The Best Christmas Present Ever!

When I found out I was pregnant at the tender age of 35 I was at the middle of a good career in commercial insurance, raising an 8 year old daughter and in the beginning stages of divorce.

Once we found out we were pregnant, we tried to reconcile, but it just wasn’t a healthy marriage for me.

When Bella was born prematurely, I was only 5 months along. That was the longest winter in limbo.  I also decided to give up my career in the face of the long road ahead raising 2 girls, especially with one facing an uncertain future.

Many questioned the decisions I made, including giving up a lucrative career, divorcing during pregnancy,  moving from a large city and moving  back to small town North Carolina, to surround myself with my village of family and friends.

When Bella was released from the hospital she was tiny. We didn’t have a home of our own, but my family opened up the doors wide for shelter and support.

Those early years getting Bella to her many Dr appointments and specialists were my top priority. My 8 year old had to grow up fast helping with bottles and diaper changes and tagging along to Speech, Occupational and Physical therapy along with treks to the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, SC for Bella’s cerebral palsy issues that affected her walking.

Back then, I felt guilty for all my oldest (we call Cookie) had to give up. Yes, the guilt weighed on me. Was I overlooking Cookie’s needs in order to focus on Bella?

I did the mom thing. I signed her up for basketball and cheerleading and tried to spoil her with material things. Cookie loved being able to be active in sports. She didn’t always like that, if I couldn’t find a trusted family member to watch Bella, meant either we chanced Bella having a meltdown from the noise or lights, and had to leave early or mom just had to let someone else take her to her practices and games.

As a single parent, especially if one of your children is special needs, we all face guilt or try some form of compensation for the other child or children. When the dreaded comment “ It’s always about Bella”  came from Cookie’s mouth, my heart broke for her, myself and Bella.

How do you explain to a child that she will have the privilege to grow up, have friends, drive, date, move away, and be an adult,  while Bella probably never will.

So yes, my life will always be about caring for Bella, but a mother’s heart also cares and prays and fears, for her other children to go out into the world solo one day, does it not?

This Christmas, Cookie gave me the best gift ever. No it wasn’t the Kate Spade purse or the expensive jewelry and makeup she spoiled me with. It was these words:

“Mom I have this nice apartment, a good high paying career at only 22, because of you.

All the times I had to get a “no” or adapt to a situation and see the decisions you made, although others didn’t understand it, with no apologies, and putting me and  Bella first, showed me how to be a responsible, compassionate adult. I’m not spoiled like some of my friends, because of the team you and I had to become, for my sister”.

Those words were a balmy and salve to my heart and soul.  Our children watch us. Not just hear us.

As parents of a child with an exceptional need, may bring  some guilty feeling within. We may question like I did, how do my other kids feel. Cookie is an adult now. I worry about her living  on her own, in another city,  more than I  worry about Bella, because Bella is always safe, with me a bedroom away.

In the beginning, I was just putting one door in front of the other, praying I was making  the best decisions for myself and both my girls.

It’s been an ever changing journey, but I wouldn’t change a thing after getting the best Christmas gift ever,  in Cookie’s words. I will let her continue to believe the Kate Spade was the best gift of the year. But my heart and spirit beg to differ.

~BBF

Non-Verbal Communication

Hubby and I took Buddy to town with us last week and we decided to stop at Denny’s to get lunch.

I cannot tell you how much I love doing this.  Mostly because 7 years ago, doing something so basic as going to lunch with Buddy was something that would cause me major anxiety, and quite honestly, we just wouldn’t do it.

This is one of the goals that I have to credit his care giver for.  She has been phenomenal, I think it’s because she is a foodie and takes Buddy to all of her favorite restaurants. And now he is a foodie too!

Anyway,  we took Buddy to lunch at Denny’s and when we got there, we had a 5 minute wait.  I kept whispering to him, “You’re doing great” “We just have to wait a few minutes” “I am so proud of you”.

We get seated and I sit on the outside of the booth and he is on the inside.  As we order our food and wait, I have my arm around him and I keep telling him those same statements.   I also turned on Spotify, because as we all know, music can be magic to an autistic.

Our food comes and Buddy eats every bite and a few of mine too.  Then as we wait for the check, he puts his arms around me and pulls me so tight to him that my glasses almost fall off my face.  As he kisses my cheek, I hear it, not with my ears, but with my heart.

My non-verbal son, just said “Thank you Mom, I love when you take me to lunch, and I love you!”   as he held me and kissed me again, I felt him say “You’re doing great, I am so proud of you!”

As we drove home and I pondered this wonderful experience, it occurred to me he does this every time I take him to lunch.  I think we need to do it more often!

 

~ASM

 

Why I Carry My Son

As a parent of a child with special needs. I was expecting the stares, the avoidances and the reassuring.
Today, I was told “I would not be carrying him”. “He can walk.” “Oh my back.” They exclaimed.
Sure, the person meant well, but is it something that should be said? Sure, I explained my son has special needs (I kind of have to). But I could tell the person was still kind of eh.
I carry my son at the age of 4 to keep him safe. Sure, it hurts my back eventually. But my number one priority is to keep him safe. If I put him down he will run away faster then I can catch him.
If I try to make him hold my hand he will force himself away or drop to his legs to get away.
My son is a runner. So I carry him to keep him safe. Sure, at times he rides in a cart or stroller. But in this situation it was easier to just carry him.
~ AMB