Splash pad

Splash pad

It’s hot in Texas, ridiculously hot. Sometimes the only relief I can offer my kids from the boredom of staying indoors is a trip to a park with a splash pad. It distracts them for a while and D has an especially good time being the water bug he is. That doesn’t mean I can let my guard down though.

On our last visit a little boy about five years old approached D. He wanted the toy my son had in his hand. D didn’t really have an interest in playing or sharing so he guarded his toy and kept running away from the boy. Frustrated, the boy told his mother that D had his toy. My anxiety went through the roof. How do I diffuse this situation and tell this boy’s mother he’s lying? Before I was able to stand up another mom spoke out and said, “No, that’s his toy. He’s been playing with it this whole time.”

Crisis averted. The mom that spoke up was cool, calm and collected. She had been watching also. Why had I not been able to muster up the same confidence as quickly as she did?

The kids continued to play and finally the little boy asked my son what his name was. D didn’t make eye contact and kept playing by himself, from the outside it looked like my son did not hear him but I knew he did. Again the boy approached, asked and did not get a response. After the fourth time he went and got his mother. If you have read my post When Other Moms Are Rude you’ll understand why I gave them their space. (Long story short: D and I were callously rejected at a park when I tried to explain he had autism and could not speak.)

She got down to her son’s eye level and told him to ask again nicely. At this point I got up and walked toward them. I told them his name and explained that he could not yet respond because he has autism. I wasn’t ready for the response I got though. Her jaw dropped and she said, “Oh! I’m so sorry! I had no idea!” I just said, “it’s ok” and walked back to my seat in the shade. Her response felt a bit much, at the most I expected an acknowledgment like “oh ok”. Instead I felt awkward because in her mind autism warranted over-sympathy. I really wanted to tell her that it’s just a word that means he learns differently than other children, but I didn’t.

Did I really have to?

When I see or meet other families with children on the spectrum I acknowledge them first with an understanding smile. It’s a silent camaraderie. If we happen to strike up a conversation – great! If not, it’s perfectly fine. We have our hands full as it is, worrying about having a coherent exchange is at the bottom of our list of priorities. We know our struggles are different but at the root of it all are our children, bound by the same diagnosis.

Our Nanny

Our Nanny

We have never really been a fan of babysitters.  In fact, all of our previous experiences with sitters have all been negative.  Since D is no longer in school we ran into a scheduling issue that forced us to look for a nanny.  (I am using the terms babysitter/sitter/nanny sporadically because I honestly don’t know the difference at this point.)  We registered on care.com and got a couple of hits, but of course the sitters we felt were qualified were not available during the hours we needed or were looking for something full-time.  We got a promising hit just in time, we met her, introduced her to the kids and she has been with us for a couple of weeks now.  I don’t really have any complaints, which is rare for me.

A couple of days ago she told me she was seeking treatment in an out-of-state center for mental illness and would not be able to care for our children past a certain date.  I was immediately conflicted.  I was glad she was trying to take care of herself and find help.  On the other hand, I wanted to ask how come she didn’t disclose this information when we first met her.  It took me a minute to get my bearings and tell her we wish her the best, after all she had been great with my kids up until this point.

I couldn’t stop myself from thinking of the nanny who harmed the two children in her care in New York.  Were there no warning signs?  Should I rethink letting her to continue to care for our children in the meantime?  We don’t have any other options as far as childcare.

We have an incredibly hard time finding sitters we feel comfortable caring for our children and if I’m being honest I feel maybe she should have been more upfront about this in her interview/profile/application.  In a way I almost feel like it’s none of my business but doesn’t it become my business when she comes into our home to care for our children?

Look At What You Have – Quote 2

Look At What You Have – Quote 2

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

I personally love this quote because I find it to be especially true.  The way I interpret it is if you are not happy with what you have, you’ll never be happy with more.  My husband and I both come from humble beginnings.  When we met we both had our own one bedroom apartments and we were as happy as clams.  As our relationship grew serious we decided to move in together.  We settled into another one bedroom apartment and we felt so blessed to have the little things we did.  As time went on we bought our home and started a family.  We have always been grateful for the things we had in the moment, not thinking it would increase with time.

The opposite is true for my mother.  I have often explained to her that she is impossible to satisfy.  She is only temporarily happy with the things she obtains.  She is always pining to go on vacation or get a bigger home.  Our conversations are almost always related to money in some way, shape or form:  how she doesn’t have enough or wants more of it.  The stress of not having enough always drives her to ask to go on vacation so she can forget her financial debts.  Or she is asking for a bigger home when she complains about having to clean the house she has.

One of my life goals is to teach my children to enjoy and appreciate what they have instead of focusing on what they don’t.  I want them to be successful, yes – but above all, I want them to be happy human beings.

Party of Five

Party of Five

WARNING:  I got into some graphic detail about human bodily fluids in this post.

There was a pain in my left underarm last Saturday, I was mildly concerned about it but too busy to care.  It was gone by the time I woke up the next morning so I forgot all about it.  My cycle had ended two days before that so I figured it was related.  I got a surprise later on that day, I had what looked like a dark brown discharge.  I recognized it as the discharge at the end of my period, only I had just had it.

After a few days I searched the internet (the best place to go if you want to be misinformed and then fear that you’re dying) and saw some posts on a parenting forum that described the bleeding as normal right before mothers found out they were pregnant.  This wasn’t the case with me though, I mean I’ve already been pregnant twice before so I would know what the indicators are, right?  Later that day my husband bought me a pregnancy test.  I knew it was going to be negative, until it wasn’t.

As the urine soaked up through the “stick” I looked at the window.  The horizontal line was creeping toward the middle of the window and I thought I saw a trace of a vertical line.  What?  My only instinct in that moment was to close my eyes and wait three seconds, when I opened up my eyes the hazy vertical line was now almost solid blue against the horizontal line.  I set it down on the toilet roll holder, washed my hands and walked out of the bathroom.  The box said I had to give it three minutes for an accurate result, and that’s exactly what I was going to do.

Needless to say, three minutes later that plus sign was still there.  I still can’t understand what exactly washed over me in that moment.  I think I was too terrified to be happy because my husband and I will be officially outnumbered in less than a year.

Initially, it didn’t go over so well with my husband.  It took him a couple of days to grasp what was about to happen.  I took a couple more tests from different brands and they all confirmed what the first had said.

I feel like I climbed a mountain only to see the rest of it reached into the clouds.  I was worried when we found out we were pregnant with Baby A but this is different.  This is surreal to me.  It’s still too early to know anything other than implantation is complete, the oxidized spotting and cramping have stopped.  The placenta is forming in my womb and my uterus is getting ready for expansion.  Here we go.

Health

Health

Our anniversary was a couple of weeks ago and I think we got through the first year fairly unscathed.  We were able to get a baby sitter for a few hours and went to see a movie.  This is a big deal for us.  We don’t really trust anyone with our kids and we haven’t been to a movie in over a year, I’d guess closer to two.

We decided to treat ourselves to a nice theater where we could have reserved seating, dinner and a movie.  I ordered a Dr. Pepper and popcorn because it was a special occasion.  Right before the movie started I ordered a turkey burger.  This was a two and a half hour movie so I wanted to be sure I didn’t get the munchies halfway through.  It was acceptable as far as turkey burgers go.

About an hour into the movie I noticed my left heel was starting to go numb, I chose to ignore it because I didn’t want to un-recline my seat.  After 15 minutes it became unbearable and I felt the same happening to my right heel.  My circulation was strained.  It was there in the middle of a movie theater that I realized the extra work that I was putting on my heart.  I could visualize it struggling to pump blood to my extremities.

I know my body will not hold up for much longer if I don’t take action now.

It doesn’t help that what’s constantly glamorized is women giving birth and fitting into their pre-baby clothes a week later.  That wasn’t a direct Kate Middleton reference, but if the stiletto fits.  As if I’m the only woman in the world who isn’t on speaking terms with her abs.  Between the stretch marks and loose skin, we may never meet again.

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed every step of the journey that led me here but it’s time to find a way back.  Not necessarily back to what I used to weigh or look like before I had my children but somewhere sustainable.

The point is, I have to get this weight off of me.  I need to find time to get healthy again soon.  It won’t be easy, but admitting there is a problem is half the battle, right?

Balancing Act

Balancing Act

How does everyone do it?

I feel I always see moms have it all together, all the time. Not one hair out of place on their heads or their children, not even the need to raise their voice above a whisper. Meanwhile, I’m the banshee chasing both my kids everywhere.

I don’t wear makeup, I can’t figure out how to apply it without looking like I gave myself a black eye — so I wash and go, but still and yet I manage to look completely disheveled or mid-frenzy.  In short, sub-par to the other moms I encounter.

D has a classmate who’s mom always has a perfectly made up face and hairstyle to match. I keep my awe to myself for fear of coming off as inappropriate, but seriously how does she even get out of the house? My stress levels rise to the red zone when we take more than 20 minutes to leave the house. (Basically every day.)

This isn’t exclusive to me either. Today I walked into my house to find both my kids covered in red marker. I haven’t found the original red Sharpie they used but I suspect they managed to use up all the ink so I’m not that worried about it.

Our house is usually in a phase of disarray but it’s not for lack of trying. We are in the process of hiring, dare I say, a maid. We both work full time on opposite schedules and barely high five in the mornings when we see each other.

In recent months I’ve been promoted and that comes with added responsibilities, which translates to more time at the office.  What is interesting to me is I took the job because I thought it would help better provide for my children, the downside is I see them less.  What was the actual gain here?  Is it worth it?

My hope is to give my children the best childhood I can while also teaching them important values and morals.  For example, how do you teach the importance of financial stability without promoting greed?  Parenting is probably the hardest human trial we willingly enter.

When Other Moms Are Rude

When Other Moms Are Rude

About a year ago I was at the park with D.  Summer in Texas can be brutal so we like to play as early in the day as we can or early evenings.  I remember it was a Sunday morning because it was our best chance at having the park to ourselves.

There was another mom there with her son who looked to be around the same age as D.  At this point, my son was still very non-verbal.  He could not independently say hello or goodbye.  Eventually, our two kids met and her son addressed mine and asked his name.

After the third time he asked I knelt down to his level and gently explained to the little boy that my son could not speak.  I looked up at his mother and she didn’t have an expression on her face.  I know parents are uncomfortable with strangers speaking to their children so I said to her, “he is non-verbal and has autism so we are still practicing with hellos.”

She yanked her son by the arm and left without ever acknowledging our presence.  I will never know what went on in her head, and quite frankly, I don’t care.  What an incredibly rude thing to do.

I was hurt of course.  I am no stranger to rejection but this was different.  This was another parent openly displaying their disgust for my child.  How could she see my son as an affront?

She was dressed in black leggings, a peach racerback shirt, a blue drawstring sack, aviator shades, her hair was tied back and she was wearing a headband.  Regular suburban mom, right?  I feel like this was the parent version of Mean Girls.

Autism awareness is important and so is acceptance.  Yes, we have come very far in a decade but there is still work that needs to be done so our kids have a fair shot in this world.  After all, our children will inherit the Earth.

Stay positive and spread joy.