Optimism and Autism

My son has Autism. He is eleven years old. I have learned that optimism is a trap.

Optimism: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

My husband and I have been married for 20 years. I think we were optimistic in the beginning. We thought that all we had to do was work hard and the world would be ours. The Universe apparently thought that was  a challenge. We’ve been through a lot of difficulties and trials. Life hasn’t always been easy, but sometimes we do alright and sometimes we don’t. Autism has taken us to a whole new level.

I was optimistic that we could handle this new complicated life together, but instead we’ve had to give a lot up including being in the same geographic location. He works away from home because that is the only way we can make enough money for me to be a stay at home mom and still afford all the bills, medical or otherwise. I tried working, but it wasn’t worth it. Child care for a special needs kiddo is hard to come by and I had to keep leaving work to take care of problems that arose with my son.

It hasn’t been easy for my daughter either. She’s had to give up a lot and she’s had to adjust to getting less attention because of her brother. Being optimistic that I could pay attention to both of my kiddos at the same time was unrealistic. I’ve learned that kind of optimism leaded to hurt feelings and overwhelming parental failure. I’ve learned that sometimes I have to find time to devote to my daughter completely even if it means that she  has to skip some school to get it.

Like Sisyphus and the boulder, we start every day at the bottom of the hill.

Day after day, we get up and try.  There are a lot of things to learn when you have a child with Autism; behavioral, medical, dietary, psychological, methods, routines, etc. They all play a crucial role in a stable life. The things that worked yesterday don’t necessarily work today. Sometimes they have the opposite effect. Teachers ask me how to handle my son and I have to say, “Well, that depends on the day.”

Friends don’t really understand why we don’t do things like they do. Most of them feel that I’m being too overprotective and honestly I’m too tired to try and explain it to them. They are always optimistic that my son will be fine. That there will be no problems. Birthday parties, concerts, fairs, we’ve been to them all. We’ve dealt with the migraines and the over stimulation meltdowns and the violence that comes from them.  I’ve pushed that boulder up that hill enough times that I know our limitations. If they want to think badly of me then so be it. 

The teachers at school ask me what my long term goals are for my son. I usually laugh and say, “To get through today.” You have to have optimism in order to have goals, and I don’t.

Optimism has never been one of my strong suits. I’m not one of those people born under a lucky star where everything went right and the world was a bright and sunny place. Things don’t just work out for me. I get by on my brains and my abundance of personality. Things happen. I  deal with them. I’m a realist.

Realist: a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly.

Optimism can give you a false sense of reality and make you really unhappy because you are always struggling to meet unrealistic expectations.

I know that we are making progress, but to try and  reach a certain milestone in a certain amount of time is more stress than I can handle right now. Don’t get me wrong, I want my son to learn and blossom into a happy healthy adult, but it will have to happen in its own time. I’m just being realistic. I know that my son makes leaps forward only to backslide. That doesn’t make me try any less. I just takes away the expectations and that takes away the disappointments and the feelings of failure.  No one needs those kind of feelings in their life.

People laugh at me when they ask me, “How are you?” and I answer, “Still alive.” I see it as an affirmation that I’m still here. I’m still trying. I am living for the now taking each day as best as I can. I’ve lowered my expectations to the level of “Everyone is still breathing, so we’re doing great.”

So for those of you out there struggling to be optimistic about your children’s autism, it’s going to be all right. You don’t have to be sunny, or cheerful, or optimistic. You just have to accept your life has changed. It’s okay. All you have to do is love your kiddos. That’s the reality .Go with the Zen approach. All there is is the now. They are who they are and that’s okay. They don’t have to be anything else and neither do you.

The Liebster Award

Hi ya! I was nominated for The Liebster Award by CREATIVITY‚úíūüďÉūüėć‚úĆ

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What is a Liebster Award?
Well, it’s an award that typically recognizes up and coming bloggers recognizes bloggers, by helping others discover new blogs and facilitate community building.

How does one get it?
In order to receive a Liebster Award, you must be nominated by a fellow blogger.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
  2.  Nominate 11 people and give them 11 different questions to answer.

Thank you Ankita!

Here are Ankita’s questions:

1. Why did you start with blogging?

I was told that blogging was great for authors as a starting point in creating an author platform. And so it began…

2. Which three hashtags best describe your blog?

#autism #family #writing

3.How do you get new ideas for blog posts?

They just sorta show up. Usually I use things that are happening in our family that might help others in similar situations.

4. Who or what inspires you (to blog and in general)?

To blog: usually my kids or my husband. In general: music, beauty, and irony

5. Which talent don’t you have, but want it?

I want to paint. I can sketch a pretty good picture but when it comes to color and paint, I am utterly defeated.

6.What makes you smile?

People. They are such a funny animal, always doing things for weird reasons and yet they have the capacity for such greatness and love.

7.Who is a hero in your life?

There are so many people that I look up to and admire as heroes, but the one that stands out is my theatre teacher from college, Richard Kuebler (R.I.P.). He recruited me in high school and set me on the path I’m still traveling. He showed me what I wanted out of life and taught me a whole new perception of life¬†through theatre.

8. Are you a planner? Or are you spontaneous?

I plan. Like a general. With an autistic son, I have to. I usually have plans A-Z and then, just in case, a few contingency plans.

9.What is the most amazing thing you’ve seen while traveling.

Dunnottar Castle in Scotland. There is room underneath it that has the darkest dark I’ve ever seen.

10.Is there a sport you’d love to try, but haven’t yet? What is it and why?

Boxing. The closest boxing gym that has classes for women is an hour away and that won’t work with our family’s schedules.

11. What’s your biggest weakness?

Low self-esteem. I struggle with the idea that I’m good enough. I guess I never developed an ego lol.

And so, here are my nominations for the Liebster Award…

davecenker

Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog

Storytime with John

Big Red Carpet Nursing

Mytwosentences

theGoodVader

Scale it Simple

Squeeze the Space Man’s Taco

Just A Small Town Girl

Destination Humanity

Aesthetic Miradh

Here are my questions….

  1. What would you choose as a profession if you could do anything?
  2. When did you know what you wanted to to with your life?
  3. What is your favorite song?
  4. Name somewhere you want to visit but have never been to yet.
  5. What would be your perfect vacation spot?
  6. What do you want to be remembered for after you’re gone?
  7. Have you ever practiced random acts of kindness (you know, running up and giving a stranger a hug or sent anonymous notes of appreciation, that kind of thing)?
  8. Have you ever helped a stranger and if so what happened?
  9. What is your favorite meal to cook and why?
  10. Do you have a guilty pleasure and if so what is it?
  11. If you could tell younger self to change one thing, what would it be?

If you’ve been nominated already, sorry. You can ignore me. You don’t have to do it again.

Thanks again, Ankita!

I Am Woman, See Me Fix Toilet

Toilets have never been my favorite thing. If you look through my posts you will find quite a few that visit the toilet subject and I don’t mean they are crappy. I remember rather fondly the post¬†How to dispose of a stiff with your teenage daughter.

Here is my latest adventure in the House of the Porcelain God.

Our toilet tank had a crack. I can’t say if it was because of manufacturer flaws or if it was because my son leans back against the tank too hard putting stress on the bolts that hold the tank. ¬†Either way, it had a crack. We looked into getting a new tank but surprise, surprise, you have to buy the whole toilet. So like any good homeowner, I procrastinated and himmed and hawed.

Until it was too late.

My son was upset about Halloween. He wanted it to be right now and didn’t want to wait.He had gone to the bathroom and as he sat there trying to make an offering to the Porcelain God he became more and more upset about Halloween. ¬†He began to cry and then to scream and then to sob all the while sitting on the toilet.¬†Now remember he is autistic and this means sometimes he gets into a meltdown cycle and there isn’t a lot to be done. ¬†Often at that point, I try to avoid giving him attention because it only increases the problem. Sometimes he will become calm on his own. But not this time.

Miscalculation on my part. Never let a child in meltdown stay on the toilet.

img_8523 img_8530He did not calm down. Then next thing I heard was gushing water. I thought he’d turned on the faucet or something. I rushed into the bathroom to find him sitting not on the toilet but on the side of the tub staring at the fountain of water bursting from the bottom of the tank.

Bath toys were pairing up and looking for Noah. The rugs were soak and there was a mini waterfall going down the heater vent. I splashed through the flood that was racing across the floor and turned off the water to the tank.

For the next couple of hours it was mops and towels and buckets in full force. Water had not only covered the bathroom floor, but it had also dripped through the floor and into the bathroom downstairs which is right below the upstairs bathroom. So, I had to clean up two bathrooms. The water in the vent headed south down the ducts to drip out at a junction in my basement right next to the furnace. Had to leave a bucket there to collect the drips all night.

Needless to say Momma was not happy.

Once it was all cleaned up and as dry as it could get, we moved on with bedtime. The next morning we headed off to Great Falls to find a toilet. Nothing like looking for a new toilet on a Sunday morning. Bought a whole new toilet and drafted my poor daughter to once again help. This time was more like Frankenstein bringing home body parts to fix the dead Porcelain God. Maybe I should have called this post “How to teach your daughter to resurrect the dead.”

img_8525Any way the box made it home and I img_8527took out the new tank, read the instructions about fifty times and then installed the new tank. I did a total redneck number behind the tank though. Got a Styrofoam chunk and wedged it between the wall and the tank then duct taped it in. Hopefully that will keep my son from banging into it and cracking this new one.

So far so good it hasn’t leaked…yet. I’m trying to be optimistic and believe that this will be the last time I have to mess with the toilet but then again I’m delusional sometimes.

Overwhelmed and stressed out

Kid Schedules…Writing… Work… Cooking… Hobbies… Doctor Appointments…Research…Laundry…Volunteering…

…the list never ends

stressed out mom¬†I know that there have been a lot of posts about stress and what it can do to you. I am a walking case of what stress can do to you. Chronic pain, anxiety, depression, over-worrying, headaches, lack of sleep, physiological imbalances-you name it I’ve got it. I don’t want it but I got it.

I suffer from an over conscientious personality. I don’t want to fail at anything and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and I don’t want to let anyone down. I want to do the best that I can for everyone. For a while that didn’t include myself. I always let me come last on the list of importance. Everyone else came first. That didn’t work too well. Everyone preached at me that I needed to take care of me because if I didn’t then I wouldn’t be around to help anyone else. Okay, fine that made sense. So I tried to get in some of that ME TIME they always preach about.

I started working on my dream of becoming an author. I’ve been writing since I was eleven and I thought I’ll really start working on it full time. Full time being from September to May during the school hours of 8:30-3:00. ¬†Well that sort of worked except for all the times that the kids were out and all the vacation times.

Then there is that driving force in my head about needing to be a productive member of society and this family and I need to contribute financially not just be a mom. I’m gonna sell the stuff I make. Well my bright ideas in the craft department include all sorts of things, jewelry, sewed items, painting bottles, making recycled paper journals, sculptures. I have enough creative juices to do all these things and I really want to.

Then there is the Autism thing. I have to find time to be a better parent and research more and find more ways to help my son. There has to be something that I can do that will help him more. ¬†So out come the books and the websites. Oh and while I’m reasearching that I should keep learning better ways to write too and how to market myself on the web so everyone can find my stories or my crafts to sell.

Oh yeah I need to start working out that’s part of me time right? Get in shape and feel better.

BLAH BLAH BLAH!

I just managed to turn ME TIME into a job!

I’m more stressed out than ever now!

Then it hit me. I’m doing it all wrong. I realized that I’m trying to do everything at once which is how I got stressed in the first place. ¬†I had an epiphany. LIFE IS A BUFFET.

buffet-table

When you go to an all you can eat buffet, you don’t take everything at once. You start with one trip, fill your plate and eat. Life doesn’t need to happen all at once. It’s okay to take one plate and fill it but when it’s full stop. Sit down and eat it. There is always another trip available.

I know that most of you are nodding and thinking, Prioritize. And you are right, but it is also about time management and balance.¬†I don’t have to do all the things I want to all at the same time. However I don’t want to just stop doing all the things I want to in order to do the things I have to. That was where I was before I tried to get some ME TIME in.

So here is my solution.

I have to ACCEPT¬†that I am only going to get done a few things each day. AND THAT IS OKAY! If Monday is bills and social media catch up day and I don’t get any writing, research or jewelry made- that’s ok. Tuesday is doctor’s and shopping day-accept it! Wednesday is laundry and writing- good, Thursday is writing or crafting-nice! Friday is writing. Saturday is housecleaning and laundry-yay me. Sunday is playing with kids, video game and popcorn day! I have to realize that I’m not going to get everything done today. Rome wasn’t built in a day- cliche I know, but cliches exist for a reason.

It’s okay. I’m not going to win any races. I’m the turtle and I’ll get there in the end one plate at a time. I won’t starve and I won’t over eat. The buffet will still be there when I’m ready for another trip.

We’ll never be “Great” but that’s okay!

antique roadshow

I was watching Antiques Roadshow the other night. It’s not a normal show I watch. I was waiting for my son to get done with his bath so I didn’t want to get too caught up in something with a plot so Antiques Roadshow fit the bill.

I watched as experts conversed with people about the origins of the “amazing pieces” they had brought in for the show. Some where completely shocked that they had been sitting on extremely valuable pieces for years and had somehow tucked them away in their garages without ever knowing that they should have insured that piece for several grand.

So I started thinking about the artist and carpenters and jewelers that had made these “treasures of history” and I realized they couldn’t have know what they were doing. I don’t mean that they were ignorant or slap-dashing things together. I mean they couldn’t have know what their chair or necklace or painting was going to be worth in the future. Most of them were probably dirt poor and struggling to find enough food to eat. Many were probably crashing on some friends couch hoping that this new city would be the start of their career never knowing that in a few hundred years their “early work” or their “Santa Fe period” would become so famous. They probably looked at their painting or their latest carved chair and thought, “Damn I screwed that one up,”

I know you think that I am being a bit negative about this but it’s only because it’s true. There is no artist, writer, crafter, or musician that looks at their piece and says, “This will make me famous in a hundred years.” ¬†Well, maybe they do. But how do they know. Most of them are their own worst critic. Think of Van Gogh or Picasso or even Rembrandt they were famous for painting over their own work because they were never satisfied with it, and now the world is nuts for even their doodles.

So did they think they would be “Great” someday? I think they hoped so. ¬†Then what about us? What about the writers, and the painters and the carpenters that are sitting in their basements and garages trying their hardest to get it right, to get noticed. Will we ever be great?

Will someone ever think¬† my writing is wonderful enough to publish? I’m still hoping!

 

IMG_5312

Will this doodle I made on my

IPhone ever be sought after?

I doubt it.IMG_5719

 

Will this bracelet I made e

ver be called “classic”?

Not likely.

 

IMG_6588

Will this ship my mom painted ever

become famous from her “early period”?

Now that’s possible, just sayin’ mom!

 

 

The point is we never really know what is going to happen with our work. We many never be “Great” or we could be the starving artist that is one day featured on Antiques Roadshow and our work will be work tens of thousands of dollars. The point is that it’s okay.

Doing the work that makes us happy is what is important! If you love to make jewelry, make it! If you love to write, grab a pen! If you love to paint, do it! And never never ever throw away anything that you have created. You never know , it could be the next Mona Lisa.

 

 

 

 

Spider Terror!

A¬†frozen moment when you catch something out of the corner of your eye and you know it’s something horrible. An unexpected event that has your heart pounding and your knees shaking. When you are sure that if you really look it will be your last deed.

That moment gripped me the other day when I happened to glance down and I found this on my arm…

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 I freaked out and wanted to smash it. That was one massive fuzzy white spider and it was on my arm!

Then logic got its chance and I couldn’t remember ever hearing about a fuzzy white spider. Was there even such a thing? So I took a closer look and realized that it was merely a feather that had gotten lodged in the threads of my shirt.

It then occurred to me that most unexpected things in life are like that. At first glance it is the scariest thing you can possibly think of and you respond with a knee-jerk reaction. Smash It!

Then when you take a moment and thing about it, it becomes quite ordinary and almost silly. This poor little “spider” suddenly became a topic of a very humorous conversation that included taking it and all of its fuzzy spider friends on tour through Vegas and making his own Magic Mike film!

Perhaps we all need to rein in our “Smash it!” tendencies and look to see if that unexpected event really is worth getting out the fly swatter for or if it’s one of those moments that could turn into something fun and memorable or even an event that we could learn from.