I Missed It! (Three Word Wednesday)

This month we have extended our series on Autism. This post is for anyone who has ever suffered mom guilt (Tweet this). If you feel as if you missed it, it was staring you right in the face and you didn’t see it. I know. I’ve been there. Today I (Kathleen) want to make a huge confession about my eldest daughter (Audrey), she is most probably on the Autism spectrum and I totally missed it. It wasn’t until several years ago when she and I were researching Asperger’s Syndrome that I started seeing Audrey in the list of the symptoms. Tons of memories flooded in with an “aha” moment for each one.

For those of you have read my book Positive Adoption A Memoir, you may have seen some of the signs in my description of Audrey’s early years. I see them now. I didn’t then.

Some clues in my own words (book excerpts)

“I hiked up the carpeted stairs of the townhouse with baby Audrey slung over my shoulder. She slept until I stopped moving up and down like a human escalator. Then the crying began. Relentless, ear-piercing, you-are-not-going-to-sleep-all-night-mama-crying.

“She doesn’t like me!” I worried to Jerry. “My own baby doesn’t like me!”

Jerry’s job kept him away eighty hours a week. Some nights he stayed in a hotel close to work to grab a few hours of sleep before he began another shift. We owned one vehicle so I was alone with Audrey ninety percent of the time. My dreams of motherhood had come crashing down over my head in a deep depressing darkness.

The few times Audrey smiled, I snapped a photo.

“I think you brought the wrong baby home from the hospital,” my brother-in-law teased.” 

The not smiling, not engaging, not satisfied until moving should have been signs. I didn’t see it. I had no clue. Audrey was my first child and I didn’t have  some one else to measure her by.

Another clue:

“Audrey was a square peg in a round-pegged world. She cried when other babies smiled. She slept little. I received loads of free parenting advice from friends and family who had compliant text-book babies. None of it worked for Audrey, so I chucked it.  

At five and a half months, she could crawl up stairs. At one year old, Audrey could do a puzzle, take the laces out of her shoes and re-lace them, flip out of her crib and land on her feet. At four years old she could read, at six she won a story-writing contest but had one of her frequent bouts of pneumonia and couldn’t attend her own celebration.

I was frequently scolded by adult family members who wanted me to put Audrey in her place.  The truth is, Audrey was smarter than them (fact-wise) and she didn’t have the filter to tell her to keep her mouth shut about it. “

Kids on the spectrum are like square pegs in a round pegged world. Something is different about them. Not bad, just different. As I said the other day, they are honest. They don’t read social cues well. Audrey didn’t know it wasn’t socially acceptable to correct her aunts and uncles when they had facts wrong. Audrey has an amazing ability to read or hear something once and remember it. Most of us don’t have that ability and we may remember bits and pieces of something and she has always been a stickler for exactness. I didn’t know this was a sign. I was so busy treating her physical symptoms that I didn’t hone in on the tells. To me, this was just Audrey.

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Thankfully, Audrey is high functioning. She managed her childhood pretty well. She didn’t like hugs or anyone touching her face. She had obsessions, it is who she is. She seemed to live on a different plane or in a different universe. I chalked it up to her being an eccentric genius. She and a friend spent hours creating a Tolkien inspired world complete with a creation story and language.

The good news is that is was no surprise to God. He didn’t miss anything and where I messed up, He liberally poured out His grace and covered me and my child. For those of you who are experiencing a season of guilt over what you did or didn’t do, I challenge you to take some time to look back and see the hand of God. Trace your story line to those moments when you feel as if you failed and God showed up to pick up the pieces. Maybe he provided a friend who supported you. Maybe he sent someone to pray with you or take you out for a cup of coffee. It may be that you have spent years feeling guilty and you haven’t taken the time to look for the grace God covered you and your child with. Take a moment now and ask Him to show you the infusion of grace He poured out in your past. It’s only in forgiving ourselves, putting the guilt to the side that we can move forward into healing (Tweet this).

If you suspect that your child is on the spectrum or that he doesn’t fit in, he hones in on one thing, he obsesses, highly intelligent but doesn’t read social cues, has a large vocabulary at an early age or none at all, doesn’t like to play with toys or only plays with one kind of toy, doesn’t need other kids to play with, has sleep issues and won’t let an issue go, maybe check into some more research or talk to someone. This is not an official list or medically approved list. It’s my list. Sometimes the lists on medical sites are hard to interpret, hopefully mine helps.

I did miss it, but God caught it. I see His grace prints in my life and hers. When I question why, I see Audrey comforting and parenting with understanding. I watch her encourage other Moms and I know, God has it under control. He didn’t miss a thing.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor at TWWbutton200x200_zps62610d74

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I’m a Messy Mom

I (Amerey) am a messy mom. I’m sure most of you moms out there feel like this, I’m sure that you look around your house at least twenty times a day and say to yourself, “My house is so messy!!” Well, let me take a moment to explain to you why I look around my messy house and smile with relief.

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As a self-proclaimed messy mom, I don’t mind the toys strewn all over my floor, or the dust on the mantel piece, or the dust bunnies under the couch. And while I will admit that this would drive many moms crazy, I have worked hard in recent months to not worry about it. It seemed an impossible task to set aside the cleanness of my house. I grew up with a chore chart, my bed had to be made every morning, my mother never left for a trip without making sure we had a clean house to come home to. And while these were all GREAT life skills, ones that I will impart to my own children, I noticed that I was obsessing a little over everything in my house being straightened and put away, cleaned and swept, dusted and wiped down. My husband was the one that pointed it out to me. Evening after evening when he would come home from work I would apologize to him for the messiness of the house and he would always tell me it was perfectly fine (I have a great husband). I decided I needed to re-examine my motives for living day by day. Was my goal each day to have a clean house? What would I rather be doing with my time? What could I be spending my energy on instead? And of course, because I have a toddler, while all these thoughts were running through my head a small, high-pitched voice was calling to me outside of my head, “Mama, mama, mama…..MAMA! Mama DEEEEEESSSS.” (That’s how my 18-month-old pronounces “this.”)

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DES, or this, little girl is who made my impossible task oh so very possible. What is more important to an 18-month-old than playing with mama? NOTHING. I agree with you. You’re thinking of all the things you want your children to learn, all the tasks you want to become normal to them, and yet at this age how do they learn all those things? Through play. I am now a messy mom because I play with my little girl. Instead of just making the beds, Cecilia and I have fun throwing all the blankets and pillows on the floor and jumping on them, sometimes the bed gets made right after we’re done, sometimes it gets made later and the pillows and blankets sit on the floor for a couple hours. Instead of just unloading the dishwasher and trying to keep my daughter distracted, we now play the “thank you” game. Cecilia hands me piece after piece of silverware and she says, “daDA” every time. She takes bowls out and puts them away in the wrong place, she puts the tupperware things on her head, and we laugh and laugh and laugh. We make blankets into swings instead of folding them up, we sit down and pull all the books of the shelves and read every single one instead of putting them away, we take all the clothes out of the laundry basket and go for rides inside the basket. Everything is entertaining to her, everything is entertaining to me now. Sometimes all the tasks we “need” to get done that day get done, sometimes we only finish half of the ones that we start. Sometimes after we eat snack outside we see too many things down in the grass to do instead of taking our dishes in right away.

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Wearing Daddy’s underwear

I love being a messy mom. It has made my life so much easier and so much more enjoyable. And of course I want Cecilia to learn all of the things that I learned as a younger girl, but I also want her to grow up and have fun with her children and make all the same memories I am making with her. She is the reason I am a messy momma, she is my motivation to not clean everything all the time. I will play with her forever.

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After a morning of reading

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My Three Girls

When I visit either of my two eldest daughter’s homes, it feels like going home.

I’m not saying they are little mes. Each of them has their own personality, their own likes and dislikes.

However, each of my three daughters have some of my mom-isms.

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Audrey and family

They do certain things just the way I do…. such as:

  • keep a bottle of aloe in the fridge
  • keep a whiteboard calendar
  • have and use rice steamers
  • shop at Aldi and Kroger (and use store coupons regularly)
  • refuse to pay full price for any clothing items (Audrey’s latest purchase- two pea coats for her boys $4.97 each)
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    Amerey and family

    That’s not to say that I wanted them to pick up ALL my habits. I sometimes hear my youngest daughter speaking me –

“Am I the only one who can do _________ around here?”

a. do the dishes

b. fold the towels

c. sweep the kitchen

d. all of the above

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Ania

We humans tend to imitate who we are around. Our children garner their first suppositions of life from us and send run them through the ringer in their teens and college years.  Whatever come out of the other side of that ringer forms the putty that becomes their adult self. Their morals. Their values. Their ideals and whatever foundation did not get washed away in the rinse cycle.

I think we mamas tend to focus on the letter of the law with our girls. Do this and not this. Don’t watch this movie. Don’t have sex. And all those things are great things. But, we must remember the spirit of the law. Our girls thrive on relationship. They watch every little thing we DO. And they want to DO things with us. That is the key. Don’t flip out if you don’t always get along or if your girls question everything you believe. Or if they argue about wanting to see a certain film or stay up half the night reading. Don’t panic if they want to debate a political topic. It is all part of the process. They are trying to sort things out for themselves. Wouldn’t you rather they sort things out with you, at home, under your roof?

Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.- Proverbs 22:6

Training up a child takes time, conversation and confrontation. Each child takes a different sort of training, depending on their bent. One will work things out by talking it through, one by thinking it through and another will just follow along quietly, soaking everything in.

Daughters are a gift and they come in varied packages. Relationship is key. If you are fighting with your teen today, don’t despair. Don’t think this is the end. Don’t say it is. Get past the words and down to the spirit of the relationship. She is watching you. Will you reconnect? Or will you smolder? Will you shake it off and smile at her later? Or will you make her pay for it for days? I am guilty of doing all of these and wondering how my girls turned out so wonderfully. The key? Not me. But God. He has a plan for each one of their lives. He will work it out. He has worked it out. He is still working on their behalf. Don’t live in the letter of the law. Live in the spirit where relationship lives. Walk in that spirit and enjoy the fruit of it. And trust that He will do the work in your children. We plant the seed. He waters. When our children are old (that is different for every child) they will not depart from their early teachings. Don’t lose heart.

My girls didn’t behave perfectly during their growing up years and neither did I. We shouldn’t expect perfection of our girls. Only Jesus has that. We should expect relationship-that is what Jesus offers us. And this is what we in turn offer our children. We build on these relationships for eternity. So, step away for the letter of the law that leads to death and step into the spirit which leads to family.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday!

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