Clean Up Time…

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558384_4424264520190_1270815831_nI hate cleaning.

There.  I said it.

I absolutely abhor dishes.  And laundry.  Don’t even get me started on laundry.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the Mini-Monster didn’t insist on pulling all of the clothes out of his and his brother’s dressers every time I finally finish putting it all away.  But he does.  And I despise laundry.

Unless I’m angry or frustrated.  Then the crazy clean fairy comes out and will scrub that grout to a sparkly shine.  This is only entertaining when it happens early in the morning and Daddy wakes up to find me scrubbing something – his immediate concern about my impending explosion (which really is rarely based on anything having to do with him) is almost enough to make the crazy clean fairy pack up her favorite cleaning toothbrush.

Anyway, I’m not by any means the mom with the clean house.  Do I let the kids pick up a fruit snack they dropped on the floor and pop it back in their mouth?  Of course I do.  Is the floor actually clean enough to eat off?  Not a chance.  I think of it as good exercise for the immune system.

I probably shouldn’t have let that little confession slip.  Oh well.

Anyway, the other day we were cleaning.  Partly because we have company coming, partly because Daddy comes home in a couple days – but mostly because the house is completely trashed and mommy had PMS.

Of course, as much as I dislike cleaning – it’s a million times worse with two sick kids, and one tired one.  Throw in the little dog who is DETERMINED make me trip and break my neck – mommy was kinda scary that day.  It shouldn’t have taken me more than 20 minutes to clean the kids rooms.  The only thing in Kaleb’s rooms were Legos – and while Mason’s room looked like it was struck by the Toys-R-Us tornado, it was mostly big stuff – easy.

Wrong.

The two little ones were right behind me making bigger messes out of the toys I had just cleaned, the dog was wherever my feet were going, and Kaleb was just standing in the doorway screaming.  It took me nearly two hours to clean those two rooms.

Why?  Why can’t you just let mommy clean?  Not that it much matters.  Two days later the house once again looks like it was struck by a kid tornado.  It all just seems kind of futile and insane.  Clean.  Destroy.  Clean.  Destroy.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

I suppose the point of this is just for me to admit that we’re a mess.  The laundry is almost never put away the same day it’s washed.  I’d probably go postal without the dishwasher.  And my kids are like little disasters just waiting to happen.  But the toys everywhere are also a sign of how much fun we have.  The crumbs on the floor are dropped at meals that we all enjoy (rarely together since I don’t actually get to eat most of my meals, but still).  Our house is a mess.  You can pretty much count on that.  But we have oh so much fun making it that way.

So now our company is here. And she walked into a bit of a disaster.  But, it wasn’t as bad as it could be, so I’ll take the win.  Plus, the house smells like muffins right now, and that makes everything better.

The Wheels on the Bus…

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I do not understand this day.  And I’m not so sure I want to.

I knew I was getting sick on Wednesday.  I was surprisingly not sick Thursday.  Then came the sinus train on Friday.  Followed by the whole cold caboose yesterday.  By Friday night I couldn’t breathe laying down – so I opted to sleep propped up on the couch.  I then spent the majority of the day playing mommy from under the blankets.  My life-saving friend came by with dinner and spent some time watching scary movies with me (even though I downloaded the WRONG Hansel & Gretel and we ended up watching something so bad it was almost good), and back to sleep on the couch I went.

Yesterday was the first good day Kaleb had in what feels like forever.  He even built New York City out of blocks and matchbox cars!

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Mason and my niece spent most of the day chasing each other around the house like a couple of crazy monkeys, though their nap was cut short by Kaleb having a drum session in the hallway.

Once again I spent the night on the couch.  Only to open my eyes at 5am to find Kaleb playing with his blocks a mere foot from my head.  Mason didn’t do much better – by 6am he was wide awake shouting at me from the gate.  I dragged myself off the couch – pleased to discover that while tired, I felt better – save for the brick sitting on my chest.  Got Mason changed and let him feed the fish (his most favorite part of the morning).

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Got both of the kids their milk and something to eat and made my way to the coffee maker.  Which is not turned on.  Why isn’t it turned on?  Click the switch.  Again.  Again and again and again.  Frantically.  Unplug it.  Plug it back in.  Repeat.  Flick switch.  Repeat.  Forehead lands on kitchen counter with a heavy ‘thud’ as I silently curse the heavens and wonder why me?  Why does this always happen to me?  Resigned to having to call Keurig and pitch a fit, I pulled out the old coffee pot and fill it up.  Plug it in, turn it on.  Nothing.  What???

Move the coffee maker down counter, plug it in, nothing.  Move it to another counter, plug it in, success!  So, clearly something is wrong with two of the outlets in the kitchen.  But the coffee maker is not broken.  Coffee!!

Go to check out the new city Kaleb has built, just to walk into the middle of Monster War # 783.  Kaleb has used Mason’s matchbox cars in his new city.  ALL of Mason’s matchbox cars.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably picked up on the obsession the Mini-Monster has with cars.  And I do mean obsession.  While at any given time we can usually only find about 50 matchbox cars – there are at least 200 of them floating around.  He loves just about any form of transportation – cars, trucks, boats, planes, trains, etc – but his primary focus is on cars.  Odds are, when you see my youngest child, you will find him with at least two cars (more often, he’s got one in his mouth, three in the crook of one arm, and two in each hand) in is posession.

This started with a fixation on wheels – things that spin.  He’d sit with a chunky truck in his hand and just spin the wheel around and around for hours on end.  As he got older it evolved to a fixation with cars.  Favorites change day by day, week by week – but he’s got to have them.  Kaleb has to have his blankie.  Mason has to have his cars.  They have to be lined up just right.  If one is just slightly crooked in a line, the sky starts to fall.  If he accidentally drops one, the sky actually does fall.

Even in his sleep they have to be lined up!

Even in his sleep they have to be lined up!

So, Kaleb has used all of Mason’s matchbox cars (excluding the handful he slept with) and this has caused a serious issue.  Kaleb is trying to prevent Mason from going Godzilla on his city.  Mason wants his cars.  All of his cars.  Now.

So much for drinking my coffee while it’s still warm.

Kaleb is willing to concede some cars to Mason to keep his city intact.  Mase is temporarily pacified by this.

Note:  I did say temporarily.  That did not last long.  Kaleb decided he needed an odd number of cars for his city.  He had 16, he wanted 17.  And of course, leave it to Kaleb to take one of the cars Mason is in love with – the school bus.  Enter Monster War # 784.  Mediating, negotiating, holding them apart with what strength I have left – manage to trade Kaleb for a car Mase doesn’t care about.

Mason gets his cars, lines them all up, grabs his milk, and lays down next to his cars.  Only to bump one with his leg.  Insert meltdown here.  Meltdown leads to partial destruction of city.  Insert Kaleb’s meltdown here.  Meltdown leads to full destruction of car line.

Round and round and round it goes…

Finally it stops.  Finally.  Kaleb sits guarding his city.  Mason sits with his bucket full of cars.  I sit with my coffee.  I know why they’re yawning – Mason Bug didn’t fall asleep till midnight, and was up at dawn.  Kaleb fell asleep at his normal time – and woke up early.  Of course, it doesn’t help that he was all over the place last night.

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I get the distinct impression I’m not going to love this day.

Courtesy of a good friend :-)

Courtesy of a good friend 🙂

You Win Again…

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First off, I want to thank Amber at “Normal” is the New Boring for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!!  I’m pretty inspired myself!!  Truthfully, I’m just grateful (and a bit surprised) every day when someone reads my nonsense – so this is awesome!  I’m really loving these “Pass it along” blogger awards – they’re an awesome way to help out fellow writers in this little blogosphere (there’s that word again – I’m still not sure it’s a real word), and duh – I’m pumped to be on the receiving end of one!

So, here are the rules:

  1. Display the logo on your blog
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you
  3. State 7 things about yourself
  4. Nominated 15 other bloggers for the award
  5. Notify your nominees by linking to their blogs so they get notified by ping-back.

Okay.  7 things.  About me.  You’d think I’d be really good at talking about myself by now, but I’ve actually been staring at this page for nearly two hours.  Shoot.

Here goes!

  1. I walk around 90% of the time with absolutely no idea what I’m doing.  In pretty much every aspect of my life.  My life has become a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants’ sitcom.  Just about every technique used in our house with the kids is a completely random idea I had while pacing around pretending to be productive.
  2. I pace.  A lot.  It drives people insane.  Especially when I’m on the phone.  I can’t sit still.  If I sit down, I start to focus on something in front of me, instead of what is being said to me.  So, for as long as I can remember – I pace.  Now, my kids get their pretend phones out, and they pace too.  I think it’s funny – but it’s probably going to send Daddy to the loony bin one of these days.
  3. The ringtone for Kaleb’s school is the Imperial March (you know – Darth Vader’s theme song?).  I was having a heart attack every day when my phone would ring in the middle of the morning and it would be the general tone – convinced it was the school.  So, I gave them a ring tone.  You know you’re humming it in your head right now.
  4. I’m still really paranoid about Mason’s fish.  He got a name by the way – his name is… Fish.  Yeah.  That’s the best I could get out of the kid who speaks his own language.  Anyway, I’m still checking on the stupid thing every hour or so to make sure it’s alive.  It’s been over two weeks, and I’m shocked it’s made it this long.  However, seeing Mason’s face light up every morning when he gets to feed the fish (my way of bribing him into getting a diaper) is totally worth it.  Plus, those pellets are tiny, and great fine motor exercize!!
  5. On that note, I could probably come up with a legitimate reason for every activity we do and toy we have based on some form of therapy.  Occupational, speech, behavioral, social – you name it.  I will find a reason why this thing here – this thing I REALLY want to do with them – is going to help them in some way.
  6. I’m constantly afraid to screw something up.  My kids, my relationships, the walk, Monster Marchers, you name it.  If you will read #1 again – that’s the reason why.  On the flip side of that, I can be really selfish sometimes.  It’s not the best trait in the world – but there are definitely days when it helps to save my sanity.
  7. I live in either jeans or pajama pants.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to dress up – but who really has the time for that?  Plus, I’m lazy, and I never learned how to match my clothes properly – so everything matches a pair of jeans and a Jolly Roger belt buckle.  EVERYTHING.  Fact.

Okay, my nominees:  I don’t know if I’m going to get all 15.  I’m stealing Amber’s excuse – I’m new!  However, I’ll certainly try!

  1.  The Return of The Modern Philosopher – This guy is nothing short of awesome.  First of all, he seems to be a bit off his rocker – and for that reason alone I’m a fan (plus, anyone who writes about Keyser Soze is clearly amazing).  He’s funny and random, and completely worth reading.
  2. Free Little Words – A blog written by a mom with two little boys the same ages as my Monsters.  She’s very sweet and honest, and it’s always a nice read.
  3. Cruising Through My Life – This one is all around interesting.  She covers a variety of topics that come up in her life, which are almost always easy to relate to, or thought provoking.
  4. Cristian Mihai – A young author who has a quite a lot of talent.  He’s definitely worth taking a couple peeks at 🙂
  5. Mom and Boys – A blog written by a creative and entertaining mom as she tries to navigate the waters of life, motherhood, and faith.
  6. My Eclectic Life – A homesteading mom of two who awes me.  She blogs about everything from daily adventures to great recipes, and I absolutely love her!
  7. Blowing Off Steam… And Other Cooking Adventures – Another awesome momma who seamlessly blends great recipes with great humor.
  8. Between Love and Chaos – This mom somehow manages to juggle her three kids alone – while dealing with the joys of raising a child on the spectrum.
  9. For the Love of Food – A mom I know personally as a super-star!  Here she shares some wonderful recipes that are absolutely worth checking out.
  10. The Adventures of Jaydon and Daddy – A photo blog written by a father of one wicked cute little dude about their daily discoveries and adventures.
  11. The Good Greatsby – This guy is just funny.  He doesn’t need any more introduction than that.
  12. Some Species Eat Their Young – A dad of four, somehow surviving parenthood while making people like me laugh out loud.
  13. Mom in the Muddle –  A mom-blog by a woman with a wicked sense of humor, and great insight into life with kids.
  14. The Jackie Blog – Once again, there really isn’t any intro needed – this chick is just downright funny.
  15. And last but certainly not least Life With Legos – an inspirational blog by a mom with two boys, who is wading the waters of the spectrum with the best of us.

Holy cow I did it!  These people are all great, and I absolutely encourage you to check them out and say “hi”.  On a similar note, there is another blog I’d like to mention that isn’t on wordpress, but is amazing nonetheless – Cam’s World With Aspergers  – this mom is everything I want to be and more!

So, once again, huge thanks to Amber – at “Normal” is the New Boring – you’re absolutely one of the best things I’ve encountered since starting this blogging adventure, and I would nominate you again if I could!

Now, I’m off to stalk 15 strangers blogs so they know I’ve nominated them!

Oh crap, first I’ve got to go get Mason off the window sill.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond…

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I just read about this “flash-blog” – called Autistic People Should…

The premise of this is based on the auto-fill results when you type ‘Autistic People Should” into a Google search bar.  The outcome is downright disturbing at best.  In an effort to change this, a blog has been created, allowing others to post about what they think ‘Autistic People Should’ be…

I know they originally called for individuals with autism to be the posters – but as a mother of not just one, but most likely two autistic children, I feel the need to jump on board with this and throw my voice into the mix.  So, here goes.

Autistic People Should be cherished.  They should be treated like the kind of valuable gems that they are.

Autistic People Should be respected.  They face more challenges than most people will ever even know, and they will do it with the kind of grace that most of us should be so lucky to possess.  They thrive in a world of people who doubt them.  They shine in a world of people who try to hide their brilliance.  When we should all make it our goals to help them shine brighter.

Autistic People Should be recognized.  For the strength they possess, the wonder and awe they bring to those around them.  For the incredibly different way they see the world. For the joy and laughter they bring to the people they let know them.

Autistic People Should be taught.  Not to see the world like everyone else.  Not to conform to societal ideas of what it is to be “normal”.  They should be taught that it is more than okay – it’s wonderful to be different.  To set themselves apart.  To love the things that fascinate them.  To be who they are without shame, compromise, or feelings of inadequacy.

It isn’t autistic people who should do anything – it’s every other person in the world.  It is every person who does nothing.  It is every person who refuses to take five seconds to learn something about another human being.  It is all of the people who judge, and shush, and shun.  It is the people who work against, instead of with.  It is every system that has a fatal flaw in the design when built for “typical” people.  We have left-handed scissors and guitars.  We have wheelchair accessible ramps and bathrooms.  But we don’t have academics to suit our autistic children.  We don’t send our teachers to be trained on how to teach an autistic child.  We don’t have sensory friendly grocery stores, or playgrounds.

Autistic People Should be THEMSELVES.  Because that is what makes them beautiful, brilliant, quirky, life-affirming human beings.  They bring magic back into a world that long ago lost some of its luster.  They are nothing short of miracles.  And anyone who doesn’t recognize that, is missing out.

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Here Comes the Sun…

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Yesterday I took Mason to the beach for the first time this year.

Man, I forgot how much I missed doing that.  I wasn’t going to – I had to talk myself into it.  I probably wouldn’t have succeeded in my me-to-me talking to if I hadn’t looked at the weather and realized that we were going to go from 86 to 66 overnight.  Yep, definitely going to the beach.

Then I got mad at myself.  When Kaleb was this age we did all kinds of things.  The beach at least once a week.  The playground.  Playdates.  I don’t do those things nearly as often with Mason.  It was then that I started to get worked up.  By worked up, I mean I had an argument with myself.  Again.  I’m starting to worry about that.  It cannot be healthy to argue with one’s self so often, or so intensely.  But, it happened.

What the hell, me?  Why aren’t we doing these things?

Well, there’s two of them now, it’s more difficult.

So what?  Kaleb’s in school.  That gives you six hours a day to do things.

Yeah, but what happens if there’s an emergency?

Um, you pack up the wagon.

Yeah, but there is so much more to get done.

You’re telling me you can’t teach the ABC’s at the beach?

Well… I mean… Shit.  I’m being a bad mom.

Oh shut up.  Go to the beach for crying out loud.

And so we did.

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It was a really sad realization for me – that I don’t do as much with Mase outside of the house as I did with Kaleb.  Don’t get me wrong, I spend the majority of my days playing with the Bug.  I actually have to work harder at teaching Mase than I ever did Kaleb, because Kaleb was easy – he’s a visual learner.  I haven’t figured out what kind of learner Mason is yet – so far he seems to be a bit of everything.  Sometimes he likes the flash cards.  Other times he eats them.

So, it’s time to get back on track.  We went to the beach – we drew words, letters, and numbers in the sand.  We chased birds.  We (by this, I mean Mason) ate sand.  We had a blast.  Then we came home, got cleaned up, and Mason went down for a nap.  Kaleb came home and I talked him into riding his scooter, while I rode my Rollerblades (I’m still getting the hang of this).  It was an argument – he’s convinced he doesn’t know how, and won’t listen to me try to tell him that he has to keep trying to get better.  After about fifteen minutes he was angry, and decided to switch to his bike.

I’ve been trying to get this kid to ride his bike since his grandparents got it for him last Christmas.  He actually did pretty well… for about ten minutes.  Then he pitched a fit – tipped himself over (I mean that – he was standing up, straddling the bike, and to prove a point, he threw himself to the ground so he could say he fell), and was done.  We ended up playing with sidewalk chalk on the back patio.  I even caved and shared a cupcake.

And, as a reward for a great day, some great tries, and just because I missed doing it – we went and got hotdogs and ice cream for dinner.  I got a picture of mason ‘eating’ his ice cream (he doesn’t actually like ice cream.  He just eats all the goodies they put in it and throws it away) – and it just so happens, I have a picture of Kaleb at the same place, at the same age, wearing the same shirt.  As soon as I snapped the picture and had my deja vu moment, I had a ‘wow’ moment.

I realized I’ve been making excuses – stupid, lame excuses – and I don’t know why.  I love playing with my kids.  I love the beach, the playground, going to lunch and running around outside.

So, no more excuses.  No more qualifiers.

On the other side of that – I remembered just what a good workout going to the beach with my child is.  My body hurt everywhere after that – between pulling the wagon up the ramp and carrying it down the stairs, chasing Mason all over the sand, and just playing around, I think I used every muscle I have.  Proof – the beach isn’t just good for the mind and the soul, it’s good for the body too 🙂

One More Cup of Coffee…

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I woke up with only one thought this morning:

Oh crap, the cupcakes!

Okay, yes, I know the cupcakes have been a reocurring theme this week, and for that I apologize.  But I can’t help it.  Really, I can’t.  I’m thinking about starting a support group.  But it wouldn’t be just for cupcakes.  It would be for all the things I’ve learned I absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, cannot live without.  Caffeine – in the form of coffee or Diet Pepsi; Gum – Trident White Spearmint gum (no, I’m serious.  You should see what happens when I run out of this gum.  It’s like a blind panic.  I will buy three cases of it at Sam’s go through it all in less than a month, and then have a total panic attack when I’m down to my last piece – digging through old purses and tote bags like a complete addict); and now, cupcakes.  It wasn’t always like this.  I quit chewing gum years ago.  Until I get pregnant with Mase and wanted some form of Spearmint so badly I was ready to eat my toothpaste.  I ended up in Walgreens buying one pack of each kind of Spearmint flavored gum they had – and boy did I find me a winner.  Cupcakes weren’t a problem until I got pregnant with Kaleb.  Just ask my dad.  I have, however, always been a coffee and soda addict.  I know.  You do not have to tell me how unhealthy it is.  But take my word for it, you wouldn’t want to encounter me on day where I was denied one of these life-sustaining things.

I was going to say sanity-sustaining (Poppy, if you are reading this, stop laughing.  It’s not funny), but then it dawned on me that my sanity jumped ship a while back, and I really should just move on and stop pretending like it’s coming back.  Clearly the reward posters I have strategically placed all over my world have not worked (although, I wasn’t sure what a proper reward would be for finding one’s sanity –  maybe a pie?  I can bake one hell of a pie).  Unlike Milo – who takes off at will and just comes back whenever he’s tired of trying to get run over by a car or eaten by a hawk – my sanity is never coming back.  It’s time to welcome the crazy and enjoy the ride, right?

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Anyway, back to my 6am panic attack:  cupcakes.  I left them out.  I know I did.  I know I was tired and it had been a strange day, and I dragged myself to bed without re-hiding my precious cakes of joy.  They were still sitting there.  On the counter.  The one Kaleb was going to walk right past if I didn’t get to him first.

And then I got kicked.  I mean, really, I got pummeled with a little size two foot by a snoring five year old.  Oh no.  Oh he’s here!  When on earth did he crawl into bed?  Was I really that tired?  I didn’t even hear him!  I vaguely remember telling the dog to put a sock in it – ahhh so that must have been when Kaleb came in.  Grab my phone, open my handy dandy flashlight app, and shine it on his mouth.  No frosting.  Hands, no crumbs.  I might be okay.  He might have sleep-walked right past them.  Then the alarm went off – with the phone in my hand, six inches from him.  He shot out of bed like a rocket, and I realized I had to move.  If I had any chance of keeping him from those cupcakes I had to get there before he realized they had even been brought in the house.

I take off down the hallway, trip over the Jake wagon (what the hell??  Did he drag his wagon in here too?), stumble into the kitchen, just in time to turn around and block the cupcakes with my body as he walks around the corner.

 “Hi buddy!  Good morning!”

“I’m still tired mommy.”

“Okay bud, why don’t you go sit in the family room and I’ll bring you your clothes.  Then you can have a snack”  *Ears perk at mention of the snack – never underestimate the power of fruit snacks*

“Okay.  I’m not tired anymore.  I just want a snack so I can get dressed now and get one.”

“Yep, sure thing!  Go on now.”

Whip open the candy cabinet and shove my cupcakes inside.  Crisis averted.  Thankfully the kid hasn’t yet caught on to the fact that mommy actually has a cabinet in the kitchen filled with emergency candy (partially because my blood sugar plummets sometimes – but mostly because… well, who doesn’t like to eat a Hershey’s bar when the sky is falling?  And the sky is always falling here).  Get his clothes in a hurry, start a cup of coffee, remember that he doesn’t have a folder to fill out (Well, why would he?  What are they going to say?  Kaleb was good for the first 60 minutes of school, then he had a meltdown in front of the principal and got suspended?).  Kaleb starts hollering at me because he needs “today pants”

 “I gave you pants.”

“No mommy, I need today pants.”

“Kaleb, I gave you a pair of hunter green pants – they’re on the couch.”

Oh, wait, no I didn’t.  In my panicked relief, I gave him a hunter green button down shirt.  Bad on me kid.  Whoops!  Let’s try this again!

Kaleb goes potty, and I go to close the pocket door – only to see Mason staring at me.  No way.  You were up way too late kid, there is no way you are awake at 6:30 in the morning.  I look at him and say “Nigh’ night!”  He goes back to sleep.  Thank heaven it’s still dark that early in the morning, or he never would have bought it.

Kaleb gets on the bus, I grab my coffee, and here we sit.   I’d like to take Mase to the beach today, but we have some errands that need to get run, so we will have to wait until another day.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  We’ll see.  Anyway, my cupcakes are safe, my coffee is great, and all the doors and window are open which rocks.  So, good morning world!

Anything But Ordinary…

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People tend to talk about things they know nothing about as if they do.

They say they couldn’t do certain things as if they would have a choice.

They make martyrs out of people of inconsequence, and remain willingly blind to the things that matter.

I am one of those people.  I’ve been that person.  I’ve been you.  On the ‘grand’ scale, we all have.  We are all guilty of believing ourselves to be both more and less significant than we are.  Dramatic, earth-shattering moments in our lives that mean nothing to others.  Touched, but unaffected by the earth-shattering moments of others.  Engagements and divorces; births and deaths.  They touch us, but they don’t.  Until they are ours.

We all have a sentence in our head that sticks around forever.  A pinnacle moment when someone said something and it stayed with us for the rest of our lives.  “I’m pregnant.”  “I want a divorce.”  “Your son has autism.”

That last one – that’s me.  That’s mine.  The worst part?  Those words weren’t even uttered to me.  I’ve delivered that news to the majority of the people in our lives– but I missed the moment that they were supposed to be spoken to me.  Because I was sitting in a hospital room with a six pound miracle who needed his mommy.  And the idea that I could have pushed a little harder to make that meeting – but I didn’t… it’s like acid.  Because now there were two, and I knew the news.  I knew the words even though I hadn’t heard them spoken.  My presence wouldn’t change that.  But he needed me.  They both did.  How do you split that need?  How do you divide that time?  When they both need you most, where do you go?

You go everywhere.  You go to the IEP meeting for one, and follow it up with a trip to Early Steps for the other.  You go to particular playgrounds because you know they have that one thing that Thing One is fascinated by – the one that scares the pants off Thing Two – but they also have the one thing that Thing Two is fascinated by – and by the power vested in me by the state of motherhood, I now pronounce you both happy at the same time for a whole ten minutes.

I’ve heard so many times “I couldn’t do what you do”; it makes me want to scream.  Yes, you could.  You would.  You’d probably blow me out of the water.  Because you don’t choose this – it chooses you.  This miraculous, beautiful, painful life points a finger and says “You’re it”.  Sure, you could choose not to fight, you could deny, ignore, or wallow in self pity.  But what would be the point?  It is what it is – and what it is just happens to be your job to make the absolute most of.

Encouraging the quirks and oddities – while trying to teach a child who understands nothing of social convention how to be himself, and still accepted by our society.  Our harsh, judgmental, over-opinionated society.  How do you say to a five year old “You can dress up like a princess at home, but you can’t wear it to the store because people will laugh at you, other mothers will say mean things about you, and you’ll be deemed an outcast because people are rude, too quick to pass judgment, and don’t give second thoughts to picking on the innocent.”?

What it comes down to is feeling like a constant hypocrite.  “Be yourself, but don’t be too different or you won’t have friends.”

What kind of message is that to send to our children?  A crappy one.  And unfortunately, one that is completely true.  Kids are mean.  Adults are more so.  That mother with the a-typical child who is calmly walking with her as she does her grocery shopping doesn’t look at my children and think “autism”.  She thinks “bad mother.”

Because compared to her vanilla a-typical kid, mine are Funfetti cake with Pop Rocks frosting.

Thing One is singing at the top of his lungs while rocking his hot pink shoe laces, pushing his baby doll in his stroller.  Thing Two is sitting in the cart screaming gibberish, and flailing his arms madly at every single round object in the store.  I don’t even notice.  This is my normal.  And then Thing One trips on something, and his baby doll is sent flying.  Activate meltdown in 3…2…1…

And as I fix the baby doll, waiting for the waves of screaming to subside, I hear “He needs to be disciplined.”  “What he needs is a good ass-whooping”  “Some people just weren’t meant to be mothers.”

The list goes on.  After four years, it goes in one ear and out the other.  But it still pierces the heart, even if the ears are deaf to it.  We as a whole need to stop encouraging society to be so judgmental, so self-important and conformed.  If my kid wants to push around his baby doll in the little pink stroller – so what.  If he gets over stimulated and has a meltdown – walk away or offer encouragement.  I don’t need your pity, your shaming looks and snide remarks.  I have done more for my special needs children than you could ever imagine having to do with your perfectly developing child.  I don’t pretend to know about your problems, keep your thoughts on mine to yourself.

Parents of special needs kids have special needs too.  We feel guilty.  All the time.  About everything.  Is it my fault?  Is it something I did?  Am I doing enough?  Is this helping or hurting?

We question everything we do, everything everyone says.  Every doctor, specialist, book, blog, and peer.  We are more sensitive to our parenting abilities.  We are not made out of steel.  We are marshmallows inside aluminum shells.  We look tough, but we aren’t hard to pierce.  We spend our days working tirelessly while questioning relentlessly.  We spend our nights doubting ourselves, our abilities, our choices.  We lay awake scared, anxious, and worried.

When you see that mom – that frustrated mother, who is holding it together by sheer force of will, don’t be snarky.  Don’t make painful comments under your breath.  Offer a smile of understanding.  Offer a hand.  Just walk the hell away if you can’t manage that.  Special needs children are the most precious gift life has to offer.  And the parents who raise them are superheroes.  Each and every one of them.

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