Tag - solo mom

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The Hardest Thing
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It’s So Loud Out There
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Contemplation
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July 13: Sometimes
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A Slow Fade
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The Nights
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Writing My Way Out
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Tuesdays With Sam
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She Reads!
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Mom Has Her First Epiphany

The Hardest Thing

Today, the day the world sits up and dresses in blue, I will sit up too. I will sit up and give you a glimpse: I am a single mom to two amazing beings who confound and astound. It is hard, but Autism is not the hardest thing.

The hardest thing is being both for them: mother, father; sweet and soft; sharp and strong; all of the angles their geometry requires. Hardest is staying calm when the tide comes in with a rush — a skinned knee, a tantrum of protest in the post office line and I am sinking — as alone with this responsibility as a sea stone swept out to drown.

They run and zing, darting like human triangles keening to their own music. Their music is one, although they are each themselves, two sides of a happy sing-song, my sons.

But as a single mom, I bear witness alone.

The hardest thing is letting them be who they are meant to be. The hardest thing is letting them go and hoping that they’ve memorized the soft and sweet, the sharp and strong, and forgive me for not filling in all the empty spaces in between.

It’s So Loud Out There

I know I’ve been silent. Everything feels muffled to me these days — the way the streets do after a new snow. I reach out, I reach within and I come up empty. The words fail me because the feelings are all Pay attention to us! Don’t be rational about it, just wallow! On Saturday morning I sat in a parked car and sobbed. In that moment I felt outside myself, a bystander to something foreign and a little embarrassing. The me outside myself looked down at the me inside her car and asked Do you feel better now? Did you just need a good cry? Will you snap out of it now?

The morning did not start well. It began with a fight with Twins Dad over dishes. Of course all epic fights begin with something this inane, clearly standing in for bigger things. I do everything. I don’t feel appreciated. I’m scared. I’m tired. I feel like a bad parent. Who cares if it’s true, it feels true in that moment. At one point I stood in the kitchen and screamed at the top of my lungs, exactly the way Sam does when he doesn’t get his way. I felt outside myself then too. The me outside myself laughed at the me screaming in the middle of her kitchen.

I mean, it was a little funny — hours later, after we had hashed it all out and were speaking again. I realized that I can only change the way I react to this life, this huge life that we’re living — I can’t change much else.

Contemplation

Life has been rough lately. The longer I go without blogging, the harder it is to get back here. It’s not the boys — they are actually doing great — firing on all cylinders. It’s me. I’m struggling. They are six now, which means that I’ve had my nose to the ground taking care of all the details for 4+ years. During that time I’ve juggled many things, including work, while sticking to an insane schedule of therapy and school and doctor’s visits.

I am not complaining, even if it sounds like I am. This is what we do, right? Have a baby (or two), grow ’em those early days and months when you’re still oblivious to what’s coming down the pike, get an autism diagnosis, watch your world do a 180, learn new special-needs language, morph into a hysterical mama bear and take care of the details. Right? Right? This is what a mother does even if there’s no autism to muddy it all up.

John is thriving at school — the irony isn’t lost on me. I can hardly believe I disliked his new teacher at the beginning of the school year. I hope she would forgive me for being so overprotective, for the conclusions I jumped to before giving her a chance. I observed him in class one day and my jaw dropped when I saw him write his name on his own and read a handful of sight words and call out numbers “41! 36! 52!”. How often I underestimate him. He’s a smart, smart boy and he has a teacher with the perfect touch — gentle and kind yet persistent and motivating.

Despite my concerns for Sam’s social life, he is doing just great, thank you. If you ask him,  he’ll tell you all about his friends. His teachers report that everyone likes him, tell me my concerns seem out of left field, unexpected. Academically he’s above grade level and was one of only six other kids in the entire first grade to get a 100% on his math assessments. So what if he struggles sometimes in his approach, he’s figuring it out and getting there.

So what does this all mean? Could it be that I’ve lost myself in the pursuit of their well-being and happiness? Am I really that cliche? Am I looking for problems where none exist? It feels like I’ve been doing battle for so long (early intervention, speech therapy, OT, social skills, play dates, IEPs and parent-teacher conferences) that who I was before I became Autism Twins Mommy has phhhtt! …vanished. It’s like this dream I have sometimes — I am standing on a crowded street and the press of people rushing past makes me feel both rooted to the spot and frantic to join them all at the same time. Alas, my legs won’t move and I forgot where I was going.

As a freelancer, I’ve watched the economy shrink my work by two thirds. By the time I raised my head to deal with it and contemplate returning to the work force, I discover that I am overqualified for most jobs and lack certain skill sets that new grads already bring to the table. I’m that cliche too! When did it all happen? And if I’m not a graphic designer anymore, who am I? Other than having the privilege of being Sam and John’s mom, what else fills me up? What else will pay the bills? What fills you up?

So blog friends, this is why I’ve been away. Feeling blue, contemplating moves. Writing about it — saying it aloud if you will, feels like a seismic shift in the ole attitude.

July 13: Sometimes

Over the last few days I’ve been fighting despair. I don’t often write about the days that knock me down because who wants to read about that, really.

Writing when you feel sad or depressed means acknowledging the source of your sadness. It means pulling up a chair in the middle of your own pity party. It means owning the feelings, sitting with them, sometimes thanking them. You run the risk of feeling worse before you feel better.

Write, press Publish, release. The good. The bad. The fully-formed thought, the more nebulous one. I imagine my words hanging here in cyberspace and they alight on your screen — are they little stings of familiarity, are they met with incredulity or do you have days like this too?

Sometimes I feel my mission is to paint a happy face on it. Twins. Autism. La-di-da, big whoop.

Sometimes I go weeks, months, without posting because I can’t find the happy and I can’t bear to sit with the alternative.

Sometimes autism is much bigger than me. Sometimes I back down and let it call the shots.

Sometimes I don’t think I can do this one minute longer. Sometimes I burst into tears from the frustration, the exhaustion, John’s lack of communication. Sometimes I feel that autism is blotting me out.

Sometimes all I can think about is how John will always always always need me, even when I’m walking with a cane, even when I’m senile and can no longer see.

Do you see? I must be superwoman. I must live forever. It’s exhausting.

Sometimes.

A Slow Fade

I want to talk about disappearing.

Yes, there is the obvious disappearance of posts from my blog — but I’m talking about the slow fade of my joie de vivre. Over the last two years, since the boys were diagnosed, I’ve been beating a slow retreat from me: from who I used to be, or thought I was, and from the things that made me happy: reading a book, having lunch with a friend. Writing. I’ve put myself at the bottom of my list. Internet, I’ve let myself go. Yes, I’ve put on the obvious physical weight that no longer comes off as easily as it once did, but I’m also carrying around the weight of you, Autism. It is convenient, I know, to pin this crappy feeling on our daily struggles with you, and perhaps it is a little unfair. But Autism? You’ve been kicking my butt lately and I feel like kicking you back.

If I were not trying desperately to figure out why John is yelling “Ready, Set, Run?!” over and over as I also try to clean the poo-strewn walls with Clorox wipes…again…I would really sit down for a moment and try to recapture a time when I felt hopeful. And happy. I know all of this may sound maudlin and a little over-the-top. I mean, there are numerous happy moments too. Really, there are. It’s just that where I’m sitting right now is shrouded in fog so that it’s hard to make them out.

The sleepless nights continue. Winter break was too long, too unstructured. John must must must be potty-trained soon. This is a stage I am quickly tiring of and it scares me. What if he is never potty trained, god help us. Could we still be changing diapers when he’s five?

Even as I sit here, all pissed at you and rightly so!, I feel guilty. Guilty! How can I blame my unhappiness all on you, Autism? I guess I should take some responsibility for letting you take center stage. I’ve done that I suppose. You did not make me eat that bowl of ice cream tonight. You did not cancel my lunch today.

A couple of things have happened recently: first, I found Facebook, or Facebook found me. I don’t know, but the assault of people I have not seen or heard from for 25+ years is really making me feel old and a little dizzy. Second, while out shopping with my younger sister a saleswoman asked if I was The Mother. Can you imagine? Well, the fact is that I am 18 years older, and I am a mother — not hers — but still.

So I feel like picking a fight with you, Autism. I know you are not really my nemesis, but you’re not my friend either. And you’ve done plenty lately to make me a bit irate. I promise, though, to start ignoring you when you jump on the furniture and draw poopy pictures on the walls. I vow to make you do the slow fade. Instead I will draw John near and wait breathlessly until he says his new favorite word: Hug.

And I will move myself up a little higher on my list. A new year, an old resolution.

The Nights

Twins Dad is gone for the week — on business. This means that I’ve been on 24/7 mom duty to two boys who WILL NOT sleep through the night in this hideous apartment. Last night we were up from 2 until 6. I awoke to two boys jumping around on my bed, vying for the spot closest to me. They snuck in, no cries for me to come running — it’s become their late-night act. I marched them both back to their room and attempted to squeeze myself between them on the floor. Crying from one, maniacal laughing from the other. I tried music. I tried rubbing backs. I tried threats and bribes. I offered juice, changed a diaper, THEN changed wet sheets. I yelled, I’m not proud, I have no patience anymore. I threw things across the room — soft things at least, pillows, stuffed animals. There is no fury like that of a mom going on no sleep. And then, I hate to say it, I wanted nothing more than to walk out the door. Just leave. Let someone else do this because I am losing my mind. What kind of mother does that, thinks that. Well, I’m sure I’m not the first. I hope.

At last, Sam was out. John continued his silly talk and puzzle fingers until I held him tightly to my chest, feeling his breath rise and fall as he gave in to sleep, just as the sun started peeking through the edges of the blinds.

Writing My Way Out

I’ve been tagged by Jordan at The Wonderwheel. Thanks Jordan, for helping me out of my writing slump!

The rules:
A. The rules are posted at the beginning
B. Answer the questions about yourself
C. Tag 5 people, let them know in a comment on their blogs that they have been tagged.

What were you doing 10 yrs ago?
Ten years ago I was a month away from meeting my husband. I lived and worked in a large urban area as a magazine designer. The only children in my life were my nieces and nephew and they lived in the (gasp) suburbs. Ten years ago I did not want to get married or have children. Obviously I don’t know that person anymore.

Snacks I enjoy:
Chips and chocolate. Not together.

Five things on my to-do list today:
1. Meet with client
2. Work on project (babysitter here today)
3. Bank
4. Post Office
5. Laundry

Things I would do if I became a billionaire:
I would:
…not worry about every single job I do or do not get.
…stop appealing every denied claim from our health insurance company.
…instead hire a lawyer to fight for us.
…start a fund for those not covered by insurance.
…find the best school/program for my boys and not care about the cost.
…start a magazine that celebrates people with autism.

3 bad habits:
1. Procrastinator
2. Pack-rat (although I love to purge)
3. Eating the entire Chipotle burrito instead of saving half for tomorrow

5 places I have lived:
1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
2. Denver, Colorado
3. Granada, Spain
4. Arlington, Massachusetts
5. Dover, New Hampshire

Jobs I have had:
1. Waitress
2. Cashier
3. Hostess
4. Windsurfing instructor
5. Graphic designer

Things people don’t know about me:
1. I had perfect vision until two years ago when I suddenly needed glasses to read. And see.
2. I was an extra in the movie “Forrest Gump”.
3. Worms completely freak me out. When it rains? It’s hard for me to go outside.
4. I’m fluent in Spanish.
5. I hate milk.

Instead of tagging five people, I leave it open. If you feel like participating, leave a comment and direct us there!

Tuesdays With Sam

Should I tell you about walking in to get the boys’ up and how I found Sam decidedly not in, but out of his crib and standing in the middle of the room — this despite a zipped-up crib tent? Oh, I know! How about the head-banging tantrum he had in the grocery store where I plied him with M&Ms if he’d just be quiet while the other customers in line glared first at me than tsk-tsked at his chocolate-smeared face? How about the inexplicable mourning, the loud wailing, as we sent “Mommy’s Car” through the carwash? How he screamed “No, Mommy’s Car, Come Here!!!” and then body-dropped by the window as we watched it enter the suds?

All are stunning events in their own right, at least in this mommy’s eyes. We have been getting some one-on-one time these days while John has his O.T. appointments. Some of it seems like typical behavior at this age: a tantrum in a store, (finally) climbing out of a crib. The hysteria about the car, though, hmm… not so sure. Sam is growing and changing so fast that I’m afraid I may discount his autism, or rather “forget” it when he still needs me to be vigilant, to always keep it under advisement when we’re out and about and he is not coping so well.

I sometimes look at his beautiful face, especially when he’s out of control — he’s learned to yell, truly a skill — and I’m reminded oh, yes, I did forget. And I feel sad that I’ve not remained on top of this, that I’ve put so much “high-functioning” on my poor son’s shoulders, all because he’s not AS autistic as his brother.

My Tuesdays with Sam help open my eyes.

She Reads!


It only took three+ months, but I’ve actually finished a book. “The Elephant in the Playroom” was perfect for me: a collection of very short essays written by moms and dads parenting kids with special needs. If you’re feeling alone in your everyday world — not in Blog Land, because there’s great company here — then I highly recommend it. It’s the type of book I looked for when we first started down this path.

Maybe unlike me, you’ll get this book and place it on top of the hopeless pile of unread fluff magazines on your nightstand and reach for it instead. I know when I finally retrieved it from underneath an old People Magazine I was hooked.

Mom Has Her First Epiphany

There’s a lot to be anxious about these days, what with August looming and the end of our Early Intervention years. I’m in the midst of completing IEP paperwork, so this is utmost in my mind tonight. There are diagnoses and new terms being bandied about. There is talk that a little yellow school bus (well, two) will be pulling up to our house and that I will actually let my boys board them without me, off to a pretty lengthy school day. Lengthy for, hello, a three-year-old. I am also told that they will come to love this part of their day, the school bus pulling up, the very RIDE itself. I can’t fathom their days away from me for that long. If I dwell and try to visualize what our typical day will look like (I gently wake them up, feed them a hearty breakfast, help them get dressed, beep-beep, up on the bus, wave goodbye with a tear in my eye…mom all alone…? mom all alone?!), I feel something akin to both panic and glee. How will they manage without their mother? What will I do with all this time!

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