If I am having a down kind of day, taking pictures of Jasan gets me into creative mode and helps elevate my mood. These photos are a result of one of those days…
It was cold and sleety on this day. Jasan insisted on sliding this window open regardless of the weather. I let him do it figuring it was his way of experiencing the weather. He told me to make a CLOSED sign that would read, “Will return at 7:20 AM.” So, of course I obliged.
He has been pretending a lot lately, which is awesome. He uses his memory bank of experiences to pretend. I call it “literal pretending.” He wanted the closed sign because of the snow. He kept opening this window and telling the imaginary people outside to “Go the other way.” ha. Love it.
And then, he voiced his annoyance with me. “Mama, no pictures.”
He is definitely growing up. He better get used to pictures though; that’s never going to stop.
For those of you that don’t know this little fact about Jasan, well, he is very infatuated with washers and dryers. He has been for years! You would have thought that I would have come up with the idea to visit a laundromat much sooner, but alas. Age 6 and we have finally made it.
Apparently, we now will be washing our comforters on the regular at this place. 🙂
So, you put money into the VRT machine which therefore loads your special card with credit. No more quarters needed; you swipe and are good to go!
I love how he is going through an independent stage (with certain things.) He does not need my help; goodness no! Cutest thing ever. We picked our two washers, #10 & #11, and got things started. Huebsch was the brand name of all the equipment in this particular place, so of course he called them by “name.”
Front loaders are very cool but they also had old school top loaders…
He is exploring the feeling of the vibration with his chin. He also liked that he had a 32 on his sweatshirt and he found the 32 in the laundromat. (It’s the little things!)
I love how Jasan is friendly, but the one part of the laundromat that can get a little out of control is how he wants to “help” everyone there. He will walk up to random people and ask if he can help them load their clothes in the washer. lol.
Women are usually understanding and pretty cool about it, but men? Ha. The ones he has chosen look quite confused when he offers his assistance. It is hard for me to tell him “No” in the moment. He doesn’t understand the social awkwardness of what he is doing. So, in preparation for next time, BEFORE going inside we will have the talk about people we don’t know. Can’t help everybody! I love his innocence though. I kind of wish it was okay. It’s precious.
These are the things he will remember. I hope that he feels my genuine interest in what he likes. As boring as this may be to many, it is completely fascinating to my son. These little adventures to nurture his curiosity just builds his bond with me. I want him to feel like I build him up; and if he is really into something we can go check it out and he can explore the way his brain wants to.
People can look at us and wonder why he is making mechanical sounds and getting so excited because the spin cycle is on, but I don’t care anymore. That is who he is and I think he is a rare gem.
Lounging around this morning, I started reading some of my old blog posts to remind myself of where I used to be and also realizing how much Jasan has grown up. Wow. So much has changed. This post grabbed me. Wanted to share again……..
We see (and hear) the Metra train all the time. Rarely do we use it, so Jasan and I ventured out. When I mentioned to a few people what we had in mind for the day, they said, “Where are you going?” and I replied, “To Chicago!”
I got a look from one person who thought it was ridiculous that we weren’t going anywhere specific outside of the Ogilvie station. Some people just don’t get it. The cool thing about this adventure is that it is not about the destination. It is completely about the journey. The details about the train. The huge train station at the end of the line in Chicago. The elevators! The escalators! Oh. Endless things to check out without going out of the train station. Not that I was opposed to doing anything else once we got downtown, I just knew we didn’t need to.
I knew that would be plenty to fill him up with a day full of happiness…
Here it comes! The lights shining our direction and the anticipation of loud train sounds about to be near.
The top floor is where we gravitated to and it was pretty perfect. Empty. Just us.
I had tons of fun shooting him. Of course I was using my phone on silent; otherwise he would have had none of it.
(He is wise to me now…)
I loved all the nuances he was noticing…
The cute coat hook.
Watch your step…
We approach the end of the line.
His eyes lit up as we got off of the train. All of the people, the huge train wheels, the multiple trains on multiple tracks, the hustle and bustle feeling everyone getting where they need to go… Taking it all in.
We made it…
The screens! The clock! The light! The windows! (And that is just when you look up…)
“Mama! Found the elevators!”
“This way, Mama…”
This was my favorite part of the whole day. There was about 45 minutes straight of up and down the escalators, and he held my hand almost the WHOLE time. LOVED THAT.
If you have read earlier posts, you know he is a fan of “OTIS.” He only knew Otis in elevator form. It was way cool to meet Otis in escalator fashion. 😉
Obviously we separated after a long while of hand holding and up and down to switch it up… Jasan up and Mama down… Mama following Jasan (go figure!) and Jasan behind Mama…
But then the elevator needed revisiting.
Otis escalators… Back for more…
Do you see a pattern here?
As boring as this could be for me, I choose to not look at it as so. I document him. I watch him figure things out. I Let him make his own choices. I let him lead the way and feel like a big guy. Independent. Showing ME the way. Letting me into his world. It’s beautiful.
But, adventures always need to come to a close…
I didn’t know this until Grammie told me when she picked us up afterwards…
Jasan told Grammie (on the way TO the train) to take us to “kiss and ride” so we can get on the Metra.
Because Jasan is so literal, exposing him to new things is paramount. The more memories in his mind, the more he has to relate to. Sometimes I find myself getting complacent about the weekends because the week is so busy. Well, I am making an effort to change that.
We had such a great time at our first hotel stay, I decided that we should do another…but add a mini road trip to get there! Milwaukee; HERE WE COME!
Yes, I realize Jasan looks less than enthused, ha, but that had more to do with the fact I was taking ANOTHER PICTURE. 😉
Once we hit the expressway, he rolled his window down and was feeling the speed. He usually isn’t a fan of wind in his face, but he was loving it. I was loving watching him experience it. He was embracing his hair blowing in the wind and the feel of “mph” in his little hands. So cute.
One of the many things I love about him is his ability to interpret sound and memorize it in such a detailed way that when he recreates certain sounds on his own it’s freaky good. Lately no music in the car has been his choice. “Mama, car sounds only.” I can only imagine what he was taking in when I look at that photograph.
While we were driving we talked a little bit about what we might do when we are there. Jasan’s idea of an amazing weekend would be literally to not leave the hotel. And honestly, on these hotel adventures, I want to just follow his lead. All week long he is told what to do at school. He would play outside until 9:00 at night if I let him, but he has to come in early to get to bed on time. It’s this and that or another thing, so on this weekend I let him run the show. I love watching him do what he loves and to see where his inspired impulses lead him… and I take photographs.
I pretty much knew I was in for tons of elevator and treadmill time. Maybe a splash in the pool, but the elevator was going to be his deal.
And… he found them.
Observing, listening, looking. Checking out every nuance.
We walked into our suite and he squealed with delight when he saw the microwave. (That was worth the extra $ for the suite just for the look on his face. He also has a thing for microwaves.) I did my regular OCD unpacking thing and organized our space. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased at how nice our suite was, which made it even more fun for me. (I have a thing for fabulous hotels…)
We went to explore the hotel and tackled the workout room.
We met a couple of friends in Milwaukee and they were with us for part of the afternoon. Edward knew his daughter Eva would love the pool at the hotel, so they joined in some of the fun. I was excited to introduce Eva to Jasan for a couple of reasons.
First being HER NAME. The movie Wall-E! And you know… Eve “ev-a!” Jasan is obsessed with that movie. Just the fact that he could meet a real Eva is so cool. And, he loves girls, so perfect combo. Eva also is beautifully autistic, so I was really looking forward to them interacting together.
Eva joined us in the workout room. My silent photo shoot started. 🙂
And did I mention how much her socks made me smile?
Eva was bubbly and talkative. Inquisitive of her surroundings. Similarly, they were both very much into how the treadmills go around and around. I loved watching Jasan watch her check stuff out.
Jasan had a lot of fun watching Eva going very fast. She was smiling and laughing at the exhilaration of how she was running so quickly and then we would press STOP. Then, repeat. 🙂
After a bite to eat, we swam in the pool which is always fun. Eva and Jasan both love the water. The pool was a bit on the small side and was quite full of little ones, so we didn’t stay too long. We parted ways shortly after with Edward and Eva.
Jasan and I were back into hotel exploration mode. I love the feeling that I get when we are in a new environment and it is just the two of us. He holds my hand a little more often because I am his security blanket. I watch his eyes as he deciphers new information surrounding him; wide eyed and curious. Full of energy. And the sun set…
We ate dinner together and rode the elevator. Tons. I mean like hours worth of tons.
I am always so in love with how people react to Jasan when he is in his element. We must have seen 50 people or so that evening in the elevator. On his own he started asking people, “What floor?” and the elevator man he was. I sat there, watching in my glory to the faces of admiration about his cuteness. After we had seen the same group of women three or four times, I whispered to one of them about his autism and they smiled; as if it all made sense now in their minds.
We laughed and played elevator operator and connected in our way. I got on his level and he (without knowing) let me take photos of him. We had a complete blast.
And when the late little kid hour of 9pm rolled around and behavior started getting squirrely, we got into the cozy hotel bed and played iPad. He fell asleep in 5 mins and I fell asleep in 6. Snuggled like we love it. <3
The sun peeked through our curtains in the morning and Jasan woke and double checked with me that we were still in Milwaukee.
We woke and showered and the microwave was a big hit. I am in love with this photo of him.
and this one…
and maybe another angle on the first one because I love it so much.
The little coffee maker?
Was a super fun thing too. We brewed many cups of water…
And then back to the elevator before breakfast. I felt like I knew everyone in the hotel from the night before!
I wonder what he hears in there and what the vibrations feel like to him.
This may be my favorite. The squint.
We did venture out for a short while…
Visited a park on the beach.
(this photo taken by a friend.)
And literally touched a TURBINE. This was ways cool in his mind. He LOVES turbines. Who knew Milwaukee had one you could walk up to?!?
And then we ventured back home. Home sweet home.
More “mph” in his hands…
and a tuckered out little love of my life.
We had a wonderful Milwaukee adventure. We connected and made new memories.
We met sweet Eva…
I love mini getaways. I love special adventures. I love watching Jasan be Jasan. I love being his mama. I love how he told me “I love you Mama” all on his own. (4th time I’ve ever heard it from him.)
I love this photo. Not just because I think he has the cutest butt ever… ha, but because it is so totally Jasan.
He is holding my telephone headset that I use at work. I must have worked from home on this day and he decided that it would be the object of his attention when I wasn’t using it. He calls it “Plantronics” because that is its brand name. In Jasan language it means headset. Just like “GE Profile” can mean microwave, “Cuisinart” can mean coffee pot or “Toshiba” can mean a computer. He has wowed many cashiers at stores when he has read what brand name the cash registers were at the age of “little guy who shouldn’t know how to read yet” as he always has requested to sit on the counter tops during check out.
And then… Nakedness. Oh, the freeing feeling of being naked. For my sensory sensitive little guy, no clothes are always his first choice. I have always had the belief system that at home, while it is age appropriate, he can be a naked jaybird if he wants to. Why not?
The curiosity of what’s going on outside the window…I bet he was led there because of a sound. He is fascinated and fearful of sounds at the same time. He will put his ear up to everything, but then will shy away from sounds too.
There have been so many times when I wish I could experience senses how he does. I would love to understand him even more than I do. <3
I have to admit; I have definitely had a rough day. I am quite blessed to say that tough days where I let my emotions go down the negative path are few and far between. Today has been the exception to my positive streak. I am sure parents of special needs kids are here, where I am today, more often than not. Hence my decision to just sit and write.
I love my son more than I can even explain. I think that is why it feels so incredibly horrific when I have days like today. Days when I just give in to complete mental exhaustion. Why can’t I just have a day where I don’t feel like I am walking on eggshells? The mood swings can come out of nowhere and I some days feel like I am done with it. I am done with patience. I am done with overthinking. I am done with staying calm and looking at the bright side.
I wonder what it would be like to have him come to the grocery store with me and just comply? Or go to a movie with me and sit through the whole thing? Or be able to play like other kids do and just go be free for awhile? Or be able to handle a simplistic no? Not even a NO to something big. A NO to the smallest thing and here we go.
Mama has to tiptoe so that there is no meltdown.
I. am. so. tired.
This feels like a different stage for me. The toddler days are over. Now he is a little boy. His mind is maturing and wow things are different. Interacting with kids are different. I see how other kids AVOID him sometimes.
OUCH that hurts. A lot.
I do realize these are MY feelings, not his. I need to always put that forefront in my mind, but man, is it hard. I have bawled my eyes out driving home from friends’ homes where I thought that he would never be pushed away by the kids. Well, I was wrong. Big time. I had a little guy say to me (a situation where a bunch of kids were present, and obviously the boy didn’t realize I was Jasan’s mom) “Oh, HE isn’t staying the night, is HE?” with that annoyed tone.
I have to realize the situation as it is. Not everyone sees Jasan as I do. This is a new stage of grieving for me, the ideas of a little boy and the things we would do and how life would be without autism. This experience of having a child is my only one. Every stage is a learning experience, but now with autism involved. Completely different than what I imagined pregnant with a little munchkin in my womb.
But even as I sit here and write this, he is playing with water in the sink. He just said the cutest thing to me and it is words coming out of his growing up self. Adorable. Completely. I look at him and all of this bullshit washes away.
I have been practicing the mantra, “EVERYTHING ALWAYS WORKS OUT FOR ME.”
I guess I am going to add, “EVERYTHING ALWAYS WORKS OUT FOR JASAN, TOO…”
Tomorrow is a restart. No more negative. Positivity and LOVE always win and bring the best into my life experience.
Honestly, I am not quite sure where to even begin this post. I have laid in bed a few nights in the past couple of weeks thinking about this topic. Of course, as I lay there in the dark as Jasan falls asleep next to me, my thoughts gather perfectly. At the end of the day when bed time rolls around for my little guy, the effort for me to stay awake after he drifts off to dreamland is usually just too much. And, alas, there goes my perfectly thought out blog post since it was all written in my mind at that moment. Now I sit here with some time to write and my mind scatters…
It has been SO long since I have been in a relationship. A “do life together in each other’s daily reality” kind of situation. I am not by any means complaining about this fact. I haven’t missed it. Actually, I think it has been a very good thing for me (and for Jasan.) I can honestly say that I have had the most personal growth to date over the past year. I needed to be focused on me and how to be the best parent for Jasan. The thought of dating has not even entered my mind until recently.
The reason I am choosing to write about this here is because it is a completely different ball game when you have a child with special needs. I think dating as a single parent is challenging as it is. Bringing another person into a family situation; wow. A lot to consider. Possibly blending two separate families with children all coming together…lots of dynamics there.
Autism adds another level of complexity.
I really do not want to choose to look at this as a huge difficulty, but I do want to be realistic with my feelings. Because this is the beginning of my thought process on even starting to THINK about how it would all work, it feels overwhelming. I have moments where I feel excited about the dreamy picture in my mind of my ideal situation. As I work through this, that is where I want to choose to keep the majority of my thoughts. But, there are a few kinks to think through first.
I love my life. I love my son. I love my family. I have chosen to live with my mom and my stepfather, and we have since Jasan was one. He is almost 6. It started out to be for financial reasons because of the break up with his father, but as time has gone on challenges with autism have kept us here with family. It has been beyond necessary for someone else besides me to know Jasan through and through. The only way for that fully to be accomplished is to live with him.
My mom and I have a great relationship. We have pretty much partnered in raising Jasan because she is so helpful to me. When I say helpful, I do not mean babysitting when I want her to so that I can go out with girlfriends. I mean the day-to-day activities that she helps me with. For example, she knows our routines. On Jasan’s school mornings she takes it upon herself to wake at a certain time so that she starts breakfast for him. We live in the downstairs part of the home, so when we meander upstairs she is cooking away. This is extremely helpful for me. Mornings can be smooth as silk, or extremely difficult. On the days when we are running late due to transition meltdowns, I know it is vital to get food into his stomach or he won’t be able to handle anything at school…but we also have to get out to the bus on time! Not to mention, I need to get to work on time…it can be pretty tricky sometimes. Through it all, I need to stay as calm as possible to keep things moving along. To have her there as my backup picking up slack is huge. HUGE!
There are many examples I could give that show how helpful “Grammie” is. But, Grammie and Grampie (my stepdad Matt, who works many hours) also have their own busy lives. The three of us are the ones on this earth that know Jasan best. Because he has grown up living with his grandparents, they are hugely influential in his life. What a blessing this is! I feel it is extremely imperative that he has someone besides just me who “gets” him.
I have my couple evenings a month where I have things scheduled that I am involved in. If I am out late, which is not often, my mom is the only other person that can put Jasan to bed. Parents that can just call any babysitter so that they can go out for an evening don’t even begin to realize how fabulous they have it. That does not exist in my world. So, with the little bit that I have explained, where the heck does going out on dates fit in to this situation? She sacrifices a lot for me. Unless she had no life of her own and only lived to hang out with her grandson, it’s going to be slightly challenging.
The dynamic between Jasan and me takes most of my energy. As he gets older life has gotten more interesting, but also more difficult. At this point in my life I know what I want. I know that I have the power to choosy when it comes to what and who I let into our lives. Would it be easier to not create more emotional (possible) drama for myself? Maybe. But, I do believe that as time goes on we expand. We have desires and dreams that grow our thoughts. If we don’t keep up with them, that is when life begins to lose its luster. My hunch is that this is part of my expansion. This is why these visions of a partner in my life are coming to me. I need to be open and willing to roll with it.
I know there is a man out there that will love, accept and understand Jasan as if he were his own (and be crazy in love with me as well.) I believe this. I have all the patience in the world and I know that he will show up in my reality somehow when the universe beautifully sets it up to be so. If I choose to start opening up my mind to this idea of relationship with all of this worry and fret, he will not come. If I let my walls come down and trust that everything will work out, guess what?
It will. <3
I had planned to do a lot more writing about details on the difficulties. I kinda like how this post took a turn for the positively hopeful! I think I’ll stay here.
This is can be a tough subject, but I am choosing to not look at it that way. This post is about the ever evolving lesson in how to chill out. 🙂
Old thoughts about transitioning through daily activities:
We totally aren’t going to get there on time.
Seriously, I need to give myself an hour for a 15 minute store trip because of the million ways he is going to get sidetracked in this store.
Crap. If I hand him this object of momentary obsession, is he going to throw it?
(Feeling rushed, but trying not to act that way.)
I would like to run into this store really quick, but we may not get out of there for quite a while and we just don’t have enough time. Ugh.
I know if he asks me for something and I say no, he is going to whip anything he gets his hands on across the room. Maybe we just won’t tackle this (place, activity, etc.) today. I don’t want to deal with what may happen.
Why can’t he just listen to me?
Why can’t we get through the day without having to set the timer a million times?
Wow. That woman’s kids just go with the flow and totally just listened to her when she said, “Let’s go!” How nice.
I can’t get anything done. He is going to have a melt down if he can’t play outside after school. When am I going to get to the grocery store?
The other kids in the neighborhood just roam. I need to be watching Jasan at all times. He is just so unaware!
If he does not get enough sleep he is totally going to have a rough day. Actually, it will be a rough day for both of us.
I wonder what a day of not having to over-think everything would feel like?
Being a single mom sucks. I just need a break. Parents that get to take turns…I have NO idea what that feels like, and they have no idea what this feels like.
Should I keep going? I’m thinking not. You get the idea. Negative shmegative.
The more I expand and evolve as an individual, the more I know I need to just relax. Go with the flow. The thought patterns above are not even close to chill. Having the belief system that I do…your thoughts create your reality…the above thoughts are just going to bring me more of the same. More reasons to feel anxious. More meltdowns. More throwing.
So, I am ridding myself of being that mom. I have chosen to be the mom who is going to teach my son that it is possible to stay aligned no matter what is happening around you. The phrase, “think happy thoughts” is right on. If I focus on what I don’t like, I am shooting myself (and Jasan) in the foot. He feels everything I put out there. It’s funny how last year I was under the assumption that as long as I didn’t act “rushed” and kept those thoughts to myself, Jasan would go with the flow. Ha. He can feel me. He is highly sensitive and keenly aware of what I am feeling. He may not verbalize it to me, but he easily adjusts to my rhythm. If my rhythm is running tense or hectic, he will feed off of that. I know this about him, but I think my perception has changed in regards to myself.
I can control myself. I can control my thoughts. I can choose how I want to think about the ones I love. I can solely choose to see my son in all of his amazingness, even if he decides to throw my phone. (Otterbox!) The more I practice this, the stronger my love vibe will be, the anxiety vanishes, and what I put out there come back into my experience.
It’s a beautiful thing. No sloppy thoughts. Sloppy thoughts bring me what I have always gotten.
Time for change. Time for teaching through example and not empty words.
Autism sees right through that.
He keeps teaching me what unconditional love really means over and over. It hits me deeper every time. We were meant for each other and I love our reality! Our journey together is going to be the most enriching experience…now and for the years to come.
I am super excited about it.
It isn’t hard for him to find his happy. He is teaching me this. <3
The minute your baby is born, you experience a love that you didn’t even know existed.
Crazy out of your mind unbelievable love. You expand beyond your wildest dreams. It’s really a moment that cannot be described unless you experience it for yourself.
What has been blowing my mind is how this AMAZING love GROWS. So much. When Jasan was a baby and when we would wake in the morning, I felt like a child on Christmas morning. Every day. I remember thinking what a fabulous feeling that was to experience. Now that he is older and growing into this big boy, it feels more like an adventure. An excitement that is so full of promise and FUN…an adventure that we are on together.
What he teaches me is how life is just simply happy. It doesn’t need to be complicated. There is always something that we can learn and be in wonder of. As his language is really emerging and he is starting to be so much more “in the world” than when he was younger, the ability to start to have mini conversations is more satisfying than I ever imagined! To hear what is going on in his incredible mind is the best gift I could ever receive, and now I am living that daily.
Life is so good.
If something brings me down, all I have to do is think about my son and our adventure together in this life. That changes my mood immediately. I am beyond stoked for what lies ahead of us and the journey we will go on together.
He has taught me how to live in the moment. He could not be more perfect.
I look at him in his perfection almost all of the time now, which is a personal goal of mine. The more I look at him and revel in all of the wonderful aspects of him, the more my love grows at a pace that in immeasurable. Getting frustrated or aggravated doesn’t benefit either of us.
I’m not perfect, no one is. But we do have control over our thoughts. That is how my photography series about Jasan began…choosing to highlight the beauty of him and his journey in life with autism, through my images. Since the beginning of this project I have learned so much, and still soaking wonderful knowledge in. Life will forever be so much better than it ever has been and can only keep improving!
One of the things autism has taught me is what being open-minded REALLY means. I am still grasping the concept. Life is so much bigger than I originally imagined. I would have explained myself as open-minded prior to my life with Jasan, and now that kind of makes me laugh. Nothing had ever really tested my beliefs before having a child.
Yes. I have experienced a lot of tough times in my life, but when something happens that is beyond your control and forces you to change otherwise you will wither in depression from not learning how to look at things differently…
Ah. That is when beliefs are challenged. Growth happens.
Other paths in my life have wildly turned corners as well and I am still changing. Loving Jasan to full capacity is easy. He is the BEST part of my life, NO DOUBT. Because he is in my life I am learning what loving ME really means. (Funny how that works!) I will always be a work in progress; there is existing negative self talk that has gone on in my mind for a very long time, but it is now easier to get to the root of my issues that I would like to change. There is a great power in being aware of why stuck points exist in life and how to overcome them.
Knowing that I can practice thinking positively about my son makes it easier to start changing old thought patterns and “feeling” my way into changing those. Old patterns need to see the new light. If it feels icky, it’s not my truth. Anything is possible now. It’s cool that I can teach him this as he grows through my example. This is a dream that I am seeing come to light in front of my eyes which is very cool to me. As I learn to be true to who I really am and become all that I wish, he will learn to follow his instinct as well. That’s what my heart desires for him.
When I look at Jasan, I want to explode with love. He is so precious. I love our life. I love him. I am really starting to love me fully. It all feels really, really good.
What I have learned and now completely BELIEVE is that when you FEEL good, the right path appears underneath your feet. Follow your inspiration. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Love others. Throw negativity out the window and out of your mind. Live in the moment.
Love your kids no matter what. Even if they screw up big time. This is how they learn..
Loving them will always feel good and they will feel that from you! Isn’t that most important? <3