Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Epic adventures and the Titanic

Hi all. I haven’t written in a long time. It seems that I am not that good at focusing on writing for my blog. Sure, I had the intention to share all kinds of neat ideas and intriguing quotes from articles that I have recently read, but actually taking the effort to pause my sometimes chaotic life to do so is a struggle for me. Lately, I’ve been pre-occupied with figuring out how to move on from my 12 years of mastering all things Aspergers. I’ve finally gathered the courage and momentum to move across the country, Yay! This was a difficult decision for me because being a stay-at-home mom for the past 11 years has left me with no real work/job/employment experience, but a ton of SAHM skills: house hold chores, listing things-to-do, prioritizing errands, becoming and expert at planning playdates, organizing kid’s toys, volunteering at kids’ schools, arranging yard sales, and all other general activities involved in mothering and taking care of a home. Getting my master’s degree in counseling was probably a way for me to connect my life experience with my professional aspirations, though now I feel like I cheated myself out of an opportunity to really explore what I’m truly passionate about. By the way, I am still trying to figure that out. Seeing as though my children are very imaginative, Max and Marty both enjoy creative writing and are surprisingly very good at it, I might need to take this cue and return to my roots in art. Oh well, time will tell. I’ve also become increasingly interested in new age spirituality and law of attraction stuff; perhaps this will lead me to some new discoveries about myself. Ode to self-awareness, there’s nothing like realizing how you eff-d-up (excuse my French) your own life or supposedly created all the bull crap that brought you to this point of disillusionment. I digress. Besides, everything happens for a reason. Which leads me to my latest update on my precious precocious little Marty.

My husky voiced Marty is now approaching 2nd grade. He’s smart, articulate, creative, and very stubborn. Did I mention he was extremely stubborn? But I think it goes along with the Asperger territory. The whole theory of being inflexible, black or white no grey area, and a little oppositional sprinkled with OCD. Marty has taken a strong interest in being perceived as “funny”. He spends hours watching funny Minecraft inspired videos. And, most of the time, when he tries, he is really funny at delivering lines from his You-tube video repertoire. Yet sometimes, he’s very inappropriate. Most importantly, he is aware that he has trouble making friends and some of his interests are a little off-putting…like the “Titanic”. Yes, Marty is now a bonafide Titanic freak. To mommy’s disappointment Thomas the Train is a thing of the past [Insert sad face here :(]. Yet, he insists that he is still into model trains. Thank goodness because Mommy has truly enjoyed buying trains and participating in train track configuring.

So the exposure to the RMS Titanic came from Marty’s father. He has been obsessed with the Titanic since James Cameron blessed us with the movie. He introduced Marty to Titanic inspired board games and enjoys listening to the movie or the movie soundtrack in the background while they play the board game. Thus, Marty has memorized the theme song…near far wherever you are. I my humble opinion, he knows way too much about Jack and Rose (the main characters). He said to me one day after drawing a picture of the Titanic and its famous smoke stacks, “I think me and dad are the only ones interested in the Titanic.” That doesn’t stop his fervor for all things Titanic; at least he has enough sense not to bring it up around his neurotypical friends. Sure he might proudly show them the mini plastic motorized version of the Titanic, but conversing about the various details of the ship usually bores typical 7 and 8 year olds, so Marty skips all that technical stuff. I happen to like the movie Titanic, and I have researched enough about the actual ship to know some really special facts that Marty finds quite amusing; like, the company that owned the Titanic had a practice of naming all their ships with a name ending in ‘IC’ – fascinating?  

I know many parents would be appalled by their child’s interest in a historical tragedy that claimed the lives of thousands, but I understand that Marty only sees the ship as the object of his admiration. Somehow, he can’t or doesn’t associate the ship with the tragic loss of life. Although he does have empathy, he can’t seem to relate it to this incident perhaps because it happened so long ago. I think his mechanical mind is fascinated about the details involved in the ship’s sinking. Marty’s preoccupation with how the Titanic met its demise at the hands of an iceberg is a little on the morbid side for me, but I try to answer all his question with a straight face. I even helped him construct a large cardboard model of the Titanic all so Marty could use it to reenact the scene where the Titanic hits the iceberg [an iceberg he designed out of aluminum foil and packaging tape]. Why Marty thought it was a good idea to tape Lego men to the poop deck is beyond me. I think some children with Aspergers have a keen interest in figuring out how things crash. Marty still enjoys seeing his trains collide and run off the track. His father shared a story about how when he was a boy he had an interest in the spaceship Challenge. He even described in detail how he reenacted the explosion with fireworks tired to a plastic spaceship. To which I replied “thanks for sharing.” I mean who am I to judge?

To conclude, lately my life has been trying to figure out what I need to do, professionally and financially, to support two challenging young boys, entertaining said boys during the hot summer, and planning my epic move to the southwest. I’d love any feedback from readers as this is a pivotal point in my life and I want either some encouragement or advice on how to move forward with life as a single mom with two kiddos. I’ve always been a positive and optimistic person so I am approaching this new life with lots of hope and motivation, though I must admit that I am a teeny bit scared of the unknown. So far I have convinced myself that I am happily content…my threshold for happiness has been lowered and I’ve learned to appreciate and admire the simpler things in life. I see my life as Marty’s and Max’s mom as predestined, and I notice the serendipity in my life experiences. Everything does happen for a reason. I’m learning to create a better version of myself, a better lifestyle for my family, and a sense of purposely fulfilling and seeking happiness in my life. All is well. :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Happy 2015!

As I sit here in Starbucks jobless [sad face] enjoying my tall cup of Pike roast despite the morning chill evident in the store, I try to disregard my sensitivity to the smell of charred cheese and garlic. This place should only smell like burnt coffee, right. I digress.
I took to the laptop a few years ago to write this blog because, during that time, my life was a stressful hot mess. A heavy cloud of unhappiness, guilt, and doubt seemed to follow me around like an abandoned puppy seeking a handout of scraps. I must admit how writing this blog helped me a lot… a whole lot, like literally save me. I mean, it really kept me from jumping off the deep end. The deep end for me, mind you, is an extra margarita for lunch, or that second glass of wine at night or fully indulging in my forbidden bad habits…like eating too many donuts and bagels, isolation and excessive self-criticism [and that daily margarita because, you know, I earned it – excuses, excuses]. Considering that addictions run in my family, I have much concern for my tendencies to obsess and be compulsive in my way to escape my feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. But back to the blog. I wish I were the type of blogger that blogged about the highs and lows, my every moment of confusion, frustration, success, or rare occasion of bliss, but I guess, I’m not. I think I wanted to blog about my experience with blacks and Aspergers as a way of getting the information ‘out there’ in the world, so to speak. Because, sadly, mental health, neurological disorders, special needs, etc. still remains taboo and rarely talked about in my community.I don't know if any members of my own family is truly understanding of Marty's challenges. I've rescued him from grandma's, cousin's, aunt's, uncle's belts on many occasions. Cause black folks love to whoop their kids, right. I am only being a little bit sarcastic here folks. Though I can recall when a dear friend announced to her family that her beloved daughter was suffering with Selective Mutism [a form of social anxiety], my friend’s mother casually replied, “Oh, I just thought she was gay.” Sure we got a great gut busting laugh out of hearing my friend share her story in her own ‘stand-up comedian’ kind of way, but being the mom of children with special needs, I understand how painful it can be when your child’s uniqueness is disregarded, belittled, and not accepted. So, for the past few years in lieu of blogging I’ve been doing a lot of research on all things Aspergers, autism, and ADHD. My little Marty, the inspiration behind this blog, has been growing, and learning and playing with trains, and imitating, and watching trains on youtube, and misbehaving, and did I mention talking excessively about trains. 
Marty has become a great source of joy for me because, unlike the myth of the disconnected and un-empathetic Aspie, Marty is very thoughtful and sensitive. He doesn't quite express his compassion in the typical way, but I know that he cares and he cares deeply. One day, while fearful that he had lost the affection of his older brother after a night of Marty-style irrational rage, name calling, and intensity [the dreaded Meltdown], Marty squeezing Max tightly, in tears, exclaimed to Max, “I am so sorry, I shouldn't have said those things to you; they are not true. I love you.” Max and I chuckled at Marty’s dramatics but understood that those were real tears. Marty also provides much needed comic relief in keeping true to his Asperger nature to say everything on his mind without filter. For instance Marty faithfully expresses his disdain for our neighbor and my good friend as she is very strict with him and rarely lets him get away with what she deems “bad behavior” as High Functioning Autism is never an excuse for her. "I don't like her," Marty pouts. Marty recently has started to slack off, neglecting his homework due to his predisposition and preference to think, play, and talk about trains. Getting him to do homework is a daunting chore for me and his Aspie dad, surprisingly. So, I enlisted the help of my neighbor who I lovingly call the ‘Enforcer’. She threatened to sit with Marty until he completes his homework if he doesn't straighten up and fly right. Of course, Marty wants no parts of this. He growls whenever I mention her name… yes he literally growls and has been doing this since he was a toddler. Any whoo, the other day I reassured Marty that my neighbor was on standby to make an appearance if Marty could not stay focused on completing his homework. Marty screams in response to my warning, “Please, do not call her. I do not want to have to deal with her.” Then he proceeds to finish his assignments. Passive Aggressive management used for motivation – check. Hey, who says empty threats don’t work. I know, it’s wrong, but I am a work in progress and humanely typical. In the future, I’ll do better, I promise.
As Marty continues to mature and grow, he has become more aware of his differences and even suggested that I take him to the doctor because, “sometimes I don’t understand what people are saying to me.” If you only knew Marty; if you only knew. I find his unique way of thinking to be very enlightening as I have matured in my personal spiritual growth and desire to understand my own human experience. However, unlike his mommy, Marty doesn't concentrate on the future or what lies ahead; he truly lives in the moment. He lives to amuse himself with his endless imagination and intense interest in trains. He’s not embarrassed or hindered by lack of progress, not fitting in with the crowd, or making a scene while expressing his very narrow opinions very loudly. He revels in the opportunity to break out a finger flick or two ignoring onlookers. He’s a few months shy of second grade and has no shame in wearing shoes with large Velcro straps because learning to tie shoes is “boring”. Marty loves his dog, is loyal to his 2-3 friends and his self-interested brother [blame it on the ADD], and feels more secure when he’s at home, unless there’s a model train exhibit in town, in these rare occurrences, he could spend hours at the exhibit marveling in all the HO, G, N, Z gauge excitement of it all. Cue fast finger-flicking.
To wrap this up, I am still dealing with some of the difficulties involved in parenting a child with Aspergers, but at this moment, I am enjoying it more than complaining about it. Note to parents – it is okay to complain and vent every now and then, but try to always get back to "the glass is half full" mentality [trust me, I know it’s hard, but work at it and practice it]. Positivity and Love heals! I have two degrees and 10 year of research to qualify myself to say these things. LOL.
In all honesty, I often imagine that in a higher spiritual world, Marty and I arranged this experience on earth where he would be the child with special needs, idiosyncrasies, and quirks, and I would be the mother learning patience, unconditional love, and acceptance. And from all this, our two spirits would discover truth and evolve to become better humans [to aid in the advancement of mankind]. Thanks Super Soul Sunday on OWN!

 As the cliché goes, “everything happens for a reason.” And, this makes me confident in my belief that in life there are no mistakes, yet opportunities to learn and practice freedom of thought and choice. Til next time, which at the rate I am blogging, perhaps next year, all of you readers are in my thoughts and prayers for understanding, love, acceptance, peace of mind, and happiness. Thank you so much for reading my humble thoughts and words. LOVE and BLESSINGS.