Parenting: The Deep Dark Hole for Coherent Thoughts

I am going to be completely honest with you. This morning I wrote the beginning of ten different blogs without successfully stringing together more than two sentences for a single one of them. I sat down with clear intentions and topics. And every single attempt crashed into a brick wall.

Why? Because this morning my kids are on a mission to capture and destroy all of my remaining brain cells. A mission that they attacked with vigor. And while I cannot get them to commit to a breakfast selection or a television show; their commitment to this mission was unwavering.

Parenting is a marathon with no finish line. It is the biggest and most important job that I will ever hold. It is filled with so many moments of pure happiness. Smiles and laughter that truly light up the world all around me. Big moments filled with pride and joy. Little moments filled with love. Being a parent is the single most joyful experience of my life. And it is also the hardest thing that I have ever done.

It is hard in ways that I could not imagine. Ways that I was not prepared for. It requires patience and strength and endurance. It is choosing to put someone else before yourself every single day. It is accepting that you will begin to look at life as “before” and “after” becoming a parent. It means that things change. And then they change again. Sometimes they change 97 times before breakfast.

By 9am on most weekend days we have completed a full day’s worth of activities. We have colored and crafted. We have played games and puzzles. We have attempted three or four different breakfast options. We have played dress-up and pretend. We have watched the first four minutes of five different television shows. We have played on the IPad; which really means we have just argued about who gets which iPad and how loud the sound is.

And as the little humans in my life chant “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom” over and over I find myself digging deep inside to keep pushing forward. It is amazing how the sweet little sound of their voices is both the most beautiful and most obnoxious sound that I have ever heard.

On any given day I microwave my coffee five times before I give up on it all together. And as I hear myself talking I can barely stand the sound of my own voice. Not that it matters because the second I open my mouth to attempt a coherent thought to my husband; someone interjects with a request for yet another breakfast option or help wiping their butt.

My husband and I have mastered the “we will just talk later” nod. Except later rarely comes. Because later we are exhausted. Once all of the cooking and cleaning and refereeing and butt wiping is done for the day; we are too tired to be charming or witty or productive.

And do not even get me started on the lost luxury of sitting down. Sitting down is not an option in this house when the little humans are awake. It is as if an alarm sounds throughout the house the moment I attempt to sit down. The exact instant I sit down one of my children wails from the distance. Probably some really pressing need like helping to find the milk cup that is sitting right next to them or answering the same question I have answered a million times before.

No one tells you before you have children about the real body aches you will feel at the end of the day. My ab muscles are actually sore from the number of times that I bend down to pick up the same toy. My legs throb from the number of trips I make around the house cleaning and chasing and gathering. My husband and I crawl into bed at the end of most days and marvel at the literal “pain in the ass” that this parenting gig can be.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my children. But you know what else I love? Having a full and complete thought. Drinking a hot cup of coffee without the stale taste of microwave burn. Easing into the day with a little quiet adult time in the morning. Sitting down. Silence. I really like silence.

But those things go away when you become a parent. And do not get me wrong, you get lots of wonderful things in return. You get the unconditional love and adoration of your little humans. You get that warm feeling when your little human curls up next to you and asks you to snuggle. You get the overwhelming sense of pride when your child does something amazing. You get to feel like a super hero when you come in and save the day.

I love my kids so much that I drink stale tasting coffee every single day. I love them so much that it actually hurts. Like actual literal physical pain. I love them so much that it makes me a little crazy. Just ask my husband.

So today I was going to attempt to string together a few coherent thoughts about something that I cannot even remember right now. But I live with little humans who successfully completed their mission to capture all of my remaining brain cells. And I cannot even say with any level of confidence that there were that many left in the first place.

So congratulations little humans. You win the day. Now excuse me while I go microwave my coffee.


(Or at least what is left of her…)


Why I Stopped Apologizing for my Son’s Autism.

In the beginning of my son’s autism diagnosis I felt the need to apologize all of the time. I apologized for my son’s behaviors and the way they impacted other people. I apologized for the nosiness of our life. The chaos that follows us everywhere we go.  I apologized for the abrupt way we exited events and social gatherings. I apologized for the adult conversations that I could not focus on. For the time I no longer had for the important relationships in my life. I apologized for being so consumed by autism.

I apologized for a lot of things. Things that I could see and feel happening all around me. Things that I wanted so desperately to wrap my arms around and control. But the truth is that most of the things I apologized for were things not within my control.

I thought that I needed to apologize. I thought apologizing was a way of acknowledging my awareness of the way our life was different from other people. I thought that people needed me to apologize for our noise and chaos. I thought that being different, and having a child who was different, was something that I needed to be sorry for.

I was wrong.

Learning to embrace the difference in your life is a process. It does not happen overnight. And the process is different for everyone. I got it wrong for a long time before I started to figure it out. Getting it wrong was part of my process. And it took getting it wrong for me to understand how to get it right.

I went on apologizing for a long time. Often not even realizing what I was apologizing for. It became an instinctual response whenever noise or chaos entered my life.

One day while at a party with other families I heard a child start to cry from the other room. I ran into the room certain that my son had pushed or hit the child. As I made my way towards the room I began planning my exit strategy in my head. First I would apologize to the parent. Then I would gather our items and quickly load everyone into the car. Then in the safety of my car I would turn the music up so that my children could not hear me as I sat sobbing in the front seat.

When I heard the child at the party screaming the exit strategy came to me quickly. After all, this was not our first encounter bolting from a party. We felt so ashamed of the noise and the chaos in our life. So we apologized. And then we ran away.

Imagine my surprise as I entered the room with the screaming child and my son was nowhere to be seen. I started moving quickly through the house trying to locate him. As I turned the corner into a room at the front of the house I saw him sitting quietly on the couch with his milk.

The guilt washed over me fast and furious.  Guilt for the assumption that my child was at the center of all of the noise. The center of all of the chaos.  Guilt for my immediate reaction to pack up and leave. Guilt for my need to apologize for the things that I could not control. Guilt for getting is so wrong. Guilt for not knowing a different way to navigate through this journey.

I let the guilt run through me. I needed the guilt to help guide me to a better way. A better strategy for managing the noise and the chaos. A better way to acknowledge and embrace and navigate the difference in my life.

My guilt helped me recognize that I needed to stop apologizing. And, I needed to stop running away.   I needed to be aware of the behaviors without feeling ashamed of them. Of what they meant about me as a mother. And what they meant about my beautiful boy.

I needed to stop, breathe, and fight the urge to run away.

I do not apologize for my son’s behaviors anymore. The behaviors still happen; that part has not changed. But one day at a time we are changing the way we let those behaviors intersect with our life at home and our life out in the world.

Sometimes my son hits and pushes. Sometimes he yells loudly. Sometimes he slams doors and throws things. Sometimes he breaks things. Sometimes he is disruptive and intrusive to an activity or event. Sometimes he takes attention away from other things.

These behaviors are a part of our life every single day. But we no longer call attention to them by apologizing and running away. These behaviors used to be in control; and now they are not.

We are calmer and less reactive. We extinct and redirect. We take deep breaths. We stop and take a minute to collect ourselves. And when we are ready; we start again.

I used to apologize and run away because I thought it protected us. I thought it kept us safe from what other people may think about my son’s autism. I thought it was the only way I could control something that felt out of control.

But, I realize now that apologizing and running away sent a message to my son that his autism was something to be ashamed of.  That is was something I was ashamed of. Something I wanted to hide away. Something that we could not let other people see.

I was wrong. I am not ashamed of my son. I do not want to hide him away. So, I stopped apologizing. I stopped running. I learned how to acknowledge the difference in our life without feeling ashamed.

Sometimes we get it wrong. And then we get it right. It is a journey that does not end. A love that knows no bounds. Something you never have to apologize for. Something you should  ever run away from.


“Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.” 

– Henry Kissinger


She Used to Be Me

she used to be meI knew a person who saw her future so clearly.  Visions in her head of a life full of simple joy.  And there in her visions she was so sure of who she was. She was strong and confident. Her unwavering energy was infectious to everyone around her. She took care of herself. She was fresh and rested and ready to approach every day with comfortable certainty. She was bold; without being overbearing. Cautious; without being reserved. Wandering; without being lost. And there in that life she felt secure and in control; her footing strong and her focus steady. She was ready for anything that came her way.

I knew this person well. She used to be me.

But life has a way of becoming something very different than what we expect it to be.  It gives a little, and sometimes it takes a lot. And slowly we start to change. Day by day, and piece by piece, we become the people that our lives needs us to be.

My life has certainly been different than I expected. I have said goodbye to things that I was not ready to lose. To ideas and visions of a different life. A life with less pain. A life with more certainty. A life filled with the comfort and security that I craved. Less heartache. Less fear. Less doubt.

After my son’s autism diagnosis I mourned the loss of a different life. Not better or worse; just different.  I mourned things that had never really been mine. Things that were just visions and ideas and hopes for the future.  And although they were never really mine; I felt entitled to them. And when they were gone I mourned them fiercely.

Through my mourning I have come to understand that life is one big give and take. We are given things, and things are taken.

I was given the most amazing child to grow and love and nurture. And, none of the things that have been taken along the way can compare to that gift.  So, day by day, and piece by piece, I am learning to embrace this journey. I am becoming less of who I was before autism and more of the person I need to be to walk this journey with my son. My incredible gift. A gift worth changing for.

I will not tell you that these changes have been easy. The truth is that this journey brings me to my knees most days. My head fills with fears and doubts about the road ahead. I question my own strength. Because I know that I am strong, but I know that autism is strong too. And it is so much stronger than I want it to be. It matches me blow for blow. And when I go to my knees feeling tired and weak; autism stands strong. It is unrelenting that way.

So I do what this journey has taught me to do; I stand up. I find more strength. More energy. More will to fight another day. I become what I need to be to survive. I become a version of strong that I never knew existed before autism.

I am very different today than the person I was before diagnosis. The person I used to be could not survive this journey. So, I became someone who could.

And sometimes that means I am things that I never imagined being. Sometimes I am unsure of myself. Sometimes I am scared. Sometimes I am exhausted, and I say “no” when I want to say “yes”. Sometimes I am chaotic and unscheduled. Sometimes I am uncomfortable in my own life. Sometimes I am overbearing. Sometimes I am reserved. And sometimes, I am lost.

And somehow despite all of the ways I am different; I still find a way to be ready for this life. Ready for the journey ahead. Embracing life for all of the predictable uncertainty that will cross my path. Because along this journey; the only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain.

I used to be someone different. She was on a different journey, at a different time, with a different purpose. It was easy for her to be brave and confident and unscheduled. Carefree and optimistic about her journey through this life. She used to be me. And, sometimes, I miss her.

Autism takes things. And, it took her from me. And even though she was so many things that I hoped to be; I had to let her go.

I was given my son. The most incredible and spirited and willful little boy. And he is mine. And for him, I became someone different. And together we walk this journey.