is a smart and talented little girl, I will also say I wish I could buy her a new type of gift. Selfishly I wish that like many other three year olds I could grace her with a new Big Wheels with her favorite character Minnie Mouse. I selfishly wish she had the motor skills to peddle the trike down the sidewalk like many of her peers. I selfishly wish she would not point to the same baby doll/bottle/stroller that she already has 5 of because I want her to have something new and exciting.

Following my selfish wants for her birthday I have selfish wants for her christmas as well. I want to buy her a gift that she will be so excited to open that she rips the wrapping paper off in excitement to get to her new 3 cheers Minnie Mouse. I want her to have this because she loves minnie and it isn’t  baby doll or barbie. The reality is, even if I buy this for her she may be excited for Minnie, but she will be terrified once it starts to cheer and dance and move. Honestly she may be more focused on ripping the wrapping paper into small pieces because that’s how she rolls.

Despite my selfish wants for her birthday and christmas, I will go out and get her yet one more baby doll and some more barbie dolls because that is what she loves. I will wrap her gifts in Minnie Mouse  wrapping  paper and enjoy whatever the holiday and celebration may bring.

In our world birthdays and Christmas tend to be just another day. Another day that brings too much stimulation and too many new faces in a world that thrives on sameness and their form of controlled chaos.