the beauty of friendship

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In a nutshell this past week has sucked; big time! Seriously folks, I have never been happier about a week’s end. That being said some good stuff did happen. John took a new job heading up a new department. Jake was able to tell me he was about to throw-up! Those are the highlights of my week. Oh and we are also trying out a new dog but so far it isn’t going that great. The dog is super super sweet, crate trained, house broken, loves to play and loves people. Jake on the other hand, screams in terror when the dog comes near him. But last night while the dog was hanging out with Allie, Jake asked if he could keep the dog. What?!?! He wants to keep the dog that he is terrified of? I don’t know that I will ever understand Jake’s mind.

Meanwhile, my mother has been in the hospital and we’ve had teenager stuff going on. Fortunately, my mom will go home soon. And as far as the teenager stuff; I am sure it will continue until well after graduation next year. But I will survive. I always do and am blessed to have friends and family!

I am just tired. I want to shut down and hide out in my room.

I am fortunate to have one particular friend who listens, offers advice and can help me off the ledge. One who helps me see the bright side of things and encourages me to not hide out in my room!

D and I’ve been friends for about 28 years. We grew up in the same church. Because she was a few years older than me we had different friends. I can remember thinking that she was so beautiful and cool. And if she ever talked to me I felt like I was “somebody” because one of the cool older kids liked me! It is funny now as I think back to that time. We became friends when I was about 19. One thing about D & me is that we could always have a great time no matter what we were doing. We sang together in choir, her daughter and my boys were close in age so we were going through the same stuff that new mothers go through. Even if we were miles apart our friendship didn’t falter. We have had our fair share of disagreements but because of our strong bond, our friendship is still strong.  She was then and is now, one of the most beautiful, inside and out, people I know.

She was the first person who knew I was pregnant with Jake. Jake was not planned and she knew that I wasn’t ready to be a mom of a newborn again. I mean, I was 40 and scared and already felt tired. She knew I was scared and she knew I was freaking out. But there was no judgment; there was only support and encouragement. She helped me see the blessings that laid before me. All I could see at that moment in time was that I was so close to having some independence. Allie was about to start her last year in elementary school, the boys were both starting their lives. When all of a sudden I was going to have a new baby. I didn’t know anyone with a baby at that time. All of my friends had kids either my boy’s ages or close to Allie’s age. I felt alone at times but thankfully I had the support of D and the rest of my friends.

Friendship is important. John and I can share everything and I am blessed with his friendship but there are topics he just doesn’t care to discuss at lengths end! He really doesn’t want to talk about my hair or hair products. Let alone make-up or the latest celebrity gossip (well, he likes the gossip stuff; 🙂 ). But seriously, my friendship with D is unique. It is the type of friendship I have prayed that my older kids would find. Someone who can hold them accountable, encourage them and love them. I have the same prayer for Jake.

Family is very important but friendship is just as important.

I am blessed to have someone I can go to when I need to vent, cry or share something great. I am fortunate that our friendship has lasted as long as it has and will continue until our days come to an end. I am blessed with a great circle of friends who want to hear the good news along with the bad. We hold each other up, pray for one another and are there the moment someone needs a little extra helping hand.

This past week wasn’t much fun for me but what helped make everything better was knowing I had a friend I could turn to when I needed that extra comfort. 

Thank you sweet friend for your constant love and support! I am privileged to call you my friend!!

 

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looking closer

There are times I think I can be a bit jaded when it comes to Jake. I don’t see what others see when I look at him. I see things much differently. I do see the boy they see but I also see much more.

I see the love that shines from his eyes. I see a little boy who is happy most of the time and a little boy who loves life. I see the twinkle in his eyes when he is testing me. I know when he is trying to get his way and whine to get me to do whatever it is he wants. I know his expressions. I know the look he gets when he doesn’t understand something. I can see when he is getting close to his breaking point. I also see the progression he has made. I see the boy who wants to succeed and wants the praise for doing a good job.

I also see the questioning stares from strangers. I see the shaking of the head, the fake smile, and the uncomfortable moment when they want to walk away. At first the stranger smiles and might even speak to Jake. But as soon as they make eye contact they instantly become uncomfortable. They instantly avert their eyes from mine and hurry away.

I used to be one of those strangers. I used to wonder to myself ‘why isn’t that parent taking control?’ But, obviously, I don’t do that anymore.

The stares, remarks and the questioning looks make it hard for me to take Jake out in public. I am working on this but unfortunately, I haven’t made a lot of progress.

It is hard.

I so desperately want others to see the boy I see. I want others to feel comfortable around him. I want others to talk to him and try to interact with him and allow Jake the time it takes to process everything. If given enough time others will see who this boy is and all that he is capable of doing.

Strangers don’t see it. They see a boy who is behaving badly. They see a boy who is trying desperately to get his way and many times when we are out in public I give him his way. Not because I am a bad parent or because I let Jake rule the roost. I am guilty of this because I don’t want an escalation in behaviors. Once Jake gets to a certain point it is hard to bring him back. Strangers don’t know this, all they see is a boy who looks “normal” who is behaving badly.

To the lady at Target shaking her head and whispering to her friend because my boy of nearly 6 is crying loudly. I want to say I am doing the best I can. I am trying to help my boy who is struggling. Your look of disgust at my parenting style makes me more nervous and makes me feel inferior. What I would tell you if my boy were calm is this; we were just at the doctor and Jake had to endure different people touching him. Jake has the most difficult time with too many touches. You don’t understand that he has had to hold it together for nearly 2 hours and is at his breaking point. I had to get him a few things at Target otherwise I wouldn’t have gone. He is having a hard time sitting as his sensory’s are all thrown off. He needs to move, be massaged and needs deep pressure to ease his body. For now the only way he knows how to express his discomfort is to cry, to fight, to wiggle away from me so he can run and jump to relieve the mixed up messages his brain is sending through his body. He looks like he is being “bad” and defiant but I promise he isn’t. I would tell you about his autism and his sensory processing disorder. I would tell you I am not a bad parent who is letting her kid do whatever he wants. I am just trying to get him Tylenol to relieve his throbbing ear infection. But I don’t say any of these things. I avert my eyes and feel my heart beat a little faster. I hurry along reassuring Jake we are almost done and we can go home. The look on his face, the tears in his eyes are not of a boy who needs more discipline. He needs a break and I’ve pushed him too far. I know I shouldn’t have gone but I did. I struggle to get to the check-out line while pushing the cart and giving him deep pressure hugs. He needs a quiet place, he needs to get the hell out of target so his body can regroup. He needs me to massage him, stretch his body and he needs deep pressure hugs so his body can feel relieved. I hurry out of Target. Jake is more calm. We get home I massage Jake’s legs and arms, I give him deep hard hugs and he sits on the couch under his weighted blanket in the quiet. He stares blankly at the TV that is off. After about 10 minutes he tells me he feels better and is able to play again.

This happened a while back and obviously I can’t let it go. It haunts me each time I leave the house to go on an outing with Jake. Before we leave, I try to give him all the sensory input he needs in hopes it will last while we are gone. It usually lasts about an hour to an hour and half and then we are walking on thin ice.

I nearly have a panic attack each time I need to take him anywhere. I know the more we go and do the better we will all be but it seems to get harder and harder.

I see what others can’t see. The defiant little boy who others see isn’t the one I see. I am not saying Jake is never defiant. Jake can be. Jake can also try to manipulate me to get his way. He is a child nonetheless. I see the behaviors when he isn’t struggling but when he is those behaviors are amplified. I know the difference of autism behaviors versus behaviors of a kid. Others don’t know by just looking at him if he is struggling or not. Because I know him, I know the difference.

I do my very best to not use his autism as an excuse. But unfortunately, autism is the reason behind his actions much of the time. Because of autism his brain doesn’t process information the same way yours or mine does. Because of autism his body is out of sync. Jake will be 6 in 24 days and is learning daily how to cope.

We do our very best to teach Jake how to handle everyday situations. While we are teaching him we are learning too. I am not an expert; I make mistakes. I am learning right along with Jake. I work hard learning how to handle new and difficult situations. I am not perfect but like most parents I know; I work hard to be the best parent I can be.

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 Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope that anchors the soul, firm and secure…”