Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Counting My Blessings Day 1 - Coffee, Chocolate and Boxes

Wordless Wednesday

Counting My Blessings

Every year since becoming a mom I have wanted to really savour and relish the holiday season - every year I am so busy and everything just slips by. Last year was the worst by far - our whole family was in crisis and it was all we could do to get through. For the first time in almost 20 years I did not send out a single Christmas card - just couldn't do it. And that was ok - it was necessary. We still went through the motions the best we could last year - still made the Gingerbread house and decorated the tree. I hardly remember any of it. I was in survival mode.

This year I am not working, we have more supports in place for C and we are all in a much better place. 2010 has been, by far, the hardest year for our family and I can't say I will be sad to see it go. But amidst all of the hardship there have been some amazing things to come - renewed friendship, random acts of kindness, reconnecting as a family, maturing and taking some steps toward independence and so on. So really, as my the title of my blog indicates - I am usually a pretty optimistic and grateful person. My boys might drive me crazy at times but I do view them as blessings.

When engaged in extreme parenting of kids with complex needs it can become second nature to live from one crisis to the next, merely surviving. There were long periods of time this past year that I was sure we were losing our son to the depths of mental illness he would never return from. He has returned and our family is once again strong and together and honestly even better than we were before. The one thing I learned early on in all of this is to count my blessings and to revel in each moment that was good, one day (or hour or even second) at a time.

So in December (I'm going to try for everyday - we'll see) I am going to post about the many blessings in my life. Some will be somewhat random and fun and others will be very serious and thought out. I hope you will stick around and perhaps post some of your own blessings.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I Have Been Up To

Amidst the heavy advocacy we continue to have to do for C we were planning a trip away, just A and I, to Chicago.

Its a city A has always wanted to visit and I want to go anywhere A wants to go.

So for weeks I cleaned and organized the house and tried to co-ordinate care for the boys. We thought back in September that we had a plan for Respite for C all worked out. Then it became glaringly and painfully obvious that those plans were not going to work. On to Plan B and thankfully Grandma came to the rescue! She adores C and while she doesn't always understand him and his ways her love goes a long way to helping him through the day.

With all the plans in place we headed out

I am NOT a seasoned traveller. Someone REALLY should warn people about the cramped interior of these planes. Seriously I started to have a panic attack - I didn't even know I was claustrophobic until I sat in my seat.

Luckily the flight was short and A was a blessing with his keen sense of direction once we landed. He navigated us through the airport and public transit with ease. By 2p.m. we were relaxing in our awesome hotel room at Homewood Suites. Very nice, clean, quiet and superb complimentary breakfast. It was central to everything.

Over the next few days we enjoyed amazing views, food and shopping. Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile, Museums, of course the Hershey store.

Most of all, for the first time in who knows how long it was just my man and I. We ate, we walked, we talked and soaked in everything. We weren't in a rush, we weren't worried about the boys - REALLY I wasn't worried about them at all for once. By the end of the trip we were physically exhausted, Chicago is not for lightweights, but our spirits were well rested and rejuvenated.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just for Today

Just for today, I'd like to not feel like I have to fight for my kid

or that I have to convince people he DOES belong

Just for today, I'd like to not have a lump in my throat

or a huge knot in my stomach

Just for today, I'd like there to be no phone calls and emails

or the need to explain to people the same things over and over and over

Just for today, I'd like to not have to champion my son

or to feel like if I don't speak up my son, and others like him,

will be bullied and hurt by the people who are supposed to help them

Just for today I'd like the world to not be a scary

and potentially dangerous place for my son

Just for today I wish people could just do the right thing

because it's the right thing to do

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Perfect Holiday

I am wandering around the house putting away the Halloween decorations today and I'm feeling a little sad. This Halloween was REALLY good. I never really went all out for Halloween before, its always been an okay but not a real stand out holiday for me in any way. Not to mention that for C, October is always a VERY hard month. Lots of trauma anniversaries and upset and school is getting harder and . . . well you get the picture. Add to that the excitement and dysregulation (like the time I had to carry all 50 lbs of him kicking and screaming home about 4 blocks over a misunderstanding) that Trick or Treating brings and usually by October 31st all I want to do is curl up in a fetal position and sleep til New Years.

But I do like to throw parties for my kids. And last year I realized J rarely gets to have friends over because, well, life can be hard in this house of ours. So I pushed aside my own exhaustion and we planned a Halloween party.My long time best friend and her boyfriend came from out of town (they even dressed up!) and everyone had a great time, especially me.

With everything that has gone on in our family this past year I am trying to slow down, take some deep breaths and enjoy life more. So I went all out with the decorations at Halloween and we planned another party. While we were out with the boys Trick or Treating I realized I was very content and relaxed. J was no longer tripping and falling all over the place. They weren't running off in different directions. C was so calm and regulated that he became an impromptu helper to several children who were younger than him. He held screen doors open for them and knocked for them, he let them go ahead of him, he steadied young costumed children who were jostled by eager counterparts, he reminded other older children to let the little ones go first. He charmed people with his manners, going above and beyond a simple "thank you". He would give unique and meaningful feedback to people such as "love your jack o lantern" or "awesome decorations". He gave a heartfelt "Happy Halloween" as a parting comment at each door.

We then came home and he was so exhausted he didn't want to go back out with his brother. So he sat, all bundled up on the front porch, waiting for Treaters - complimenting costumes, chatting people up while he practically filled their bags with candy from our bowl. He was in seventh heaven. He is such a people person but often is unsure of what to say or do. It was then that I realized Halloween is the perfect holiday for him. He gets to dress up and pretend, he gets to meet new people and be helpful, he gets candy given to him at strangers doors (plus he gets to peek inside their houses. lol) and he gets to reciprocate by handing out candy from his own house. We couldn't have planned it better if we tried. Too bad Halloween is only once a year.