Friday, August 14, 2015

Change your Ending

There are a lot of hurt people out there.

Hurt people tend to hurt other people - it's a vicious cycle.  I've done it, and I've seen it.  And since we only have one go-around in this crazy beautiful world, you had better make this round count.

Change your ending.

We are all delt a hand we have no control over.  I could sit around forever lamenting my hand, and feeling loss for what I don't have.

Or I could stand up and work with what I do have.  Focus on the good.  Let go of the bad.  Laugh at it, even.  There are ways!  It's possible!  And what a waste of time to do anything but move forward!

Sometimes we get smacked so hard that we have to sit on the ground for a little bit, stunned, as those stars and birdies spin around our heads.

Let them spin around.  For a little bit.

Then get up.

Need help getting up?  Ask for help!  Those who help you will ask you for help when they need a hand.  That's how it works.

Take what you've been given, and make the rest for yourself.  Make bold moves.  Take risks.  Try new things.  You may surprise yourself with what you can accomplish and how good things can start happening when you are open to letting them in.

Grab the reins.  Change your ending.  Don't accept any pre-determined whatever nonsense.  Go get it and make it happen, and make the ride full of love and smiles and laughter and ridiculousness and friends and fun and joy.

Go.  Now.

Change your ending.  I know you can do it!

Here's who I do it for....

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Have a Nice Day

When did it become ok to judge others for their parenting style?

I have been so honored to write articles about my family's life with autism.  It has been my pleasure to open myself up to others in hopes that one person will read our story and say, “YES!  That’s like my life too!”  And maybe not feel so alone.

Parenting autism, while amazing, and glorious, and educational, and enlightening, can also be isolating.

I typically read comments after one of my pieces has been published.  And it makes me sad.  Not sad for myself, because my family and I are a strong, solid unit, and we know what we say and do is for the best.  The best FOR US.  

Never once have I said, in any of my pieces, “This is what you should do…” or “this is how everyone should raise their child.”


Why is it ok, then, for the anonymous reader, safe behind the glow of their screen, to spew venom at me and my words?

Please know that I agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I’m just curious about when it got to be ok to be hateful, instead of kind.  That cruelty is the go-to before anything else.

I’m not writing for support.  Or kind words.  Or popularity.  Or to be liked.

I’m writing to express myself, to tell our stories, and to help others. 

Please disagree.  Healthy debate is an amazing thing, and I have learned so much from others who engage me with thoughtful criticism, bringing up perspectives I may have not otherwise thought about.

I’m ok with debate.  I’m not ok with cruelty.

My sons read these pieces.  They read your comments.  They ask how people can be so mean when they don’t know us, or don’t know why we choose to do what we do.

I tell them that some people choose cruelty over kindness.  And these people do the rest of us a favor by showing us their true nature. 

So we can walk on by.

So please, comment away.  But know that while I completely appreciate the kind words, and words of support, the cruelty can’t touch us.  Go for it.  You are affecting no one.

I take that back - you ARE affecting us.  

You are giving us a great example to show our kids how NOT to behave.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Heroes

There has been some talk of heroes lately.

My childhood friend put up a Facebook post regarding heroes - specifically,  some people judging others for their choice of who a hero is.  She said, 

“If anyone else wants to debate the meaning of 'hero' with me, bring it. I'm baffled and discouraged that people continue to discount who someone's hero is. A bit presumptuous and negative, don't you think? 
Just so all of my wonderful friends know, whenever you tell me who your hero is, I will never tell you they are not a hero.”

I totally agree.  She’s a smartie.

And this got me to thinking about who my heroes are.  There are a bunch.  But three stand out.

First, my son TJ.  He is an amazing kid, autism or not.  I admire him for so many things, but mostly for his unwavering kindness, his honesty, his confidence in himself, his sense of humor, and his bravery as he faces every day head on.  As he often finds himself in situations where he may have to hold it together until he can fully relax at home, he does so with determination and an open heart.  At 15 he is well practiced in finding ways to get through those days that may overload his senses.  And I admire him so much for how far he has come, and for how far he can go.  

Next, my son Peter.  In his 13 years he has already been face to face with more challenges than most kids his age.  It’s not easy having a brother with autism.  He has handled the toughest challenges it presents with bravery, determination, and an open heart.  He is a fierce advocate for fairness, kindness and inclusion, no matter what the situation.    And when he chooses you as a friend, his loyalty is unwavering.  He has a sense of humor and maturity that draw people to him, and has a way of making even the most mundane of activities fun.  His spirit shines from within, and he is such a light in our lives.

And finally, my husband Sean.  Amazing father, amazing partner, amazing friend.  We have faced some high highs and some low lows, and we still find a way to smile throughout our days together.  Strong when I can’t be, vulnerable when he needs to be, and always providing a solid, safe, and loving place for his family.  I call this boy “Dreamboat” for a reason.  He is, quite simply, dreamy and wonderful.  I am so lucky to call him my husband and best friend, and I can’t imagine my life without him in it.  Every day may not be easy, but there is joy in every day, because of him.

It is because of these three heroes that I find the courage and strength to face every day with a smile.  These three have made me who I am - a happy and grateful lady.

And so, so lucky.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I Will Do My Best

My boys love mini golfing.

We have the best mini golf place just up the street from my house - we go there often.  Last summer was one of those times.

My younger son, Peter, is athletic.  And competitive.  Every golf stroke counts.  My older son, TJ, has autism.  He loves to mini golf, but gets frustrated that he never wins.

It’s a good lesson for him that sometimes you just have to learn to lose gracefully.  He is doing such a good job with that lesson.

Anyway, there we were, mini golfing and enjoying each other.  It was just like any other mini golf excursion.

Until suddenly, it wasn’t.

There was a young couple with a young child just behind us.  I think they were babysitting the child, as they seemed to not be parenting, per se.  Who knows.  What I do know is that they were very close behind us, right on our tail.  

I felt no need to rush - we paid for our game and I didn’t want my boys to feel the pressure of rushing just to accommodate someone else.  We didn’t drag our feet, at all, but we didn’t rush either.  I could sense that we were not going fast enough for the too-cool-for-school couple behind us, but I was determined to let my boys feel none of that pressure and just have fun.

There was one hole where you had to hit the ball over a tiny path over a ditch.  If the ball went into the ditch, it ran down a path to water, and came out on the green by the hole, but not in a good a spot as it would have if you had made it over the path.  TJ loves it when his ball hits the ditch and goes through the water.  Even though it put his ball in a not so hot spot, I figured there was something about the water that made him love it so much.

Peter hit the path, and his ball landed near the hole.  TJ hit the ditch, and his smile watching his ball go through the water made me smile.  Until I heard the comment from behind me,

“That stupid kid - he doesn’t even know where you’re supposed to hit the ball!”  Then he and the girl laughed.

I saw red.  My stomach clenched.  My boys walked forward to continue their game, but I turned around to address the boy.

“My son can hit the ball however he damn well pleases.  And he has autism, you insensitive dick.”

Then I turned and walked back to my boys as the boy stood there with a stunned expression, and said weakly, “I’m sorry….”

Peter immediately, and quietly, said to me, “Did he just say something about TJ?”  And as calmly as I could, through clenched teeth, I replied “Yes, he did.  But he seems to be an idiot and what he thinks doesn’t matter.  OK?  Just ignore him and let’s have fun, sweetie.  Everything is ok.”

Then I started to thoughtfully and purposefully slow down my breathing.  I had to stop myself from crying.  I was starting to shake, I was so mad.  But I didn’t want TJ to know that the jerk behind us was making fun of him, and I didn’t want Peter to think it was ok to call someone a dick.

Even though he was.

I learned a lot about myself that day.  I learned that I don’t necessarily think before I speak when I’m suddenly very angry.  I learned that being calm is a choice that sometimes requires some work.  And I learned that as much as I didn’t want to take the so-called low road and call someone a name, it is ok to show my boys that I am human, and I get mad too, and I can recognize that maybe I could have made a better choice.

Who knows what would happen if I was faced with that same scenario today?  I’d like to think I could come up with something more clever than calling someone a name.  But to tell you the truth, when it comes to standing up for my boys, I really don’t know.

I am grateful to be able to say that this hardly ever happens to us - most people are not so blatantly rude, and if they have something negative to say about TJ, they must keep it to themselves.  I certainly don’t hear it.  It seems that most people are decent enough to not say mean, thoughtless things.

But just in case they do, I will do my best to defend my boy and my family in a calmer, more positive manner.  I will do my best to use it as an opportunity to educate others.  And I will do my best to make sure that I clearly communicate that different is ok, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

I will do my best.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cramp Camp

Here's my predicament - and we're getting real, people, so if you can't take it, slooowly back away.

So almost two years ago, I had a pulmonary embolism.  I'm fine, blah blah blah, but I can't ever take hormones in any way, shape, or form again.

I'm 45.  The times they are a-changin'.  Most people in my position can take some form of hormone therapy to balance themselves out as their hormones yank their brains and emotions to and fro like an evil tug-o-war.  But not me.  I'm at the mercy of the 'mones, as the case may be - ie:  I'm screwed.

And so is everyone around me.  I'm so sorry, friends.

So this got me to thinking that for the well being of myself and those around me, I should be locked away when the 'mones run amok.  And to make it cute, because really, nothing about this is cute, I should give it a cute little name.

Cramp Camp.

So when I'm feeling a little hormonal and nutsy, I'm just going to simply say "Cramp Camp!" And go off to safety where I can't do any critical damage.

Just so we're all on the same page.  'K?

Alright - thanks for listening.  As you were.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Here's to the Autism Dads

There is a great community of us autism moms out there.  But today I want to focus on the less celebrated, but no less important, autism dad.

In our family, our fantastic autism dad is named Sean.  I call him “Dreamboat”.  Yes, even to his face. 

When our 15 year old son was first diagnosed with autism at age 2, we were hit with a whirlwind of new terms, therapies, and paperwork.  We were both devastated by the diagnosis, but we both jumped right in head first regardless.  And while my focus was on our son, and getting him from therapy to therapy, along with his little brother, Sean took over the paperwork.  He knew I couldn’t handle both, and he also knew that for my own well being, I needed to be with the boys as much as I could.  So he took on the less desirable task of completing all the necessary paperwork so that our TJ could take advantage of every service available to us.  No questions asked.  

We were a team from the word go.

Later, as we sat nervously in the audience waiting to see if our son would sing on stage with his second grade class or not, it was the calm of the autism dad that made everything ok.  He reminded me that if I showed TJ that I was nervous, he would feed off of that and become nervous himself.  He kept me calm.  And that calm helped TJ, over and over again.

When Sean could see that I was tired, or overwhelmed, he would send me off for a pedicure or an afternoon at a spa.  He knew how exhausting it was being an autism mom, and wanted me to feel cared for and pampered.  We couldn’t do it a lot, with our crazy schedule, but one way or another Sean would find a way to allow me to recharge my battery.  Even if it was a simple card to let me know how much he appreciated my hard work, he was always thinking of me.

And Sean is just the best father to our boys.  Every now and then, Sean would declare “Boys’ night!” and the three of them would head out for burgers or pizza, and maybe a movie or some bowling.  Sean wants them both to know that no matter how busy he gets, or how much he has to travel for work, he will always make time for them, and they can always count on him.

And while watching TJ graduate from 8th grade last year, as we all stood to welcome the class in their procession, Sean didn’t try to hide the tear in his eye as he applauded TJ walking by us.  And with a little glance and sideways grin, TJ saw his father.  And that moment between them alone, everything else aside, sums up the power of the relationship between the two of them.  It’s different than my relationship with TJ, but it is equally (and many times, more so) important.  As a growing boy, knowing that TJ has Sean to lean on and learn from makes my heart feel peaceful.  And full.

For these reasons, and for so many more, I celebrate you, Sean, and all the autism dads out there who give so much of themselves to their kids every day.

Happy Father’s Day, my dear Dreamboat.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's Good to be Queen

What a beautiful day - this weather is the best.  Sunny, warm, perfect for a walk around the loop, or grilling out, or cocktails on the deck...

Oh crap.  I can't have cocktails on the deck anymore.

I have been sober for almost four years.

Sometimes people ask me why I quit drinking.  The answer is very simple: I was so good at it that it made everyone else look really bad.

The truth is, I was really good at it.  But I only made myself look bad.  So I stopped.

It was tough at first, and I had to make a lot of changes in my life.  Mostly with the way I felt about myself - it took a while to get my genuine self back.   But I finally got to a great place where I am ok around others drinking, and it doesn't stop me from being the best I can be.  

Anyway, I hardly ever miss the cocktails.  But tonight as I sat in the sunroom feeling the breeze come through the windows, I missed it.  I'm not sure what part about it I missed, to be honest.  Not the insecurity.  Not the hangover.  Maybe it's the part about holding a pretty glass?  All of our glasses are packed away, as we are doing some house renovations, but there is one accessible...

So I put my seltzer (orange vanilla - yum) in my faboo cup (a birthday gift from my faboo cousin's faboo wife's faboo parents) and helped myself to some M&Ms, thankyouverymuch, and toasted to myself having the strength to stay sober for almost 4 years now, with no regrets.

And I'm just getting started.