A Letter to my BFF on her Birthday!

Dear Jewelry,

Over forty years ago I started fourth grade at a new school.  My twelfth school to be exact.  I had moved in with my grandparents after a very tumultuous few years of being bounced back and forth between my parents. I did not know a soul, I had a lot of baggage and was living in survival mode.

My fifty year old mind does not allow me to remember every detail of our meeting, but bits and pieces of talking with you in Mrs. Collette’s coat area about a boy seems to ring a bell.  I could write a novel about our adventures but suffice it to say we have run the gamute of emotions over a lifetime.  From dances, to break-ups, sleep-overs to seances, weddings to babies, we have done it all.

We truly have grown up together but have never grown apart.  I can go months without seeing you but as soon as we are together again we don’t skip a beat.  Our friendship is something I value more than you can ever know.

Sometimes I feel selfish.  You have been there with a listening ear and shoulder throughout our friendship and although I know you have to cringe from time to time when you see my number pop up on your phone, you never hesitate to answer and chat. You can read me like a book and always make a point to contact me in some way when you know I am struggling.

We have been busy raising our families but now that we will be empty nesters I look forward to spending lots of time together in our “Golden Years”  Let’s hope teens aren’t saying “You got an eye problem old lady” when they talk to us 😉

Just wanted you to know that you are loved and appreciated on your birthday and every day!

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

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To My Husband on His Birthday

Today you are 50!  Unlike me, you face 50 with grace and confidence. No tears for you at this geriatric milestone.

Do you realize we have basically grown up together? Destiny definitely had a hand in our relationship!  When my brother and I moved in with our grandparents at the ripe old ages of 8 and 9 you and your sisters were our first friends in the neighborhood.  Of course I did not think much about you at that stage of the game, I mean you had cooties back then!

Fast forward to our teen years and suddenly you were pretty cute. We have been together ever since.  Life sure was easy then…..hanging out with friends, going to high school dances and walking around the block to see each other several times a week.

After high school we went our separate ways to college.  No one thought we would make it, surely we would both meet other people and the “puppy love” of high school would be forgotten. We proved them wrong, after college came marriage and then five years later came the “baby in the baby carriage,”

We were young and in love and we were invincible!

Two years later came our beautiful boy, we were the perfect little family living in suburbia!  As it became apparent that our little guy was going to face some difficulties in life, our “perfect little world” started to unravel. Many men would have headed for the hills!  And even though there have been days that we hang by a thread, through it all you face it it with courage, confidence, and determination.

I am sure on more than one occasion, folks have doubted that our marriage could withstand having a child with such significant needs. Hell, who are we kidding, we have questioned it ourselves! But here we are thirty five years later with twenty seven years of marriage under our belt and two beautiful children. It isn’t always pretty, but we continue to face tough times together.

We are OLDER and in love and INVINCIBLE!

Our children are so fortunate to have such an amazing and dedicated father.  I watch in awe of your gentle, patient nature and am so thankful and appreciative that you have always put family first.  I  can only wish that one day Emily  will meet a man as smart and kind, and down to earth as you.  My hope is that some day our grandchildren will have the type of father that she had growing up.

Today we celebrate you and all you have done for our family!  Happy Happy 50th XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

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Will they know……….

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As she drove the enrollment packet to the new school district she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes.  Her son had attended the same school district since he was three.  It was always nice to have him close by with people who knew and loved him.  He was 20 now and was well known in the district.  The new school system had already said they could not provide services for him, he would be sent to the center program on a bus.

So many changes; a new home, new school, a new community.

The tears that had begun to fill her eyes now trickled down her cheek. Her mind raced, she was overwhelmed.  She couldn’t stop thinking about the new people that would be a part of his life…How could she possibly tell them every minute detail of her very complicated and beautiful boy.  The focus was always on the obvious, his Ring 22 syndrome, his autism, his behaviors, all of the things he couldn’t do. That was what was most important to most folks, his inabilities…..As his mother she wanted to make sure no one lost focus of the things that her son could do, his abilities and the things that brought him joy.

Would they know?

When he leans his forehead in he wants you to kiss it

That he comes down the stairs and goes back up looking back to make sure you are following him

He loves Swedish Fish, Twizzlers and Whole Foods Tuna Salad

When he gets in your personal space and looks you in the eye it means he likes you and is engaging with you

When he is upset or sad car rides and music make all the difference

He loves Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Pink, Eminem and also Barney, Blue’s Clues, and Arthur the Aardvark

He loves books

When he flips over on his left side and faces the wall, he is ready to nod off to sleep

He loves to splash his hands in the pool water……He loves water

When he sits at the table he wants a snack

When he brings you the keys or his shoes he wants to ride in the car

If he likes you his smile will light up the minute he sees you

He’s smart…when he is motivated, he can do things you never thought possible

That IQ score on the report is not a true reflection of his abilities

Would they know??

He is loved…so much

That this is the most difficult and painful thing his parents have ever done

That his parents would always be active and involved…. that he would always be an integral part of their lives

How could she possible share everything she needed them to know? These were the things that woke her at night, the thoughts that brought her to tears.

She could only take a leap of faith and hope with all her heart that this was in the very best interest of her son and her family.

But she was afraid of heights….she might need a little push.

Driving Mr. Daisy is Making Me Crazy!

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Zach has always loved to ride in the car. Being strapped in the seatbelt, looking out the window, listening to his favorite tunes is what he wants to be doing…….day in……day out.   He seems to think that LIFE IS A HIGHWAY, and he wants to ride it all night long.  I appreciate that it provides him with sensory input, but this summer he has become obsessed!  All he wants to do is DRIVE.  We can just get home and 5 minutes later he wants to be ON THE ROAD AGAIN!  He thinks about riding constantly, I think he eats, breathes and sleeps about riding.  In his bed at night he is thinking GET OUTTA MY DREAMS, AND INTO MY CAR.

Who does he think I am, MUSTANG SALLY?  I suppose our rides would be much more exciting if I drove a LITTLE RED CORVETTE, PINK CADILLAC, MERCEDES BENZ or LITTLE DUECE COUPE, but we just cruise the open road in the family friendly Equinox.

We have run this town from top to bottom, bottom to top! We go to fast food establishments, drive through neighborhoods and one of our favorite stops is the CAR WASH.  I am bored with the same ole scenery but each time we go he thinks it is a FANTASTIC VOYAGE.  Sometimes I even get on the HIGHWAY TO HELL because I CAN’T DRIVE 55!

Thankfully gas is not too expensive this summer because this is no FREE RIDE! I hate to venture how many miles we put on in a day THE DISTANCE is probably much greater than I can imagine.  I swear if I have to look at that DASHBOARD one more minute I am going to lose it, but he just begs me LET ME RIDE!

He loves to sit on the PASSENGER SIDE with his pup as his sidekick all the while thinking I’M IN LOVE WITH MY CAR!

If any of you love the wind in your hair and the feel of the open road…WHOEVER YOU ARE, come on cuz BABY YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR!  Or if you are lucky enough to have a BITCHIN’ CAMARO, he would love to ride in that too 🙂

Choosing your Battles

I  guess you could say I have always had a fighting spirit. I don’t mean that I like to fight literally but that even with the most difficult of situations I tend to have a good cry, talk to friends then put on my big girl panties and try to handle the situation head on.

i have had many worthy opponents throughout my lifetime but my most formidable opponents have definitely been ring 22 syndrome and autism.  The two of them entered the ring seventeen years ago and have been sucker punching me ever since.

Initially I hit them with my best shot, gloves off, no holds barred.  As the years passed I knew when and what I needed to fight for, when to call things a draw, and when it was a TKO!

Today Zach woke up seemingly happy and we headed over to his day camp.  A trip to the new aquarium was on the docket today and I was curious to see how he would like it.   About an hour after he got to camp I received a message that he was struggling with his mood and kept trying to get his backpack (or anyone else’s backpack) and wanted to go.

The staff at the camp are amazing and we have a great relationship.  They were not asking me to pick him up, but rather looking for suggestions.  I hemmed and I hawed…Selfishly I really wanted the time off for myself, But what  I really wanted was for him to be able to go to camp…a special need’s camp and participate successfully.

For an instant i wanted to go down that rabbit hole, I wanted to cry and be angry, I questioned why my sweet boy struggled even at a camp for individuals with differing abilities.  But then I stopped myself!   We all have bad days, days that don’t go as planned and who was it for me to force him to do something that he wasn’t into.  The camp is for fun and social engagement and if he wasn’t having fun then what was the point.  It also wasn’t about me having free time I could leave him there and they would do their very best to help him have a good day but if he didn’t he would be upset and crabby for the remainder of the day and evening.

Today I chose my battle wisely, I threw up the white flag and surrendered.  It was what was right.  He came home and was much happier to be here chilling with a video.

Sometimes you must choose your battles. There are times to fight and there are times to know when it is ok to walk away from the ring with your head held high.

The Birthday

Twenty years ago today Zachary completed our family.  Twenty years….how is that possible?  When he was young and we were realizing that his path was far different from Emily’s, the years seemed long and difficult….twenty was not even a blip on the horizon. Yet, here we are, I blinked my eyes and my beautiful boy is 20.

Birthdays used to bring me so much angst and sadness.  My focus was on what he wasn’t doing, the milestones he wasn’t meeting, and the ever growing gap between him and his peers.

Honestly I dreaded his birthdays for many years…UNTIL I stopped worrying about having parties, I stopped worrying about people asking me what to buy him (because I didn’t want to tell someone my 10 year old still loved Barney), and I stopped worrying about the expectation……I can’t pinpoint when I finally got my head together and realized I was totally off base but at some point I finally came to the realization that I wasn’t making the birthdays about Zach, I was making them about the Expectation of what a birthday should be.

Today for his twentieth we will do as we have for many years now, let Zach dictate the day.  He is already out and about for a car ride, this afternoon he will spend some time with his favorite gal Beth for lunch and a movie, and later we will have a special dinner of his favorite foods topped off by an almond joy cake.  Honestly, today will be similar to most other days in his week…and that is just fine by him.

He doesn’t care about the gifts or the amount of money that is spent. He could give a rat’s patootie about all of the pomp and circumstance, my boy is all about the simple pleasures….a cuddle on the couch to watch a favorite video, a swim in the pool, some Twizzlers and orange slices, a Jimmy John’s sandwich with chips and a full tank of gas to go on the open road….. those are the things that bring him joy.

When I look back I get angry at myself for not appreciating the simplicity, for putting pressure on myself and on Zach to conform to what was expected.  Thankfully my son was not going to be swayed, he knew what was important to him and what made him happy.  Not sure why it took me so long to see he had it right all along.

Once again I have been “schooled” by my son and autism…another important lesson learned.  My son is one smart cookie!

The Meeting

The tension in the room was palpable.  We both came to the table with a chip on our shoulder; You because I was questioning too much and Me because I didn’t like your answers.

The problem is that we come from different sides of the track you and I.  You are all about the purse strings, while I am all about the heart strings.  You see my son as a burden while I see him as a blessing. You see him as an adult who is a  fiscal drain on your limited funds while I see him as my baby boy who is as deserving as the next.  You are all about the quantity while I am all about the quality.

You see me as irrational while I see you as un-emotional.  You feel I am asking for too much, that my expectations are too lofty.  You try to convince me that we should be happy with the minimum. You make me feel greedy for wanting it all for my son. You see me as stubborn.  You also see that you will never convince me that he is not deserving of his own room, in his current community where we can be active participants in his life. He is deserving of ALL OF IT!  Why can’t he be afforded the same opportunities as anyone else?

Oh if only we could trade glasses for even a day.  If you could see my son the way I do then you would fight….you would do everything you could to ensure that he have a safe and happy environment.  You would understand my fears for his uncertain future and know that you would do whatever it takes.

I am not sure we will ever see eye to eye, but that is why I am glad you met us.  You need to see that there are faces behind the names that come across your desk.  It is easy to say no to a piece of paper but when you have a living breathing family in front of you it has to touch you……I pray we touched you in some way.

You may have won the battle but you haven’t won the war.  I am resilient…..you saw me cry but do not confuse that with weakness.  I am battered and bruised after our meeting but I am not down and out.  We have faced  greater adversaries than you and somehow, someway we always emerge victorious.

So excuse me while I pick myself up, brush myself off and figure out a way….there is ALWAYS a way!

Oh, and give me back my glasses, I can’t see a thing through yours!