Friday, August 15, 2014

"Why even have kids?!"

I was asked this by new parents the other day, and it didn't take long to come up with an answer.

Their baby is just shy of 2 months old, and they're having a hard time. Babies are hard. Kids in general are hard. Are they worth it? Some days. There are more days of frustration, anger, and just down right tears. I can't tell you how many times my 10 year old has said something that has completely crushed my heart and made me question whether or not parenting was what I should be doing with myself.

They say things, and do things, and don't realize the full impact of their words. There have been times that I've had to stop in the middle of a conversation with one of my children, and just walk away. Either to hide the tears, or to hide the emotion, be it anger, frustration, or just sadness. It's hard.

The thing is... it's worth it. Those terrible, frustrating times are made up for, I swear. Whether it be sleepless nights made up for with that first smile, or the heartbreak of an older child's words made up for by a hug and an "I love you, Mom!" When you give them presents for birthdays or whatever, and they're just kind of "meh" about it... it's made worth it by that ONE present you get that gets a jaw drop, welling eyes, "OH MY GOD THANK YOU" reaction.

It's not just those rewards, it's the reward of watching a person you created, in every literal sense, grow.

There was an instant the other day that completely made my day. My husband was putting his shoes on, and I was leaving to go to work. My littlest child, (5 yr old HF autistic) said "Bye mom! I love you!". This.was.HUGE! It made my heart swell that my little one, unsolicited, unprovoked, just told me he loved me. This was one of those moments that all was worth it.

Just yesterday was a huge "worth it" moment. My 2 older kids were trying out for a karate class. This class doesn't except all families, you have to go through a process and be approved to be in the program. Part of the "initiation" is breaking a board with a kick. My daughter, Rylee, who's going to be 7 on Tuesday (oy), got a board about 1/4 of an inch thick. She broke it with her kick on her first try. She was way excited about it! Conner was next up, and the instructor said "I almost think I should give you a thicker board..." I piped up with an enthusiastic "I think you should!"

He left and returned with a board about 1/2 an inch thick board. Conner got nervous. The instructor had a little pep talk about believing in yourself, and BAM! Conner broke the board. I was facing him, and I saw the look of shock and excitement rush over his face (it makes me smile to even think about). His eyes began to well up with tears. He was so happy for himself. It opened a whole new world of possibilities for him.

I will forever remember that moment. The moment when he learned a very important life lesson, always believe in yourself. Now, that might seem like something small and trivial to you, and that's fine. I'm sure you have moments that I'd think the same about. But as a mom? I was SUPER proud of my boy. He overcame his doubts about himself, snapped this thing in half like it was nothing, and was so proud of himself he almost cried.

THAT is what makes it all worth it. That is what makes the sleepless nights, spit up covered clothes, skinned knees, nightmares, hurtful words and everything in between 100% worth it. Stick to your guns, there is a silver lining. It's coming, and it'll make you feel things you've never felt before.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I had a moment

My husband will be the first to tell you that my son and I go toe to toe on a fairly regular basis. He's almost 10, and he's in a major turning point in his life where he can't decide if he wants to be babied, or if he wants freedom. With freedom comes responsibility and if I weren't there with my eighty-billion reminders, he'd probably go to school naked, with no so much as a backpack, because I didn't remind him.

This is the last week of school, and this transition has shown it's ugly head more than once this week. Everyone in the house is stressed, but mainly me. As one of the "special days" he gets to take board games, a blanket, and a stuffed animal to school. He gets all this together, and is ready to head out the door, when I notice his hair. Typical "I'm growing my hair out and it's in a really awkward stage" sticking up everywhere, hair. So I tell him to go do something with it, to which he snaps back "It's MY hair!"

At this point, I have to bite my tongue, and keep myself from getting in a knock-down drag out fight with my 10 year old on this Wednesday morning. I tell him to fix his hair, again, and walk away. This moment of defiance is the latter part of this transition. The wanting independence. Not 5 minutes later, we're getting in the car, and heading to school. He's trying to situate this stuffed animal in he seat belt, "because he might get hurt". THIS is the former part of above mentioned transition... Again, I have to pick my battles. Do I yet again explain to him that he is almost 10?! No. I say nothing.

This morning was yet another FINE example of this transition. He takes all the clothes (that I have folded) out of his dresser and places them in the laundry room, in a giant pile. Never mentions it to me, just acts like this is something normal to do. So the clothes get washed, but not dried. Because I'm lazy... and forgetful... but that's another blog post. We're getting ready this morning, and he casually mentions he has no clothes, and that he is to wear a grey shirt. At this point, I lose my cool.

You want to be this free, totally independent child, but you fail to tell me the things you need from me until the morning of. Wonderful. So this leads to that knock-down drag out I avoided yesterday. I am at my wits end. All day, stewing about this morning. Then someone asks me a question. A question they didn't know would pull at my eyes, trying to make them leak... "When your son gets married, what song will yall dance to?"

Odd question, seeing as how that's at least almost a decade away. But I think about it... My first instinct isn't some sappy country song about moms loving their sons, or sons loving their moms. It's about the memories we've made with certain songs. The first thing that came to my mind was "Kung Fu Fighting". We have had countless dance parties to this song that included our very own made up dance routine. Another was "I'm Yours" This has been my oldest's favorite song, since I can remember. We have dueted it on many occasion.

It brought back memories, some distant and some not so distant, of my boy dancing right along beside me, singing his heart out, and loving every moment. This memory was brought to me right when I needed it. It helps me realize that yes, my son drives me INSANE sometimes. But so do my other kids. I love him to pieces, and I have so many stored memories of little moments that mean nothing to anyone else but him and I. I can't be mad at him for being in a perfectly normal transitional stage in his life, and that one thing is so easy to forget. Those memories are so easy to take for granted.

Big or small... memories matter, and I learned today that memories have the ability to keep you sane.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Autism

I really wish more people understood this. Being judged by friends and even family members when you turn down an invite to something, or when you have to leave early from another event is not an easy thing to deal with. In fact, it down right hurts and sucks. Sometimes, I wish I had cards to hand out to people. Something along the lines of "I'm not a bad kid, I have Autism, and I'm having a hard time."
In the last 24 hours, I've had 2 experiences with people being downright rude about my son. One instance was with a friend. Another, with complete strangers. I've felt the stabbing eyes before. I've heard the remarks made about my son being "bad". It's been suggested by family members that he down right be excluded from activities. "He just needs to be spanked" "You need to control your child" "What's wrong with HIM?" 
The answers? He is punished in age and developmental appropriateness, and there is nothing wrong with him. He's funny, bright, smart, and extremely loving. He INSTANTLY steals your heart, so watch out. His smile and laugh is infectious. He just works... different. When you're hungry, you can say "Dude, I need to eat" and he's learning that. But he doesn't know how to tell you something is wrong. He doesn't know how to tell you he is having an overload. He can't tell you he's overwhelmed. But he has cues. 
Unfortunately, we can't stop our lives FOR the autism, if for nothing else, for the sake of the older two children in our household. We find ways to manage, ways to introduce new settings, go out to different locations, etc. We don't know how things will go unless we actually try them. That said, if my child starts screaming in the middle of your dinner, I'm sorry. If we can get through a dinner, or an outing in general without a scream, normally a blood curdling-someone is murdering my child scream, We call it a win.
Often times I look at people's children and think to myself, 'my kid has Autism... what's YOUR excuse?" My son's excuse is not bad parenting, it's not lack of discipline, His brain works differently than yours and your little snowflakes. He sees and hears EVERYTHING around him. Things you and I don't see or hear. If you really think about it, think about the noises you COULD hear if you didn't naturally drown them out, it'd be frustrating, it'd get overwhelming, and you'd probably lose your damn mind. So I say he's doing pretty dang good. 
The fact is, our son has autism. We don't know what it feels like, and from what I CAN understand just being around my youngest, it sucks. But, it's his life and it's our lives. We don't owe you an explanation, we don't owe you an apology, and we don't need you to feel sorry for us. We don't need stares in the grocery store, or stories about what worked for your great aunt's-cousin's-friend's-sister's-boyfriend's brother's kid. From what we know, every case is pretty much different. Yes, they have similarities, but the things that work, don't, trigger, and upset aren't always the same. We do what we can, we do what we find works. He's working very hard, he's making HUGE improvements, and we're trying our best to help him in anyway we can.

Before you judge, don't. Just don't. It's that simple. It's a good rule to live by in your every day life, not just dealing with Autism. You don't know someone's story. You don't know what happened to them yesterday, 5 minutes ago, 10 years ago, or something their battling right this moment. The looks, whispers, "aw, I'm so sorry"s, and the like don't help. We love our son. He's different, yes. But he's not broken 

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NO!

It seems now days parents are having a harder and harder time telling their kids no. A screaming child at the store gets a toy, simply because their parent won't say no. An entitled teen gets a new cell phone, simply because they won't be told no. This kind of ties in to my "Don't Let Your Kids Be Assholes" post, found here. This is one of those things that causes assholes kids. Just for clarification, no I don't think kids are assholes. I think that can be very bratty, assholes just seems to cover more than bratty does, don't you think? ;)

It's ok to tell your kid no. It's ok that they don't get their way every single time.  It's ok if they cry and throw a fit because they didn't get something they wanted. You can't give them EVERYTHING all the time and sometimes that's a hard lesson for some parents to learn. It doesn't have to be an issue of if you can afford it, or if your child CAN have it. Fact is, you said no. End of story.

I feel like we are becoming weak as parents and more and more people are letting their kids run the show. You said no, and your kid throws a fit, so they get what they wanted before you said no? What kind of person is that teaching them to be? One day, they'll be at work, their boss will say no, they'll throw a fit and guess what? They'll lose their job. Their boss won't cave because little Henry threw himself to the floor because he couldn't have blue post-its instead of green ones.

Same with them being little. If YOU give them something, after you've said no, when they're with other people they take advantage of this. Which means what? Yep, that person has to deal with an asshole child. See where I'm going here? So, tell your kids no. Tell them yes! Let them EARN things, not demand them then throw a tantrum when they don't get what they want. It's not fair to them, and it's not fair to future them. It doesn't teach them anything, and it does nothing constructive but makes them be quiet for that brief moment until they forget about the thing they wanted in the first place. I bet you ten dollars that they will ask for something completely different and unrelated in 2 more minutes.

This isn't just about not having to get them something you don't really want to either. It's about teaching them manners. If your child wants something, and you have no problem giving it, give them a chance to earn it. They'll value it more if they have to do something to get it. Like, "if you behave in the store, and I don't have to get on to you at all the whole time we're here, we'll swing back by and pick it up." Or if you're leaving, " Tell you what, you help me clean the kitchen/living room/bathroom/bedroom, we can come back tomorrow and we will get it." Give them something to go for, don't just lay down and take the beating of little fists!!

I'm getting off subject, say no. It's ok. No one is going to die because your child throws a fit. :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Let them mold themselves.

I personally think there is nothing wrong with individuality. I have two kids that are "finding themselves" right now, and their other parent has a problem with the individuality. My son, for instance, is not into sports, he likes the metal music my husband shows him, and he likes to play video games. My ex husband says "He's going to be a nerd" with this stink face on like being a nerd is a bad thing. My thinking is, who cares if he's a nerd?! Who cares if he's not in to sports? Who cares?! Is he happy? Yes. Then what does it matter?

The ONLY reason I bring this up is because as my son gets older, he no longer wants to visit his father because he pressures him to be someone he's not. He is unhappy over there because the things he likes are "stupid", "retarded", "dumb", etc. He moans and whines every time he has to go over there because he knows that something is going to be said about the things he likes.

Personally, and as a mother seeing her children go through this, I feel this is damaging to the child. Not only are they already confused about who they are, but then you throw in a grown up telling them their choices are dumb? It's confusing.

I say, as long as you're not getting hurt, and you're not hurting others, be who you want to be. Do what you want to do, and be in to whatever it is your little heart desires! I feel like giving your child this total independent freedom let's their little minds wander and grow and change them into the person they were meant to be. With a little guidance, and a lot of patience and tongue biting, you'd be amazed at what your children come up with.

We're chosen to be their parents (lame I know) to nurture their ideas and interests. My kids dress themselves. I don't think either of them have ever seen me leave the house because my daughter dresses like a bag lady and my son would go everywhere shirtless. When they dress themselves, they hardly match or they OVER match. This isn't a problem for me because, frankly, I don't care what they look like. As long as their clothes are clean, and their hair is brushed, they can go out in whatever they want to.

It promotes their individuality as much as possible. My son is in to many things I am not. I don't discourage him from liking those things, I encourage him by asking him questions about it, buying things that reflect those interests, and generally pretending like I care about it. If he questions me on my liking something, I don't lie. I tell him "I don't like this, but you do, and that's ok, people like different thing!"

What kinds of things do your kids like that you don't?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Minion Birthday!

This past weekend was my sweet step son, Sora's, Birthday. He is OBSESSED with Despicable Me, so we had a minion birthday!

This isn't one of those blog posts with billions of pictures from the event, but one show stealer was the cake. A minion cake!

Photo: Minion for Sora!

This thing took about 10 hours of total working time to make. All I have is one mixing bowl, and when you need 3 recipes of cake and 2 of icing, mixing with one small bowl, makes for a very long time to make a cake!

It was worth it. Sora loved it, and couldn't wait to dig in! By the time he blew out his candles, there were small finger marks in the little cake in the front (which was made for him)

Those 10 hours were totally worth it. I wish I had progression pictures, but I was too busy to think about it. Pretty much, it's 3 circle cakes, some supports and a cake board, and another circle cake with a cake I baked in a bowl on top :)

Hope you like it!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Identity Crisis

Life has been insane lately with getting married, settling into the wife and step mother role, and my normal craziness that ensues on a daily basis. Over the next couple weeks, there will be several posts, so I hope you're ready.

So, right now, my almost 9 year old (holy crap my son will be 9 in a week) seems to be having a bit of trouble going into his ninth year. He almost seems... lost. It's really interesting to watch. He's still my super sweet little blonde haired boy, but he's changing and he's trying to figure himself out. If you can imagine a 9 year old going "Who am I?" Its pretty laughable. Does he like this video game, does he like that one? Should he grow his hair out or leave it short? Should he like sports or not? Does he like "kiddie" things still, or think they're too babyish? He's really stuck, and while I am his mom and can try to guide him one way or another, fact is, I'm not HIM. All I can do is support the hell out of whatever it is he decides on.

He's starting 4th grade this August, and he will be in a new school. I think it's cool because he can start over. Make new friends, share new stories, make new memories. Although he's not extremely stoked (he had a rough year last year) I think he's warming up to the idea.

The hard part about being the mom of a 9 year old boy (which I'm still learning) is this; he's a little person, a little MAN. He's not my sweet little baby boy with the big blue eyes that used to need me for everything. He's more independent now, he has a voice and an opinion. He has views on things that differ from mine. I feel like this is the beginning stage of "letting go". And it's kind of hard for me to deal with. I mean, on one hand, I want to snuggle him in the mornings, clean and kiss his boo boos, fix his hair for him. But on the other, I HAVE to let him be. I HAVE to let him grow up. I still snuggle him because, damn it! I'm his mommy!!! (in my eyes at least) But I need to let him blossom without holding my hand.

Now I'm having a same time, but different identity crisis. Who am I?! I'm Conner's mom yes, but I'm not his everything, his protector any more. I'm just mom. He doesn't want to talk about these first steps going into puberty with <I> MOM</I>. He doesn't want to be hugged and kissed by mom. He doesn't want to tell me about his problems (I'm a girl so I don't understand).  He's a big boy.

So while he's going through his own issues with figuring out who he is, I'm over here smiling on the outside and dying on the inside because I'm going through the same emotions that he is. It's hard to deal with mothering such a big boy. I guess I've done my job, and now it's up to him to answer his internal question of "who am I?' and I'll just have to deal with it, and the new role I've been put in.
                 
 What are your kids doing right now making you go "STOP!!"?