Not that kinda mother.

img_7617There’s a certain kind of clarity that comes from being 40. Well, er – 41 actually but I’ve stopped counting. I have decided that I’m not going to get any older, Ima stop right here at this age.

Well, last year’s age, but you know what I mean.

And by clarity, I mean, self-awareness. I seriously could no longer care less what other people think of me.

Yeah, that’s a lie too. I WISH I didn’t care but my emotions preeeeetty much rule this girl.

Yep. Always have done- probably always will do.

And that’s ok.

Anyway – as I was saying, I’ve learned a lot about myself in these past few years and I’m gonna write about it here so I can read back on it the next time I’m in full blown self-hatred mode and rediscover why its ok to be me.

Firstly – I am aware that I am different to most mothers. I am not great at the whole example setting thing.

My teenaged daughter is usually the one telling ME to mind my language and it’s usually her asking ME to get a grip when I lose it. And my boys have seen me in a puddle of tears on the floor holding onto a glass of wine for dear life and then been there to comfort ME more times than I care to admit.

But here’s the thing: my kids know they could rely on me to be there for them no matter what happens, and that I will love them regardless of anything that they could ever say or do.

So I’m calling that a win. I’m not always perfect, but my love for them is.

I may not always operate in complete coping mode but I am capable of being what they need when they need it most and that’s what is most important.

I don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to parenting but I do always apologise when I stuff up.

That’s also important.

Secondly: I’m a better mother when I spend (a metric crapload) of time away from my kids. And THAT’S ok to admit too. It doesn’t make me a bad mother; it makes me real. Not all mothers want to spend every waking moment with their children climbing all over them and obsess about every tiny aspect of their children’s lives. We are all different. I for one go stir crazy when I’m not afforded enough “Fi” time.  And the result of that’s not fun for anyone. BELIEVE me. Working outside the home with long hours is what keeps me sane and helps teach my children the independence that they may not have learnt had they not have been forced into it. I’m not gonna feel guilty about that anymore either.

It’s wonderful that some people can post all over social media about how much they LOVE school holidays and simply ADORE having their offspring home and post album after album of beautiful photos of the amazing artwork, craft creations and outings they have done with the neatly dressed, intelligent, well behaved children, – but that’s not me (or my children) either.

No.

Not even close.

It’s taken me a loooooooooong time (and I’m not there yet) to be ok with the fact that I am not like those mothers.

I abhor craft, I don’t have an artistic bone in my entire body and going ANYWHERE further than the corner store with two autistic boys makes me want to stab myself because it is a hell that most people won’t ever fully experience.

And here’s why:

My kids have zero executive functioning skills. Know what they are? They are the skills that allow kids (or adults) to exercise mental control and be able to regulate themselves.  These skills are easily learned and eventually instinctive in neurotypical (or normally wired) individuals and most kids have them down pat by about ten years old.

And by self- regulate I mean, to be able to make decisions for themselves, to instinctively understand what is expected of them in public places and to know how to self-entertain, behave appropriately and in their own best interest.

Put simply:  because my boys are autistic and don’t yet have these skills mastered, a simple outing usually ends in one or both of my boys hitting/punching/kicking/poking/slapping each other in the nether region or screaming out something to the tune of:

“I’M BORED AND HUNGRY AND I HATE YOUR HAIR MUM AND YOU SMELL LIKE BUTT AND YOU’RE THE WORST MOTHER EVER BECAUSE YOU WONT BUY ME A NEW GAME AND WHY CAN’T I HAVE THIS CHOCOLATE AND WHY CAN’T I GO TO THE TOILET RIGHT BLOODY NOW AND WHY CAN’T I GO HOME WHERE MY PLAYSTATION IS BECAUSE YOU KNOW I HATE GROCERY SHOPPING AND WHY ARE YOU SITTING IN THE CORNER OF THE SHOP ROCKING AND SOBBING MUM WOULD YOU LIKE ANOTHER WINE?”

Or, you know, something like that.

And when I remind myself that most mothers stop dealing with toddler tantrums at around the age of 5 and that I am still dealing with them in 10 and 13 year olds I remember to stop comparing myself to the mum who took her four beautifully dressed children on a thirty six-hour car trip to see the beach on the other side of the country and stopped at every boutique café along the way because that isn’t – and will never be – my life.

Plain and simple.

It’s not even comparing apples and oranges but instead comparing apples with mutant kiwifruit cross bred with an exotic rambutan and bitter melon (they’re real fruits – google them).

But I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. Just don’t judge me for not being even close to having my ducks in a row.  In fact, living this ridiculously insane existence has afforded me a sense of humour that I never knew I had before, and it’s taught me to never ever EVER take anything at face value.

There is ALWAYS more going on in everyone’s lives than what they post on social media.

I’m learning not to compare my off-the-planet home life to Susie homemaker and have come to the realisation that not everyone is as brutally honest as I am.

I may scare a lot of people off with my honestly because it’s often confronting and raw and uncomfortable, but it also filters out anyone in my life who isn’t willing to stick with me through the darker days and has shown me who I can trust and who only wants to be my friend for what they can get from me.

So thankyou to anyone reading this because it means that you’ve stuck by me and I love you and appreciate you more than I could ever convey.

Have a great weekend all. I am spending mine taking my son to the hairdresser to fix up the home hair cut he gave himself (those darn executive functioning skills to blame again).  Or lack thereof.

Haha.

Behind the scenes….The inside story :)

As most of you would have already have worked out….we had an absolutely fantastic trip to America recently.

Our children travelled brilliantly (a lot of thanks goes to the sleeping tablets that my boys already take on a regular basis) and also as a result of the months and months of forward planning that went into our holiday.

But yes, despite all this…there were still some “interesting” moments as is to be expected but I’m stoked to say that they really were rare and very manageable.

The wheels really didn’t fall off until we returned home this week but that’s a whole other blog post!

We were in the States for a total of eighteen days which seems like enough time to cover a lot of ground right?….Well, yeah, but we didn’t.

We know that overloading kids is never a good idea ESPECIALLY when they are on the spectrum! So we spent a lot of days just relaxing in the hotel room or taking it easy doing things like swimming or strolling down boulevards and lanes as the boys stopped and felt every lamp post, concrete square and blade of grass in their endless pursuit of sensory nirvana!

 

And I believe that we reaped the rewards of this in their subsequent remarkable behaviours.

 Sure, I would’ve loved to have spent more time shopping, sightseeing and I REALLY wanted to drive Route 66 but I had to make the decision to be thankful that we were even ABLE to have an overseas holiday with our kids and realise that this was not all about me.  THIS time anyway 😉

We had to make the decision to not sweat the small stuff and allow the children to do things that normally would be jumped on immediately. Stuff that normally drives us spare and makes us crazy!

Like rolling around on the floor under the chairs at the airport….

Hiding under restaurant tables:

Or Climbing….And climbing….

And even more climbing!

And we had to make allowances for the children when they became tired or grumpy as a result of being kept out late the previous night……even if the strain of this still showed on our faces!

And the technicalities?

Well technically  8 years old is too old for a stroller right?!

Well…no.  No it’s not when you have Sensory Processing Disorder and need a place to escape the constant lights, noise and crowds.   You do whatever works when you’re us.

And chewing…..NORMALLY chewing on a hat cord would make me wild but I realised that Disneyland is quite a lot to take in and I had to  let it go…. MAN that was hard for me! I had to let a LOT of things slide and there were times that I had to just close my eyes or look away because it wasn’t worth the fight!

And you know what? I think I may have gained a little bit more tolerance and patience as a result!

But only a little bit mind you….let’s not go crazy now!

~

Yes…..There were a lot of different and unusual happenings while we were away.

But….

A lot of things were exactly the same as if we were back home…..

For example….we still had Lucas on constant sensory seeking missions:

And sometimes I had to help him by doing some O.T. on-the-go

Spinning anyone?

~

Car travel was pretty much the same as it is here:

And my kids still displayed impeccable table manners:

And….there was more climbing:

Thankfully, I’m an amazing mother who keeps up with her children by always staying fit EVEN when I’m on holidays:…..

Ok ok…..

You got me.

I totally lied about that……my choice of footwear kinda gives me away I know!!
But kudos to my Mum for playing along when I asked her to grab her camera and snap me “hard at word” LOL

All in all, it was quite a funny 2 1/2 weeks if you choose to see the amusing amidst the frustrating.

Thankfully, in Vegas you could buy Margaritas on the STREET:

And they were GOOD:

To the very last drop 😀

We had such a wonderful time away……I hope you enjoyed this walk on the lighter side of life 🙂

Cheers: 

Fi xxx

Losing dread, finding joy

Dread : to feel extreme reluctance to meet or face something.

I used to really dread the school holidays.

The thought of having the kids home every day made me want to hide under my blankets and stay there until they were over and I knew that the possibility of having a peaceful household was all but gone for the duration. Often the constant drama that continually unfolded was usually more than I could take and I would spend the days wishing for school to go back just so I could get a moment’s peace. I regularly locked myself in our walk in wardrobe with my iPod turned up loud JUST to drown the kids out. It was the only way I could cope.

But that was then.

THESE days, I understand the reason behind the tears, the tempers and the general unrest (well…MOST of the time anyway) and can usually take some measures to try to avert them before they occur. I have learned that dread is a very close cousin of fear. I no longer feel afraid and therefore no longer feel the need to sit in the corner in the foetal position rocking and chanting “It will be ok, it will be ok, it’s all going to be ok” until I finally started to believe it.

***

Today was the last day of school for my kids for this term. They are now on holidays for almost 3 weeks and this time – I couldn’t be happier.

20 days of stress-free mornings, 20 days of not having to be anywhere at a particular time and 20 days of semi sleep-ins. (Well – 6:00 am is a sleep in here 🙂 )

Many people think that children on the autistic spectrum need rock solid routine and while that’s true on some levels – my kids cope ok with only a loose routine provided that they are not rushed or expected to be something that they’re not.

The more “out” activities – the more stress. It’s a simple formula really!

I used to take planning to the tenth degree and schedule holiday activity upon activity thinking that they needed that structure to cope, but in essence – what I was really doing was over scheduling them and kind of replicating school – they very thing that they were supposed to be on holidays from! The expectations that I put on them was causing all of us so much stress that it hardly seemed worth it in the end!

They got so tired from having to be here at a certain time and there at another when all they really wanted to do was to just chill out at home with a DVD and their favourite things surrounding them.I discovered that play dates are great – but not when they turn into another “requirement”.

And now that I know all of that – I can also relax more easily. It turns out that they don’t WANT to be traipsing around parks, bowling alleys and cinemas all the time. They are completely happy to just stay at home and do their own thing. It’s easier, MUCH cheaper and allows them to actually benefit from the break by recharging their batteries and refuelling so that they can cope better with term 3.

My beautiful Mum is arriving next week and both of the boys birthdays AND mine are also coming up so we still have a LOT to do this holidays.  I’m very excited and have just started to see the light at the end of the so-I-guess-I-don’t-get-to-move-to-my-mum’s tunnel.   And that light is in Ella. She has really blossomed this year and her and three other lovely girls have joined forces and created a lovely little group.

image blurred because I won't put other people's children faces on the internet 🙂

The group is made up of two 12 years olds & two 11 year olds so it’s a great mix, they all complement each other brilliantly and are as different as they are alike. They all Skype each other EVERY afternoon after school and have already planned 2 sleepovers in the holiday period. It’s ALL they talk about and their excitement is contagious plus it’s making this mothers heart sing after the horrible bullying that my princess has had to endure in past years.

I couldn’t be happier.

And as much pain as I have been in recently as I have witnessed my dream of moving home become less and less achievable – I have found a way to rejoice in the beautiful friendships that my girl is developing and I’m relaxing into the knowledge that she is going to be A-OK as she heads to high school next year.

It’s true that God works in mysterious ways and that His ways are not our own, but I also think that sometimes I need to just pull my head out of the sand long enough to observe the sun shining all around me instead of just noticing the dark shadows that it causes instead.

Happy holidays everyone 🙂

Fi xx

How to lose 3 days of your life…..

I couldn’t be bothered writing a whole post today so I am re-posting this one from this time last year…..I needed a laugh today and this provided it  😀

My husband makes me laugh.  
Sometimes the ‘roll-my-eyes-and-giggle’ kind of laugh, but mostly the ‘laugh-out-loud-I-can’t-believe-you-just-said-that’ laugh!

He is all about “time management” and is constantly showing me ways that I can “improve” and “better achieve my goals” and as a result of this: he is also very familiar with my response of “pfft” and “whatever”.

He likes to run our house like a business meeting and expects me to take minutes. He tells me that there will be a test later so I’d better listen up. He tries to tell me that he is joking (of course) but I believe that a LOT of truth is said in jest 😉

The “business plan” gets run past me every couple of months and I’m expected to present my own personal goal plans and expected outcomes for the children for that quarter so we can compare notes. (I am yet to provide one!)

His ‘plan’ is usually complete with graphs, timelines and records. EVERYTHING has to be kept on record for future reference.

But what I find so amusing about all of this is the fact that he married me!

He could not have chosen a less organised, lackadaisical, fly by the seat of her pants wife if he tried!

Maybe that’s where the secret of our success lies? – I would be driven crazy by someone as slap happy as me and he wouldn’t cope if he had to share control!

His outlook on simple everyday run-of-the-mill tasks is really quite unique.

For example:

He has informed me that I will waste the total of three days of my life if I tear the sachets of sugar that I put in my coffee individually. But if I tear them both together , then the world will be at peace for another day because the extra three days I have then saved, can be put to good use by doing something more economical??.

And , there was a time recently when I moved our kitchen bin from beside the bench to beside the fridge because it looked much neater and was hidden from sight.

The next morning I found it moved back with this note attached as an explanation :

Dear Fiona,

Thank you for your attempt at making the kitchen more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, however, I calculated that with the bin being moved to that location, it would take me an extra five paces to utilise the bin as it is further from where it used to abide beside the kitchen bench.

This is completely unacceptable for the following reasons:

1. There is too greater possibility of garbage seepage and spillage finding it’s way onto the floor during the extra five paces whilst in transit from the bench to the bin.

Bin juice is no-one’s friend.

2. I will waste an hour and half of every year by completing five extra paces every time I wish to use the bin if I use it on average of four times per day.

Those extra twenty paces multiplied by thirty years, equals approximately a day and a half of the rest of my life being wasted  every time I wish to deposit wasteful products into said garbage receptacle.

3. It is a known fact that garbage bins do no belong beside refrigerators.

4.The bin has ALWAYS been beside the bench for the last seven years, nine months and sixteen days that we have resided in this house and I simply cannot allow this atrocity to continue another day.

5. It doesn’t look right.

Thanking you in advance for your assistance in this matter.

Mr Patient……..

Yes, he is serious.

If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry!

No rules day.

This weekend, Mr Patient took Ella on a 4wding weekend escape with his work.    Our entire family had the option of going too but the thought of spending two full days in a car with two children who HATE travelling made me shudder!

So the solution was for me to stay home with the boys.

It turned out to be a fantastic decision too. We have had SO much fun together.

When we all arose yesterday morning, I told the boys that it was a “no rules” day. BUT before you all start rolling your eyes and telling me what a fool I was let me explain…..   I am WELL aware of how literal my boys can be so I made sure that I emphasised that house rules STILL applied. ie: No hitting, punching, kicking or name calling and that when Mummy asks you to do something – you still need to do it!

The “no rules” part referred to the fact that there were no set in stone rules over what they were allowed to play with and for how long.

They chose Lego and baking of all things – I had to stop myself from reacting every time that I looked out and saw the Lego strewn from one end of the living room to the other but it was wonderful to see them having so much fun!

Anyone who knows me would know how hard it was for me to see this!!!

They created a lot of new and exciting Lego spaceships and I got an awesome video of Harley talking me through the way that his mega ship worked. Unfortunately, his real name and Lucas’  real name are all through the video so I  can’t put it on here but there was one  part where I asked him what his craft  was called and he said:

I don’t know but I’m going to build it  one day when I grow up”….“PROUD  MUM MOMENT ALERT!

But here is a photo of him with his creation instead 🙂

Check out the pride on his face!

And Lucas with his duplo spaceship!

After lunch, we headed into the kitchen  and made some white chocolate  biscuits. (cookies for all my Northern Hemisphere friends).

The boys were so excited to be helping  me in the kitchen. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t allow them to as often as I probably should because I HATE the mess that they make, but because I’d promised “no rules day” I had to let them have a go!

Harley can't resist the urge to play in the spilt sugar 🙂

This is serious work!

The best part!

 I just love the concentration on their faces as they measure and stir the ingredients!

That night, Harley asked me if Lucas could sleep in his room for a “slumber party” and he helped me move the folding bed into his room and make it up for Lucas.

They were SO excited and begged me to join them too!

I made us all some hot chocolates with marshmallows and we ate our biscuits in bed and they giggled because normally, this kind of thing is a big no-no and they felt SO NAUGHTY!!!! It was divine to see their delighted little faces at something that really is such a little thing!

We laid on the bed together taking silly photos on my phone and I stayed until they fell asleep before creeping out again.

   

Later on, I snuck back in to take these photos of my little sleeping babies with their teddy and puppy snuggle toys and vowed that we absolutely HAVE to do this again.

I desperately wanted my boys to remember this weekend and how much their mother loves them. I want them to realise that they are perfect just as they are and that I would move mountains for them. I know it’s been rough on them lately with my emotional turmoil being so tangible  so it’s moments like these that overshadow the difficult days and make them so much easier to endure when they do come.

It’s just a shame that life can’t always be this sweet.

Noisy boys

When you put my two boys together, it’s like adding bicarb soda to vinegar.  I mean – we are talking SERIOUS explosions of messy goop here! 

There is chaos and mayhem mixed with a healthy dose of overactivity.

It’s NEVER quiet and they compete to see who can be the loudest and get the most attention. But then it usually turns sour because Harley quickly becomes overwhelmed and covers his ears and starts screaming “STOP TALKING”…..

I know I shouldn’t laugh, but it really is quite funny and it never ceases to amaze me that a child like Harley who is extremely sensitive to noise can make so bloody much of it himself!

This afternoon, Mr Patient came home early from work to help with the busy Thursday rush of running around to various therapies, school pick-ups, pre-school collection and ferrying to and from dance rehearsals. This is a mammoth task that I usually undertake all by myself and it is utterly exhausting! I leave the house at 1:30pm and usually walk back in around 6:45pm. UGH!

But I had a bit of a parental meltdown myself after last Thursday and gave Mr Patient an ultimatum….Either he had to come home earlier on Thursdays or I was going to pull all of the kids out of their groups. I’m happy to report that he came through for me and this week was the first day of this new routine.

How did it go?

Well….you’ll have to ask him! (that’s if you can get him to answer – he’s currently in the corner rocking and sucking his thumb moaning “NO MORE BOYS, NO MORE BOYS!” )

Of course I’m kidding! But he did get a glimpse of the ridiculous noise levels and madness that I’ve become accustomed to and said that he doesn’t know how I manage! (Keep it up darling – that’s the kinda talk that makes me smile).

I remembered a poem that I wrote a while back when I was in another one of my these-boys-are-driving-me-absolutely-stark-raving-nuts moments and showed ti to him tonight.

He smiled and nodded knowingly so I thought I’d re-blog it here tonight.

Don’t get the wrong idea here: I love them to bits but they DRIVE ME BATTY!!!!!! 😀

Raising boys can be quite rough,
And challenging at times,
Sometimes I think I’ve had enough,
And they cross too many lines…

They seem to think that no means yes,
And push me til I break,
When it stops is anyone’s guess,
So what’s it going to take?!

The constant noise is over the top,
They run and flap and jump,
My days are full and I don’t stop,
Meanwhile….my house becomes a dump!

I wonder if it is just me,
That struggles with my lads?
Do other mums of boys agree,
Are you also going mad?

Some people say that they will grow,
Into some fine young men,
But there’s still one thing I want to know,
Can someone tell me when?

If I had to choose the thing I love,
The most about my boys,
It wouldn’t be the fighting or
The ever-present noise,

It would just plain and simply be,
The way they make me melt
When they hug me tight and then kiss me,
And I’m thankful for the hand I’ve been dealt.

Why I told my son to stay away from nerds.

Yes that’s right….I have told my child to stay away from nerds.  

Before you start thinking that I’m a horribly judgemental and awful parent – let me explain…

Firstly…my son is a bit of a nerd himself. He regularly spouts out monologues about his current favourite aircraft or favourite Ben 10 alien or something else equally inane.

And I tell Mr Patient all the time that he is also more-than-a-bit of a bit of a nerd himself!

I mean: his ever growing star wars Lego collection, his fascination with car makes and models, his love of all things related to science fiction, computers or technology is only a small snippet of why I think this!

B-O-R-I-N-G!

But no, these are still not the types of nerds that I am referring to.

I’m talking about these suckers…

Harley’s teacher made a bee-line for me after school today because she was quite upset that another child had bought Harley a packet of nerds at the school canteen at lunchtime and that he had eaten the whole entire packet.

She wanted me to know how sorry she was for his consequent behaviour issues and that she had spoken to the other child and told them that they are NOT to buy things for other children ever again.

I assured her that I wasn’t upset with her and told her that Harley is getting to the age where he needs to take some responsibility as well! He is almost 8 and he knows that he isn’t allowed to eat something that’s THIS chock full of preservatives and colours!

The teacher was still not convinced that I was ok and then I saw him with my own eyes.

It.was.hilarious!

He had glazed over eyes and alternated between dazed out and hyperactive.

He ran and ran and ran and ran some more!

He yelled out a quick “Hi Mum” as he tore past me for the gazillionth time throwing his school bag in my general direction.

I laughed…I mean…. What else could I do?

Some kids are fine with food colourings in high doses…whereas others (like my boy) are definitely NOT!

And just because I’m a caring, sharing kinda gal…. Here’s a quick video of Harley taken minutes after we walked in the door this afternoon. (Of course Lucas had to copy his brother too…)

We’ve now been home for almost 2 hours and he’s still running!

Which is flipping FANTASTIC!

Not.