Birthday Reflections

For those of you who have been reading my blog over the last several years, you know that I tend to write a reflections type post near my birthday…..what I have learned, where I would like to go, etc.  This year I have hit a numeric milestone (as many consider multiples of 5 “milestones”).  Additionally, my birthday happened to fall the day before Yom Kippor when, as a Jew, my designated time of reflection is coming to an end.  So I thought I would put some of my recognitions on my blog, making them public and making them more concrete.

 

I am now 45 years old.  I am a happily married wife, mother of 3 amazing kids, have a frustratingly annoying but incredibly lovable dog, I live in an area where I feel happy and safe in a home I own with my family…..life really is good.  I have the freedom to do much of what I want and explore endless possibilities.  I smile and am happy most days, worry about my children nearly every day, and look forward to the new adventures of tomorrow.  I spend too much time sitting around and doing nothing productive and try to find ways to avoid doing the things that I know must be done (like almost everyone I know).

 

I think the biggest thing I need to work on while I’m 45 is to find my organization again.  I know I’ve been saying that for a while, but this time I really mean it (again).  My house needs some serious work, both in terms of cleanliness and repair.  There are some major household projects that we would like to take on, but we feel we can’t until we get some other things under control.  We are planning a big trip to Mexico in about 5 months and we need to plan how to help Simon maneuver new experiences so he (and the rest of us) can enjoy the adventures.

 

What does that mean?  It means living by the calendar.  It means making my infamous detailed to-do lists again.  It means keeping my promises to myself and to others.  It means making more of an effort to be there for others.  It means knowing when it’s time to say “No” when asked to be a volunteer for something or knowing that this is my opportunity to jump in with both feet.  It means not feeling guilty when I know I’ve done my best, even if I have not been successful on the outside.  It means recognizing that the effort is always worth at least as much as the result.  It means setting realistic expectations.  It means recognizing when my “realistic” expectations are anything but realistic.

 

Most important, it means taking time.  Taking time to be a better mother…..a better wife…..a better friend……a better Jew……a better person……a better me.

 

And that’s exactly what I’m going to try to do!

Happy Birthday!!!!

Today is my birthday.

When I was growing up, birthdays were things I always looked forward to with such relish.  It wasn’t unusual for me to stay up to 12:29am (my actual birth time) to be the first to wish myself a Happy Birthday.  As I’ve gotten older, that anticipation has lessened quite a bit.  Especially after I cross decade marks.  But now, I’m 41 years old.  I’m happily married with 3 wonderful children and a dog.  And I spend most of my time doing what I can to make their lives as wonderful as possible.

Birthdays have become days to think about where I am and where I want to be.  What I have been doing right and what needs to change.  There are always many things on both sides of that equation.  For example, I need to work on controlling my patience and not just handing over phones when the kids get to be too much.  But I applaud myself for developing new strategies that have helped Ballerina and Music Man make this transition into kindergarten, at least from the at-home-end.  I applaud myself for listening to their teachers and fighting for what I know is right, even if that wasn’t an easy thing to do.  I applaud myself for teaching my son that lying is not tolerated, a lesson that I believe Big Brother has learned quite well these last few weeks.

Over the last couple of years, I have used my birthday as an opportunity to make a change.  A couple of years ago, I proclaimed myself a “Parent Advocate”.  I’m still not sure what it means (officially), but I feel I have done a decent job at making that change effective.  The Autism-based Facebook Page that I run has grown to over 2,100 members.  When people ask, I offer my advice based on my personal experience.  I have answered questions for other friends who have asked.  I have educated many about Autism, and plan to address Big Brother’s Wolf den (Cub Scouts) to educate them about Autism as they are likely to run into individuals affected as they grow.

And I fight.  I fight for my children.  Every day.  I make sure that they are getting the services that will best help them.  I lose sleep over IEP meetings because I want to be sure that they have the opportunity to succeed and gain their own independence.  I have learned to not jump to conclusions (even though that is still my instinct) and to listen before I act, at least in an official capacity.

When I was at my brother’s wedding, several family members asked me if I planned to go back to work.  My answer was always that I kind of already had with this change.  I would like to find a way to actually be paid for doing this (like everyone, we can use the supplemental income), but because my experience is not something that comes from a degree other than in life, I’m not sure that I can find a position right now.  I want to help parents, especially parents who are in the early stages of a diagnosis. Parents who either suspect or have just been told that their child is on the spectrum.  I want to help them to see that it’s not the end, but the beginning.  I want to help them to see the POWER of that diagnosis.  I want them to understand that Autism is NOT the end of the world, no matter where on the spectrum a child falls.  I want to point out the success stories that you can find anywhere, but is somehow very difficult for a grieving parent to see.

You see, I’ve BEEN that parent.  It took a long time before I was able to see the positives of Ballerina’s and Music Man’s diagnosis and not just going through the motions.  And I know that the fears never fully go away.  And because of it, those are the people who I feel I can most benefit.  I still have to figure out the best way to make that happen, but I’m more sure than ever that I have found my “professional” calling.

If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears!