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.

The blame game.

I’ve had to give myself a big fat talking to lately. I’ve had to mentally correct myself and try harder to avoid using particular phrases that have become quite popular in this house!

There are many variations of this phrase but it is usually something along the lines of : “Oh my gosh…that’s is SO aspie”!

Paul and I often say this to each other when we notice the other doing something that is particularly quirky or odd. (And believe me, both of us have enough quirks to fill an entire library of books) but that’s not the problem.

You see, the problem is that I’ve noticed that whenever we point out something that other person does, it is almost always one of the more negative quirks of aspergers and rarely the positive.

For example: I don’t say things like: “Wow, I’m so impressed that you can memorise word-for-word entire scenes from Monty Python”
I’d more likely say: ” Oh wow, feeling a tad echolalic today are we dear? You are SO aspie”.

Or whenever we are out; I should probably say to Paul: “I know you don’t enjoy being around people too often, but wow, it was wonderful to see you engaging with our friends like that”.

But usually I’d say something like: “Do you think you could you be any more awkward? …You are SO aspie!”

Just the other week, we were in a major shopping centre and I reacted to the over-the-top noise coming from the food court where we had planned to have a coffee together….Paul took one look at my face and said teasingly: “Come on you big aspie…you can do it”….

And sometimes when the phone rings I’ll sigh and say “Let the answering machine get it, I’m too tired to talk to anyone right now” He’ll smirk and say “Having an antisocial aspie moment are we?”

Our banter is mostly light-hearted but I’ve begun to realise that by doing this, we are focusing on all the wrong parts of our sons’ diagnoses.

Because yes….I’ll admit that at times living with aspergers is heart breaking, daunting, overwhelming, frustrating and exhausting, but it also has great points as well.

Harley for example is a whiz at remembering facts about his current interest, and the enormity of his knowledge on that particular subject is literally mind-blowing. When he is in a suitably quiet and calm environment – he can channel all of his attention solely onto whatever it is that he is doing and can memorise things that most adults wouldn’t be able to concentrate on for long enough to achieve the same results.

And Lucas amazes me with his ability to hear what I say and obey even when he seems to be a million miles away as he jumps, turns and bounces all over the house. Most people would swear that their child was ignoring them if they saw them acting like Tigger, but I’ve learned that when Lucas is in this mode – he is so much more switched on than I’d ever thought possible. What an awesome gift that would be!

These days , it’s pretty common knowledge that autism is a genetic condition and aspergers is generally passed down from at least one if not both of the parents. And that’s why we have so much fun telling the other one that it came from them.

But that’s really neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things because it really doesn’t matter. But what does matters is that we make a more concerted effort to focus on the good stuff and encourage the boys to keep going onwards and upwards.

And anyway…..You all know that where it really comes from anyway right?

Right?

It’s obviously *cough cough* PAUL *cough cough* 

😉

Just another day of hilarity!

Outings are always fun in one way or another with my kids. You can be assured that there’s rarely a dull moment that’s for sure!  Ella has been staying at her friend’s house for the past 2 nights so it’s just been me and the 2 boys. It’s been fun and dramatic and exciting and devastating all at once!

But I have definitely noticed the massive change in dynamics between 2 and 3 kids. And I miss my girl like crazy!

Normally whenever I go out with the kids during the holidays, She takes one boy and I take the other making the whole experience much more palatable!  But yesterday, they were separated because one of my closest friends took Harley for a few hours off to Build-a-Bear (which is one of his all time favourite places in the world) and I got to have a Mummy-Lucas day.  We had an absolute ball!

We did all the fun things that sadly we have to miss when Harley is with us like eating Happy Meals (Lucas can eat gluten – Harley cannot).

We went to a play centre with ball pits, flashing lights and huge climbing structure and we went shopping at a toy sale in a heavily crowded shop. In this shop – Lucas got lost and had to be called over the loudspeaker *ahem* and that alone was an interesting experience. This kid is the exact opposite of his brother sensory wise and is not the least bit intimidated by lights, crowds or noises. In fact, he thrives on them.  He ran off in pursuit of the toy aisles and I couldn’t find him anywhere!

I felt the familiar panic rise in my chest and went straight over to the lady standing on the front door of the store and asked her if she’d seen a little boy wearing jeans and a Lego man shirt. She said that she hadn’t so I asked her to please make sure that he doesn’t leave with anyone.

I couldn’t believe it but she actually rolled her eyes at me and turned to her co-worker and uttered “another runaway child”

I looked her in the eyes and said: “Well, actually, I’m not asking you to help me find him but you need to know that he’s autistic and it’s likely that he would walk out with anyone that grabs his hand because he has no sense of danger”.

 The stricken look on her face showed that my comment had the desired effect on her and she immediately rallied a whole group of workers to help find him.

About ten minutes later, I spotted him casually strolling along holding a big stuffed dog under his arm and smiling broadly. I ran over to him and grabbed his little hand about to tell him that I was glad I found him when a worker started laying into him and telling him what a naughty boy he was for running off! I smiled thinly at her and turned by back and walked away with my totally oblivious little boy skipping along beside me.

Later on, we met up with my friend and Harley for coffee and (as they always do) my boys needed a toilet stop. I was walking with Lucas over to the restrooms when he clutched his backside with one hand and grabbed mine with the other and ‘shouted’ “Quick Mum, hurry up, the poo’s already coming out”…..

Yes I know: charming right!

We were in the restrooms and while I waited for him to finish, I noticed a boy about 9 or 10 twirling around in circles on the spot. He was holding a Sonic plush toy and talking to it saying “You’re my best friend in the whole world” and I thought: Hmmmmm, that’s rather familiar! LOL

As we walked back to the coffee shop I noticed this boy again with his mother and he now had his jacket off and was wearing a Sonic T-shirt with Lucas’ real name written on it so Harley marches up to him and says in a completely monotone voice: “I have that Sonic, that’s my brother’s name and I like Sonic too”.

They boy looked up at Harley and said in an equally monotone voice rather matter-of-a-factly: “Sonic is my best friend”.

“Ok” replied Harley and walked off!

I love moments like these – it’s like they both sensed something familiar in each other. It was gorgeous, hilarious and awkward all at once.

We finally bid farewell to our friends, left the coffee shop and I had a couple of grocery items to buy so we walked over to the supermarket so I could quickly grab them before we left. As I was waiting at the checkout to be served, there was a little merry-go-round toddler ride out the front only a couple of metres away so I told the boys that they could play on it while I payed the lady.

After I’d finished, I walked over to them and noticed that there was another little boy who would’ve been about 5 or 6 also playing with them. I said “Ok, boys, it’s time to go, say good-bye to your friend”.

Lucas turned and waved and said “Bu-bye” but Harley looked at me indignantly, screwed up his face and declared (VERY loudly): “He’s not our friend, he’s just some random kid who was already here when we arrived” while rolling his eyes at me. “Sheesh Mum”.

Quick as a flash, I scooped him up under my arm, put him in the trolley with the rest of the shopping and took off as fast as I could.

Like I said: never a dull moment!

I’m being mocked by a list!

So it’s been almost three weeks since I have been a free agent.

Three weeks where I have had six straight hours to myself, five days a week.

A while back, I made a ‘later’ list.

You know….a list of all of those little things that have needed doing but you’ve never had to time to do them? I told myself (and Mr Patient) that once all the kids were at school full-time, that I’d tackle that list with gusto.

So I sat down today with a pen and decided to tick some of them off so that I could feel better about myself, and like I’d actually achieved something worthwhile over this three-week period!

OK.

So, number one was the basket full of sewing repairs.

I have a HUGE basket full of many items of clothing such as dresses with seams to let out, skirts with hems to fix and shirts that need buttons sewn on. Oh – and Hubby’s work pants that need to be altered too.

I peered into it and realised that none of it had been touched. It has been so long that dust has settled on the edges of the basket. It was not looking good!

I sighed and moved onto number two on the list.

2. Clean out the pantry.

I opened the doors and glanced in (which is kinda funny since I look in there everyday and I wasn’t sure what I thought was going to be different this time!) and nope – it was still a massive mess of opened boxes and mismatched Tupperware containers. An upturned cereal box with a trail of nutri-grain spilling out caught my eye and I quickly slammed the doors closed and went back to my list.

“It’s all good” I told myself, “You are exhausted, so you know that you MUST have done a LOT. You’ll see”!

Number 3. Tidy up the games cupboard. 

Now THIS one I knew I could tick off. I walked into the hallway to open what once was a linen press that we had turned into a games cupboard. I flung the doors open proudly so I could check out my awesomeness.

But I was startled to see boxes literally stuffed in and several loose games pieces on the floor.
The higher shelves were still immaculate but the lower ones….not so much!The second bottom shelf had some of Lucas’ dinosaurs gathered in a corner having a “pow wow” and for some strange reason…..there was a sheet stuffed in there? It hasn’t been used as a linen closet for years?

But then I remembered:

<<– See this photo?  See that little bitty screw and screwdriver that are stuck up in the architrave with blu-tack? Well, the cupboard usually has a child lock on it to prevent access by the smaller humans but I took it off a few weeks ago so that Ella could get to it easily when she had a friend stay over. I hadn’t told the boys that they could access it now but they have obviously found out!  And silly me forgot to re-attach it!

I sighed resignedly and glanced down at item number four hoping for a reprieve.

4. Re-organise our walk-in robe.

I laughed out loud when I read this, I KNEW it was a disaster – I got dressed this morning by putting on something straight from the ironing basket (un-ironed of course)!

My list sure wasn’t looking good.

I thought a good alternative would be to write down what I HAD done instead of pointing out to myself what I hadn’t.

Let’s see. Monday: Met a friend for coffee, put petrol in my car, made the lunches for the week at school, re-packed Ella’s bags for camp (don’t even GO there!), came home and slept for 3 hours. Dragged myself up to school to collect the kids, had an impromptu meeting with the teacher. Spent waaaay too long arguing with Harley over doing his homework, over showering, over packing up his toys, over just.about.everything! And fell into bed exhausted at 9pm.

No. Can’t write that down. That’s just a normal day. No special achievements there.

Tuesday: Vacuumed and mopped house, washed 4 loads of washing, baked 2 loaves of gluten-free bread and changed sheets on three beds. Not bad….but then I lay down on the lounge and slept for an hour before collecting the kids. Same afternoon routine : argue, be firm, still manage to lose, fall into bed exhausted.

Wednesday: Drove Mr P to the airport for his interstate flight, did the grocery shopping, slept for 2 hours and was woken by a text message from a friend. Met her for a quick coffee before collecting the kids.

After school fights, forcefulness and frustrations.

Rinse and repeat.

And today: 2 more loads of washing, fresh food shopping, cooked two meals and …wait for it…..slept for another hour.

There’s a theme emerging here! I seem to be doing a lot of sleeping. Hmmmm, maybe it’s my body’s way of saying ENOUGH ALREADY!

Or maybe it’s just all too overwhelming and my brain is choosing to shut down! LOL

I seriously take my hat off to mothers who manage to work outside the home as well as keep a house and family. I simply do not know how they do it. They are AMAZING!

I can hardly cope with the everyday stuff let alone my “later list”. And about that later list?

Well, if you’re looking for me – I’ll be curled up on some couch somewhere watching that stupid list BURN on an open fire! I don’t care if it’s summer here! I can handle the heat.

And then?

Well then, I’ll more than likely doze off 🙂

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday 15/2/12…my odd child!

I’m only just scraping in to Wordless Wednesday by a few hours here in Australia and I wasn’t going to post anything today but I just HAVE to share this.

I was heading to bed for an early night and went into the boy’s room to check on them first. I kissed them both and as I pulled up Lucas’ sheets, I noticed a big lump protruding from the bottom of the bed so I felt it but couldn’t work out what it was.  I went and turned on the hallway light to get a better look and had to stifle a laugh when I noticed him sporting an OVEN MITT on his FOOT???

Yup. That’s right. An oven mitt!

It was complete with food stains because it had been thrown in the hallway in front of the laundry (by a lazy me) so he’s obviously seen it on his way to his bedroom and thought: ‘Hmmmm……This big sock is pretty cool, I will put it on!’

What a thoroughly odd child!

But it did give me a giggle 🙂

Dirt Boy.

Remember how I told you all before that my boys – though both diagnosed with Aspergers – have completely different sensory profiles?

Well, yep. We saw that in action BIG time yesterday 🙂

I took the children to a local park after school with a friend for afternoon tea. They all had a fabulous time and are already asking when they can go back so we hit on areal winner.

But this story begins after we came home last night and the “fun” that followed 🙂

(Just as a reminder….Harley is the germ-phobic, dirt avoiding, noise hating child who washes his hands frequently in a manner that’s borderline OCD. In fact, he won’t even use a public restroom unless he has first checked that there is in fact soap in the dispensers. He did this yesterday too 😉  Whereas Lucas is the complete opposite: he runs, he yells, he plays in water and mud and doesn’t particularly care what state his hands are in. )

So having such different sensory needs sure makes for a fun life let me tell you!

~~~

After we arrived home, I asked the kids to remove their shoes and throw their clothes into the laundry hamper and hop in the shower. I was most surprised when Lucas actually did all this BY HIMSELF but my biggest surprise was still yet to come.

We ate dinner, cleaned their teeth and headed for their bedrooms to start the story book, kiss and cuddle routine when I noticed a trail of dirt leading towards Lucas’ bed. I figured that it must have fallen out of his shoes so I grabbed the broom and swept it up.

I returned the broom to the kitchen when I heard Mr Patient yell out : “Fiiiiiiiiii!, You HAVE to see this!!!!” So I rushed back in there CRINGING because it was one of those ‘Uh-Oh’ cries. And yup…..It was for good reason!

On Lucas’ window sill which is directly over his bed, there was a mound of dirt that was roughly as high as an upturned cereal bowl and in the top were 3 little weeds that Lucas had somehow smuggled home from the park WITHOUT ME KNOWING and he had ‘planted’ them!   And the dirt that hadn’t managed to stay on the sill had spilt ALL down his wall, into his bed and under the covers.

Lucas was beaming and as proud as punch as he showed us that he had ‘planted some flowers to make his room pretty’.

Well, after we thanked God that he hadn’t decided to ‘water his flowers’ and had picked ourselves up off the floor after hysterical laughter, I decided that I was going to buy him a special pot and some real flowers to plant in the morning.

So 6 dustpan loads, a new set of bed linen and a through vacuum later – we put the boys to bed an hour later than usual.

And today I followed through with my promise to help him plant a proper garden and purchased some pots and plants. I went to the nursery and found these wonderful potted flowers from a company called: Ability Options which is a company that provides employment to individuals who are disabled and allows them to live with dignity within the community.

You can read more about their  Wholesale Nursery >>HERE<<.

So next I went and I purchased three small pots with the intention of letting all the children do one each. But Harley took one look at the dirt and went pale saying: “Ah Mum….Is it ok if I don’t do one?”

I giggled. I’d expected that.

So Lucas was in sensory seeker heaven as he helped me dig out the potting mix, and re-pot the blooms.

His ‘big boy’ job now is to water them everyday and keep them alive.

And he’s promised NOT to plant any more flowers anywhere else in the house LOL!

Enjoy these photos. I’m just annoyed with myself for not thinking to grab the camera when it first happened!

Puddles and Swings….

Alrighty,

Here it is…..I’ve decided that I will indeed start a new blog for all my non-autism stuff.  I really feel the need for somewhere that I can be less serious and more lighthearted and blog about whatever the heck I feel like without letting this blog take a backseat.

So far it only contains 1 post and the “about me” section but eventually  I will get it up and running.

Wonderfully Wired will still be my primary blog but the other one exists solely as a venting place and somewhere to “let a bit of crazy out” so I don’t scare you all away from here  😉

If you’re curious and wanna take a look…here tis:  Click >>> HERE <<< But remember…..I warned you!

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