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.

Guilt

Mother guilt is pretty much a given when it comes to motherhood. Its just a part of the whole deal.

I’ve had my fair share. Sometimes it comes from pressure that I put on myself and sometimes in comes in the form of comments from other people, friends, family or even the kids themselves.

I try to maintain a healthy work/home balance but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m actually pretty crappy at it. In fact – I totally suck at it.

I have spent the past I don’t know HOW MANY years advocating for Harley and trying to get him the help that he needs in the school system at any cost.

I did everything I could think of to help him manage better at school and spent years paying for countless therapists to try to encourage some sort of progress on paper, but all I kept seeing was a defeated and sad little boy.

He has always struggled to read, to write and with maths. Actually, he has battled with pretty much every element of school life. The socialising would still be the part that he has the most difficulty with but being that he is autistic- that aint about to magically change anytime soon.

We were driving to school last week when he oh-so-casually mentioned to me that his teacher suggested that he gets his eyes tested because she noticed him squinting at the board and also at his workbooks.

“How long have you had trouble seeing honey”? I asked him.

“I’ve never really been able to see much” he replied.

Um. Ok.

So I took him to the optometrist that very afternoon to learn that he also has the beginnings of the same eye condition that has plagued me for most of my life (but hopefully it will be able to be corrected in time so it doesn’t reach the point that mine have).

Blind as a bat I believe the technical term is!

And to think that it didn’t even occur to me to get his eyes checked – cue the mother guilt … in spades…

I took the afternoon off work today to go with him to collect his new glasses and was almost in tears as he excitedly skipped through the shopping centre reading out every shop sign and describing to me everything that he was seeing in great detail.

IMG_2398

 

I asked him on the way home why he hadn’t told me earlier that he couldn’t see well and his answer damn near broke my heart.

“Because I just figured that everyone else was seeing the same as me but I thought I was dumb and that they were just smarter than me.”

I glanced at him in the rear view mirror and noticed him look down at his feet.

“Plus, I didn’t know what to say to tell you Mum. I couldn’t find the right words to describe it, and I knew that you have to work really hard for our money and I didn’t want to waste it on glasses because I know you can’t really afford it”.

I was gutted.

Sure, I’ve had to say no to the kids a lot lately because bills often eat up the majority of my pay, but I had hoped that he knew that I would’ve done whatever it takes to get him what he NEEDS.

But I managed to sit him down this afternoon and explain that I will always find a way when it comes to my kids. And that I was so super proud to have him as my spectacular spectacles buddy.

 

What’s for dinner Muuuuuuum? Argh!

In keeping with my promise to myself, I’ve just written the first of hopefully MANY posts that aren’t specifically about autism for this year. I’m finding ‘me’ and who I am and what I like.

This is the #yearoftheoxygenmask after all 🙂

So…..

~

There are four questions that I absolutely HATE in this house.

1. How much longer?

2. Do I have to do my homework?

and

3. What’s for dinner?

(Well, actually – this is a family blog so the fourth question that I hate will have to be left to your imaginations) 😉

My answers to the top two questions are usually along the lines of:

1. “As long as a piece of string” (or never if you keep nagging me)

2. “Absolutely” “Hell yeah” or a sarcastic “No, We’ll just hand in a blank book” (which incidentally is NOT a good idea when you have extremely literal aspies!)

But for the third question, I usually fumble with my words and um and ah because I’m not known for being very organised in the whole cooking department. It is partly because I see it as a grand waste of time because my minions refuse to eat almost everything that I cook (therefore making me feel like a pile of manure) and it completely sucks having to think of something new to cook EVERY night knowing full well that it will probably be rejected anyway.

But  hoorah! Now I have a plan.

~

OK….

(For those that know me…..don’t fall off your seats in shock- I know that creativity is not my strong point) but when I saw something like this on Pinterest a while ago – I have had it stored in my memory bank ever since and have been determined to try and make one when I got a spare moment.

So I found a small snippet of time (when I was able to hide from the kids and their incessant demands for me to entertain them, feed them garbage or sort out their latest squabble) and I made it and I’m super proud of how it turned out!

I struggle every single day to try and think of what on earth to cook at mealtimes as I have such fussy eaters in my family. There are a few tried and tested recipes that they don’t necessarliy actually eat ALL of but there are elements of every dish that they will have.

And lookie here 

I ACTUALLY made this!!!! (shock, horror, gasp!)

The idea is that every Monday, Ella gets to pick a meal, every Tuesday Harley does, Wednesdays Lucas does then the same order on Thursday, Friday and Sunday nights.  Mr Patient and I get to chose a special meal for just us for Saturday nights and tonight he cooked me Cajun blackened Chicken with pineapple and shallot rice.

Yup...he's a keeper!

The kids have to choose from the pile of meal cards that I have made up and because they get some say in what we will be eating….they actually enjoy it!  And the best part is that being visual learners – they can see at a glance what is for dinner so they can QUIT ASKING ME!

It’s a complete win/win don’t ya think?

Oh …. and another bonus? My grocery bill came down by $50 this week because I only bought the things that were on this week’s meal plan. Seems I’ve been buying a lot that I didn’t really need all this time! Ooops!

***

Unsent letter

To the person who has hurt us,

You do know who you are,

I want to tell you here- right now,

That you have gone too far.

.

I want to let you know that we,

Still love you just the same,

But it hurts me when you judge our ways,

And give me all the blame

.

You know my life is not like yours,

And it will never be,

I do the best with what I have,

So please don’t bad mouth me

.

My children know that they come first,

And have my full attention,

So forgive me now, if you’ve to wait,

And I am not perfection

.

I feel that you just inward look,

And make it all about you,

But in THIS house, we’re not that way,

You never seem to approve

.

I’m sorry if you feel that I,

Have been a dreadful pain,

I have no time for childish rants,

It’s puts me off my game

.

My days are filled with ASDs

And everything that includes,

So give me grace when I am not,

Always in the happiest moods

.

I’m sorry that I sometimes get,

All tense and non compliant,

But all this stress has turned my woes,

Into a towering giant.

.

I’ve never claimed to be immune,

To snapping under pressure,

But bringing up the past to us,

Just brings us such displeasure.

.

So instead of focusing on yourself,

Why not offer to shoulder our burden,

And walk a mile in different shoes,

Before just spurting your poison.

.

I work so hard but still you want,

To criticize me and complain,

You won’t believe in ASDs

So it’s always just the same…

.

I’ve tried to tell you all I can,

But you don’t want to listen,

So saying that I am “not right”

Has been your latest mission

.

If I’m “not right” then why do I,

Do most of this myself?

And manage to raise gorgeous kids,

With barely any help?

.

The things that you’ve complained about,

Weren’t done to tick you off,

My heart was right, and full of love,

But now….I’ve had enough

.

I can’t go on pretending that,

Everything is now okay,

I’ve tried my best – but it’s not enough,

I’ve nothing left to say

.

I truly hope that you get to,

The place where you find peace,

I pray that God will bless you lots,

And that this tension now will cease…..

The eviction letter.

Dear Fear, Insomnia and Anxiety,   

Go away. Your lease is hereby terminated.

I know that I’m really not using my manners here, but seriously….you have all totally worn out your welcome in my son’s life. It’s time you move on to someone else. We don’t want you here anymore.

You are exhausting and you take up far too much of his time and energy.

We are ready for new exciting adventures and he cannot do that until you get out.

Anxiety, you have been with him the longest. You take the silliest little thing and cause him to perseverate on it for hours and hours until the whole freaking family almost goes around the twist!

Enough already!

You have forced him to take pills to keep you from enveloping him completely.  The very mention of certain activities and situations awakens Fear, your partner in crime. And he’s a really sneaky bugger.

Insomnia, because of you, our entire family feels like the walking dead. Sleep deprivation is used as torture in some countries…..did you know that?

Yep….that’s right.

Torture…think about that for a minute.

We no longer want you hanging around causing havoc so get your bags, collect your last pay cheque and disappear forever without a trace.

My son has internalized so much more ickyness than should be humanly possible to bear. You have encouraged him to sit out of his own life and miss out on too many fun things.

I simply won’t let him miss out anymore. 8 year olds deserve to be kids and do the things that kids do without the debilitating grief that you cause him.

You need to find a new playmate.

Pronto.

And Fear, what can I say to you? You show up at the most inconvenient times, causing uncontrollable tears and ridiculous panic attacks.  You need to develop more manners and common sense like nervousness who only shows up periodically and doesn’t need to be told when to leave.

So, scumbags, it is time for you all to make like a tree and leave.

I’d like to say it’s been fun knowing you all….but it hasn’t.

Since you’ve sneakily slid you way into our lives things have completely and entirely sucked.

So off you scoot, leave your keys under the doormat and don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out!

Best of luck to you….not!

Fi. ….Harley’s mother.

P.S. Please tell paranoia that he’s on notice and I’ll be talking to him soon.

James 4:7

  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.