Parenting is hard 

Yesterday was the worst. Plain and simple. Since we moved our children have been somewhat isolated from visitors.  Don’t get me wrong, we have had grandpa’s and grandma’s come down and a couple of family members have stopped by.  We have even had a few really close friends make the trip down to see us.  But the constant traffic of caseworkers and in home therapist have since came to a stop. 

And for the record, I am not great at making friends. Add on five kiddos and it becomes almost impossible.  I know I can hear some people shaking their heads right this moment while they say “she asked for it when she took in so many kids” and yes I know what I got myself into thank you.  I’m not trying to blame the kids in anyway, all I am saying is it’s easier to stay at home most of the time rather than tackle the chaos that is my little loves.  Trying to find time to make new friends is just not high on my priority list. But it’s been almost a year and I was thinking I needed to step out of my comfort zone and invite someone over.  After all what could possibly go wrong?   

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I had this brilliant idea.  It started off fine.  The kids and I were outside playing when our guest arrived.  They were running and playing and being normal fun loving children.  She and I sat in my living room and talked for a few minutes before things started going downhill. Diva and Big Al had gotten into an argument that somehow resulted in Elmo getting smacked in the face. So he was crying and the other two were screaming.  I excused myself to defuse the situation and quickly returned to my visit.  Within minutes Diva was slamming the door asking if she could play on a tablet because she “just hated her life and wished she lived somewhere else”. Thats now two crying.   I gave in and gave her the tablet (she normally does not get to just play on one but I really wanted some adult conversation) Biggest mistake ever!!!

As soon as she got it the fight was on.  And things only got worse. By the time my husband got home wild man was running around in his underwear (normal autism behavior but we have been trying to keep him clothed) Both of our three year olds were screaming, one had decided he was only eating candy and pop (soda) for dinner while the other one was just tired.  As for the baby she had graciously covered my soon to not be new friend in cheese puff dust. Diva was still screaming because life as a six year old is apparently the worst thing ever.  Oh and how did I forget to tell you that when my husband asked the kids to come inside so he could get them ready for dinner my wild man called him a Mother F@&$@r.  Yep the whole word. And repeated it three times (again one of his autism ticks) Plain as day, of course it was why wouldn’t it be.  The look on her face told me it was as pronounced prefectly. Lucky me. Apparently he unlocked the parent lock on his tablet and…..well he found Caillou. A very inappropriate version of Caillou. I assumed he was watching the PBS version. Lesson learned the hard way.

I was never so ready for someone to leave my house in my life.  And I’m pretty sure that possible friendship was over before it started.  Why oh why could they not behave for just a few hours for me? I mean seriously was it to much to ask? After a quick dinner, not the candy and pop the kids wanted, but cereal and juice. I’m sure it had just as much sugar in it as the candy would have(I know mom of the year but I just could not at that moment)

By 7:30, wild man, diva and Elmo were asleep(part of the problem I am sure) By 8:30 baby peanut was out. My husband and I had not said a word to each other since our friend left, I looked and him and said “I’m taking her to bed, you got him?” Pointing at Big Al who was tired but still going strong. He nodded his head yes, kissed me and off I went. I was embarrassed. I was angry . I was emotionally drained and I was at a loss for words. I know my kids are no angels but man, that was rough. 

I woke up this morning still in a funk. Still doubting my parenting skills and wondering why in the world God picked me to be their mom. Yesterday was a perfect example that I am not cut out for the job.  I went through our morning routine. Diva was still in a mood as well so she was running late.  My husband had to leave for work and could not wait any longer so I had to take her when I took the boys to preschool, which made her even more angry.  After dropping them off to their schools I headed over to the doctors office to get peanuts 18 month well child check up and shots.

I was still kind of upset with how my kids had behaved as I sat and waited for her to be seen. In the waiting room were two other families. One, a young mother and two kids. Her daughter about four years old and a newborn boy. The other, also a young mother, her mom, her newborn daughter and her son who was 15 months old.  The little boy quickly made his rounds over to my daughter and the four year old. The young moms started chatting about being moms and how it was now even harder with two.  As I held peanut on my lap I smiled a little at the conversation. The one young ladies mother quickly jumped in and said  “Well at least you waited a few years these two are barely 15 months apart” to the other young mom.  The conversation continued about how the little boy was so full of energy and how grandma was to tired to chase after him all the time.  The little girl spun around and around begging for juice while her mom dealt with her very fussy baby brother.  I could see the stress on both families faces.   The one mom was called back and grandma was suppose to watch the rambunctiousness little boy and his sleeping sister while mom went up and filled out paperwork. He was fast on his feet and before the grandmother knew it he was headed for the door.  She was able to grab him before he made his daring escape but she was winded.  She came back over to the waiting area and said ” I’m to old for this. I raised my two girls. All he wants to do is run run run. I’m 43 I’m to old to chase him down”.    43 is to old to chase a toddler?   I just turn 41. I sat in the waiting room with my daughter who is just a few months older than her grandson and let her words sink in.  She continued to complain about raising kids and talked about everything that could go wrong. When the other young mom committed that it was just her and her two kids (no dad in the picture I’m guessing) the grandmother quickly started down the “how are you going to do this by yourself? Parenting is hard” lecture. The young mom was fidgety in her seat and I guess that’s when grandma realized I was looking at her. In a very rough voice she looked at me and said “You’re lucky you just got the one” That’s when I opened my mouth.

I smiled and said that I actually had seven children. And I rattled off their ages “22, 18,6,6,3,3& this one is 18 months”. The room got quiet.  I went on to say that yes parenting is hard but it is by far the best thing I have ever done and that some of my kids were close in age and even though we had bad days the good days far out weighed them. I rambled on for a few minutes until she got my point. Both her daughter and the other young mom were smiling by the time I finished my little soap box talk. 

Peanut was called back, vaccination was given and out the door we went.  I had started off the day angry that my kids had misbehaved so badly the night before but by the time I was finished with the appointment I realized even they are entitled to a bad day every now and then my kids just picked the same day to have their bad day. I get in bad moods and don’t want to do anything. Aren’t kids just little humans? They have the same feelings and emotions the only difference is they don’t know how to express it. 

I did make a few rule changes and tonight was rough but we managed. The tablets and phones are gone, for now no more games or video watching on them. My husband threw out what was left of the Easter candy so that the kids (or us) would be tempted to eat it. Instead of them playing video games while I cooked they played with play dough and drew pictures, daddy worked late so we had to make due with what we could.  It was a long night but we made it through. 

That grandma was right, parenting is hard. There is no right way or wrong way. No matter what we do some will say we are to hard on our kids while others say we are to easy on them. Our kids are going to be good one day and not so good the next. And it does not matter if you have one child or if you have 20 children they are going to act up at some point when you really don’t want them to.  Their kids it’s what they do and how the learn. 

I’m thankful God placed that lady in my path today. By hearing her negative view on kids and live in general it reminded me just how blessed I truly am. And for that I am thankful. 

From our beautiful chaos to yours here’s to more peaceful tomorrow’s.

Simple trip to the Zoo

Tuesday was an exciting day for my five year old son. It was the big field trip to the zoo. For the last few weeks he had talked about “zoo day.”  We had spent hours looking at pictures of the different animals he would see there and learning the different sounds they made. He was excited and I was excited for him.

The permission slip was signed and his lunch was packed and the school had agreed to let his aid go with him. So on Tuesday he got up and got ready and out the door he went.  I dressed our other little ones and dropped them off to preschool and headed to the zoo. 

It was raining some but not enough to ruin the day. Wild man loves to play on the rain anyways so it did not even phase him.  He was all smiles.  He walked in between me and his aid “Ms T” and pointed out to everyone that his momma and baby sister was there.   He engaged well with the questions his aid asked him about the animals and he was eager to share his knowledge of his favorite ones.   My heart could not have been more full. 

He loved the giraffes
 

His class was given tickets to feed the giraffes.  I was not allowed (safety measures for the animals) to take the stroller passed a certain point, so he and Ms T went with the class so he could take his turn feeding the giraffe.  Pure joy came across his face as the giraffe took the carrot from his hand.  He clapped and jumped and smiled from ear to ear.  Life was good. 
When it was time for lunch we made our way over to the picnic tables so that the class could eat together.  The teacher and other staff passed out the brown bagged lunches the school sent and passed out the lunches the parents had sent.   My son sat patiently ( well as patiently as he can) waiting on his lunch.  The teacher asked me several times what I had sent his lunch in.  I replied, “I sent his green camouflage lunch box. The same lunch box he has used all year.”  They looked and looked and then sent someone to the bus to see if it was with another classes lunch.  The teacher then came over and looked at my son and asked him(and me) if he had taken it out of his backpack that morning.  My son’s reply “backpack backpack backpack” while clapping his hands in shear delight.  She then looks at me and says, “Well if he didn’t take it out of his backpack then it’s not here. We are working on teaching him to do things like that on his own.”  “We have an extra school lunch he can have if he wants.”  
Mad is an understatement.  First off, my son is still new to the “regular kindergarten room”. He goes to the regular room half a day and then to his autism classroom the other half and he has only been doing this about two months. He is still getting use to the idea and still learning the day in and day out routine of how things are done in a regular classroom. Second, he takes his lunch to school EVERYDAY because he has sensory issues that prevent him from eating “normal foods”.  Third, I get that they are trying to teach him to be independent however if you know he brings his lunch everyday would it have hurt to check his backpack that morning to make sure he took it out especially if you know he is still forgetting to take it out of his backpack?  I understand that the morning was most likely filled with chaos as the children were excited about the trip, but he is the only autistic child in the class one extra step would have changed the whole outcome of the day.   

We declined the lunch from school.  I am sure that the ham and cheese sandwich was delicious but my son does not eat meat. I do appreciate the teacher giving him her chips from her Subway meal she brought, I do really but I could tell she was not happy about it.   As I looked at him and then looked at all the other children eating their lunch I became aggravated.  This is Exactly why I was worried about him being placed in a regular classroom.  He looks normal and people overlook his abilities and lack of abilities.  But the truth is he is not like all kids his age.  What if I had not been there? Would anyone even noticed that he did not have a lunch?  

I seen the meltdown coming so I walked over to the little consession stand and paid $12 for two orders of nachos and cheese and two juices, one for him to eat and one for me to eat so he would understand it was safe to eat.  As I walked back over to the table I received the “we were told  to pack a lunch” head shakes and glares from some of the other parents while a few of the other kids wanted to know why my son got special treatment and got to eat from the consession stand when they were told they were not allowed.  At the end of the thirty minute lunch I was ready to scream.     

His aid was overly apologetic. She felt terrible that his lunch and been left at school.   She was sorry and I believed her. She went as far as to text my sons other teacher (the one in his autism classroom) to let her know he would need a snack when he got back to class. She could tell I was upset because my son was upset with the events that had taken place.  
As I left the zoo to pick up my preschoolers from class, my son was walking around with Ms T looking at the monkeys.  He was back to his happy go lucky self and I was thankful, still mad but thankful. 

As a mom I worry about things like this all the time. Is he being well cared for while at school? Is he making friends? Are other kids picking on him? Is he really adjusting to the new class or are they just overlooking him?  

And while I want to be mad(I am still pretty ticked) I am going to remember this day as a day my son played with the giraffes and talked to the zebras.  Yes we had a meltdown and people stared but at this point on our autism journey I don’t care.  It’s part of our life.  The smiles and laughs that day far outweigh the forgotten lunch. 
From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s not the situations that make us it’s how we react to them that shape us.

Autism Awareness Month…Why My Son will never be Accepted 

Unless you live under a rock you know by know that April is Autism Awareness Month. Many people will be “supporting” awareness by making donations to local organizations or wearing their blue shirts or bragging about how they “one time helped an autistic child carry books to their class” on social media.  And while all of that is well and good, as an autism mom here is what I would have you do if I could. 
I want you to see my son through my eyes.  He is just a child. A wonderful little boy. Treat him as such!

My boy cheering on our favorite football team💛💚🏈

Don’t whisper things like “I bet life at home is hard with that one.” Or “She should bust his ass, my child would never act that way in public” Or the all famous “Control your kid, what a terrible mother she must be” line.   First off life at our home is just fine. At home our son is not judge for his actions that are out of his control, he has autism he does not see things they way you or I do therefore his behavior is different. Second, I’m thrilled your child behaves for you while you are out where everyone can see.  Truly I am. As for me, I don’t get to pick when or what will cause my son to have a meltdown, but I know busting his ass will Not make the situation any easier on any of us.  And third, I am controlling my kid, trust me on this one.

Me and my little guy enjoying some playtime a few years back

Don’t stare at him at the playground or make your children play somewhere else. As his mom all I want is for him to have the best childhood he can, just like you want for your child.  And while he will not notice that you are pointing at him and shaking your head…. I will notice.  He will not see that you quickly gathered your children up and moved them away from the swings and over to the sandbox…..but I will see and it hurts.  Playgrounds are suppose to be safe places where children can be just that… kids. Please help me help me child be “just a kid” for just a few minutes out of the day.

Wild man and his Papaw laughing at one of his airplane video’s

Don’t ask me if I’ve tried this or that to help with his eating habits or his outburst.  I know you mean well, I do, but autism is my life 24/7 if we thought it could help we have tried it.  As his mom do I want to see my almost six year old eat only yogurts, Barbecue potato chips, and stage two Gerber peas, the answer is no. Babies don’t even want to eat stage two peas. But I want him to eat so we take what we can get.  We have tried dairy free diets and gluten free diets and we have taken ideas from them and other diets to come up with what works best for him.

Wild man loved to pet sit Bacon Bit more than anything

“Why is he still not toilet trained, there is no way I would be changing crap diapers at his age.  If he can pee in the toilet he can poop in it”.  There again if it were your son and he needed you to change his diaper at the age of 6 or at 30 you would do so, because you love him just as I love my son.  And no just because he can pee in the toilet (most days) does not mean he can poop in it. With his limited diet he does not “poo” like everyone else. It’s hard and painful for him.  And before you ask, yes he is on medicine to help and he still only goes once every 8 to 10 days.  Autism moms are painful poo experts.

Me and my boy doing what he loves best
Game day. Go Pack Go

You should take him out more places, that way he would learn how to behave around others”. Don’t you think I want to take my child out? I want more than anything to be able to go to the store or out to eat as a family without the noise or the lights sending him into a major meltdown. I want to take him to an amusement park to ride rides but know the crowd and the lines would overstimulate him and led to more harm than good.  I want to enjoy family get togthers and family reunions just as much as the next person, but I know as soon as he tries to get a snack that he saw hanging out of cousin Karries bag things will get heated because those were not his but for her daughter and she does not want to share.  They will not care that he does not understand personal space or personal belongs. I know school plays and class parties are to much for him, and seeing all of the other kids enjoy them hurts. I want a normal life for him but know his limitations better than anyone.  So I stay home where I know he is safe.

Morning cuddles with this guy ❤️

My son hates clothes so if you get offended by an almost six year old running around in our house in only a pull-up or underwear, please do use a favor and don’t come around.  He has to keep clothes on while he is at school or at church, but as soon as he is home he knows he is safe and the clothes come off. Sensory issues at their finest. Remember this is his home not yours. My job as his mom is to make him feel safe, especially at his house. I’m not trying to be mean but I use up all my patience and love on him (and our other kiddos) I don’t have time to entertain your ignorance about my sons disabilities. If it bothers you don’t come around. You can just call.  You can always reach me on the phone and this will be less hurtful for all of us.

My son is not unruly or a mistake or nuisance or the monster-child uneducated society portrays him as.  He is a sweet, loving, adorable kid that I’m blessed to have call me “momma”  

In Our world we celebrate autism awareness every month, every day, and every minute. I do appreciate the thought of bringing awareness to something that many people deal with day in and day out but the fact is this my son will never be accepted in the social norm of things and that is something I am still trying to process and accept myself. He is loud and he chirps at different things. He looks just like any “normal child” but his meltdowns set him apart. He screams. He sits and lines cars up for hours while he rocks in place. He talks about the same airplanes for hours.  He has a room “his office” where, although a cluttered mess, he knows where every lego or every piece of paper is because they are ALL his “treats” aka treasures.  He plays on his tablet more than I’m sure you think he should, but that keeps him engaged for more than two minutes, in his games and videos he is in control of his otherwise out of control world.  He is so smart and so funny, his laugh lights up my world more than a few times daily.  He did not choose this life but it is what was given to him and he is making them most of it. So as an autism mom I ask this of you.  The next time you see a child don’t be so quick to judge their behavior. If you know a family who has an autistic child offer to watch their child so they can go out to dinner or on a date with their spouse. Encourage not discourage your own child to play with them, laugh with them and be friendly with them. Treat that child with love and respect just as you treat other kids.  Kids with autism are just like other kids trying to make it in this difficult world. They just have to find a way as unique as they are.

My autism awareness 💙

Buying a tshirt or donating money to an organization is great, but getting it actually know someone with autism is a much brighter beautiful action.  And by doing so it could just be the first step to making our world a better place for everyone to live it.   

So this month I will flood my social media with facts about autism and pictures of my amazing little guy in the hopes that one, just one person takes the “awesomeness” to heart and takes time to actually get to know someone with autism.  They might be surprised to see just how bright that person shines.     

From our beautiful chaos to yours God does not create junk. We are all beautifully made in His image. Remember that. Much love