The Milestones we Wait For.

My little guy who is part of my inspiration. He has grown so much over the last few years in so many ways. Many people measure their kids’ growth in height or weight or years. In a special-needs world we had to learn early, that wouldn’t be the way we measure growth. Some milestones come years later and some may never come. But today I am going to thank God for all the amazing goals he has met.

He is now successfully potty trained, despite regressions during the last year.

He speaks with many more sentences and better sentence structure.

He can remember information to recall it at appropriate times and apply it to current or future situations.

He has had successful play and social interaction with special needs-peers- with prompting.

He can position his fingers to squeeze and slides the yogurt in a tube with less prompting and assistance.

He can sound out words and read simply worded sentences. He can easily read at least thirty sight words on his first try.

He can write a sentence spelling things phonetically, and sometimes remember to put the period at the end of a sentence! And he holds the pencil correctly even without his grip now.

He can stop when his mood is escalating and respond to prompts for deep breathing and prompts to help him choose ways to cope and substitute what he wanted with something similar.

He learned to start up a swing without a push.

He asks questions that are very reasonable to better understand his world.

Other moms might be celebrating these things way earlier than we do, but celebrating his milestones is still just as sweet a blessing. We may in fact be blessed to have the extra special wait to reach it, so it becomes more noticed and doesn’t just slip by.

He can grab, open, and drink his own mini cartons of chocolate milk from the fridge.

He can try new foods he has a strong aversion to.

He can tolerate brushing his teeth without hitting or screaming.

He rides a bike with training wheels.

He can talk to a therapist/teacher on a zoom meeting for school effectively!

He can play a game of Uno, Trouble, Mousetrap, or Snakes and Ladders by the rules!

And one of my favorites, tonight he learned how to smile for the camera. He cannot simultaneously make eye contact, but his smile melts my heart.

There are many things we will still need to work on, but aren’t we all, only and beautifully, works in progress?

Who Said That was True? Uncovering the Lies of Anxiety.

Who said there was only one gold standard way to do things right?

Who said you don’t do anything on that list as well as you should?

Who said you should be more?

Who said the talents you have are not praiseworthy?

Who said you should act a certain way?

Who said you aren’t worth it all?

Who said you don’t look good enough?

You don’t speak properly?

You don’t wear that outfit well enough?

Your hair is the wrong color?

Your body is the wrong shape?

Your position at work isn’t honorable?

Who said you don’t live in the neighborhood you should?

You don’t have the house you ought to?

Who said you don’t parent like you should?

Send your kid to the best school?

Have the right car?

Who said you can’t do any of these things right?

Who said you never will and you never have?

Was it someone speaking over your life as you grew up?

Was it someone at a job you once had?

Was it a teacher?

A significant other?

Someone at church?

Someone you looked up to or a close friend?

Who said it?

Someone you wanted to say more?

Someone you wished praised you instead of put you down?

Someone who’s approval you thought meant everything?

So maybe someone pretty important said it.

Think about it.
How did -whoever said it – get that much power to influence you as strongly as they have?
Tell me, how did they convince you?

Is it because you believed it that made it hurt so much?

Who perpetuated its value and hold on you?

That part came when you kept repeating it to yourself.

In the name of Jesus, break the chains, and speak new true words over your situations. Believing the words that come from the Lord, who loves you like no one else could, changes everything.

Rebuke all the lies that have ever held any power in your life and walk forward- like a heavy weight released from you, freer, happier, complete, and whole.

And try, guard yourself, clothe yourself, with the wisdom and value God gives you- so as not to give away your power to the wrong person again.

Realign.

Nobody’s opinion or words mean more than your Heavenly Father, God’s.

But you can’t really ever hear His, and live His, while you are holding onto everyone else’s.

Stop for a minute and think about who said it, before you continue believing it.

So, who really said it?

The enemy or the victor?

The one who opposes you or the one who is for you?

Was it a liar or the author of truth?

Who said you can’t achieve your dream?

Who said that you are incapable?

Insufficiency equipped?

Was it you who set your limits?

Was it you who questioned your own worth and ability? Was it from a fear of coping with disappointment or of failing to achieve anything great?

If He put it in your heart and you seek it, you shall find it. You shall receive all that you have asked for in His name. It may not look anything like you thought it would or should, but that’s for your best that He does it that way.

So next time the enemy tries to stuff you down, and tempt you to believe that you are anything less than you are, remember whose you are. Remember what’s been done for you. And rise. From the ashes. A new creation, born again, in Him.

You, my friend, are a beautiful creation, infused with God breathed wonderful giftings- you are not stuck- and as you continue to put Him above it all, you are unraveling into the miracle God is making of you.

Maybe you’ve believed it for most of your life. Does that make it true? Did you ever stop and ask, but “who said?”

So, what is next?

What voice will you choose to believe today?

Why Saying “no” is so Necessary, as a mom of a Child with Autism.

You cannot people please with a child with autism. Trust me I have tried. I have spent way too much time trying. Way too much time disappointing myself. As a special needs mom, however hard it may be, you must learn the skill of saying “no.” It won’t be easy, but it is necessary to learn this lesson.

You are Your Child’s Advocate and Voice.

 

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For example:

No– that doesn’t work for us.

No– that doesn’t help my son best.

No– that is not the way he will do it.

No– we cannot come to that.

No– that school model isn’t right for my child.

No– that kid cannot treat my kid that way.

No– that adult cannot treat my kid that way.

No– we won’t stay the full time of the event.

No– he won’t say hello.

No– he won’t look you in the eyes.

No– he won’t sit down in a chair for that long.

No– he cannot stay still for that long.

No– he does not learn that way.

 

What saying “no” does NOT mean:

We don’t love you.

We don’t like you.

We don’t want to be around you.

We are judging you.

We think we are better than you.

 

 

What saying “no” DOES mean:

I recognize my child’s unique ability.

I recognize my child’s unique struggle.

I recognize the environment is overly and intensely stressful and possibly traumatic and harmful for my child, and I am going to do something about it.

My child is a priority to me.

Who my child is matters to me.

 

The bottom line is this:

I love him when its hard.

I love him when its easy.

I love him unconditionally.

God has called me to do that.

And, I am better because of loving him.

 

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Easy was Never in the Plans for Us.

Easy was never in the plans for us.

Whether or not I wanted it.

 

I don’t think you ever think life is “easy.”

until you know what not easy is.

 

Relative.

 

The way things seem easy or not,

is always relative to how they were at best,

or when they were better.

 

The better times weren’t easy times either.

But they can seem “easy” relatively.

 

Easy was never in the plans for us.

 

But…

 

Persistence, that was.

Patience, that was.

Learning to climb mountains, that was.

Falling, and getting up again, that was.

Coming face to face with anger, pain, and bitterness, that was.

Grief, that sure was.

 

But thank God.

 

Because, the most important part of our story is this.

That redemption is, always was, and always will be, the best part of our story.

Not because of anything we can do, but because of Him.

Mother’s Day- For the Mothers who Have Lost Their Mother.

Holidays like Mother’s Day tend to be really “loud” in society. Whether it be the sentimental commercials on TV, the “buy your mom the perfect gift” store displays, the social media posts, or just people you know talking about it as it nears. You will know about it coming.

Motherhood tends to be defined by all the love and tender care that we give our little ones from the very start. For many women, motherhood begins with a positive pregnancy test. For some women, it began years before that, when they first started trying to conceive, or even thought of becoming a mother.

Being a mother tests, builds, and redefines everything in you: your hopes and dreams, your fears, your self control, your patience, your love, your vulnerability, your ability to go days without a shower or sleep, in some cases your ability to spend days in the hospital and hear things you never imagined from doctors.

Motherhood typically evokes people to think of all those “firsts.” There is a first smile, first words, first steps, first friends, first day of school, first day driving, first day sleeping in their bed alone without waking up through the night.

Motherhood also, less commonly, evokes the feelings of the “lasts.” There will be the last day you drop off your child at school, because they are graduating and will be on their own moving forward, the last day you bring your child to a play date, the last time they wear all those cute little outfits as they outgrow them, the last time they come running to you to kiss their boo-boo. And, all these things are healthy, wonderful, and beautiful, though sometimes really difficult and painful. But all of these things are always filled with love at the core.

But, there’s a side to motherhood we don’t talk about much. That is, the side of watching your own mother do her lasts. No one talks much about watching your mom take her last steps, watching your mom use the bathroom independently for the last time, watching or helping her to eat her last meal, and hearing her say her last “I love you,” and then seeing her take her last breath. Nobody really likes to talk about the part of motherhood where your mom transcends to the end of her life. Yet we will likely all face it, assuming we outlive her.

And, if you’re lucky, the moments in the years will fill you for the rest of your life- long after the final moments in life have been taken.

I am not going to sugar coat it. This is reality. We all have an expiration date. And even though we are mothers, we are all also born from mothers. One day facing the news that they are no longer here to talk to, or call, or eat with, or shop with, or hold hands with, will change everything about you.

And you will have a choice to make, because you lost your mother. Because, you are still someone else’s mother. And all those milestones you watch your own children go through will make you remember your own milestones and your own mother. And you will have to dry the tears and you will have to keep on going. You will have to smile and give your own children all those moments that will live forever, since we know that none of us will.

And I doubt that it ever gets any easier in time, no matter how people say that time heals. Remember though, not being easier, doesn’t mean impossible. You see, you and I will find our way. And always having some pain over our deepest losses does not mean you can’t always also have happiness. Pain and hurt can, and often do, coexist with joy and gratitude. 

This simultaneous state, is often the price of love.

You will see your mom go from right in front of your face, to only in your mind and heart and go from the room you are in, to only there in photographs. You will see yourself go from having a person you ask all the questions to, to being the one having to answer them all on your own. I don’t imagine you can understand what this feels like, if you haven’t gone through it yourself.

And, if you relate to this, and if you are hurting today, I pray. I pray that you are able to take at least one moment today, and just simmer in the sweetness of all that still is. Take wonder in the moments between the tears of the pain, and deeply feel the joys and the love of who and for what remains. We are still mothers this Mother’s Day. And that will always be a blessing.

Undoubtedly, Mother’s Day changes, when you’re a mom who has lost her mom.

I encourage you still.

Though she’s gone, she’ll live: in the laughter that fills the air over something she used to find funny, in the smell that fills the kitchen of something you loved her cooking, in the way you choose to raise your children, in the way you receive and show love, when stories of her are spoken out loud, and in the lyrics of a song that will forever take you back to the place she created in you.

_______________________________________

My praise of the Lord

cannot be dependent

on getting what I want.

It must be dependent

on trusting who He is.

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.

💜🙏🏼

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 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.

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.