Twenty months ago I decided I would throw every ounce of energy I had into preparing the world for Kate. In doing so I have neglected myself in many ways. The most humiliating of which has been my eighty-one pound weight gain. This will come as no surprise to those that know me because cruelly enough I cannot hide this as easily as other indiscretions. I wear it, both literally and figuratively, every single day. I have absolutely despised myself for it.
Can I posit that this weight gain be as symptomatic of autism as Kate's flapping? Can I blame the changes and the challenges? If you think I am blaming Kate for my weight gain you'd be wrong. Pay attention. It doesn't really matter, though. This is one problem I won't be talking (or writing) my way out of.
It's a shame though, that as far as I've come and the successes I've had as of late, that I can't get this particular monkey off of my back.
I've joked to Alex that I have been working hard to gain this weight because editorially it would make for a fantastic before and after piece.
So, in sharing this today I was hoping that maybe you might have some words of wisdom or commiseration for me. I could use both right now.
Why must I we always make so many exceptions for you? I understand you have sensitivities but, come on. Now, I'm an asshole if I want to go to a nice restaurant and enjoy some peace and quiet? This doesn't seem fair, does it? I just wish someone would think of my comfort for once.
Tired of Accommodating Everyone
I hear you. I do. I just don't give a damn. I accommodate the hell out of the world all day long when I bear the overwhelming smells, sights, sounds and ridiculously confusing social norms. Furthermore, I am little and you are big, so in the words of the great Frank Herbert:
If wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets.
I've been around for years longer than you and autism seems to be the flavour of the week, so to speak. When I was growing up you rarely heard about autism. Don't you think that we are going a little overboard diagnosing every 'difficult' child with autism. In my day, we would have called you brats and left it at that.
Rather than looking critically at the number of diagnoses surrounding us, use that analytical mind of yours and do some serious autism research for me. Start with some parenting blogs and move on to some current peer-reviewed studies on the subject. Then we can talk.
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
George Bernard Shaw
I swear, if I hear the word 'autism' one more time, I am going to explode.
Dear Balloon Knot,
Autism, Autism, Autism, Autism, Autism, Autism, Autism, Autism, Autism, Autism, Autism.
Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
I was recently asked to join the Stream Team and jumped at the chance. The Stream Team, if you aren't yet familiar, is a team that writes about their Netflix experiences. Netflix was completely new to me and I cannot believe I have lived without it for this long!
I am only a tiny bit ashamed to tell you that both of my girls have iPads. Kate, took control of the family iPad the day we brought it home, and no one wants to take that ninja on, and Grace received one for her most recent birthday. With that being said, each of us can technically be signed onto our own Netflix preferences whenever we want. Now, I don't want you to picture the four of us in different rooms glued to our screens (not that it hasn't happened). What we have discovered is that we can always find something that all four of us love.
For example, this past weekend we popped the popcorn that Netflix sent to us and made some hot chocolate for the kids. (We enjoyed some bubbly in the champagne classes that came with our Netflix kit and settled in to enjoy The Croods, which was the opening act to a night of House of Cards once the kids were asleep.
p.s. I kind of feel like I am coming out ahead on this whole Stream Team thing. This weekend we are going to watch Turbo and I can't wait!
2:34: No, not tonight. Please not tonight.
2:37: Yep, tonight.
2:39: Ok, maybe I'll get up and watch TV.
2:59: Remember to never watch Criminal Minds in the middle of the night again.
3:00: K, maybe I can sleep now.
3:11: Maybe, I'll read.
3:19: Argh! I keep reading the same page over and over.
3:21: Just going to close my eyes and empty my mind.
3:22: What was that noise?
3:23: Maybe I'll wake up Alex.
3:23: Is he even breathing?
3:23: Yep, he's breathing.
3:24: I wonder what he would look like without ears?
3:29: I wonder if every living creature has ears?
3:33: I think I need to own some land.
3:38: That's a brilliant idea. First thing in the morning I am going to tell Alex I want to buy some land.
3:41: I wonder how much land costs?
3:42: Doesn't matter. Still a brilliant idea. I'll start saving.
3:50: Alarm is going off in just over two hours. Must sleep.
3:59: Damn it.
4:09: I think I need to rearrange the furniture in the living room. It's just occurring to me that it is awful.
4:12: Actually, I think I need all new furniture. Maybe, I should start looking for old furniture and re-finishing it myself. Yes!
4:13: The Cure has to be the best band of all time. I am going to write about The Cure and The Autism Connection.
4:29: Yes, that is perfect. I won't need to write it down. I will remember in the morning.
4:45: This is getting ridiculous.
5:00: I might as well get up and get ready.
6:00: (Alarm) Noooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Sweet Grace. I saw that. You watched as Kate sat beside a little girl and the girl moved quickly away. Likely, she was fearful of a bite or the confusing way Kate speaks. Either way, it crushed you. Kate didn't notice her little friend maneuver quickly away; one of the rare perks of autism, I guess. She wasn't the least bit affected. You were, though. I saw it in the way you cast your eyes down so the little girl would not see the tears in your eyes. I saw it in the way you stopped coloring and instead stared at your page and twirled your hair. I saw it in the way you glanced to me to see if I saw the interaction.
I smiled at you because I wanted you to know that it was ok and because your tears made my heart burst with pride. There was no malice in that little girl's heart when she moved away from our Kate. She may be unsure and afraid of how to interact with Kate. She may have even received a bite or a pinch from our girl at one time.
This is where you and I come in, Grace. We are going to teach people how to adore Kate as much as we do. We are going to teach people how to understand the way Kate tells you something with her actions when she cannot produce the words. We are going to teach people that being different can be wonderful and exciting and scary, too. We are going to do that for Kate because of everything she has done for us.
Remember when Kate gave you her turtle, Michelangelo, when you were crying because you were afraid to get on the school bus for the first time? Remember when Kate offered you her popcorn when you dropped your whole kids pack at the movie theatre? Remember when you cried your little heart out because Kate sobbed when she had her first haircut?
Do you see how tears can sometimes mean something wonderful? The tears you shed that day made me smile, not because I wanted to see you sad, but because I can see that Kate means everything to you and that means everything to me.
I wanted to introduce you to an idea that I believe is going to change the way we interact with charities. I was introduced to The everydayhero platform recently and it is exciting to see that we now have a tool to track our Giving Footprint™. So, essentially Everydayheros is giving you the chance to track both your financial and your physical contributions to the charity of your choice.
Ultimately, you will choose your cause, set your goal and track your progress. It's simple and extremely motivating.
The everydayhero platform is transforming the giving experience by offering people a way to track and see all the good they do for causes they are passionate about. The platform not only allows people to raise and donate money to nonprofits, but it takes the notion of giving a step further. It allows users to raise money and track their Giving Footprint™ to measure, monitor and amplify everything they put forth when giving to a cause. (https://preregister.everydayhero.com/us/)
GoTeamKate is partnering with everydayhero.com to give GoTeamKate readers a chance to win one of two Fitbit FLEX™ WIRELESS ACTIVITY AND SLEEP WRISTBANDS. ($99.95)
This slim, stylish device is with you all the time. During the day, it tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. At night, it tracks your sleep quality and wakes you silently in the morning. Just check out the lights to see how you stack up against your personal goal. It’s the motivation you need to get out and be more active. (http://www.fitbit.com/flex)
Click on the link below for giveaway guidelines.
To be entered into the giveaway please like GoTeamKate on Facebook and share this post via Facebook by March 18th, 2014. On March 19th, 2014 two GoTeamKate followers will be chosen at random (by Kate, via names in a hat because we are high-tech like that) and notified via Facebook that they have won a Fitbit bracelet. Your Fitbit bracelets will be sent out as soon as I receive your address.
1. Your quiet dinners are interfering with my exploration of the fancy restaurants.
2. Your social norms are confusing and they are seriously harshing on my mellow.
3. Your gender stereotypes are lame and teaching girls all the wrong things. Turtle Power!
4. Your lists of milestones are making all the parents panic. Relax.
5. I'm not ready for the potty. My age is irrelevant.
6. I'm smarter than you think and cooler than you know.
7. A hug-attack is an appropriate way to greet a stranger.
8. I often tell you many times, with non-verbal cues, to back off before I bite you.
9. My meltdowns are far worse for me than they are for you.
10. My parents DO NOT want your advice.
Having children is such a wonderful blessing (stressful as hell). Throw in an autism diagnosis because 'only special people get special children' (or some such shit) and we feel ready for this unexpected journey (a drink).
Don't get me wrong, we adore our kids (like really adore those little punks) but for the sake of our sanity we needed to go spend our days skiing and our nights laughing (drinking) with friends.
We needed to drop some phrases from our vocabularies for a few days, like 'occupational therapy' or 'meltdown' or 'just one glass for me, I'll be up early with the kids'.
So, as I sit here binge-watching Downton Abby (Criminal Minds) and pouring myself a before dinner drink (drinks), you'll understand when I suggest to the doctors to put their anti-depressants away and prescribe some time away for parents who might be feeling the tiniest bit (soul-crushingly) overwhelmed.
Do you really co-sleep with your children?
I tell my kids the children in China cannot wake up until they fall asleep?
Do you really feed your children only locally grown and 100% organic food?
Two of us had peanut butter cups for dinner and the other one had chocolate kisses.
Do you really want a natural childbirth?
I pretended the epidural wasn't working so they would turn it up higher, just in case.
Do you really love breastfeeding?
I really hated it and I wished desperately that my children would take bottles and I resented them for forcing me to breastfeed for so long.
Do you really bake GF/CF muffins every morning after your run?
I complain about the smell of turkey bacon while my husband makes pancakes.
Do you really not own a TV?
I just caught my three year old watching Homeland on her iPad.
Do you really volunteer at hospice when you aren't organizing the school library?
I dress down on Fridays and I haven't even paid the donation, yet.
*Can any of you add to my list?
Happy Mail to:
27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)