A friend posted words about grief on Facebook yesterday.
I took a screenshot. I had to. I don’t believe I’ve read anything about grief that was truer than this. I think about my dad who went to be with The Lord 3 years ago this February. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I’ve talked to him. I don’t think I’ve gone through the complete stages of grief for him because I can’t talk about daddy or write about him without crying. I have no idea if that’s “normal” or not or if there even is a “normal” when it comes to grief. A couple of months ago I had a dream where daddy and I were together and we were talking. I don’t remember what we were saying but at the end of the dream he held out his arm towards me and hugged me. It was amazing. I know it was him coming to me within a dream for whatever reason. He looked healthy and younger than he did when he passed away. It was so so nice to see him. Every now and then I’ll see a blue cardinal or some sort of striking blue bird at my kitchen window. It will make a commotion until I see it, then the bird stares at me for a few minutes. I’m afraid if I move it will leave so I stay and stare back. The bird then flies away before I can get to my phone to take a picture. I’ve told Tommy about the bird and we aren’t sure if it’s my dad or his dad coming to visit. I truly believe it’s one of them.
It’s New Year’s Day. I know we are all more than happy to bid 2020 a firm goodbye and good riddance. It’s pretty exciting to begin a new year. New attitudes, new ways of looking at things, new ways of dealing with situations. Some situations never change; year in year out; the same thing that makes you stop and say, “hmmm, again…again?”
I’ve decided to not make any New Years Resolutions. I have made decisions. I have decided to realize what is and what is not within my control and act accordingly. Take the freaking fracking bio chem class. The whole thing was within my control. It was up to me to take advantage of the help that was offered and I did and I worked hard and I finally passed the class. It was all due to decisions I made and stuck to.
It’s my decision to continue my nursing education so I can be an even better nurse than I was before I began the bachelors degree program. I’m looking forward to finishing the program so I’ll be able to take advantage of nursing opportunities that require a BSN. I’m not looking to leave the Dept of Ed anytime soon, I love working where I am and I love my students. But to know I am eligible to take advantage of other options is priceless.
I have some deep decision makings concerning my son. Thomas will always be mine. I say that with such conviction because I never want it to be mistaken that just because he doesn’t live with me he is less than mine. As a person with special needs he will most likely always be “mine”. The girls will all hopefully marry. They will still be my flesh and blood but they will no longer belong to me. They will have their own families to attend to and have children that will be “theirs.”
Thomas was not pleasant to be around this holiday season. We’ve decided he won’t be staying over at our house next Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. Today my heart hurt for him and I called his home to wish him a Happy New Year. He apologized for his actions on Christmas Day, I accepted his apology and then he hung up on me. That hurt. I did not call him back. I have decided I’m not playing into his drama. He might be special needs but he’s smarter than most give him credit for. He knows it’s rude to hang up on me and I will deal with that behavior when I’m ready.
So here’s to a Jesus led, prosperous, drama free, productive, smart decision making year!
I announced on Facebook to everyone that I passed Bio Chemistry. It was my last class this semester and I passed with a day to spare within this year. I’m proud of my self and annoyed all at the same time. I began the class in July, and was supposed to end at the end of August. But I failed the final in August. This class was hard man. And my brain doesn’t/wasn’t working in the manner bio chem needed it to. I’m used to memorizing what I need to know and then apply the knowledge as needed. Nope not this class. It was like my mind was like a sieve and the words and definitions just slipped on through and nothing I did stopped it.
I began online tutoring sessions with these wonderful and very patient course instructors. There were countless times I would just say very bluntly, “Ok you lost me!” Lelly said she wouldn’t want to tutor me because I was rude. I wasn’t rude; I was getting my point across. Otherwise the instructor would keep going on and I would be even more lost had I not stopped him. I had endless homework assignments from the course instructors and I pushed on through. It wasn’t like any nursing class, like you can explain your actions and interventions with evidence based practice. In Bio Chemistry there are all these new terms and definitions and cycles, things that work better in an acid environment and those that need a base environment. Ughh!!! And I’m finished with that! I passed!!! Oh happy day 😊!!
It’s far from a secret that our oldest child, Thomas is special needs. He is not autistic, a question everyone asks since that is probably one of the largest populations of special needs persons. Thomas is verbal but speech impaired he does have a disorder that causes the speech impairment but to be honest I forget the technical speech pathology term it’s called. He isn’t that hard to understand if you just listen. Thomas has other diagnosis’ that affect his behavior. The one that impacted Tommy and I the most was when we were told that Thomas has “static encephalopathy” which essentially means he has brain damage that won’t get worse and won’t get better. We were not given a cause of the brain damage. We were told it could have happened while I was pregnant, during delivery, we will never know. We didn’t find that out until Thomas was 12 years old. It wasn’t for lack of trying to find out what was going on or lack of specialists. There were some doctors that we saw; some that as God as my witness I don’t know how they still have a license: they were incompetent in my not so humble opinion. I would have had more respect if any of them said plainly, “I don’t know what’s wrong with your child, here’s a referral”. That’s pretty much what Thomas’ main psychiatrist did. He could not explain all of what what going on with our son so he referred us to an amazing neurologist. No one (especially no other neurologist) was as thorough as Dr. Arnold Gold, neurologist extraordinaire from Cornell Hospital, way uptown in God’s country Manhattan. He gave my son such a neurological exam the likes we hadn’t ever seen before. Between that exam, taking an extensive history from us and studying CT and MRI reports, this doctor knew what he was talking about.
When you put Thomas’ diagnosis’ and special needs aside he’s sweet and funny and affectionate and pretty happy. However there are times he’s not so happy and sweet. I’m not talking about, “well not everyone is in a good mood all the time” scenario. I’m talking an extreme bad mood where he curses, blames everything that is wrong in his world on me and will raise his hand to me. I have been hit by my own child. I’ve not hit him back ever. I think that’s one of the most difficult things ever in my world I’ve had to deal with; that my son has hit me. I am not going into all the details. I still defend him, he’s still my son, still mine. And will always be.
I guess my point of writing this post is to uncover what is hidden and not often talked about; by me anyway. It’s easy to see my son in pictures on Facebook and love that he’s so happy. He has an awesome genuine smile. Believe me I am thrilled for him to be happy. God has given my son many gifts. One of which is resilience; the ability to adapt and adjust to change. If it weren’t for his resilience we wouldn’t have been able to get him the help he needed when we exhausted all the avenues we ran through during the times when Thomas lived at home.
I adore all my children. However it’s my girls who have shown me the “typical life.” Through them I have been able to experience the good, bad and sometimes difficult parts of parenting children without special needs. Thomas has shown me one world and the girls have shown me another. I think I’ve gotten the best of both.
It’s so different when your children grow into adults/adolescents to celebrate Christmas. It’s sweet and beautiful when they are small, the wonder in their eyes that Santa had came! You and your husband are admiring that look at a very early time in the morning. It’s amusing that the presents you so carefully chose and wrapped and placed artfully under the tree are opened in a matter of minutes and the there’s wrapping paper everywhere.
These days it’s still sweet and wonderful but in a different way. It’s also a little bittersweet as it’s the last Christmas that Alyssa will spend with us opening gifts first thing in the morning and waking up with us. I still enjoy watching my kids open their gifts even though most of them they’ve picked out themselves. I still managed to sneak in a surprise present here and there for each of them and that was fun.
These days Tommy and I wake up before the kids. Thomas stayed over last night so he could open gifts with us in the morning. It was a bit challenging because Tommy and I don’t talk to each other before coffee. And there’s Thomas; awake and chattering up a storm like you wouldn’t believe. We managed to make it through the chatter and each have a cup of coffee somewhat peacefully.
Everyone was very happy with their gifts. I’m so glad. I mean I know the real reason for the season. And without Jesus in our lives things would be so different. It’s amazing how God’s presence in your life changes you. I’m a sinner, very much so in fact. That’s why I need Jesus so very much. He came to us to teach us forgiveness and to believe in Him; for without the Son you cannot get to the Father. I never thought I would *ever, ever* be a “born again Christian” but here I am. I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior, allowed God into my heart and I’ve been born again just as the Bible directs. It wasn’t as easy as those 2 sentences but well worth the journey I’ve taken to get there.
When I think of forgiveness and when I struggle with that concept I remind myself that God forgives me every day for my sins so who am I to not forgive others? It’s heavy when you really give it thought.
Christmas is fast approaching, every year we are all so surprised at how fast the month of December flies by; or rather from December 1st to the 25th. Surprisingly I’m ahead of the f game for once. Believe me I’m as shocked as the next person. Yesterday I finished up Samantha. It’s a bit difficult to keep up with equal amounts of gifts for 4 kids, I feel like I’m constantly tying to keep up in my mind who I bought what for. I’m not complaining I enjoy where we are today.
Thomas has been so, so pleasant to be around. He comes over every Sunday. I know he’s a creature of habit and lives for routine but this morning he called asking me to pick him up earlier than usual, to have lunch at my house. I can’t today and he understood thank goodness. I’ve even talked him into staying over our house 2 nights. Christmas Eve which he usually does and also Christmas Day which should be good because we’re going to my moms to celebrate and this way we hopefully won’t have to rush out of there to bring him back. Anyway it should be interesting.
I finished and passed my nutrition class and I’m back to freaking, dreaded Bio Chem. I have a serious hate on for that class. My brain doesn’t work that way it just doesn’t. The course instructors have been wonderful in tutoring me over the phone and via zoom/computer but some of them are so darn perky and all cheerleady for me “to pass this class!” And I sound like such a bitch because I don’t have it in me to match their perkiness and rah, rah!! During one phone tutoring session the instructor totally lost me and I blurted out very plainly, “Wait! You lost me, totally lost me…”. Lelly was sitting next to me and she said after that she wouldn’t want to tutor me, that I was rude. I don’t blame her but I don’t think I was rude I had to stop him from going ahead or I would have been even more lost. So if you’re thinking of me please say a prayer that I pass this Godforsaken class once and for all.
Today while I was wrapping gifts, Thomas impulsively hugged and kissed me; about 5 times one after the other. It was so incredibly sweet I was almost brought to tears. You see, I’m not used to be hugged and kissed by him. Growing up his behavior was so unpredictable and I was often the target and recipient of his angry outbursts. I never thought about that too much until today when Thomas was hugging me and kissing me on the cheek.
The girls have always been affectionate with Tommy and me. I mean we had the usual time of “don’t embarrass me” when they were teens. But they always said, “I love you” when they left the house and still do. Thomas didn’t start saying I love you to me until he was about 16-17 years old. I remember how happy I was when he answered me. “Love you too Mom” for the first time. It was while Thomas was in residential school and we left him after a visit.
It’s funny because you really take things for granted. Like that your children love you and you love them. That they will tell you that they love you. Moms love their children beginning at that positive pregnancy test and it only grows from there. And it only grows more intense as the years go on. When Thomas was very young; I remember all the doctor’s visits and then the one specialist who really took me seriously. Problem was the specialist was in Manhattan and I’d never drove in the city before and taking public wasn’t much of an option. Well I put my big girl panties on and did it. I drove to the city by myself. I was proud of myself to be honest. It’s was something I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t something I had to do for one of my children. A mother becomes an unstoppable force when it comes to her kids and I would dare anyone to try and stop her.
I was blessed today; a delayed blessing of affection from my son. A show of love that caught me off guard and set me to thinking and remembering. I don’t take Thomas for granted. We’ve been through too much.
I’ve been blogging for about 7 years. I just went back and checked the year I began my blog. 2013, I seriously did not know I’ve been blogging that long. I started out to blog about my thrift finds and then a different shape came to be. I told the story of Thomas. The whole story which I rarely do. It’s a long story that I don’t often talk about either. One afternoon at work one of the paraprofessionals I’m friendly with started asking me questions about Thomas; its no secret that I have a special needs son. And Thomas used to attend the school I work at. The next thing I knew I was telling a lot of his story. I didn’t even realize how much or long we were talking. It was odd; it was like I was in a state of reminiscence. After a while I felt oddly jolted back to where I was, in the present and my friend had to get back to work.
I don’t mind talking about Thomas. I’m usually an open book about him and his diagnosis’ and all Tommy and I went through when Thomas was younger and undiagnosed. Those were extremely tough times and I’m so eternally grateful that we came out the other side. Some couples aren’t as fortunate and the stress of a special needs child drives them apart and the marriage fails. These days I don’t feel like I *need* to tell my story. I guess you could say I’m healed. Situations aren’t so raw and life isn’t all about getting through the day; praying for guidance and waiting for deliverance. I don’t miss those days.
Today life is so different. Like it’s calm. And that’s ok. There’s excitement too; Alyssa is getting married in March to a really great guy named Sam. There’s no drama surrounding her wedding and I will do everything in my power to keep it that way. Thomas is so pleasant to be around, I never could have predicted our future with him being this way. Thomas was on quite a few medications to control his behavior, these days he’s on less and less and the days go by with his nurse from the group home calling to get my approval to remove more. I’m happy for him. I’m not the same person I was 7 years ago, why should he be as well?
I like looking at pictures of when my kids were young/small. Like everyone does. I reminisce in my mind of how old each one was when we took the picture, where we were, the circumstances surrounding the photo. It’s a lot to take in and a lot to remember and many times I get emotional. Sometimes it is just hard. I know another mom who understood me getting emotional while looking at pictures and she is one of my best friends; Jackie. Things with Thomas were never really “normal.” He was always special needs but we had no idea *how* special needs he is until Thomas was 12 years old. So we dealt with a lot of difficult behaviors and a lot of difficult times. We still took pictures on holidays and times away. Even through the trials Thomas put us through we tried so hard to be a “normal” family…whatever that may be. It took me a lot of years to learn there is no such thing as “normal.” Or as my friend Wendy liked to say, “Normal is just a setting on your dryer.” Truer words were never spoken.
Fast forward to today and things are so so different I would say they’re pretty darn good. Thomas has adapted wonderfully to living in his group home. He makes no bones about it that he doesn’t live in my house anymore. He says, “Mom, this is ‘your’ house, not ‘my’ house, I have my own house.” At first it kind of killed me inside. To hear him say that. But he is correct. And I can’t argue with him. He’s right.
Thomas comes to “my” house just about every Sunday. I usually pick him up in the afternoon and he stays until around 6pm. After he takes his scheduled medications he’s good to go and wants to go home. While Thomas is here he’s pleasant and I enjoy being with him. The girls like being with him and I love taking pictures of when they’re all together. Now I love pictures. There’s nothing but positive thoughts when I look at recent pictures. Yesterday my kids are doing a project together; Lelly made cut out Christmas tree cookies and they all decorated them. It was sweet and nice and just so so great. If the girls aren’t around Thomas and I take selfie’s. Thomas loves it and tells me to post the picture on Facebook. Thomas is always good for taking a picture; all I have to do is tell him. “Thomas smile! I’m taking a picture!” And he’s good to go. I wish I could say the same for Samantha but she’s 14 and well, yeah she’s 14. I’ll say no more.
This isn’t all about Thomas, I love being with all my children. My girls are wonderfully typical and I appreciate that about them so much. It probably sounds weird to appreciate your kids for not being special needs but I do. Thomas is Thomas and he is who he is. The girls are who they are. I really enjoy spending time with my girls. They talk to me. I can’t ask for anything better from my girls or from Thomas.
I’m not writing about Covid because it’s all we see on the news and all we seem to talk about. I’m here to discuss the holidays. And since I am a Christian, I’m writing about Christmas. I have my tree up and most of the house decorated. There are some decorations that I changed their usual place of storage and now can’t find them. I’m not that worried because I’m sure they are in a nice safe place wherever that may be.
I usually put the tree up right after Thanksgiving and this year was no different. I wished I had the time to do it earlier but it didn’t work out. The house is festive with the tree up. I enjoyed putting the ornaments up too this year. Most of my ornaments are ones that my kids have made when they were in grammar school. I love those. The rest are slowly being changed over to non breakable ornaments. You would think at this point in my life with the kids grown/older I wouldn’t have to worry about things breaking. Yeah…not so much. It’s the animals! Omg, we have one dog who I swear thinks she’s a lot smaller than she really is. Riley is part golden lab part golden retriever and she insists on walking through the small space between the love seat and the Christmas tree, taking ornaments with her. All you hear is the clanging of glass and every now and then the crash of one hitting the floor. At least the cats don’t climb in the tree anymore. That would make me crazy.
I’ve done quite a bit of Christmas shopping this weekend. It was nice to tick off the list or have the girls send me links to what they want. Lelly says she usually forgets what she tells me to but by the time Christmas Day rolls around. She’s funny. I got my fix for shopping while shopping for others. The only person who is hard to shop for is Thomas. He has so many things and clothes already. And he’s not like into anything like video games or television programs or sports. He’s a tough one. He does love clothes and shopping. I have no idea where he would get that from…
I also hit the thrift on Black Friday where everything was half off! Shoppers Sky I tell you! I didn’t hit the jackpot this time but still walked away with nice things. It was crowded too. But the people were nice so all was well.
I hope we all get our shopping done early so we’re able to truly enjoy the season. Covid or no Covid!