Blog Archives


dragonmommie:

I thought I would take the opportunity today to talk about the added significance of this Federal Holiday. You see, it’s a personal holiday for me, too. This is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The day we commemorate a great man who gave his life so that EVERYONE could be truly free in this “free” country of ours called the United States of America. A man whose life was wasted, taken away from him, BUT his life was not wasted. This country started out with a great foundation, but those ideals were actively held back from the population of this country who were not white. The black people who had helped make this country what it was. Black people who fought along side the whites so that this country could be free from British rule, but they were also fighting for their own personal freedom.

As I said earlier, this is also a personal day, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday of Jan. 2005 will never be forgotten by myself or my family. This was the very day that we found out about my “late” pregnancy. A day that is written in our history and in my soul. I am reblogging a post that I wrote way back when as a private post, then made it public but did not tag it to sort of keep it under the radar. Today I reblog it with categories and tags because, well, it’s my contribution for the day. I couldn’t ask for a better day to have the door to my future open up wide and loud. It was this day that God’s plan started to unfold for me, my purpose in life was finally revealed. Now that I look back, so appropriate that his name would be Gabriel.

Back in 2005, I read somewhere that the definition of Gabriel was “strength of God.” Very simple. But if you think about it further, it was the Archangel Gabriel who came to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, he appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of John (the Baptist). I am reassured I chose the perfect name for our little Life-Changer.

So without further ado, I present our birth story:  (oops, the link is above)

Originally posted on DragonMommie's World:

August 23, 2005 ~ Written in Yahoo 360 blog

It’s 11:50AM and I am expecting Gabriel to wake up from his nap any minute. Nothing out of the ordinary today; but later we will go shopping for a crib. Gabriel has almost outgrown his cradle, the one in Ed’s family for a generation. All his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews have been in it, and now, our son. We hope the tradition is carried on by the kids. This weekend we will be going to Ed’s sister’s house, so I probably will not blog over the weekend. We want to bring back the cradle when we go, hence the crush to get a crib this week.

Gabriel has been such an unexpected blessing in our lives.

First of all, we didn’t even find out I was pregnant until I was almost 7 months along. I experienced no symptoms…

View original 1,737 more words

Introductions, Please.


Okay, like I said yesterday, I am amazed every day by how much my little guy is learning and implementing.  Well, last night he hit me with another one.  So, every night the last thing we do is snuggle.  This used to be for extended periods of time that are now whittled down to just a couple of minutes, give or take, and we talk.  Sometimes it’s longer if we have lots to talk about and sometimes it’s literally just enough time to satisfy his need for snuggling.  Little Drake (my little nickname for him) has regularly been asking if his father will be in school on his social skills group night and every time I have to say yes.  This week Big Drake just has to hand in a paper and is free, so I said he was going to come.  LD got so excited and informed me that he was going to, and this gets tricky to relay here because he can’t express himself well yet and his exact words are nowhere what they should have been.  He basically expressed that he was going to introduce us as, “Mr. & Mrs. Dragon (insert surname, the real one here).  I definitely was NOT going to remind him that I’ve been there the whole time and have been speaking with the supervisor and interns on a weekly basis.  I just told him that I was looking forward to it.  His smile was bright and his eyes were big.

I’m just so proud of my little man!

His Name is TONY, Dad~!


First and foremost, this is amazing to me, and that I caught on to it.  This morning we were free to head on over to our diner for breakfast.  I say “our” diner because this is the one that DH has the school discount for.  He always goes there to, 1:  Support a local business, and 2: the school discount gets him 15-20% off the bill…. also, it’s very close to us and that’s a plus.

So we were there today, waiting for our breakfast and I sort of hear, on the peripheral, a conversation happening between the hostess and a man.  I don’t see them, but she calls him ‘Tony’ and all of a sudden Gabe pipes up (he must have been listening, too) and blurts out, “His name is Tony, Dad!”  He was so excited.  I still don’t really know who the guy is and just let it go and never turned around.  I mean, give those people their privacy, right?

So then later on the manager comes over and he says hello.  He always says hello.  Then Gabe says, “Hi, TONY, how are you?”…. and blah blah’s of other stuff he talks about, but then it just clicked that my little guy, who’s been talking to this manager like forever, but I guess without knowing his name, picks up on his name, then immediately uses it in a greeting.  How cool is that!  Now, this might seem trivial to most of you, or all of you; but it’s a pretty BIG damned thing for me. First, I feel so blessed to be able to actually see this in action and then put two and two together, myself.  Usually my boys are out together, but without me to  save some money here and there, but big guy wanted us all to eat out this morning.  Second, part of Gabe’s disability is that his social skills are/were practically non-existent.  I can’t wait to tell the supervisor of the social skills group… I think it’s working!  It’s so wonderful to see this progress in action and taking hold. This coming week is the last week, but then it starts up again when the summer semester at the school starts.  Gabe is also starting to hold the doors open for me and even gesturing with his hands and saying, “come right this way”…. LOL.

Oh, another biggie thing happened at breakfast.  Gabe made an actual egg sandwich all by himself…. what?  Up until now, he always refused a sandwich and has not had eggs in a very long time, since being a toddler.  Out of the blue, he orders an egg, then proceeds to make a sandwich with the toast that was served.  I suspect that he saw me modeling that behavior because I always get scrambled eggs and rye toast, then make a sandwich out of it, which I also did today.

Okay… I just wanted to write that down.   Every year he is making progress and it’s pretty exciting.

Oh hell, am I too “mothery” and not realizing that he’s growing up and can do a lot more than I thought?  I’ve been told that I baby my little guy and I try to keep that in mind, but there are still a lot of things I won’t let him do by himself.  I have no other children to know what is supposed to come next, and then I see all these new things… Just wondering.


(I preface this post with a note that this post was already published and linked to “a diary of a mom”, prematurely, through the quickie post feature at WordPress and still trying to get used to it.  This complete post is really an update. My apologies for any inconvenience.)

This is Autism Awareness Month and my boy is autistic.

I don’t say that to draw attention to my son being autistic. I write that to draw attention to Autism.

Lately, I’ve been seeing embryos of posts for myself that start with comments I make on other blogs.  Finally, I am writing one here that I’ve written for Jess at A diary of a mom, which I highly recommend reading, BTW.  Her post today is entitled, “Passed Right By – and Never Knew”, thoughts that we all must be thinking.

Long before autism, I believed that we are meant to turn our negative experiences into positives by sharing them to help others.  There is such a liberation, a burst of freedom when this clicks within our consciousness.  Just think about it.  For eons people have been asking themselves, “Why?”  Why does God let this happen to me.  I believe that I’ve found the answer.

“…sharing them to help others.”  What I left out is “sharing them to help others who share the same suffering.”  While everyone suffers uniquely in intensity and within our own circumstances, we so deeply share the hurt of our suffering.  I am reminded of this just this morning.  Our son has been very upset lately surrounding “school”.  At first, I thought it was the typical adjustment from spending a week off from school without the structure provided at school.  I could not get out of him why he was so upset or what had happened to cause it.  This morning he told me that “the kids don’t let me play…”  This was the only phrase that I could understand, yet it burned me to the core.  If you know any of my history, you know that I spent 1st grade through 8th grade without friends, among people who actively pushed me away.  This morning, my hurt was Gabe’s hurt… and visa versa.  I took him in my arms and generously administered copious skin on skin back rubs.  I told him that not everyone is going to be our friend.  I told him that he does have other, new friends at the social skills group he just got into.  I told him that Zach is his friend.  I couldn’t tell, but I hope that was a consolation to him.

Just found an article I wrote about the “Blessings of Pain,” hoping to elaborate more about what our personal pain can be elevated to.

My quoted comment above states that I discovered this little bit of wisdom “long before autism” and that is correct.  For my whole life, I was wondered why God would isolate me, it seemed, so deliberately.  I wondered why none of my teachers or school principal did anything to help or stop what was going at school, a catholic school, btw.  Just this week I confided this bit of my history to a counselor at Gabe’s school and she had an answer that made sense and I had never even tried to rationalize an answer for myself.  She said that the reason they didn’t do anything was because they were thinking that this experience would make me strong.  Well, I don’t doubt that, but it had also screwed me up emotionally and socially for most of my life and I still carry the baggage that can be seen at times, more than I would like.  It’s dirty baggage.  It’s smelly baggage.  It’s damaged baggage.  My old school is closing and I cannot say that I am sorry to see that happening.  Thirty years later, my old classmates want to have some kind of party to commemorate the school.  Since on facebook, they had gotten dinners and fundraisers started to save the school even before this.  Needless to say, I had no desire to participate in any of this.  My memories are damaged.  Distorted.

Counselor Lady told me something that I knew already.  She said that God would not have let Gabriel into our lives if we could not deal, if we could not handle a child as special as him.  Yes, I knew this.  I didn’t know it from the first day, but I learned it.  After continually, if even with humor, complaining about how my life was over because I had a kid in my mid forties, I learned that I would’ve made a horrible mother if I had a kid when I was biologically supposed to, in my twenties.  I know more and accept more about myself now than I did before and that is so damn important… to be as comfortable as you can be in your own skin… BEFORE having kids, and this applies to ANYONE, any mother, any parent out there.  Young parents teach their kids what they were taught from their own parents because that is all they know, quite frankly, and I had a mom who was a yeller, screamer and a hitter (and I’ll not say with what).  An older parent can teach more than that.  We can teach what we’ve learned from our own lives, from our own personal perspective and less from the strict perspective of our parents.  I am SO aware that I am more like my mom than I care to be.  With this knowledge, I am super sensitive about checking myself before I get to the “hitting” point.  I’ll not lie and say that I was always successful, but I can say that those episodes were stopped very quickly and I have been successful for over a year now.  Even at his young age, I made it a point to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

Somewhere in my thirties I came to the realization, s-l-o-w-l-y, that all my hurtful experiences could be made clean by using them to help other people going through the same pain that I went through.  God made me a talker and even though I spent the first part of my life largely in silence, when I started talking you’d be hardpressed to try and get me to stop.  It’s well known that if someone had an issue and needed emotional support, what is appreciated and helps the most is if someone could talk to that person who had experienced the same problem.  Other people try to help and say the same kind, yet superficial and irrelevant words; whereas others who have that specific empathy, offer so much more than that.  They offer their own experience, they offer their own pain up in an effort to heal the hurt of another.  Grace such as this not only can help that person, but the person who offers it.  We are indeed healed a little bit more by sharing the most darkest parts of ourselves.  When we can realize the poetic harmony this plays in our lives, we will never question again the “why’s” of a tragedy.  We will never doubt or blame our God (whatever the name) for making us suffer.  We can immerse ourselves, bath ourselves in the pain and emerge on the other side with something in our pockets for an emergency.  With such an arsenal, we now can find purpose in any part of our lives.  We can be the wounded healers (I did not coin that phrase.  It’s the name of a book, “The Wounded Healer”, written by Henri J.M. Nouwen, one of my very favorite writers, may God bless his soul.  He also said, “By giving words to these intimate experiences I can make my life available to others.”

We are put on this earth to interact with others.  There is no doubt about that.  Let’s love one another.  Let’s help one another.  Let there not be hate or violence against others.

Hey, just adding in here that I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment with any and all of them.  I welcome any and all comments… with spam, disrespect and filth being the exceptions.  Thanks!

Sensory Friendly Theater


 

 

This is Autism Awareness Month and my boy is autistic.

I don’t say that to draw attention to my son being autistic. I write that to draw attention to Autism.

Every post from now on in the month of April, I will start in this way, regardless of content.  I’ve not done much this year I guess because I’m not a good planner, so this is the least I can do.  I have blue shirts and blue nail polish and briefly I contemplated dying my hair blue; but ya know it has no effect if I don’t leave the house.  Sometimes I wonder if there are people out there who will read this and listen…. especially people with the power to change things.  We’ve had little victories here and there, but in general I am disheartened by the apathy of the education system.  It’s either that they don’t give a damn, or maybe they are in a comfort zone they fear to leave.  They have a system and this autism thing just throws a wrench into the works and screws them all up.  I can tell you that when our school decided to form a social skills group, it was on the fly and they don’t even know if they’re doing anything right yet.  I was told that they are creating it as they go along and while I’m glad that they are trying, I’m a little  a LOT worried about how successful their efforts will be.

Well, God will answer our prayers.  In my case, because I’m not good at praying, He sees into my heart and knows what I need even before I know and I trust that.  I received today in Gabe’s backpack, an envelope from his Speech teacher.  Inside was a press release from the Union County Office of Public Information, announcing a new Sensory Friendly Theater series of performances specially designed for children with autism and related disabilities at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ.  The notice is entitled: “Union County Offers Theater Program for Children with Autism and Related Disabilities.”  This is what caught my eye:

The new series, which begins on June 10 with Tom Chapin and Friends, is designed according to guidelines that help to reduce disturbances for youngsters who experience heightened sensory sensitivity. The Performing Arts Center is committed to a creating a judgment-free zone with plenty of trained specialists who understand autism and similar disabilities.

A sports program for the autistic child, it is not; and I personally would LOVE such a sports program.  Seriously though, I wouldn’t care if this was a special program for making 10′ snowmen on a hot July afternoon.  I’m in a state of elation right now because these are exactly the types of considerations our kids absolutely need in order to benefit from their participation.  Adults who have training and understand autism (and similar disabilities) are absolutely essential for a successful program such as this.  There is a lot more to this notice, but I keep coming back to the above words:  “judgment-free zone, trained specialists, understand autism.”  The sad fact is that our school professionals are officially none of these things.  Let me just stop right here and say that this in no way diminishes the teaching abilities of these professionals.  I think, as teachers, we are very lucky to have who we have, however…..   My experience with school professionals working with my boy:  Compassionate, yes.  Patient, yes.  Accommodating, yes (so far).  But even our Special Ed teacher is not trained to understand autism.  Why is that?  Well, she got her degree way back in I don’t know what decade and has had no other education to bring her uptodate on Autism or any (similar disability)… umm that really, no, REALLY doesn’t sit right with me.  I think I can be fairly certain of that because I’ve asked whether she had training and I never received an affirmative answer or any qualifiable answer.  Soooo, what would you think?  I’ve advocated to the principal, political candidates for office who come to our door, and anyone who’d listen, and even at a town meeting that it’s imperrative that our teachers be educated to understand autism.  I feverently believe that it’s not just unfair to ask our children to be put into a classroom with adults who don’t understand them; but it’s also unfair to put teachers into that same room with the knowledge, tools and strategies to educate these kids and navigate the myriad of possible disruptions that can occur.  So you see, I have reason to feel disheartened.  Anyone who comes to this door will continue to get an earful and I suppose will regret knocking on our particular door…. oh well.  SO to get this news today gave me a little hope.

I’d also like to share with you the person responsible, Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.  I won’t replicate the whole announcement here, but here is a link at NJtoday.  If you’d like to call for information, here the number to call: 732-499-8226… OR here’s the link to Sensory Friendly Theater web page

Autism: The Life 2012


Last night my head was swirling around with ideas, but as always when it gets time to write them down, I’m a blank.  So, I’ll do what I always do, write.  Write down the strands of thought that surround my head like a maiden’s soft, light hair that moves with the breeze in a surreal kind of way.  Yes, I’m awake and hope you have the inclination to stay with me.

When we first leaned that our boy was autistic, I was devastated.  For him and for us.  We were new parents, well not “new” exactly, but he is our first and only one, which will probably remain that way since we are in our early and mid fifties.  We didn’t think we’d have him (if you’d like to read those details, you can look here) in the first place, so after seven years, I’m not so sure that God has another one in His plan for us.  In a way, I’m relieved as it would be a hardship, both financially and probably physically; but I do wish that our Gabe could have a brother or sister.   Not too long ago, he’d ask for one, almost constantly; and even now, he looks at my belly and asks if I’m pregnant…. oh boy.  Which reminds me of a most embarrassing couple of moments over this weekend at a hotel we were staying at for a wedding.  We walked by the hotel’s lounge and there was a man there with a huge gut.  Quite out of the blue, Gabe said, rather loudly, “Hey MOM, that guy’s PREGNANT!”  Well, I tried to ignore what he said which was a pretty bad mistake as he kept repeating himself all the louder because he didn’t think I heard him the first time, “MOOOM….”  It was all I could do to muzzle him and get him out the front door.   I tried to explain to him that saying things like that were inappropriate and tried to explain the concept of being insulted… think I failed with that, too.  This has not been the first time he’s brought the concept of men being pregnant as he has frequently expressed his belief that HE was pregnant just because he ate more than usual, gaining a pretty big belly.   He’d lift up his shirt, pointed to his belly and say, “MOM, I’m almost pregnant~!”  Now, THAT was funny.  Still, I had a hard time explaining that men and boys do not get pregnant, only women.  He’s not asked me what exactly that is “yet”, and I’m grateful.  After I thought I did a decent job explaining that men do not get pregnant, I was validated because the next day, we saw that man again and Gabe said (all too loudly), “MOM, there’s that man with the BIG belly~!”  Um… Yep.

Still, the incident, not surprisingly, had me pretty upset even though I tried not to impress that upon him, I’m sure that I did.  I’m maybe too obsessed about weight, or looks being singled out for laughs.  I’m quite positive that wasn’t the intent, but I’m still pretty sensitive to that and don’t want Gabe growing up, insulting people no matter what the intent.  He needs to learn this very differently than most kids do.  Even though we know that autistic children can learn social manners, it’s not so simple.  They do not pick up on social cues like the rest of us can, instinctually.  They need to be presented with the concept and they learn it much like an academic lesson in school and they need to practice it over and over.  They may never empathize, but they can learn to understand intellectually how important it is to learn and practice; but they may never truly “feel” that importance.  I’m not even sure that Gabe will ever learn to walk in anothers shoes, which has always been important to me, in my learning.  I always felt the need to REALLY understand things and, indeed, I’ve rarely followed through with  anything unless I truly understood to my own satisfaction the importance of whatever it was.

WHAT ARE SOCIAL SKILLS?

Social Skills are a set of behaviors that allow a child to get along better with other people.  A child with adequate social skills can adjust well to changes in his environment and can avoid verbal and physical confrontations with other people. A child who has poorly developed social skills, however, may have poor self-esteem, may display conduct problems (fighting, arguing, defying adults), and may have difficulty developing peer relationships.

WHAT IS A SOCIAL SKILLS GROUP?

Social skills groups focus on teaching children a variety of social skills to help improve their ability to make and keep friends, develop more self-confidence, and behave more appropriately.  Role-plays and group interaction will give the children opportunities to practice these skills during the group session.  The therapist will utilize behavioral reinforcement to promote rule compliance, participation, and use of appropriate social skills, while also encouraging and reinforcing the children to practice these skills outside of the session.  Objective information regarding the children’s behavior will be gathered before and after the group to measure the children’s progress and parents will be provided with written feedback at the conclusion of each group.

We are truly blessed to have gotten Gabe into a social skills group.  Please see the above for a good description.  This is where they learn behaviors which are so-called socially accepted behaviors.  The problem is that though they may try to interact with their peers, they never learned how to do that, as other children have learned and that is by picking up on the silent social cues and body language.  They don’t intuit what is the appropriate, recognizable response or non-response to what the other child/peer displays.  Also, Gabe’s group is a group of peers.  They see it as play and I’m sure Gabe thinks it’s a play date.

Gabe is seven years old now and maybe that’s too young to learn about how/why a person can be insulted.  I ended up repeating myself about the man maybe getting insulted, but then I realized that he probably has no what that would mean.  I am dedicated to keeping open communications with him.  He knows that whatever his question is, I will listen and I am frequently urging him to share his thoughts.  He knows that I will urge him to just tell me his thoughts.  Most times I’ve got to admit that I don’t really understand what comes out of his head, but I’ve learned to ask questions so that he’d have to elaborate on what he’s thinking.  I’ve also had to learn when to just let it be when that doesn’t seem possible.  Sometimes I grieve for the lack of communication and understanding.  Lots of times I feel a total disconnect.  I grieve because I’ve always dreamed of being a mom much different from my own mom.  She was totally unapproachable and I never opened up to her or she to me.  My dream was to have a totally different relationship with my children.  Open communication all the way.  If you can’t do that, what the heck kind of relationship IS that, anyway?  I am learning that Gabe conveys more to me than words ever could.  He is my teacher and has been from the first moment he took his first breath.  That is a post within itself.  So, Gabe is teaching me that not all relationships are the same.  Huh?  Didn’t I know that already?  Apparently not.

One last paragraph.  There are so many facets to Autism.  Just like the disorder, itself, there are so many areas of specialty, so many areas that really need to be improved, that really need the attention of the professionals and people just like you.  It’s totally overwhelming, so I take it in little bites.  The area I find myself focusing on lately is how badly our teachers NEED to be educated about autism.  Yet, our schools will fight to the death to stay in denial.  They refuse to acknowledge that intervention services are needed for the autistic child to get an “appropriate” education.  Forgive me, but mention the word “quality” and “education” together and you can kiss any intervention service good bye.   Does that make sense?  I have to ask because I’m not college educated, you know.  Total idiocy!  No matter how much compassion a teacher has, if he/she is not trained to recognize and deal with any problems that arise, not given the strategies they need to handle the tough situations, they will just end up feeling frustrated and might even label a child with a negative label, even… YES… even the label of BULLY.  This of course, would most likely stem from ignorance, but does anyone want this to happen?  I know I don’t.  My own son could be labeled as a bully because he tried, in his own “socially unacceptable” way, to make friends with another boy or just trying to get someone’s attention, again in his own way.  Maybe that need for attention was misinterpreted as bullying…. and I do see how that can happen.  I can see my son being confused and feeling rejected and may be even push the other kid in an attempt to gain their attention and maybe friendship.  Nobody and I mean nobody would see it that way in the mainstream world.   I’ve been through a rough patch lately with a mainstream mother verbalizing in front of me that she would not want her typical kid in the same class as my little guy.  That hurt a LOT.  It was only after a lot of hurt that I realized that she was probably severely uneducated, maybe misguided  even as she strives on a daily basis to project her highly educated personality.  The sad fact is that EVERYONE is in dire need to be educated, teachers, typical children, typical moms and dads.  So, maybe my focus should be on wholesale education for everyone… you can’t be overly educated, can you?

This is What I Do


SNOOZE ALERT…….

After reading this, it’s not one of my more inspiring, funny or crazy missives.  In fact, it might just be, well, boring.  Sometimes we all go that route.  Two things inspired this post.  1. I am taking some time for me today, and 2. This post by Diary of a Mom.  First, read that.  It’s not long at all and then come back here to read what I do to rejuvenate

Oh, you’re back and caught me rummaging through my bag looking for snacks that aren’t there.  I’m sitting in my favorite daytime spot to be in the world.  Everyone needs getaway time and most maybe go on vacations; but what about those of us who desperately need that time, yet cannot afford to even take three people to the movies without planning it… and forget about the 3-D ones.  We’ve been living on a budget… NO.  I can’t say that because living on a budget means that there’s money there to juggle in the first place.  Most of my adult life, I’ve lived from paycheck to paycheck and hoped that I had a little something left over for anything extra.  Well, I’ve found ways over the years to do that something special for ME, to feel special, to get out of the house, relax, maybe read a book (WAY back before Kindle/tablet times).

Sixteen years ago to be precise, I went through a divorce.  An amiable, yet with stormy undertones.  I ended up with not much from the marriage except a car to drive me to work.  I never had to support myself and, well, I just managed to do that but my living conditions were not what I would have liked, though I must add they were the most interesting times of my life.  I made friends and had experiences that stayed with me for the rest of my life.  Still, I could not support myself in my own place.  I was forced to rent rooms and did home share situations.  Not bad, but I had nothing to really call my own.  So, there were pros and cons and my family only really saw the cons and acted like I was not living well.  I had a roof over my head and that was good enough for me at the time.  It was a time when I craved as little responsibility as possible anyway, so it worked out, though it was not, could not be a permanent way of life.  I moved from place to place for a few years and that really left me drained and without a sense of belonging anywhere.

This was around the time I first discovered that you could just sit on the floor in Border’s and read a book without being pressured to leave or to either buy or put the book back.  The first time I went there, people were sitting on the floor all over the store and I thought this was really cool.  Another cool thing was Starbucks.  There was one just a few blocks from where I lived, hmm somewhere back in the mid to late nineties.  I discovered that I could purchase just one cup of coffee and spend the whole day there, reading (I was not knitting or crocheting then) in the comfiest chair I had ever sit in.  The music was not overpowering and did not seep into my reading.  I spent cool summer Saturdays there, reading to my hearts’ content.

While I still do enjoy Starbuck’s, it’s so crowded that I do not gravitate to it during the day.  The last time I was there waiting for my knitting group, I couldn’t help overhearing two conversations going on simultaneously.   The daytime coffee is all for me, however.  These are the times I crave peace and quiet, though music is welcome.  These days I spend my special time at the Coffee Beanery in Garwood, NJ.  The music that is played comes from my childhood and love that it’s played  there.  Here, again, sometimes I only buy one cup of coffee and stay for a few hours in either a comfy chair or at a table typing, as I am doing now.  I  did have my lunch here today and my whole lovely experience only cost somewhere around five bucks.  Not bad at all, AND I do not have to plan it like you have to plan a vacation.  I can do this any day during school hours.  I love my husband and he makes it possible for me to be able to go and get out and not worry about a thing, and not worry that I need to be home.  I would not have a loving family I get to watch grow every day.  I would not have a loving if pleasantly quirky hubby and a beautiful, smart and affectionate little boy.  Not least, I would not have the time to sit back, clear my mind and enjoy the memorable moments.  We definitely have our challenges, but I would not have it any other way.

Today I sit and think about a future, which was not really possible even just weeks ago.  With me, struggling to find a job that I can thrive with, and DH attending school full time… every semester being his last… ha, HA.  With DH finally (really) nearing the end of his schooling, I can imagine us moving on to the next stage.  With a more stable, predictable schedule, I’ve even started to see myself actually working outside the home, though we need me to do that desperately… now it seems more feasible schedule-wise and I feel that I’m really ready for it, especially if I can enjoy my work.  Paying someone for a couple of hours seems more doable than for eight to ten, well, because I can’t see myself making any kind of decent salary and the thorn in my side is that I couldn’t bring myself to fork over my whole salary plus more just to pay for daycare.  I mean, I’d rather stay home and once I did stay home, I never wanted to look back.  Now, almost seven years later, I find that I would LOVE to go back to work, if only it could be to an employer I respected.  You see, my time has always been the most valuable commodity I had that was all my own.  It was instilled in me from the time I was a teenager that to be employed meant that you stayed loyal to that employer and never left that company until you retired.  That was the ideal.  In this day and age I have experienced, what I still feel, as a betrayal by an employer who shall remain nameless who promised our department a whole new space at the home office, after years provided that space, just to months later dissolving the department.  Words better to be remained unspoken about what kind of entity that would do something like that.  Well, today it is practically a standard in the business world.  Not very encouraging.  Still, I/we  really need me to work and I’m ready for it, grateful for the time I had at home living a life I could experience at my own leisure.  Damn, DH is always right, though not 100%.  He believes that I need a job to conquer low self esteem.  I say that is not right.  My time is valuable and I am loath to just give it away to a business that might not be worthy of it, not appreciate my service.  Now that I’m finally ready, I find millions of people out here with me and the competition is brutal.  Still, while I strive to think positive as friends have so arduously done, I still know it’s hard to find work… really, really tough.

I really have no idea how to close this.  Mine is not a story of big Disney vacations, or a weekend respite at some tropical island, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I speak from the position of doing what it takes for me, with limited resources, to take time out for myself and truly feel special, relaxed and “me” if even for just a few hours.  There are more options out there which would fit just about anyone’s personality and private needs.  This is just me.

Oh… I really need a tiara, don’t you think?

I really love this one.  Do you think it’s available?

Memories Are Necessary


My mom and me Nov 1961 (left) My mother before the nastiness of early motherhood (right)

I posted a bit yesterday about a life lesson that I’m all caught up in right now, Some Life Lessons.  It’s been a long time in the making, but this will hopefully be a short follow up.

I just wanted to add another thought, something that I had forgotten over the years.  If you’ve read some of the earlier posts of my blog, you will have gathered that for most of my life I did not have a good relationship with my mother.  She was  distant, cold and definitely unapproachable.  I have come to understand how and why this was so; but that does not help the little girl inside who longed for and needed to be shown the love that I know (now) she must have felt.  I’ll try to be brief and describe a little background.

When I was born, it was 9 months and two days after my parent’s marriage.  All the women of the family were counting the days on their fingers from the day of the marriage and my birth, hence how I know the exact number of days.  That was back in 1961, she was 22 years old and the times were not as relaxed now about getting pregnant before marriage and, well, things were pretty stressful for my mom.  Add on to that the pregnancy was in danger with hemorrhaging and from the second month, my mother was on complete bed rest.  When I was born, I had stuff wrong with me.  The one I’ll talk about because I believe that it shaped my mother, and I can imagine hardened her, gave her a tough skin and eventually, she closed herself off to feeling, experiencing the hard emotions.  I was born with a condition, probably arising from my constant position in the womb, of my head and neck being scrunched down onto my chest.  The doctor told my parents that it would amount to a hunched back as I grew up if not treated.  I became part of an experimental treatment.. and I am even proudly in some medical journal somewhere.  It was prescribed that I would receive muscular therapy.  It was a very painful process of stretching my neck (and probably shoulder/back) muscles.  A nurse had to come to the house and teach my mother what to do.  She was to lay her infant (me) on the edge of the kitchen table, with my head hanging off of it.  She then had to proceed to gently twist my head from side to side.  I was told that this was very painful to me and I can imagine how my mother must have felt having to do this to me.  I can imagine the pain she felt and yet knowing that if her daughter ever had a chance to grow up “normal”, she had to inflict this horrible pain onto her.  I must have been screaming.  My mother was also probably alone in this because my dad was working 2-3 jobs.  Sometimes two, sometimes three.  There were other things, too, like a bright red, pot-marked area on the left side of my face and two clubbed feet, which were two inwardly turned feet and legs.  After I was born, I needed to have casts on my legs up to my hips in the (successful) attempt to straighten out my legs.  So, as you can see, I was born a literal mess.  Oh crud, it wasn’t until I became a mother in my mid forties I could not fully understand the pain and stress my mother went through with me and during my growing years.  To be honest, I was the source of a lot of pain for her during the eight years between my mid twenties to mid thirties.  So that is a little bit of background.

So, my mom hardly if ever showed us any affection.  To make matters a little worse, I was not interested in the typical things that bonded mothers and daughters, like talking about home decorating, cooking and the like.  BUT, one time, a year or so before she passed on, we were talking.  I was in my late thirties and our relationship had recently gotten a lot better.  I was able to communicate with my mother on the level of peers, not as mother daughter, or I should say not as mother, authority figure and blindly obedient daughter.  We communicated honestly and we respected what the other had to say.  It was a time I felt that I could honestly just say what I thought and had no fear of doing that… also, it was a time when my self confidence was on the upsurge, the first one in my whole life.  Well, on day we were talking and she told me that I was special and that I should never forget that.  I seem to remember that not being the only time she said that, but I don’t remember that time very well.  I remember this time.  I remember bodily freezing and fighting my hardest hold back the tears…. not like now.

I just wish that I knew then what I know now.   What pain she suffered just to make me a “normal” kid, girl, woman.  She was much as I am now.  No income of her own, though she worked before having me.  I am so much in debt to her for what she has done for me.  I can understand now how and why you became so cold and seemingly to me, unfeeling; and it’s that understanding that will lead me to be a good mom in my own right.  It was survival.  It was something that I’m sure was not an intentional thing.  I totally get that.  I’m glad now that you just did what you had to do to carry on the business of raising two girls in your tradition.  I understand and that comforts me.  I can’t sit here and wish things were different.  I’m really grateful for the time we had together during the brief years at the end of your life.   I’d want you to know that your actions have now given me the courage and strength to, in turn, do what I now have to do for my son, the grandson that you never got to know on earth.

Thanks so much, MOM.

It DOES Get Better


This morning I’m so sad and, well, pretty much upset by a post I read at a diary of a mom, a blog with a lot of love and inspiration.  She is a mom of an autistic girl writing about their family’s experiences and the little joys of every day life.  This morning it was on a subject that is near and dear to my heart:  Education and Support for Special Needs Children, in our case, the autistic child.  So now, as usual when something touches me this way, I write…..

The post in the a diary of a mom’s blog was about two women who murdered their autistic children.  For the details, please link to the blog above.  These mothers could not  get past that first stage when you first get diagnosed.  I remember it well, and I still have my days of worrying about the future; but these ladies seemed to have gotten stuck there. I know nothing of these horrible events, but one thing I am sure of is that they felt like they had nowhere to turn while teetering on the edge of a cliff.  I’ve felt this way and sometimes still do, but I’ve scrounged together a good support system, partly with luck and a lot through loving, caring, compassionate individuals.  Some being family and friends, but others being strangers.  I believe that God has brought all these people together uniquely for us.  Just yesterday I had a conversation about hope.  Well, to be more accurate, I received a good tough-love, in your face smack down from a good friend about not loosing hope.  Even the most optimistic person sometimes needs someone (or something) to bring them back to perspective.  Maybe these moms didn’t have that.

As I said, I know nothing of these individual women, but I do know that education is severely lacking out there for both the adults, as well as all children in the school system of this country.  I’ve seen ignorance color my son’s peers’ perception of him and it kills me inside as a mother and as a citizen of this city, this country.  In my dealings with my own school system, I must say (and give credit) to the professionals here; BUT, and there’s always a “but”, I see a lack of knowledge and and training on the school’s part.  With that said, they ARE trying, but I’m disappointed and surprised that they have no idea as to how to go about putting together strategies.  They are doing so for the first time, as I’ve even been told that they are just putting things together as they go along; and that worries me.  I am wondering why these professionals have not been to workshops that would educate and inspire them.  No money?  Hardly.  I am in an Abbott District and, in general, we get more funding than other areas around here.  Autism has been around a long time and there is no reason why our schools cannot meet the needs of these kids.

Getting back to availability of information.  It seems that it’s very difficult to network with other parents of special needs kids and though I’ve given repeated permission to hand out my telephone number to other moms in the school, for years I have not met even one other parent, though I know that there are at least 8 other kids in my son’s class alone.  A couple of weeks ago, however, through the school, I did manage to hook up with another mom of an autistic girl, two years older than my son and we had a play date and spoke a couple of times over the telephone.  Just this alone, could have immensely helped these tragic moms and maybe they would’ve chosen life instead of death for their kids…. My heart is breaking.

To any desperately overwhelmed parent out there I must say STOP~!!!  Stop and take the time to see the unconditional love your child has for you.  For YOU alone.  The love and trust found in these kids for their parents, and maybe even everyone around them, is sacred.  Every single day of my son’s life has been a learning experience for ME.  Wow.  Here I am thinking that I am going to teach and mold my son into an admirable human being only to be side swiped because I am the one who is the student here, enrolled in a lifeclass originating not from the OWN network, but from the person of my little boy from the moment he took his first breath of life.  LIFE.  OMG, when I think about what what the world has lost with the loss of these little lives.

I’ve just decided to create a new page, listing the resources I come across.   Please check back this time next week for that.  This weekend will be pretty busy, but I will get to it right after that.

Feel Good Day


I feel good today despite the fact that there is a woman in Starbucks right now disrupting the whole place with her loud words, noises and insane rants. I was ” close to complaining about her, but then I realized there might be something “off” about her that would account for her behavior. I guess I’m more sensitive to that. I can’t help but hear their conversation and she is just not making any sense. God help me to not hear, but she is just being very loud. So, for today, for this one post, I will concentrate on why I’m feeling good at this moment.

The most immediate reason I am feeling good is that I just followed up on an application for employment by just showing up. I saw the manager of a local A.C. Moore store, inquired, asked questions; and though I have no answers right now, I am confident that he will remember me when he goes to look through the applications he has. I need a good sign and if life won’t hand it to me, I must make them for myself. So, if you’re thinking that this is hardly an uplifting reason to feel good, I’ll assure you that it is. It’s a big deal to me. Granted this is no guarantee of securing a job, but at least I DID something positive to that end and THAT makes me happy.

Recently I was invited to display my pendants for sale at the Charmed Butterfly. Go check them out.  They showcase independent artists and the work they do. Pretty soon my name will be listed under their “Artists” list.  Pretty exciting! This shop is way out of state for me, in Scottsville, VA; and is owned by someone I call my friend. Though we’ve never met, we have spoken over the phone and though we live so far away, I often think of her and feel grateful she is out there. The reason that I’m feeling particularly good today about the Charmed Butterfly is that I finally got a package out to her carrying my creations. Wow, this could be the start of something good for me. I just hope I’m ready- be ready for anything!

“Four Strong Winds” is playing on the sound system and it brings back really nice memories of learning how to play the guitar and practicing. This was one of the songs my mentor insisted I learn, though I had no idea how it was supposed to sound. Since I cannot read music, I play almost entirely by ear. Most of our list was like that. He loves mostly country music by the “good ol boys”.. the old masters like Hank Williams, Sr. and his contemporaries.  This song, though, is not country, folk, I think. I miss the guitar so much, but I can’t seem to make time for it… ah Anthony would scoff at me and, indeed, I would, as well. “…. GET ME A WHOPPER, GET ME A WHOPPER….” just infiltrated my strain of thought, being said to nobody. Nobody left to get a whopper. Geez, we’re in Starbuck’s! OMG… they just left. Thank goodness, but there’s no excuses now not to concentrate on this.  To pick up my thought where it was screechingly severed I will report that I still have my guitar, a Yamaha f-310, sitting in my closet patiently waiting for me to take her out so we can make some beautiful music together.

One of my favorite songs is “Greensleeves”, a melody from long ago, Middle Ages maybe. The more modern song with the same melody is “What Child Is This”, a Christmas hymn. I loved to play this on my guitar, sooo beautiful.  Well, the other day our family visited the Morris Museum up in Morristown, NJ.  There was a very interesting exhibit there on “Musical Machines & Living Dolls: Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata from the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection” with a collection of all kinds of antique music machines. After our visit, of course we stopped at the museum shop, prices were very reasonaboe, by the way, and I purchased one of those tiny music machines you find in music jewelry boxes. The tune is “Greensleeves” and Gabriel immediately put a claim in for it, even though it was really for me. Now, that was two weeks ago and I’ve not heard him playing it recently. Yesterday I got into a singing for a spell and one of the songs was this Christmas hymn. Wouldn’t you know it, Gabe immediately came in and asked me what the song was that I was singing. I told him and he responded that it’s the same as his music box. Momma was so proud of her little boy! He’s got a good ear, I think. It was hidden because for so long he had a terrible hearing loss and recently it seems to be corrected for good. He’s been going to a specialist for years now, ever since preschool. HA.. for a long time he’s been singing off key and I had resigned myself to the fact that this might not be a good avenue for him to pursue. He just loves to sing and play the drums… Yeah. Everything is a drum to and drum sticks.

There is so much to be grateful for….

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114 other followers

%d bloggers like this: