Posted in autism

Go to the front of the class and get your gold star ⭐️

Ready for your report card? If you’re an average (below average in math, sorry teachers) student like I am then don’t be afraid, this is one you don’t have to worry about. If you’re an “A” student then it’s nothing new for you but always nice to see. Whichever type of student you are, you’re going to want to hang this on your fridge because this is one to brag about.

This post is a check in, an awareness post, appreciation post, an atta boy post. Almost five years I’ve known Brody is autistic. Times were so different then, peoples faces crumpled into a sad face when you told them, followed by a sorry or change of topic. People would whisper, not believe it, say he’s just behind or make comments about my pregnancy and how I raised him. Brody’s been bullied, pointed at, told to be quiet, stared at, had rude remarks made and just hurtful actions in general towards him. I’ll never forget the day two women in the dollar store told me they would beat Brody with a wooden spoon if he was their kid while he was crying and covering his ears to cope with sensory overload. The good news is Brody most likely won’t remember those moments and memories but I will never forget them. Now, this isn’t a sad post… keep reading. I’m here to tell you that times have changed and it’s for the better.

I know the news is overwhelming and so sad and morbid at times but let me try to make your heart a little warmer. It’s a new day and when I tell people that Brody is autistic people now smile and say things like “my friends kid has autism” or “oh! Like the show, The Good Doctor”. People also tell me how they saw a post on social media about autism, they send me articles from the news, tell me how they met someone with autism or other positive things along those lines. I wish you all could see the night and day difference in people’s reactions now and how much of a weight off my shoulders it is. I finally feel more confident going out in public, sending him to school or letting him go with other people besides me like his grandparents or nanny. The normalization and open arms to autism still floors me and makes me have faith in this world.

I want to say I see you friends and family. I see you donating to charities, bringing awareness into your classrooms, going to those birthday parties, riding miles on a bike for the cause and sharing articles. I see you commenting and liking my posts, I see you sharing my blog and being a cheerleader for us. I respect those who ask questions, who train and go to school to learn more, who reach out to me and others for advice or questions and who are just there with arms open. You’re all making a difference no matter how small you may see it. We see it. Brody sees it and it’s a ripple effect so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You guys get an A+ on this report card, here I am saying keep it up, your effort is noticed. From a moms perspective I will say that there is so much going on behind the scenes that you don’t see as you can imagine. Brody’s academy he attends is daily therapy year round, costing $350-$400 a day. Factor in aftercare which is $1,000 a month and the many things he needs and those numbers add up fast. Our world is filled with grants and paperwork, money flying all over in an effort to make it work and keep our sanity. While all your kids are going back to school and celebrating holidays, most of the time those things don’t get understood in our house. There’s not grasping of birthdays or Santa, losing teeth or class pictures for Kindergarten. We adapt and do things our own way and thats ok with us although it can be sad at times, it’s just part of our life. Just like how you’re here for us, we are there for you and rooting for the milestones and special moments happening in your lives as well. Our milestones just look a little different like saying “no thank you” rather then yelling, trying new foods and making good eye contact. The bottom line is everyone is somewhere different in the race and while it’s different for everyone, they are all worth celebrating.

There’s a lot on the plate of a single mom and some days it’s with the help and support of you guys that we get through. So please keep it up, ask how you can help, volunteer however you can, offer some kind words, reach out and just be there. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make a big difference in a family with special needs ( or just any parents, for that matter!). So to my amazing family, coworkers, friends who are near and far…. thank for helping us adapt to autism and loving us through it. We couldn’t do it without you. Here’s to an amazing school year for us all, lets spread this awareness to our kids as they enter it and be a living example of acceptance and understanding.

Posted in autism

I spy, with my little eyes.

What do you see, Brody?

What do you see when you wake up early every day, getting yourself ready for therapy? While the other kids play and celebrate being free of a classroom, enjoying their time how they want while you work so hard daily to learn life skills that come so naturally to most. You may see an exhausted mom behind the wheel driving you but I hope you see the admiration I feel for you. I hope what you don’t see is the pain in my eyes leaving you every day, how I want to be home with you and able to have the energy to do all the things you want to. I hope you don’t see the worry and the heartbreak, the stress and the overflowing of emotions I feel on a daily basis. What I hope you do see is a mom trying her hardest to be strong, who sacrifices and gladly puts you at the forefront of her mind. What I do want you to see is the way my face lights up when I see you, my open arms and the happiness I feel as soon as I’m around you. I know you’re always watching and I am trying my best to be the mother and role model you need.

What do you think? What do you think when hour therapist tells me she counted over 160 whines in just one day from you. Over 160 thoughts and things you wanted to say but couldn’t express, trapped inside of of your amazing mind. You squint and daze off, you can actually see the wheels turning in your brain that it actually sounds loud to me. I try to get in your mind, I feel like I know what you think most of the time but I always find myself wondering if it’s right or just wishful thinking. I know you see sounds and hear colors, smell and feel things most couldn’t imagine and I find myself always longing to know what you were thinking. Is your brain as tired yet in overdrive like mine? I see your mind racing along with your body then suddenly you’re asleep and your body is so still. Let your mind and body rest, I hope you are thinking about nothing at all and your mind is slowly wandering free.

What do you hear? We walk out the door and your hands are immediately over your ears… those birds are singing again. Do you hear the truth in my voice when I hug you goodbye and tell you I’ll miss you? When I tell you I love you and I hope you have a great day, I’ve never meant anything more. I know you hear me say you’re a good boy because you tell anyone who will listen and no one argues it. You’re the best boy. You are the best, even when you’re at your worst. Do you hear your whines and cries, the sharp inhale from your mom when you hit your head and head butt your knee out of frustration. I know you are overwhelmed and I hope through the frustration and exhaustion I feel at times, you hear the patience I try to practice and the last ounce of energy I put into trying to be there for you. Sitting on your bed and brushing your bangs to the side while you sleep, I tell you how you’re just the most brave and amazing person I’ve ever known. I tell you how everything I do is for you and us, how I’ll be glad to have you to care for no matter your age and needs. Someday we will have the life we have always dreamed and how we will make it through the hard times, no matter how hard. Please let the things I say sink in and be daily thoughts for you. I hope you hear me.

Looking at you, your legs are gangly, you are missing two bottom teeth, have a stylish haircut and the words are flowing more freely from you. It’s like I hardly recognize you with the changes in the past year yet your personality and individuality has only grown stronger. I look forward to the day we can talk about what you see, think and feel, I want to see into your amazing autistic mind but for now I am content with these simple unspoken moments.

Posted in autism

Count momula

How many nights have I locked my doors, all three, making sure we are safe inside. One click, two click, thee. Picking up two plates and two cups, dumping milk and chicken nuggets…two more nuggets and some fries wasted. All I see is money down the drain. Three rows of 48 crayons are on my floor, nightly I transfer them back to their boxes like he likes. At least a dozen sheets of paper are scattered around with pigs, wolves and jars of tomato sauce precisely drawn. I find it hard to throw them away but I know there will be hundreds more to follow. The lights and fans go off, 9 switches. There was a rave in my house today, Brody’s fingerprints are all over the wall where he flips them on and off all day long. I go to his room and turn off the fish light he loves so much, put the book in his hand back for the 15th time. Finally the bedtime routine has caught on.

Two and half hours. That’s how long I’ve had of me time since he’s been asleep. You’d think me time would be relaxing but how can I relax when all I do is count in my head. I have two cartons of milk left, 3 days until my cell phone is due, four days until the weekend and countless nights of worry and stress. I do count my blessings, it isn’t all bad things. I have one mom, one Dad, two sisters and an uncle. I have a few people who have entered into my life and become family. I have a car, a condo and food to eat. I have more friends now then I ever have before. I have an incredible and special son who looks half like me. Life is hard and amazing at the same time.

I’m 1,2600 miles away from things that I love and where my heart broke. 1,359 miles away is my family I love and miss. 1,426 miles from the house that is my home, from the town that shaped me and started building me to be who I am now. It’s been 8 months since I moved and 13 months since I chose my own ending rather then going down the same wrong way Road. It’s been 7 years since I’ve been just me but it feels like forever. There’s no number for the meals I’ve made myself, the trips to the grocery store, diapers I’ve changed, loads of laundry done, times I’ve drank some wine just to help my heart go numb a little. How many times have I stared at this fan going around, struggling to close my eyes just to wake up and do this over again and resume the counting.

Silence is deafening was a saying that never rang true to me until I was alone. Tonight it’s so quiet it’s almost like there’s a ringing in my ears. I always think how many friends and family feel or have felt how I feel, how many people are laying in bed right now doing their own counting. When the counting gets too loud I try focus on keeping my eyes forward. To put one foot in front of the other and keep going, to not let it bog me down.

Yes I’m counting my balance in my bank account but I’m trying to remember that someday I’ll look back and not have to count. I’ll be able to remember how it was, how I made it work with some help and sacrifices. I’ll be understanding that others are fighting that battle and be compassionate and helpful when I can. I’m counting how many job postings and applications I’ve read over and the hours spent trying to find a job that fits. Someday I’ll have a career that makes me happy and helps support Brody and I. I’ll feel proud of where I’ve gotten and the steps I’ve taken to get there. I’m counting the hours spent inside, watching paw patrol, drawing bricks and a wolf, Blowing bubbles and cleaning up after a potty training boy. I’ll also count while I cherish the kisses, the words my nonverbal child spoke, the milestones hit and the bedtime stories and tuck-ins I give Brody, just like I remember from being a kid.

The loudest counting in my head is my age. I’m 29. 12 years ago I graduated high school, 8 years ago was college, almost five ago I added mom to my list. I still have so many years to add onto my age, so many not counted yet. I have no idea what those years hold but hopefully I can add on more children, a husband, more friends and family and many amazing adventures with Brody. This is what I dream about when I close my eyes, it’s what fuels me to open my eyes for the 10,340th time.

Posted in autism

As I am…

Life knew what it was doing when it sent Brody to me. It was teaching me a lesson I just couldn’t see.

Autism came in with one foul swoop, forcing me to dump all my cards and regroup.

This came in and turned our world on its axis, what I didn’t know was that this was my practice.

Patience and kindness, understanding and love, I hope we are making our family proud up above.

His story inspires others, he’s teaching lessons just by being, he’s got a team of cheerleaders who can’t believe what they are seeing.

The progress he’s made and the changes occurring, you can see in his eyes that his minds constantly stirring.

He’s fearless and different, unapologetically unique, the next thing he will conquer is learning to speak.

When his feet hit the sand and he swims like an otter, he finds peace in his mind when he’s in the saltwater.

As the sun sets, all I can see is his silhouette, I’m snapping mental pictures, thankful for the time we have left.

Different not less, is what they all say, Bonita beach is where Brodys autism washes away.

I have no idea what our future has in store, what I do know is I was meant to be his mother for sure.

He’s the non verbal one, yet he leaves me without words, growing each day is something we’re always working towards.

So thank you to life for sending me this blue eyes baby, I think in the end he’s the one who really saved me.

Posted in autism

I’m trying but I’m tired…

I’m laying next to you in my big bed. You have a cold and you’re sniffling, you’re watching paw patrol for the millionth time on your kindle and dozing off. We just wrestled while I had to hold you down to give you medicine, you cried and spit it all up and I feel like a mean mom. I hate seeing you upset but while you’re the non verbal one, I wish you could read my mind like I can read yours.

I wish you knew the daily thoughts I have about your future, that everything I say and do is for you. I always wonder if I’ll be a soccer mom one day, if you’ll be singing in a Christmas concert at school like my friends kids are. I think further down the road, if you’ll go on to go to college or have a career, if you’ll live on your own, if you’ll meet someone special someday and create a family. I wonder how being a single mom will influence you and how you grow up, I worry it will hurt you somehow. I try so hard to be both roles for you but I’m only one person. My minds tired, Brody.

I wish sometimes you can could see how much of my mind you consume but glad you don’t see the other part of my mind. This year has brought some internal battles for me, I’ve had to be out of my comfort zone a lot. I’ve had to fake being strong for you and force a smile, I’ve hidden when I cried. I’m trying to heal my heart while being there for you, trying to see not just your future but mine. No one teaches you how to parent when you’re feeling broken, I just wake up and try each morning and chip away at it. You’re not a burden but my biggest blessing, Brody. You’re my consistent when most other things aren’t.

My body’s tired Brody. I pick up millions of crayons a day, Reese’s wrappers are shredded all over the house. My hands are sore from filling out your paperwork, my eyes are strained from emailing and constant researching on my tiny phone. I swear my left eye is going to twitch until the day I die, the bags under my eyes are getting darker every day. My body runs on coffee and creamer, I get sleep thanks to melatonin now. You’re 42 lbs and can’t walk far, I’m always carrying you on my hip, having to use both arms to support you. My body aches and cracks like I’ve never heard before and I feel older then I am. Potty training is the bane of my existence, the laundry I’ve been doing is solely supporting the power company. I drive you to doctors appointments, soon school and therapy, swim lessons, the store for bubbles and crayons. My body doesn’t stop but when it does, it still feels like it’s moving. If it’s not moving a million miles a minute, my mind is. All of this but I still bring you to see Santa and goats at the farm. We go to the beach and watch sunsets, I take photos of you even though I’ll never forget those memories. We swing at the playground while kids say you’re too big for the “baby swings”, they don’t know you can’t support yourself on the big swings. You spin in circles in front of the playground while the other kids play around you. They try to ask your name and get upset and ask me why you don’t talk. I tell them you don’t know how yet, “We are learning” I tell them. This makes my heart hurt too.

My heart hurts because others don’t understand you, and it hurts more because I don’t either. I see you slip into Autism land, which may seem awful to some but you’d know what I meant if you saw what I did. A little boy in a pile of blankets and pillows he has stripped off the beds, all on top of him with his head poking out. His eyes are open but no ones home, it’s like Brody’s left and watching him is difficult because his disability kind of reaches out and slaps me. I’m then faced with the fact I don’t know so much about my son, even doctors and therapists don’t. Guilt doesn’t creep in often but when it does it’s consuming. I always wonder if I did something wrong, if it’s my fault you have autism. It’s times like that I can actually feel my heart hurting, the worst pain of all.

I am tired Brody, and I’m sure deep down you know. You are so smart it stops me in my tracks sometimes, you know and understand way more then any of us realize. If you see that I hope you know that it won’t always be like this. Some of the things will get harder, some will get easier, some are just a phase we will work through together. Christmas and holidays seem to be extra hard on me, I try hard not to compare our situation to others. You aren’t writing a list to Santa, you don’t know what Christmas is, I don’t have extra money to buy you gifts this year. But you know what? This year you sat on Santa’s lap and you said his name while looking him in the eyes. You know how to unwrap gifts this year from amazing friends and family who love and care about you, who are your biggest fans and our amazing support system. You’ll go to sleep in your own awesome new bed, in your brand new room in our own condo. You’ll wake up to our cute tree that you helped me decorate and see the cookies Santa ate that you helped me decorate. All of these things I couldn’t say last year but I can today. And that, that’s enough to get me through because although a day in our life is more work then some, it’s worth it in the end. So here’s to a year of progress and another day of trying our hardest to be better. Every days goal is moving forward from where we were yesterday, no matter how small the step. Moms tired Brody, but I look forward to every day with you.

Posted in Believing in Brody

I’m guilty. 

I usually write my posts in the morning so I think that may be why I am usually all over the place. I’ve been home for two days from vacation now and I’m still a little jumbled and trying to let the dust settle. I’m buried in endless laundry and cleaning, trying to snap things  back to order which is quite a process. 

I apologize for my absence on here, I shouldn’t neglect this blog as bad as I do. While I was on vacation for nearly a month I was overwhelmed with how many people read and were touched by my blog. I honestly set out to just try to change one or two lives, if I did that then I had accomplished my goal. After collecting myself now that vaca is done I’ve seen that my reach was a lot further than I had imagined. What floored me the most was the huge cheerleading team that was behind us, everywhere I turned I was getting hugs and we were just showered with love. I’m honestly choked up as I write this because it’s something  I actually can’t put in words to know that what you’re doing is working. I’ll tell you, I’m hellbent to make a difference in the world my son will be living in and to know it’s working, even on a small scale is so amazing. 

One unexpected thing this vacation brought was some self reflection and perspective that I was needing. I got to spend a lot of alone time with Brody, I tried to absorb every minute of this time because I’ve never seen him as happy as he was then. His smile was truly ear to ear, skipping all over the place and just squealing ( sometimes happy screaming) so many times while home. One night in particular while I was sitting on the beach at sunset alone, watching Brody happily wade in the ocean I felt envious of how happy he was. Don’t get me wrong, some things make me happy and he makes me the happiest of them all but I just realized my mind is always busy and on a million other things. He was careless and light while I felt weighed down and just realizing how many things consume me. I have said it before that I am my own person who is also a mother, not just a mom. This ties in because I have been made very aware that there are things that are sitting heavy on my shoulders and I wish I could shrug off and carry on. I kept thinking about how I want just a clean slate, to start over with some things, to take back mistakes or foolish things I’ve done that I’m not proud of. The thing is you can’t take them back but you can change your course and learn from them. 

What I just wrote is hard for me to admit considering my Scottish roots make me very stubborn and it kills me to ever admit I’m wrong. Vacation made me swallow my pride though, I was almost sick of myself and making excuses. I keep wanting to change things and get motivated and it’s nearly the death of me but I can do it and I am just choosing not to. I always think that I want to be a role model for Brody and live a life I’m proud of and right now that’s not quite where I am. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed, lose balance of priorities and forget that I’m not only learning about myself and my son but also how to be a mother. Autism throws a curve ball in all that as well, every day brings a new challenge in addition to the challenege of parenting. I need to have a clear mind to best navigate through these times and I’ll never have that if I keep down the path I’m going. 

I know it’s a corny metaphor but as I was driving down to see my mom I was driving my dads two seater truck and Brodys next to me just happy as can be. Country music was really reaching me with the sun shining, windows down and my hair blowing and I just felt a moment of being light and it was a vacation of its own. I beat myself up, worry myself to death, put up with more then I ought to and ignore things that I should be putting a stop to and I’m so guilty of putting that weight on my own damn shoulders. Like Brody, I deserve to be happy and seeing moments of happiness break through the clouds while on vacation put a fire under me. You know that saying that you can’t love anyone until you love yourself? I think it’s the same thought process for being a good parent and role model, you have to take care and love yourself first. The past is in the rearview mirror and I need to focus on our road ahead. Changes are big and small, they take time and sometimes are hard to go through but as long as I come out at the end with a happy me and a happy son that’s what matters. He is everything to me and he deserves a strong mom to stand next to him, teaching him to face the challeneges and obstacles he will face in life. This post has been more of a release and self realization to wrap up my vacation and turned more into a self help post for myself but maybe someone sees parts of themselves in me and take something away from it. 

Thank you, again, to our cheerleaders who are always in our corner. I need more people like you and let the rest fall away….💕