single parenting

So many thoughts on dating.

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.

Jasan 2015

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.

Jasan

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. ❤

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.

us

lol

be YOU tiful

me.

Advertisements

Transitions.

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:

(Anxiety.)

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.

happiness.

happiness.

It isn’t hard for him to find his happy. He is teaching me this. ❤

 

2014 Reflection…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Well friends, we gloriously ended the year with the first lost tooth (happened on Christmas evening!) and an obsession with USBs…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Shredding…

and even Pictionary!

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

This is “Google” by the way…

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

I love how he has changed even in just the last few weeks! Language is exploding and that is so very exciting to me. He is definitely GROWING UP. 🙂

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

We have had LOTS of snuggle time. I think that is always secretly my favorite part, and always will be.

Uncle Todd (my younger brother who lives in AZ with his amazing and lovely girlfriend Jodi) were here! It was so fun to watch him watch Jasan. I realized how much I miss my brother and how I wish he could be around Jasan more often…

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

I appreciate where Jasan and I are in life right now. It feels good. Amazing things are in the pipeline for this next year, and that is REALLY exciting. The amount of personal growth that I have experienced in 2014 is out of this world. I still feel so blessed to wake up next to the best gift every morning. He is such a huge reason for my smile. I love my little dude.

I want to increase the momentum of “Following Jasan” in this coming year. That is one of my goals. Life got unexpectedly busy in September of this year, in a good way, and my photography and writing had to slow down. I am aware of the fact that I miss it and need to make the time to focus on this part of our journey again.

I do have a few photos I wanted to share that I haven’t gotten a chance to blog about…

Thank you for taking time to share in our journey. I am looking forward to writing and photographing our stories of growth (and sometimes of struggle) with you to share my perspective on this journey of beautiful life and autism.

Cheers to 2015!

 

Grateful.

Wow. What a year this has been so far! So many wonderful things have happened in our lives that I’m overflowing with gratitude…not just today, but on a regular basis.

IMG_3080

Look at that face! Every single morning I love beyond words that I get to wake up and he is right next to me. He is so joyful and happy most of the time, and I love how we play off of each other.

Autism is a part of our lives, and you know what? I am thankful it is. He chose to come into the world this way and I love every bit of him.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Our world is filled with sound effects, singing and lots of talking. I waited a long time for him to speak his mind, so I say, “BRING IT ON! TALK MY EARS OFF!” His unbelievable ability to mimic sounds still blows my mind everyday, and his love of music just fills me up. I was praying that he would be musically gifted when I was pregnant with him because I know how much that gift is important to me personally. When he sings, my heart sings. ❤

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

I am thankful for laughter. He is not the type of kid that laughs a lot. He is happy 95% of the time, but he isn’t always laughing (like I tend to do! HA.) When he does laugh, oh my. BEST SOUND IN THE WORLD.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

We are blessed with such incredible family. I cannot even count how many times they have gone out on a limb for us. I could not say “thank you” enough to express the gratitude I have for them…

IMG_2588

Friends. For the first time in my life I feel as if ALL the people surrounding me fill me up. There aren’t any relationships in my life that drag me down or exhaust me. This makes me realize how much I have grown emotionally. Life feels amazing. I feel really, really good. The people in my life accept my son for who he is (and me too!) I know Jasan can feel this too.

untitled-2-3

The opportunities that have come my way have given me a whole new outlook on life. Creating this blog, sharing my heart and my perspective through our story has opened up a new chapter for me.

Being able to actually exhibit my work was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I cannot wait to do it again! I have a passion for images and telling the story; the story of how our kids are so perfect just the way they are.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Thanksgiving can be every day. It’s all in how we choose to see life.

Thank you to each and every one of you that take the time to read this blog and share in our journey.

 

The Office.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

2295. That’s what Jasan and I term the office. This is the building where I work. I have a new job and I am loving it so much. Because I can’t entirely work a full day yet, (single mom, no daycare, the boy is done with school and off the bus at 3:15 pm,) I came up with the brilliant idea of working Saturdays.

I remember very clearly the couple of times I went to my dad’s office when I was young. He was a graphic designer in my early years, and he had the coolest office. Just the whole office environment was pretty darn awesome in my opinion. It felt so “adult” and it was a chance to, for a few hours, be part of someone else’s everyday reality that wasn’t mine. Obviously because it was my DAD’s reality, it meant a lot to me. Plus, being the artistic little girl that I was, I could not get over the massive marker set that he had. I’m not talking about Crayola or Sharpie kind of markers, these were the “professional artist” Prismacolor set of markers. Not to mention, I was not drawing on typical copy paper, it was those artist pads of special “drawing”paper. ha. (This was graphic design before computers took over!)

prsimacolor-markers-7

Now, with my son’s love of computers, and anything mechanical really, I figured he would love coming to the office I work in.

I was SOOOOOO RIGHT.

This Saturday will be week 5 of this experiment. I knew it would take a couple of Saturdays of just exploring with him and that I would not get any real “work” done. I was very correct about that. 🙂 But now, he knows what he wants to do when we go there and he LOVES it! (And, I can actually be productive.)

I am hoping to create a fun memory for him.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Oh man. The Canon. This puppy is a BIG hit. We hardly EVER use this tank of an old copy machine. But, Jasan has provided it some love lately because it is his new object of affection. I keep a special stack of “Jasan paper” that we keep reloading for his use. He does not care what is being copied. It is all about the sounds and the mechanics of the machine.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

And then, Mama’s headset. (heehee. It’s just cute on him.) He was quite mesmerized by it at first. We call Grampie from the office every time and Jasan will mumble about turning computers on and off and Canon and copying, etc. (We are still not quite versed with talking on the phone. It’s pretty much a mystery to the person on the other end what the heck Jasan is saying, but it is adorable none the less. He is really trying!)

Processed with VSCOcam with b3 preset

The conference room is way cool too. The computer in there is viewed on the big screen which is very handy when watching Wall.E videos on YouTube! He wears his noise canceling headphones because we also have a fancy coffee machine that is a bit noisy when you turn it on. And off. And on. 🙂

Because it is pretty much just us in the building on Saturdays, we can run down the hallway to the lunch room. Putting coins in the vending machine to get chips and Oreos (ha…his favorite!) is always a thrill. There is a key code to get into the restroom, and of course we have to spend a few minutes there each time as well.

I like that we have our Saturday “Mama’s office” routine. It fills him up with his time to explore, and I can get a few more things done that I wasn’t able to Monday – Friday with my limited hours.

And……..we are together. I love that more than anything.

Making memories.

 

Hotel.

Processed with VSCOcam with b3 preset

Jasan and I were gifted a night stay at a hotel nearby our home and we went for it this Saturday night. (Thank you Lisa & Ken Leisering if you are reading this!)

WHAT AN AMAZING TIME. I cannot say enough good things about this mini getaway. Because Jasan and I do not live alone currently, it was nice to just spend some quality time together. Just the two of us. My intention going into this overnighter was to just let Jasan explore this space exactly as his heart desired. I would then, in turn be in awe of his perfection of himself and how he views the world.

It was magical.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Whenever we have spent time in hotel rooms, Jasan has always gone for the thermostat. Of course! I let him change it to his heart’s desire. Hot, cold, on, off… This one was “Amana.” (Everything is named by it’s brand in Jasan’s world.)

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Oh! And we had so much fun in the elevator. We pretty much did the majority of our multiple rides just the two of us, but occasionally we would have other riders. An alarm would go off if people would press more than one floor at the same time (hence the noise canceling headphones.)

Now, I have been practicing for some time now just letting Jasan truly be Jasan. That means, I will not allow myself to be affected by other people’s reactions to him. So, while we were riding the elevator, I did not sush him. He was a little loud in the hallways at times, but I let him be. He was hugging kids like crazy in the pool and I let him go. You know what? Everyone loved him.

The alarm went off in the elevator when we were with two teenage girls and an older woman. Jasan was loudly matching the tone of the alarm while it was going off, and the girls were like, “Oh! He’s so cute!!!” and giggling incessantly. The older woman commented, after the alarm had stopped, “Oh my goodness!!! He matched pitch!! How old is he? That is not normal for 5 year olds to match pitch! You are going to be a singer, boy…” and all I could think was, HE ATTRACTS LOVE EVERYWHERE HE GOES WHEN I LET HIM BE WHO HE IS. I have seen it many times before.

I am done with sushing him to what I think society deems appropriate.

When I revel in his “Jasan-ness” he rocks it. We are both vibrating on a high. It’s FABULOUS.

Processed with VSCOcam with b3 preset

He hasn’t had much experience with these old school phones. (Its crazy. Am I getting old? Will he ever hear a busy signal? haha) His examination of this was too funny and so brilliant.

Processed with VSCOcam with b3 preset

“What the hell is this thing?” He is probably thinking. But then, his brilliant mind goes to this:

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

I was giggling inside so much about how much I LOVE THIS KID!!!!!!!!! I COULD EXPLODE I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.

I feel grateful that he is oblivious that I photograph him all the time. Because I use my iPhone, I can put it on silent and he hears nothing. It’s fabulous. I get to be in my bliss creatively capturing the beauty of my son. WHAT COULD BE BETTER, REALLY?

Processed with VSCOcam with b4 preset

 

Those of you that know Jasan or religiously follow this blog know that the GUEST LAUNDRY was a huge hit. 🙂

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

I love him. I love him fully. I love him regardless. I love him always. I love him EVERYDAY EVERY MINUTE. Even if he spits in my face sometimes. I love him. He is perfect.

Newsflash: ALL OF OUR KIDS ARE PERFECT.

When you look at your children that way, they will feel UNCONDITIONAL LOVE from you.

Think about that word UNCONDITIONAL. We all say it quite a bit, but I don’t think we all act it out, REALLY.

Loving someone completely and fully, WITHOUT CONDITION. Regardless of anything that they might say or do. They are NOT here to please US. We are given these children as gifts…to love them for who they are. However that is. It is my opinion that we do not grow up learning to love this way.

Think about it.

We are so used to reacting to conditions around us…what would happen if we just fully loved our children and they felt that from us, energetically, unconditionally? Worlds would change.

Just go have fun and let them be them.

Our life.

I am really getting used to just doing our own thing wherever we are. Sometimes being self-conscious will still creep up on me, but mostly, I OWN IT. As Jasan gets older, I appreciate who he is becoming even more. I keep reminding myself to step back and look at the big picture. I may not totally understand everything now. But, I picture myself looking back at his life when he is in his twenties and it all making sense. Why does he have an obsession with appliances? What is it about fahrenheit and barometric pressure that makes him smile so much? Why does my son prefer Best Buy over Toys R Us? I don’t know, but I’m his biggest cheerleader.

We hung out at good old Best Buy for quite awhile today.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

 

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Refrigerators were a hit.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

There will always be the beloved washing machine.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

And now, the most recent addition to fun spots to go in Best Buy? The printer aisle. We had a lot of fun with sound effects and powering multiple different models on and off.

On a BUSY Saturday afternoon was I spotted taking pictures of my son LOVING on appliances from many WEIRD angles?

Yep.

Did I care?

Nope.

Did a million Best Buy employees come ask us if we needed help?

Yep.

Did they look at me weird when I said my son likes to hang out by the washing machines and we are just pushing buttons and listening to sounds?

Yep.

Am I cool with all of this?

Yep.

It’s our life.

I LOVE IT.

Changes.

I feel like my “Following Jasan” project has been so neglected. I’ve missed writing and taking photos, but sometimes life happens and you just need to try to stay positive and get by. That’s been our situation lately. First year of full day school + a new job for mama + new routine + early as heck bedtime for Jasan = overwhelm and not enough hours in the day.

I don’t want this to sound like complaining; it’s not meant to. It’s a realization of a lot going on and how I have handled it. Umm…I haven’t handled it as smoothly as I assumed I would.

Due to the nature of how my son is wired, he really needs me. I LOVE that, but on occasion I feel like I need a minute to breathe. We went from spending the majority of every day together to (during the school week) about 3 1/2 hours (awake.) Now that we are a few weeks into this new schedule, I know he just needs MAMA and LOVE during that time period. Errands and life have a hard time fitting into that time slot.

Dilemma.

Transition for him has been difficult…as much as I am a sleep nazi with his schedule now, he still remains tired. His diet is beyond horrible at school so I am sure his energy gets low. (I don’t think chips provide the protein he needs. haha.) He isn’t used to NOT having a choice when it comes to the activity in his schedule. That is rough. Throwing and spitting then ensues, and behavior gets out of control. Reading these handwritten notes from his teacher when he gets home from school that describe the destructive actions that occur break my heart. Jasan and I are so connected that it is hard to hear that most of his days now are rough. So many questions go through my mind. I know he needs to learn how to follow a schedule at school. He will never survive in life if he doesn’t, I just wish it didn’t have to be such a painful process.

These past few weeks of what has felt a bit like mayhem to me, I have learned this. I know my son is beyond sensitive to my energy. He knows when I am not my even keel happy self. He may not be able to ask me, “What’s wrong, Mama?” but he will manifest his sensitivities to my discord in different ways. Sickness, moodiness, behavior issues, etc. And then, of course that adversely effects me. The vicious cycle continues until I get my head out of overwhelm and center myself.

I think our children with autism have a special gift. With the way they interpret their environment around them, how could they not be extra sensitive to what their caregivers are feeling? All kids are, of course, but our autistic children…

I believe it’s on a whole other level.

Which poses this thought. When you are a parent or a caregiver to a child with special needs, it is more important that ever to keep life in balance. That may sound unrealistic. Shit happens that we don’t necessarily control. But do we have the ability to create what we want in our reality and keep drama at a low? Absolutely we do.

I think it’s one of those things that we need to really think through to help our children. For example, we know that going into certain environments will cause sensory overwhelm and upset. We know the tools that they need to be able to cope appropriately, or we don’t go. That’s a simple one.

But what about when it comes to our emotional health as the adult? What can we clean out of our day-to-day to reduce emotional upset within ourselves?

That will greatly benefit our children. When we give them a calm and emotionally stable environment, that clears the way for them to thrive. We are their examples. With the challenges that they already face, wouldn’t it be the perfect scenario for them to succeed? I realize that this is much easier said than done. It takes lots of practice. I am not an expert by any means, but I do know that my awareness level is on track. That is step number one…

A key to this is living in the moment. Are you?

When I feel like I am living in the moment, I feel more calm. I can embrace what is happening. I can be grateful for where I am at, no matter what the situation. At this stage in my life I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. Life is always teaching us something. We have to open our eyes and our minds and be free to see it.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Sometimes you just need an eye shot of a cute butt to bring a smile to your face. This cute butt works for me!! 🙂

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

When I really feel off, I am going to bring my mind to this moment. Jasan. Beach. Waves. Running. That smile that melts me. Sunshine. Beautiful places on this earth that we can travel to see. The feeling of sand in-between toes. Watching him discover this beauty surrounding him. Sounds. Senses. Umbrella drinks. HAPPINESS.

It’s all about mindset. It’s worth it to me to keep a balance. For my own well-being, but ALSO FOR MY SON.