Monthly Archives: May 2012

Happy Mama Retreat

by Kay Marner, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories

Take Care of Yourself in a Big Way at the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat: A weekend getaway for moms of kids with ADHD, ASD, FASD, and other brain-based disabilities

This mama ain’t been very happy lately. In fact, my never-ending worries about my 11 year old daughter, Natalie, who has ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and is on the fetal alcohol spectrum, have put me in a real funk. Most days, my bed starts calling my name by mid-afternoon. I’ve had zero motivation to work or do most anything else. I’ve felt like avoiding any and all social interactions. This funk has been severe enough, and lasted long enough, that I decided I had to make a conscious effort to do something about it—to take better care of myself. So, I made a few small changes in my daily routine. I started going for a short walk several days each week. I pulled my vitamin and mineral supplements out of the cupboard and recommitted to taking them daily. I gave myself permission to spend more time reading for pleasure. I’ve been scheduling a few lunches out with friends.

I firmly believe that when you’re living with the stress of raising a child with special needs, you have to make a conscious effort to take care of yourself. After all, as the saying goes, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Even small investments in your own well-being, like those I listed above, can make a difference in how well you cope with day-to-day challenges.

Yes, small is good. But big is even better! So, I’ve also pledged to do something significant. I’ve registered to attend the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a two day getaway especially for moms of kids with special needs.

The Happy Mama Conference & Retreat will take place July 28–29, 2012, at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa, in Conover, North Carolina. Here’s what the retreat is all about, as described on the Happy Mama website, www.if-mama-aint-happy.com :

What: A CONFERENCE that focuses on your needs as the mom to a child with a very real, but invisible, brain-based disability, like ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD, FASD, PBD, SPD, PDD, or one of the many other overlapping conditions that make parenting your child an extra challenging situation, and a RETREAT, where we’ll provide you with wonderful food, spa opportunities, fun activities, and camaraderie with other moms who know exactly where you’re coming from.

Why: Because parenting children with invisible disabilities is an extremely stressful, isolating, and emotional job and one which can impact your health and well-being in a negative way.

 

The retreat, hosted by DRT Press (publisher of the book I co-edited, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise) and the website {a mom’s view of ADHD} (founded and edited by Penny Williams) and supported by a growing list of sponsors, including CHADD and the Catawba Valley Medical Center, will offer the perfect blend of education, support, and pampering.

Saturday’s speakers will cover: “Parenthood, Stress, Health, and Resiliency,” “Advocating for Your Child in School,” and “How to Be Happy: Calming Techniques for You and Your Child.” Sunday will be devoted to fun and pampering, which may include spa treatments, relaxing by the pool, gem mining, hiking, yoga, horseback riding, or kayaking.

Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I can hardly wait!   

By interacting with other parents of kids with special needs via the Web, I’ve learned that support from others in my situation is the best support there is. My ADDitudeMag.com blog, “My Picture-Perfect Family,” is one avenue for those interactions. To celebrate the 4th anniversary of that blog, and in honor of the support and community we parents of kids with special needs offer to each other, I’m running a contest. I will sponsor one lucky mom’s registration, travel and lodging expenses (not to exceed $1000, some meals included, some meals, activities and miscellaneous costs at winner’s expense) to attend the Happy Mama Conference & Retreat. For more information, and to enter the contest, click here. The contest ends at 5:00 pm EST on May 30.

If you are interested in attending whether you win this contest or not, please don’t hesitate to register now. Registration is just $129 until July 1. If you are “in the business” of ADHD, FASD, ASD, or other brain-based disorders and wish to become a retreat sponsor, email happymamaretreat@gmail.com for their sponsorship package.

In the meantime, take a few steps, big or small, to take better care of yourself. You work so hard to bring happiness to your special child. You deserve to be happy too.

*****

Kay Marner, a freelance writer and editor, is the co-editor of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories (DRT Press, 2012). Marner contributes regularly to ADDitude magazine, and her ADHD parenting blog, “My Picture-Perfect Family,” appears on ADDitudeMag.com. You can reach her at kay@kaymarner.com.

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What Makes You Beautiful

by Alysia, Try Defying Gravity

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” – Stuart Smalley character, Saturday Night Live

Thanks to a fairly provocative Time Magazine article called “Are You Mom Enough”, the internet was abuzz with “The Mommy Wars” – the notion that mothers are in competition with each other over who has the “better” way of parenting.

But I’m involved in a different kind of “Mommy War”.  It’s not about me comparing myself to the mom down the street or across the country.

This is a war that rages inside my own head.  Not the battle of Am I Mom Enough.  But the battle of Am I A Good Enough Mother?

I know what you’re going to say.  Alysia, you are a great mom.  We leave you those messages all the time on your blog posts.

I am grateful for that, of course. I say it back to you and mean every word when I say it to you.

So why don’t I actually believe it when it’s said to me?

Last week, a friend was telling me a story about her ten year old daughter.  They were out together with another adult, and my friend was gushing about her daughter to this other woman.  She shared how smart and sensitive she was, and how she was an incredible young woman.  Her daughter’s face lit up with a huge smile.  Later, my friend asked her daughter why she had such a strong reaction to the comments. “I tell you all the time how special you are,” my friend said to her child.

“But you always say it TO me.  I’ve never heard you say it to someone else.”

It’s all well and good for people to tell you to your face that you’re great, because that’s the nice and polite thing to do.  It’s another thing to overhear someone else say it ABOUT you.

That’s when you can believe your own press.

Recently, a friend and I have embarked on a new project together.  It’s taking us way out of our comfort zone and we’ve had to reach out to friends and strangers to help us.

The response has been more than overwhelmingly positive. It has been more affirming than anything I could have imagined.  People believe in us, so they believe in our project.

And perhaps now I can start to believe in me too.

**********

I wondered if perhaps I wasn’t the only one who needed help believing her own press.

So I’m going to tell you about some friends of mine.  I’ve told them to their faces how incredible they are.  But maybe they need to hear me say it to someone else before they will believe it too.

I have to tell you about my amazing friend T.  She worked so hard to get the appropriate educational placement for her son.  Instead of fighting and arguing with the school district, she kept a level head and made the conversation about what her son needed, not about what she demanded he should have.  She didn’t burn any bridges but kept gently pushing for the right thing.  And got it.  She is my advocate hero.  I am so proud of her and I know her son will thrive in his new school setting.

Oh, and I have to tell you about my feisty friend N.  She’s a single mom with four kids.  She had no real income of her own when she left, but she quickly learned how to stand on her own two feet and then some.  She’s made an incredibly loving home for her children and is the one I turn to for parenting advice.  She doesn’t take any crap from anyone.  She is blunt, honest, and my hero for knowing that in order for her kids to be happy, she needed to be happy too.

And you must hear about my friend A.  She was my son’s one-to-one aide in preschool, but she’s always been a friend to the whole family.  This year, she was my lifeline.  She watched my boys so my husband and I could go to the movies for the first time since we had kids.  She takes my son without any hesitation whenever I needed help controlling the chaos around me.  She loves my kids like I love my kids and sees the specialness in them in ways that others don’t.  Knowing that she is just a simple text away has made this year survivable. 

Finally, I need to tell you about my own mom.  She took on the role of both parents when my father died 13 years ago.  She worked hard to stay strong for all of us, even while she worked through her own grief.  And have you seen her with her grandsons?  They sit by the window waiting for her to arrive and snuggle up with her when she’s here.  And my kids don’t snuggle with anyone! As a special educator, she’s a strong advocate for the kids she works with.  But she’s the strongest when fighting for her own family.

Now…it’s your turn. In the comments below, tell US about one of YOUR incredible friends.  Then forward the post to them.  Let them hear you tell us how absolutely amazing they are. 

Because you’re good enough, strong enough, and doggone it…this is what makes you beautiful.

You’re insecure
Don’t know what for
You’re turning heads when you walk through the door
Don’t need make up
To cover up
Being the way that you are is enough
Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you
Baby you light up my world like nobody else
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed
But when you smile at the ground it aint hard to tell
You don’t know
Oh Oh
You don’t know you’re beautiful” – What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

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My Way Back From Depression

by Kathy, kissing the frog

Last week, I was out of my little white happy pill.  The pharmacist had to call my doctor, and I knew they would play phone tag all week.  I’ve been out of my Lexapro before, and I knew what was going to happen…

One morning, I wake up feeling sad for no apparent reason.  A sadness that has nothing to do with any tragedy I’ve experienced.  I’m never sure why I am feeling sad, but I sink into it.  It lays over the top of me for a day or so, until it worms its way deep into my heart and mind, festering, slowly turning into anger and despair over every. little. thing.

Anger at all the things I can’t seem to control.

And then it resides there, refusing to leave, affecting my every thought, every action.

My patience with my sons quickly wears thin.  I snap at the smallest mistake, yell over the tiniest indiscretions.  I take out my anger and feelings of worthlessness on them, innocent victims incapable of fighting back.  I scream and yell and say regrettable things that I know I will never be able to reverse.  

I yell at my four year old to ‘Hurry up!!’ We are late for preschool again.  We are always late.  Why can’t I ever be on time for anything?

The baby is getting into everything, and I yank him away making him cry.

With every angry reaction I think,  ‘I’m a horrible mother.  This is how they will remember me.’ This plunges me further into my pit of self-pity and negativity.  I can’t believe how quickly I have descended this time.

When Hubby asks me about my day, I don’t even want to talk or even let him look at me and see the sadness and anger in my eyes.  I am ashamed of myself.

My head is jumbled.  I can’t think.  I can’t remember anything.  I can’t organize my thoughts.

I haven’t written my weekly post for Her View From Home, and I can’t think what to write.  I write sentences that make no sense and then delete them in a frustrated and angry tirade.  I know I should write a new blog post, too.  But why should I?  No one reads it anyway.  Every e-mail I get from other blogs I subscribe to makes me angry and depressed.  Why does this blog have so many followers?  Why did everyone comment on this post when no one comments on mine?  It defeats me.  I think, ‘I am stupid to think that I can write, that I have talent, that I have anything to say that anyone wants to hear.’  I resign to just give up writing altogether, thinking only of the pieces that have been rejected.

‘I am a miserable failure at everything.’

I don’t return phone calls, I ignore e-mails and texts and messages on Facebook.  I don’t feel like subjecting anyone to my negativity.  At my son’s soccer game, I set up my chair far away from all the other parents.  I can’t be social.  My friend Katie walks by and asks how my day is going.  Near tears, I tell her, ‘Not good,’  and when she gives me a tight hug, I bristle.  I’m angry with myself for letting people see me like this.  Seeing me weak and ungraceful.

At the next soccer game of the day, my friend Heather sets up camp next to me and babbles happily in her enviable way.   I wonder if she can tell; does she know how I am feeling?  She has said that she needs to run every day.  It is her sanity.  What is my sanity?  Why is my sanity a pill?

At baseball games later that day, I get a rush of joy seeing my six year old make a good hit and run to first base.  My heart warms watching my four year old play for the first time, seeing his short legs run the bases and follow directions and laugh happily.

On Sunday, Hubby asks me to help plant annuals in the flower garden.  The hard work satisfies me for an afternoon.  I’m unsure whether it is because I am learning more about something I’ve always wanted to know or that Hubby and I are working side-by-side on a project, but it brings me temporary reprieve.

But later, I want to be alone with my thoughts, away from everyone.  I know this is dangerous.  I’ve been alone with my thoughts too many times in my life.  Alone with the thoughts that tell me I am worthless, I’m a bad mother and a terrible wife.  I can’t cook or write or take care of my house or maintain friendships.  I’ll never be able to run a race or write a book or complete a goal.  These were the same thoughts that plunged me into a scary darkness three times in my life.

Once in high school when I was so paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy that I stayed in my room wallowing in misery, sure that I was so far beneath everyone else that perhaps I shouldn’t even exist.

Next, after I graduated from college and couldn’t find a job.  I hated substitute teaching, so I stopped answering the phone at all.  I stopped getting dressed in the morning and stayed on the couch all day.

And when I desperately wanted a baby after I was married, and everyone but me seemed to be getting pregnant.  I stopped talking to my friends and avoided social situations.  I remember crying to Hubby, begging him to let me stay home from his high school fund raiser because we would be seated at the same table as someone who was pregnant, and I didn’t want to stare at her swollen belly all night.

Hubby would often come home from work, and finding me in tears and on the couch would say to me, “You sat home and thought all day, didn’t you?”

It feels like the cartoon image of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. It’s the classic battle between light and dark, which both reside in all of us.  But in someone who suffers from depression, the dark mostly wins.  That little devil tells me awful things about myself, and I believe him.

In my twenties, my doctor suggested I see a therapist.  I carried around the name and number for about a year before I threw it away.  It was just another thing that made me feel inadequate, that proved I was a failure.  I always thought it was something I had to live with.  It wasn’t that bad, was it?

But as I look back, it was.  It did paralyze me, it does keep me from doing the things I want to do – mainly loving my family and friends and pursuing my dreams.

Monday, I picked up the pills, and took two right away.  Slowly my head cleared, but I was still screaming at my sons and deleting every blog update from my e-mail.  I got back on my pattern of taking five milligrams every other day.  Any more makes me feel like a fuzzy-headed zombie; any less isn’t quite enough.

I have found time to use my treadmill a bit each day this week, and when I am tired, I have gone to bed before exhaustion hits.

This morning, I gave gentle reminders about backpacks and glasses and dressing for preschool and laughed when Baby E took the dirty clothes out of the washing machine.  I feel like my sanity is slowly returning and lightness and calm are winning once again over darkness and anger.  I feel like I am returning to the person I want to be, that I know I am in my heart and in my beautiful mind.

I have three, maybe four posts I want to write, and I am reading all my favorite blogs again for inspiration.  The words are forming themselves in my head, and I can’t type quickly enough.

I do hate that this sanity and clarity comes from a pill, but I thank God I can recognize this.  I thank God that I can recognize when my mind is jumbled and crazy and the darkness is winning.  I thank God for giving me a situation that forced the introduction of the medication.  I thank God that I will never be a Susan Smith-type mom who does the unthinkable to her children because she didn’t realize that she needed help or refused to seek it.

I vow to never let my prescription lapse again.  I vow to not care if society thinks I am weak or lazy for taking antidepressants.  I vow to never think that they are the only answer for these dark feelings.  I vow to take them for as long as I need them, for myself and for my family.

Most importantly, I vow to be honest about my use of them for other women who might think as I used to  – that they just have to deal with that devil character on their shoulder telling them awful things about themselves and believing it.  I vow to talk about it because if I had known anyone else felt this same way long ago, things might have been different.  Different as they are now.  Better.

All I have ever wanted was to be happy; but I have to fight for it, and I always will.  The more I fight, the more I learn.  The more I learn, the better I get.  If that means I need some medicinal assistance, then so be it. That little white pill and I will just keep knocking that devil right off my shoulder.

**********

Kathy is a former elementary school teacher who now stays home with her most important students, her four sons.  She began writing after she lost her oldest son at age six to cancer and as an outlet to dealing with another son’s ADHD and anxiety issues.  At her blog, kissing the frog, she writes about what really happens after all your dreams come true.  You can also find her weekly column at www.HerViewFromHome.com .

This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.

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How This Mama Got Her Groove Back, All By Myself

by Linda, Outrunning the Storm

I’ve known I’ve needed it for a long time. But, it seemed so self-indulgent. It seemed like too much to ask for. But, it’s stayed there, circling around the back of my mind, like a far off fantasy.

But, lately things have been different.  Charlie has been doing great. The crisis in our lives is over for now.  It’s time to move on. It’s time for life to get back to normal. It’s just that I haven’t been able to do that. I can’t seem to stop waiting for the next problem to come along. I’m staying in crisis mode. I’m not looking ahead. I am certainly not relaxing.

But, last week, for no reason in particular, something just finally clicked for me. I knew it was time to switch gears. I knew it was time to let go of my constant vigilance and learn to relax again and enjoy the peace. And I knew just what I needed to get there.

So, I went online and I booked a weekend at a local spa hotel. I booked the romance package. The kind that comes with a couple of spa treatments included, plus some champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and a cheese plate in your room upon arrival.

I was giddy with excitement all week, just waiting for the weekend to come. I put aside some meals in the fridge, I cleaned the house, I rounded up family support for the weekend, all with a smile on my face.

Then Friday afternoon came, I packed my bags, kissed the boys good bye, spent a half an hour talking Charlie back into the house after he seat belted himself in the car in an attempt to go too. I couldn’t blame him for wanting to come, it was going to be pretty cool.

Finally, I kissed The Professor good bye and headed off for my romantic spa weekend

ALL

BY

MY

SELF

{sigh of  relaxation}

It was incredible. I put on my giant fleece pants, I lounged in my king size bed eating my cheese and strawberries and drinking my champagne. I watched cheesy movies, I got two separate massages. I napped, oh how I napped.

And then I wrote. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

Not for the blog. Not for anything really. None of it will ever see the light of day. But, it got me to peak out of my bunker. I can accept that it’s time to start to invite friends over to our home again without worrying about Charlie. It’s time to start meeting friends for lunch again without worrying about the school calling.

There is no longer a crisis holding me back. It’s just me and my fear.

But, me not living my life, not taking what I need when the times are good, doesn’t help Charlie if he starts having trouble again.

It just depletes me, drip by drip, of being the whole human being I deserve to be.

**********

Linda is the mother of 5 year old twin boys, one who is on the autism spectrum and one who is not.  She writes a personal blog at Outrunning the Storm and was instrumental in starting the Autism Positivity Day Flash Blog. Her journeys are crazy, maddening, hilarious, and painful just trying to stay one step ahead of the storm.

This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.

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Just Like That

by Becky, Building On Joy

Love this! Motivating!
And so I decided to start exercising & that led to starting a running program.  Well, a walk/jog program.  You can read more about how I got started.  About 3 weeks ago, I didn’t plan to exercise. I didn’t want to exercise. I really hated the idea, although I knew I needed it.

Today I did my first full Couch to 5K workout outside, and it was tough.  But I completed the WHOLE program for today.  I’m pretty sure that my jogging pace may actually be slower than my walking pace (ok, not really but, well, maybe!).  The way the Couch to 5K program is structured is that for the first week you walk 5 minutes, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking.  You do the jog-then-walk combination 8 times.  I was ready to quit after 2 times.  I was positive that I’d not get through the third jog, let alone move on to the third walk segment.  But I watched my time, and when it was time to jog, I jogged.  All 8 times.  And then I walked, all 8 times.

It was hard.  I was sweaty.  Yuck.  I came home and plopped onto the couch and told my husband that I was pretty sure I was going to die.  But of course I didn’t, or you wouldn’t be reading this post! ;-)

The picture above was going around Facebook this morning and it captured – perfectly – why I started exercising, and why I didn’t quit this morning.

I think we – ok, I’ll speak for myself here, not all of you – I think I live so much of life “because it’s the way I’ve always done it” and that’s just not cutting it anymore.  That’s “mindless living” in my opinion.  There’s nothing intentional in that kind of living.  I know I wasn’t aiming to be unintentional in my living – I probably even decided that I was being “efficient” by just doing the same thing I’ve always done.

But the need to be intentional is currently a big key in my life.  And so it is in this aspect of my life as well, it turns out (imagine that!).  It’s now nearly noon, and I’ve not accomplished as much as I could because I took time out to exercise.  However, I think I’ve accomplished one of THE most important things I needed to do today, because I took time out to exercise.

Are there things in your life that you’re looking to change?  It’s not easy – I’m not here to tell you that it is.  But making intentional choices is the place to start.  Look at what you’re wanting to change.  Decide what you need to do to make that change, and just do it.  Don’t listen to the doubting or the parts of you that say, “No way!”  One step at a time.  One choice at a time.  You CAN do it.

There are so many people out there who will tell you that you can't. What you've got to do is turn around and say "watch me".

**********

Becky lives near Philadelphia, PA. She is married to Tim and they are parents to 3 children – two boys and one girl.  Her second son, “Picasso”, has Sensory Processing Disorder along with an Asperger Syndrome diagnosis. Picasso loves making art using various mediums and sometimes chooses to sneak Sharpies for use on surfaces in the home (read: bathroom cabinet, doors, walls, lightswitches, etc.).  She blogs about special needs, homeschooling, and family life at www.paintingwithpicasso.blogspot.com .  Becky also enjoys coffee, reading, music, knitting, and is working hard at taking better care of herself, in order to care better for her family!  Check out her new blog Building On Joy.

This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.

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Dear Diary

by Karen, Confessions of An Asperger’s Mom

Warning: This Post is in exercise in self-pity.

I’ve been a really strange mood lately.  I want to be alone.  I don’t want anyone talking to me because I’m afraid I may bite their head off.  I don’t want anyone asking me any questions about what I’m doing…what I’ve been doing…what I’m supposed to be doing.
Yet, when I am alone I’m still not particularly happy.
I am full of thoughts of self-doubt –constantly questioning my parenting decisions.
I am feeling bad about what my kids are facing.
Feeling guilty that the latest medicines that we are trying with Blue -are not working the way that I hoped they would.

I am so happy with my blog and my facebook community.  I love the work that I am doing in helping others feel less alone.  But then I start looking at our financial situation and all of the things we can’t do because I don’t bring in an income, then I start with the guilt.  We are stuck in the small breaking-down, falling apart house, because we don’t have a second income.  I am driving the 10 year-old car with all of the funny noises, because I haven’t done anything to change that.  I am writing and doing what I love, but I can’t brush away the thoughts of feelings of, you need to get something published.
You need to be making an income.
What the hell happened to you?
You used to be so independent! 

I start thinking about my friendships.  I am blessed to have a lifetime of friends all across the miles, from West Virginia, to California.  My best friend lives a few hours away in Houston.  I love her.  She is my sanctuary. Literally, she provides respite for me every couple of months.  She is the one person that can say anything to, without fear of judgement and she can do the same.  We can talk and text message every day with our most hideous, most ridiculous thoughts and feelings and then laugh and make jokes about them. Then days can go by with no contact, but I never doubt our friendship.

I have extremely close friends in California where I grew up.  I have friends that I have known since I was in middle school, high school friends, friends from my early 20’s and so on.  I am proud of these friendships…how no matter how much time goes by without contact, when we do talk or see each other, it’s as if we just got together yesterday.  There is no animosity about the different directions our lives have taken and how little time we have to get together or call each other.  I love, value and treasure these friendships.

Most of my girlfriends from L.A. have at some point taken time out of their lives to come here and we have great visits together.  Or when I go there, we must see each other and our time together is just…like home, warm and familiar.

Then I have my virtual friends.  I have developed some great friendships through blogging and facebook.  People who think about me…send me special notes of love and support.  People who make me smile on an almost daily basis.  Women who get EXACTLY where I’m coming from because they too are parents of kids with special needs.  I can make quick contact with them when it is convenient for me from my laptop or phone.  In fact, this ability has made it so convenient that I seldom actually have conversations on the phone.  When I do talk on the phone, I am almost always interrupted by one of my kids, my mother, my husband or even by another phone call…like from the school.

I have somehow let my friendships with local friends dwindle down to next to nothing,  which I feel really guilty about.  I wonder if I’ve lost these friendships.  Living in Texas has been the only time in my life, where I have actually lost friendships and been disappointed by people who I believed were friends. Sometimes I wonder if it is connected to being a special needs parent.  Some people don’t get-it…don’t want to get it…get sick and tired of hearing about it.

I have a group of friends I used to entertain all the time here at the house.  We would eat, drink, laugh and talk into all hours of the night.  At some point Blue would become extremely stressed out and ask me,
“When are they leaving?  It’s time for everyone to go home so I can go to bed!”
At which point, I would say, “They aren’t in your bedroom.  Your bedroom is upstairs.  Just go to bed.”
“I can’t!”

So slowly the parties have slowed down.  The invitations have slowed down.  Lives have taken different directions.  Friends have had babies, which certainly changes the dynamic and trajectory of your life.  Others have been promoted on their jobs, family dynamics have changed where both spouses are now working outside the home, which means that time for friends and entertainment has changed.

But when I’m alone and in deep thought…I question myself.
Did I do something or say something? 
What happened to our friendship?
Why am I so paranoid?
I’m a good friend…when I have time to be one.

I am now taking care of my mother who is living with me.  Though she is only 72, and has relatively good health,  she still depends on me to help her take care of all personal business, take her to all of her appointments, both medical and otherwise, take her shopping and entertain her at least once a week.  Otherwise, she would never get out of the house.  This takes away from my time to get together with girlfriends.

I am no longer going to workout on a regular basis, which means I don’t see my Y -workout girlfriends as often.  We do get together every couple of months for lunch or coffee and catching up.  I joined another local recreation center, which is closer to home.  Yet, I can’t seem to make it over there with any sense of regularity.

The last time I had lunch with my workout girls, they asked me to come back to the Y to our Yoga and Zumba classes.  I really want to, but as summer approaches, I doubt seriously if I will have time to work out regularly.

So basically,  my life is totally out of balance and I have to figure out a way to somehow close some of these gaps and get my sh*t together.  All of this while the summer is approaching and I have to figure out ways to keep the boys busy and away from each other as much as possible.  I’m looking at camps,  therapists, social groups and vacations.
Oh yeah…and then there is the house and all of the many little projects that need to be done around here.
It all seems so impossible.
I guess I just have to make a list and try to do one-thing-at a time…
one-day at a time.
I wonder how many days I have left where I can say that?
Life is short and yet it seems to be going by so fast!
If only I wasn’t such a scatter-brained, unorganized, discombobulated mess.

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I am a full-time mother of 3 boys (4 if you include my husband).  The boys are ages 24, 16 and 13.  Both teens are on the spectrum. My 24 year-old is thankfully out of my house, but unfortunately, about to be deployed to Afghanistan.  I have been advocating for my sons, with doctors, schools and therapists since they were toddlers. I run an interactive Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/pages/Confessions-Of-An-Aspergers-Mom/113171498759099?ref=tn_tnmn, where those in the virtual autism/Asperger’s community can come to share information, laughter and vent with one another. On my blog I write honestly and openly, often using humor to share the reality of our life. I want the world to understand and accept autism, instead of judging it from a point of ignorance. If that means getting naked for the whole world to see…then so be it.  Hopefully…you won’t laugh too hard.

This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.

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Easy Like Sunday Morning

by Jeanie, Reinventing Mommy

It is Sunday morning.  I’m leaning back in my chair, feet dangling carelessly in the pool as my hair begins to stick to the back of my neck.  I lift my head towards the sky to soak in the warm glow of the sun as it kisses my forehead.  Under my watchful eye, my boy plays along the water’s edge.  His squeals of delight watching the water pour are bubbling up beneath the surface.  His hands flutter and his mouth drops open in an expression of joy that is so uniquely Jack.  I find my mouth creasing into a smile and find myself in the midst of heaven on earth.

Summer is approaching with a ferocity that seems to be a fact of life in the South.  This time of year, I am taken back to my childhood and the beautiful days of all-too-short summers spent at the beach.

Both sets of my grandparents had beach houses – one on the Florida coast and the other on one of the Georgia barrier islands.  Summers were spent between these two locales embracing all of the sweetness of the season.

I felt so at home on the beach.  As a child, I was an avid body boarder.  I planned excursions down to the beach based on the tidal schedules.  The freedom felt when gravity releases you, as the waves take over, is simply indescribable.  It feels like flying.

I have not gone body boarding in years.  In fact, to do so would probably result in a performance more worthy of America’s Funniest Home Videos than ESPN.  Another thing I have not done in years is take a vacation to the beach.  In fact, I haven’t been on vacation since Jack was born.  The closest I have come to the coast since his birth is when I go visit my Dad about once a year.

This bothers Brian very little.  Growing up, his family’s travels took them all over the place, thus they never developed the same loyalty to a particular location or setting.  When it comes to the beach, I think Brian could take it or leave it.

This year promises to be no exception to our hiatus from vacationing.  My husband will be going up to visit family up North, but Jack still has a self-imposed travel ban placed upon us as a family.  The logistics of traveling with Jack, from the change in routine to rescheduling all of his therapies to working around ESY to the questions of “How do we get there with our sanity?” to finding food that he’ll eat and a place where he will sleep, it all wears down on us when we even attempt to plan it.

So, what is a family to do?  Or, in reality, what is this mama to do?

The answer came in Jack’s Easter basket this year – an inflatable swimming pool.  Sure, it’s just big enough for Jack and my feet, but it will do, my friends.

Sunday morning was to be a warm day.  A scorcher nearing 88 degrees.  For the end of April/early May, that’s hot.  To kick off what Mother Nature had decided herself to dub as the unofficial start of summer, I cracked the pool out and warmed up my lungs for what would be an exhausting 30 minutes of inflating the thing.

At least I know my lungs are nice and healthy.

We found a sunny place in the backyard and began to fill the pool.  Now Jack loves playing with water, but he’s very anxious when it comes to actually getting in.  That’s okay, because this mama has all the time in the world. Sunscreen in hand and a couple of lawn chairs to set poolside, we headed outside for a day of sunshine and water play.  We stayed out there all day, only coming inside to eat lunch and dinner and to take a nap.  Jack had his usual meltdowns and transitioning problems that seem to come standard with the lack of structure on the weekends these days, but for a few moments out by that pool, as he was watching the water fall back into the pool from his cup, there was nothing but peace and tranquility.

It was blissful.

Jack loved the water.  The introduction of a few bubbles to the party was what it took to finally coax him into the water, but he refused to bend down or do anything to get himself too wet.  You’ve gotta love those sensory issues.

He played and enjoyed watching the water pour from a cup back into the pool over and over again.  Sure it was a stimmy kind-of activity, but he was enjoying a few moments of peace and sunshine.

As was I.

For a few moments, I could almost imagine myself back at the beach.  The sand warming my toes and the waves gently lapping my feet.  The heat of the sun enveloping me.  The feeling of letting go.  Yet, this was better than the beach could be this year, because my boy was there enjoying it with me.

Later in the day, after I had fixed myself a lovely frozen beverage, I flopped my feet into the water and thought about how perfect that moment was.  My little boy seemed to be having a good time.  I was relaxed.  I leaned my head back and decided that the little “resort” I had created would suit me just fine.

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Jeanie is a former engineer turned stay-at-home wife and mom to an amazing 3-year old little boy on the autism spectrum. After her only child was diagnosed at 24-months with autism and an alphabet soup of special needs, she began to write about life parenting a very young child with special needs with honesty, optimism, and as always, a touch of humor. You can find Jeanie at her regular blog, Reinventing Mommy (http://reinventingmommy.blogspot.com/).

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