This Is My Life Today

Beach

You know how some mornings are.

You wake up and within minutes are alerted to the obvious fact that today is going to be one of THOSE days. Maybe you’ve stumbled out of bed to an unexpected “accident” painted across your child’s wall. Maybe you were woken up way too early- or never had the luxury of sleeping at all. Perhaps you have been rethinking the decision to not give your child medication as she runs full speed loops through the house (and jumps up and down on the bed you aren’t prepared to leave yet). She has been screaming “bye bye car” for thirty minutes straight. And she has no actual desire to go anywhere in the car. It’s just a thing she says. A lot.

You aren’t ready for what lies ahead….but it’s not because of you, your child, or autism. In fact, you feel just fine this morning. You woke up ready for whatever life had to throw at you today. Except, you weren’t ready for the look on your partner’s face. The tone of his voice. The realization that he has woken up in that familiar place that all of us parents find ourselves in now and again. And you know exactly what it means, because you might have been there yourself just yesterday.

Some days we let it get to us. We overthink the future. We even tell ourselves lies that make us feel worse, just because we need a justification for our mood. We think, “This is my life now.” Some of us will be compelled to add the word “forever” to that thought. It might not be accurate, but we aren’t exactly in a place that accepts rational thoughts; let alone hopeful ones. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about human nature and mood. Hopefully as a partnership we take turns visiting this place so that the other one can continually offer reality checks until we snap out of it. And we will.  Continue reading

Surviving the Real Thing

Viva and Edgar 1942

Grandma and Grandpa Boulter

I was Teghan’s age when my Great-Grandma Boulter died. I had been to her home on several occasions, but I’m not sure we ever had a conversation. The only thing I could have told you about her was that her birthday was on Christmas. That was an interesting fact to me back then.

Of all my family history projects, her story has been the most detailed, and complicated. I would love to have a conversation with her now but I’m not sure she would give up all her secrets. I have no intention of telling her whole story here, but there is one part of her history that I think of often.

As a mother, she endured losses that are foreign to me. If not for an interest in genealogy, I may never have even known about it. I knew her as Grandma Boulter, but her given name was Viva (something else I never knew as a kid). And Viva had ten children in her lifetime. My grandpa was number four, from her first marriage. That marriage ended in 1931.

There is a baby book she kept for her sixth child, Lillian.

Lillian was born on January 15, 1937. The book documents her milestones. Viva mentions moments of her daughter’s first smile in the bath tub, along with concern for her health. The love she had for her daughter is obvious. Lillian died that September.  Continue reading

The Things We Are Measured By

Harmonica

Teghan doesn’t have much patience. If she can’t figure a thing out in the first second that she tries, it will most likely get thrown across the room. But in spite of her impatience, she can also be surprisingly stubborn. This means that the scenario of trying, failing, and then throwing things may repeat itself all day long if she wants something bad enough.

If she makes a mistake she likes us to do it for her. Sometimes it’s as simple as tapping an app on our phone. Even if she has done it a million times, all it takes is one missed tap, and she doesn’t want to do it on her own anymore. Then in secret I will catch her “practicing.” It’s as if she is facing a constant battle between self-doubt and determination. Aren’t we all?

Her lack of awareness when it comes to social situations gets me out of a lot of typical parent/kid discussions. She has no conversation skills. She doesn’t know how to play with other people. This also means no hurt feelings, broken friendships, or competition with others.  She only competes with herself, and she has her own definition of winning.

I have seen her face light up when she figures something out for the first time. Maybe I am missing an opportunity here. I have been thinking about my own childhood (as I do), and how my accomplishments and failures affected me. And I think I am approaching this parenting topic all wrong. There is a lesson on winning and losing that I don’t think I am off the hook for after all.

Continue reading