An Incomplete List of Things I Can’t Listen to in the Car Anymore Because My Child Asks Too Many Questions
– Wu Tang Clan, Enter the Wu Tang (too much N-word and 6-year-olds don’t grasp the concept of why it’s not okay if WE say it)
– L7, Smell the Magic (Fast & Frightening is one of my favorite songs, but the line “Got so much clit, she don’t need no balls” is a line I don’t have the patience to explain)
– Jay-Z, The Black Album (Again, with the n-word, but also kids are bad at understanding the drug trade) Continue reading
Happy Mother’s Day
Thank you to all of the mothers I know. Thank you to my mother, Tracy, for loving me unconditionally, for teaching me that getting lost can be the beginning of an adventure, that there’s always room for more people, that giving can be a calling. Thank you to my stepmother, Stephanie, for showing my weird little family unflinching love and acceptance, for having a bottomless well of energy, for giving me a second family filled with more siblings and more people to love. Thank you to my sister, Alyssa, for starting the next generation, for going through a difficult pregnancy and childbirth with stubborn strength, for sending me pictures of my niece regularly.
Thank you to all of the women writing on this blog. Each of them has shared beautiful stories of mothering that make me proud to be a part of this project. They are all different on the surface, but unapologetic in who they are. They have made me laugh, made me cry and made me happy that the internet exists. This has been an amazing experience and I’m excited for the future of this site.
The Autism Chronicles: Welcome to the Monkeyhouse
I’ve struggled with writing this post for over a week for a multitude of reasons. I don’t want to define the boys by their diagnosis; I don’t want to act like an expert; I don’t want to sound whiny; I don’t want to rattle off a list of symptoms like that expresses how our lives are. There’s just no way to do this gracefully in my head, so here’s a clumsy snapshot of the boys.
Stuff My Parents Did Right: Left Me Alone
I think it’s pretty common for people to talk about how their parents fucked up. From petty grievances like, say, being an incredibly embarrassing audience member (from theater to sports) to for-real shit, like abuse, everyone has SOMETHING to say about how their parents fucked up. My grievances, I suppose, for the most part are in the former category. My parents and I managed to butt heads quite a few times over the years (we exist on opposite ends of the political spectrum), and I don’t get my irrational anger from (as my mother would say) a stick or a stone. But I’m okay! A few Things here and there, but fairly well-adjusted and not, you know, an idiot. So, those issues aside (for now), I’d like to take a second to give my parents an internet high-five for doing this thing. And this thing? Was leaving me the fuck alone. Continue reading
A Win’s a Win
Autism changes the way you measure progress. It’s near impossible to compare your child with a “neurotypical” kid. If you try, you’re just going to see the ways in which your child falls short and that’s a disservice to you as a parent and your child as a person. So, normal progress charts are thrown out. Your victories are small and hard fought and usually short-lived, but when it happens, when that one thing you’ve been working on finally clicks, goodness does it feel amazing.
We’ve lived together as a family for almost a year and it feels like no time at all until I think about the boys last summer and the tiny changes we’ve made. Things that may not seem like much on the big scale, but in our house they were monuments. Little things that make me feel like a good parent, even when my throat is about hoarse from screaming and I’m looking at the dog’s crate as a reasonable timeout zone.
Charlie eats vegetables now. Before, if it was green, it wasn’t eaten. Now I can make him a salad and he’s happy. Right now he’s tearing up some baby carrots. 10 months ago, those would sit on the plate all night. But I’ve seen him finish carrots before his chips. It warms my tiny, food group loving heart.
Staying At Home: It’s Not All Bon-Bons and Soaps
I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom. I have been working since I was eighteen, and the thought of stopping to stay home all day with a baby was terrifying to me. “I’d be so bored!” I would cry! “No one does that anymore!” I’d tell people. Stay-at-home mothering was right up there with moving back in with your parents at thirty in my life. The shame! The horror!
While I was pregnant, I kept my nighttime bar-tending job, working eleven hour shifts right up until I was nine months pregnant and people starting making serious comments about me giving birth while mixing a cocktail. When I was asked what would happen after the baby came, I was optimistic. “Oh, I’m going to take five weeks off, and then I’ll be back to keep working my shifts. No big deal.” And I did. I was the crankiest, most irritated bartender in Richmond, serving college kids their red bull and vodkas with the bitchiest stink face I had because they would get to sleep off their hangovers while the only thing I got to sleep off was an hour or two of not being vomited on. I schlepped on for about four months, until I had to finally admit to myself and my husband that I was harboring a pretty terrible case of postpartum depression that I was trying to mask by drinking a lot while at work and going to target almost every day I wasn’t working.
Once I got some help with my depression, I cut back to one night a week at the bar for mental health and settled into a fairly decent routine with my kiddo, who was starting to be less of a screaming worm with appendages and more like a smiling human who only screamed intermittently. Around this time, my husband started a new hobby which evolved into a new business. He was working seven days a week and when he wasn’t working, he was holding down the fort while I went to work. After a few months of him working all the time, we realized a couple of things. Monetarily, we were doing OK. We certainly weren’t showering in Perrier and eating fancy dinner every night, but we were holding our own. Secondly, the money I was bringing in from my one night of work a week was pretty much equal to what my husband was trying to do on the two and a half days that he wasn’t at his real job. It seemed pretty clear that my job was becoming a moot point.