Blended Boys

Blending families is an ongoing journey, even when you only have one school-age child.  Differences in parenting styles become apparent fairly quickly, and when your child has special needs, it can be even more challenging.  We have been lucky — The Man and I dated long-distance for several years, which gave us an opportunity to glimpse each other’s parenting styles and transition to a blended parenting style over time.  To say that it’s a finished product would not be right – it continues to evolve, but it’s functioning, and a positive thing for The Boy to have two parents in our home.

The Man continues to learn about The Boy and his challenges.  It can be unfortunate sometimes to have a disorder like autism, because it isn’t oustwardly visible, and people who don’t know will judge, while even people who do know will forget, myself included.  Not forget that he has autism, but forget The Boy’s struggles and needs, even if momentarily.  This happens with The Man from time to time, but we continue to communicate and progress on our journey.

The Man is a natural-born dad — he doesn’t know it, but sometimes I almost burst into happy tears at his small gestures towards The Boy.  He doesn’t even realize that he is doing things for The Boy that have never been done for him before.  And I have found that the one best thing for their growing relationship has been to force them together without me for awhile.  I have had to leave for work for a few hours on each weekend, and they have gotten to hang out a lot more this month.  And you know what?  We’ve had fewer meltdowns from everyone involved.

Yesterday, The Man pulled into the yard, home from work, and immediately grabbed our knock-around bike from the shed to go join The Boy who was riding around the neighborhood with some other kids.  And I watched, with those happy-tears in my eyes.

The Boys


What’d I Miss?…

Here’s a recap of the top posts for December, plus one oldie but goodie:

  • No Offense, But… about how this phrase really needs to be put to rest, because despite its “intent”, whatever comes next will ultimately offend you.
  • Happy Day about The Man’s surprise Christmas morning proposal *sigh* 😀
  • I Don’t Want My Kid To Be Normal about how special needs parents need to set their sites on different goals for their children
  • Parties about how normal, everyday birthday parties can cause much angst among we special needs parents
  • The Angry Ex about how to deal with an ex who is less than civil

Hope you are having a fantastic start to your workweek!  Only 10 more Mondays until Spring!

Winter at the Beach

Nurturing the “Us”

It is much easier with two.  Two people who can give each other a break from time to time.  The Man will often take The Boy to the park on a whim, or just for a ride in his truck (often ending with a trip to DQ).  I can’t tell you how much I love that, and appreciate him and am AMAZED at just having someone like him to do that.  The three of us are together only about every six weeks, and it’s not perfect all the time (what blended family is? For that matter, what typical family is?), but I appreciate it all the more because of the time when it is just we two, and I. am. it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love spending alone time with my son.  There aren’t words to describe the bond we have, and we are silly together and go on adventures together… We are lucky to like each other a great deal.  He is a fantastic kid, smart as a whip with an amazing sense of humor, an uncanny memory, and so many special talents.

But we have some dark times, too.  We have some days where a cloud hangs over him and just won’t let go.  We have days when I can do nothing right (in his eyes and/or my own), and it seems like tears are flowing from dawn until dusk.  My hair has been pulled, I have been punched, bitten, and kicked.  I have lost it myself, at the end of my rope, not having any inkling of what to do besides curl up and cry.


(Photo credit: mikebaird)

Having two of us to tag-team, as it were, prevents many (not all) of those dark times from getting that far.  If one of us is getting overwhelmed and irritated, the other will do something about it.  And THIS is how adult relationships survive around autism (and really in any family).  Brace yourself, because I’m going to say something controversial: Kids should not come first above all else.  That relationship between the adults is paramount, because if that falters, the support for the family disappears.  This is especially hard for us special needs parents to understand because our kids need us so much more than typical kids.  But then, our partners need us so much more than typical partners do, too, right?  Raising a special needs kid is hard.  We must take care of ourselves, and we must take care of our partners.  We must nurture the “us”.  If we make that a priority, we and our partners can take care of everybody else.  Together.