Tag Archives: children

Ooey Gooey Confetti Love

Dear Jacob,

Eighteen years ago, on this day, the most amazing thing happened and life, as I knew it, changed forever—all because of you.

We had waited for you. Prayed for you. Hoped for you. Dreamed about you.

It was Valentine’s Day.

The day that is so much about love. It was a perfect day to be born, really. Because having a child, becoming a mother, is like having a big old truckload of love poured into your heart until it is so full and so big for your body, that it explodes into a bazillion confetti hearts that flutter down all over you and cover you with love on the outside too. You just become one big ball of ooey gooey love covered in confetti hearts, all melty and messy.

Yep, it was just like that.

Jacob 5 mos oldAnd there you were, my precious boy—my heart walking around outside my body, and I was never the same.

We have watched you all these years, grow and laugh, struggle and cry, persevere and mature. You are becoming a man. And it breaks my heart and fills me with so much joy and pride.

You are an incredible gift from God. Through all your struggles, you have taught me so much. You have taught me compassion, gratitude, patience, and flexibility.

Because of you, I’ve learned that things don’t always work out the way you planned; sometimes things work out better. God’s plans and ways are so much bigger and better than mine, anyway.

You have taught me that when one way of doing something doesn’t work, you try something else. And you keep trying until you find “the thing” that does. I’ve learned how to fight for you and be your advocate.

I’ve learned that “normal” is overrated and that doing things in a way that may look completely nuts to other people is okay. I’ve also learned not to care what others think and to listen and smile and nod when people offer “helpful” advice. I’ve also learned to accept advice that is genuinely helpful.

I’ve learned that it is okay to let you do things in your own way (not all the time, of course! *wink*), because we don’t always look at things the same way. And hey, you’re a pretty smart guy, so you know what you are talking about. But I’ve also learned to push you to try things that might be scary or difficult (for all of us!). And I’ve had to push myself as well. We’ve grown together—you and Daddy and me.

Jacob casual senior pic 001You are kind, compassionate, brilliant, sensitive, persevering and hilarious. You are so strong. You have worked so hard to get to where you are, to overcome some challenging obstacles. You amaze me. I have no doubt that you will make your mark on this world and that the world will be all the better for it. I know I am.

It’s gone by so fast. Eighteen years. How did we get here? My heart still explodes with that same confetti love each time I look at you, at that face, those eyes—those brilliant hazel eyes. Just like the first time I saw you on Valentine’s Day 1995.

I could not be more proud to know you and call you my son. You are more precious to me than you could ever begin to know.

Happy Birthday, Jacob.

I love you. With a big old truckload of bursting-heart-ooey-gooey-confetti-love that is messy and beautiful and wonderful.

XOXOXO

Mom

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Filed under Family, Jacob, Parenting

It was then that I carried you.

I am a control freak.  I freely admit it.  I like to be the one driving the car.  I like to be the one who has all the answers. I like to be able to fix things, people and situations.

Well, it is something I am keenly aware of in my life, and, let’s just say, I am working on it.

My control freakishness rears its ugly head sometimes when I least expect it. Just when I think I’ve got my control issues “under control”, I realize I don’t. Most recently and most frequently, my need to control is related to my children.  My two beautiful gifts. They are my whole world.  They are the two most amazing people on the planet, in my opinion. Like any other mom, I want the best for them. I want them to be fulfilled and happy.

They are growing up so fast; it is scary to me. Their childhood is slipping away before my very eyes. The control freak in me has a very difficult time with this, as you can imagine. I want them to make good choices and blossom into the people God has planned for them to become. I want them to grow up, but I don’t want them to grow up. It is a constant tug-of-war. Makes me feel kinda schizo sometimes.

I often cling to the words of Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I hold fast to these words for my children.  I trust that God has a plan for them. So often, I say to God, I know You are in control. I know You’ve got this…But let me just help You along a bit, okay? I often pray and say, I’m giving this to You, Lord—only to take it back from Him five minutes later.  Surely we can all identify with that struggle.

Jacob, my son and firstborn, is 16 years old now. He is a high school junior. When he was 5 years old and diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome, I could not see this far down the road—I could not see past the next five minutes. I had no idea what his future would look like. And yet, here we are. Now is the future I couldn’t imagine back in 2000. He has made huge strides since then and we are so proud of him. He still has hurdles; he always will. And I still don’t know what the future will look like for him as a man.

I realize that I won’t always be right there to hold his hand and say, now remember your homework assignment or did you put on your deodorant or change your clothes or say hello to the man or, well, you get the picture. I desperately want to make sure he is okay and it is so hard to let go and allow him to go it alone and endure those situations that can be challenging for him.  I want to do things for him. To control the environment so he doesn’t get upset when there is a loud laugh-y lady in the restaurant who, I know, is making his skin crawl. To remind him to use the tools his doctor has taught him to help manage his anxiety. And don’t even talk to me about him driving a car! OY!

He is not like other boys his age who are out playing their soccer games and driving their cars and going out with their friends and girlfriends. He is a loner. He is happy to hang out by himself or with his family. He is not really interested in connecting with people. Going to parties or crowded places is not high on his list of things to do. He is not super motivated when it comes to his school work and does not really seem to have an idea of what he wants to do with his life. Naturally, I worry. He does not fit in the traditional mold of the typical kid…and that is okay. He is truly fantastic and I think he is awesome. But I have to be realistic and know that the world likes “typical”. Unfortunately, a world that likes “typical” is not always accepting of “atypical”.

It is that constant struggle of helping him become independent and doing too much for him. Helping him find his way, without telling him what that is. That whole “give them roots, but give them wings” thing. Finding the balance is a very difficult thing. Should he take the SAT or the ACT? Will he go to college? Will he be able to support himself? Will he find someone who will love him for who he is and who will want to share her life with him?  Are we doing the right things to help him? Who will make sure he is okay when his dad and I are gone?

These are the things I lose sleep over.

And then, I am quietly reassured—Fear not. I am reminded, God loves him more that I ever could. God knows the answers to all those questions that constantly swirl around in my worried brain. He truly is in control—whether we give Him that control or not.

I see, in my mind’s eye, me carrying my two children in my arms.  Just wandering around carrying them. Then, I see myself carrying them, one by one, and laying them at the feet of Jesus. Then, Jesus bends down and picks all three of us up in His arms, like we are light as a feather, and, walking away, carries us all.

It is remarkable the peace I feel when I let Him carry it all.

When He is carrying everything, He carries my worry. I don’t have to worry about the future, because He is carrying that too. And He is carrying us there to that future—wherever “there” is. And I don’t have to worry about that either.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will hold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

So, today, I ball my worries up and throw them as far away as I can. Far up into the heavens so that I can no longer see them.  Some days, that ball is more like a boomerang, coming back to me and smacking me in the head once I’ve turned to walk away. But, today, it is okay. Today, I refuse to pick the worries back up.  I’m going to let Jesus carry them all day. He does a way better job than I do.

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Filed under Inspiration, Jacob

Many Faces

I realize that I am on a string of serious posts here.  Sorry if that is bumming anybody out, but it just seems like there have been some heavy things happening in my part of the world of late! Just in case you were wondering, my funny bone does, in fact, still exist.

Moving on.

I have already mentioned in an earlier post this month that it is Autism Awareness Month

Autism doesn’t just occupy one month of the year at our house.  It is 12 months, 365 days, 24/7. However, I am glad that there is a month that recognizes families who are dealing with autism and honors the need to spread knowledge so that people who are in the dark can get informed. I am also thrilled to see the exposure that people like current American Idol contestant, James Durbin, and Zev Glassenberg from Amazing Race: Unfinished Business are receiving and bringing to the world of autism, specifically Asperger’s Syndrome. It should be noted that James Durbin deals with Tourette’s, in addition to Asperger’s.  It seems like almost every day I am hearing of someone…in the public eye or not…who has been identified as somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Autism is everywhere.

Fortunately, due to the wider exposure that some of these folks are getting, the information is getting out there.  People are being informed about autism and its many faces.

Autism has many faces.  Next time you are out and about, look around…in Wal-Mart or the checkout at the grocery store, at the movie theater, in your neighborhood, at your kids’ schools, at church, the soccer field, the bank, the post office.  The face of autism is everywhere.  Considering that 1 in 110 children in the US have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), everyone knows someone who is affected.  Everyone. 

Autism is no respecter of persons. ASDs cross all gender, racial and ethnic lines.  ASDs don’t care if you are a millionaire in Malibu or if you are homeless in the streets of New York.  People in all walks of life are affected.

People are affected in varying degrees, thus the term autism spectrum.  At one end, there are individuals who are very high functioning, who may seem “quirky”.  At the other end are individuals who have no speech and have difficulty with every day tasks.  And then there is everyone in between. No two individuals are exactly alike, though they may follow very similar patterns of behavior.

  • The child you encounter may talk to you like he has memorized the Encyclopedia of Train History or he may not speak at all. 
  • The child you see having a tantrum at the local Applebee’s might not need a spanking. She might be overstimulated by the onslaught of laughter that has just erupted at the table next to hers. 
  • The child you meet at church who doesn’t look at you or return your hello is not necessarily being rude.  He may not understand the social cues or conversational give and take that comes naturally to most people. It probably isn’t because he has no home training.
  • The child at school who keeps to herself and walks the edge of the playground at recess talking to herself and flapping her hands is not a weirdo or stupid. She is quite possibly autistic.

Take a moment before you pass judgment on that mom who isn’t “disciplining her child”. Ask your children to be kind to the kids at school who they know have special needs or to the ones who just seem a little different.  And never, never allow the word retard to be used. Ever.  It is a horrible word.

Children and adults on the autism spectrum all want and need the same things that every other person wants and needs: to feel loved, to have friends, to be respected and treated with compassion, to feel successful.

They are more like you than they are different.

I know a young man who is hilariously funny. He is so smart that it blows me away sometimes. He is awesome on the Ripstik and could do flips around you on the trampoline.  He loves science. He plays the French horn.  He holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a driver’s permit.  He loves all kinds of birds, especially birds of prey. He is kind and polite and compassionate. He likes to play golf with his dad. He is sometimes mischievous and like most teenage boys, enjoys aggravating his sister and playing Wii. He also hates cleaning his room and getting up in the mornings.

He is one of the faces of autism. 

He is my son. 

And he is amazing.

 

"Recognizing and respecting differences in others, and treating everyone like you want them to treat you, will help make our world a better place for everyone. Care… be your best. You don’t have to be handicapped to be different. Everyone is different!" ~ Kim Peek, inspiration for Rain Main.

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Filed under Autism Days, Inspiration, Jacob