I don’t want to brag, or anything, but Owen slept all night, in his bed. Hello, joyous occasion, hello. I think I have truly forgotten how to sleep. Every noise is a noise. When he is not in bed with me, I wake searching for him; afraid that I might have missed something. Not once has he opened the door to go outside, and we have a glass door, as well, but I know that day will come. When he woke he crawled in bed with me this morning; we only had a few minutes until we had to get ready for the bus, but he wanted to snuggle. He was so much calmer this morning; he only got a little anxious on the way to the bus stop, repeating that I would be the one getting him from the bus today. I feel like he has been able to express himself more lately; like the words are making more connections for him. I think back to the day when I heard the doctor say; he may not talk, he may not be able to talk. It hits you hard. You can’t even process those words. I didn’t know that communication was only part of it. I didn’t understand that words don’t necessarily mean communication, either. He answered questions with songs, or words that didn’t truly answer the question. The rollercoaster ride didn’t even make sense some days. When Owen started talking I thought it would be this onslaught of language, and communication, all bundled up into one package, but it’s years of helping him step, by step, to make those connections to every single word out there. And then add in the fact that my child listens to many different languages, throwing foreign words into the mix of his English. Some words I recognize, some words I can’t tell if they are English, or something else. But he’s learning, and growing. I tell him all the time I’m proud of him, and he can accomplish great things. Life is full of challenges, and emotions, but know that you are amazing. Believe in yourself, and the rest will follow. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I’m supposed to be the strong one. That’s what they tell you; you wouldn’t be given anymore than you can handle. But they failed to mention doors. Someone knocked on our door last night. I was in the other room; we were getting ready to go to his Wednesday night program at church. I didn’t hear the knock, but Owen did. He immediately started saying, “open de door”. By the time I came to the door they were gone, but not forgotten by Owen. He kept trying to open the door. He then took my hand trying to lead me to the door. I was able to distract him, for the moment, by telling him we were leaving, but when someone knocks on a door he expects a response; he didn’t get one. We left, on the drive he kept screaming, knocking on the window of the car, “knock knock who’s dere open de door”. The closer we got to our destination, he began to calm, focusing more on the fact that we had to “stop at de wed wights”. He had a great night, but once we got home, his concerns were focused again on the door. Distraction is what I have to do, giving him tasks, and trying to keep him focused on other things. He was tired last night, falling asleep relatively easily, but getting into bed with me at some point in the middle of the night. Morning came, and he was full steam ahead. He yelled for his teacher, cried for the door, and screamed to “turn de light offT” as I tried to get us ready. He calmed down as I put his clothes out, and started tickling him. My mind races, hoping to find ways to keep my baby calm, before a meltdown even begins. A door sign is what I need, explaining not to knock unless they have to. One day at a time. Owen’s growing, and changing right before my eyes. I see it, and I know that tomorrow he will find more ways to express himself. Tomorrow I will be stronger, today I will be thankful for my sweet baby O. Know that you are a lot stronger than you think you are. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen doesn’t understand the art of bribery; he does understand take away, however. I can’t ask him to do something, and if he completes it, he will get a reward days later, like a new toy, or to go to his favorite place. He understands instant gratification; like if he goes to the bathroom he gets bubbles, but he doesn’t understand that would be a reward if we did it a few days later. I’m trying to find ways to reward Owen for working on behaviors, or being able to complete tasks; bubbles only go so far. Even something like singing, or repeating an action, he won’t always do when asked to repeat it; sometimes he can’t process the request, and other times he’s moved on. Last night, he kept saying “why’d de chicken cross de road”, and then going on to include an ad for a Disney Junior television show. I wanted to record him saying it. It was absolutely the cutest, and I wanted that memory. Every time I held the camera to take the video he ran away. There was no convincing, or even saying you’ll get bubbles if you let mommy record you. I wanted that memory, but I will have to keep it close to my heart. This morning Owen woke anxious, but quickly settled. He wanted a lot of interaction from me. He wanted tickles, compressions, and hugs. His smile is contagious; it’s what I really needed this morning. “One more hug”, he said, as we were walking to the bus stop. I wanted him to look at the moon, but I didn’t want to get into that emotional moment, I wanted to savor the one more hug. We sing songs about the moon, and I show him pictures of the moon, but I can’t get Owen to understand he has to look up in the sky to see the moon, even if I point. That day will come. It will be a huge, huger than huge victory, when Owen looks at something I point to. You’ll hear me shouting it from the rooftops, and the tears of joy will wash away the tears of sadness I’ve shed waiting for that moment. The steps of your growth are important. Celebrate where you have come from, and rejoice at the victories ahead. Right now is your stepping stone, how are you going to grow today. Smiles to all and donut daze!
“Shwrimp”, that’s what’s for dinner. It was a request before we even got home. He’s eating dinner, spelling words on his tablet, and interacting with me. He seems calmer, and happier tonight; that makes me calmer, and happier tonight, too. We are back, and forth on the potty train. Forward progress is met quickly with what seems like backwards progress, but here we are again, with him at least acknowledging that he needs to go potty, even if it is after the fact. I have to just breathe. I never imagined that at age seven my child would still be in diapers. I was going to be that mom that had him out of diapers before he could even tie his shoes; well, that maybe true, too. I had to let expectations go, and embrace the here, and now. The little victories truly are what I cling to, and keep me moving forward. It’s very easy to get into the pattern of focusing on the woulda, coulda, shoulda beens, but that’s not where I need my energy to go. His bright eyes are even brighter tonight, maybe hiding a little mischief behind them. My emotions have been really heavy for the last couple weeks. Some days it seems hard to put one foot in front of the other, other days I’m floating through the moments, wanting to scream, cry, and pitch a big, huge fit. I have to remind myself to have patience; like I remind Owen. I’m teaching him to count to ten when he is upset, or angry. Sometimes we have to count to twenty, or even one hundred; I know I’ve counted to one thousand before. His words are helping, and with age will come more changes; I want to say maturity, but his delay makes me wonder when that will happen. This is where I breathe to take away the sadness; a quick sip of my hot tea to keep my emotions at bay. He screams to remind me he can do it. I try not to flinch, or show any signs of acknowledgement. He already knows it flusters me though. “Stop screaming why ya screaming ewe ok Owen Owen ewe ok”, he says; as I hear my words from so many occasions rushing back at me. Today, I focus on our future, what we both can work on next, and how we can grow together. Let go of yesterday, and find happiness in what’s yet to come; the possibilities are endless. Smiles to all and donut daze!
What is a rhombus, and when will I ever need it, I thought, as we were standing at the bus stop. Owen kept repeating the same words over, and over again, so I thought I would try to distract him. I asked him to name five shapes. He got to rhombus, and I tried to think when have I ever seen a real live rhombus in action. No dessert comes in a rhombus shape, no street sign, no road interchanges; but the rhombus, and triangle are always the go to shapes for Owen. I quickly went back to distracting Owen, maybe distracting myself from everything I needed to think about; rhombuses not being one of them. I try to find ways to get Owen to focus on other things, so he doesn’t get stuck in the loop of repeating himself. Sometimes that’s where the loneliness seeps in; wanting the world to understand what you are going through, but not being able to imagine anyone else could ever understand, even though I know others do. Some days are rough, no sugar coating, no excuses, no moments of calm. But then I look over at my sweet baby O, I see his smile, his hand trying to form the “I love you” sign, and I know everything is going to be okay. He’s talking a lot, interacting with me, and wanting me to play with him. I didn’t have to ask him to take his bath, he told me it was time. He let me cut some of his hair. I cut a little at a time, over a span of days. It makes it easier for him to handle. He has a lot of sensory issues, as well, and the sound the scissors make, along with the hair falling from his head, are enough to make him not want his hair cut. I think my focus today has been trying to avoid focusing on my day. Some days I really wish for a do over, and today is one of those days, but we must keep moving forward. Find what inspires you. Look for that ray of sunshine, even when it seems to be cloudy all around you. Life is ever changing, and know that you can do amazing things when you put your mind to it. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Love, compassion, and understanding that’s what we all want; that’s what we all deserve. Luckily, for Owen, and I, we haven’t had a lot of stumbling blocks, but some days I still see how the outside world looks at us. I know one thing for certain, Owen is my gift, and he was given to me, so that I could learn how to be more compassionate, and forgiving. I look at him navigating through a world that doesn’t always make sense to him, and even sometimes to me, but I see him growing, and thriving; even on our harder days. We went to lunch today with some friends. On the way to the restaurant, I asked Owen what he wanted for lunch. I said, “do you want chicken, fish, or pancakes”. He promptly said, “shwrimp”. He knew what he wanted. To my surprise shrimp was on the kid’s menu. I would have ordered the shrimp anyways for him, because he asked for it. He did beautifully at the restaurant. He sat in his chair the whole time, he ate most of his lunch, and he interacted with our friends. We went bowling after lunch. It was a different bowling alley than we normally go to, and as they say there were a few hitches in our giddy up, but Owen did amazing through it all. For dinner I asked Owen if he wanted chicken, or fish, since he had shrimp for lunch. He said, “sauswish”. So we had sausage for dinner. Through moments of rain I still see the sunshine in my son. I’m so thankful for his words, his growth, and his smile. Through his eyes my world has gotten so much bigger, and brighter. Tonight as we sing Christmas carols on St Patrick’s day I know that life will always be an adventure with my sweet baby O. Find what makes you smile, let the world see you shine, and make today matter. Smiles to all and donut daze!
Owen woke right before two. Two, and half hours later, I moved from my bed to our large beanbag in the living room, hoping Owen would go back to sleep. He screamed, he cried, he kicked me, he hit me, and he hugged me. What goes through his mind, I wonder. Finally, about five in the morning, as I was rocking him, he says, “I’m not going to sweep”, within a second his eyes were closed, and snoring softly. I fell asleep shortly after him, sitting straight up, sill holding him. In an hour he was awake again, ready to play, and get the day started. Me, I moved to the couch. It was party day, but all I wanted to do was sleep. I got him ready first, I never do this. I then went to get ready. Came back, and got him dressed again. We were out the door. Coffee shop, bowling, and then grandma’s is the usual order of our day, but today it was coffee shop, grandma’s, and then bowling, so I could get his cake, and balloons. This change was anything but little for Owen. He got upset when we didn’t go bowling. As much as we love routine we also need to change it up, so moments like these it will be easier for him to understand. Once he was at the bowling alley, he was ready for his party. I didn’t know how he would handle having so many people at his party that he knows from different places, but he did amazing. He bowled, and bowled, and bowled some more. He didn’t want to take out time to do anything with his cake, and I didn’t attempt to have him open his presents, but he really handled everything beautifully. He slowly took it all in, and throughly enjoyed being able to bowl for two hours straight. Towards the end I think our night caught up with him, and he was ready to go, but everything went better than I could have imagined. Thankful for everyone that was able to share in his day, and that sent their wishes. My bowling king is seven, and I couldn’t be happier with how our day went. Through tired eyes I see more clearly what’s important, and the love that people have for my son shined bright today. Find your happiness, and let your light shine through. Smiles to all and donut daze!
When to think Friday. We walked to the bus stop. Owen had been agitated since he woke up, and he couldn’t settle. Even at the bus stop he was on edge. He tried to walk away from corner as we were waiting. He normally stands in his spot. The traffic was unusually busy for the morning; many cars coming, and going. I always try to keep him close to me, but I also want him to have freedom. Plus, the outside world looking in sees a two second glance of my sweet baby O generally covering his one eye, and sometimes he is concentrating so much on the bus coming that any interaction I try to do with him makes him scream, or push at me. But I have to keep him safe when all these cars go by. One day as we were standing there, him trying to get away from my grasp, so he can stand right on the edge of the sidewalk, an officer approached the intersection very slowly. I still had my grasp on Owen; across his chest with one hand, holding his wrist with the other. The officer stopped, rolled down the window, and asked if everything was okay. I really can’t remember my exact words, but I know I told him we were waiting for the bus. He mentioned something about his eye, and I told him he had autism. I got Owen on the bus, and I cried all the way home. I get it, oh how I get it. And I’m thankful the officer checked on my son, but it’s gut wrenching. The two second view of our world can look like that sometimes. As Owen got off the bus today, the bus driving said he sang the whole ride home. He was happy, but there was a lot of traffic again. Owen didn’t want to walk across the street quickly. I tried to wait for all the cars to go, but several kept motioning for us to go. I held his wrist with one hand, and my other hand on his back. All I kept thinking was pleased don’t sit down in the middle of the crosswalk. We got to our front porch, very technically our home, and Owen starts taking off his shoes, and pants, right there on the porch. I realized what he was doing, and at the same time I said it, he said it, “keep them on”. I tell him this a lot; generally we are inside, but getting ready to go someplace when he wants to take his clothes off. Some days you just have to breathe. He said, “I wuv ewe”, and I know everything is going to be okay. Take a deep breathe, let yesterday go, and know that you are amazing. Smiles to all and donut daze!
I wonder what my little, big man was thinking, as the school bus drove away. It’s his birthday. His big seventh birthday. I can’t believe Owen is seven today. I remember the moment the nurse put Owen in my arms. This was the baby I waited for all my life. I remember, as they were pushing me to the recovery room, telling everyone I saw, “I know you don’t know me but I just had a baby”. I wanted to shout it from the rooftop, only they didn’t let me. It was the day I became a mom, the day my life changed forever. We sang Happy Birthday this morning before we left the house to go to the bus stop, and we sang it at the bus stop. We had also talked about Christmas, the North Pole, and sang “single bells single bells single all de way”. I told him that we were going to celebrate his birthday on Saturday, when we went bowling. He said, “bus pick e me up”. I have watched my little baby bloom. He’s growing, and changing every day. I look back over the past seven years, and I am amazed how fast they have flown by. My heart soars knowing where we have come from. Last night he laid in my arms crying, for over an hour, as he was trying to fall asleep. He couldn’t tell me why, he couldn’t explain his emotions, or if something was wrong; all I could do was hold him, but he woke happy this morning. I told him it was his birthday, he has no connection to what that means. I wonder how he will handle wrapped gifts this year. In the past anything that he saw wrapped needed to stay wrapped. I’m thankful for today, and I’m thankful for my sweet baby O. I am so proud of my little boy, and all that he is learning. I can’t wait for the year ahead, and the miracles that will happen along the way. Celebrate today with us. Celebrate your victories, no matter how big, or small they are. Find what makes you happy, and go after your dreams. Smiles to all and donut daze!
The time change still has me wanting to crawl back under the covers. I think it has made us both a little more cranky the last few days. I got Owen up, and he immediately wanted to go back to bed. I told him that he had to get ready for school. He ran to the couch, getting his tablet along the way. I got him ready, taking his tablet back away from him, which was easier said than done. He wanted several hugs as I was getting him dressed. It helped wash the crankiness away, for both of us. We headed out the door for the bus stop, and every few feet, he stopped, asking for another hug. I bent down to hug him, telling him I loved him, and he can have a hug anytime he wants. Tomorrow’s Owen’s birthday. I can’t believe he will be seven. I’m excited, and emotional about it. Each year that passes I’m thankful for it, age means growth to me, and I can see his level of maturity growing. Some days it’s hard for me to fathom that my son can’t brush his own hair, or go to the bathroom by himself, or even put on his shoes, but he can take them off. I have to focus on the positive side of these things, I keep telling him that tomorrow is his birthday. We’ve practiced singing “happy birthday dear Owen”, and he’s sang it several times. His birthday party is Saturday. His very first birthday party, ever. My heart explodes with joy, and worries all the same. So many people will be there, and none of them will be where Owen is accustomed to seeing them. Owen likes everything in its place, so it maybe hard on him, having everyone there, and the other side of me wonders if he will even pay attention to who is there. He loves bowling so much that his focus could be completely on bowling. One day at a time, that’s what I can do. I’ve explained to him for weeks now that we will be having a party, and hopefully that will make it easier on him. Tomorrow I celebrate my sweet baby O, and we will celebrate the many accomplishments he’s made over the years. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small they are, keep taking those steps forward. Smiles to all and donut daze!