Progress That Doesn’t Look Like Progress

Wow, what a mess we have here.  Four days left until we pick up the truck and begin to vacate this house!  And the place is messa wreck – no visible counter space, the contents of our medicine cabinet on the floor in the living room, boxes obscuring every view in the house… But I’m keeping my panic at bay, because as a special needs mom, I know that progress doesn’t always look like progress!

The Boy is holding up well, being a real trooper.  I have shared our “moving book” with him, and he seems to be doing pretty well, even with the house in so much upheaval, even with the end of the school year upon us.  Today we talked about the lady with the son who also loves Cars who will be coming to pick up his Cars bed this week, and he was OK.  We talked about how he could sleep on his mattress on the floor until we head south, and he was accepting and conversational… he was fine!

My parents have been here for four days already, helping me in numerous ways, as they always do when life throws me big change.  And together, we’re chipping away at what needs to be done.

So, while I can’t exactly walk across the floor without impediment, and while I’m sleeping on a crash pad in the basement, and even though there is much yet to be done, we’re making progress.  And that’s more than OK!

The Moving Book

Tonight, The Boy turned to me and said, “Why do we have to move?”

change goodIt just about breaks my heart, because I know on the inside, he is still adjusting to this very big change I have foisted upon him, although on the outside he has been a trooper.  And even though we have talked, and talked, and talked about this for a long, long time, I know it is still hard for him to understand.

A long while ago, I came across the suggestion to make a book about the moving process so that The Boy could have a resource to refer to when he was feeling anxious or unsure.  My lovely mother helped me flesh out the idea, and even did some of the legwork for me, taking pictures of his favorite places in our new area to include in the book.

My goal with the book was to acknowledge his fear, but accentuate the positive.  Tell him what exactly will change, and what will not.  Include pictures of familiar things in our new home and community, and pictures of good times with The Man, and with his grandparents.

I’ve been working on his book for awhile, and I shared it with him tonight, hearing his anxiety once again in his honest question.  We read through each page, and he looked at the pictures.  When we were finished, he was at least smiling.  I asked if he felt better and he said he did.

If you’re going through a move with an autistic child, I highly recommend the National Autism Society (UK)’s page, and a couple of other resources listed below.  You can never begin preparing your child too soon, and creating a moving book is one strategy to help calm those moving anxieties that I think will be so helpful!

Tips for Making a Move More Successful – Different Roads

Tips for Moving with an Autistic Child – Elsia R. Sebastian, Yahoo

Why I Love Field Day

Most teachers aren’t very fond of field day.  In fact, in my district it was even the source of a fierce battle about prep time awhile back.  But I love it.  At least I love it when my kid has it.

His field day was last week.  I think he even chose a special “athletic-themed” outfit for that day, choosing to wear his T-shirt from the special needs baseball camp he has been to the past two summers.  It doesn’t hurt that he loves his gym teacher, and wants to be one when he grows up.

His school gives each kid a long ticket-type thing that lists the various activities, that get punched as they visit the stations, and they can also be recognized on the ticket for showing good sportsmanship (or having an “oops!” moment, but The Boy has never earned an “oops!” he is proud to tell me).

field day '13

Here’s why I love it so much: I often have no clue about what happens at school, because he just chooses not to tell me (thank goodness his ASD teacher sends home a daily communication log to let me know about highlights, or I’d be completely in the dark!).  But on field day, we have a nice long conversation. When I pick The Boy up from Kids Club, and with the ticket in hand, I ask him about each one with a punch next to it.  I ask him to explain how it works, and whether or not he liked it (he always likes them all).  And he does tell me — at length!  I have a guide that tells me what to ask him about his day, and I do, and he responds.  That’s a big thing for us.   And I enjoy it a great deal.

A Solo Venture

The Boy has been anxiously awaiting the opening of the pool at the big park near us, and it finally opened Memorial Day weekend.  Except it was cold that weekend.  And then we’ve had lots and lots of rain.  So he’s been a bit focused about being able to go to the pool.  I suggested we do it last week for Fun Friday, and he was all for it.  And then it rained, again.

I told him we could go the next morning, so we did.  We stepped outside and realized it was not altogether warm, mainly due to the wind, and there were some gray clouds looming, but I couldn’t put him off any longer.

We arrived, paid our admission, and went to get a locker and put on sunscreen.  We emerged to the pool area to realize that we were the only ones there, and were rousting the teenage lifeguards from huddling in their sweats in the “office”…

deserted pool

I set the timer, and he gadded about, going down the slide, jumping off the diving board, all while five lifeguards looked on.  And I felt kind of bad for them, and then I stopped – they were getting paid, so they could sit and watch my kid for awhile!

After a good half hour, a few more people straggled in, and then a few more.  By the time we left there were maybe 11 people in the pool, but it was all good.  It was warm when the sun came out from behind the clouds, The Boy had a great time, and had no problem leaving when it was time to go, except to say, “Maybe we can come when it’s warmer next time…”


stormy sunny

A Wedding For Under $500

If you’ve ever been on Pinterest for any length of time, you’ll have noticed all the pins about how cheaply you can throw a wedding: for under $12,000, for under $7,000, for under $5,000…

Here’s where we stand:

  • Bride’s dress: $4 (I ordered it from ModCloth and had to pay shipping, but the dress was free.  They had screwed up slightly on a previous order, and sent me coupon code for $50 off, which I saved for the right time)
  • Bride’s shoes: $7 (never-used pair of sandals from the thrift store)
  • Bride’s headband: $16 in materials, handmade by me!
  • Bridal Jewelry: $0 (handmade by my mom!)
  • Groom’s clothing: $0 (shorts, a polo, and his Keens)
  • Wedding venue: $0 (public park on the waterfront with a small gazebo, so no fee is required to reserve)
  • Officiant: $180
  • Flowers: $10 – 50? (I’m thinking of either heading to the grocery store for a bouquet or ordering a bouquet online to arrive the day before the wedding, and in either case, just using a few blooms from it)
  • Handmade bowl: $0 (for The Boy to hold the rings, handmade by my friend, an art teacher, and featuring the imprint of my grandma’s crochet *sniff*)
  • License: $60
  • Rings: $100?  (I know we can get a nice set on Etsy for $80-100, but haven’t ordered them yet)
  • Reception: $0 (Not having one! – just heading to dinner with family and close friends)

No cake, no invitations (although The Man seems to have invited the whole town to the ceremony!), no chair covers, no favors, no place cards, no limo, no boutonnieres, no formal photographer, no bridal party, no DJ…

We don’t need it.  We’ll have each other, and The Boy, and the people closest to us on the planet.  What more could a bride want?

PS No pictures now, because I want to share pics from the wedding afterwards!


Whoa, Part 2

Have you ever heard of the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale? It’s this list of major life events (some good, some not-so-good) that these two researchers determined create levels of stress that have the ability to affect your health. And they ranked them. They have a list for adults, and another list for “non-adults”.

If I added it all up, I think it would be safe to say that with everything coming our way in the next little bit, The Boy, The Man, and I are at least at moderate risk. And I think these multiple list-entries are at the root of my mildly-erratic mood swings of late. I feel like I’m hormonal, except that I’m not.

Awareness has to count for something, though. And being a little forgiving to myself is a good thing, right? Like not getting too upset with myself that I ordered The Man’s one-way ticket the wrong way… Oops. Somehow, it will all get done. Somehow…


Why I Chose to Date as a Single Mom

“Don’t let your struggle be your identity.”

Yes, I actively pursued dating after divorce, as a single mom, as a special needs parent.  Yes, I did.  Some moms in similar situation choose not to, choosing instead to, “wait until their children are grown,” or maybe even give up the idea of ever being with someone again.  “The kids come first,” they often say.  And I don’t disagree.  Not every child, nor even every special needs child is like mine.  Some have more intense needs, and I am not judging anyone who has made this decision for themselves, because I can’t know your personal situation – only you do.

I love being a mom, and that is an integral part of my identity.  I would never give it up, I would never trade that for anything in the world.  But it isn’t all of me.  I am much more complex.  I have my own desires, needs, dreams, foibles, interests, and personality quirks.  I have my own life.  Being a mom to a special needs child is part of it, but it isn’t it.

We only have one life.  I want to live with as little regret as possible, which means doing the best I can, while stretching my personal limits a bit, growing, and learning all the time.  Having a non-existent social life would be a huge source of regret for me.

Also, I want my child to understand that I was put on this planet to be his mom, but also to be a lot of other things, just as he was put on this planet to be my son, and also a lot of other things.  He has autism, but he has a lot of other really cool stuff that make up his identity.

“Don’t let your struggle be your identity.”

That is what I wish for him, and I hope I am modeling that for him by living my life to the fullest.

PS ~ I couldn’t find an attribution for the quote – if anyone knows, please mention in the comments!

A Packing Tip: Necklaces

I was a packing fiend today, and managed to get just about everything packed up in my bedroom, including my jewelry.  Remember my storage board for necklaces?  It was fairly simple to pack up all those necklaces using some Glad Press n’ Seal:

I put some, sticky side up underneath each set of necklaces, and arranged them so that there was some space in between every strand.  Then I placed another piece of Press n’ Seal, stckiy-side down on top, pressing it into all of those spaces.

When I was finished, I slid the tops of the necklaces off of the hooks, finished pressing the pieces together, and rolled them up lengthwise to pack in a box.  So easy! (and much easier if you turn the cieling fan off first, so it doesn’t blow your Press n’ Seal all around so that it sticks to itself…)

You Are Not a Failure

A mom posted on Single mothers who have children with autism’s facebook page about feeling like a failure because her son was being pulled from mainstreamed classes, and placed into a special education classroom.  My heart breaks when I read things like that.

Adaptation of above image illustrating an Inte...

I think every Special Needs Parent has those moments, hours, days, weeks, or even years, when we feel like we are the biggest failures on the planet, and we feel that pain so much more deeply because we know how much our kids need us not to fail.  But.  We can not allow ourselves to feel that way for too long, for that very same reason – our kids need us to pick ourselves up and keep rolling that rock up the mountain.  It’s OK to fall, to stumble, to crawl into bed and lock the door once in awhile (assuming everyone else is relatively safe).  But we can’t stay there, and we definitely can’t get into the habit of pointing fingers at ourselves too often.

Maybe it would help to remember those naysayers we have all encountered.  The ignorant, mean-spirited people we have come across.  And then in our weakest moments, imagine what kind of a job they would do in our place.  You see, no one is perfect, and none of us were prepared for this job.  And there was certainly no manual.  But we are some of the quickest studies on the planet.  We can read our children’s faces down to the slightest waggle of an eyebrow, and be able to interpret emotion from it.  We can come up with backup plans on the fly, salvage nasty situations, and calm our children when no one else can.  In the eyes of our children, we are MOM (or DAD), the one and only.  Learning from mistakes is part of the game.  It’s not learning from them that is a failure.

Be nice to yourself, parents.  Try not to beat yourself up too bad.  It’s a waste of energy, and you’ve got too much other stuff to do!