Thursday, May 30, 2013

No, a real octopus doesn't wear a cowboy hat

So the end of school is almost here. Hunter has had middle school finals this week. Grant had to make his 1st grade project...an octopus. You know, the wonderful projects that turn into projects for the parents. I knew it was due on the Wednesday after Memorial day, but somehow it snuck up on me! I really had good intentions to set aside part of the weekend to do it, but we were busy, so Tuesday night was game time!!

This parent project turned into Grant and mom taking 2 trips to Hobby Lobby, making a call to Grandpa about paint for Styrofoam, a couple of panic attacks, and a few good laughs. By the time it was done, we had a silly looking Octopus, a heck of a mess, and paint all over ourselves.

What did we learn from this last minute project? We will probably never win any art awards, but we can have fun together, and we make a pretty good team. We should probably not wait until the last minute to do a project, but sometimes your best work is under pressure. No, a real octopus doesn't wear a cowboy hat, but it makes it look a little cuter.

Time will tell

This morning, as I dropped Hunter off at school, I had this wave of panic run through me. He only has one more week of school, and then, he is a 7th grader. I can remember dropping him off the first day of 6th grade. He was so nervous!  He was in a brand new school in a brand new state with all new kids. As with most Aspergers kiddos, change is not his friend, so I held my breath as he got out of the car and prayed for the best.

Here we are 9 months later, and suddenly, my meek little 6th grader has hair on his lip and is growing muscles. He has grown at least 4 inches. His attitude has grown too. My fears for my son with Aspergers syndrome have moved from will he be able to ride a bike or tie his shoes or write his name to how is he going to survive in life.

This has been finals week at school and it has not been easy. He just does not get the concept of how to study. As a matter of fact, he doesn't seem to understand that he needs to study at all. Jeff and I have both tried to explain how much these final grades will affect his grades for the year, but it seems to go right over his head. All of this scares me because I don't know how he is every going to take care of himself. Will he be able to go to college? Will he even be able to make it into or through a trade school? How will he hold down a job?

All I could think about in that car line this morning was the fact that 9 months ago I thought that we had 3 whole years of middle school to get through. Now, one is already done! One year has already passed! That means that the next two years of school will fly by too, and then we are maneuvering through high school, and then what?? I just keep thinking back to all the things we have been through and telling myself we made it through then, and we will make it through now, and we will make it through in the future.

 When I had this little boy, I promised to give him the best life possible. I have tried my best. Now, I worry what will happen when I pass the torch to him. What will happen when his life is in his own hands. Will he fly or fail? Will I have given him everything I could possibly give him to succeed at a happy life? I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The (almost) perfect weekend

Our family had an almost magical Memorial Weekend. The boys were off of school Friday and Monday, so we kicked it off with an extra day. My husband had the entire 3-day weekend to focus on the family (not work) which has been almost unheard of since our move.

Saturday was a little stressful with lots of fighting from the boys. Of course, they had been home with each other for a couple of days by now. My husband called the babysitter for Saturday night. He even cleaned the house. I had to slap myself a few times because I was sure I was dreaming! We went to see a "Chic Flick" at one of those dinner and a movie places. Then we took a stroll through a quaint downtown area. We talked and enjoyed the evening of peace and quiet.

I wanted Sunday and Monday to be all about family. On Sunday, we headed to a local state park with a really nice lake. The kids had a blast! They played football on the beach with my husband. Grant and I built a sandcastle. We picked up seashells. The kids skipped rocks on the water. They had a blast!

On Monday, we decided to take a local train ride. It was supposed to be about an hour and a half ride. Hunter had been on a train ride before many years ago, but this was Grant's first time! He was so excited he could hardly stand it! It was a beautiful train. It was a perfect day for it! Besides an hour delay because of a broken down train in front of us, it could not have been a more perfect day!

Grant fell asleep on the way home. It had been a long day for a 7 year-old. When we arrived home, I told both boys they needed to hop in the shower. We were all a mixture of sunscreen, sweat, and dirt from the open train. By the time they were cleaned up, it was after 8:30, so I told Grant he needed to get ready for bed. I could tell he was sad that the weekend had come to an end. Time spent with their dad these days is scarce, so there were many things he still wanted to do. Grant hugged Jeff and told him "thank you" for his first trip to the beach and his first train ride!

Hunter was finishing up some homework, and I told him he needed to get ready for bed. Then came the moment I had been waiting for all weekend. The moment that sums up my life as an aspie mom. The endearing, loving words that were to follow will forever live in my mind, "YOU HAVE WASTED MY ENTIRE WEEKEND. I NEVER GET TO DO WHAT I WANT TO DO. YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE!!!"

Yes, welcome to the closing moments of a beautiful family weekend with a pre-teen son with Aspergers.He went to bed quickly after that, but not without a few choice words and probably a look that could kill.  I popped the cork, poured a glass of wine, turned the television to my total guilty pleasure "Real Housewives of Orange County" (don't judge), and then went to bed. I guess you could say I made my own perfect ending to an "almost" perfect weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I have tried to teach my children right from wrong. I have tried to teach them the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work. I have tried to teach them love and acceptance of everyone. I have tried to teach them respect for their elders. Somewhere in the mix, I missed teaching them respect for their mother! How did I miss this important detail?

My 12 year-old son with Aspergers can't seem to land his plane on the runway of reality!!

Me: Can you please clean your room?
Him: You are mean to me.

Me: I am not going to do your school project for you. You are going to have to learn responsibility.    How are you ever going to hold down a job?
Him: You hate me.

Me: You are not listening at all. You are not showing me respect! Tomorrow you will pack your own lunch!!
Him: You are abusive to me! (LOL)

Me: I will not put up with this behavior and disrespect from you!
Him: I hate you!!!

His newest catch phrase this morning,  "You just don't want me to have fun!" Are you kidding me? I have spent my entire morning trying to teach you how to show respect for me and the rest of your family! I haven't even had a cup of coffee. I am having a blast right now!!

I know parenting is not supposed to be easy! I realize hormones have invaded his body. I realize that raising a child with Aspergers is not a walk in the park, and combined with puberty, it is a difficult combination. I just feel like I am losing it right now. I love my children so much, but this mama needs some respect!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fighting the daily battles

It is hard to explain to someone what it is like to raise a child on the spectrum. The daily battles; the dozen arguments before my first cup of coffee; the constant lying; hoarding of food; obsessions...oh my, the obsessions!  There are struggles with homework every single day and constant emails back and forth between teachers. He is constantly calling me and my younger son names (my husband usually dodges the bullets) and exhibiting selfish, egocentric behavior.

I love him so much. I want the best for them. I know these behaviors are not all his fault, but it does not make the pain that comes out of his mouth any easier. The words still sting. The judgement from others still hurts. There is a resentment because no matter how much I do for him, it is never enough. He still wants more. No matter how tired I am, he still needs more! No matter how hard I work, I just can't keep up with the demands.

All of these things are offset by the bullying he gets at school; his struggles with handwriting; his realization that he is different from the other kids. The hormones have kicked in and he is a total mess. His daily struggles break my heart.

 I can't do anything to shelter him from all of this. I can only sit back and try to be understanding and loving. I can try to prompt discussions and try to support him by letting him know I am here. I have to set boundaries for him, even though he hates me for them now! Eventually these preteen woes will turn into real life concerns. I have to do my best to prepare him for those things.

I am his Mom. I can't give up! It is my job and this is one job I can't quit, so I will fight the battles day by day, one struggle at a time. I just hope that in the end, we are both victorious!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Snapshot in time

Yesterday, I did not have a great "Mom day". Grant wanted me to come to lunch with him, and I promised him I would be there,  but I missed it. I called the school at 10:30 to see what time his lunch was, and it was at 10:40. Whoops! When I picked him up, I apologized to him and promised I would be there today. He was so sweet, and then asked if I could bring him a sonic bacon cheeseburger for lunch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he was working the guilt thing pretty well.

Of course, I made it this morning, but not without a trip to Sonic for a bacon cheeseburger and a root beer too! I was running a few minutes late because the cooks at Sonic were not in a big hurry to make that cheeseburger at 10:15 a.m., but when I walked into the lunch room, his smile was enough to light up the room.

We sat together for the full 30 minutes as he savored every last bite of that cheeseburger. He talked about his next birthday party; the teachers he liked;the kids in his class; his excitement for all the fun things coming up at the end of school. I just listened and smiled and nodded. The entire time I could only think how lucky I am to be this little boy's mom. Some days,  I make a lot of mistakes, but he always makes me feel like he is proud that I am his mom.

I have learned so much from this little boy who takes on each day with such gusto! He wakes up every day with a smile on his face. He gives his all no matter what he is doing. He is hard headed and temperamental (he gets it from his dad, he he), but I think it is because he cares so much about doing his best. His teacher says he is the first to help someone in class or console someone in pain. For that, I am the most proud. He watches out for his older brother all the time. Even when Hunter is mean to him, he is still kind. Yes, he gets frustrated, and sometimes there is a little retaliation,  but only for a few minutes. His loyalty is unwavering.

I have many days like yesterday when I feel like I am failing miserably at this whole "Mom" thing, but then I look into his eyes and I know I am wrong. No, I won't win any parenting awards, but I do have the love and admiration of this little boy who's smile lights up my world. In two weeks, he will be a second grader. The time is passing so quickly. I want it to slow down. I want more of these precious moments. I want more of those toothless smiles and ketchup faces and hugs and kisses and "I love you's". In a few years they will be no more. It won't be long before I won't be cool and he sure won't want me to sit at his lunch table. For now, I am going to live every single day as a snapshot in time that I hope to bank in my memory forever.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I had a beautiful Mother's Day! I woke to my Grantster with a glass of orange juice (I later graduated to strong coffee) and a sweet card that said "Happy Madrs Day. Yor the best Mom." I have to admit I teared up. Just the joy in his face for doing such a kind gesture made me proud to be his Mom.

The boys got me an adorable yoga frog for my back patio, and it was so sweet to watch them get excited about giving me the gift. My 12 year-old has lost some of the excitement due to the "coolness" of his age, but I swear I saw a little glimmer in his eye (maybe it was the lack of coffee)!

We left early to go to a lunch. When we got there, there was a line a mile long. We had fought the good fight to get us all ready and out of the house and had driven 40 minutes (with two fighting kids in the back seat) to get there, so there was no way I was leaving! Plus, I was hungry!! We waited in the hot sun for 2 hours, but we were finally seated (with sunburns). We had a somewhat peaceful lunch. We took some really good pictures and then decided to head to a downtown park.

Of course, once we had walked several blocks to get to the park, my youngest suddenly had to go to the restroom. My sweet husband told me to relax, and he took the boys to the nearest place he could find. I sat at one of the many beautiful water features in the park with the sun beating down on me and the sound of water behind me. I would find my mind wondering and I would pull myself back into this moment of "AHHHHH". I just listened and watched and took a moment to really just "be". With everything so hectic and the constant battles, I never have time to truly just take a moment to breathe and enjoy this amazing life.

Soon, the kiddos were back and we continued with the wonderful, but not as peaceful, rest of the day. I actually took a 30 minute nap with my husband while the kids watched a movie. The boys played laser tag in the backyard with my hubby while I finished laundry. We grabbed some ice cream, and finally, my Mother's Day has come to an end.

I feel that every day of your life, you should try to find the most positive moments and write it down, so when times in your life get tough, you can go back and read those special moments and know that life will get better again. Today, I will write the following:

Grant made a card for me and brought me orange juice with a wonderful smile on his face.

I had a moment of reflection at the park. 

I am blessed today with a husband who loves me and two healthy kids.

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day too!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What being a Mom has taught me

As a new mom, I thought I had it all figured out. Things were going to be perfect. My kids were going to listen. My house would be clean. I would have a complete handle on my life. I wanted to teach my children everything I knew and watch them grow. It was going to be so awesome to be a mom!!

Ha, ha, ha...I was so wrong! I didn't have a clue! Things are far from perfect. My kids really don't listen very well at all (even though I try). My house is usually far from clean. I have taught my kids many things, but I still have so much work to do. Just about the second I think I have a handle on this motherhood thing, it throws me a curve ball! A call from school, the flu, being locked out of the house, being called out by my kids on a curse word, it's always something! Nope, I don't have this whole thing figured out at all! That's the thing about being a mom, I don't think we ever have it all figured out! Maybe that's the point. Maybe being a mom is just one more way for our own growth.

The truth is that my kids have taught me much more than I have taught them. They have taught me humility. They have taught me patience (I could use some more). They have taught me love. I have more love for them than I ever thought I could have for another human being.

No, things have not turned out perfectly, but that's alright with me. Every day I get to wake up and start all over. Every day I have the privilege to be Hunter and Grant's mom and to teach them everything I can. The amazing thing is that while I am teaching them, they are teaching me right back! Yes, I did know one thing early on, it is awesome to be a mom!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

What I learned in therapy

One of the many things that has been a true blessing since our move has been finding a wonderful psychologist. She has spent the last 15 years working with children on the spectrum. She has a true understanding of how these kiddos think, feel, and act. She is also a wonderful resource as to what we can expect in the years to come. She is great because she is very direct with him and does not pull any punches. She lets him know when he is being rude or out of line. She is also compassionate when she sees that he is struggling. God Bless this woman for having the patience and love for these children and for making it her life's passion to do this work every day!

I sent out these tweets and posted on my Sassy Aspie Mom Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sassy-Aspie-Mom/117289368463117) yesterday about Hunter's psychologists appointment.

I learned some very important information from my son during his therapy session today.

Important fact #1 We are rich! WTH...and no one told me!! Whoopee!!! (Apparently, wearing the right socks to school makes him rich!)

Important fact #2  He has memorized an entire "Your mama is so fat that..." joke book and has retained almost every damn joke!! (This also includes "Your mama is so ugly" jokes which makes it all the more fun! He told about 10 of them during the session which was mighty embarrassing!)

Important fact #3 I found out at therapy today..the 6th grade boys play "spin the bottle at lunch". The good news is that it's not "that" spin the bottle! (Wow, you should have seen the look on my face when he started on this topic!)

Important fact #4 His little brother is annoying...shocker!!! (I didn't need a therapy session for that one!)

Yesterday's therapy was quite interesting in so many ways. It was almost tiring because he just didn't want to talk and he was trying to avoid subjects. Even in his silliness,  I actually learned something very interesting from this amazingly patient woman. She told me that it is very common for children on the spectrum to struggle with therapy because the therapist is telling them so much information about themselves. From the child on the spectrum's prospective, this person, that they don't really know, is pointing out many things about themselves that they never realized. They start thinking, "How does this person know so much about me that I don't know about myself." Therefore, they start acting out or saying odd things or showing off to distract the attention away from themselves. He actually said  to her towards the end of the session, "I don't feel comfortable with you knowing so much about me!" It broke my heart.

Therapy is hard for every human being. It is raw and sometimes painful. For Hunter, I think it is hard because he is being exposed to how other people see him! He is realizing that most people function so differently in society, and that he has to learn a new way of thinking and behaving in order to be accepted. As his mom, it is my job to continue to support him as he walks through this tough journey. It is not easy folks...I may need a few of those jokes! He's got plenty!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mom guilt

I have been struggling with this subject for a while and did not know quite how to address it! After a great conversation with a close friend this weekend, I decided to give it a try. Here goes...

I am a stay-at-home mom. I am not a stay-at-home mom by choice. I am a stay-at-home because raising a child on the spectrum, with our family situation, requires it. I am lucky in so many ways! I get to take my kids to school every morning. I get to pick my kids up from school every afternoon. I get to help them with their homework. I get to be room mom. I take them to their practices. I clean their laundry and cook meals for them every evening. Yes, I am truly blessed to be at home with my children and have the ability to watch them grow!

I am also a frustrated stay-at-home mom. I would like to feel like more than a maid and a cook and a taxi driver. Yes, I said it!!! I love my children more than words can say, but I feel that being at home every day with no adult conversation is exhausting. I do not get fulfillment from cleaning the floors or folding laundry or going to the grocery store. I do not like hearing from my kiddos that our money is dad's money because he "works". Those words make me want to scream!!

Here's the other side to my story. If I was working every day and unable to do those things, I would feel guilty. How do I know? Well, first of all, I know myself and I always feel like I should be doing more. Secondly, every girlfriend I know who works says she wishes she could stay home. I get it. I truly get it!!!

As moms, we are always struggling with the right decisions for our families. We love our children so much it hurts. We would give them the world if we could. We sacrifice so they do not want.  However, we are human and sometimes we need more! Sometimes we need to feel loved and appreciated and know that what we are doing is important.

Here's my conclusion...we are never truly happy as moms. The guilt is always there. I am home with my children because that is where I need to be for my family! I am "working" because I am running from therapy to therapy and doctor to doctor. I am there to pack their lunches and clean their clothes. I pay the bills and manage our household. This is the role I was given, and even though some days I do not feel fulfilled, I know that right now, in this place, I am doing the right job for me and my family.

For "working"moms, please know that you are there doing the role that you were given. Whether you choose to work or circumstances require you to work, you are there to love you kids every day. You are doing the best you can for your family!  You are doing amazing work both inside and outside of the home. You are earning respect every single day and showing your children what an amazing woman you truly are. You are in the right place at the right time for your life and your family.

Every job as a mom is important! Women, we need to stop judging one another and instead love and respect each other for the roles we share as moms, wives, and strong women in this world. We are truly the only people who can understand each others struggles, so we have to be there to support one another.  Let's be there to lift each other up, not tear each other down!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Grace and kindness

Sometimes I wish we could all get a glimpse into each others lives, so we could truly understand one another. If we spent our lives sympathizing and giving grace and kindness to one another instead of judging and assuming, we would all be so much happier.

We also need to stop putting on the face that everything is okay, and sometimes we need to let people see that it's not! We need to let other people know that everything is not fine. Otherwise, the grace and kindness we truly need from others just won't be there, because we have not allowed it.

 I am a mom of an Aspergers child and my life is complicated. Everyone's life is complicated in different ways. Mine is difficult because of this syndrome none of us chose. Instead, I am dealing with it. I am facing it head-on. I am trying to make things better for my child, but sometimes it is just hard!

This week I have felt moments of hope but mostly moments of the walls closing in on me. I keep waiting for things to smooth out. I keep looking for ways to fix everything, but every time one thing is fixed, another gets broken!! This mama is tired!  How do you live in a place of constant hope for a greater tomorrow when you live with people who struggle with change?

This has been my weeks challenge! What has been your challenge?

Friday, May 3, 2013

The gift of family

Well, I haven't written this week because I have been doing some catching up. We were out of town for a family wedding last weekend. Laundry is now completed; the kid's homework is caught up and now back to normal (whatever that is)!!

As I said, we were at a family wedding. My cousin, who is more like a brother to me, married "the one". I have no doubt about it! He took his time and waited, and she is perfect! They are so happy together. My happy tears were flowing all weekend, and oh how I needed them!

My family has a unique dynamic. My dad was one of eight kids and there are a lot of grand kids and great grand kids. Most of us grew up just a few blocks away from each other. I am an only child, but I was never alone. I had my aunts, uncles and cousins and we were always there for each other. We have all been through highs and lows together. We have experienced marriage, divorce, miscarriages, childbirth, illness, death, and through it all, the love we all share never waivers.

Through Hunter's diagnosis, my family has stood strong for us. They have sympathized, encouraged, supported, and most of all loved. Love that is beyond a blessing! There is never judgment. There is an unspoken understanding between us. I can be having a horrible day, and my aunt will suddenly send me a text message saying she loves me or how proud she is of me. I can be at the end of my rope, and one of my cousins will call and say, "just thinking about you!"

Every single day, I am thankful for the love I feel from these wonderful people who have watched me grow, grown with me, and loved me always!  They know me better than anyone else, and there is an amazing comfort in knowing that no matter where I go, no matter what I do, I am loved! My boys feel this love too, but one day, they will understand how blessed we are by this amazing gift of family!