After posting my last blog (My Love Hate Relationship with Summer) I found myself lying in bed one night wondering what other people thought when they read it.
Do they think our life sucks?
Do they pity us and our struggles?
I am actually a very content person.
I love my two beautiful kids. I love my husband. I love my job. I love my amazing, supportive family and friends.
Do I love all aspects of my life all the time? No. But who does?
Do I love the struggles we face every single day as an autism family? No. But our struggles has made us the family we are today and we are a pretty awesome family.
I am a ‘glass-half-full’ type of person.
I think part of that mind set comes from finding ways to cope with stressors and everyday life.
As a follow up to my last post, I would like to tell you about the ways I have learned to cope with summer.
I think we as moms feel guilty about so many things. When Tyson was little, I would feel enormous guilt when we didn’t do everything as a family.
Now, how silly is that?
My logic didn’t really make sense. I’m sure typical families don’t do everything together.
But I had it in my head, that families do things together and autism wasn’t going to stop us.
In the beginning we would all go out together, which would often end badly and then I would feel miserable for taking Tyson in the first place. He really couldn’t handle it.
Then I started to refuse to go if we all couldn’t go.
Also, not a good choice. I was missing out and was a tad resentful for it.
The best advice someone gave me was to let go of the guilt and see it differently.
Instead of having an all or none approach, I should look at each outing as unique and make a decision on what worked for each family member.
At first it was hard.
Deciding to leave Tyson at home with a babysitter (aka Auntie) and going without him, was tough.
But realistically, he could not sit in a restaurant for two hours patiently for example. And so, if I wanted to go, I needed to leave him home.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t leave him at home very often. Only the times I know it would not interest him, be too much for him or there would be a safety concern.
In the beginning it was hard not to feel guilty, especially when others asked why he wasn’t with us.
But as time went on, I became more confident in my decision.
For any other special needs families that are reading this, I would like to tell you that this doesn’t mean I gave up trying.
Just because your child can’t handle it now, doesn’t mean with time and practice, that can’t change. Also good advice from a friend.
Does this mean I am going to take Tyson to Bowring Park now that the pool is open, and there is a lineup to access the pool, and being in the lineup does not guarantee you entry? Not in this lifetime (G n’ R shout out).
I will avoid Bowring Park at all costs now until the pool closes. However, we may try Topsail Beach this summer during a weekday morning. (Maybe 😉)
Never give up trying new adventures, but equally important, know your limits.
My second tip for surviving summer, which really applies to any time of the year, is to find something you like to do and do it. In other words, make time for yourself.
I think many of us, as woman, lose apart of ourselves when we become moms.
And having a child with autism (or any exceptionality) intensifies this. I was consumed with appointments, therapies, activities and goals that there just wasn’t time to do the things I liked to do anymore.
Well, last year during the pandemic I started to once again do the things I enjoy.
I started reading again, for fun.
Not articles on autism, not scientific journals about autism, not parent blogs about autism.
Reading for pure fun!
Imagine … sitting down and relaxing, reading a book when you have a list of things you are suppose to be doing like laundry, or cleaning or cooking. Well …. maybe not the cooking part 😉.
This was also hard for me. I think more so because it was a solitary activity.
As you know, I also started a blog. I have always loved to write and now I get to share our story with all of you, which is very therapeutic for me.
And just this past October, I joined a Learn to Run program.
Best decision ever – hands down!!
To be honest, I always wanted to learn to run.
Runners seem so content and happy. (Not the ones like me, that look like they are struggling to breathe but those seasoned runners, who make it look effortless.)
However, that is not the reason I decided to join.
Myself, Tyson and Meagan (my sister) were on a walk and Tyson took off running and I couldn’t catch him. Luckily, it was on a trail, and was in no immediate danger but it got me thinking that this situation needed to change.
I needed to get in better shape in order to be able to catch him if he ran in an unsafe environment.
What I didn’t realize was that running would give me so much enjoyment and contentment.
When I run, I don’t have a single thought in my head.
It’s my me time!
And after a run, I feel a wonderful sense of personal accomplishment. After only 3 months in the program, I could run 12 km. And for someone who has never worked out since having children, it feels pretty great to do able to do this.
Disclaimer – I’m not aiming to be a track star and truth be told, I’m pretty slow. Actually, extremely slow.
I’ll probably never to be able to keep up with Tyson, but running has a new purpose now – one that’s all my own.