To the Mom Wondering how she Will go on Today.

To the mom wondering how something you wanted so much is so incredibly harder than you imagined, and at times more tiring than you can handle.

To the mama hiding in the bedroom with the door shut, so no one sees her crying, makeup running down her face, but she comes back out with a smile in a few minutes.

To the mama wondering how am I going to keep doing this day in and day out.

To the mama who feels like she can’t take another step forward, who feels stuck and overwhelmed.

To the mama counting the seconds till bedtime.

To the mama who feels guilty over every thought that didn’t match her idea of being a good mother.

To the mom who feels she’s nothing but mom anymore.

To the mom who misses freedom.

Hold on.
It is worth it.
You are valuable.
You are priceless.
Your kids don’t see your flaws nearly as intensely as you do.
Your kids know they are loved.
Your kids trust you.
Your kids feel safe with you.
Your are doing a good job.
Maybe sometimes not stellar. 
But trust me, you’re doing better than you realize.

Cut yourself some slack today mama.

Every time you’ve ever felt that you couldn’t possibly go on,

you did.

You were able to then.

You are able to now.

Breathe mama.

Give yourself grace.

You aren’t called to never fail.

You are called to go on no matter how many times you do.

You can do it mama.

I believe in you.

Take another deep breath mama.

Wipe the tears form your own face today, as you have wiped them from your children so many times before.

You are worth so much, to your kids, and just for being who you are.

You are more able than you have believed.

You can do it,

and it’s worth it.

One day you’ll look back, and you will see, you taught your kids perseverance.

You taught your kids unconditional love and acceptance, by you not giving up.

You taught them it’s OK to not be perfect.

That messing up and trying again means so much more than that anyway.

And, you’ll thank yourself one day, when you see the effects of sticking with it.

It is tiring because you are doing your absolute best.

It is tiring because they matter to you deeply.

It is tiring for all the right reasons mama.

Because your heart is fully in it.

And it will be OK,

because you aren’t failing them,

by questioning if you can go on.

One day at a time mama.

I know you can do it.

I believe in you.

Hold on, and breathe.

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Anxiety makes me feel like I’m a bad mom

First let me say. Anxiety is telling me don’t hit publish on this piece.

Don’t let others know you feel this way.

But I know that if I feel this way, then others have and do as well.

So I will swallow my pride.

I will take off the facade that says I’ve got it all together.

And I will write.

The truth.

When anxiety comes knocking.

By the end of the day I am totally spent.

Sometimes I am spent by the afternoon, or before I have even woken up in the morning.

Anxiety starts spiking, and it tells me.

You aren’t equipped for this. You aren’t enough. Special needs parenting demands too much of me.

Sometimes I want to leave and never come back.

Sometimes their behavior pushes me to angry places that make me mad at myself for getting to that point.

Why can’t I have more patience?

Why can’t I have healthier coping strategies?

Why can’t I love my kids better?

Why can’t I let things go?

Why can’t I stop trying to control everything?

These questions become “shoulds.’

You SHOULD have more patience.

You SHOULD be able to cope.

You SHOULD love your kids better.

You SHOULD let things go and not take everything to heart.

You SHOULD control things better so that you don’t feel like you’ve lost control.

You SHOULD have your act together by now.

You SHOULD not let things bother you the way they do.

You SHOULD be grateful.

You SHOULD be enjoying this.

Anxiety is an ugly thing.

It won’t have the ultimate victory.

But it doesn’t leave without an exhausting fight.

#anxiety

#mentalhealthmatters

#behonest

#don’thideit

If you are suffering with anxiety or depression, seek help. Find a doctor or therapist or friend you trust.

💜🙏🏼

A Day Without Autism. Caregiver Burnout and the Need for Respite.

This year, for his birthday, my oldest son, turning 9, asked for a day at the beach. Well, precisely, he wanted a whole weekend away at a hotel with beach front property. We were blessed to do that last year as a gift from my beautiful aunt. And, it never hurts to ask right? But this year, being on my own for his birthday weekend, we opted for a day on the beach. A day on the beach without autism to be exact.

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Lucas is my son with autism. To have a day without him present was necessary, but a hard decision to make. It tears my heart in two to be divided amongst my boys. But the truth is, if I am giving to one, the other is lacking. Of course, these are opportunities for them to learn patience and selflessness. But that’s not what I mean. I mean, autism is all consuming. All the time.

There is no break from autism. Not really. Not in my head, in my thoughts, not in my heart. No time feels safe and at ease. No break. If I give my attention to Lucas and address all of his needs, then for the most part, I keep him regulated, content, and coping well with challenges. But, then I am leaving my other son lacking my help, support and attention. If I give my older son attention, then Lucas can wind up in either full meltdown mode, or full destruction mode, because I wasn’t there to read his warning signs leading up to it. And so it goes on. I give to one, the other lacks. And I rarely feel that I can enjoy my time with both of them together. And I grieve that. And so is life as a special needs parent. I am constantly analyzing, and preventing, and it is tiring.

So, I made the decision to call the agency, to have a paid sitter stay home with Lucas. I let go of anything telling me otherwise. The financial cost. The fear that the sitter might not be able to take on the challenges that come with spending an entire day with a child with autism, one who they haven’t worked with before.

This agency is a special one, designed for families like ours. They staff only behavioral therapists with experience. That means, the person coming knows autism. They know behavior strategies and techniques. They care genuinely about making the experience go with as little stress to the family as possible. You see, it’s not easy or simple to just “leave Lucas with a sitter and get away for a little bit.”

But, nevertheless, for my older son’s birthday, I told myself, this is worth it. We needed this. We needed the time together. We needed to feel a full day without the worry and interruption that we normally deal with. We needed a day without autism. And we got it.

As I stood there on the beach. I acknowledged the peace I felt. I thought of all the freedoms I had without a child in tow with autism. And per usual, anxiety started to tell me how terrible I was, for loving this time without Lucas. And I wondered to myself, how could I let myself feel like he is the opposite of freedom.

And I realized. It’s not the autism that takes my peace. It’s the feeling that I don’t have enough help. I am one person and my kids need two. Two fully involved people. The peace and freedom I was feeling were consequences of me not being pulled in too many different directions at the same time. The feeling I enjoyed, was the not being needed, in ways I am too tired to give, by too many people at once. It was the freedom of having help. It was respite.

You see, my son at home was having a great day. I was getting regular updates. Messages about his potty times and what he did. His meals, his activities, his behaviors. And I was free, because I didn’t have to worry about what would happen to Lucas, while I wasn’t there. It wasn’t all on me, and he was safe and happy.

On the beach, I could really breathe, for the first time in so long. I didn’t have to rush back home. I wasn’t looking at my clock. I didn’t even have one on. I was soaking in the beach; the water, the sunshining sky, feeling the salty air blow comfortingly against my face. I was feeling the water trickle over my feet and through my toes. I was free to feel all this and enjoy it, because I had help. Real help. Help that didn’t require more of me to get it than to receive it. (except financially lol.) Today, I enjoyed watching my oldest son build sand balls, watching him figure out his way with a boogie board, watching him drift his fingertips through sand constructing artwork like only he can. I got to have conversations with him, where my mind wasn’t torn and stuck on other things. Because, I was fully present today. I enjoyed a delicious lunch with good company, without the simultaneous need to restrain the parts of autism that are hardest, in public.

Don’t get me wrong. Omar and I thought of Lucas often. We thought of which seashells he’d like, of how he would have loved to keep going out into the water, fearlessly, without stopping. We thought of how he would have absolutely loved the wild banana boat ride. The same one we were scared to death to fall off of. We acknowledged both the beauty and the restraints that would have coexisted if he were with us. And we planned to come back with him. But this day was for us.

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Today was gloriously, phenomenally, awesome.

Respite gave me something with my older son I have often thought was never possible again. I’m going to say it again. Respite matters.

Caregiver burnout is real my friends. Respite is necessary. It will certainly be part of my budgeting from now on. It makes the difference between mental breakdown and exhaustion and relief.

Respite matters. Seek it. Find it. You need it. I need it. And it doesn’t make me selfish or unloving to say it. Respite matters. Today was necessary.

I will definitely be making sacrifices to save the money to do this again more regularly. And, I will ask those closest to me to hold me accountable. Because this is necessary. I will always value the memories, and the lessons I got from today.

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The Jolting reminder autism is here to stay

I don’t know what I thought

I mean I knew it was here to stay

I mourned

I grieved

I hoped

I fought

It’s still here

And I’m sad again

And I’m sad that I’m sad again

Grieving comes in waves they say

I suppose it is high tide today.

Why I Can’t Love my Kids With all my Heart.

I am the type of person who looks for the beauty in things.

I try not to let anything go by without seeing an aspect that is praiseworthy in a situation.

And, I love my kids with all of me.

But that’s just it.

Giving all of me can tend to leave me lacking in joy.

Sometimes, the constant pouring myself out to my kids becomes too much, and it becomes hardly possible to see the beauty in it.

I frequently find myself feeling things like:

“I cannot be the one who is continually arranging and rearranging our to-do lists, therapy schedules, school matters, medications and specialist appointments, performing our daily routines, the getting ready, the getting everywhere on time, the managing the schedule to make sure all of the appointments are remembered and accomplished.

I can’t always be the one to analyze whether what we are doing is working well or if we need to change the plan, and also figure out how to. I can’t be the one managing all the paperwork of it all, the applications, the medical forms, the lists of special needs for everyone to know about Lucas beforehand. I can’t be the one doing all the extensive research about all that comes with “special needs,” autism, and ADHD.

And.

I can’t possibly spend another minute being patient.

I can’t be the one who encourages, loves, and helps each child through all of their difficult moments everyday if I am too exhausted. I can’t be the one who wakes up early every day, and in the middle of the night, anytime a kid needs it. And, I don’t have it in me to be the one who cleans up every mess that is created when I’m not looking.

I can’t do all this.

I can’t listen to every detail that my kids want to share with me about the latest game or interest they have. I can’t listen to each and every question presented to me, because I am so preoccupied with all the things I haven’t gotten done yet.”

Then I wonder, in frustration, why does something that is supposed to be so beautiful feel so insurmountable to me?

But, I think it’s because, I shouldn’t keep trying to love them with all of me.

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I can’t love them with all of me, because I need some of me too.

I need some of me to function in a somewhat healthy manner. I need some of me to assure my mental health is not suffering. I need some of me to find peace. I need some of me for happiness. I need some of me to enjoy things in life that are not only related to motherhood. I need some of me to function from day to day. I need some of me to feel whole, and to feel well.

So why then, do I have so much guilt over any time I want something for me? Because of this whole notion that a mom loves her kids with all her heart. She is overjoyed by all the small moments that she will never get back when they grow up. While that may be somewhat true, I don’t think its fair to expect it that way.

I simply cannot spend every single moment appreciating what I have now, and the season of life I am in now. I will cherish it yes, but I cannot be driven by the impossibility that my whole life will be my children. A mother can so easily blur these lines, because it is usually her nature to want to do everything for her child. She has all these standards to meet, set by words she has read, in poems, hallmark cards, and becoming a mom books. They all reiterate the beauty and precious nature of these younger years. Her standards have been set by the commercials she’s seen on TV of a mom transformed by motherhood, holding a newborn on her chest. But, nowhere do I see, on TV or in books, the reality to be considered for your mental health to stay in tact.

You cannot make your whole life about, and give your whole life to your children. I need to keep some for me. And although that feels really selfish to type, it also feels so freeing. I give myself permission not to be a perfect mom. I need space in my head and my heart for myself. And that makes me the best mom that I can be for admitting it. I surely wasn’t the best mom I could be when I was sulking over the vast differences between the mom I thought I was supposed to be, compared to the mom I need to be, want to be, and am.

I will accept, I need time for myself. It’s healthier for them. It’s healthier for me. I need space in my heart to love myself. I need space in my mind to think of what I want. I will choose me over them sometimes. And, while I do all this, I am still a good mother. And God loves me just as I am. His grace is enough for me. And His love protects my children- both through me, and independent of me.

That means, I am free to love more than just my children. I am free to love me also.

This doesn’t mean I will ever stop fighting for them. It doesn’t mean I will ever neglect them. It doesn’t mean I ever stop loving them.

But, when I am loving me, while I’m preparing me heart for what’s next, God steps in. He loves them better then I ever could, and He gives me permission to heal and recharge my spirit. And it’s better for us all that way, when I don’t run my well dry, loving my kids with all of me. Instead, I will love them with a really huge part of me. But, I will always save some of me for me.

To the boy With Autism at my Son’s Camp. Thank you for Adjusting my Perspective.

“Mom, there’s a boy with autism at camp with me.”

Omar, my oldest son, who is not autistic, said this to me as we drove home from camp one day, over the summer. My youngest son, Lucas, has autism, and is 4 years old. Regular summer camp was not a suitable option for him, due to his intensive therapy routine. Also, it was due to my inability to feel safe with that option. Lucas needs one on one supervision constantly, for his safety, and also for the safety of others around him.

I know our therapy schedule is intense, but I am giving him the best chance, right? At least, that’s what I’ve researched, been told by professionals, and tell myself daily. I love my son, for who he is. But, when you get so lost in almost everything being therapy, you sometimes lose sight of other things. What is he missing out on instead?

It’s a fine line to walk.

But, back to my older son’s statement.

“There’s a boy with autism at camp with me.”

My older son was not going to a special needs camp. His words lingered in my head and in a pit in my stomach. Up until that point, I suppose I had ruled out Lucas ever attending a “regular camp, with kids without diagnoses.

I had assumed that the autism in him would make it too difficult, that he’d be too different.

He would have to be separate to be safe.

That sounds terrible, typing it, but it’s honest. I don’t want to take any chances with my son escaping or being somewhere that the people responsible for him don’t understand him, or know how to help him. So, I ruled out a typical camp for him. This was certainly the case for this summer. Had I even ruled it out for all years to come? Was I pigeonholing my son and putting limits on his potential? Shame on me.

This pushed me to face what I think my biggest fear has always been.

It’s not that my son won’t be capable of relationship and enjoyment with others, but that others won’t be capable of having, or possess the desire to have it with him.

Omar’s statement opened up the door to so many questions. I needed to know. How did things work out for child with autism at camp? Was it obvious that he struggled and was different from the other kids? Did he have triggers and meltdowns? Did other kids understand him? Did they try to? What did the teachers do if he had a meltdown? What did the other kids do? Did he participate in the camp activities? Did he ever run away?

And, I suppose the most important in my heart was, did he have friends?

Throughout the summer, Omar continued to answer my questions. He told me all about how the boy at camp sometimes wanted things exactly his way. This could be as simple as him getting very upset when someone casually grabbed “his” crayon, which he had carefully chosen. He sometimes yelled “NO!!” or hit another kid in close proximity, when he was upset about someone doing something he didn’t want. He’d frequently bump into people trying to get to what he wanted, or take it out of someone’s hand if they were already holding it. He’d also repeat things he liked, over and over, like climbing the ladder in the playground.

There were times where the boy at camp didn’t acknowledge social rules like waiting online, and he’d simply run to the front of the line to get on the slide. Then, he’d stay there, not letting other kids on after him. He needed extra supervision, so he wouldn’t run off into parts of the camp that weren’t in use during that particular activity. Many of the actions by the boy at camp are very familiar to me, with Lucas.

I proceeded to ask my son how HE treated this boy at camp.

Omar told me that he was not intimidated by the boy’s differences, by his behaviors, and by his outbursts, though they were sometimes frustrating. My son, after all, was quite accustomed to these sorts of needs at home with his brother Lucas. Omar described their interactions, and gave me examples of how he showed empathy, treating the boy at camp with respect for his individual needs and personality. Omar also mentioned thinking that the boy might be autistic, before the boy’s sister had even told him.

I asked how others treated this boy at camp.

I listened desperately to his answers.

Omar went on to tell me that many of the kids didn’t understand the boy. Some kids yelled at the boy with autism, telling him to stop doing the things they didn’t feel were appropriate. “Wait at the back of the line,” they’d yell, when he cut. Other kids let him go in front of the line. Some kids made fun of him.

But, a few, including my son, were kind to him.

They saw him as a peer, a person, a friend.

I saw a glimpse into Lucas’ future in this boy at camp. There is still a long way to go regarding acceptance, awareness, and inclusion of children and adults who are differently abled in our society. We have come a long way, but there is still a ways to go. And, it is the job of adults to educate themselves, be the example, live these things out, and teach the next generation acceptance and love.

You see, I worry often, that people who Lucas hopes will like him would be mean, insensitive, make fun of, and exclude him.

One beautiful revelation in all this, is that I realized I am raising a son with the awareness I hope others will have. Omar is willing to include and love others with and without obvious differences, even when I am not present to prompt him in that. I am proud that Omar was so insightful, and thoughtful. I am proud that he realized when the child’s “odd” behavior was not really rude or ‘disobedient.’ My son showed him grace and compassion. He didn’t view the child as unimportant or inferior.

As I heard all this, I was filled with hope. I was filled with the hope that there will be an “Omar” for my Lucas, whenever he does have the chance to venture out into a more inclusive atmosphere.

May there always be an “Omar” in his classroom, an “Omar” at his camp, and wherever he may go, to love him the way he is, accept him, and guide him.

The boy at my son’s camp with autism gifted me with hope. He gave me hope, that autism is not necessarily going to limit my son in the ways I had foreseen. And, his mom gave me hope, that this journey is not as restricting as I had feared.

Although I’ll always be concerned about both my boys’ futures, I got a beautiful reminder in this experience.

Out there, outside of the circle of protection I keep Lucas in, the community is sprinkled with people who are brothers and sisters, friends, teachers, and family of someone with autism.

Those are the people I hope will stick up for him, get him, and help others get him, when I am not there.

Those are the people who give me faith that a world with inclusion can exist.

To the Strong Ones. Be Unashamed of the Battle it Takes to get There.

So often, when you admit to someone that you are having a hard time with a situation, you hear things like: “it will be OK,” “others would love to have what you have,” “cheer up,” “be grateful,” “it could be worse.” It’s like people are so uncomfortable with hearing how not OK things are, that they wind up responding with attempts to make whatever you are going through immediately “better.” The problem with this, is things don’t always actually get better as a result of someone coming up with a quick, well-intentioned, cliche. These sayings can actually diminish what a person is feeling and going through. The pressures to meet the standard of appearing OK again, pushes people into pretending they are OK, when they aren’t yet.

When I am really not OK, what I’d like to hear is, “I will sit with you right here. In the mess. In the ugly. In the not OK. And, I won’t force or expect you to come out until you are ready. I won’t expect that being OK is easy or quick. I will meet you right where you are at, until you are ready to come out.”

Now, it is true, that on many days, I can see the bright side of situations and adversity.

But, it is also true, that on some days, I really struggle to find it.

Most days, I can see the marvel and the joy, that autism and ADHD have brought into our world, more than I can see the overwhelming challenges from it. On these days, the inspiration in my children is spectacular.

But, some days, I see only the ways I am unequipped to manage and sort out motherhood well.

Many days, I am thankful for how each one of us in my household has grown in the hard times.

But, some days, I feel jealousy over others who “seem to have it easier.” But, I know that is an ugly place to let my head go, and I try quickly to rearrange my focus.

Often, there are days, where I am well aware of the wonderful help that is available, through friends, family, and the special needs ministry at my church. Those days, feeling grateful comes with ease.

But, some days, I feel extreme frustration and exasperation at my kids, myself, and my husband.

Many days, I have the energy to fight and win at scheduling, planning, arranging and rearranging, and advocating for my boys like you wouldn’t believe.

But, some days, I feel like I am being crushed under the weight of the world on my shoulders and that I am in this alone.

Some days I have a knot all day in my stomach. Sometimes I don’t even know why. And sometimes I know every single reason why I am anxious. I can picture each and every outcome clearly that I am hoping to prevent. Neither cause feels better, some days.

On those days, I don’t want to hear “it will be OK.” Some days I just need to lean my head on a caring shoulder, and just not be OK. I know that at some point I will likely be “OK.” But, in those moments, I need you not to convince me for it to come too soon. Being human is not a constant high of happiness and satisfaction. Life is all about the beautiful mess in between the happy and the sad. There are highs and there are lows. I don’t have the energy to pretend that I am always OK. (Nor should I have to).

So, next time you hear someone say something like “I am having a really hard time with …,” consider just sitting next to them. Let them rest their head on your shoulder, and let them be not OK. These are the moments that define our character and who we will become on the other side of not being OK. These are the crucial times where we begin to grow, to see what we are made of, and what we can make it through. We learn to overcome adversity when we acknowledge it, and not deny it.

So, there are days where I will smile, and I will tell you all that has been overcome. But some days, I won’t. On those days, I’ll need to tell you what I have been struggling to overcome, while I am still in the midst of the pain and the processing and am, quite possibly, nowhere near reaching the peak of overcoming that mountain yet. On these days, respectfully, I ask, please don’t tell me it will all be OK. On these days, a compassionate glance, and a reminder you’ll be there for me through the thick and the thin will be the best thing you can do for me.

Yes, many days, nothing can stop me.

But, some days, I won’t lie and say that I feel OK about everything. Even though, it’s sort of what most people want to hear. I am not broken, when some days are harder than others. And neither are you. What I will attempt everyday, is to be unashamed to be me. Honest and vulnerably real. I will be unafraid to help others feel less alone, because people need to hear, that even the “strong ones,” are not always “OK.”


“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever,” Psalm 73:26.

My situation doesn’t always feel good. But, my God is always good, and He is with me all the days of my life.

I am so glad that He shows me more grace than I show myself.