Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Imperfect Parents...WE DO EXIST

As parents we all love to paint a perfect picture to the public. We make sure our kids are clean, unwrinkled, well mannered, well spoken, and other unrealistic things like that. The best at soccer, the smartest in the class, an all star gymnast, VP basketball player... And as moms we must have the best baby bag, the best minivan, the biggest diamond ring, a marble island in our kitchen, and of course a very successful career husband. Am I wrong here?

One thing Autism taught me very quickly, was all that above is well...for the lack of a better is all BULL SHIT. I am going to be honest that I wanted all of that crap above, because I grew up in a society where you weren't good enough if you weren't the best, richest, fastest, prettiest blah blah blah.

Then Autism knocked on the door. 

In the beginning I still lived in that fantasy world where everything had to be perfect on the outside. Then one day Grace melted down in a CVS and threw up all over the place. It was one of the first times the world saw the imperfect side of my parenting. Another time she threw a butter knife across the restaurant. So, I realized something really quick. Perfect is not real. And a lot of imperfect stuff happens behind close doors. And you know what? It doesn't make YOU a bad parent. But you will become a better parent when you admit to yourself, you can't control it, and it's not going to be perfect. Also embrace all the imperfect stuff and allow it to be apart of your life. Honestly if your kids aren't getting into stuff and flinging poop across the room, you are doing something wrong. ;)

You are also doing something wrong...

-if you have never had crayons or markers on your walls or furniture

-if your kids has never gotten the scissors and cut their hair

-if your kids have never pooped/peed/vomited on the couch

-if your kids drew with sharpie marker all over their face

-if they never sprayed a whole can of shaving cream and baby powder all over the bathroom and their body

-if they never have choked on something or almost choked

-if you've never called poison control

-if she never got a whole tub of hair her hair

-if she never punched a peer or pushed a peer out of her way

-if he has never eaten dinner under the table

-if you have never let them watch TV or IPAD all DAY

-if he has never been inside the toilet bowl...yes inside

-if she has never hit, kicked, scratched, punched, head butted you in a room full of people

-if she still has a bottle at 4

-if he still has a pacifier at 6

-if she never has spilled a whole box of cereal on your bed

-if he never got into jars of Vaseline...peanut butter...or anything sticky like that

-if you have never brought them to the bus in snow man pajamas in JULY with hot pink nikes

-if you have never fallen asleep and woke up to your daughter on top of the fridge or inside the dryer

-if your house is never a mess

-if you have never forgotten to buckle the car seat

-if you have never sent them to school with unbrushed hair/teeth or unbathed

-if you have never let them be naked or just chill in their underwear at home

-if you have never let her wear rain boots or ear muffs in the summer

-if they have never made any type of public 'SCENE"

and my all time FAVORITE

-if they have never walked in on you having SEX and assumed you were play fighting and then proceeded to jump on you...yea true story ;)

Here are some of MY greatest parenting moments :) and remember EMBRACE the imperfections of parenting...because in the end you will be a better parent.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Listening Close Enough

It's summer! We have been doing all types of fun things before school starts up again for the summer. Today we went to a birthday party at a local amusement park. Grace blends in with all of the children. Which is sometimes hard, because when a behavior arises no one knows how to take it. Why is this girl repeating her self over and over again or why can't she comprehend a simple social cue? Why did she just punch her mom?

She ran on the fun house ride which involves a lot of motor planning. At first there were no lines so she could take her time maneuvering and doing all the climbing and such. As she came off she went back on again and again. At this point the fun house was getting a little more crowded so each part had extra waiting times. And it started. As she waited behind people she would script. She would pace backwards. The climbing she would get trampled or pushed back and have to restart again and again. In line for the slide part 4 kids passed before she realized she was in line. She came running off the slide and asked to go again. I said "of course!", inside I was screaming NO.

There was now a huge line formed to get in. I saw her get on line, walk off, get back on line, walk in a circle around the line. She then ran to me and grabbed my hand and pulled me to the line. If you knew Grace you would know she is extremely verbal, but moments like this she has no words. I went on line with her and assumed I could walk away. When she was solo she seemed so lost and so confused. Finally she got in!! And again she went slowly but surely, climbing as the other kids lapped her. She got to the bridge and paced back and forth and to the slide, after 8 or so children passed her she finally went down the slide.

It's hard to watch. It's like someone squeezes my heart and sets it down in my stomach. I get so emotional because my mind races to the future when I won't be there to bring her on the line. Of course as my mind is racing with all this fear and trepidation I see this beautiful girl smiling bright as her little butt scoots down the slide.

This is all she knows. She doesn't know any different way to do things. She may stand out to others. But for her, she's just being herself. And as she gets lapped in the fun house she never bats an eye. And when she's climbing and gets pushed down, she keeps climbing. All of this with such determination. She never gives up and she never complains. And when she's ready she will go down that damn slide. If she needs to pace or script so be it.

It's not about me...and what I see. It's about her. It's about her confidence and her never ending hard
work. Her determination to do things is admirable. Her personality not caring what others think or do is admirable.

When her feet hit the ground after the slide, my pained squeezed heart swelled. The hurt and sadness broke off and it filled with pride. I am so proud of my daughter. She teaches me something everyday that is if I listen close enough.

She knows me so well...

One thing my daughter doesn't lack in all her struggles is intuition. Since she's born, she's known me so well. She eased me into motherhood slowly by being a great baby. She then eased me right into her Autism diagnosis.

Yesterday was a bad day for me. I left the couch when necessary and just drifted through my day in zombie mode. I never know what triggers me, but something really triggered me. I haven't had a day like this since March. The sound of anyone's voice were nails on a chalk board and anyone's touch was like rubbing two pieces of sand paper together. (Click here to read more about my bad days)

Except hers. Somehow she just knows. She plopped down on the floor with her toys and her iPad and never left my side. She barely spoke to me or touched me. Even when she wanted the channel changed she just would hand me the remote. I was making her a shake and burst into tears in the kitchen. I feel so guilty I expose her to this, this ugly horrible side of me. But there are days when I just can't snap out of it, no matter how hard I try. I focused on my tears hitting the kitchen counter and cried the most when the blender was on. I watch myself outside of my body when I'm like this. I see this useless girl just sitting there and I want to shake her. "Snap out of it dumbie", I scream. But I can never hear me. How could I be so selfish and do this to my daughter? Why can't I get my act together?

I turned my bad day into a "camp out" in the living room with sleeping bags and tents. She also had all of her meals at the "camp out". Through out my journey of bad days Grace over exceeds my expectations every single time. She jumped on the couch with me and we napped for 3 long hours. Her head was on my chest and I breathed her in the whole time. I traced the outline of her profile with my finger and whispered in her ear like I always do, "Mommy's so sorry Grace, mommy will be better." A promise I can't keep, but I try, I really do try.

 She knows me so well.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A New Type of Mother: Ditching the Timeline

Grace and I went to the city today. (Manhatten) It was an impromptu adventure with very little planning. She is obsessed with public transportation so we took a train, a bus, and a taxi. It absolutely made her day!

We were patiently waiting for the bus and the anticipation on her face, took my breath away. A bus 5 year girl...enjoys the simple things in life. The bus pulled up and we inserted the metro card and found our way to a seat by the window, of course. She sat with a giant smile and took the whole experience in. She looked so free. She had no stress in her eyes, just this free spirited light hearted girl.

As the bus rode on I flashed back to me 3 years ago, mapping out her timeline, figuring out ways to get her caught up to her age appropriate milestones. I remember reading every progress report and evaluation closely and putting a time frame in my head when she would achieve that "goal". I was so neurotic. I became obsessed with milestones that I lost time with my beautiful girl. I lost breathing in and living moments. I was too busy computing time lines in my head. I do not regret all the work I did, but if I could go back, I'd probably lighten up a bit. The funny part is, if you asked me 3 years ago I would of told you I was "fine" and "living every moment". Truth is I wasn't, well not the way I think I should of. 

The last month or so somehow I ditched the stupid timeline. I've never felt so free as a mother. I feel this new found love for motherhood that I've kept hidden by this encapsulating worry and fear. Something in me changed and I let go a little bit. Trips to the play ground aren't filled with me worrying if she will be socially appropriate, or is she climbing on the apparatus correctly? If she rather play with the 3 year olds, good for her! If she wants to sit somewhere and script, Good! If she melts down, we will just work through it, like we always do. It's not like shes never melted down before. I've come to realize she will do stuff in her own time or maybe never do it. Maybe she will never ride a bike? Maybe she will never be class President? Maybe she won't go to college? I am not saying she won't do these things...but it's ok if she doesn't. After watching her today, my main concern for her is happiness and all the other Autism/development stuff follows after. She has her own path to fulfill, and I know now I have minimal control on her path, but I will guide her as much as I can.

So today, her and I lived in a moment of time. I took every ounce of it in. We ran and played. We hugged and kissed. We laughed and snuggled. We sang and we talked. I listened to every word that fell from her lips and watched every smile, every skip, run, and giggle. I cherished every moment. And for
this I'm a better Mother.