Happy Birthday to Me: Lessons I Learned in my 30’s

Six Lit Birthday Candles

So, this is 40 and I could not be happier.  This time last year I feared turning 39, the age that would make me older than my mom at her passing. Subsequently, my dear husband and loved ones surprised me with a fantastic party.  Friends from all over sent well wishes and precious gifts with kindness.

I still have those days of guilt, like why did I get to live when my mom didn’t? Then, I feel extra guilty because that thought it is not fair to my girls. When I got hit with the tests that revealed that I needed a hysterectomy fast, I got very scared. I became wrapped up in getting my household ready while I was in great pain. I avoided my emotional pain through distractions that included making sure my husband knew our youngest’ therapy schedule, amongst other details.

Reflection

When I woke up in ICU after the surgery, I was filled with exhilaration. My giddiness made the staff think they gave me too much morphine.  At that time I did not know if my journey to good health would be on hold, or be okay. Some days it feels like I have lived 1000 lifetimes. If only I could go back to my 20s to teach myself then what I know now. But, would I have really been the same person today if I did?

Housekeeping

The biggest lesson I have learned in my 30’s is to rid my world of the toxic people and the Negative Nellies. I used to sweat when people would not ‘like’ me, or I would try lame attempts to be their friend. What I did not rationalize is why would I want them as friends? “Mean Girls” became Mean Moms. Life is too short to not surround myself with loved ones who see me in the good, and especially important the bad times.

Could Have/Should Have

I used to think that if I knew that I was going to be a new mom in my 30s I would have done things differently. I would have traveled more, saved more money and tried another shot at a career.  If I went through the other door, would I still of had my girls?

Do What I Love Now.

Doing what I love is the sanest and simplest way to be the best me. I began writing when my oldest was just a baby. In between naps, diapers and tantrums, writing became my vice. It did not matter if I was sleep deprived, I felt my creative self being fed constantly.  Writing has evolved to a part-time career that I can do from home.

The last lesson I learned this decade was to trust my instincts.  In my 20’s, I did not listen to my inner voice enough. This decade, I began to fine-tune my gut instinct enough to rely on it. When I steer from it, a roadblock appears. Go figure.

As I enter the Fab 40’s, I am showing more gratitude for today. It is the only one I have.

What have you liked/disliked about a certain age? Any lessons have I missed?

Grief is like Another Child

20130205-092247.jpgHearing the cars outside just highlights that I need to get to sleep. The moonlight peeks through the blinds in our bedroom. I need to sleep. I do not know when she will wake me up. My four-year-old has a horrible sleep track record. Most nights I take the midnight shifts to let my hubby be rested for work.

Today was one of the bad days in our world of autism. She did not sleep last night so the morning ABA session did not go well. She screamed to leave. When I took her to preschool, I did not expect it to go well. An hour later I had got the call from her aide that she was inconsolable. I went to get her early. For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening she wailed. I had no idea how to help her. She does not speak so it makes it even more heart breaking. I hate myself for saying how much Autism can suck.

At that moment I said it in my head, the tears rolled fast. I turned away from my husband to try not to wake him. I balled my fist into my mouth to muffle my sobs. It took several minutes for the tears to stop. It is like I lost someone I never knew. Only we do not have a funeral. Grieving about it gives power to the feeling that it is like another child. She is my daughter and I will do anything for her. Right now I accepted the grief so I can move forward and be the mom she needs in me.

I am Humbled and Honoured to be Nominated

Top BloggerA few weeks ago after nominations for Vancouver Mom Top Bloggers were sent out, I found out through the grapevine that a few loved ones had sent in my blog for consideration. Well, last week I was short-listed.

I have been given amazing opportunities because of my writing that have been priceless, and have had the privilege in meeting many fabulous people.

With readers like you I feel like I have achieved so much, and can’t wait to see where my proverbial pen takes me next.

If you would like to vote for me, click me on the link and vote for Motherless Moments.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Danielle

If you are in town and want to join in on the party on June 19th, register here.(link)  Use code 2013friend to save $5.00 off of a regular ticket. See you there!

Hard to say no: Why not having a Grandma is tough

Biting my lip, I say good-bye to my precocious 6 year-old daughter. I remind her to mind her manners, stay safe and have fun on the field trip. Her face is crumpled in a frown. She asks again if I can come for the day trip, two towns away. I remind her that I do not have someone to take care of her sister and drive her to therapy and school. I hug her and wish her a good day. She goes into class and starts chatting with her friends.

Her young sister is pulling my hand in the direction of the walk home. My heart hurts again for not being able to balance between my girls. I feel like my older one always gets the short end of my time.  Her sister’s therapy and preschool schedule keeps me busy.  I long to have an extra helper so I can devote my energy solely towards her.

The warm sun does nothing to heal my heart and soul. Life would be easier if they had a grandma near that could help out. It is not their fault.

I unlock the front door and let us in. My hand remains on the door. I say a silent message to her to have a good time. In a few short months her sister will be in the same school. I hope life can be better balanced. I am lucky to work at home so I can be there as much as I can.

My thoughts run wild as I prep the therapy room while my young one is anxiously waiting for her therapist. Yes, I can only be stretched so far. Sacrifices are made at the expense of another.  My only hope is that as they grow older they will not remember what I didn’t do, but that I was there every day being their cheerleader. Just like my mom, even from her wheelchair before she died.  I will have a special snack waiting for her after school.

In Your Face Autism

shopping cart

The blood is racing through my body to the point I think it is going to burst my veins. My hands grip the shopping cart handle as I whisk us away from the older man. I feel light, euphoric even.  Surreal does not even begin to describe it. For once, I said the right thing at the right time.

Minutes ago my four-year-old raced ahead of me in the grocery aisle. She accidently bumped an older gentleman’s basket. He was not hurt at all. I caught up to her as she raised her arms to indicate for me to pick her up. I scoop her into the cart. The man that she bumped came up beside me and grumbled that those kids should not be contained but punished for what she did.

Without taking a breath I looked at him and said, “ Did someone teach you to be an asshole or does it come naturally?”

Walking away, I am stunned at what I said. For years since my youngest was diagnosed, I bit my tongue when ignorant comments or unsolicited advice would be dropped in front of me. I am not trying to be on a soapbox and make everyone be aware of autism and it’s many gifts and challenges.  All I ask is that she be given the same respect as others expect her to give them.

I do not swear or call people bad names very often. I want to show my kids that mom does use her words. In this case, I do not regret standing up for my kid, who doesn’t know how do that for herself. Ironically, I did not see that man as we finish our shopping. I pack up the car and buckle her in. She gives me a big kiss and hug. Her direct eye contact is a new gift. Maybe she knew what happened just now and she is thanking me in her way. Never mess with a Mama Bear. In your face Autism.

What to Say and Not to an Autism Warrior Parent

I know I should have thicker skin when it comes to snide remarks. I know I should let it roll off my back. I know I shall expect it again. It makes my brain go into what people should say. They are:

5 things Not to Say to an Autism Parent

  1. Everything happens for a reason.
  2. At least the child is healthy.
  3. That must be tough.
  4. Can’t you control your kid? ( or the nasty glances.)
  5. I don’t know how you do it.
  6. This kid is born to you because you are strong and can handle it all.

5 things to say to an Autism Parent

  1. How are you?
  2. Can I babysit sometime?
  3. Your kid is wonderful/smart/delightful.
  4. The world is a better place with your kid in it.
  5. _______________________________________

I wish to put this on a laminated card to hand out when people approach me . I wonder what the fifth thing that should be on that list.

What would you say to a parent with a child on the spectrum that is positive?

Harsh reminder

me and my mom
My hand reaches for my phone. I wonder how I could’ve handled the situation with my daughters better. I need to find out how I was to my sister when I was younger.
I scroll through my smartphone to find the number. It is there. I’m about to call when my heart starts to pound so loud I think my neighbors can hear it.
I put my phone down and try to calm my shaking hands. The pain shoot through my heart and thrashes my soul. It has been four years since my foster mom died. Judy saved me when I needed someone. For years she and my mom maintained a strong friendship through university and beyond. When my mom became pregnant with me it was obvious who would be my godmom.
Judy and I had our weekly date for many years. I believed the fairy godmother from Cinderella was made because of her then my mom died. Nannies and the stepmom came into my life as she faded into the background. Six years later, after an extreme fight with my dad, I made a call to Judy. It was my cry for help, and she answered. She recommended I should go through the foster system so she can be registered to be my foster mom. That way she could get money to support me.
It felt like my life and, my childhood, began again after a long blackout. As I grew older, got married and became a mom she remained an important part my life. She was my shoulder and gave me advice. In this moment, I needed her. I forgot. She is gone. I will never forget her nor will her grandchildren.
If you have a special mom or mother figure in your life, phone her or contact her today. You never know when it will be the last. I would like to forget how she died, so I will focus on how she lived.

The Wind of Autism

Like a sunrise I didn’t know I needed,
you marched into our life to make your claim.
Your silent words I should have heeded,
delays past milestones, red-flags everywhere.
Your eyes expressed when words failed.
The simplest thing could trigger a storm.
I pulled every trick I could until you sailed
back to the moment, back to me.

As my heart aches, helpless to you.
You wrap your arms around my neck
Thaws my winter chill, I feel anew
Ready once again, to chase your seasons.

I don’t like 2013. 2012 was great!

20121008-073545.jpgMeet and Greet. J steals FSword20121114-095320.jpg

I stare at the new Family Calendar. The fresh year reveals its untouched surface. I have yet to update it with the family’s schedules. In my left hand are the school calendar and therapy schedules; in my right is the Sharpie marker to fill it all in. An overwhelming feeling washes over me. I am in denial. I do not want to begin a new year.
2012 was such an emotionally hard and great year rolled into a batch of twelve months. It started with our youngest daughter beginning speech and ABA therapies to help her with her delays and autism tendencies. She has done so well. We are so proud of her at every step of the way. Our oldest finished full-day kindergarten and began Grade 1. Her academic skills still surprises me as she reads a level up.
The year also marked a difficult one. The year I turned older than my mother lived. Some worry about turning 40, where I looked forward to it. The guilt of why did I get to live and she didn’t visits me frequently.
So on Thanksgiving Weekend I walked into our house to a surprise party. The people that took the time to celebrate with me still make me smile with gratitude. You can read about it more here.
Shortly after mine and my youngest daughter’s birthdays, we had the honor of meeting her rock stars, The Wiggles. She still holds the special feathersword with care.
In November, my husband and I marked our 20 year wedding anniversary by going on a rare date. It felt so good to get out without the kids and just hang out. We have been together for almost 23 years and he is still my best friend. I love that our girls see it every day. It is not easy sometimes, especially since we became parents later in our relationship. Having said that, I am very proud of us on how far we have come.
December arrived with our youngest needing her tonsils and adenoids out. The time in the hospital with her was awful. With her sensory and social challenges, I am grateful that the nurses finally listened to me to make her visit tolerable for her (and others). We were so happy to be home. Then, the cold bugs hit along with molars cutting. We didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas. The kids always motivate us to jump out of our comfort zone.
The biggest reason why I am anxious about 2013 is that our youngest will be registered for kindergarten. After over a year of therapy, I second-guess myself if she is even ready for it. She loves pre-school and her workers that come to the house. I worry if we should hold her back or would it harm her socially. The one thing that helps is that her sister would be there in the same school. A school the two have them have come to know over the past few years.
With a heavy sigh, I start to update the calendar. When January is done, I take a step back. Then it hits me, is it just me that is not ready for my girls to grow up?