Breastfeeding. Soapbox Edition by Yours Truly.

For research purposes, I did in fact, seek out the photo of Alyssa Milano breast feeding her baby. I didn’t have to actively seek out anything regarding KimK because she’s plastered her body all over the internet. All one needs to do is open up a browser. Go figure.

My opinions in this post are my own and based on my own history of breast feeding and bottle feeding in private and public.

Anywhoo, let’s begin, shall we?

 So KimK is out there for the world to see…Okay. Not for everybody but if she feels that her body is everybody else’s business and it’s clear that her self worth is measured by how many views/likes/faves she gets, Fine. It’s the Internet. We’ve come to expect nothing less, and how sad is that?

Alyssa Milano brought up a point when she said that her breast feeding photos were more offensive than KimK’s full frontal assault. The sad truth is that nobody wants to see the breasts intended purpose. Breasts have been sexualized for decades now and before the internet, women have had their breastfeeding photos (Don’t kid yourself, they existed way before the internet) safely tucked away and brought out only to those whom they felt comfortable sharing with…Or so it’s been with me, anyway. I have some of my own and no, you can’t see them. To reveal to the world that a breast’s purpose is to actually nourish babies’ bodies and minds is an offense only to those doing the sexualization.

Obviously, women are becoming quite comfortable with posting nursing pictures of themselves on the internet for all to see. Everyone should be all in favour of breastfeeding. It serves a purpose; to nourish a child, and the act of feeding your baby, whether it’s by bottle or breast, is an intimate bond between Mother and Baby. This is what you teach your children and it’s a no-brainer in my opinion. How dare anyone even attempt to take away your choice, force you to feed elsewhere or have you removed from any public place. It’s ludicrous and stupid and piss on anyone who thinks that it’s okay to ostracize a nursing mother.  Feeding your baby should not be offensive. Unfortunately, it is for many people and they are just going to have to get over it.

Now, here is where it gets a little skewed…

Ms. Milano’s pictures are quite tasteful and sweet, in my opinion. She is obviously nursing her baby and the rest of her is covered, leaving quite alot left to the imagination. She is obviously totally enthralled and in love with her baby and her face is glowing. If she were nursing in a public place, I would have no trouble defending her to some idiot who thought that she should be put into a bathroom stall, her car or sent home to nurse. Though she is nursing in a photograph, I don’t feel that she deserves any negative attention whatsoever. She hasn’t done a damn thing to warrant any of those nasty comments.

There are numerous other pictures on the internet of women who choose to display their nursing photos. In those photos, their breasts are out and proud and in full view, quite like KimK’s breasts. Obviously, these women are completely comfortable with letting it all hang out while breastfeeding. However, when you exhibit your full frontal in a public place, such as a restaurant or mall, you must accept that people will be offended and will say as much right to your face. You literally invite those comments in without actually saying a word.

Here come the whiny bits now…

When you display everything in public, even though you are doing something completely natural as nursing a baby, it’s one more thing that I have to explain to my mentally challenged son, and most of the time, there is no stopping the intrusive questions that he will definitely ask you in that public forum. I am responsible to a point but I have no idea why you are showing every thing off in public so it’s up to you to explain that, not me. I spend many days explaining other peoples’ public decisions to my son. He’s really okay with nursing and understands that babies need to be fed. And let’s be clear on this, he’s mentally a child of 10 (give or take) in a 22 year old’s body. I really shouldn’t have to explain why you are half naked in public. I will only go so far as to explain that you are feeding the baby so don’t be surprised if I pass off the rest of his inquisition to you. You might say to him that you are feeding your baby, and he will respond with,
“But why are you naked?”and the 20 question session begins.

I’m sorry, and good luck with that.

 

Let’s also be clear on this point; Public nudity is not offensive to everyone BUT, it is offensive to quite a few folks. It’s easy to turn off the computer and TV screens. It’s easy to change the channel. It’s not so easy to distract a child in a public place while there are lovely “boobies” hanging out for him to ogle at, thereby embarrassing you and me. Yeah, that’s fun. (that was sarcasm)

I’ll defend myself by saying that I am not a prude. Really. Your nudity, as well as KimK’s, doesn’t exactly bother me. There is something to appreciate in the artistry of the human form and it shouldn’t be offensive. In fact, I might be a bit jealous of the fact that your breasts are perkier, prettier and all around better than my own saggy, stretch marked, sad sacks, and forgive me for staring at them briefly before coming to my senses.

As Jacob’s parent, though, I really don’t relish the thought of explaining why mine look different than yours. He isn’t capable of comprehending the naturalness of the human body and that it changes over time. He doesn’t get it. He never will. Well, he might but after 10 years of living with a “horny pubescent”, I doubt it’ll happen any time soon. It’s one thing for me to be comfortable at home but quite another to be comfortable in public.

I am asking politely that you realize there are parents out there who are not ready to have these conversations with their kids. Not everyone is as comfortable as I am with explaining nursing to their kids, let alone full frontal nudity of any part of your “naughty bits”. Please realize that not everybody is comfortable with other peoples bodies, let alone their own bodies. Hell, to a certain point, I’m not exactly comfortable with my flabby tummy and excess fat so it’s not exactly my cup of tea to post any nude pictures of myself anywhere, no matter how tasteful they might be presented. I do believe that parents need to get comfortable with explaining nursing because it’s here to stay and it’s not something to be ashamed of either doing or seeing, but no parent should be forced into explaining why a woman is naked (partially or not) in public.

I am speaking from experience when I tell you that nobody will question you feeding your baby when you do it tastefully. Though I nursed Jacob for a very short time (he was lactose intolerant), I had plenty of public nursing experience; nearly a year each with my oldest and youngest. I did it tastefully and there were even times when a waitress or someone else was surprised to find out that I was actually nursing my son while eating my own food. I was not completely covered in every situation. Sometimes, it was far too hot to have a blanket over us but for the most part, the baby’s head covered what needed to be covered. Not one person had anything negative to say to me about it. Ever.

By letting it all hang out, it becomes difficult to defend your choice of nursing in public. I’m not saying that I will not defend you. I’ll defend your choice to nurse until I am blue in the face and pass out. I am saying that not everyone will feel the need to defend your breast feeding because in reality, you are not helping your own situation. As a supporter of breast feeding, it’s much easier for me to defend you when you leave everything else to the imagination. It also makes it easier on you, the nursing mother, to be left in peace as you bond with your baby anytime and anywhere. Because let’s be real here, that is the ultimate goal.

Have a little dignity and self respect. If you want the negative attention, by all means, take a cue from KimK and keep doing what you are doing. It’ll happen and I honestly don’t know how much more dear Kim can take of the negative attention. If she and you enjoy the negativity because any attention is good attention, well she has a problem, and so do you. If you want to avoid the negative attention, you know exactly what needs to be done and it’s so easy to do.

Have a little respect for others who aren’t as comfortable with nudity as you are. Give other people the dignity of not having to explain to their children (special needs or not) the reason for your public nudity. If you want the world to know that you are breast feeding your baby, take a picture and post it on the internet. It’ll get around faster than nursing in a mall.

Off my soapbox now. Thanks, y’all!

Marvel Movie Magic – Jacob and the Captain America Double Feature

Oh Marvel Universe, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Jacob really, really, really wanted to see the new Captain America movie.

I have been a Marvel fan since I was a kid and I’m really a geek at heart so of course, I wasn’t going to deny him or myself the pleasure of watching the Marvel Universe in live action on the big screen. It just so happened that the local AMC was hosting a Captain America double feature last Thursday evening. How could we pass that up? I was all in and so was Jacob. The show started at 5:30pm and would end close to 11:00pm. If Jacob was going to make it through (as well as myself), I would need a plan.

I bought the tickets online in advance so there was no waiting and I packed his medicine, along with wet wipes, hand lotion, an extra shirt and a bottle of water. No blanket! Too hot lol.

 

wizard

We left early so that we could eat in the food court before entering the theatre. Eating ahead of time made sure that we didn’t spend too much at the concession but of course, we still had to buy the usual pretzels and drinks. This time, we also split a pizza for the second show.

I like to sit either at the back of the theatre or in the middle where there is a landing and enough room for Jacob to stretch out. He gets restless and being cramped without being able to stretch his legs means that he won’t make it through the long haul. Sometimes, he has to run to the bathroom and because he can be clumsy, it’s so much easier for Jacob to just get up and go without any obstacles in his way or bothering anyone else. This time, the middle section was full so we decided on the back where there was plenty of leg room and we still had a great view of the screen.

Jacob was understandably excited and talked non-stop during the pre-show ads on screen and got quite loud at one point. There were two young gentleman about 4 seats down from us (there were only 10 seats in our section) and one of them got a bit upset, telling Jacob,

“Uh, dude. Could you like, just not talk?”

 

 Jacob immediately apologized (That’s mah boy!) and explained that he got a little too excited and he’ll try better. We had a few minutes before the movie started so I decided to go to the loo. I told Jacob to stay put and not talk to anyone. He’s always good at staying in his seat so I had no problem leaving him alone for a few moments though I knew it was futile expecting him to stay silent LOL. As I passed by the two men, I whispered to them, “Hey guys, he’s mentally challenged. Can you cut him a little slack?”

Now I find that just saying “Mentally Challenged” says everything. I don’t have to explain a diagnosis they might not understand and I’ve found that people immediately lower their guard and a wave of instant understanding comes over their faces. They get it and Jacob acquires instant allies. In this case, it worked like a charm. I came back from the loo and found them talking up a storm with Jacob about everything Marvel.

 

“Mom! I made two friends!” Jacob beamed and I said, “Thank you.” to the young men.

 

Once the movie started, they had messed up the 3D so we couldn’t hear or see very well for the first 10 minutes. I heard others blame their 3D glasses as I had and then several people got up to fetch a manager. Jacob was surprisingly calm about the fact that they did not start the movie over. We continued to watch and Jacob was fine with all of it.

Well, okay then.

 

Intermission came around so Jacob made his trip to the loo. When he returned, we decided to split a pizza but I didn’t want him at the concession waiting. I decided to go myself, at the urging of the two young men who said that they would keep him company. The pizza was taking much longer than expected so I was getting nervous. A man who was sitting in front of us with his wife, came up to the line beside me and asked, “Is that your son that you have with you?”

I said that he was and then he began to tell me about his daughter being exactly like Jacob in the way she talked and acted. He said that they could be twins, they were so much alike. We talked for a few minutes while we waited for our food and he assured me that Jacob was doing fine and staying in his seat. He then he asked me if he could buy Jacob an ice cream because he was such a good kid.

We finally got out of the concession and back into our seats in time for the lights to dim and the trailers to begin. While I was at the concession, apparently our two rows of people (including the two young men) had started chatting about the movie and the Marvel Universe, so Jacob was in his element and a very happy camper when we returned. The pizza and ice cream made it a big party LOL

Well, The film started playing and everyone started saying, “Uh…is this a flashback?” No trailers, just the exact same scene from the first movie.

This is why I love Marvel fans; nobody got angry. In fact, people started laughing and cracking jokes. Someone yelled out, “Epic Fail!” and people laughed. More people started yelling at the screen since the movie kept playing…Spoiler Alerts dead ahead:

“Don’t open the crypt!” Giggles.
“Don’t drop it!” More giggles.
“It’s in the wall!” Laughter.

Jacob yelled out, “Where’s the blood and gore?!” That got a few laughs, too.

The manager walked in and apologized to us. Someone shouted out, “So, free popcorn for everybody?!”

We actually got free movie tickets! Jacob asked her, “We get a free movie?” When she said, “Yes!”, he yelled, “SCORE!”

His favourite word at present.

  The trailers started playing and we all whooped and hollered and enjoyed ourselves because more Marvel movies were coming out this summer. Jacob got his blood and gore (sort of lol) during a big fight scene. Several people in our rows yelled, “There ya go!” and looked at Jacob so he was happy. People talked or shouted or laughed in all the right places during the movie and though Jacob was wired for sound, nobody minded because he wasn’t interrupting the show. He got up and moved around, he stretched in the aisle but nobody minded. Black Widow made her appearance so of course, Jacob shouted, “SCORE!” and everyone laughed.

There’s a magic that happens with the Marvel Universe and it carries over into other realms of fantasy but also into real life. People are happy and excited, friendly and forgiving. I have never hesitated taking Jacob to see these movies because the atmosphere is so welcoming. 

 

Marvel movies are magic. The Marvel Universe is magical and the fans…The fans are simply amazing. (Marvelous sound too cheesy? Maybe LOL)

If You Are You Asking, “What’s Your Excuse?”, You Are Asking the Wrong Question.

Today is National Women’s Day and of course, the first thing I see in my news feed is this Huff Post article on Fit Mom, Maria Kang.

‘Hot Facebook Mom’ Still Wants To Know: ‘What’s Your Excuse?’

In the article, there is a picture showing off her body with various tags pointing to different parts of her body. The picture also links to her new website, No Excuse Mom

“What’s Your Excuse?” –It’s such an in-your-face question, isn’t it? By its very nature, a little insulting and a blow to the ego. In my own experience, it has such a negative connotation that I couldn’t possibly see anything positive about the question at all. Who would ever guess that three little words could be so powerful and cause such an uproar over the internet. Well, me and anyone who’s ever seen a meme. That simple little question begs people to become defensive and thus the fighting begins.

Don’t get me wrong. I admire Ms. Kang and her passion to make herself a better person as well as help others to achieve the same success. She is obviously a hard working mother who is very proud of what she has accomplished. Good for her. She’s an empowered woman but after seeing the backlash that she has endured, it has occurred to me that perhaps she is asking the wrong question. Perhaps, we are all asking the wrong question.

We all have excuses.

I don’t feel like doing the dishes so I’m going to let them soak in the sink. I’m too tired to walk the dog so instead, I’ll sit in my lawn chair and play fetch instead. I’m cheating on my diet but a slice of cheesecake is just too good to pass up. I can’t have lunch with you this week because my child suddenly came down with a cold. I have a headache so sorry honey, no sex tonight.

Honestly, I can never seem to see the good in an excuse and I’m willing to be that I’m not the only one. As far as I’m concerned, an excuse serves to hide something or make us feel a little better about not doing something. The only thing an excuse is good for is making us feel guilty and that’s not really good at all, is it?

Who wants to live like that?

Us women are so hard on ourselves and each other. We can look in the mirror and point out 20 things within 20 seconds that are wrong in our own eyes and at the same time, we will shun a compliment and feel as though we don’t deserve it. I know this because I read it every day on Facebook, I see it every day on TV and I live it every day. I am not alone but I am certainly not helping myself, either.

But…ya know what? It has to stop.

We are asking the wrong question! We need to empower ourselves and each other. We need to stop asking what the excuses are and instead ask this:

WHAT DEFINES YOU?

If you think about it, Maria is listing what defines her. She is a mother, a fitness enthusiast, a working woman and mentor. It’s what makes her Maria Kang. It is what defines her as a human.

We could list a thousand excuses for not being like Ms. Kang. Hell, I could do it with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back. The point is, we are not all so gung ho for life and sometimes, life and its challenges get the better of us. Sometimes, life just knocks the damn stuffing out of us, puts us in a headlock and refuses to let go until we tap out, give up, give in and cry, “UNCLE”!

Y’all have been there at least once. Right?

Everyone’s circumstances are different. We have to stop comparing ourselves to others who have accomplished more in their lives or who seem to have it all and then some. (sorry if that sounds a little passive-aggressive LOL) We have to learn to accept our circumstances for what they are before we can make changes. We have to learn to accept our bodies as they are before we can make changes. Excuses only serve to make us feel guilty and then help us to push those feelings down into the deep abyss only to come back up in the form of self-loathing and junk food binges.

Define yourself by your own circumstances and your own choices. Don’t let someone else ask the negative question. Ask instead what defines you. Are you a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a teacher, a mentor, a role model, a nurturer, a friend…Feel free to add to the list.

Jacob noticed that I was losing weight and he literally panicked and told me that he didn’t want me to lose any more so I asked him why. He said, “Because you won’t be soft and squishy anymore when I hug you.”

I looked at him and said, “Honey, when I lose more weight, I’ll be able to hug you even tighter because my belly fat won’t be in the way.” He was good with that.

So how does this fall into “What defines you?” The answer is that my son loves me for who I am right now and by looking through his eyes, I am able to define myself as a mother and nurturer. Defining myself as such allows me to see past an excuse to use his fear to stay fat.

Ask the right question! What defines you? What makes you the person you are and why are you worth doing something for yourself? Throw excuses out the window. In fact, throw that word out of your vocabulary. Find out what makes you, you. Then, by all means make the changes that you see fit but do it because you have already accepted who and what you are. You have just decided to make yourself better.

So getting back to National Women’s Day.

Empower other women to ask the right question. Empower them to empower others. Lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. We have come too far as half of the human race, only to drown in negativity. Learn to love who you are and then show other women what you have accomplished. Teach your daughters the same so they don’t have to grow up in a sea of negativity.

Empower yourselves. Define yourselves!

Then kick some ass!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I’ve had a few messages on my Facebook page from people extending their sympathy but also gently reminding me that Jacob’s episodes are not about me but about him. I want y’all to know that I get it and I do appreciate the thoughtfulness. It’s really not about me and I can see how a comment can come across as snarky and self-absorbed. Having said that, I have decided to write a quick blog post explaining exactly why I often dread the mood swings but also how we handle them.

I am a firm believer in finding what works and using that until it has outlived its usefulness. Thankfully, laughter is still the best solution to what ails Jacob (or any of us for that matter) at any given time. My sense of humour isn’t all that great and I tend not to think on my feet very well but all is not lost because I have a husband and my youngest son whose sense of humour could diffuse the Hulk at his worst.

We’ll start with a simple definition of Jacob’s primary condition.

Bipolar disorder (also known as bipolar affective disorder, manic-depressive disorder, or manic depression) is a mental illness. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience episodes of an elevated or agitated mood known as mania, alternating with episodes of depression.
Jacobs official diagnosis is Mixed Bipolar which basically means that symptoms of mania and depression occur simultaneously. Simply put, Jacob could be bouncing off the walls and appear happy but be completely upset about anything and begin crying or become destructive at the slightest provocation. His mood can go from calm to nuclear in 4.5 seconds flat. The moods don’t slow him down and can be difficult for him to deal with physically and mentally, oftentimes leaving him confused about what he is feeling or how he should be feeling. This leads to more obsession and upset.

To make matters worse (or at the very least more complicated) is the fact that Jacob is on the Autism Spectrum and mentally delayed so he is basically a child with a 3rd graders understanding of the world. It’s hard for him to know the right response to any given event in his life and it’s usually a sure bet that he’ll overreact, whether it’s a good or bad situation. He has no edit button and the question is usually How and in which direction will he go when he fails to understand his surroundings.

Now I’m not trying to make light of his condition but I also don’t want to be a ‘Debbie Downer’. Not every day is bad and there are definitely more good days than bad. On the good days, he is more aware of his feelings and does his best to articulate them. Other days, he simply cannot cope with the world.

Since being diagnosed at age 9, Jacob has improved tremendously. We still have days where I want to throw him under a train and I’m sure he’s thought about doing the same to me but more often than not, our good days outweigh the bad and humour gets us through. It’s easier now to see the humourous side of his personality and also see the humour in the things he does and what he says. Honestly, if I didn’t laugh, I would curl up and die from drowning in my own tears.

The past few days, Jacob has had quite a few episodes that I usually describe as “manic” on my Facebook page. I only say that because it’s quick and most people get it without me having to explain it in detail.

Manic does not necessarily mean that he is having a bad day. More often than not, the kid is thoroughly enjoying himself. 99% of the challenge lies in the fact that he becomes WILDLY inappropriate. He will take the simplest of things and turn them sexual. He will laugh and laugh about it, completely oblivious to my reactions and/or attempts at disciplining him. Other times, my attempts will be met with a turn in personality from happy-go-lucky to you-are-satan-spawn-and-I-hate-you-for-wanting-me-to-stop. I find myself walking on egg shells and thinking very carefully before I speak…That is when I am calm enough to think straight. Sometimes, I just deal with the meltdown calmly and let him take the lead. Other times, what I say or do has absolutely no bearing on his mood. He will meltdown regardless and nothing will help stave it off or stop it.

Clear as mud? Ya…LOL I’ll give you a little rundown of the other day which happened to be Valentine’s Day and maybe you’ll get a better picture.

He woke up this morning and the first thing out of his mouth (upon learning that it was Valentine’s Day) was, “Hey Mom, are you and Dad having sex today? You know you’re supposed to because it’s the day for lovers.” Completely inappropriate and certainly none of his business and I told him as much. Thankfully, he took it in stride, laughed it off and went on with his day. I made a note to myself not to take him out in public unless I absolutely had to and went on with my day LOL

That’s pretty tame and truthfully, I am grateful for those times. I can share it with his father after work and we’ll both have a good laugh and a face palm then be done. Other times, he gets fixated and anyone within hearing distance is subject to his “jokes” that may or may not be funny but it doesn’t matter. There’s a desperate itch that he must scratch and who cares if you don’t like it.

He watches Robot Chicken quite often. I watch it sometimes and sometimes, it’s good for a laugh. Our DVR is set to record all episodes so it basically amounts to 2 or 3 episodes per night. Jacob will watch them in the morning and every once in a while, a sketch will stand out like the one where a man was getting a massage. The obviously Asian woman asked the guy if he would like his “Happy Ending”. The man, looking horrified, denied it and ran off with the masseuse giving chase, repeating, “Happy Ending?” At the end of the sketch, the battered and bloodied man is cornered at the bottom of a dark stairwell. The masseuse asks again, “Happy Ending?” and hands him a burrito. Bah Dum Bum… (It might have been a taco…)

Cue the lesson on why it’s NEVER okay to say that in public. EVER.

Anywhoo…The other day, Jacob was watching a sketch about Buck Rogers. The aliens involved were calling him “Fuck Rogers” and begging him for his help. This did not go over well for dear old Buck so he lost his temper and began shooting everyone in sight. The end of the sketch revealed that a robot was responsible for the attempt at creating humour. Since the sketch had a swear word, albeit bleeped out, Jacob fell in love with it. Gee, what a surprise. Of course, I had to hear about it over and over or at least what I could comprehend through bouts of hysterical laughter.

There’s sometimes a moment I could swear seeing the wheels turning in that kids brain and the light bulb flashing over his head when he thinks of something clever.

After torturing me with repetition all day, the light bulb did indeed go off and Jacob grinned ear to ear. I am still perplexed at how he could get the sentence out so clearly through his insane giggle fit but I heard it, plain as day…

“I bet Fuck Rogers would like a happy ending!”

In the words of Emmet from The Lego Movie,

“OH

MY

G. O. S. H.”

What do I do? Do I scold him for it and risk a meltdown? Do I laugh and risk that he’ll repeat it for days on end and probably while we are out in public?

This is what I live with on a daily basis. I have to weigh everything carefully. Is Jacob primed for a meltdown or will he lose consciousness from hysterical laughter without me ever saying a word? How was his mood 5 minutes ago? How was it an hour ago? How has it been all day? How did he react when I told him to take a shower? How did he respond when I said that it was time for him to take his meds? Will my reaction send him into a rage or make his laughter worse? Can I redirect him? What if I can’t redirect him? What if my attempt at redirection sends him into a rage or meltdown or hysterics? Will I ever be able to take him out in public again? How safe is my furniture? How safe are my walls and doors?

How important is it that I react to his joke at all?

So many questions run through my mind and this is just one incident. I am mentally exhausted 24/7 from thinking too hard about what Jacob will do next. It’s my life.

It turned out that with this particular joke, hiding my face in my shirt and telling Jacob that I wasn’t laughing was enough of a response. He called me a liar, fixated on his cleverness for the next hour and let it go before I lost my mind. Whew!! If only every day was like this but sadly, I have to live with the times that he cannot be consoled and my house turns into his personal punching bag.


I never really know from one day to the next what mood Jacob will be in. I wish I could gauge the entire day based on how he woke up in the morning. Most days are good so I have that hope to cling to and it makes it easier to roll with the bad ones. He truly is so much better than he was even a couple of years ago. Medication has helped but I also think that he has matured somewhat and is more able to recognize his own moods and articulate them to us.

Humour is a big part of how we deal with Jacob and we use jokes as ammunition against him during some of his tough times. The trick is getting it in at just the right time; usually before he shuts down his brain and in between shouting spurts LOL.

This joke is one of our current faves. One line can be brought up at the first sign of a meltdown and most likely help to diffuse a bad situation.

The whole joke is as follows:

“While out hiking in Alberta Canada with my girlfriend we were surprised by a huge grizzly bear charging at us from out of nowhere.
The ferocious grizzly must have been protecting her cubs because she was extremely aggressive.
If I had not had my little Beretta Jetfire with me I would not be here today!
Just one shot to my girlfriend’s knee cap was all it took… the bear got her and I was able to escape by just walking away at a brisk pace.
It’s one of the best pistols in my collection.”

Since then, many a major meltdown has been avoided simply by reciting “One shot to my girlfriend’s kneecap was all it took…” He’ll start laughing (even if he doesn’t want to) and the crisis will be averted for the time being. Timing is everything, however.

Humour is a huge part of our lives and though I sometimes forget it and go off the deep end myself, it truly is the best way to live in a house where everything is so unpredictable. Laughter can definitely be the best medicine when it comes to Jacob.

Moms Sanity vs Door Knob

Barney is our Beagle/Basset Hound mix and he’s often too smart for his own good. He learned quite quickly how to open doors because ours have handles, not knobs. A few of the indoor handles don’t lock so he regularly opens them and grabs things that he shouldn’t. I’ve slowly been replacing them and so far, it’s been an easy task.

Today, I decided to replace our master bedroom door handle because the lock was broken and Barney would not stay out of the room. He and Bullet have decided they like to play tug of war with my pillows and blankets and I think it’s about time I put a stop to it.
We’ve been in this house for almost 10 years now and while I love the brushed nickel door handles, I felt that it was time for a change so I have been switching to the oiled bronze look. They aren’t any more expensive and I love the new look, no matter how small a change it is.
I’m a girl, so I read the instructions. I had to chisel a little bit out of the door to make the new piece fit properly. I put the plate on the door frame and set the latch inside the door. I wanted to make sure everything lined up before I screwed everything in permanently. No problem, right?

Except the door closed.

Now We Can Panic

Okay, don’t panic. I could fix this…I read the instructions. OMG! Nowhere in the freakin’ instructions did it say what to do if you locked yourself in the damn bedroom! Okay, it didn’t tell me how to move the stupid latch to open the door. Sooooo, WTF was I going to do now?!
Deep breath…
Jacob! I yelled for him and he actually heard me. The tone in his voice suggested that he felt the panic in my voice because he said, “Hang in there, Mom. I’m coming as fast as I can!”

I asked him to grab a credit card or my driver’s license and instructed him on how to use it to open the door. He couldn’t do it. My bedroom has a door to the backyard so he ran out the kitchen door and came in through the bedroom to give me a hand.
By this time, I was in full panic mode, thinking that I’d be forever trapped in my bedroom with 3 dogs with Jacob randomly checking up on me and bringing me food from time to time while I withered away to nothing. At least I’d have HBO to keep me company.
Oh ya…Rational.
I snapped back to my senses for a moment and grabbed a hammer and screwdriver. I used them to pound the door hinges loose so we could remove the door and free ourselves from my prison (bedroom). The bottom hinge would not cooperate and I lost all hope. I sat down and started to cry.

Jacob looked at me and said, “Mom, we will not give up! We never give up in this house! We can do this!”

He grabbed a smaller screwdriver and started pounding. I could see the tip of the hinge coming up so I grabbed it and started pulling. Jacob encouraged me to keep going and together, we managed to pry it free. Success! Now to get the door off.
Jacob ran around the house again and started pushing on the other side of the door. At one point, he pushed too hard and said, “Oh no! I’m so sorry, Mom! I cracked the door!”

SHIT! Just what I needed! All this freaking work and I have get a new door or spend more money to fix it! He then tried to reassure me that it was only a small crack and that a little glue should do the trick. I gave the bottom hinge a few taps with the hammer to let it know who was boss and it finally gave way.

We got the door off and it turned out that Jacob was right. It was a small crack and a little bit of glue and a clamp was all it needed. The door is unfinished so once it’s painted, you’ll never know.

I learned two things today. The first one is that my son can be so full of surprises. He really came through for me today when I had lost hope in my ability to get the job done. The second is that I should never start a job when I am already feeling under the weather and really have more faith in my children. Wait, maybe that’s three lol.

love my kids

"Wait Until Your Father Gets Home…"

     There are times as a parent that we are forced into explaining something that we really don’t want to, especially those of a personal nature.  As a Mom, that task is usually put upon me because Dad is squeamish about most things.  I don’t mind doing it and I rather like giving the play by play to my husband as payback for having to go it alone. The phrase, “Wait until your Father get’s home” is more like, “Wait until your father gets home so I can make him squirm with every gory little detail!”  He can’t escape that easily! Muuhahaha! 

 
     Ahem…Where was I? Ah yes, personal nature.  So when the dog steals a tampon applicator out of the trash, for instance and Jacob asks, “What is that?”  I feel compelled to tell him the truth and I did.  After all, the things I say might very well be held against me the next time I am in a public place. I certainly don’t want him to spy a box of tampons in some poor unsuspecting souls cart and hear hear him say, “Oh look Mom! A box of rockets!”  Having said that, I do try and make the explanations short and sweet. 

    The tampon explanation was met with a huge,”EWWWWWWWWWWW!”   My job is done when I am confident that he is so grossed out he’ll never repeat to anyone. Ever. I’ll spare you the details. You’re welcome :o)

 
      Which leads me to the all too famed Sex Talk for Jacob at the ripe old age of 11. Andrew is extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of life and everything in it, down to the minute details.  It’s annoying. I say that with love LOL. He thrives on knowledge and I can never get him enough books to satisfy his appetite.  You know the kid is bored when he starts reading the dictionary.  The sex talk with Andrew was not even a talk. He read a book, asked if it was true. I said that it was and we were done. That’s all she wrote.

 

    Andrew, unfortunately, has no edit button.  When he absorbs something, he opens his mouth and talks about it to the world, whether they want to hear it or not.  At the age of 5, he explained to the poor sap salesman in the men’s clothing store, how a C-Section was performed.  It tends to push people away, as you can well imagine, and has been a large reason why he found it difficult to make friends.  So, when Cayden and Jacob were playing leap frog, Andrew was a bit disgusted and told the boys that they looked like they were “humping”.

    Cayden burst out laughing because he thought it was hilarious. Jacob had no clue so Andrew decided to fill him in. I prided myself on being able to avoid the talk with Jacob all of these years as he never asked any questions about it. After Andrew’s lack lustre explanation of, “You look like you’re having sex”, Jacob got angry. Partly because he didn’t know what it was, apart from the way parents make babies but also because he thought his brother was teasing him for “being dumb”.  He was put in a time out on the stairs and we had a little talk. I decided that it was time to fill him in. Short and sweet.

    “The penis goes into the vagina.”

    His eyes got wide and then it happened, “EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!! EWWW! EWWW! EWWW! GROSS!!!”

He stops for a second, “You and Dad did that?!?!?!” 

(Yeah kid, 3 times only. That’s it. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.)

    Then his face went blank. I could see the wheels turning in his brain and he yelled, “Hey Andrew! You’re a freakin’ liar! I don’t have a vagina so Cayden couldn’t hump me!” Logic.

    Which brings me to today.  First, let’s go back a couple of days when I had to explain what a douche bag was.  Thank you Summer’s Eve commercial.  *sigh…”It’s what women use to clean their vaginas.” Again, short and sweet. I thought we were done…Until I opened my big mouth this morning.

    Cayden and Jacob were having a conversation about gaming and whether or not he would help Jacob with the new game he has pre-ordered next month.  Of course, Cayden is being a brat, teasing him and making Jacob believe that he won’t help and let him suffer through it while he sits back and laughs. Understandably, Jacob is getting a little upset so I, in my infinite wisdom, thinking I could lighten the situation say, 

    “Jacob, Cayden is being what’s known as a Douche Bag.” 


     It worked. Jacob smiled and Cayden started laughing.  Crisis averted so I grabbed my coffee cup, walked down the hallway and while I am taking a final sip I hear,

     “Wait…Cayden is a pussy bag?!”

   

    I spit out my coffee all over the floor.  Two things ran through my mind as fast as lightening;  Did I just hear what I think I heard? and Where the hell did he learn that?  I hear laughter and Jacob asked me what I was snorting about. I guess spit takes sound like snorts..??

 

     As I am cleaning coffee off the floor, he asked if I was laughing at what he said. I said, “Well, what did you say?”

    He says, “What? Isn’t it for cleaning lady parts?”

    Well why the hell couldn’t he say Lady Parts to begin with? So another lecture about never repeating that word in public or anywhere for that matter. It’s wrong and don’t even describe a cat that way because people are sensitive, blah, blah, blah. It was beginning to sound like a broken record….UGH.  All I can ever do is hope it sticks. Another day, another story.


    I cannot wait until their father gets home LOL

The Dark Side of Special Needs Parenting

   Like so many others, I read the news story about a woman who attempted to kill her 14 year old daughter as well as herself.  Her daughter was autistic.  I haven’t had the opportunity to follow her blog since I am relatively new to everything here but, I’ve read several blog posts and comments about her.  The common theme amongst them is how we need to pull together as a community.

    I’ve been doing this for 22 years and I have always felt alone. We moved a lot over those years and family was never really physically close enough to help.  Making friends is difficult because I always have Jacob attached to my hip. It was only until recently, when I started my blog and Facebook page, that I discovered others out there who get it. Others that live it and know it like I do.

 That this life as a special needs parent is difficult even on the best days. Parenting is difficult for anyone.  There’s no manual and if, like me, you have a special needs child right out of the gate, you can be sure you’ll feel like a total failure at one end of the parenting spectrum but also feel that you are the only person who knows anything about your child. You are the only one who knows how to care for him so you paint yourself into that corner of despair and close yourself off to everyone.

    This is the side of parenting that nobody sees.  The holes in the walls from meltdowns.  The repairs in the walls reminding us of past meltdowns.

 

    The broken staircase or windows or doors that we have to live with because it’s the first thing he attacks when he’s angry.

     The countless broken dishes, toys and treasures. The worn out carpets and bedding and clothing from constant washing because the child has decided to paint their room with feces or has ripped their skin to the bone with sensory overload and there’s blood everywhere. 

There’s also the fear of actually making a friend and inviting them over because your house looks like a tornado hit it.


    The side that most people do see are the police cars in the driveway every other day when things are really bad and a CIT officer is the only person on the planet that is capable of calming your son. They see visits from social workers because those cuts and bruises on your child’s body couldn’t have possibly been made by himself. You resort to videotaping every meltdown to prove that you didn’t lay a finger on him. It’s your child who is actually hitting himself in the head over and over again. It’s he who is literally bouncing on his knees on the hard floor even though you put a dozen pillows down to soften the surface. 

    You videotape every time you have to restrain your child because even though a therapist taught you how to do it properly so he can’t do anymore damage to himself, you or the house, your son still manages to push the cushion aside and smash his head on the floor over and over again. 

    The side that many see is the sensory overloaded child in the grocery store who can’t take it anymore and dissolves into a seething, angry mess on the floor and all you can do is watch and wait for it to be over because he’s too big to carry out anymore and restraining him in public is too terrifying for anyone to witness.

    We as parents, see the stares and hear the comments from other people in the grocery store, the neighbours who judge from a distance and tell their own children that they are not to play with your son.  

    “Your son is too old to play with my kids”, They would say. Our children just want to play with the neighbourhood kids because even now, at age 21, he is still a little boy.  We get the knocks on the door from neighbours who find it easier to blame our children for broken toys, scratches on their cars or even dog crap in their yards. 

    As parents, we get tired of explaining that our children are autistic or mentally delayed or whatever…It always seems to fall on deaf ears. 
   
     It’s hard for most people to imagine what this mother was thinking when she chose to end her life and that of her child’s.  It’s impossible for parents of NT children to imagine that a person could even entertain the thought of harming their child.  It’s not at all difficult for me. 

    I know her pain all too well.  I remember clearly those days that I would lock myself in the bathroom, look at my wrist and think how easy it would be to just let go. The mornings that I would pull the pillow over my head and could not physically move because as soon as I let my screaming son out of his locked bedroom, the horror would unfold.  I remember all too clearly, thinking that I was raising a serial killer and what was I going to do when he was bigger than me?

     I remember thinking that the world would be better off without me and much better off without Jacob. We were burdens on society and to live would be selfish. Who am I to put such a burden on my husband, his family and society as a whole. What right did I have to ask for help when there were much needier people than us?

    You see, in my mind, suicide was not a selfish act. It was completely selfless.  I was but a drop in the proverbial ocean and didn’t matter. Nothing good was ever going to come of us living. I was doing my family and the world a favour and unburdening it from our problems…

    I was doing the world a favour.

    After we moved to Oklahoma, Jacob started seeing a therapist that put us in touch with our current physician. This doctor went above and beyond to help Jacob and he was slowly getting better.  I decided to make an appointment for myself. 

     The doctor has a system of numbers to determine where a person is in their mental health.  The numbers are determined by a questionnaire each time you visit the office. The higher the number, the more severe your condition.  Lowering the numbers is accomplished through medication, therapy and whatever else is necessary to get well.

    My first questionnaire revealed such a high number that I was told by the doctor and his staff that it was a miracle I was still standing.  He said that the majority of people with my numbers are either in a psychiatric ward or dead.  That was 8 years ago.  It took a full year of therapy and medication intervention to get me to a place where I was actually happy to be on planet earth. I was never hospitalized because the doctor knew that I was strong, even though I didn’t believe it myself. This doctor literally saved our lives.

    To this day, I still struggle with depression and probably always will. But I am strong. I am strong enough to fight for myself and for my children, no matter how bad it gets now.  I am a lone warrior whose only connection to others like me is through the internet so I embrace that with every fibre of my being. It keeps me going. 

    I am all too familiar with the darkness that this mother felt when she made that fateful decision.  I am all too familiar with the helpless feelings, the sense of despair knowing that your child is never going to be ‘normal’.  The embarrassment of reaching out for help and feeling that nobody is listening hard enough to you or that you are not making yourself heard loud enough. The guilt of feeling that this was your fault. If you had done things differently while you were pregnant, he would be normal.  If you weren’t so distraught over the fact that you wanted a girl and instead got this screeching bundle of jiggly boy flesh that would not settle down for anything, and the longing to love him but he was making it so difficult…he would be normal. The mourning that you couldn’t get past because you wanted a normal, happy child and he is anything but. That longing to be anywhere but here. 

  There is great courage in asking for help. I had to admit defeat and swallow my pride.  It was one thing to ask for help for your child and as a mother, that came naturally to me but I was not capable of being a good mother until I got some help for myself.  I recognized that and acted. The dark days are few and far between now and I am grateful.

    The next time you see a child meltdown in a public place, flash a knowing smile to the parent or ask if they need anything. Just saying, “You’re doing fine, Mama. It’ll be okay.” is enough to ease the pain and embarrassment of not being able to meet your child’s need at that moment in time. Even NT children have their overwhelming, over stimulating moments and all parents could use a little encouragement instead of judgement in those very tough moments.

    We, as a community, cannot let another one fall through the cracks. Some people are not as strong as I was. They need someone to act on their behalf, whether they like it or not. Recognize the signs of depression. LISTEN for signs of depression in the people around you. Don’t take no for an answer if your gut tells you that they need someone to talk to. Check in on them regularly. Make an excuse to give a quick call and say hello. A quick drive by on your way to an appointment, to drop off a  DVD that their child might be interested in. Make arrangements to pick it up so you have an excuse to stop in again. Take their child off their hands for an hour so the parents can have a nap or a well needed shower by themselves LOL.

    I’m not saying that you have to drop everything and cater to another. I’m saying that it’s the little gestures of good will that let us know that someone has our back. The best thing that happened in my neighbourhood last year was my neighbour taking time to listen to Andrew vent about his brother.  My neighbour was still doing his yard work but he let my son get it all out of his system.  He didn’t offer advice. He just listened. He gave Andrew an outlet for his anger and when I apologized for my son, he looked at me and said, 

   “The kid needed an ear. I was here. It’s all good.” 

    That was enough. Andrew was calm and able to come back into the house to resume his day. Crisis averted by a kind gesture so I bought the guy a 6 pack as a thank you LOL

    To those of you who don’t think you are strong…You are stronger than you think!  You are a fighter! It’s not too late to reach out and ask…Hell, BEG for help. There is no shame in it! I want to see you be BRAVE! 

Cue the music:

 For information on depression and mental health, follow these links.

NIMH  The National Institute of Mental Health

The Mayo Clinic