Archives for posts with tag: mommy

In my belief, there are two things everyone can do to create a better world… YOU can change the world by showing kindness and compassion… You don’t need to worry about how to change policies, religion, etc.  All you need to do is be kind and accept others for who they are.

I could have written this post the hurtful, hateful way that I felt earlier after a conversation which inspired this.  But I’m choosing to inspire change in how we look at others.

What I believe: EVERY parent is doing the best that they are capable of. I will say that again. EVERY PARENT IS DOING THE BEST THEY ARE CAPABLE OF!  Think of parenting like a spectrum (like everything else in the world)- there are Super parents, the average parents, and the parents that are struggling… I believe that ALL parents want the best for our children and that we do the best that we can do, given all of the factors that arise in the moment.  No one wants their child to suffer, or feel left out, or to be hungry, or to fall behind.  We all need support, and some don’t have an immediate support system.  

Please don’t judge another parent, or person, because you have no idea what they’ve been through or what they’ve just overcome.  A simple statement like ” I can’t believe they don’t read to their kids!” ” who can’t brush their kids teeth” is judgmental beyond belief! It sounds ridiculous… But true!

Now to clarify, this statement was not directed at me, but I felt the need to step up. 

We do not know the reason, it is not our business!  But to give you example, I will share bits of my life…

I don’t read to my kids at bed time. I try to get in a book here and there, but I am the first one to admit, it’s not a high priority!  I have 8 year old twins in diapers.  They are non verbal and often have tantrums that I don’t understand.  Sometimes I just want to enjoy the cuddles they give me, sometimes I’m holding them tightly so that they don’t slap their heads.  

I don’t have the opportunity to brush their teeth every day (let alone twice a day) because some mornings, like this morning, I was wiping up poop.

DON’T JUDGE ME!!

Parenting is affected by so many factors that we don’t understand.  

If you want to make judgment, make sure you completely understand the situation… 

If you want to make change, show kindness and compassion.  Try to understand and support.  It will get you further.

I find myself opening up to complete strangers, with their questions and sympathy, and find it quite normal now.

A conversation, whether it be at work, in a staff room, with another parent, at a hockey game, in the grocery store, usually starts out with talking about kids. It then turns into age comparison, then I reveal that I have twins (insert halo above my head and twinkling stars), then comes the twin fears and wonderment… “Oh you’re busy!” “Are they identical!?” “Boys! Twins!” Then come questions like “Do they play sports?” That’s when I, again, “reveal” that the boys have Special Needs (insert BIGGER halo and more twinkling stars!)

I get the “God Bless Yous”, and “oh, I’m sorry to hear that” and the occasional mortified “oh..”

I’ve grown to live with that.  As a society, as humans, we are curious.  Society hasn’t “lived with” Special Needs individuals for very long.  We just DONT know.  My generation is probably one of the first to have some students mainstreamed, but barely any.  Institutions have just recently shut down in my home province of Ontario, leaving adults who were secluded, now living in smaller group living residences where they have the ability to venture out into the community with support.

My daughter’s generation will be the most empathetic and compassionate generation yet as kids with Special Needs are just the other kids.  The kids with differences.  My boys are just Drew and Dean, and they’re silly and loveable!

I appreciate all conversations despite how offensive they would seem to anyone listening.  Those questions are honest and difficult, and through honest conversation comes awareness and understanding!  Think, if you were always afraid to ask a question, you would never learn!  We as parents of Special Needs kids have a great power to educate society!  Don’t get defensive or offended if someone asks you if your child can walk, or talk, or make friends, or have a good life!  Teach, inspire, create growth in our society who is still learning how to incorporate ALL individuals into daily life. Integration into society is less than 40 years old…

All of our conversations are important and insightful and learning opportunities!

We are shaping the world for our children…

* bloggers note-After hitting a slump in blogging I asked my friends to write my first line for me.  

The best part of my day is when I sneak upstairs and check on the kids before I head to bed myself.  I love creeping up to the edge of their beds, to see their content little faces snuggled into the pillow.  

Jeff (my husband) used to tease me, because even after I’d gotten into bed, I’d run up to their rooms just to tuck them in one last time.  

Our days are so hectic sometimes, that I want to make sure they get one last little kiss, and a whispered ‘ I love you.’  It’s also the time where I see them at their sweetest.  Macartney often has her stuffies tucked around her, and a look of such contentment, that it lets me know that she had a great day.  Very often, it’s when I witness the special twin bond that the boys share- they’ll either have snuck into one bed, and are snuggling, or simply sleeping in twin unison- in perfect twin form across the room.

Seeing them all, resting peacefully, reminds me that no matter how busy and crazy our lives get, we make it through, another day will come, and that our lives are a blessing, because there are three beautiful babies I get to kiss goodnight.

February is inclusion month and our local Community Living Association holds a contest for inclusion in education.
I have always encouraged my daughter, and the school where my children attend, to participate in it.
My daughter, now a Grade 3 student, had previously submitted pictures of her understanding of what “inclusion” is. This year, I felt she was at an age where I can ask her questions to broaden her thoughts and ideals on what inclusion means to her personally. Having brothers with Special Needs, must impact her right?
I’ve realized that, to her, inclusion is “normal” and that I’m trying to show her how my generation is seeing it. Being in education, I drew out a visual organizer, and she really didn’t understand what I was asking her.
I learned a very important lesson that the generation I am raising, with so many other parents, is the most tolerant yet. They don’t see colour or ability, or any other discriminators. They don’t see all of the judgement we were raised with. It’s remarkable!
I believe that it is still important for inclusion to be understood, but maybe more so for our generation, and the ones before us.
Inclusion is the ability to see everyone for their value. Inclusion is everyone’s right to education. Inclusion is understanding.
And if we do right for these values, to our children, inclusion IS!

There is something powerful about getting in front of a group of people and talking about yourself. To be completely open and honest, and let people know what your world is like.
I’ve recently had opportunity to do so on a few occasions, and I feel empowered!
How else can we change the perceptions of others without allowing them to view ours?
You see, I’m not professing that I’m doing things right in my life, but I’m definitely learning to understand and accept myself!
I was asked to speak to a parent group, one for parents often just coming into the slightly intimidating world of special needs parenting. A friend, a local Social Worker, emailed to ask if I would be interested in coming and speaking on the month’s topic “Stress and Coping”.
For those of you who know me well, know about my stress levels, and probably had a quiet chuckle that I was asked to do this particular topic. I am open about my stress and vent to those friends I am comfortable with, as we all should.
I think we all have varying levels of stress, in different parts of our lives, and we all cope differently to each of those stressors.
My philosophy with stress is , that to truly cope with it, is to be true and honest about it. We need to know that we can’t eliminate all stress, but we can cope. We don’t have to always cope gracefully or quietly, but we can do things to alleviate most stress.
Now what I told these parents are tidbits of wisdom that so many parents before me, had passed down to me. Maybe I’ll list them for you:
*don’t sweat the small stuff, really- you have bigger things to focus on!
*don’t lose sight of yourself, your child, your family. What others label you or your child as doesn’t have to change who you are, whether individually or a “unit”. Make your new normal!! ( and try to LOVE it)
*its ok to feel sad, stressed, angry, etc! We’re still human! Nothing will change that. Dwelling on any of those emotions will only keep us longer from the BEST emotion – HAPPINESS
*remember who you are as a couple , minus the kids. It’s so easy to fall into “team” mentality, and lose sight of why you decided to create this crazy family in the first place. Make the time for you as a couple!!!
*find some time for you, and just you. You may not get the time to go for a run, or go to a yoga class everyday, and you may not get that nap you want, but whatever fits in that moment, during that day, do it!! It may be enjoying that piece of chocolate you snuck when the kids weren’t looking, or sipping a glass of wine while cooking….
And finally…
BREATHE. Just remember to breathe.

A very wise friend told my husband and I that having a child with special needs would cause us to be in an endless cycle of grief. At first, we thought this to be morbid advice, as grief is understood by most people. We didn’t understand it, nor were we ready to understand it in the early part of our life with twins diagnosed with Periventricular Leukomalacia, causing Cerebral Palsy.
Years later, I completely understand. Today, I fell into an inconsolable fit of grief over a phone call from the school saying they ran out of diapers for the boys. I was at work, and had to sheepishly ask if it was okay that I step out, to buy my 6 year old twins diapers, because it was kind of an emergency. I fell into all the various stages of clinical grief, through the denial “maybe they don’t REALLY need them”, the anger, and the sadness. I went through a whole slew of emotions surrounding the fact that no one else close to me has to bring DIAPeRS to their kids school! No one else I know has to interrupt their day to run to the store! I WAS CRYING OVER DIAPERS!!! DIAPERS!!! For God’s sake, I bawled like a baby in the car from the store, to the school, and back to work.
This may not be the traditional grief that everyone is used to hearing about, but it is grief none the less.
I grieve almost everyday for something that my family doesn’t have, or can’t do, or something my daughter experiences as the sibling of 2 brothers with special needs. I grieve for the boys and their frustration of lack of communication. I grieve because this isn’t what I pictured as a little girl. This isn’t the family that I had envisioned in my head.
Sometimes us Special Needs parents look haggered, and emotionless, and tough. It’s because we have to put up that front very often because every fibre in our being wants to break down and cry.
Which I do VERY often, because I would rather people see the emotion, and not see me as a tough stone like mom.
So if nothing else, know that we all have struggles each and every day. A smile can do wonders, and a hug can heal!

A popular term or phrase in the last decade or so, has be “inclusion.”
To every single person, it can mean something different, and in every context as well. I don’t want to get into the technicalities or definitions of inclusion, but share perspective.
I recently had a conversation with a fellow PTA mom at my kids school. After an afternoon of telling our story ( we had never had a moment for her to ask her questions), she paused.
She asked, “Can I tell you something?”
I urged her to do so.
She told me that she was so thrilled and honoured to have her daughter in the same class as my boys and her other children in the school. She explained that my boys, and my family have given her family a great gift of understanding and compassion that no one else could teach. No teacher or no program could give her daughter that.
THIS is what inclusion is about in my books.
NOT my boys being a involved in something, BUT others being involved in my boys.
NOT my boys working themselves into a world they don’t fit into always, BUT others understanding and learning and taking something from THEIR evolving worlds.

I decided this summer that if I was going to stay sane, and ultimately everyone else ( because of course I am the centre of the universe, lol), I needed to seriously consider doing things for me. Yep people, we, as mothers (and fathers) can do things for ourselves. From a personal perspective, it’s not only important but necessary.
My job allows me to be off the entire summer with my children ( gotta love school boards), but that means 9 weeks of 24/7 mothering, no day job to break up your day.
I know some mothers are completely capable and thrilled to do just that, but I recognize that I AM NOT the stay at home type! Don’t judge me, I don’t judge you.
This summer I made one of the best purchases ever! FOR MYSELF! I bought myself a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). I have wanted one for years, and this year I got one!! I haul that thing everywhere and use it for whatever time I can hop on it. I feel free! I feel adventurous! I feel rejuvenated!

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If I could make a recommendation to any parent, please, find something you enjoy and embrace it!!!
I also decided I was going to amp up my golf game… prior to children I golfed a few times a year. After children, only once a year… This past spring my mother bought me a voucher pack for the golf club (literally in my backyard.) I’ve been golfing AT LeAST once a week and LOVE it (but hate it it, don’t get me wrong!) this is something that I do! ME! It totally helps that it’s 4 hours away from my family!!
What I also did was enrol my daughter in a kids clinic so that she could learn how to golf. Then it’s something we can do together!
I think we all need to find balance in our lives, and I’ve written about it before. We need to make sure that we don’t forget who we are! How can you show your child the world if you don’t show them what makes YOU happy?!?
Trying to live a more balanced life has allowed me to become happier as a mother!

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(My daughter learning her swing!)

There is an element of positivity you need to adopt when you’re a parent of a child or children with special needs. If you don’t try to put a positive spin on things, you would cry over everything.
For example, one of my boys came home the other week with MAJOR road rash on his face and knee. The teacher sent me a message to tell me that at the end of the day he was excited to be outside with his class and was running and fell on the pavement. I could have been upset about the fact that he had horrible scrapes on his face, but I thought ” hey! He was RUNNING!” Something we weren’t sure he would EVER do since being diagnosed with cerebral palsy several years ago.
Today, I sat in the school library, during the boys kindergarten celebration ( the school has historically not done a graduation), and I sat and cried. Most of the moms were crying because their babies were “graduating” kindergarten, I cried because it was one of the moments where I realized how DIFFERENT my boys were from their peers. While the other kids sang song and recited poems, my boys smiled at the crowd of smiling faces and squealed. It was a very difficult moment for me, seeing what other peoples “normal” was.
I LOVE my boys, and I LOVE what they bring to the world. They bring strength, and love and humour, but they are definitely different.
I guess my point is that although I look at the positive in my life, it’s difficult, it can’t always mask what’s REAL.
* note that I don’t feel this complete but need to get this piece out!!!

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It’s so easy to get caught up in life and forget the simplest things. Stop and take a moment…
Every morning when I wait for the bus, I hope that it comes during a quiet moment. I live on a “Main Street” and there is always traffic. I used to panic about holding people up as I loaded my 3 children onto the bus safely.
My boys, in case you’re new to the blog, have Cerebral Palsy and a developmental disability. They learned to walk a little over a year ago (they’ll be 6 next week), and they were granted bus privilege 3 months ago. Of course, living in Canada, means they have a daily workout to climb onto the bus in all I their snow gear!! As easy as it would be for me to carry them onto the bus, it’s important for them to maintain their independence and make effort with this task.
This process usually only takes a few minutes but some days we have dozens of cars backed up either way.
One day I started to give a wave in every direction, as a simple thanks (I discovered recently that my husband does the same thing!)
My purpose for this is to hope that those people who may be grumbling about their ride to work being delayed, will give a small smile, knowing that I appreciate their patience. I wish I could stand at the end of my driveway with a sign “If you only knew what a great accomplishment this is, it would melt your heart.”
By living with gratitude for the small things, life feels lighter.
I think the more people and things we are grateful for, the more people feel appreciated, even for the small things, like waiting for a family waiting to get on the school bus…

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