I've gone from having one child to having nine. Yes, I said nine.
My room mate and I have four, my boyfriend has five more. That's nine. And out of the nine, five are on the autism spectrum. God created a world of diversity... not to separate us for our differences, but to teach us acceptance and to love each other for what makes us unique. And my family is unique... Autism means I won't lead an ordinary life, I will lead an extraordinary life!!!
How do my boyfriend and I do it? How do we make it through the day? Well... we believe in the power of vegetables. That's right, I said vegetables; they give us the energy to get through the day. Since we fully and completely believe that coffee comes from beans (I dare you to challenge me on this), we figure the ten pots of coffee consumed between us during the course of the day covers our daily recommended amount of vegetables, which in turn gives us the energy to tackle the kids. Extra 'vegetables' are consumed on our Tuesday night PACE KID GYMBOREE evenings to take on more children and play hard.
My room mate thinks I'm nuts. She may have a point, I've been known to be a wee bit of a nut sometimes, but even though I'm different, sometimes you gotta love me, right? Right?? Right?! Dayton's dad laughs and ridicules me every time he calls to speak to Dayton when I'm at my boyfriend's place because he hears the kids screaming in the background... Neither one of them views life in the same way I do: One of the most attractive, sexiest traits a man can have is being a good daddy. While genes may make you a father, they certainly don't make you a daddy. Daddy is the guy who sits up with the kids, stands up for them at their IEP meetings and would gladly lay his life on the line for all of them. He's also the guy who comes to the PACE KID'S GYMBOREE and plays hard with all the kids present instead of just sitting on the side lines, consumed with something else entirely.
Come on!!! Who wouldn't find this attractive?! In love these Ryan Gosling pics, so here's some more from Extreme Parenting...
Now, while my boyfriend looks nothing like Ryan Gosling, he is the man behind these words. This is just how he is. Caring, giving, and completely 100% involved when it comes to the kids. And after a long day with the kids, he turns to me and gives me 100% of his attention... Wow. A good man can make you feel sexy, strong and able to take on the world... oh, sorry... that's wine... wine does that. An easy mistake to make... But seriously, he's the best. He makes me feel special and important. Judy Garland said it best: "For it was not into my ear that you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul." That's what he does for me. And for now, that is enough. That's every girl's dream.
And then of course there are the children. I've always wanted a house full of kids. And now I do. I don't care who you are, no matter what, no matter how old you may be... hugs from children make everything better. Getting a hug from a child with autism and sensory issues... priceless! You know you're truly loved when that happens.
Now if I could just get them all to behave...
Am & K (12 and 14 years old, both have autism) like to eat everything in sight first thing in the morning and hide wrappers all over the house. They also like to get up at 5am; it doesn't matter if it's a weekday or not, they're up at 5am and that's final. We've tried putting them to bed late, but it doesn't make a difference. Once they're up, the rest of the house wakes as these two are not graceful like their father. I swear, these two could totally pass for my own, biological kids. They share my 'swag.' Dayton, my first and only born (10, turning 11 next month!) is not a morning person... not unless it's the weekend. So the three of my babes before medication are a handful together. Especially when they all believe they are right, but don't agree on anything. Their motto seems to be "Even though we disagree, you are entitled to your opinion, just don't say it out loud or there will be hell to pay. You have every right to be wrong. Once I say you're wrong, stop talking!" Oh yeah baby... we're moving like a herd of turtles through a field of peanut butter now! This argument has the stamina to last for hours of fun. But do not fear. I believe that for every set back, God has a major come back. So I do what I can, and let God take over with what I can't handle, sit down at the kitchen table and sip on my vegetables.
At, (age 5, super hyper and we question ADHD) is my little Marilyn Monroe. She's a diva, and she makes sure everyone in the house knows it. It's her way or all hell breaks loose. She's blond, with curly hair (when I said Marilyn Monroe, I meant it), super cute, and she knows it and uses it to her full advantage. The girl knows what she wants and gets it, irregardless of the cost.
J is 4, a little small for his age as he was born premature. He's a little trooper. J was the one of the bunch that took a while to earn his trust. Now that I have it, he's attached at my hip, literally. He was the first to call me momma (other than Dayton of course), and the first to run to the door to greet me. J also practically worships the ground Dayton walks on and has just recently decided to call him 'brother.'
J & At have taught me that the more annoying a toy, the longer the battery lasts... A story all of its own for another time.
As is 18 going on 30. She's recently moved in with her grandpa and I don't get to spend nearly as much time with her as I'd like to. Her Asperger's, OCD, ADHD and other conditions make her an interesting young woman, whom I've become very proud of. She has her first job, and has had it since the summer. This may seem to be just another mile stone for some of you, but it's a major thing to us. She's also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her efforts in Special Olympics!!! Who can say that about their kids? Yes, I know... I'm oozing with pride that I have no right to, as it wasn't I who raised her. Her mother was a wonderful and amazing woman who taught her daughter well. I have the privilege of watching her daughter continue on with the Special Olympics and once in a while, offer 'motherly' advice. We both know that I could never, ever fill her mother's shoes.
My room mate's kids don't call me mom, but they have occasionally called me their 'other mother.' And if there's any doubt as to their love for me, they remind me they consider me their mom by their behaviour towards me.
B (17) is the daughter every mom dreams of. She's smart, on the honor roll at school and wants to be a paediatrician. The girl even has O- blood, (the special kind that anyone can have) which she donates every 62 days. She cleans the house every Sunday, at which time we make sure the rest of the children and adults leave the house as she gets a wee bit cranky. Usually, I hide out with Dayton at my boyfriend's place. Her Christmas card to me read: "Dear mom, I wish you spent more time at home..." I love her sooooo much!!!
R (15, with autism) is a good kid who always greets me at the door when he hears my car pull up in the driveway and helps me unpack my car. There are days where he doesn't speak to me for a week at a time after I scold him for something, usually when he's cranky and does something silly to show everyone how ticked off he is. Let's just say the basement has been redone twice in two years. This last summer while moving in, my boyfriend, room mate and I had R help in gutting and restoring the basement. I think he's learnt his lesson... He's in the process of getting an autism service dog, who's huge! R will be doing a lot of walking once we get the dog back to our home, meaning lots of energy spent, less time to get himself into trouble.
M (10 years old) is the boy I love to tease and tease and tease. He makes it so easy... When he comes back from his dad's house I chase him around the house, screaming at the top of my lungs how much I love him and how much I've missed him... The way to get what I want from him is to get him Microsoft points for his x-box... I've just given him 4, 200 points to get him to stop playing Black Ops in the house... All right, so the kid has expensive taste. Oh, and the only thing the kid will eat is CHICKEN!!! Grrr... I get even with him by feeding him beef when he misbehaves.
And then of course, I can not forget the cats (Grrr, my room mate has 3 of them). I'm not particularly fond of them as they (actually it's one of them, and when I figure out which one, we're gonna have some words) shed all over my stuff. The cats' fur sticks to the furniture, clothes, bedding (that's the one that irritates me the most as I have allergies) and oh yes, AIR. Things the cats' fur does not stick to? The cats themselves! Anyone see my problem here?! I'm hoping R's autism service dog takes them out one by one... I've already told M that one of the cats who I suspect is the culprit in the shedding vandalism is old, and may soon part with us do to 'natural' causes.
B also has a small dog, who has turned out to be my best friend. On days where I feel overwhelmed and stressed due to my darling ex husband, I swear this dog is in tune with me and she nudges me around the house, cuddles with me when I sit and keeps me on my toes. On days where I'm good, she just plays with me.
Thank you Lord for my health, the people you've surrounded me with, the roof over my head, the food in our belies, the wee bit of change in my pocket the children haven't found, and the song in my heart. You have blessed my life with my children, and I will thank you every day.
I am just really, really, really happy with my life right now.
Consider yourselves hugged,