Parenting again: "I like this, this is fun, this feels good"

imageMotherhood doesn’t have to suck, or be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. I’m having fun these days, like I am enjoying staying at home and being with my kids.  

All parts of it, and I can’t believe that only a year ago I had sworn off having any more kids.

There is this whisper in the back of my head

“I like this, this is fun, this feels good”

But I’ve been too afraid to say it out loud for fear that it won’t be any more, that suddenly things will change and it won’t feel easy, breezy and fun.

The truth is, that I KNOW it will change, it won’t always be this way, but for right now I’m enjoying what is.

Becoming a parent again allows the chance to do things differently.

I was CA-RAYZEE, the first go around with my son, and I say that lovingly because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

None of us do, and no matter the millions of mothers before me who had all sorts of opinions about how I should parent, I had to figure things out for myself.  

First time motherhood is not everyone’s challenge, for some it comes with ease and grace, I’ve seen people do it.

For some of us it is a challenge.

And for me, I had to learn by doing and experiencing.

I believe some things in life you have to experience in order to know. There is no escaping the pain of going through something challenging, the reward is in the wisdom you gain of having to go through it.   And yet there is still this drive to want to spare people from making the mistakes we made by providing them with all sorts of advice.  

“Don’t do what I did…..”“Don’t buy that…….”“10 things I wish I didn’t do when….”

Shortcuts are nice, and other people’s mistakes giving rise to practical advice can be helpful, but what about our own missed lessons to be learned if we just follow someone else’s path all the time?

If I had not had the experience of being a mother already and making mistakes that I made, I would not be the mother I am today.

I can rationalize and say that R was a more challenging baby, or R didn’t sleep, or R was like this or that, but what I realized is that I’m different this time because I am choosing to be different.

This time I am parenting by instinct, this time I’m giving myself a break, making time for myself, accepting help, getting out of the house and sharing responsibilities

I am not reading other parents blogs, expert sleep books, or filling my mind with “should's” of being a parent.

What works for you and YOUR LIFE, is what you ‘should’ do.

I don’t know if what I’m doing is right, but I know that this time I feel better, I’m less irritated and more joyful.

“I like this, this is fun, this feels good”

That whisper gets louder everyday

What Autism has taught me #2

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I made a new friend the other day at the park, our kids are in the same class and we politely started talking while the boys ran around. Her daughter was there also, playing in the sand and swinging alone and while we talked she would casually say things about her daughter, who she referred to as monkey:

“Monkey can’t eat soy, dairy, sugar or gluten, so these cookies are great!

That’s pretty normal for San Diego, so I didn’t think much about it but then she said

“Monkey couldn’t go to any of the private schools around here so that’s why we are at this school, which we love!”

This peaked my interest, so I asked:

“Why can’t she go the private schools?”

“O, she has Autism and is nonverbal so they can refuse to accept her.”

internal voice: WHAT! OMG, she said that so casually!

“You know, R has Autism too!!!” I blurted out, probably too enthusiastically.

“Yeah, but he can talk, Monkey is smart and can talk but she just refuses to, that’s so frustrating”

She didn’t even flinch when I told her R had Autism and responded as if I had told her the weather was nice that day.

The exhale I had in that moment reminded me that I tend to hold my breath in those first meetings with parents. I’m always wondering in the back of my head, do I tell them or do I say nothing?

Usually I say nothing.

It is not that I am ashamed of R and his diagnosis, or that we have a hard time with R being Autistic, I feel the opposite in fact, our life is so much more colorful, and magical with the way he views the world.

But in that moment my excitement was more about relief. Relief that I didn’t need to explain what Autism meant, or give an explanation that R is high functioning or that I didn’t have to feel her uncomfortableness of how to react, because I knew she just GOT it, and she didn’t care, it was no big deal.

I wonder if we both felt that same relief, because her next question was excitedly

“Where do you work out!?”

It was as if we got that elephant in the room out of the way and we were able to just be parents. There wasn’t the wonder of if I would disclose R’s diagnosis and I wasn’t faced with the uncomfortable worry of other people and their perceptions of Autism.

I’m not judging anyone for having uncomfortable feelings. I too, before I experienced Autism thought all sorts of negative stereotypes about autism that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself or my child if I’d had a choice.

But life handed us Autism and the only choice was to enter that world and become educated and skilled in helping R succeed. In doing so I realized that it was not as scary as I had thought and wasn’t going to be a horrible burden or a lifetime of struggle. I saw that my little boy was still the amazingly creative, funny, sweet, musical, engineer, lego loving kid that I had always known. I also realized that I have no idea what Autism really is.

All I know is every detail of how R’s Autism manifests. The saying is: “if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

What was the same about my new mom friend and I was that we understood a language and lifestyle that comes with being autistic. When I told her we had to leave early for therapy, it wasn’t weird, in fact their ABA therapist was coming over later that night too.

I came home that night excited and giddy as I told Mr. Science all about my new friend and our day.

I know it may sound a bit over exaggerated to get so worked up over this moment but in a world of parental posturing and properness, It felt so free to just be ourselves, no apologies, no explanations.

It’s been a journey to where I am today with my sons diagnosis and I would be lying if I didn’t say at some point I just wanted him to be “cured”, or “fixed” but really if I stripped away the Autism would R still be R?

R has made leaps and bounds in his communication and ability to make new friends. I love that people see him for who he is and love him all the same, this makes my heart leap for joy. He has taught me to communicate clearly, to say what I mean and mean what I say, to set good boundaries for myself and for him, and to play and imagine and forget this world on a daily basis. I’ve been to outer-space and visited the moon more times than I can count!

I’ve moved beyond wanting to cure him of his Autism, my wish is to give him all the resources and support in the world so that he can feel good, confident and happy.

But, I think that’s what we all want for our children.

I guess we are no different.

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Thanks for reading!

As a side note I am reading an amazing book called Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and Search for identity by Andrew Solomon, which talks about families dealing with deafness, dwarfism, autism and other disabilities, its a a great look at how we view these conditions in our society and he presents some interesting ideas and comparisons that have really made me think differently about autism.

http://www.amazon.com/Far-Tree-Parents-Children-Identity/dp/0743236726/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457570774&sr=8-1&keywords=Far+From+the+Tree

Better Questions, More Inspired Answers

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Inside us all there is a point of resistance when doing anything, but especially with creative work there comes a time when we want to throw our hands up and scream. “but I don’t WANNA!, urrrggg, I don’t wanna do _______!!!

I feel like this sometimes with my creative endeavors whether it’s performing,writing, or practicing music. I feel the inital excitiment of starting a project and then inevitably at some point I want to kick and scream, and be defiant against myself and say, “but I don’t wanna!, this is stupid!”.

And at that point no one is there to hold me accountable and say

“ i know, but you have to.”

Because I don’t have to do anything, I can quit right at that moment, or I can choose to move forward despite my irritation.

Usually what propels me forward is that the irritation of not doing the thing outweighs my irritation of doing it. It come from a place inside me of NEEDING to, write that blog, finish choregraphing the routine, draw that picture, or play that song, as oppose to a wanting to accomplish something.

If you’ve never experienced this before then it may not make sense, but most of my creative friends have expressed this same idea that it may start as a want, but more it comes from a need to express something within.

I have many such urges in life, mostly none of them having to do with my actual j.o.b, or how I make money. I can spend an afternoon writing and filling my cup with positive thoughts, podcasts, books of people proving that you can live a creative life AND make a living doing it, and I feel most at home in that space. The trouble comes when my censor persists.

Why are you doing this? You SHOULD be working more, towards building your business, you SHOULDN’T be spending time on all this creative stuff, What’s the point, don’t you want to be making more money? SHOULDN’T you focus on making more money doing your existing business? What do you do all day? You SHOULD be more efficient with you time? What’s the point of writing? No one cares? You’ll never make money doing that.

Wheesh! Not so nice right?

We are always the hardest on ourselves, I would NEVER say these things to anyone I know and love, because in my heart of hearts I see their beauty, their gifts, their already amazing success in the world, so why is it so easy to be hard on myself?

Despite those crazy thoughts going through my head I am learning to push forward, to get thick skin, and do it anyways. But as I’ve learned if you ask yourself terrible questions, you will get terrible responses, so in response to my censor I asked myself better questions, to which I found some amazing answers.

Why do you do creative work? How can this help fuel your already existing businesses? How will this improve your relationship with your son? Your fiancé? By pursuing your creative interests how will this make you feel?

It makes me feel good, feminine, free, inspired, happy, passionate, alive It fills my cup, fuels my creative itch, and ultimately gives back to whatever it is I am doing I am working on my business, by figuring out what it is that really makes me happy, what really drives my practice, by learning what I like to do and what I don’t like to do, that will help me make my business fresh and interesting and exciting. This will also help me serve my clients better. I am considering what I think I SHOULD do vs. what I WANT to do and I will be able to do sustainably, long term. I am letting the censor be present but also learning to work with you. How does your input help me? The “point” isn’t to make money specifically with my writing, or these lunch notes, the point is to exercise my creative muscle, otherwise it atrophies, otherwise I atrophy. I am learning about time, and exertion, and using that time to accomplish things. I feel best when I work in smaller amounts of time, getting to spend more time with family, have room for creative inspiration, and fuel my body, soul and spirit.

If you also are working with your censor on whatever project you are doing, try asking yourself better questions.

Better questions give more inspired answers.

Happy to be with you creatives on this journey! Love to hear your creative successes!