This Moment Will Pass

 

This moment will pass.

Truly believing those words will get you through a lot in life. I first learned the importance of this with my marriage. The best advice I have to offer newly married couples, other than to pick your battles– is that you will not be in love every day. But it will come back around, so don’t pack your bags quite yet. We are moody creatures, and perspective can change easily.

This advice took on a whole new meaning while I was learning to accept my daughter’s Autism. The idea that this struggle may never pass was too much to bear. And it is a struggle. So everything comes down to that ever-changing perspective. Knowing it will change, even when it feels impossible, has gotten me through the darkest moments.

Some days are harder than others. We were married, without children, for eleven years. We tried for over three of those years to have a baby, and we probably won’t be able to have any more. This is not what we imagined family life to be. It could be worse, and there are no guarantees in life; but we are talking about perspective, and these facts are important.

There are days when I make the mistake of thinking about what Teghan would be like if she had typical social skills. I think about what we would be doing together if she were like other four year old girls. I wonder what we would talk about if she could talk. I imagine a world where she understood pretend play, or could follow storylines of a book or a movie.  Continue reading

A Life Beneath Our Means

I’ve been thinking of completely changing my life. My career path went off course in the evil pursuit of money, and I find myself surrounded by people who are on course- and I hate them. Not because they are reaching all their career goals. Let’s face it. It’s hard to envy people whose goals are found in the same place where dreams go to die, right? No, I hate them because they are not my kind of people. I just don’t quite belong, and I feel offended every time I get their approval.

I don’t mean to sound like I am better, because that isn’t (always) it. Just different- and people like to be around other people who share their passions and ideas. I don’t even hate them. I am just not as passionate about middle management sales goals. Other people, turns out, take it quite serious. So then I have to fake enthusiasm. It’s really a never-ending cycle of self-loathing, with moments of clarity scattered in.

So now what? I am the bread winner in this family, and all of my great experience lies in the financial sector. I can make money there, so I keep doing it. How do you start over and still pay the bills? It’s been more than a decade since I have been labeled a creative type by the general public. I used to write songs and sing in a band. I knew what I wanted every day and how I would get it. Then I found this great day job…. and the rest is just part of my painful history.

I have been thinking about minimalism. Actually, I have been thinking about everything from volunteering overseas to joining a cult. So far I have brainstormed up to moving into a two bedroom apartment that includes more utilities. Rent and heat in this large, old house really do add up. Could I get away with not having a car? Seems unlikely. We have already let go of cable, but I don’t see any chance of us giving up our iPhones.

If it were just me and Dave it would be simpler. I’d make that a studio apartment- maybe in a whole other town. We could travel around working for lodging or something. I could homeschool Teghan- but who are we kidding? Teghan is like a safety net. She’s an obstacle in this situation, and my laziness is the only thing that keeps me from making impulsive decisions. Dave and I are easily convinced to go on an adventure, and without obstacles we would likely do something stupid like hit the road with no plan, or actually join a cult (which is sort of how we met- but that’s another story).

The goal is to live well under our meager means, and to spend more time and money doing the things we want to. And to really do it, there will be some sacrifice. Sounds romantic at first, but I have been tricked before. So for now I am just planning, and cleaning out the attic. But something bigger will happen- soon.

The Fear of an Autism “Incident”

I am not new to embarrassing situations. Teghan can display some odd behavior; sometimes controllable, often times not. That latter part is what makes me nervous. What behavior will it be?

Wait. What behavior WILL it be?

I asked Dave, “What’s the most embarrassing thing that Teghan has ever done? I mean, a time when you were truly made uncomfortable by her behavior?”

He couldn’t think of much. And neither could I.

Now, there are uncomfortable moments that come from having to explain to someone why she is acting the way she does, but that does not feel embarrassing. It’s more irritating than anything. Also, thanks to the fact that Teghan’s autism is somewhat obvious we don’t get stupid reactions based on assumptions that she is just spoiled (in-laws excluded).

And yes, we are extremely uncomfortable with having to watch her constantly, never feeling relaxed, and often having a terrible time with her at social gatherings. I would call it stressful. But hardly embarrassing.

The worst things we could come up with were instances of her stealing food off other people’s plates, dumping drinks out on purpose, putting her hands down her pants, chewing on other people’s belongings…. A little embarrassing, but given our circumstance it could be worse. People tend to be understanding.

So what am I afraid of? Is that it?

Like I mentioned before, I am not new to embarrassing situations. Dave has epilepsy. He had surgery for it in 2007, and I am happy to report that the surgery ruined our finances was successful. Although he has had a few seizures since, and still takes medication, he has not had a seizure in over two years.

What does this have to do with being embarrassed, you ask? Well, before that surgery he was having many seizures– often daily. Usually they were in his sleep, and I had the bruises to prove it. But once in a while he would put on a show right in the middle of the day. This went on for the first thirteen years I knew him, so I could usually see it coming.  Continue reading

Autism- A Small Piece of Our Puzzle

Our daughter, Teghan, was officially diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. I say “officially” because we kind of knew for a long time. Although she was ahead of schedule with all of her milestones, the signs were there from the beginning. Autism affects language and social skills – something babies develop over time. So autism reveals itself slowly over time, as well. But there are moments when you know.

At first, we would wake up in the morning and think something had happened to her. She never woke us up. She has always been a great sleeper, but she was funny about waking up. She would play in her crib, sometimes for hours before we would even know she was awake. She never attempted to call for us or get our attention. She said words at the appropriate age, but never “mama” or “dada.” And not really words with purpose. Eventually she stopped saying them altogether.

She didn’t point. She didn’t show things to us, or show any desire to invite others into her world. She was content to quietly play by herself, all day if we let her. She didn’t seem upset when we left, she didn’t seem excited when we returned. But not always. I mean, she never pointed or shared, EVER. But she was playful. She was always happy. She seemed excited about some things, and in those moments she seemed incredibly normal. That is why everyone said she was fine. That is why we talked ourselves out of it so many times. But we did have to talk ourselves out of it… because there were times when we knew. Continue reading