Equality and Divorce

In the state where I was married (and divorced) before, in any marriage lasting 10 years or longer, spouses are automatically granted half of their former spouses retirement, no questions asked.  Therefore, even though the ex was college educated and quite capable of getting and maintaining his own job with a retirement plan, but chose not to, he is entitled to half of my retirement.

For the same reason that I disagree with “no tolerance” policies in public education, as well as all-or-nothing inclusion policies, I find this law completely without merit.

I understand the reasoning behind its inception: it was designed to protect housewives of yesteryear who were often left with no way to support themselves financially after a divorce, having given up any career options they may have had to stay home and raise the children or what have you.  I applaud the thought behind it, and I’m sure it did a lot to even out the playing field in years past.

But now that it benefits someone like the ex, who chose a seasonal, menial job over a salaried position using his degree in graphic design, and chose to take unemployment all winter rather than find a different type of job for those months, who chose to use that time at home smoking pot and doing very little of anything else that might contribute to the running of the household, now this law has jumped the shark.  It has ceased protecting the people it was designed to help, and instead is benefiting those who clearly do not deserve the benefit.

One of the newspapers posted a story about dads fighting back in the court system in regards to custody and child support, and me with my big mouth decided to comment in the comments on the facebook link that it would be great if they could also review that archaic law that decides that 10 years of marriage means you deserve half of someone’s retirement, and guess what?  Yup.  Just about every misogynist on the internet responded back to me.  That we women wanted equality, and now we have it so just suck it up and “pay up Buttercup.”

Bleh.

Never once did I bash men in my comment.  I asked for a review of the arbitrary law, and declared that I would like a more thoughtful approach to the division of assets.  But in response, several men decided that I was the source of their misfortune in life, and that I should pay for the wrongdoings of every woman who had ever wronged them.  Nevermind that a review like the kind for which I advocate could and obviously would benefit at least some men, including these men who have been so wronged by some apparently evil women.  Nope, that didn’t matter.  All that mattered is that I was a woman, women have asked for equality, and now that “we have it” I should shut up.

We still have a long way to go, ladies, if men are against any of our ideas, even if it would benefit them, just because a woman has voiced them.  A long way to go…

 

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Labels: Ain’t Nothing Wrong With Being Special

I saw a post on Facebook the other day with a picture of a young boy, and the words, “I have a disability. I need love. I need to play. I need friends. I need an education. My needs aren’t ‘SPECIAL.'”  It originally came from the Wyoming Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, and on their main page, the group describes their “I’m Not Special” campaign, relating use of the word, “Special” to the use of the r-word, citing that many in the DD/ID community are offended by the term “special”.  The page goes on to say, “The label of ‘special’ in reference to a person with a disability does not convey equality. Expectations for success should not be underestimated to accommodate the ‘special’ label that is associated with people with disabilities.”

A picture of a rubber duck wearing a nametag, ...

Feel free to chime in below, but here are my thoughts.  The “I’m not special” campaign??  Are you kidding me?  Yes, THAT’S what I want to tell my son.  “YOU are NOT special, suck it up.  You are just like everyone else, and I expect you to do the same as everyone else with no support.  Stop using your autism as an excuse.”  That’s what the name of that campaign says to me.  Here’s what’s true: one of the tenets of special education, and educational law in this country is that you need to throw out the word “equal” and replace it with the word “equitable”.  Because the reality is that some people need more help, than others, and some kids cost the school district more than others – they need to have equal access to the curriculum, so the school has to take an equitable approach to ensure that.

And for the record, I don’t like the word “disability”, but I haven’t formed a task-force and anti-disability campaign.  My son has plenty of abilities, and has deficits in certain other areas, but he is not dis-abled.

The truth of this is that our kids with special needs do have special needs.  They are not typical children who can bathe/dress/feed themselves, or pay attention in class themselves, or do homework by themselves.  My child needs supports to be able to show us his abilities in certain areas.  He is able, but needs some help.  He is special, much like any child is.  And he is equal in worth to anyone else.  He can be all of those things – they are not mutually exclusive.

I also saw this pretty neat news story on Facebook.  That little girl’s flute sounds the same as all the other flutes, but it works differently, thanks to the special design of Mr. Woody.  Her flute is not less, but it is special.

Moving Tips from the Flip Side

I swear I won’t post too much more about the move, but it is a big event in our lives, obviously.  And since I blog about our lives, it may have a few more appearances.  In case anyone is gearing up for a move, I thought I would post some things that we did, or really wish we had done for the move.

Some things we did:

I did a moving log.  Turns out, I didn’t really need this.  To be fair, it got to be about a week before, and my parents were after the movedoing some of the packing, and at the very end, we resorted to putting things in the nearest box, so it didn’t turn out to be very useful at all.  If you’re going to do something like this, you should start earlier than I did, and be committed to it for it to work, because truthfully, you’re not going to be looking for “books” after the move.  You’re going to be looking for hardware for the bookshelf and your son’s birth certificate.  Ahem.

We went cheap on the truck.  And I’m not sure if I would do it again.  We compared truck prices, and Budget was by far the cheapest and included unlimited miles, which is rather important when you’re moving 14 hours away.  But there are definitely some trade-offs for the price.  Truthfully, I could never have afforded the other companies, but using Budget was kind of a trying experience.  Not terrible, but anxiety-worthy.

You are probably going to end up purchasing at least some boxes and some packing material.  I found Home Depot to have the cheapest bubble wrap and paper, and Walmart to have the cheapest boxes.  If you live close to the store, you can do what I did: buy what you think you need, and then go back again (and again) to replenish.  If not, buy double what you think you need.

Schedule a donation pickup with Vietnam Veterans of America.  They will often come with only 24 hours notice, and are very reliable about coming when they say they will.  Be warned that if you have more than 25 items, you will need to schedule two different pick-up appointments.

For the final clean-out, purchase construction-grade trash bags of at least 3 mil thickness.  These are great for those last minute things that you decide will not be going on the truck, and they are sturdy enough to withstand weather and animals in the days on the curb after you move.

Use Facebook and Craigslist to get a few bucks out of your bigger items that aren’t making the trip.  We did a garage sale and it was rather a waste of time.  I sold most of our bigger items to friends via Facebook and people on Craigslist.  Be smart about it, and you can make some decent cash.  We earned enough for our gas and hotel on the way down!

Some things I wish we had done:

Try to do as much paperwork as you can in advance.  Just about everything is online now, and you can look up what you will need to do to register your kids for school, get a new driver’s license, etc. in advance.  Do this and locate all of the necessary stuff while you know where it is.  Put it in a brightly colored folder that you take with you in your vehicle, and don’t let it out of your sight.  I didn’t do this, and I am stuck until I can find all the documents I need (if I had a nickel for every time I say to myself, “but I saw it just the other day!!”…).

Be ruthless about purging before you pack.  I actually did quite well with this, but there always seems to be more stuff, doesn’t there?  You will most likely have donations and trash before and after you move, but it’s a lot easier if you can get rid of most of it before you have to find new places for all your stuff in your new home.  This is especially important if you are having anyone come to help you pack your stuff.  You may know that the bin of old clothes isn’t intended for the move, but your helpers certainly won’t, and may end up packing it up for you.

Be realistic about space planning in your new home.  Empty rooms seem so much larger than they really are.  Make sure you are being realistic about how much stuff can actually go into a 12×10 room…

Don’t kick yourself if it doesn’t go perfectly.  It won’t.  And you will be just fine.  Be prepared for things to go wrong, and then when they do, you can handle it with aplomb.  Think of it as an adventure rather than a task on your to to-do list, and try to have fun!

I hope these tips help.  Feel free to add more from your own moving experiences in the comments below!

Progress: Noticing a Difference

measuring resultsI’ve done a few posts about exercise over the past year, and if you’ve been around awhile, you know it’s a relatively new concept for me.  For most of my life, my high metabolism has carried me through, and I haven’t been too worried about what I eat, or my weight in general.  Around the time of the breakup of my marriage, I was at my heaviest, and lost a lot that summer and fall, getting back to my more normal weight range.  And then about a year ago, I started to notice the cellulite and flab creeping in, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t so happy with what I saw in the mirror.  Last winter, I bought some weights and a bike trainer so I could ride my own bike (which I love!) indoors.  I also started breaking out the yoga mat again on a semi-regular basis.  And it lasted awhile, but I didn’t really see results, so I slacked off and got out of the routine.  This past fall, I wrote about needing to get back into some kind of routine, because I was shocked at weighing in at the doctor’s and finding I was 15 pounds over my normal weight – yikes!  And then I came up with a plan.  And when that wasn’t quite working, I adjusted it a bit.  I struggled with it.  I really, really struggled with it, and I felt like I was failing.

And then in March, something clicked.  I started sticking to my plan.  The thing I thought I’d never do, get up early to workout, started working for me.  I found I wasn’t tired, I was very willing to get up and get on the bike, and just ride.  It was another opportunity for some alone time, and to process thoughts, so it wasn’t a crazy, chicken-with-its-head-cut-off kind of all-at-once start to my day.  And I coupled it with some targeted, low-impact exercises found on Pinterest a few minutes before bedtime.

And then…  I actually upped it.  I was riding the bike 3 times a week, and I bumped it up to 5 days a week (although sometimes I take a day off to do a 20 minute yoga routine instead).  And I started doing the night-time exercises every night.  And I added another routine found on Pinterest, and some sumo squats.  Not a ton, but enough to burn.  And I kept upping my resistance on the bike, making sure I was still sweating by the time I was done.

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve gotten a few updates, which I promised, and which helps keep me accountable, and since the beginning of March, I’ve lost two inches on my hips!  And I woke up yesterday, and I couldn’t see my saddlebags anymore.  And that inner-thigh fat?  It’s fading.  They say it takes four weeks for you to notice the changes, and 8 weeks for close friends and family.  It’ll be interesting to see what The Man says when he comes to visit this week.

All I know is, for the first time in my life, I am enjoying working out, and I’m seeing results. 😀

Single Moms to Special Needs Kids

I read a sad Facebook post on the Single Mothers who have Children with Autism Facebook page, that started, “YOU MIGHT BE A SINGLE PARENT OF A CHILD WITH AUTISM IF…” and listed 25 (25!!?) ways to identify yourself in that category, many having to do with the inability to even think about dating. I know this post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but to me it seemed rather sad. And I guess it had to do with the repetition on the theme (and the assumption) that there is no hope for you in the dating world if you have a child with autism, and aren’t you better off anyway, being alone?

Does every single mom to a child with autism end up with a great guy? Heck no. I know how incredibly lucky I am.

But.

I’m happy today because I stuck my neck out there and risked it all. I’m happy today because I decided I wasn’t going to be lonely for the rest of my life. Yes, you read that right, I DECIDED. I’m happy today because I valued myself as a person, no less than my son.

After my divorce, I was told, point blank, that no man would ever date me if they found out my son had autism. And I half-believed it. I joined the online dating scene, landed a semi-regular guy to see, and it was over in about a month. I was devastated until my gynecologist (Yep, you read that right, too!) asked, “Did you love him?” and I said, “Uh… No.” “Then you’re free!” he said, and it clicked. He was so not right for me, and I was not really myself for that month (although it was so nice to be back in the swing of things again!). I learned a lot.

Then I dated “Bachelor #2”. That’s actually what I called him, although not to his face. That lasted two, count ’em TWO dates. You can read all about it here.

And then I gave up. I started to believe I would never find a partner and would only be lucky to date a guy here and there. So I quit. I quit the online dating scene, and didn’t pursue much of anything for a long time.

But.

I had already known The Man a few years. We came into contact a couple months later. And then we hung out again a couple months later. And then again a couple months later, and every freakin’ time I walked away with a huge crush, and a long list of reasons why it wouldn’t work. And a few months later, inspired by a blog post (I’d link it, but I can’t remember which exact one it was…), and Fidelity by Regina Spektor, I decided that I wasn’t going to settle, and I was going to take a risk with my heart, if a risk was made available. And it was.

And here I am. Single Mother who has Child with Autism and a Partner (fiancé!).

I’m certainly not writing about this to brag, and this hasn’t been all rainbows and lollipops, not by a long shot. But it was definitely worth sticking my neck out for. And because I am happier, we are all happier. Much, much happier.

And I know how tough it is to make arrangements to just get out of the house. I KNOW. Listen! I don’t even have family in the area! I am lucky enough to be able to afford a babysitter, but even if I couldn’t, I’d hook myself up with a friend and swap time, or apply for respite from one of the many great nonprofits out there that provide it.

Single Mothers who have Children with Autism, you and your happiness are worth the time, effort, and risk.

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

Facebook Groups You Should Be Following

If you are a Facebook user, you may have already seen something about these groups.  If not, you may want to add them to your feed.

Everyone Matters, according to their page, is a “global Inclusiveness campaign w Sir Paul McCartney, Nicole Kidman, Ellen D., Hugh Jackman, orgs & public with a message to judge others less, see the humanity in everyone, and emphasize that everyone has the right to be who they are.”  They highlight real stories from real people from all walks of life, as well as the usual graphics and pictures.  I often “share” what they post, so that I, too, can spread a message of inclusiveness for everyone. (@everyonematters on twitter)

EM fb page

Autism Shines, according to their page, allows you to “upload your photo of someone you love with autism, or yourself, and caption it with something great about them. Help us show the world all the positive attributes of autism!”  At first, I found the constant updates to my feed a tad excessive, but after awhile, I really grew to love the positive, beautiful pictures of children with autism from all over the world.  This page really puts a face (so many of them) to the label of “autism,” and it’s definitely not “Rain Man”. (@autismshines on twitter)

Single Mothers who have Children with Autism, is another page: “If you know or love someone with autism, have autism or just want to learn more about autism then you are welcome here. Follow us on twitter too at: www.twitter.com/SingleAutismMom”  I just started following this group, but I love that they share posts asking for advice.  They also share graphics with messages that jive with how I feel about autism in general, i.e. “Autism is not a choice, however Acceptance is.”

Finally, Shared Abilities is a new one for me, as well: “www.SharedAbilities.com is A Community for SHARING Information about Special Needs and Celebrating All We are ABLE to Accomplish!”  This is the Facebook page for a website with forums (fantastic resource for parents of kids with special needs!) and a newsletter.  They also post about various fundraisers and local opportunities all over the country. (@SharedAbilities on twitter)

You see, I use my Facebook page to share things that I think the people who care about me (and my son) ought to know, if they don’t already.  I love being a voice for people with autism, and indeed anyone seeking acceptance.  If others find that obnoxious, that’s their problem, and not mine.

I hope you check these pages out — I know they’re worth your time.

Facebook Friday: Contest Winner!

Drumroll, please…

The winner of my Facebook Friday Contest is…  Melissa Marks!

Congratulations!  Please send me your email address via the contact page (or message me on facebook), and I will get your gift certificate out to you ASAP!

Thank you, everyone, for participating!  Have a Fun Friday!