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.

Aisle 12

Aisle 12

I went grocery shopping by myself this weekend, I usually have D or Baby A with me but this time I was alone.  It wasn’t the first time I had this opportunity but I always feel like I’m missing something when I don’t have them with me.  The upside:  I was able to focus more on what I actually needed to get instead of herding kittens.

I’m past being embarrassed by, “Sto-” “C’mere” “No” “Wai-” “Get dow-” “What are y-” “Don’t”, etc.  It felt strange to think in full sentences.

I pushed my cart to a checkout lane, acknowledged the cashier and bagger when they greeted me and typed in my reward card information.  I noticed the young man waiting to bag my groceries was not picking up the items as they came down the belt to him.  He finally leaned over the pile, almost parallel to the floor, and began stimming.  It was a sort of rapid wrist twist that caused his fingers to make a popping sound.  It lasted about 20 seconds and afterward he stood up and seemed fine.

He looked into the distance and was not putting the groceries in bags and I made it a point to wait until he started to ask if I could assist him.  He never made eye contact and simply replied, “Sure.”  I began bagging my items alongside him and remember thinking that I was so proud of him.  This is someone I’ve never met before and yet I feel like I know a tiny bit of his struggle.  As if this somehow connected us on a non-existent level.

When I finished loading my truck I sat and thought about him.  I hoped he was being respected by all the customers he came across.  That they be understanding, kind and without judgment toward this young man who was working harder than they could know.

It gave me hope for my son also.  A reassurance that he will exceed all expectations.

ARD Meeting

ARD Meeting

Last Monday was rough. I had D’s ARD meeting, if I remember correctly it stands for Annual Review/Dismissal. There is something about these meetings that raises my anxiety but I haven’t quite figured out what that is yet. I still have mixed emotions about how it went.

It started out by highlighting his goals and accomplishments for the past school year. The speech pathologist went over how much progress he’s made and what his areas of improvement are. His compliance needs work, that’s not to say he doesn’t work hard but he only works when he wants to. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

The occupational therapist went over how he is mastering vertical and horizontal lines and that he likes taking turns with her. Currently, he is working on drawing a circle. Same comments about compliance as the speech pathologist.

His teacher had nothing but praises and again brought up compliance. She also brought up an assessment, one of a million that I can’t remember the acronym for, and stated that his communication is equivalent to 0-18 months still. I couldn’t hear anything she said after that for ten seconds. Her lips kept moving but nothing comprehensible made it to my brain. If I’m being honest, that’s not what I wanted to hear.

When I was able to focus again, she was saying that D needed to be in a PPCD 2 classroom next year. Another ton of bricks. He would benefit greatly in a classroom with peers that were on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, this was her reasoning. When I caught my breath, she said, “it’s a good thing.”

In all reality, it probably is. I just need to learn how to reign in my anxiety as an autism parent and learn to trust professional opinions.

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.