23 Nov 2012 10 Comments
This is what inspires me to blog. Yup, a sweet Halloween picture of me and my kids. Alex was the grim reaper and Hannah was “Frankie Stein” from Monster High. A typical family portrait, right?
I like this picture because we all look happy and because both kids stayed still enough to capture this moment. There are three other pictures in that series, and one good pic out of four is a pretty good success rate for us!
It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. Well I’m guessing for most inspirational photos a good deal of those words are obvious and accessible and fairly easy for others to discuss and describe.
For my family, however, words are often locked up inside my son’s head. And even pictures don’t always give away the concepts underneath the image or behind the situation. Much of the time we defy description and it’s nearly impossible to place us in any kind of “box.” The term “think outside the box” doesn’t even cut it– you have to think inside, outside and beyond the oval aquarium to understand my beloved fish-in-a-tree and what it means to me to write about being his mother.
Let me take you behind this picture and into the huge collection of words it is worth, so you can understand what truly inspires me to blog.
First of all, notice how tall Alex stands. I was scrunching down a bit here, but he is now as big as I am. In his baby book, I noted when he hit 2.5 feet that he was “half as tall as Mommy.” He inherited tall, lanky genes from his father and he continues to grow.
I write because I want to capture this time and hang onto the child Alex I know before he grows into a man.
When Alex was three I watched him slip away behind a curtain of autism. Now I know how precious a minute of closeness caught on film can be. I take nothing for granted, I live day-by-day and (most of the time) I don’t sweat the small stuff.
I write because I am grateful to be here now and I want to celebrate and share these little moments, which I now understand are everything.
I am so often the person behind the camera, but this picture was taken by Aubrey who will one day officially become Alex’s and Hannah’s stepmom. It is a true joy to share my life with her and to see myself and my children through her eyes.
I write because I want to shout to the world, “This is my family and we know what love really means! We struggle, we cry, we laugh and we play. We are here and we are real and we are thankful that the universe brought us all together.”
See the slightly mischievous look on Hannah’s face? How proud she is to play her character? How sweetly she smiles? From the time she was born (with sparkles in her hair!) Hannah has had a unique role in our family. She dearly loves her brother, she is compassionate and wise beyond her years, and she hasn’t had an easy childhood so far. Hannah will be the one person in the world who will know Alex the longest and I am confident they will journey together, wherever life takes them.
I write for my future adult daughter, to share my insights, struggles and joys. I want Hannah to know my journey as a mother, not because I have answers, but rather because I don’t. I want her to keep trying when she struggles, to believe she can make it through, to be persistent in finding her strength. To show her she can do it, I write to try my best to lead by example.
This is how we look post-autism diagnosis. Post-divorce. Post-inpatient hospitalization. Post-residential placement. Post-losing my mother. This is my family (including the woman behind the camera) after opening our minds and hearts to a new life which is better than we ever could have imagined.
I write because my story is only my story, but in the sharing of our collective community of stories, something wonderful happens.
We create INSPIRATION.
22 Nov 2012 1 Comment
Thanksgiving is one day, but this year I was challenged to declare my thankfulness for each of the 30 days in November. Here is my list so far (which will continue to update until December 1st):
Day 2: I am thankful that Halloween was “postponed” so Alex could go trick-or-treating with his sister.
Day 3: I am thankful for music & how great songs endure for generations. This morning Hannah was telling me her favorite singer/dancer is Michael Jackson & we were singing songs I loved in high school!
… pretty young things repeat after me, say na na na…
Day 4: I am thankful for the people who “get” my son & know how to best take care of him. And I am also thankful for being able to have patience & not bite the heads off the people who are clueless in that area. … sigh…
Day 5: I am thankful for “dream catchers.” Since I got one from the craft store for Hannie, all her dreams have been peaceful. But more importantly, I am thankful for all those “good luck charms” and “magic things” that somehow help when I need a little extra faith.
Day 6 (election day): I am thankful I live in a country where I can speak my mind & I can vote. I am also thankful for my 7 year old’s compassion for others. On the way to the polls this morning, she said:
“If anyone asks, I’m gonna tell them I’m voting for Obama because my friend Ethan (who has autism) loves Elmo. And also because I want my Mom to be able to marry the woman she loves!”
Day 7: I am thankful all that fuss is over. Now onto the business of making the world a better place for the kids!
Day 8: I am thankful for forgiveness. As in, all those little moments where someone we love forgives our crankiness or frustration & inspires us to try again.
Day 9: I am thankful for choice.
Day 10: I am thankful for childhood friendships which endure across the years. Being able to “share my happy” with my dear friend & kindred spirit Linda today made me feel so lucky & blessed!
Day 11: I am thankful my body works more or less the way I want it to & I am healthy. I am thankful I can run, eat, laugh, stretch, play and enjoy it all. And I’m also most thankful to have found someone to share life with who appreciates the same things!
Day 12 (veteran’s day): I am thankful for the folks in the military, past & present. All the time I am discussing, debating, advocating & throwing my opinions around, I am well aware that without their service, I might not have even the freedom to write a list like this.
Day 13: I am thankful for the innocence of children. This morning while I was digging through a closet to find something, an old note to Hannah from “Santa” fell out of a bag of decorations. Hannah picked it up, read it and asked with wide eyes:
“Is Santa Claus REAL??”
I paused… then asked, “What do you think honey?”
“I think he’s real and he’s AWESOME!”
Day 14: I am thankful for technology. When I finally got up the guts to check my financial tracking software program this morning, I learned that I’m way overbudget. But not as overbudget as I thought I actually was. And for some reason, I’m totally cool with that. So cool, in fact, that I hopped right on over to Facebook to tell 832 people about it.
…hmmm… Maybe I’m actually thankful for caffeine and therapy…
Day 17: I am thankful for do-overs. As in, the second chances granted by the bigger kids when we were the littler kids and messed up during a game. I discovered do-overs come in handy in lots of situations… relationships, parenting, careers, cooking, homes, haircuts… you name the flub, I bet you can change it with a deep breath and a compassionate do-over.
Day 18: I am thankful for Sunday afternoon down time with nothing to do but snuggle in bed. Day 19: I am thankful for caffeine on Mondays.
Day 20: I am thankful there are alternatives to Saran Wrap. Seriously? You’re gonna rip right in the middle, stick to yourself & make me cover the bowl with six pieces? But you can’t ever stick directly to the bowl now can you? Grrrrrrr….
Day 21: I am thankful for the kind of love that is simply being present. Yesterday I began the heartbreaking process of having Alex classified as a “disabled child.” When my anxiety peaked after a long day of paperwork & questions & trying to figure out Thanksgiving preparation, it all tumbled out on the phone with Aubrey. Instead of fixing or rationalizing or explaining, Aubrey simply asked:
“Do you want me to go with you tonight to see Alex?”
I am so thankful for that kind of loving kindness. Aubrey’s presence in my life just makes everything better.
Day 22 (thanksgiving): I am thankful for holiday celebrations with my children.
20 Nov 2012 2 Comments
I love the WordPress Daily Prompt. Especially when I can highlight some of my favorite ridiculous bloggy writing love from the past. Several months ago I made up the most delicious word to describe an awesome Alex-Mom moment.
The story behind it?
Click on the picture of my beautiful boy to read on.
16 Nov 2012 Leave a comment
13 Nov 2012 Leave a comment
07 Nov 2012 3 Comments
… and the Alarming Growing Autism Rate.
That’s what this post is about. Same as always– autism, my son, my mother anxieties. …
Recently I read an article about chemicals that may possibly play a factor in the development of autism. You can find the link here. Yes, we all know that autism is….
“… thought to be caused by a genetic predisposition combined with unknown environmental factors…”
Read the above article. It is disturbing. Some of the chemicals I’d heard of, some were completely off my radar. And all the while I’m scanning this piece of news, I had a little movie playing in my mind. It was the scene in the film “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” where scientists tell Lily Tomlin’s character:
and then proceed to name a huge list of products like hair spray and household cleaners and soap etc etc, all things produced by her husband’s company.
Great. More confirmation that no one really knows. Lots of acknowledgement that holy God! we have a serious autism epidemic on our hands.
So why is it that many families still have to fight for autism treatments? Why there are still so many professionals who just have no idea how to help autism families? Why has no one banned chemicals we *know* for sure are so super-toxic that they’ve damaged an entire generation of children? I don’t have answers.
<another heavy sigh>
Then as soon as I began to lament the tons of Cheetos I craved while pregnant with Alex, the tuna fish sandwiches from my employer’s cafeteria that I thought were an excellent source of protein, and all the microwaved lunches in plastic containers….
Yes, more research needs to be done. But I’m going to leave that to the scientists. In the meantime, I’m gonna be the mom and I’m gonna pray for my kids and love them and want them to be with me forever. Just like Lily Tomlin’s kids in the movie who watched her float away, a tiny wisp who disappeared into a chemical puddle only to return to normal size. Miraculously.
Then I’m gonna fast forward to the end of that movie in my head and remember how after the Incredible Shrinking Woman returned to normal size, in the next scene her feet grew right out of her slippers– and all the kids in the theater gasped “Oh no!” with big grins on their faces.
Because the fact is that we’ll never know all the answers, it’ll always be a puzzle, and we’re gonna have to keep trying anyway. So for now I’m going back to just being the mom.