A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Peaceful Sometimes

Sometimes, just sometimes, Miles and Charlie are just little boys. Autism isn't raging, no one is out of control. They're still little tiny boys trapped in giant bodies, but they're not a burden or something to deal with. They're just my little guys. After baths last night, I stretched out on my bed to watch videos on my phone because that's really all the further I wanted to go.

Miles climbed into bed and started reciting one of his favorite books - one Tim and Justin sent back when they were born, Ten Wishing Stars.

He wanted to watch a video of that book, so I fired it upon Youtube and Charlie heard it starting. Suddenly I was holding two 12 year old toddlers to watch a story.

I know I look like I'm doing "smell the fart" acting and I don't know why. Maybe my face just always looks like that. But we're cuddled together, just watching this story. We watched it three times, each time with them giggling and cracking up at the silly sheep and their wishes.

I'm not sure if it's the book, or the fact that we watch it in Korean (or some language I'm too ignorant to recognize.) My GUESS is Korean. I can't find an English version on mobile but they don't care.

Let's face it, their English isn't SO good. Another language doesn't phase them.

These moments outweigh the crazy times, the bad times, the sad times. I guess just like the rest of life though, you don't reflect back on the 23 hours that went well. You remember and dwell on the one you got punched in the face.

That's something I am working on. It's not easy.

Nothing worth doing ever is.

Monday, July 25, 2016

You Must Be Ever Watchful

Autism parents don't ever get a break. I just sat down, on a so called break after work, and see shredded little toe separator thingys that I have owned for at least ten years. They've been shredded into oblivion - a victim of Autism's love of shredding and destruction.


In fairness I had owned them forever and they were super cheap and not a great financial or sentimental loss. How they came to be destroyed is a simple story. I gave myself a pedicure yesterday at home and while my toes were wet I ambled up the stairs, doing the heel heavy lumber of one whose toes are separated to keep those wet toenails apart. I sat down at the computer and eventually the polish dried and I pulled them out of my toes. As we set drinks and food on our table here that we use for a desk, I chose to set them on my computer tower underneath.

And there I left them. There Miles or Charlie found them and pulled them into 10000 pieces.

The problem isn't that they shredded or destroyed something that I will replace for a couple of bucks. It's that those toe separators represent every single thing in the universe. Nothing is safe. I can never, NEVER, let down my guard.

I let down my guard yesterday.

It could have been poison. It could have been breakable, It could have been something irreplaceable. It could have been a piece of the one true cross it doesn't matter, had it been left behind it would be possibly subject to destruction.

Miles and Charlie like to take things apart to see what they are and how they work. Sometimes they just like to pull things into many pieces and throw those pieces around. Usually it's the latter, frankly.

That's what it's like, mostly. You can never, ever be off duty. If you are with them, you're on duty. You're responsible. You have to constantly be aware, what's in your mouth? What do you have? Please don't bang that against the wood finish. What is that? Don't tear that please. Don't sit on top of that you're breaking it. Stop. Stop. Stop. STOP.

Mostly it's not just the destruction of the things. It's about them being safe.  Sometimes it's because those things are loved by others - other children or adults, and we'd like them not destroyed. We've replaced some things over and over. My husband tapes books back together over and over and over again. He could work at the public library easily if that's a skill they need there.

I let my guard down.

It'll happen again, and I hope it will only be something like toe separators. That's about the best I can hope for. I'm human. I'm going to make this mistake again.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Long Dark Potty Training of The Soul

It's back to potty training.

Miles has been, well, just unbearable for a while. Weeks/days whatever. He's bored he's unhappy, he's pooping every ten minutes and DEMANDING to be changed and if you don't he MELTS DOWN.

Autism parents know very well that you will do anything in your power to STOP the melt down. The only thing better than stopping the melt down is preventing the melt down.

We've done a little of this and a little of that, but the toileting issue has boiled up.

Where we ARE with potty training is, well frankly we suck as parents. It's just EASIER to deal with diapers than with underpants, soiled clothes, soiled furniture etc. Except that it's not cheaper (by any means) and we suck because HE CAN DO IT.

He uses the potty ALL DAY at school. Of course, sometimes he has accidents. In what I'd like to call some sort of freakish hell of a policy, they put the SOILED garments in ziplocs and return them. Imagine clothing that has marinated in pee and poop then done the hot bus ride home waiting for you inside your child's backpack. DELIGHTFUL I tell you. My husband does laundry. Everyone should go-fund-me for him a get away I swear, the poor man.

Some people run loads of darks, loads of lights, loads of delicates. We have an extra type of load - POOP loads. Special runs of the washer and dryer just solely for those clothing items. "I need work pants washed." "Ok but I'm running a poop load right now." That's a sort of conversation we have around here.

That's autism life.

We decided last night that maybe, just MAYBE, he wants underpants. Maybe that's why the freak out as soon as he poops. With a "typical" child, once they can tell you they've gone you know you can start working on it because they have an understanding. So I'm taking it as a sign that Miles will literally shout POOP at me, that this is a readiness signal. He doesn't like it, he wants it gone.

So this morning when we got up, I put him in underpants.

I've gone to the bathroom with him about 10 times to wipe "a dab" of poop - apparently we can't just LET IT ALL OUT AT ONCE. We've watched videos while trying to let the poop out. I've made a point to stop everything and go immediately every time. Exactly like A GOOD PARENT SHOULD.

Somebody give me a cookie.

So I hear someone peeing behind me in the half bath and that's my signal to get up and investigate.


We're gonna figure this out little boy. I promise.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Flirting With Grandpa

I was minding my own business watching Julia do her thing down on the floor at Gymnastics when I realized the older gentleman near me was talking to me.

We sat and chatted, about kids - he was there with his granddaughter. We talked about sports for kids and how important they can be and about the time he moved over closer to talk I realized - HE WAS CHATTING ME UP.

I'm notoriously blind to these sorts of overtures, often times my husband points them out and then teases me that I didn't notice. I guess I just never assumed TALKING to someone had to be MOTIVATED.

So there I am chatting with this old dude. He's nice enough, but he's also being cautiously flirty, and I'm amused as the conversation drifts towards hints of his physical prowess, he still rides skateboards he informs me."Good for you, old dude," I think, as he talks about how he travels for work and always takes his skateboard if he goes to Florida because he can ride it there so easily.

"You wouldn't remember but skateboards were a huge craze in the 70s too, the boards were different -smaller- that's when I got my first board and fell in love with it back when I was a kid," he tells me.

I laughed and told him I did in fact remember the skateboard craze of the 70s, I had a board back then.

"Well how is that possible. When were you born?" he asked incredulously.

"1968," I answered.

That's when it got weird.

When was the old dude born?

1969.

Crap.

Either I am quite out of touch with my appearance or this guy needs to learn about STAYING OUT OF THE SUN because I'd have pegged him in his 60s. A HEALTHY 60s but still, 60s.

Now where is my face cream...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy Birthday Dad


Yesterday was Dad's birthday. He was surprised, last year, that he made it to 70. "I made it," he whispered hoarsely into the phone when I called. 

My dad used to like to tell this story of how when I was 9 months old he sat holding me on his knee, in his own house, watching men walk on the moon on his birthday. He'd say "I was just thinking man, the whole world has changed."

I always liked that story, and it's always been the "Dad Birthday Story" in my brain. They walked on the moon for his birthday. How nice of them, what a lovely thing to do.

However in my musings yesterday I was combing my memories for OTHER dad birthday memories and I can't remember any. I feel pretty terrible about that. I can't remember going anywhere or doing anything special for my dad. I can't remember getting him anything. It's like - Dad's birthday didn't matter. I know that isn't true but still, I'm blank.

It makes me feel pretty awful. I want to have these good, happy memories of those days and I don't. I won't ever get to make new ones so that's clearly an opportunity I let slip away from me in this life. I didn't know I didn't have it until I tried to remember.

I can tell you though, about a NOT birthday memory. Before Matt was born, one summer day, my Mom said "OH MY GOD WE MISSED YOUR FATHER'S BIRTHDAY!" in a panic.She asked me repeatedly WHEN was his birthday but as I was probably around 8, I didn't really know. So we bustled into the kitchen to whip up a cake before he got home. We were somewhere in the process of making the icing when I asked her why we just didn't call grandma to make sure the date was right.

So she called my Grandma B, and shortly got off the phone laughing. It was June 21st. She was a month off.

Dad came home and we had a cake just for fun and mom & I grinned across the table at each other.

I like to think we actually made a cake again the next month, but I actually have no idea. Surely we did.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Death Will Tear Us Apart

I joined a few grief groups on FACEBOOK after Mom and Dad died. I'm not sure what I joined when, but I know I was seeking words that made me feel better, helped me understand the loss I was feeling, gave me tools and language to express the way I was ripped apart.

I don't read them much anymore, I don't feel a need to. That's probably good, a sign of healing in my heart and brain. Sometimes I see a tumblr like info graphic - words on a moody image that evoke a tear in my eye, or a nod of my head. Sometimes I repost them, an egoists homage to my mood. THIS IS WHAT I FEEL AT THIS MOMENT BEHOLD, INTERNET, AND MOURN WITH ME.

Mostly I don't.

I've noticed lately, however, a trend that I never noticed until it was mentioned to me. A friend made a casual remark how people always assume it was easier to lose a parent as a child, because you hadn't known them that long.

I was truly shocked by this. I don't even know if I expressed HOW shocked I was, actually. I can't imagine losing your parent at the age when they are such a huge piece of your life as they are in childhood. I digested that information and noted I hadn't really noticed anyone saying things like that, and mentally hoped "I" hadn't said something so insensitive. Grieving people tend not to think before we speak though, so maybe I have.

That's when I started noticing it. In a bit of melancholy as Dad's birthday is upon me in three days I've read a few "Let me tell you stuff about losing a parent" type of articles, bullet points of stuff you should know about how you'll change, how you should treat your friends going through this stuff, just personal PoV pieces about death and grief and what you wish you had known.

Over and over again, I see mention of "it would have been easier if I had been a child." I just can't imagine making that sort of leap. I suppose the author wants that to be true, they want there to be an easier version of this pain and loss gnawing at the core of their being, I think that's one of the big mistakes we all (including me) make about grief. We want to translate our experience to others, and we want to give the language of our own understanding to others.

Except it doesn't work that way.

If you and I stub our toe HARD on the leg of a big heavy table, it hurts both of us. We have varying degrees of pain sensitivity, varying degrees of strength in our bones. We might hit our toes at different angles, we might hit it with different force. I can tell you about my toe pain but you can't feel it. And I can't say my toe hurts worse than yours because I can't TRULY know how your toe feels. I can make a guess based on my own experience but that doesn't make me RIGHT. I can't tell you how long your toe should hurt, how you should or shouldn't limp.

I certainly can't tell you it would hurt less had you stubbed your toe as a child.

When my Mom died I knew she needed to die because she was suffering. I knew my brother and sister in law had done everything under the stars to make the end of her life exactly as she wanted in her circumstances. I could not have asked for anything more from anyone, other than my mother not to be suffering and dying in the first place. I was devastated, regardless. It would not have been easier had I been a child. It would be easier by the time I was 47 - PERHAPS. Perhaps not.

I can't say either way.

I know that when I looked at the people I knew who had lost a parent as a child, I looked to them as pillars of strength. I knew they had suffered my same loss, at an age I couldn't comprehend dealing with such a loss. I looked to them and knew that if they could survive this thing, I too could survive it.

Not once did I think "Oh look at them, how lucky they were a child."

When we're talking in the language of grief, I think it's important to qualify our words with more sensitivity than we might normally do. We can't presume to tell other people how to feel. We can't presume to infer that how WE feel is normal or right.

Grief is individual. Grief is not a set of stages.

Grief is the next stage in your life.

I think part of the time it's crippling and part of the time you don't notice it but it never leaves. It becomes part of the new you.

And nobody, but nobody, can tell you what would make it easier.

I did make a motivational image for you. Enjoy.





Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Duplicity of Being Me

I think it's a normal state of being, wanting two divergent things at the same time. Things which are mutually exclusive can both be desireable and I suppose that the trick is to to realize that sometimes, just sometimes you have to live with that fact and find the silver lining in the bits that aren't so desirable.

A perfect example of this would be my children. I love them. Of course that's rather an implied state of being, but I can't really do without mine. I woke up this morning in the cool air conditioning and listened to the snoring, drooling mess that are my three boys sleeping soundly. I peeked at my girl,

also slack jawed and drooling and felt an intense sense of WHOLENESS knowing all my children were under our roof. My husband rolled over and went into a deeper and more comfortable slumber as I slipped downstairs to enjoy some coffee alone.

I crave my alone time. I crave my SILENT time. I can watch whatever I want - today I opted for Orange is the New Black. I already know the spoiler so I'm braced for it. I sat quietly and watched one episode before my tiny humans began their parade downstairs.

After breakfast I announced I was going upstairs to blog and have some more ME time. This is MOM CODE for "So leave me alone unless you are bleeding or trapped under something heavy." I took my coffee and made my way to the dark maze that is our computer room.

The light in that room is about 3/4 of the way across the room. I navigated through the dark with my coffee and managed to get past Godzilla and a wooden child's chair, stepped on what might've been a small plastic dinosaur and made it to the light.

That's when the duplicity of being me really started to shape up. My hearts desire is my children all around me. There actually isn't a condition on that, except that just EVERY ONCE in a while I want them all around me ON MY TERMS. So just be there and look cute and be quiet? Mmmmkay?

It doesn't work like that. My joy at them being near faded just a little as Miles came upstairs and proceeded to start to throw a tantrum at his PC. Why? Not sure. But he starts stomping and screaming and then he tries to shove his chin into my face (chinning, one of an autism parents least favorite thing) and has a screaming tantrum about X. X is unknown. Solve for X.

He was sent to have some quiet time and then Julia came in and decided to ONLY play games that she needs me for. I'm having ME time. Remember? I just want a little more. I want to clear my headspace...I need a mental recharge. I need ME TIME recreation.

Except that now my coffee is cold and then GONE because they're coffee thieves.

So I half-halfheartedly play my stupid game, and then I think maybe I'll go watch a movie with the oldest boy,  who then comes up to tell me he wants to watch Maze Runner which is too scary for the little ones so can I keep them upstairs.

Sure.

I've got my wish. My children are all home. I'm annoyed. My children won't leave me alone.

The truth is I'd take my most annoyed day over the alternative because that's unthinkable.

So I reset my brain and start thinking about something special for lunch. Maybe we'll go to the park or play outside or I don't know what. I might just make waffles for lunch. Who knows?

They're all home. I couldn't be happier.


(But I'd still like to play video games alone sometimes. Just sayin'.)




 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

With Tornado Sirens Unheeded...A Hoosier Wonders...

It's been storming here all day. Not the big rolling Midwestern storms of my childhood but the red blobs of doom that come across from Alabama, drop down too much rain at once and do their thunder dance and move on.
I had an appointment today during the midst of the whole thing, so I consulted radar and managed with some luck to travel in between the red blobs occurring.

After my appointment was said and done I traveled back to the northeast corner of the metro that I call home, crawling in the massive lemming march that is the Atlanta commute and occasionally hit my wipers. The storm. it seemed, had passed. The highway was steaming from the temperature change and the commuters were inconvenienced with puddles of water. I didn't think much about it as I was pretty sure the worst had come and gone.

Alabama never sends over nice weather. Always with the storms.

I stopped for gasoline and as I watched the numbers rise on the pump I heard a familiar drone in the distance. It wasn't close, but it was unmistakable.

Tornado siren.

I looked around. The clouds were grey, moving fast but nothing ominous. No squall line, certainly no rotation. The wind was gentle, the drizzle was light. There was nothing the made me feel concern except this sound coming from the west - the direction of Alabama that great bringer of storms.
If you grew up in the midwest you know this sound. It means run for cover. When we were kids it meant some yokel had SEEN A TWISTER and had called the sheriff, whom they called directly we didn't have this fancy 911 business. We didn't have radar that immediately sounded the sirens when rotation was detected. We didn't have WARNINGS. We had OH MY GOD THERE IS A TORNADO RUN RUN RUN sirens. If the sirens went off, it was on and you better get your ass to a basement.

Fast.

Southwest corner, by the way. That's the corner of the room you go to. Also put your shoes on, because there will be debris on the ground afterward and it will cut the SHIT out of your feet and you will thank me for it. JUST PUT THEM ON.

Now, I stood there, pumping gas, listening to the klaxon of doom from my childhood, the sound that I had been hardwired to hear and immediately seek cover - and I just kept pumping gas. I checked my phone, no alerts. No warnings. I get tornado warnings immediately they are pushed to my phone.

I asked a man pumping gas "Is that a tornado siren?" He said "Oh is that what that is? I wondered."

I sighed and shook my head. I am sure that in the event of an earthquake I'd be doing it all wrong and people from earthquake-land would sigh and shake their head at me. We grow up in places and we learn the dangers of THOSE places and we learn them well. It's a bit of climate related social darwinism but it works, we learn the dangers and adapt.

I just know that it's 2016 and I just spoke to an adult man who didn't recognize a tornado siren and that scares me a little.

I'm also wondering why that siren was going off.

In my brain I've been calling it "sireen" like my grandma this whole time. Don't tell anyone.

With Tornado Sirens Unheeded...A Hoosier Wonders...

It's been storming here all day. Not the big rolling Midwestern storms of my childhood but the red blobs of doom that come across from Alabama, drop down too much rain at once and do their thunder dance and move on.
I had an appointment today during the midst of the whole thing, so I consulted radar and managed with some luck to travel in between the red blobs occurring.

After my appointment was said and done I traveled back to the northeast corner of the metro that I call home, crawling in the massive lemming march that is the Atlanta commute and occasionally hit my wipers. The storm. it seemed, had passed. The highway was steaming from the temperature change and the commuters were inconvenienced with puddles of water. I didn't think much about it as I was pretty sure the worst had come and gone.

Alabama never sends over nice weather. Always with the storms.

I stopped for gasoline and as I watched the numbers rise on the pump I heard a familiar drone in the distance. It wasn't close, but it was unmistakable.

Tornado siren.

I looked around. The clouds were grey, moving fast but nothing ominous. No squall line, certainly no rotation. The wind was gentle, the drizzle was light. There was nothing the made me feel concern except this sound coming from the west - the direction of Alabama that great bringer of storms.
If you grew up in the midwest you know this sound. It means run for cover. When we were kids it meant some yokel had SEEN A TWISTER and had called the sheriff, whom they called directly we didn't have this fancy 911 business. We didn't have radar that immediately sounded the sirens when rotation was detected. We didn't have WARNINGS. We had OH MY GOD THERE IS A TORNADO RUN RUN RUN sirens. If the sirens went off, it was on and you better get your ass to a basement.

Fast.

Southwest corner, by the way. That's the corner of the room you go to. Also put your shoes on, because there will be debris on the ground afterward and it will cut the SHIT out of your feet and you will thank me for it. JUST PUT THEM ON.

Now, I stood there, pumping gas, listening to the klaxon of doom from my childhood, the sound that I had been hardwired to hear and immediately seek cover - and I just kept pumping gas. I checked my phone, no alerts. No warnings. I get tornado warnings immediately they are pushed to my phone.

I asked a man pumping gas "Is that a tornado siren?" He said "Oh is that what that is? I wondered."

I sighed and shook my head. I am sure that in the event of an earthquake I'd be doing it all wrong and people from earthquake-land would sigh and shake their head at me. We grow up in places and we learn the dangers of THOSE places and we learn them well. It's a bit of climate related social darwinism but it works, we learn the dangers and adapt.

I just know that it's 2016 and I just spoke to an adult man who didn't recognize a tornado siren and that scares me a little.

I'm also wondering why that siren was going off.

In my brain I've been calling it "sireen" like my grandma this whole time. Don't tell anyone.

Monday, July 04, 2016

July 4th Is My Happy Place

When my Dad was failing, as his mind wandered off, he went to his happy place - our Aunt Ruth's farm. I've been thinking a lot about it, about what is MY happy place? I think it might be July 4th.

As a holiday goes, it was one of our big ones in my childhood. It was a special day where all the neighbors came together, huge tables pulled out of seemingly invisble spaces, folding chairs came from WHERE I don't know and suddenly there was food for miles. It was a full day celebration and we spent it all together as a family. There was only happiness and laughter, and the night ended with the big fireworks from the fairgrounds which could be seen from the backyard.

For the first time since we became a family one of us wasn't going to be with us for the holiday - the oldest boy has BOY SCOUT camp. I'm pretty much grumbling like mad over this as aren't Boy Scouts supposed to be ALL ABOUT FAMILY so why are they taking my kid away ON A BIG FAMILY DAY? Regardless, he's there, doing Scout things and probably having an excellent time.

We decided that we would spend our July 4 time together BEFORE he went, and I confess that despite being miffed he isn't here today, we had a pretty good time.
On the First we went to Stone Mountain for their big fireworks event and rode the train and generally had a pretty darn good time. They really do a nice Fireworks event there, we hadn't been to it for the 4th celebration before.
These are the times I like the best, when we're doing silly things together as a family. Even riding this silly train and watching their corny show is a great time.

We had dinner at the train station and I had replaced my memory of the food with that of Six Flags - I had forgotten than their food at Stone Mountain is actually really good. Thus I was able to check off my "tasty food for the 4th" box on my list of must haves.
The laser show at Stone Mountain is sort of - well - lame. But the kids think it's fun so ok. But the fireworks were amazing this year and beautiful to watch.
We had fireworks at home the next night,keeping the family tradition of sparklers and exploding things in the street alive and well.
Everyone got to have sparklers and then we blew things up into the street. It was a pretty good evening. 

I'll leave you with our first picture at Stone Mountain - to our most recent. A lot can happen in 8 years. Or is it 9? Man I can't even remember.

Hmmm something damaged that first pic. :( Oh well. 


Friday, July 01, 2016

All Together Now...

Miles has a new song. I couldn't figure out how he'd learned it for a long time, until I fired up our DVR version of Charlie Brown Christmas and ran into the Kohls/Nike hybrid commercial featuring racing Santas to the Beatles ALL TOGETHER NOW.

He sings it when he's happy, he sings it when he's agitated. It's become something I can redirect him with sometimes when he's winding up...I start softly "1..2..3..4..can I have a little more...5..6...." and he will hop in, especially at the I LOVE YOU parts.

Sometimes we all sing along with him. It's a fitting anthem to us. We're all together, in all things. That's how we roll. Maybe it makes us clannish or weird, but mostly we'd rather be with the six of us than with anyone else. Even when we want to escape the six of us we miss us when we're not together.

We were having our family snuggles, six on the queen bed is getting a bit tight lemme tell you, and I was just thinking how that's just our song. All together now. It's better than the wedding vows, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer etc. No. That's not it.

We're all together now...all together now....I LOVE YOU.

I've been having some amazing days with these little ones and it makes me so glad I have them in my life. Today the big brother is building the little sister a fort in the living room.
They're all going to be down there shortly playing in that fort - it's just a matter of time.
A B C D can I bring my friend to tea? E F G H I J ...I LOVE YOU...

Julia suggests we have a tea party with coffee.

Maybe we will.