Tag Archives: friends

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

5 Comments

Filed under Remembering to Breathe

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.

**********

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Remembering to Breathe

You’re Not Walking This Journey Alone

by Gina, Special Happens

The day of chaos starts as any other. Her youngest kids jumping on her as their own personal trampoline; the requests that feel as the demands she’s come to know are swinging to her from the left and the right. The mad rush to awaken school children not already brought to the morning’s shine by the laughter of the aforementioned toddlers..bath-rooming..dressing…breakfast…backpacks – none of which is complete without scuffling, followed by outcries of the wrongdoing only siblings can radiate. The familiar redirection / discipline / rant / word-flow-that-has-lost-its impact-but-still-is-parentally-necessary comes from her spontaneously.

On this day’s menu, beyond the outlook of laundry, milk spills, chasing of naked kiddos, gardening, meal preparation, meal clean up, baths and more of the spontaneous redirection, is therapy. Therapy organizing, arguing with insurance over, coordinating between various therapists, enforcing the school’s responsibility for…sticking to schedules, completing home therapy and anything else that comes up. Usually research.

Days like these continue on. A never-ending cycle of waking, filling the day with the same routines, finding her way to bed though sleep may never come, and doing it all again – the very next day. Other matters may insert themselves into the day, usually more aggravators. Realizations that her old friendships are gone, a fight with a spouse, an illness of a child, the awareness that the ‘scent’ she’s been smelling comes from her own body – it’s been days since she’s had enough time to herself to allow a shower.

She carries herself to the mailbox, cringing knowing her sights will set on the next medical bill for this or that. An envelope greets her. One unlike the others. Brighter. Less officially shaped. Personalized handwriting, marked with a familiar name. An unexpected delight of “Happy Mail”.

A far away friend sent her a card. A card with no particular reason to be sent other than for one woman to tell another that she gets it. That she thinks of the other. A card that is sent so for just one moment a smile will ride its way across the face of a mother as she continues about her life’s routine. So that for one moment, spread out numerous times through however many days it’s willing to linger on, a friend is reminded that she is not alone. She is reminded that another shares her journey, her heartaches, frustrations, her exhaustion…

At least that’s what I hope she felt when she received it.

A friend once asked me, “What can another ever do to help a fellow parent, parenting a child with special needs?

I could come up with a list…I might come up with a list…but in truth, there’s one simple answer. A card. A simple note (preferably funny) that signifies,

“I get it.”
“I’m thinking of you.”
“You’re not walking this journey alone.”

Nothing more is required.

Card : Delgrosso via Flickr

**********

This post was originally written and published by Gina St. Aubin on Special Happens, a community resource and blog for parents and caregivers of children with special needs.  Gina began her involvement in the special needs community in 2003 when her eldest son was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at nine months old;she now advocates for those with intellectual and physical challenges. Beyond Cerebral Palsy, her son is now diagnosed with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ESES / LKS (a rare epileptic disorder causing verbal aphasia) and Developmental Delays.  You can read more on www.SpecialHappens.com.

1 Comment

Filed under Remembering to Breathe, Taking the next step

doing

by Jess, Diary of a Mom

images-1

I tried hard to explain it to Luau last night.

“It’s so odd,” I told him. “In so many ways, I feel so incredibly close to this woman, and yet we’ve never met. We’ve never even spoken!”

He’s heard this refrain before – I’d not be surprised to hear him add ‘ad nauseum, dear’ – my amazement at these friends in the ether – after so many years, these true FRIENDS.

But today, it was one of those friends that made all the difference. So I tried to explain.

“She took a risk,” I said. He didn’t respond, waiting for more. He knows his wife. “An emotional risk. She stepped right over boundaries, somehow knowing that she could. She TOLD ME what to do. She sent me a velvet-gloved btch slap, signed with lots and lots of love.”

I stopped for a moment, hoping the import of this was getting through. “I don’t know how to tell you what it means to me that she would do that.”

“Oh, yes, it was very nice of her to take the time,” he said.

No, damn it! It was much, much more than that. I wasn’t going to give up. I needed him to understand why this mattered so much. I had to find a way to explain.

Friends and teachers and mentors come in so many forms. And sometimes one of them is simply willing to say, “I think I have something to teach you.” That’s not easy. In fact it can be really, really hard.

I told him about the e-mail that I got over the weekend from my friend Carrie. I told him how when I’d first read it, I was caught on my heels. I told him how I’d begun to make excuses. “Oh,” I thought, she just doesn’t see how much I DO take care of myself. Well, of course she’s worried; I don’t show the world that incredibly selfish side of me that spoils myself rotten! For heaven’s sake, I just don’t write about all of the things I do for myself!”

I began to list them in my head – the clothes I buy – the cars, the shoes, the cosmetics, the sunglasses, the shoes (yes, I said that twice – trust me, I buy myself a lot of shoes). “She just doesn’t hear about all of that,” I thought.

I forced myself to stop. To just STOP. I’d made a list of all the things that I do for myself and the list was comprised completely of THINGS that I BUY for myself. Ouch. BUYING for myself is not DOING for myself. Wow.

I spend an awful lot of time trying to ensure that my girls grow up knowing what matters. I teach them that THINGS don’t matter. Of course there are things that we need and things that help make life awfully comfortable,  but what kind of mother am I if I set the example for my kids that they should value THINGS over themselves?

I constantly tell them that making TIME for those that we love is the greatest gift we can give one another. But what about making time for ourselves? If we value ourselves, then don’t WE deserve our own time too?

‘Yes!’ said the wake-up call from this dear friend who saw past my line of crap and gently, lovingly made me confront what’s underneath. No matter that we’ve never met, nor even spoken, she knew. She wrote,

… it’s okay not to know. It’s okay not to be “up” and “on.” It’s okay to be pissed. It’s okay to be overwhelmed. It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to try your hardest and have it not be “enough.” It’s all okay. What is not okay is to ignore yourself. You will pay the price (dearly) which will inevitably “cost” your children. The social worker was right, “Take care of yourself first.”

I think that’s what I’m called to reiterate.

Take it from me … The price of not looking out for yourself is too high. Don’t pay it.

Those neck pains? Address.

The fatigue? Treat.

The tired of being tired, tired of being up and on. Listen to that.

And don’t forget that the love. you have for others, must be extended to yourself, too.

Reading it again just now I was brought to tears. Yes, Carrie, YES! I can’t be the only one who needs to hear this. I just can’t, can I?

We need to take care of ourselves. We have work to do. For our children, for ourselves, for each other.

I went and took a tour of a gym yesterday after work. It’s quiet, relatively private, out of the way. I stopped off after work and took my time walking around. The world did not implode in the time that I was gone. My children did not forget who I was because I came home a little later than usual. I will be joining that gym today.

An hour a day. ONE HOUR. One 24th of the day, I am giving to myself – adding it on to my work day. I’m downright giddy – energized.

Back in May, I wrote a letter to a friend who is new to this club of ours. I wrote,
You will neglect yourself. You will suddenly realize that you haven’t stopped moving. You’ve missed the gym. You’ve taken care of everyone but you. You will forget how important it is to take care of yourself. Listen to me. If you hear nothing else, hear this. You MUST take care of yourself. You are no use to anyone unless you are healthy. I mean that holistically, my friend. HEALTHY. Nourished, rested, soul-fed. Your children deserve that example.

My internal guide had fallen silent. She was preoccupied with three thousand other things. I needed a reminder. I needed a friend to say, “Enough.”

I have no idea how to thank her.

ed note .. thank you, carrie for graciously allowing me to share our conversation. i am so grateful for your wisdom and your friendship.

**********

Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom where she writes about life with her husband Luau* and their beautiful daughters – ten year old Katie*, an utterly fabulous typically a-typical fifth grader, and eight year old, Brooke*, a loving, talented, hilarious third grader who has autism.

She also runs the Diary of a Mom Facebook page, a warm and supportive community of parents, friends, adults on the autism spectrum and some random people in her life who cared enough to hit ‘Like’ and probably now wonder what they got themselves into.

This post was originally published on her site and re-posted here with permission.

13 Comments

Filed under Remembering to Breathe