When I first started reading about other families and their experiences with autism, I came across a lot of parents who seemed like experts. I read countless articles and blogs written by experienced mothers and fathers in a constant fight for their children. They had tried everything, with varying results, and all of them had the same advice: work hard and never give up.
I kept searching for different perspectives, because these stories overwhelmed me. I could never do it. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around half of what they were saying and doing. These stories are meant to be encouraging and inspirational. And they can be. But when the world of autism is all brand new to you, they can also make you feel defeated. They can make you feel as if you have already wasted too much time.
Sometimes I felt as if I were ruining my daughter’s chances in life out of my own selfishness and laziness. So I would try harder- and fail. Now I was ruining her life out of plain incompetence, as well. And still there were more and more parents saying that their children were succeeding because they never stopped working with them and trying all the options. I always seemed to be falling short of other parents. I did feel like giving up. Except, I wasn’t exactly sure how I would even do THAT.
Then I figured something out. I wasn’t failing at being a parent; I was failing at being someone I’m not. I was falling short of what someone else needed for success. Continue reading →
The other day I decided we were all going to enjoy a marathon viewing of The Wonder Years. It had been a while since I had seen it, and there were many episodes I had not watched since they first aired. I suspect there are several installments Dave has never seen at all, since he grew up in a household without television. And while this meant it wouldn’t trigger any nostalgia for him, everyone enjoys a well-written show that stands the test of time. Except maybe Teghan, who mostly just noticed the music. But I’ll take that.
For me, on the other hand….well, I was surprised at just how nostalgic it was. Not because I remember coming of age in the late sixties– I don’t. But because in 1988, as we watched Kevin Arnold enter the seventh grade, I was also entering the seventh grade. I can still remember watching in the living room with my parents as if it were yesterday. Watching again twenty-four years later reminded me of some great moments in life that I had somehow forgotten. Specifically, junior high romance.
It’s funny how we forget things. For example, I have been lucky in love. I take it for granted most of the time. I have been in love with the same man since I was just eighteen years old, so I don’t really think much about the pursuit of love anymore. But once in a while I remember those days from before.
And not just any days. The love life of our youth is a unique and important part of anyone’s story. It is never completely forgotten. Something about the (slightly) more experienced and painful years of high school love can bury those details of junior high. But that is where it all awkwardly began. Continue reading →
In 1984, at the age of eight, I cast my first vote in a presidential election. It wasn’t voter fraud- it was my elementary school’s mock election. And why not? Reagan won in a landslide, of course. I had voted for Mondale. I didn’t feel embarrassed, or influenced by my peers. I felt mad that so many people were voting wrong. I found the actual presidential election quite disappointing, as well, but at least it came as no surprise. Actually, being an eight year old- it did still come as a bit of a surprise. Somehow I believed that all the other kids would be proven wrong once the adults had shown them the error of their ways. This is an example of how life experience makes us smarter.
I seriously doubt any of us kids knew much about politics. There was no review of the different party positions, or footage of debates. That would have been more interesting. Instead of learning about the issues, we all just cast our vote based on the information we came with that day. And where did that information come from? Our parents.
It shouldn’t be surprising that we all knew where our parents stood on the presidential race that year. But what else did we know? Kids are like sponges, and some of what they absorb is completely involuntary. Like the way I catch myself saying things my parents used to say. It’s just in me, and I can’t stop it. But in those young years when our parents knew everything, we heard the things they said and believed they were true. Their influence ran deep in us. It still runs deep. Continue reading →
Sometimes I have actual moments of clarity. Times when, just briefly, I understand what it means to be luckier than most people who have ever lived life on this planet.
Other times I just say I understand it.
And still other times I let myself become concerned with how much luckier people may be in the future. I mean, will they have a life expectancy of 150? Then I get led to other topics of science fiction and apocalypse….evil future government plots.
But right now I am seeing clearly, and I know that I am self-centered.
I was thinking about last Thanksgiving. As we drove home from dinner, we passed a man on the road with a sign that read “Homeless and Hungry.” We had a lot of extra food with us, but we did not stop. We did, however, seriously discuss stopping. Continue reading →
When I was eighteen I met my future husband in a group I traveled the country with. I kept a journal. The genealogist in me cannot believe I am saying this, but I have read this thing- and it has to be destroyed. I think I may hate that girl. At least she had enough sense to marry the guy she constantly talks about being in love with. And I mean CONSTANTLY. Outside of that, I pretty much disagree with every stupid thing she has to say.
This happened once before, when as a high school senior I received a letter I had written to myself when I was in the eighth grade. It was six pages on how awesome John Lennon was. Now, the eighteen year old me still loved John Lennon (and I always will love John Lennon), but I wrote so stupidly about it that I had to throw it away.
I stand by that decision. Sometimes the idea of something is better than knowing the full reality of it.
And so, I think I will be burning those journals.
Sometimes I wonder what I will think about these blog entries or my Facebook statuses twenty years from now. Facebook. What a goldmine for future genealogists. The documented account is the final word on any matter. And by final word, I mean for all time. You want to know about history? Look for photos, film, written accounts- everything else is long gone. In this way we choose, sometimes with regret, how future generations will see us. Assuming they even choose to look for us. Continue reading →