My Little Hurricane

I cried when we found out she was a girl. I wasn’t expecting to cry, I hadn’t with either of the boys. But there I was, laying in the ultrasound room, with tears in my eyes. I thought it was because I was disappointed or scared-I had no idea what I would do with a girl. But I was excited, happy, overwhelmed with, was that relief? I remember letting out a sigh and looking at the Hubs as he beamed at me through his own tears. We both laughed and he grabbed my hand and said, “A girl.” For him, she was all he wanted. He had dreamed of her for many years and he was eager to be wrapped around her little finger-and he promptly was with her first look at him! Me? I never thought I wanted a girl. I would have been happy with three boys. But God knew exactly what I needed. As the shock wore off and I began to get truly excited, I began to think of my own relationship with my mom. I began to look forward to seeing how different she would be from her brothers and wonder how much she would love pink and glitter and Barbies.

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From the moment she was born, she has done things her way. She dances to the beat of her own drum, as they say. I knew pretty early that she had autism, but I waited to say anything. I wanted to see if maybe I was projecting or if she would maybe grow out of the behaviors I was seeing. We had only gotten John diagnosed just after her first birthday, so I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions with her. She was supposed to be so much for me and I held much tighter to the expectations I had for her.

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Over the past year, as she has grown so much in school and begun communicating so much better, I have been excited to see what each new day would bring. Every day has felt almost like Christmas, because when your child has communication issues, progress is amazing and you cling to every new word. I have also been learning to take each child as they are-not who I expected them to be. It almost seems silly that it would take me so long to really embrace the idea that they are individuals. Whatever idea of themselves I have in my mind when they come into this world, they will never be. None of my beautiful children are how I imagined them, but they are so much more than I could have come up with myself.

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She brings me so much joy. She exudes joy. She is so happy in her own little world and I occasionally get to be a guest there.

Leaps and Bounds

Well, we are getting into the last 9 weeks of school and I haven’t done much updating on how these three little monkeys are doing! They are, honestly, doing fantastic. Every day one of their teachers is bragging on something new they are doing or how much they are improving in an area where they struggled.

John has been doing so well. He is speaking in sentences more, and answering questions more appropriately, even if it is still a scripted phrase. His teacher just adores him and he opens up his little brain more and more for her each day; giving her glimpses of just how smart he really is. He has also grown quite a bit over the past few months! I am constantly getting him in the head with my elbow when we are milling about at home. He has lost three of his bottom teeth and the adult teeth are already taking over! I just know the poor kid will have to have braces, like Mommy did.

[John, in mid-sentence, eating a cookie.]

Peter. Oh, my sweet middle monkey. He has been doing quite amazing! He has fully embraced talking and, even though we still can’t quite understand some of the things he says, he is getting quite proficient at verbal communication! He absolutely loves school! He gets so excited when it is a school day and talks about his teachers all the way to school. He has also made a friend at church. They are always excited to see each other and share a giant hug each time they meet. I am so proud of the big boy he is becoming! He has finally gotten to the point of staying dry overnight, so we finally have one out of diapers!! Hallelujah! He still wonders and fusses over his brother and sister, trying to be super helpful with keeping up with them.

[Peter, showing off his schoolwork. He does this every day that he brings work home.]
Mary has been thriving on her routine. She loves going to school and doing her thing. She has gotten used to the transition from one school to the other on the couple of days she goes to the preschool. She has been counting, in both English and Spanish, and loves to sing her ABCs. She really enjoys any music and loves to sing along to anything she can. I am pretty sure her favorite things are eating and outside, though. She spends as much time outside, when she is at home, as she can and I know she loves to be outside at school. She has gotten used to the routine they have at school, though I know she still does her own thing a lot. She will probably always be very stubborn and independent, like her Mama. While she definitely has many more words in her vocabulary, she still depends on gestures, and directing us to try and communicate what she wants and needs. Some days I wonder if she will ever be able to really talk to us, then other days I have glimpses of hope that she will speak just as well as the boys.

[Mary, waiting sweetly for her brothers to get out of school.]
The past several months have been very good for me. Having time in the mornings to myself to just sit in silence or take a nap or do laundry without interruption, have really helped me to keep a more positive mindset and kept me from feeling too overwhelmed with all that life can throw at us. I am so very blessed with the Hubs, these amazing kiddos, and my faith family. It always astounds me how much God truly holds all things and makes all things good, in His time. He has taken care of me so much better than I could ever had asked for. Each step we have taken, in His direction, on His path, He has proven Himself faithful. Even when we are not.

Hello, again.

Hey guys! It has been a while since I have posted anything-life is busy and I just haven’t made the time. The kids are doing well in school-all three of them!-and Hubs has been amazing at making sure I have plenty of decompressing time. Even with him traveling a lot, he has still managed to make sure I have time for me.

That’s what I want to spend some time talking about today. You see, just a few short months ago, I was not in a good place. It was still summer, Hubs had been traveling pretty frequently and I was on the verge of breaking down. Maybe even just walking away. I was depressed and intensely overwhelmed. I did just enough to keep the kids happy and make it back to bed each night. I would only eat when Hubs was home, so he wouldn’t worry. My one respite was church, so I went with the kids as often as I could. One Wednesday night I finally broke down and talked to a couple of friends about what I was going through and feeling. They prayed for me and strongly encouraged me to make an appointment with our pastor. 

Over the next few weeks, I got my antidepressant medicine increased, and began to work with Hubs to communicate my needs more effectively. I have always been terrible about asking for help, in any situation, but especially when it comes to my personal needs. We have begun to really find a balance and are continuing to work on our communication. 

There are still rough days, but overall I am better about asking for help or time “off”. As an introvert, I have to have time to recharge, with no distractions or interruptions. And as a Mother, I have to take care of me or I will have nothing to give anyone else. 

Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Hell, life is hard! But we, as parents-especially of special needs kids- have to make time to take care of ourselves. Surround ourselves with people who love us and everything that comes with that. I love my church family. I breathe a little easier knowing I have such a wonderful community around us. I am extremely grateful that God placed us here when He did. Life isn’t necessarily any easier, but I have others who share the burden with me. 

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed, weary of the daily struggle to maintain sanity-you are not alone. But don’t wait until you are completely tapped out to seek out help! Start with making sure you and your partner are on the same page and are working to balance the load. People are not mind-readers! Sometimes all it takes is clear communication to get things rolling!

My Middle Monkey

Today I have been enjoying watching Peter play. John is spending most of the week at Grandma’s, so Peter has gotten to be more of himself the past few days. He’s a couple of weeks shy of 4 now, and since being in school this year, he has been talking so much better. It has struck me how different he is than his brother and sister. (Though Mary has been his little shadow the past couple of days!)

He has always been completely different from his brother. From the moment he was born, I knew he would be a total opposite-and a total ham! He has always been very interactive and has always had a desire to be seen and heard-part of being the middle child, I think as well.


Over the past couple of days, he has really been able to show off his imagination and sentence structure. It is so fun to see him play with his action figures, call to his “Sissy” to come play with him outside, and his helpful spirit is always so sweet. He is growing into a very capable helper, in fact.

It is sometimes difficult to remember that he will always be so much different than his siblings. He asks so many questions, he wants to know about everything in the world around him and visibly enjoys whenever he gets to interact with someone else. Not that the other two do not have questions or enjoy learning and interacting, it is just so different for them because they process everything so differently. I try not to think about how he will likely pass his brother in many aspects, possibly to the point of having to help him cope and function. But I know that if and when he does, he will be capable, and I pray he is willing.

I have no idea how he will deal with being the sibling of two autistic people, but I pray every day, that he will maintain his gentle, loving, and helpful spirit.

Finding Me

Do you ever feel like maybe you are not cut out for the life you are living? Like maybe you were built a little bit differently than how you are functioning in your current situation? There’s always that little feeling of discontent and uncertainty in your every day routine, and you can never put a finger on why. 

I’ve been feeling like that a bit lately. Just ever so slightly out of place. Like I wasn’t quite made for the current task I have undertaken. I get easily overwhelmed with the amount of attention my kids need. Or I find myself daydreaming about the silence of waves crashing on an abandoned beach. Maybe that’s just part of being a mom. Maybe not. 

For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing. Especially, pen to paper, but even as computers began to become household fixtures, I have become more and more attracted to the steady tapping of the keyboard. I have always loved to lose myself thoroughly in a story-be it reading or writing, even playing a video game. I have spent hours absorbed in gameplay or fought sleep in the quiet hours of the morning just to finish an exciting novel. 

I think as I have been trying to juggle being a wife and momma to my family, I have lost a lot of the story-driven, adventure-seeking self I once knew. I try to keep up with her from time to time, but most attempts to reconnect are short lived sparks that fizzle out before there is even light enough to see. I rarely have enough time to collect my thoughts before they are interrupted by the noise of life going on around me. 

Please, don’t misunderstand, I love my family with all that I am! But I think, especially as moms, sometimes we lose who we are-who we hoped to be, maybe-in the process of trying to love and care for our families. I think that is one of the reasons so many women decide to work outside of the home. We want to feel significant outside of our roles as wife and mother. We need identity that isn’t tied to the person we married or the children we care for. 

Don’t you think God has an answer for this vacancy we feel? I believe He does. And it is going to be different for each one of us. But I definitely believe that each Christian woman has a calling. Many, in fact. Because I believe every woman should be teaching someone and someone should be teaching her. Accountability, mentoring, discipleship-whatever you want to call it, we should be involved in it. And, of course, we each have a specific calling. This is where I have always struggled. 

Growing up in a Christian environment, I have been surrounded by people saying they, “felt the call” or “have always felt called to such and such” or were “following their calling”. And while I believe they certainly were each speaking to their own experiences, as I have gotten older and have a better understanding of His Word, I also believe we don’t have to wait on a “felt” calling. I have also learned that some of us are intellectually driven, while others interact with God and His word on a more emotional level. One guess as to which one I am… 

Surprised by Grief

  
So, John went to stay with Grandma for a few days this week. They left on Sunday morning while the littles and I were at church. He was happily watching his current favorite show, Harry the Bunny, on the computer, in his cute footie pjs, when we rushed out of the door. 

You guys. He is going to be 5 this month. FIVE! He has made so much progress, SO much progress over this year since his diagnosis and beginning therapies and school… I still can’t believe he is going to be five years old. Some moments, I look at him and see my sweet little baby. Others, I get glimpses of his teenaged face, serious and focused. I may be a little biased, but he’s so handsome!

I miss him a lot today. I have wept over him and his sister today. I can’t tell you why, exactly. I am not one of those people who have great expectations of keeping up with the Joneses, or comparing milestones. I have always felt that everyone is unique, so why spend time and energy trying to be the same? But that doesn’t make this journey any easier. It is hard to admit, but deep down, I want my kids to be like their peers. I want to be able to know what they want or need or are excited about without having to play a guessing game. Maybe I am beginning to really feel the weight, the reality, the responsibility and expectation of having two children on the spectrum. I feel overwhelmed, guilty, frustrated, confused, determined, excited, angry, exhausted, under qualified, overjoyed, peaceful, in turmoil, all over the course of the day. 

I am thankful that I have the supports that I do, but some days, all I can do is hold it together long enough to sneak into the bathroom for a good cry…

Much to Be Thankful For

  
When he walked in from picking up our dinner, I saw the large brown envelope under his arm. He tossed it to me and said, “Open it now!” We were ready. 

To be honest, I hadn’t expected to know before Thanksgiving. I was nervous, but I really wanted to know. It wasn’t until the second to last page of a dozen or so pages that I glanced toward the bottom and saw the bold print “Autism Spectrum Disorder”. Then I saw something I’m not as familiar with: “Expressive-Receptive Language Disorder”. 

Upon closer reading, I found that out sweet girl has been diagnosed as moderate-to-severe ASD. I am praying that improves as she grows. 

As I have had about 24 hours to reflect and process the information, and read a little more of the packet, I am finding myself simply grateful. I am so grateful for the man God placed in my life to walk with me on this journey. I am grateful for the beautiful faith family God has placed around us. I am grateful for such a wonderful team of people who tested our sweet girl and so promptly got their results to us. I am grateful for my sweet girl. She is such a loving, curious, happy girl and I am so blessed and grateful to get to be her Mommy. 

Life has changed completely, yet it hasn’t really changed at all…