Posts Tagged "momfail"

I'm Impressed. Really.

Posted by on Apr 7, 2011 | 0 comments

One of the hallmarks of autism is an apparent lack of emotional engagement in the outside world.  Autistic individuals often seem to regard happenings and others passively, with little or no reaction, even in an emotionally charged situation.

Thankfully Jack is rich with outward emotion (even though it may not always be the appropriate one).  While he has feelings just like any other child, he’s had to learn how to express them properly, just like he had to learn proper speech patterns.

Watching him work things out like that fascinates me.  I love to ask him questions, like “did you enjoy that walk we took?” or “how did you feel when your brother finished a puzzle all by himself?”  I want to see if what he was experiencing inside jibed with how he physically reacted.  More and more, the two are aligning.

As much as I love being involved in his learning processes, I’m starting to think my innocent queries are wearing on Jack.

Waterfalls

We took a drive through the mountains a few weeks ago, and the melting snow made waterfalls all along our route.  The boys were giddy trying to find them all.  After a while, they grew silent.

“Jack, are you still looking out the window? What do you see?” I asked.

“I saw the waterfalls and I said ‘ooooh’ to them,” he snapped back.

Well alrighty then.  Perhaps I should find a less obvious way to be all up in my son’s emotional development.

Jack says "oooh."

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Special Needs Mama

Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 | 5 comments

Special Needs Mama

There was a convention in Texas not too long ago for mothers of special needs children. More than a support group, rather, encouragement for “special needs moms” to find solace and healing and strength to continue in their everyday lives.  I was shocked that I hadn’t thought of it before.

I am a mother of a special needs child.  I am not a hero, I am not special, I am just a mom.  I have two neurotypical children, and I have one child with high-functioning autism.  I often wonder which of them is more demanding of my resources.

Autism is a roller-coaster, but so is parenting in general.  My days are filled with laughter and tantrums, and sometimes the laughter is manic and the tantrums are epic.  I plan my life around my children, as all moms do.

As I looked at the website for the event, though, I took a step outside my life and saw it with a more objective eye.  What I saw exhausted me.

I have accepted the constant stress and anxiousness and hectic aspects of my everyday life as par for the course.  Who wouldn’t expect to be beaten down a little with three kids under the age of five?  Children, especially very young children, require constant care.  They are needy and want love and attention and games and Mama at all times.  It’s a tough job that is unrelenting.

What I was missing, though, is the fact that there is someone who is not being taken care of in this equation.  Me.

I don’t expect to coddled or supported, other than the emotional (and occasional housework) support I get from my husband.  I am a stay-at-home-mom (sahm), and I feel like I’m constantly having to justify that by being busy every second of every day, as if I weren’t already. I don’t want to be seen as a slacker in pajama pants, even if that’s my go-to uniform.

(They’re comfy and I’m in my own home.  If you come over, I’ll put on real pants. Promise.)

My point is, I think I need help.  Not help cleaning my house (although a little more effort from my husband wouldn’t hurt).  Not help raising my children (hubby does a bang-up job in that department).  Not help seeing my own self-worth.

I need help admitting that the day-to-day effort of raising a special needs child, in addition to two quite “normal” children, is a herculean task.  It’s hard, and I need to give myself a break before I have to take a time-out.

I have been so ensconced in making sure my children are cared for and loved and nurtured and encouraged that I forgot about me.

That’s a lie.  I didn’t forget, I just thought it would be selfish for me to think about myself.  I believe that once you have children, they come first.  Always. I have no problem taking a back seat to the needs of my children.

But to be frank, autism has worn me out.  Autism wants to fight every day.  It wants to make mealtimes and bedtimes hard.  It wants to be rigid in routine, yet throw seemingly trivial situations into complete chaos in the blink of an eye.  Autism wants to wear me down.

My child needs me to be strong and fight back.  All of my boys need me to be the calm in the eye of the storm that never really goes away.

So I’m learning to take the moments when I can.  Right now, for example, I’m sitting in my quiet house while my husband has the kids out at a playground.  I could be baking or catching up on taped shows or exercising or cleaning or any number of things on my endless to-do list, but I’m not.  It’s silent in my home.  The cacophony will resume soon enough, but in this moment I can almost feel my soul healing.  My brain is resting.  I’m recharging.

I would really like to go to one of those conventions for special needs moms someday.  Until then, I’m going to find my happy place in bits and pieces along the way.

A little bit of happy.

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Can You Know?

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 | 2 comments

I am a mom.  I know everything.

Perhaps I am merely a legend in my own mind, but according to my little people, I am the go-to gal for information.  I know what we’re having for dinner.  I know where Lennon’s purple blanket is.  I know how many more times the dvd player will play “Astro Boy” before it closes for the night.

(What, your dvd doesn’t have operational hours?  Pretty much everything around us closes at an inopportune time as far as my kids know.  It would be awesome if no one told them that the ocean is, in fact, open on Mondays.  Thanks.)

I am fully aware that one day my omniscience will come to an abrupt end.  That day almost came too early.  I, the all-knowing mama, did not know the answer recently to one of Jack’s many questions. 

Jack was nonplussed.  “Can you know?”

He was insistent.  The chance that I did not actually know the desired information was not even a consideration.  To Jack, mama knows all.  Period.  He will repeat his questions over and over… and over… and over.  I think he’s convinced I’m just holding out on him, and if he puts the screws to me I’ll eventually either give up or accidently let the truth slip out. 

As much as I want my children to accept my failings as a mere human being, I don’t know if I’m ready for that crushing reality just yet.  I have decided that until Jack is older, I am going to answer these persistent questions with random numbers. 

“Mama, can you know?  Now?”

“Eleven.”

“Huh.  Ok.”

It makes no sense, but it quiets him for a bit.  Maybe he’s mulling over the essential importance of eleven.  Maybe he’s got me figured out.  I hope not.  Not yet.

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Tell Me A Story

Posted by on Aug 1, 2010 | 3 comments

I’d love to come here and say we’ve moved and everything went swimmingly.  We arrived in Canada, found my husband a job and a place to live immediately, moved in and the kids are just grand.

Not exactly.  Ok, not at all.

My husband does indeed have a new job, but it didn’t happen immediately.  A month into our odyssey we’re also still living in my brother-in-law’s basement, and it’s time to move on.  We have amazing family who have gone above and beyond for us, but the bottom line is we have seven (yes, 7) children age six and under living in one home.  It’s a 24-hour preschool.

The boys have taken it in stride, but Jack’s patience is starting to wear thin.  He needs his own place and his own space and his own things.  He needs his alone time.  So do I.

It’ll happen soon, I know.  In the meantime, though, it’s a minute-to-minute situation.  I’m using all of my patience and skills to keep my boys happy and my Jack together. 

I know you usually come here for a laugh or two, but this time I’m asking that of you.  Please, tell me a story.  Make me laugh. I could use a good giggle to get me going again.

I promise to get back to your regularly scheduled jocularity tomorrow.

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Incautious Optimism

Posted by on Jun 16, 2010 | 1 comment

Sometimes I scare myself with my own optimism.  I’m not normally a “glass half empty” kind of gal, nor am I a “half glass full” one, either.  I’m more of a “glass is neither full nor empty – it’s a half a glass” person.  I can see both sides of most arguments, even if I have come down firmly on one.  I like to think I’m a well-informed individual on the issues and things I care about, and that leaving ones’ self willfully ignorant is, well, ignorant.

But on occasion I jump blindly into the abyss. 

An hour ago I had one of my soon-to-be-famous “Ooooooohhhh!!  Let’s do it!!!” moments.  One that will either make family memories to last a lifetime, or be a disaster of epic proportions.  I guess there will be memories either way.

I have mentioned before that we’ve never taken Jack to see a movie in the theatre.  He enjoys movies, but I’ve just never been brave enough to take him to a theatre.  A big part of me thinks he’ll be fine, especially if it’s a film he’s never seen before (lately he’s not into reruns).  Another part of me envisions spending great stretches of time in the lobby with a screaming child or having to drag my other movie-enjoying children home because Jack can’t handle even being in the building anymore.

I still have these worries.  However, an opportunity has presented itself that seems just too wonderful to miss. 

This last weekend we had our last “Sunday Funday” outing with Jack’s ABA Christine.   The same day, at the El Capitan Theatre down the street, was the Toy Story 3 premiere.  Seizing on the opportunity to do something fun for the kids (ok, for me) with an extra set of hands, we decided that standing out in the sun and waiting for a glimpse of Buzz and Woody (and Tim and Tom) was just the adventure we needed.

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We stood outside in the sun for a really long time, almost exhausting the patience of my children.  In Lennon’s case, he was just exhausted.

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Eventually our waiting paid off.

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Most Disney films have their premieres on weekend afternoons so attendees can bring their families.  The afterparties are usually a spectacle, which I had fully expected to see this time as well.  My husband had taken the kids down to see the millions of balloons up and down Hollywood Boulevard for “Up.”  For this film?  Nothing.  Not a toy, nada.  Just characters greeting the stars as they entered the red carpet.

Something smelled fishy in Disney-land.  We decided to investigate.  Again, we were rewarded.  Behind the theatre, on the grounds of Hollywood High School, we discovered this:

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That’s more like it.  Disney set up their own little “Toy Story 3” carnival.  My kids went insane.  They wanted nothing more than to play at the “Toy Story Land carnival” as they called it.  I tried to explain that it’s only for “special” people and we’re not that “special,” but they weren’t having it.  I decided they’re still a bit young for the “inequities of Hollywood” speech, and just told them it was closed.  That they bought.  Of course, they also think the ocean is closed on Mondays, too.  For cleaning or something.

It’s been almost a week since our magical outing, and the boys still haven’t stopped talking about it.  All of a sudden we are all “Toy Story” all the time around here.  Even Jack, who has decided that Buzz Lightyear isn’t quite so scary after all (for now).

Perusing my inbox during a break in the packing today, I came across a helpful email from Disney announcing the “Toy Story 3” opening day on Friday.  For kicks, I pulled up the El Capitan website.  I figured maybe I would take Lennon to the morning showing while Jack was at his last day of school.  Jack wouldn’t like a movie right now anyway, right? 

Of course, that’s not what happened.  If it were, this would be a pretty boring post.  What I discovered on the website is not only is the “Toy Story Fun Zone” open to the public for the entire summer, but every movie ticket includes an hour and a half of  “Toy Story” fun there.  $18 each for the kids and $20 each for the adults got us not only the movie (with all of the old-timey splendor the El Cap has to offer), but a trip to Buzz and Woody land as well.

I didn’t stop to think.  I bought us all tickets.  Ok, I did think a little bit.  I figured we would buy Jack a ticket, but only take him to the Fun Zone and not the movie.  But then the 10am showing sold out, so we had to purchase tickets for the 4pm showing, when Jack would be out of school.  New plan: take all three children to the movie and the Fun Zone. 

This is where my optimism got the best of me.  You see, the movie is in 3D.  My kids have never been to a movie, let alone a 3D offering, which has all the wicked potential of a sensory-overloaded experience. Still, I powered on.

I rationalized that since we were already willing to buy Jack a ticket to a film he wasn’t going to see anyway, we might as well let him decide for himself whether or not he wants to watch it.  If he decides it’s too much, David can take him outside (or to the Disney ice cream and gift shop, conveniently located next to the lobby). 

I told the boys about this plan right after I bought the tickets.  I thought they might be happy or a little excited.  I did not expect the unbridled joy and screeching and leaping in the air.  The constant reminders that “we’re going to the ‘Toy Story’ carnival, Dad!” and “on Friday we’re going to see Buzz and Woody, Mom!”  The utter happiness on the faces of my boys just thinking about what fun they’d be having, spending 3 1/2 hours ensconced in “Toy Story” bliss.

I am charging into the unknown, clinging to my optimism.  I am convinced that even if the movie experience comes to a fiery demise, we will all have fun at the “Toy Story 3 Fun Zone.”  Even if that only means we go in, take some photos and leave. 

My children have the amazing ability to rewrite history, and I’m putting all my faith in that for this adventure.  The last time we went to the beach Lennon fell face first into the surging tide and Jack, against his better judgement, darted into the surf to retrieve some seashells.  There were many tears and chattering teeth, but later, when asked about their favorite parts of the day, they seemed to recall a different experience.  Lennon’s  favorite thing was “swimming in the ocean,” and Jack’s was “picking up shells.”  I nodded and smiled, thinking what a difference a few hours and dry clothes can make.

Maybe everything will be fine in “Toy Story 3” land.  If not, we can always pretend we had an awesome time.  Eventually it’ll be the truth.

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