It’s Been a Struggle – Update

Hey, there, friends. Long time no write on my part. I’m sorry about that. Between the election, NaNoWriMo, and some other stuff going on in our lives, my head has been swimming. I did pre-write some posts and schedule them, but not as many as I would have liked, so I’m checking in with you all today.

  • I woke up at about 3am this morning with the weight of the world on my mind. This has happened a lot since November 9. As I said in my last post, I’m very worried about The Boy’s future, more than I have ever been. His medical coverage is at risk, and that would affect us emotionally and financially. I don’t expect any progress at the national level in terms of increased programs for adults on the spectrum, either. Maybe this do-nothing congress that has been virtually re-elected will surprise me, but I doubt it will be in a good way.
  • The Boy has been struggling with some violence during his meltdowns this year, and I am investigating how we can best help him through this. We may be switching doctor’s offices, we may be switching medications (big yikes), and we may be looking into some therapy for him. It depends on what his insurance will cover. But he needs some help dealing with his anger (thanks a lot, puberty), and I’m at the bottom of my toolbox with nothing left.
  • I get my first Thanksgiving mini-vacation this year since 2012. Every other year in between, I had to work on some portion of the days surrounding the holiday. Starting tomorrow at lunchtime, I am off until Monday, and man,will that feel weird. Good weird, though. ūüôā
  • Then The Boy’s birthday is right around the corner. He’ll be 15. There goes my head, swimming again…
  • And the ex reached out post-election with an eloquent text saying he knew he had neglected his son and wanted to be a regular part in his life, promising to call every Sunday. That lasted exactly one Sunday, but I suppose his heart is in the right place. The Boy will be heading to his dad’s for Christmas, and I will miss him desperately.

So, my head continues to swim, which is better than sinking, I guess. I wanted to check in with you folks. It seems like it has been forever.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. ‚̧

A Few Changes

Like I tell The Boy, change isn’t necessarily bad, but it is inevitable.

I’ve done lots of thinking over the past couple of weeks about this blog – you may have noticed my “radio-silence”. SimpleIJustDo¬†has provided me a great place to share and vent, a small community of support, and lots of self-reflection. As The Boy gets older, I am starting to feel like he is becoming the steward of his own story, and although this has always been a place for me to write about me and my experience being a mom to him (and never meant to replace his own story), I feel like I need to take a step back.

Let me be clear: This blog isn’t going anywhere. I will continue blogging.

But, I’m going to concentrate on quality over quantity. I need to balance my need to share and vent, and The Boy’s right to privacy and self-advocacy. I may post less and try to interact more via social media (if you aren’t following on Facebook or twitter, now might be a good time to look me up).

This will also allow me a little bit more time to focus on my long-term writing goals, too, which involves novel-writing aspirations (wish me luck!).

I hope you’ll hang on and bear with me through this adjustment period. We still have lots to share. But we may do it in a little bit different forum or format. As always, thank you for showing interest in our story. I’m still amazed at how far across the globe my voice can go!

Much Love,

~Annie

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Not goodbye. We’ll see you soon!

Everyone’s a Jerk Sometimes

The Man is definitely not an auditory learner. I’ve learned this the hard way a few times lately. In the latest instance, he wanted to order a septic system doohickey for work, but doesn’t have a functioning laptop, and asked me to look up the item in question. After doing so, and me reading stuff I didn’t completely understand from the screen, he said, “Order it!” excited that he could maybe create a few more job opportunities using this doohickey.

When the doohickey came on Saturday, he was amazed at the size. “Well, you did order the 100 foot version,” I said. “I didn’t want that one. I wanted the 50 foot version,” he said. I thought, “What? I read you what was on the screen! What didn’t you understand about it being 100 feet long?” but I said, “Well, we can return it if you want. It would cost us about nine dollars to ship it back.”

“Let me think about it,” he said.

This morning, he threw the box away and attempted to use it at work. He called me and said, “They sent the wrong thing! This thing is a different type of doohickey than I needed!” (paraphrased)

I said, “But it says right here in the description that it is supposed to work with your other doohickey.”

He said, “Well, it’s not the right thing, and I have to buy this other thing which costs $37 and we just need to send it back.” He was clearly frustrated and quickly got off the phone with me (we usually say “I love you” and when he doesn’t, I know he’s ticked off, usually at me).

And I thought, “Well, that was kind of jerky. It’s not my fault you didn’t pay attention and the doohickey isn’t what you thought it was.” My feelings were a bit hurt. And then I remembered back to this weekend when I snapped at him when I couldn’t locate my debit card and he said, “You lost your card?” Ooh, I let loose a little on that one (the card was just in the wrong pocket in my purse, but caused an overabundance of anxiety for about an hour).

I apologized later for snapping, just as he will apologize later for “being a little short” with me. We’re all a little jerky sometimes. You can’t expect your partner to have a perfect record in the emotional management department, especially when you are a little shy of perfect yourself. As long as apologies are forthcoming, and there was no intent to harm, I think you’re doing quite well. You’re doing even better if you can recognize what’s going on and make a mental note to work on that emotional management stuff.

Our House

This gallery contains 14 photos.

Last spring, The Man and I bought a lot which would put us safely within the boundaries of the high school The Boy was supposed to go to before the district abandoned the HFA program at his middle school. It … Continue reading

All Quiet on the Northern Front

On Father’s Day, we were up north, but¬†I made sure The Boy called his dad. He spoke with him briefly, spoke to both of his uncles briefly, and spoke to his grandpa briefly. The call lasted 7 minutes.

I tried to think back to the last time they had spoken, and couldn’t think of a time since he had dropped The Boy off with us in January, at the end of his winter break. I checked my phone bill and I was wrong. ¬†He did call once in March, and they spoke for 9 minutes.

For those of you keeping score, that’s 16 minutes in 6 months.

There hasn’t been any attempt to get any time with The Boy for the summer break, and there has been no discussion of when the next visitation might occur. Maybe it’s because I told him unequivocally in January that The Boy flying alone on a plane wasn’t going to happen any time soon. “It’s not a good idea,” were my exact words.

Is this the beginning of the end? One initiated contact in the past 6 months?

I don’t have any words. Just sadness.

when the school calls...

Remarried Life

The Man and I celebrate three years married today, and I feel so much more competent at being married than I ever have. It really helps to have married the right person. I think the perspective from being married previously (to the hopelessly wrong person) helps, as well.

From the beginning with The Man, I saw us as a team. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book,¬†Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, she reveals that marriage in the early years of western civilization was actually an act of civil disobedience against the all-powerful church (who preferred that individuals be married only to God), and¬†became an “us against the world” partnership.

This coincides nicely with the advice I picked up somewhere that suggests you should never speak ill of your spouse to others. It’s all too easy to complain to friends and family when you feel like your spouse is being unfair or overreacting to something you did, but I have really tried to hold my tongue and keep any issues we may have with each other¬†where they¬†belong, between the two of us.

Here are a few other perspectives I have picked up along the way:

  1. The “never go to bed angry” line is nonsense. You don’t have any control over your emotions and how long you will feel the way you feel. You don’t look at the clock and say, “Oh, it’s 9 o’clock so I need to stop being miffed now.” But do¬†go to bed together. It means that you are still in this thing together, even if you aren’t agreeing right now.
  2. Try not to let the little things drive you crazy. There are times when I fantasize about big heavy cast iron pans when the snoring has gone past its usual 20 minutes, and the TV is still on and he’s asleep. But there will come a day when there won’t be any snoring and no TV to keep me awake, and I’d much prefer to have him there next to me, even if earplugs are required.
  3. Show it don’t say it. Those three little words lose their meaning when repeated so often. Offering to do the dishes when he’s tired, not pointing out that he’s complaining too much, and letting him listen to Conway Twitty on the car radio go much further, sometimes.
  4. Being right is overrated. I come from know-it-all stock. I used to wield my intelligence like a cudgel, at times. Now I know that it’s ok to let¬†my husband think he’s right about the mouth-being-a-very-clean-place-actually-because-he-heard-a-story-about-it-on-NPR.

The Man was nervous about getting married. His first experience wasn’t such a good one, either. But he knew it was important to me, and so he proposed. After about a year of marriage, he told me he was a convert – he hadn’t realized it could be so good. I hadn’t either, but I believed in us, in our team of two.

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The Trip Recap

The Boy and I just spent a long weekend visiting old friends and relatives up north. I had promised him three years ago when we moved away that we would visit. This year, I made it a goal to make good on my promise. When an airline opened up a new, cheap, nonstop flight, I jumped at the opportunity.

I encouraged The Boy to make a list of places he’d like to go and people he’d like to see. I coordinated with people on Facebook who wanted to see us, and planned our trip in morning-afternoon-evening chunks, allowing for travel time via rental car. Fantastic Babysitter put us up, even though she was out of town for a couple days.¬†It worked out beautifully¬†as The Boy was comfortable in her house, a place he had been many times, and we saved money on a hotel. The bonus was that the weather was gorgeous, and she lives in a quiet neighborhood, allowing us wonderful downtime at the end of each jam-packed day.

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‚̧ She hadn’t seen him since she was 3, but asked to hold his hand in the parking lot¬†

Most of our “places” to visit were really restaurants (um, yeah… we like food. A lot.), and we made a point to eat at places we just don’t have back home. Even better was the company. Every single visit¬†with friends was a joyous, picked-up-right-where-we-left-off extravaganza. The Boy had even prepared three PowerPoints (unbeknownst to me) to share with his former ASD teacher at lunch on Saturday.

The Boy was simply amazing. At our favorite eclectic arcade on Friday, one of his favorite games had been removed, and I didn’t even realize until after the fact, when he explained to me a few times that it had been moved (I put two and two together because of the perseverating on the same point). But he didn’t get upset about it. The only thing that really did upset him was that he was reminded about the glory of the ice cream truck, something we just don’t have where we live, but a treasured memory from living up north. We glimpsed one a few times during the weekend, but didn’t end up realizing his wish to purchase ice cream from one, and that was a tragedy by Sunday.

I could see fault lines forming by the time we got to the gate on Monday to get back on the plane to go home. His laptop was not charged and would not charge. It got a little hairy until I enlisted the help of the gate agent, who allowed us to use her outlet behind the desk. The rest of the day, The Boy was a bit “tetchy” about everything. He didn’t want to come home, but was mollified by a stop at his favorite arcade in Myrtle Beach before heading back home.

It was a huge success, a wonderful time, and I was incredibly proud of The Boy. The people we visited were not the only ones impressed by how much he has grown in three years.

Today is the Day

Today is The Boy’s last day of 8th grade, of middle school, of being anything but a teenager. He’s excited. I’m excited. We’re all excited. And a little wistful, too. Even The Boy exclaims, “How did we get here?” and “How did this happen?” I tell him time flies, and if you blink, you miss it. I tell him all those old cliches, those that have been around so long they must be true. It sure feels that way.

Where is the 5 pound 6 ounce baby I was holding in my arms yesterday?

Where is the toddler who got away from me in the department store and hid in the middle of a clothes rack?

Where is the preschooler who couldn’t wait for the water to warm up to get into the small pool we had bought, and whose smiling lips turned blue?

Where is the 2nd grader who kicked his classmates?

Where is the 4th grader who sang the Star Spangled Banner at the high school football game with his choir?

Where is my 7th grader who began to have crushes on girls?

Who is this extra man in my house who is taller than me, requires shaving at regular intervals, and has hands and feet bigger than his dad’s? Who can barely fit on the couch if he stretches out on it? Who “practices” driving every time we get into the car?

Ah, yes. He’s my son, even though I can’t possibly be old enough for it to be true. My son. And me over¬†here? The one with a bit of dust in her¬†eye? I’m one proud mom.

finding our own path

 

3 Guest Limit

Thursday, The Boy has his 8th Grade Celebration. When I first heard about it, I only heard the name and the date, not a description. I thought it was an end of the year dance for 8th graders, as is quite common.

It’s not.

It’s an awards/graduation ceremony, and at first I thought about us not going. The kids have to sit on the stage the entire time, and my experience with awards nights was that they drag on interminably. Not very autism-friendly. Plus, they are dictated to wear “Sunday clothes” (I hate that term), which for boys means a nice pair of pants and a collared shirt. Not The Boy’s preferred clothing, either.

But I consulted with his TA, and she seemed to think he would be fine, and that it shouldn’t last longer than an hour and a half. So, I sent in the RSVP that we would attend. Here’s the thing: they give the kids tickets, and each kid is limited to three.

I completely understand that there are families who will bring the entire extended family (and usually air horns) to an event like this, and there is limited space. I get that. But three?

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What if a kid has parents who are divorced and remarried? Who gets to go?

What if a family has 3 children or more? Who gets to go (or pays for a babysitter)?

What if a family has 2 parents and 2 grandparents that attend their only grandchild’s events like ours?

The stepdad bows out and gives up his seat so both grandparents can go, that’s what happens. And even though I know it’s doesn’t bother The Man too much, it still kinda stings. And rather than being a celebration, it becomes a compromise, which kinda ruins the whole thing. Shame on the school that can’t accommodate families when all they want to do is celebrate their child. Together.

Scheduled Time

I lost one of my two flute students to gymnastics this week.

When I was a middle school band director, I lost more than a few to hockey and dance.

But when I was a kid, this wasn’t a thing. Sure, kids were in soccer and I even took ballet in kindergarten. But this every-night-of-the-week-for-four-hours-a-night-oh-and-four-hours-on-Saturday-too was definitely not a thing. Neither were the moms who got mad because the rest of the world couldn’t accommodate their insane schedule. “What? You mean I can’t get a dentist appointment at 3am on a Sunday because that is the only time my kids are not in dance/gymnastics/swim/horse back riding/AAU badminton??”

*dragging over large soapbox*

*standing on said soapbox*

When I was a kid, we did this thing called “playing” with the neighborhood kids. We even had a game called “Ghost in the Graveyard” for when we were out past dark – shocking, I know. We rode bikes, climbed trees, ran through each other’s houses like packs of wild animals looking for fruit snacks, and then back out through the other door. I “taught school” to some younger children (for as long as they would stand it) on the hill in a neighbor’s yard across the street. We rode bigwheels back and forth down the street. When we got a little older, we walked across a small field (with garter snakes!) to the convenience store to buy candy.

We were not scheduled within an inch of our lives.

I think today’s parents have control issues. IMHO you should not be involved in any activity which eats up 24 hours of your free time per week at the age of 9. It’s wrong, and there will be long term consequences. Don’t you trust your children to any degree? Do they get any say in how they spend their waking hours?

Autistic kids aren’t usually much for team sports, and for this one small blessing, I am thankful. But even if The Boy were not on the spectrum, I would not be raising my child on scheduled time.

*crawling down off soapbox, albeit ungracefully because I only had the one year of ballet*At the Cape