The New Normal

The New Normal

Social media is great for seeing things that can be uplifting, if you are paying attention. Sometimes people share things that just lift you up or you can relate to.  In this case it was a video that someone shared. A video of a mother expressing her thoughts in regards to hopes and dreams that change when you have an autistic child. My child does not have autism. I don’t know what he has. Nobody does, but I could relate to this mother. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I recognized her pain and her struggles that she spoke about.

My son is almost twelve. When he was an infant I remember telling myself that I needed to make sure that I made life as normal as possible and to not give up going places as a family. We haven’t, but it is really hard and I am close to it.    A few years later and I thought about how my purpose in life is to just make sure he is happy.  Through the years there have been efforts to help him and teach him. Those efforts haven’t stopped but there was a moment where the concentration shifted.  Where an understanding of who he was had to take place otherwise I would be wasting energy trying to make him be something he could not be. He was simply happy and I needed to accept that he was extremely happy in his own world, in his own body. Who was I to put pressure on him, that he did not understand, to perform the way society accepts? Would it be easier if he were potty trained? Of course. Wouldn’t I love that?! However, he is not capable of that function.

Accelting my son the way he is and making my goal be to just make sure he is happy and comfortable is often met with a few blank stares. People often wonder if I am giving up instead of trying to make him normal. It is not giving up, it is more of accepting what is and living life with our new normal instead of fighting it and trying to force the a normal that will not be. This is life.

This life with my son is hard. It is also joyful. I see miracles. I see love. I feel love and growth. There are times people compliment me on my strength. I thank them. I do not always see what they see, partly because I know I could still do better.  There are times I remind people that I have two choices: to do or not to do. I chose a long time ago to do what I have to do. I am grateful I chose that route.

Each day requires energy, sacrifice, patience and love. Each day feels monotonous. The same messes to pick up, diapers to change, a life to tend to. I wouldn’t trade it though. I cannot imagine life any differently, because this is my normal.

Sweet Support

I recently had some dental work done. In order to accomplish the task I had to take one of my children with me. My sweet three year old. She came willingly. She even brought along her small backpack filled with toys that she felt were special.

When we were led to the room where my teeth would be worked on she promptly took a seat in nearby. She grabbed a magazine and handed it to me. At that moment I was seated and the work began there was no reading that magazine. From where I lay in the dentist chair I could not see her, but I could hear her.

She was quiet most of the time but every once in awhile she spoke up. She made sure the dentist knew her name. She joked with him and filled him in on her happenings. At one point I heard her talking about reading the magazine. At another point she did get her toys out even though she did not really play with them. However it was the other stuff she did that brought out her cuteness and sweetness.

About half-way through the work I heard my daughter tell me, “you are doing good Mom. I love you.” Although I couldn’t smile my heart was warned. Everyone else in the room gushed at the adorableness that just came out from that little girl. Before long she was standing by my side trying get a glimpse at what was going on. She didn’t say anything except one, “I love you.”  When I put my arm to help prevent her from getting to close to the dentist she put her hand out and began rubbing my arm to reassure me that all was well.

I couldn’t ask for a better experience that day. I couldn’t ask for a better daughter. Her actions made me contemplate my parenting and reassured me that I was not doing a bad job. I knew that she was learning such kindness and compassion because it is taught in our home and what we do as a family. She was learning and she reminded me just how beautiful a sweet child can be. Proud mommy moment? Sure. Why not? She did good and she showed love.

Car rides

I have joked for years that I am cursed. Without fail it seems as though the night before I need to travel I struggle to go to sleep. Some may think I am anxious or nervous, but I am not. Sometimes I get to sleep but my children keep waking me up and other times sleep just doesn’t want to come. This happened recently. I really wanted to sleep, but it just was not happening.

Since I lacked sleep I went back to bed after putting my son on the bus the next morning. Yes that did mean that I put on a television show to (gasp) babysit my children. Actually, it turned out nicely that they slept for most of that as well. Yay.

Several hours later, after errands and searching for everything (not finding it all) to tracked with we were finally on the road. We made all out usual stops. Bathroom break one, two, and three. All our usual stops. The only new stop was to get some beef jerky to keep me awake. Yup, chewy beef jerky that costs a bundle.

I don’t know why I even bothered buying the jerky though. It was about that time that I regretted moving the children from the far back to the middle of the van. What was I thinking? Screaming, yelling, and more screaming–directly behind me. I wondered if my children even knew how to do anything but scream or fight. I even began to plan out how to put a partition in between the two youngest girls. They wouldn’t be able to get to each other that way.

One of the hardest things about long drives with children is the high pitched screaming of little kids-or any kid. Eventually, without realizing it, your foot begins to push down on the gas pedal a little harder.  Eventually you start going faster. I noticed this of myself and wondered what a police officer would think if I got pulled over. Would he have pity on me and send me on my way (happened to my mom once)? Or…would my children be perfect angels and I would look like a crazed woman about to explode? My guess is it would be the latter. I am sure I would even have tears of frustration, or from the pain in my ears, and the officer would likely think I was crying because he pulled me over. Serves me right for traveling with children.

This trip I really did not end up going too fast too often because of the screaming. I wished I could have. Instead I quietly cursed every vehicle in front of me that decided going ten to twenty miles under the speed limit was fun. Didn’t they know I had screaming children in the car and there was a tired mom behind the wheel doing everything to keep sane?

On another note: I did understand how someone could go off the road when a spider scares them while driving (recent news story). I had a large bug startle me and it took every ounce of me to keep from freaking out as I could not tell what it was. I pulled over and let the sucker out. My oldest was about to join it. She was so creeped out that she was literally half way out the car already. Good thing I pulled over.

the mom vacation

I have joked for years about how a vacation with kids is no vacation for the mom. I am not sure about most families, but every time I have gone on vacation I always have to do at least twice as much work. This was the same no matter my marital status.  I have seen it with many other mothers. When I haven’t seen it I have heard their stories. Vacationing with children is no vacation.

There are a few different vacation scenarios. One is that you stay with family or friends. What a great way to spend time with family, save money on lodging, and children can often play with relatives.  Sounds great, right? Hold on to that nice idea right there because that is as far as it gets.

Your children will still have all the same needs they had before the vacation, but this time they know you are trying to have fun yourself and so when you sit down to visit they are right there in your face. What happened to playing with cousins or other relatives? Oh, some fight broke out or they just got bored.

Simce  you are in someone else’s house you spend more time worrying about any possible mess your children may make. If you are not careful you may end up becoming really stressed out following your child so they don’t ruin anything. This leads to the over compensation parenting.

You overcompensate by becoming too strict or too lenient. Why? Because watchful eyes are upon you followed by a barrage of parenting advice. There just is no winning.

You still have to do laundry too, and vacation means no extra sleep because nobody has their own beds and what kid sleeps better that way? Lastly, don’t forget the worry that comes from using somebody else’s bathroom.

Not all vacations end up at a relative’s house. Often times you actually go somewhere that tourists might end up. This may take you to a hotel where all your kids fight over the remote and even though you got a room with two big beds they still refuse to sleep without you. Getting in the hotel room takes forever  you have to strategize where to park, what to take in and how many trips to take while not losing any kids or having them escape the room while you are in between trips.

Oftentimes a hotel room gets you to  think you will get to enjoy watching a cable program (if you could afford a hotel that offers cable) that you normally do not get to watch because you don’t have cable, and besides, you can because you are on vacation. That rarely happens because your kids still won’t sleep in a hotel bed and are still fighting over the remote.

Ah, and just when you think you can sit down to relax they beg for you to take them swimming. Where you will oblige them because you think it will be relaxing. Not so. It takes forever to get everyone ready after searching through all the bags for swimsuits. When you finally get to the pool you are even more exhausted but you need to be the lifeguard.

A hotel room means you don’t have to worry about keeping it spotless, but you do because you have to prevent toothbrushes, socks and shoes from being left behind. Don’t worry, you will do good at that but will likely forget something else.

It does not matter how short or long the hotel stay is as you will still have a disaster of clothes spilling out of suitcases and drawers, tossed all over the room, and bathroom towels everywhere.

Don’t forget to feed your kids–yeah, there’s that mess too that you do your best to keep on top of so the maids will not think of you as slobs.  If you happen to go out to eat you have to work extra hard to keep everyone behaved and as quiet as possible while you all wait impatiently for the food. This is when you throw your hands up in the air and wonder why you did not just order pizza to the hotel room.

I suppose vacationing is not all about where you keep your bags at night. There are the daytime activities, if you dare to try. Not too bad, but you still have to meet the needs of everybody. Diaper changes, bathroom breaks, keeping track of kids, tired kids, whining, lost kids, lost bags, the staring strangers, and everything else imaginable. By the end of your vacation you will really want to go back home because home seems like a vacation from your vacation.

This is my vacation. I cannot afford vacations that are not at a family member’s house. When we visit family I stay at their house during the day because I cannot afford to go do the seemingly fun things. I end up with all my kids in bed with me where I get little sleep because they refuse to sleep well. I spend most of my time preventing tragedy while trying to maintain sanity and not take parenting advice too personally.

I do appreciate the time with my family though, and even if I am on vacation and am doing more work it is still worth the making of memories. It is the memories made working together in the yard, laughing while telling stories, and playing games together. More work on vacation is definitely worth the priceless memories.