Here are some great quotes that I love, that inspire me, and that I couldn’t resist sharing. They help me get through the hard times.
“What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become, is your gift to God.” Hans Von Balthasa
“Listen to yourself, and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.” Maya Angelou’s last words.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Ancient Chinese proverb.
Here is an amazing poem by Derek Walcott that I first heard of through Oprah Winfrey. And as she suggested, it is up in my bathroom wall: 🙂 I think its message to anyone is clear, but I can specifically see the message to all Moms, particularly those with special needs children. There comes a moment when you arrive and can look at the real authentic you in the mirror. For me, that moment is here!
“Love After Love”
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
by Derek Walcott
I’m so proud of how much language Michael is absorbing these days. But he really is like a parrot, I have to say. You must be careful what you say around him. I use the words “Actually, I don’t believe so, or do that etc” and Michael has now started imitating me. It’s quite funny. I’ll ask him something and he’ll say “Actually I don’t think so, Mommy” with a big smile on his face. Another favorite of mine when I want him to eat more: “Come on Michael, put a dent in it.” And the other day after finishing his whole plate guess what he said: “Look Mommy, I put a dent in it.” He pointed to his empty plate with pride. Sigh. Well, if anything, this is showing me how to set a good example around him, and as they say, ‘little pitchers have big ears.’ 🙂
Sometimes the repetitious like questions and play are a little exhausting and worrying when you have a special needs child. Don’t get me wrong. I thank God everyday that my son Michael can communicate with me and my family, that he asks questions and is curious about his world. But I also worry how I can redirect him when he is doing repetitive things. As parents, we are told by so many therapists that you want to break in on thoughts or patterns done over and over or the brain connections will set that way. No one wants that for any child, but especially for a child with developmental and intellectual delays who experiences above normal levels of stress and anxiety which is essentially what autism is. However, as I’ve said many times before to friends and family, life is never dull with Michael. If anything, I never know what he’ll remember or ask me about until he does it. Then it’s a matter of it coming up many many times, but that’s just part of who he is and what life is like for someone with autism. On one particularly tiring day of having him ask me which way his bus driver would be taking to get him to school, would he take the service road or the longer way, he all of a sudden turned to me and said: “Mommy you’re my best friend.” I melted and then began hugging and kissing him repeating those same things back to him. And then, just when I thought he couldn’t get any sweeter or clearer in expressing his emotions, something that is very hard for people with autism, he said: “I love coming home to you Mommy.” It’s moments like these that put the meltdowns, the anxiety and fears in perspective. I’m sure all you exceptional Moms have had experiences like this that make you see how truly unique your children are! I’d love to hear about them!
Hey Moms with little kids! How many of you remember the first time your child explored their body parts in the bath and what they said? How many of you knew what to say, especially if those kids had special needs of some sort? Bath time is one of my son Michael’s favorite parts of the day, like it is for most children, albeit girls, but that’s another post. 🙂 I treasure this time that he and I have together with his bath toys. He’s fairly independent in his play now and in washing himself, but he still LOVES for me to make his bath friends (rubber duck, turtle, fish and felt alphabet letters, and other figurines he brings in) talk. I must confess that I created these voices several years ago to help speed along his rapidly developing social interaction skills with me and others around him. Now those voices have stuck, and he and I still do them. We’ve even carried them into play with his stuffed animals at other times of the day. Yes, I know I’m a little crazy! Let’s just say it’s the kid in me coming out. 🙂
Anyway, Michael has now taken to imitating what goes on in his classroom with his friends through the use of these toys. For example, Fishy (conveniently named for the toy fish), acts out by hitting a wall and the teacher (played by the bath letter representing her name whatever Michael chooses her name to be), sends him to time out or the principal’s office. It’s quite funny, but sometimes he gets carried away dishing out the timeouts, along with the teachers getting angry with the students. At those times, I have to redirect him. Parents with typical children do this all the time, but it’s a whole other ballgame with a child with autism or other special needs in most cases, right Exceptional Moms? When my little guy has his mind set on something, it’s pretty hard to distract him and I mean FOR ANYTHING. Anyway, the other day when I did miraculously manage to distract him from doing this type of play, he surprised me by not only finding another activity, body exploration of his genitals, but in saying something funny about it. “Mommy, if I hit my penis will it cry?” Michael asked in a serious tone. I took a deep breath so as not to laugh hysterically and prayed for the right answer to me to me. I think I did alright. I answered him. “No, Michael. You would cry because your penis is attached to you and it would hurt.” I waited expectantly and he nodded then went on to something else thankfully. I was also overjoyed at him reaching the exploration milestone that is typical for this age group. Of course then I thought soon questions about where babies come from would be next. Sigh. I would cross that bridge when I came to it, I decided. What can I say? It’s all in the day’s work of parenting a child with special needs and that’s what I think we all can take away from when interacting with our exceptional boys and girls.
Have any of you ever driven with a backseat driver before? You know that friend or partner (sometimes male, sometimes female though usually male, sorry boys 🙂 ), that tells you what to do, where to turn, to remember to stop, to yell out are you trying to kill them? No, wait .That’s probably just in my family. Or maybe it’s in your quirky family too. Anyway, I think we’ve all been there before. Find it funny yet annoying at the same time? Well, here’s one for all of you: Try doing it when it’s your child with autism telling you where to turn, (whether it’s right or wrong), asking why you are turning there, and then that evening, asking for a route to the place you’re going tomorrow! Ah, yes. Life is never dull in my household. It’s quite incredible to me that four short years ago my son Michael could barely talk to me. Now he’s asking questions, making statements, and giving me driving directions! It’s exciting, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about his verbal ability, it’s just that sometimes, well, a little less ‘turn here, go there’ would make for a smoother less stressful car ride. I know it’s his anxiety about the unknown that makes this a big deal, so I’m trying now with drawings (stick figures, as Mom is no Renoir), to illustrate how we can take many ways to go one place, if there are traffic problems, construction, or any other event out of our control. I also avoid using the term accident, as I don’t want to risk alarming him. All of us Moms know what one wrong word can do to our child with autism, right? Yep, there goes the other ear drum is what I say! But seriously, Michael understands pretty much everything these days. My husband and I used to have great chats in the car when he was younger. Now though, one of us will inevitably start a story when a “Mommy, Mommy.” “Yes, dear.” “Hi Mommy.” “Hi Michael.” This will happen several times before I may have to gently tell him, “Honey, Daddy was talking or Mommy was talking. Let us finish, then it’ll be your turn.” My husband laughs and loves this, as it shows that Michael wants to communicate with us. I also NEVER discourage him trying to converse with us. But, I also want to teach him manners and social norms, something which is particularly challenging for kids on the spectrum. But that’s another topic for another day!