Friday, January 30, 2015

The Birthday Couch

My Junior year in college, I was living with 3 other girls - great friends.  One November night, 2 of the 3 came home to our raggedy crappy apartment with a boom and a crash into our kitchen, which is where the back door opened up to.  My bedroom was right off the kitchen.

They started yelling.

"Lauren!!!  Come out!  Happy birthday!!!  LAUREN!!!!"

My birthday was a few weeks away, but with these hysterical ladies, who knows what they were up to?

Which is exactly what I was thinking when I opened my bedroom door to see A and G, triumphantly holding up their arms, yelling "TA DAAAAA!!!!"

And they joyously presented me with.....a crappy, raggedy, broken couch.  They were laughing hysterically.

They told me they found it, and that it took them about 2 hours to carry it home.  It was heavy.  And if I remember properly, there was snow and ice on the ground.

This could not have been easy to bring to me!  I laughed as they asked "don't you LOVE it?"

I thought it was so funny.  I thought it was less funny as it sat in our kitchen for about 2 weeks.

We finally moved it into our living room, and if memory serves, filled the completely hollowed out section of the couch with a bean bag chair, so people could sit on it.  This old gross college couch became a part of our home.

Fast forward to 2014.  One of these ladies, who is one of my closest friends, lives around the block from us with her family.  I have loved having her so close, as now we not only share wonderful memories of college fun and living together in Boston after graduation, but we also share friends, and our kids going to the same schools, and all that our adult lives bring to us.

How lucky am I to have her???

Anyway, last spring, Sean said to me "Lauren, that couch in our bedroom is pretty ragged.  Don't you think it's time we got rid of it?"

Suddenly, I got the best idea.  THE BEST IDEA EVER.

My dear friend A's birthday was coming up.  I knew just what to get her.

Our ripped up couch.  In her front yard.

It was so hard not to let the secret slip, as I often saw and spoke with her.  All I would say is, "I have the best birthday gift for you - you're going to love it!"

Finally the day came - A's birthday.  The couch is a really light Camp Couch, so after Sean helped me load it into the car, and after I knew she had left for work, I drove over to her house, and lovingly placed the couch near her front door.  With a birthday sign.





I giggled all day.  

And when A got home, I got a phone call where we both laughed and laughed and laughed.

I love those kind of laughs, don't you?

Spring is around the corner...I wonder what I should get A for her birthday this year?  MWAH AH AH!!!!!



Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Kind of Drunk Am I?!?!

I'm just over 3 years 6 months sober.

Yay me!

When I meet new people at a social gathering and they offer me drink, I politely tell them that I don't drink.  Some ask why.  My carefully crafted reply is this: "I'm so good at it that's it's not fair to everyone else."

It's true.  Both the statement itself and that I say it out loud.

Since I quit drinking, and if I'm talking about it with a friend, I always find myself saying "Well, you know, I wasn't that bad.  I never once drove drunk and didn't wake up and drink all day.  That was never me."  All that is true too.

Which got me to thinking - what kind of drunk AM I?

I know I was a fun drunk.  I know that there are some of my friends out there reading this, thinking "Yes she was!!!  So much fun!!!"

But I wasn't much fun to Sean, who had to get me home, or to my kids, who missed me the next day as I slept off a wicked hangover.

I was the kind of drunk who couldn't stop at one drink.  Ever.  Family functions, dinners out, girls' night, whatever.  I could never have just one.  And I also used to wake up not remembering everything from the night before.  Not every time, but a lot.  I was always scared.  Who did I offend? What did I say?  Did I drunk Facebook?  Drunk dial?  Oh god it was mortifying.  I felt bad all the time.  I was always ready with a joke to laugh off my behavior, should anyone call me out on it.  I walked around feeling nervous and guarded, always.

That's why I stopped.  I just took it too far and was sick of feeling badly all of the time.

Now I know that some readers may be thinking, "Who cares?  Once a drunk, always a drunk."  Others may be thinking that I'm weak for not being able to control my drinking.  A lot of you may be thinking that I used it as a crutch, to deal with pain and struggle.

You all are right.

And you all are entitled to whatever opinion you want to have about it.  Everyone makes decisions based on their own experiences.

So I guess what's most important is not what kind of drunk you think I am, but what kind of drunk I think I am.

I think I am a strong fierce cold turkey quitting never having a sip since June 30, 2011 proud wife proud mom proud Lauren FORMER drunk.  With cute shoes.  Always with cute shoes.  And a big, big smile.

That's who I think I am.



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Comments Section

Sharing my writing has been a very interesting experience for me.

For the most part, I have received very positive feedback.  I have had the wonderful opportunity to touch base with other autism parents, and it always helps me feel less alone.

I have also received some negative feedback.  Among other things, I have read comments saying that I discount my son’s feelings.  That I should be grateful for every second with him.  That I should be ashamed of myself for not thinking of adults with autism.

I know that everyone has their unique perspective.  If I was an adult with autism, my thoughts would be for the writer’s son when he himself is an adult with autism.  I get that.  

What I don’t get is others thinking that because they read a piece of mine, they know what I'm about, 100%.  That I believe my life is hell.  It isn’t.  I never said it was.  I did say that sometimes we go through “autism hell” because we do.  My whole family does.  TJ does.  Peter does.  

(We also go through teenage hell, PMS hell, grumpy hell, I'm-having-a-bad-hair-day hell...you get the gist of it.)

I also talk about how we get through it, all of us, as a team.  We are a tough team.  We are a loving team.

I write about small glimpses of time.  A tiny slice of an event.  How it effects us.  How we cope.  Or how we fail to cope.  

We are human.  Just like you are. 

Life is messy.

But life is also amazing.  Being a mother is amazing.  Being a wife is amazing.  Being an autism mom is, indeed, amazing.

My life is full of gifts.  Even in the middle of the tough times, I know how incredibly lucky I am to have these amazing gifts.  My boys.  My husband.  Autism or not.  We are who we are.  And I wouldn’t change a thing.

I am often asked if I could make autism disappear, would I?

That’s impossible to answer.  So many times, I want to take away TJ’s struggles.  But so many times, I want to take away Peter’s struggles, too.  That’s not autism.  That’s life.

I also can’t imagine our life without autism.  Autism is not all that TJ is, but it’s a part of who he is.  So is the fact that he has a great sense of humor.  And green eyes.  And great knowledge about animals.

Every time I write about my boys, I tell them what I’m sharing.  Sometimes they want to read it, and I always let them.  Sometimes they could care less.  But I never write anything that I would be embarrassed for them to read.  Never.

So comment as you will.  Or don’t.  I’m still going to write as I have, sharing my experiences.  Our experiences.  Our successes, and our failures.  Our story.  

I sure do love our story.  And I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tough Night

Oh boy, what a tough night.

Huge meltdown.  TJ's "rock brain" took over his existence.  "Rock Brain" is when he gets something in his head, and he can not let it go.  He's stuck.  And it happens so rarely now that when it does happen, it shakes us all up.

I want to pull all the struggle, all the pain, out of my boy, who is now taller than I am and knows his strength.  Eek.

I want to comfort his brother, scared of the loud yelling, and sad that it is happening.

Wasn't there a cartoon where one character was zipping in all directions at the same time, doing everything?  That's what I wish I could do at these times.  Be everywhere to take care of everything.

When my sweet baby is going through this meltdown, he has to go through it to get over it.  He always swears at all of us.  Tonight it was me.  And he's learned some new ones.  Eek, again.

Sometimes we have to protect him from hurting himself.  These are the worst ones.  But it's our reality.  And it's during these times that I am so calm, so soothing, that I am shocking even myself.  Sean is always calm, and helps me as much as he helps the boys.  He is my rock.

We love this kid, with our entire hearts, and we can not stop his suffering.

This is parenting.

In time, TJ always breaks down crying, saying how sorry he is and how badly he feels for the things he has said.

I will never, ever, let him feel badly for trying to figure things out.  I will be his punching bag, his person to scream at, his one to take everything out on.

Then I will hold him up.  Tell him how proud we are of him that he got through it.  That he is so loved no matter what he says, by all of us.  That we can talk about how it felt, and eventually we can work on other ways of working through our anger before it takes over our whole head and body.  That we will do anything for him, always.

That's my job.  And I do love my job.

We Are Breaking Up

I gave it my best shot.

For years I have have enjoyed your company.  You made me laugh, you made me think, you gave me an escape from life's stresses.  I looked forward to seeing you every day.  

You made me smile.

But then things changed.  Slowly at first; it was almost unrecognizable.  But finally I had to face facts and admit that maybe I have grown out of you.  

This makes me sad to admit - what fun memories I have of you.

But now I find I have to say goodbye, for my own well being.  It's best.  I've changed so much, but you've changed too.  So, so much.  And not for the better.

Bravo TV, I am breaking up with you.

At first you and I were a great fit.  I needed a break from my hectic, stressful life, and you provided the perfect antidote.

I called you "Cheesy", but you know I only called you that out of love.

You allowed me escape by providing glimpses into the extravagant, often outrageous lives of others.  So much in the same way that Soaps used to do for me every afternoon (RIP Guiding Light, I still miss you).

But Soaps are pretend.  

Then, suddenly, things turned.  You changed.

Women began abusing other women.  Psychologically.  Mentally.  Emotionally.  And yes, even physically.

I was so embarrassed for you. 

Then I wasn't embarrassed for you, as you seemed to not only enjoy this behavior, but celebrate it.  You seemed to strive for it.  It became a goal.  These women realized that the worse they behaved, the more air time they received.

You must have had such a troubled childhood, as someone wrongly taught you that negative attention is good attention.  I am so sorry for this.

But there comes a time where we all have to grow up, and stop using excuses for our poor behavior.  It becomes time to take responsibility, own up to your mistakes, and change for the better.

Dear Bravo TV, I see just the opposite in you.

You adoringly advertise family members turning against family members.  Friends turning against friends.  All in the name of fame.  Tears.  Fists.  And many, many stupid people wrongly believing that they are fantastic and everyone must bow down to them.

Shame on you, Bravo TV.  Shame.

So it is with my fond memories of your early days, before things got ugly and out of control, that I say goodbye.

It's not me, it's you.

PS - I still may watch "Vanderpump Rules", though.  Those crazy kids don't know any better.



Monday, January 12, 2015

Kicking Myself

Last week, both boys returned to school after holiday break.  I don't know what I was thinking, but I thought that TJ's new semester started on that first day.

"I'm so on top of this," I thought to myself, as I talked to TJ about his new PE class he would be attending in the new semester.  I talked about his new teacher so he would remember his name.  I told him that he needed to go to the gym on his first day, since his new class is during that first block.  He even called a friend on the phone to ask if his friends was in the PE class, too, so he would know someone and not be as nervous.

I sent him out of the car on that first day, nervously thinking "Could I have done any more for him to put him at ease during this transition time?"  I went over and over things, and decided that he was all set, and I had done everything I could.

Everything, that is, except actually look at the calendar to see that the actual date of the new semester is NEXT FRIDAY and there is a whole round of FINAL EXAMS he has to prepare for before the new semester begins!

And how did I learn this?

From an email sent to me by his wonderful Special Educator, saying that TJ was confused and showed up to the wrong class first block.  He was late for his regular first block class, but he wasn't that stressed about it, and adjusted quickly.  He even met his new PE teacher for next semester when he accidentally showed up in the gym!  He handled it so well!  Isn't that great news???

GULP.

I fessed up.  Totally my fault.  I apologized to the Special Educator, and later to TJ, saying that the whole thing was my fault, and I'm so sorry, and I'm so proud of how you handled the zig-zag in the day (our term for something unexpected happening), and I will pay much better attention to the schedule from now on.

Whew.  Huge sigh of relief as we put my major blunder behind us.

Until this morning.

Yes, folks, just one week later, I SCREWED UP AGAIN.

I told TJ his exams start a week from today.  And don't worry, we will study a little bit every day, and by the time your busiest exam day is here (Social Studies and English both in one day), you will be all set!

Wrong again.  I got a message from a friend who is a teacher at the high school, after I proudly declared on Facebook how on top of this exam thing I was.  She so sweetly asked did I know that exams actually start this Thursday?  And maybe TJ doesn't start until Monday because that's how his schedule worked out, but just in case....

GULP.  AGAIN.  And this time publicly!

So I tucked my tail between my legs, mentally burned my "Mother of the Year" award in a huge blaze, and sat TJ down to tell him that I was wrong, and his busiest exam day was actually this Friday.

"WHAT?!?!" he said.  He was nervous.  I almost cried, I felt so terrible.

I pulled up the emailed exam schedule that his faboo Special Educator had not only sent me, but walked through with me in person last Thursday.  LAST THURSDAY!  IN PERSON!!!

I have no excuse this time.  I screwed up.

Long story short (too late), TJ is fine, and even confident, as he studied today during his study hall at school, then again when he came home.

I, on the other hand, suck.  And now not only do I feel terrible for screwing the schedule up, I don't trust myself AT ALL that I won't somehow screw something else up.

I suppose the good news is that in the 12 years of TJ living with an autism diagnosis, these are my first big screw ups.  So that's not too bad, right?  I mean, it's not like we don't have time to make up for my mistakes, right?

Ugh.  Forget it.  I feel badly.  I'll get over it though...as long as TJ is ok, then I'm ok.

And you can bet that (fingers crossed, folks) this is the absolute last time I let such huge errors occur.

BAD Lauren!  BAD!!!



Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Bad and the Good

The bad news: TJ is walking around the house reciting "Flap Jack".

The good news: TJ is no longer walking around the house reciting "Grown Ups 2".

Welcome to my life.