Tag Archives: children

What Google Doesn’t Tell You About Divorce

I wish I would have had some insight on the entire process before I started my divorce, but I didn’t.  Yes, you can research and google the entire divorce process, however there are many things google can not tell you.

What I wish I would have known…

#1 -If you have kids together, your ex will probably always be in the picture…I wish I would have known that my ex would never go away…I was naive and thought once I was divorced, he would go away. False. I thought that I would be able to just move on with my life and be happy.. hahaha. So false.  And by go away, I thought that we would not have much contact. I guess I never thought about all the communication would still need to have regarding the kids.

Once we were divorced he wanted an input in every decision. We share 50/50 custody with 3 kids so we do have constant contact,  I did most of the decision making and parenting when we were married and now he wanted an input on everything. This was a challenge for me.. from bedtimes, to church, to sports, to school clothes.. he wanted to add his opinion into everything.  I had to really adjust to his input and it was hard.  I didn’t understand why he now wanted to have an input in the kid decisions.

You might start the process out being amicable, however it can change throughout.  There are so many decisions that need to be made.  Now we had children, so there was a lot to decide.  I did not realize how much we would still need to be in contact.

So how do you keep your ex out of your life as much as possible and move on..Set boundaries.  The more boundaries that are set from the beginning, the easier life is for everyone involved.  This included the form of communication we used to dropping off items for the children.  Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, I would begin to set a boundary or make it a discussion.

#2 -Children Adjust-I spent years worrying about how my children would handle our divorce.. Would our divorce ruin them for life? False. Truth is they were more grown up and understanding than some adults. Each one of them has had their hard times, however most of the trouble has been from different parenting styles and additional people now included.

How did we make the transition as smooth as possible?  Having a set schedule and routine from the beginning will help them adjust. We have had the same schedule for most of our 5 years of divorce.  I fought to not go week to week because my son was still very young and I knew it would not be good for either parent.   One summer, I agreed to go week to week for 3 months. It was the worst decision, my son had a hard time adjusting to the new routine. He would call and cry during the week because he missed me and he would count the days until he saw me.  After that, we went back to our normal routine and I learned that was the best for my children.

Set a schedule from the beginning and stick with it. It makes it easier on the children and everyone involved. My kids always know where they will be and when. We also do monthly calendars and I put them up so my kids know where they will be at all times.  

#3 -Get a good lawyer-Pay the money…Get a good lawyer with references and be thorough. get the best lawyer you can afford. One that has referrals from clients with the similar situation as yours.  Ask anyone in the area that is divorced.  Be as detailed in your divorce as possible. Include hours, dates, summer schedule, right of refusal, holidays, school expenses, health, medicine, college, etc.  I did not have a good lawyer in the beginning, and in the last 5 years my ex and I have gone back to mediation and court several times. This is very stressful, expensive, and affects your entire life moving forward.

It’s hard to move on with life, if you are going back to court and re-evaluating it over and over.  It’s important to set all the details with the children in the beginning.  I should have thought through all these questions before we got into our divorce. Like are you going to rotate Halloween or stick to the normal schedule… who will pay for school lunches… who will pay for special events … all of these questions will come up.  There are so many areas that will need to be included in your decree.  Do your homework and make a list.  After being divorced for 5 years and my kids continue to grow, there are many additional topics that need to be addressed.   Think about your kids in 5 years and what will be important in the future.  The more information that is included in your decree from the start the easier your life will be.  That is a guarantee!!

#4-You will have an adjustment period with your friends.. Your friends might change throughout the process.  The true friends will stick with you..but your life will have many changes.   Throughout your divorce your friends may come and go.. It is hard to know. I would prepare yourself that some friends may not be able to stay in your life due to the situation.

My friends were great throughout my divorce, however there is always going to be ones that you feel more comfortable talking about the emotions and feelings that you are experiencing.   It was also hard to explain the legal process.  It was also hard to ask for advice from individuals that did not have any experience in divorce..

However, Since my divorce my friend circle has changed. I have met some divorced moms that are a great support for me.   These are the ones I can hang out with on my non kid weekends.  These are the friends that I can rant to about my ex.  They get what I am experiencing and can show support.   I love all my friends, but some will just get it more than others. Thats just the truth.

I had days where I wanted to talk to people and others that I did not.  I was always so tired of telling my “story” I just wanted to have a normal conversation with someone I ran into or met for drinks.  If you dont’ feel like talking, then do not.  There is so much more to your life than just your divorce.

I know I have blogged in the past about friendships through divorce, but with life changes sometimes your friends will change.

#5-Be patient with yourself and the process… I thought that once the divorce was finalized everything would be finished.  During the actual year of my divorce, I was so concentrated on finalizing all those details that I did not concentrate on much else.  Once It was finalized, It took a long time to feel normal and content.  I honestly felt like I was living in a bubble that entire year.  When I first got divorced, people would say give it “5 years” and I thought they were crazy.  But here I am  and yes for me it took 5 years.   It took me 5 years to feel so normal and content with my life.

Be patient with all the changes.  Take it slowly and do not rush into anything.  My kids and I have made lots of adjustments to our life over the last few years.  Remember It’s a start to a new life… I love all the changes that I have made but it does take time…

-Snarky

https://www.snarkydivorcedgirl.com/blog

Make Them Strong By Being Weak

My one wish for my children is that they are stronger than I am. A lot of people that know me personally have made comments about how strong I am and how much strength it took to walk away from a destructive relationship. Well, that might be partially correct, but it is also partially wrong. I had to be weak before I could be strong. I had to become completely broken before I could muster up the strength I needed to walk away. To stop a cycle and prevent my children from repeating the cycle because it was considered “normal” in our home.

My children have always viewed me as strong. My daughter has told me many times “mom, I can’t find your weakness. I mean, I know us kids are your weakness, because if someone hurts us they hurt you, but you come out swinging with all your strength that you have to protect us and fight for us.” Well, my sweet daughter’s perception is correct. New Years Eve gave me an opportunity to speak to my daughter, who is in the formative years of her life, developing her own personality, figuring out her future, and what she wants. We had a very raw conversation about the relationship her father and I had and my wishes and worries for her, her sister, and her brother. She asked some hard questions, made some quick and wise observations, hopefully realized that the by her mom being weak, she will be stronger because of that.

My daughter, because I was weak, realizes that she can set healthy boundaries for relationships, friendships and romantically. Because I was weak, my daughter knows that life will knock a person down, but that weakness eventually turns into strength and the person gets up, dusts themselves off, and goes forward in life. In my weakness, I made my daughter strong because she will know how a woman is to be treated, how a woman is not to be treated, and she will find a person that is set apart for her that will fulfill the desires of her heart in a relationship. My daughter saw me weak, and stay in an environment where it was not healthy, and because of that, she knows she does not have to remain weak and stay. She will be stronger and walk away sooner, to preserve her spirit, her heart, and her soul. In my weakness, my daughter saw me lose my identity, my passions, and myself. But my daughter, she will be strong and never lose those parts of herself and have to rediscover them.

Being weak, while most view it as a negative characteristic, really is my greatest strength. While I was weak, I was teaching my children how to be strong. Strong for themselves. I was given then one, big life to impress upon my children life lessons. I hope a life lesson they take from watching their mother be weak, was that while in her weakness, she found her strength. The strength to pull herself together everyday, to rediscover her passions, find her own identity again, rise up with a renewed strength. I am grateful for the weaknesses that my children have seen in me, because they will be stronger than I ever could be. I made them strong because I was weak. There is something to be said about finding your strength in your weakness, because it is utterly true.

R

You can visit R’s blog page here:

https://thedignifiedgrace.wordpress.com/

Learning To Navigate The Steps

When I say steps, I don’t mean the kind you walk up, though this is an uphill climb too. I mean the kind that result from a new marriage. 

My kids gained a step-mother  in May of this year. They also gained a step-sister who lives with them when they are with their father and his new family, which is 50 percent of the time. 

I will not lie and tell you that this was hard for my children in the beginning, it was hard for me. It was hard for me because I was jealous. It was hard to watch him move on. It was hard because where my ex and I had communicated well before, even to the point that you could say we were friends, the communication was cut off. On their side of things, I could not definitively tell you the motivation for that. However, I will concede that it must be difficult being a new spouse and forming a new family when there are extra catalysts for discord. 

I wanted to be friends with my ex and his new wife and if we could not be that, I wanted to at least be friendly. This was never allowed. It was seen as an attack on their relationship when I bought a Father’s Day present for my children to give their father. Virtually every time I contacted them I got knots in my stomach because I knew it would be met with nastiness or ignored completely. It was painfully obvious that he was not able (allowed or otherwise) to respond to simple text messages about the children, without consulting her first. I understand being partners very well, and I think if the roles were reversed I would tell my husband about it, but I would not ask what I was allowed to say or do. The thought of asking permission makes my skin crawl. Though trying to see things through my partner’s eyes does not.

I have struggled and agonized over how to handle this situation. I ask myself over and over when contacting them if it is 100% necessary. I ask myself what is in the best interest of my children. I have gone so far as to consider going back to court to attempt to gain primary custody, though that is never what I wanted. I want my children to have a relationship with their father, a great one even. What I do not want is for them to have to play telephone between their father and me. That is not fair to them. It is not fair to them for people to not act like adults. My ex or myself. 

I am still learning. I am dodging minefields some days and not giving it another thought on others. But, the truth of the matter is that this is a real, raw, and nitty gritty part of divorce. I will keep doing what I feel is in the best interest of my children, and I will take it a day at a time. I will swallow my feelings and my pride to be what they need. And I hope if I am met with the situation my ex is in, I am stronger for my kids than he has been.

Stronger Than Yesterday, 

Alice

The Blessings In The Midst Of A Mess

My kids are constantly making a mess.  Whether it’s in their room, their diaper, my car, or the kitchen floor, there’s always a mess. 

It drives me absolutely insane to think that I am always cleaning up for them to just create the mess all over again.  Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a neat freak. Nor am I the best housekeeper. I’m that stay at home mom that could use a good cleaning lady.  But seeing as how I don’t have one, and I do like for my home to be somewhat tidy, I daily go behind everyone and clean up the mess. At times in my frustration, I find myself mumbling not so pleasant things as I go around cleaning.  Especially after almost breaking my neck on a toy that I know I yelled about no less than 5 times already. But the funny thing is that no matter how irritated I am, my kids just happily keep on playing in the midst of all of the chaos as if they were in their own little personal amusement park. 

As I sit here now staring at the mess which has spilled over from the playroom into my foyer, I can’t help but to be reminded that this is a blessing. My children are happy and creative and have more than enough to entertain themselves. That is a blessing. My children have a home to play in where they are safe and loved.  That is a blessing. My children love to play and share with each other, well sometimes. But that is a blessing. My children don’t care that I’m not a great housekeeper. That is a blessing. So while I once again have to sweep cheerios off of the kitchen floor, vacuum the cracker crumbs from the carpet, and pray that the stains come out of my son’s new shirt I will try to keep a few things in mind.  We have food, we have clothes, we have a home and we have love.

Yes, there’s always a mess, but now I can be grateful for the blessings in the midst of it all.  

 

~1spentmom~

Why Are Doritos Enough?

Why are Doritos enough? Being content without being in a relationship.Soon after my divorce, I dated quite a bit and then I was in a serious relationship,for over a year and a half.  Which I know I have wrote about in some of my previous blogs….

Fast forward a couple years, why am I NOT serious about dating now? Why am I content spending nights eating Doritos and watching Netflix.  I hear all the time, why don’t you have a boyfriend.  I get asked about my dating and why I’m not in a relationship… Maybe because I just want to do other things and I am content.   Back off Debra…

Kids…

I share 50/50 custody with my children.  My children are in their prime years.. they are 15,12, and 9.  And they are heavily involved in sports, activities, church friends, etc. I complain a lot about them because my nights and days are spent driving them everywhere. However, I know that these are the years I will never get back. I love my time with them and I cherish it.  We spend our time just hanging out and having fun. I have realized that this point in my life, I do not want to change the dynamic of our family and life. They feel comfortable and safe at our home.

Time to myself…

After my children leave for their dads, I have learned that I love to have time to myself.  I need that time to decompress after the crazies have left.. I love to have a night to myself to go for a walk or hike. I am not being selfish, but I love that time. I know I have mentioned this before on how my house can go from a crazy madhouse to deathly quiet. Anyone that has shared custody with kids can probably relate to this analogy. I am a huge advocate for how important making time for yourself is in life.

Not enough time to commit…

I feel that with the demands of my children, I would not be able to give the amount of time dedicated to being  in a relationship.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against it.  I know that right now, I can not dedicate the time needed for a relationship.  I have been in a relationship and it was very hard to divide the time between my children, boyfriend, and everyday life. I was overwhelmed much of the time.  I just couldn’t get it all done and I had no time for myself.  Many times I was so stressed and crabby, I was mad at everyone.   There were times in the past when I knew I picked my relationship over my kids. Or I would drag them along to activities that they had no interest in, just to see my boyfriend.

Since that relationship, I have taken a lot of time to understand why it didn’t work.  Relationships require a lot of commitment.  They require hard work and making them a priority. I know that I would not be able to make a relationship a priority right now in my life.

In the past, I seem to attract men that are really looking for a serious relationship.  Even after, I am very honest with what I was looking for in dating and the amount of time that  I can commit. I get overwhelmed by the constant texting and not being able to respond. Yes, I know all the quotes about “if you really want to, you will make time”.  I have heard it all, but its not at the top of my list.  I do understand that thinking however, when I’m with my children, I do not feel like taking time away from them to be texting possible dates.   And from some of my past dating experiences, some of the guys that I have met think that all my free time should be spent with them.  This is even after one or two dates.  That is not true.

Priorities…

Right now, I have many areas in my life that I want to make more of a priority. I enjoy writing my blogs and gaining more experience. This is something that I have taught myself through research, podcasts, and social media.  I am learning new things all the time that I want to learn about.  I think I was in an unsatisfied marriage for over 13 years and the last 5 years I have learning all over again what I enjoy.  Until I can accomplish these goals or priorities, then a relationship will not be a priority.

I’m Actually Content…

I guess what it comes down to is my life, is that I’m very content and comfortable right now.  I look at how much I have changed and grown in the last 5 years.   I’m comfortable with not having my children 100% of the time. That was a huge obstacle for me. I am content hanging out by myself. I am comfortable saying no to a date..  well unless he was really cute.

There is no magical answer to when is the best time to enter in a relationship.. it’s all up to you and what you want out of it.  As I have adjusted to being divorced, I have learned there is no rush in anything. And there is no problem in waiting or saying it’s not a priority right now.  So just tell your family and friends to back off….

Snarky

www.snarkydivorcedgal.com/blog

Giving Your Kids Independence

Last Saturday, My 12 year old daughter asked if her and her friend could ride their bikes around town for the day.  They wanted to go to Dairy Queen for lunch, then they wanted to ride to the dollar store, target and caribou after that..which are all a couple miles of our house.  I was hesitant… she is obviously old enough for this independence but it scared me a little to let her go.

I grew up riding my bike from my house to my best friend’s house in the summer.. we did not have cellphones nor did we check in. I would leave for her house in the morning and not return until dark.  I did not check in from stop to stop, I was gone for hours and had no communication with my parents. My parents did not know my every move and nor did they hunt me down to ask. I guess they trusted me and knew where to find me, if I was needed.  This is what we did growing up in the 80s.

I know things are different growing up today with all the technology and all the apps.  My kids do not ride their bikes much and they constantly rely on me as their chauffeur.  Or maybe its just mine don’t ride their bikes much… I questioned if she even knew the rules of riding a bike. This was a moment of independence for my daughter and trust.  She had not asked to do this before, so I knew she was gaining more independence and growing up.  I also knew I could get a hold of her at any moment because of her cellphone, but I wanted her to figure this out. I wanted her to be responsible. Not feel like she had to constantly check in from place to place. I wanted her to make some decisions on her own.  If she took the wrong road, I wanted her to be able to figure out how to get back on track.  However, I am sure she would just ask google.

So, I let her go. They were gone 5 hours. I know that seems like a long time, but my daughter is very pokey and moves very cautiously in everything.  They had a blast and I think we both learned something. I learned that I needed to give her more freedom to be independent and responsible for herself.  I did not need to know her every move in the day.  It was ok if she went without checking in constantly. I knew if she needed help or something happened that day she would call me. I did not tell her how to get to all the places she wanted to go that day, I left her figure out her path and route.

I feel like we just need to give our kids the opportunity to have some space and not hover over them so much.  They need the independence to grow and learn as much as adults.  And honestly, I get annoyed at times by the amount of texts my kids send me.  I still worry as much as every other parent about their kids, however I just want to give them the opportunity to have some freedom and be responsible for themselves.

Just a mom of 3 trying to survive….

https://www.snarkydivorcedgirl.com/

So It Begins

And so it begins…Earlier this week as I was getting ready for work my daughter noticed the sweatshirt I was wearing and announced she wanted it.

Luckily I have more than one version of said sweatshirt and I pulled the one I wasn’t wearing from its hanger and handed it to her.

She clapped her hands put it on and was attached to it for the better part of three days until I finally snuck into her room and threw it in our hamper.

As I type this- I’m smiling. My daughter is twelve and she has hit that stage where she asks if I am going to leave when I am in her room too long.

So her wanting a piece of my clothing and wearing it consecutively for three days … it goes without saying it meant a lot to me.

Twelve has been hard.

She has started middle school- her second year actually. Conversations that I avoided in an attempt to protect her are happening, because she has friends who are vocal about their parents situations.

Thankfully we have been able to have some frank conversations without me having to paint anyone as better or worse. Because at the end of the day,at least right now all she needs to know is we just didn’t work. Sometimes opposites do not attract lol.

But getting back to this clothes borrowing thing. It is allowing me stolen moments. Shy conversations about friends, teachers and people she likes or doesn’t.

It’s interesting that bonding over a sweatshirt is helping us bond. Maybe it’s not the sweatshirt, maybe it’s me. I am petrified as we continue our journey closer to the numbers ending in teen we could have a strained relationship. The cliches exist for a reason. G also carries the added weight of trying to manage two households. She shouldn’t have to but it’s our reality.

What I do know is if letting her borrow my clothes means she shares more moments and snippets of her life with me. Well, aside from maybe one or two pair of boots she can raid my closet anytime.

Sending you lots of love Mommas.

<3 Caprise

There’s Another Woman Spending Time With My Kids

I never imagined that my kids would now be spending time with another woman… I had never thought about it. When I started my divorce process, it didn’t even cross my mind that my children would be spending time with another woman and then it happened very soon. Never in a million years had it entered my mind.. stupid me.

My ex husband got remarried not too long after our divorce…so my kids had a step mom.  I had no idea how to handle the feelings I experienced. I did not prepare myself for the hurt and heartache that I felt.

My children were now spending time with another woman besides me.  She was texting them, going to their sporting events, buying them gifts, and sharing memories with them. This hit me harder than anything else In my life.  I had been the center of their universe since they were born. I was not sharing them.

What if they loved her more than me?  What if they wanted to spend time with her? What if they wanted her to take them shopping?  This woman was not buying their bras…. All these questions and a million more go thru your head.

How do you get thru it?  How do you accept that this woman is spending time with your kids? It takes a lot of strength and self discipline. I say that because you will probably feel like going a little “ cray cray” on this woman. You will also have your best friend dig up anything on social media that you can find … you will become the best private investigator around.

Remember that this isn’t about you and as much as it hurts, it’s about your kids..If they talk about her then support them. Be positive.  Kids pick up on everything… every facial expression, every sigh, everything thing that comes out of your mouth.  There were so many times that i just wanted to cry or scream, but I tried to not let my kids pick up on it.  Ohhh my friends have seen my tears over the years, but not my kids.

If they want her included in activities and events, then support their decision.  If they want to text her, then let them.  I remember the first time my daughter wanted her step mom to go on a field trip because I could not, it killed me.  But I knew it was important to her and she obviously felt comfortable enough to have her come along on a school trip.

If possible, in the beginning set boundaries regarding her involvement.   Keep the communication still between yourself and your ex husband regarding the children.   Also, set boundaries between your relationship with the step mom….I can not express enough how much boundaries are important.  Then everyone knows what is acceptable.

The best advice I received  was that when its your time with your kids concentrate on them.  Do not worry about the “other” mom. and what she is doing with them or buying them.  Try to put all those insecurities behind you and concentrate on them.  Your kids will always come to you. You will always be there number one. They will always turn to your first.  They will always trust you more than anything. And  if your daughter has a bad day at school she’s still going to call her mom!

Let them engage with their step mom. I know I didn’t handle it perfectly in the beginning because I was not prepared.  And honestly, I can’t say the heartache feeling ever goes away, it doesn’t.  But you will learn that you will always be their # 1 mom!!  Nothing ever takes that away….

https://www.snarkydivorcedgirl.com/

All My Guilt Tucked In A Suitcase

All My Guilt Tucked In A Suitcase…

There are two sides to every story, two sides to every coin, and two sides to every single parent.

I constantly feel torn between the mother in me and the single woman in me.

How do I balance it?

Am I giving each side enough attention?

I am grateful that my kids have fathers in their lives that allows me to have a break, but there is still a tremendous amount of guilt for taking advantage of that time. I go on dates, I visit bars, and I attend concerts all while trailing behind me in a suitcase is my mom guilt. All tucked nice and neat are the little what ifs and should ofs of my life. I always tuck away my wish I would of thoughts into my guilt suitcase and carry it along with me, every shift at work, every date I go on, and every night when I fall asleep without little toes in my face.

l’ll always wonder what my children do when they are away from me, even though I know they are safe and happy at their dads, I still wonder. It’s a part of being a mom! I’ll always tuck away my wish I would of thoughts into my guilt suitcase and carry it along with me, every shift at work, every date I go on, and every night when I fall asleep without little toes in my face.

I’m a strong 27-year-old woman who’s succeeding in her career and raising 3 children, but there are days I still doubt myself, and doubt the balance of it all. I’ll be standing in the middle of a dance floor and flooding me are the thoughts of what are my kids doing right now and begin wondering why I’m even out to begin with.

On the other hand, there are days I’m standing in the middle of a pile of laundry and wishing for that mixed drink in a loud bar.

There’s no magic formula for being a single parent or trust me I would trade my guilt suitcase in for it. It’s a crazy ride, and I’m riding it with my hands up. I’m proud of how far I’ve come post-divorce but there are still days of struggle and doubt. I must force myself to take a step back and see what I’ve accomplished and see what happy and healthy kids I have and know that I am doing the best I can.

I’m their mother, their strong courageous mother, I’m also a vibrant beautiful 27 year old who needs a little fun every now and then.

~Serendipity

Who We Are And How We Got Here

This is who we are and this is how we got here..

My eldest son, James will be 19 in December. He is on the Autism spectrum (High Functioning). When we had James diagnosed at the University of Washington Autism Center almost 9 years ago one of the things the neuropsychologist told my partner and I was the best thing we could have done for James leading up to his late diagnosis was to treat him “normally”. What this meant is that James had chores and household responsibilities appropriate for his age and was held responsible when his behavior needed correcting even when we knew something was different about the way James was seeing the world and digesting experiences.

I went home after that visit and cried for two days. I couldn’t even look at my son square in the eyes. See what the doctor at the UW thought was great about how we had parented James up to the point of diagnosis, was exactly what had me riddled with guilt. Guilt for every nag and fuss and sarcastic response or impatient look or tuned out tangent. I felt embarrassed for every time I pushed him to be involved in an organized sport or sit through a loud movie or make eye contact with a stranger. And the more I read up on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) the worse I felt.

And then one day I got over it. I think it was during a conversation with my sister where she pointed out that I hadn’t been even close to being abusive or bad to James. I had been loving and firm, just like our father had been with us. And I knew I was doing my absolute best so on that day I decided that I was going to use my own parental compass and parent my kids exactly the way that I wanted to. Always attempting to lead with love.

For the most part, for the last 18 almost 19 years James has been nearly angelic. When my friends were having issues with their adolescent sons I was boasting about the cake walk I was on with James. The biggest challenge I had was securing supportive services for him through school. And the funniest part about that is I would work my butt off to secure a service and James would work even harder to prove he didn’t need it or very little of it.

It’s been my experience that finding support for non ASD presenting kids is hard. And let’s be clear, finding services for non neurotypical people is a monster effort and should be way easier than it is. But I feel like diagnosing and finding support for a non verbal child with classic ASD signs and symptoms is more straightforward than diagnosing and supporting a child that presents as neurotypical but does really quirky and sometimes dangerous stuff off and on. Most of my challenge around getting supportive services after our diagnosis was that at around age 13 James asked that we stop participating in the local Autism Awareness campaigns and walks and to stop advertising that we were an ASD family to our neighbors and on social media. I agreed but I found that after a while I felt closeted and shut off from other ASD parents and resources. The only support I had was on Facebook and the groups I joined never seemed to have parents or ASD members having similar experiences as us.

The other part of the challenge is that my son’s high functioning autism (HF ASD) has what we in my family call Cloudy Days. Meaning, we can go months without any significant spikes in characteristics commonly found with people on the spectrum and then one day I will notice that James is pacing (that’s how he stems) or he is having a hard time articulating his thoughts. When these “cloudy days” happen usually there is something that has lead up to it: over indulgence in processed foods, being overwhelmed at school, having a bad day at work, not feeling well or friend issues. I used to be able to anticipate these days because I was more in touch with what was happening at school or with friends but since James has started having more and more experiences that don’t include me, I am usually blindsided when his autism has spikes.

James is hyper aware of the stigmas that come with people’s lack of understanding of Autism as a spectrum and is sensitive to being treated like any other young person. So, I’ve tried to help him in any way I could. In some ways it has been a blessing that I was a very young woman when I had him. We share many of the same taste in music and pop culture and it’s not a stretch for me to understand his perspective on many things. Between my daughter (James’ younger sister) and I, we’ve become his social queue and societal support. My daughter specifically was great about breaking things down for James. And as he got older and learned behaviors became more automatic, James became a terrific social support to her too. They have a very special bond. In fact as I write this blog entry they are in the dining room cracking up over some YouTube video that they’re watching.

But over time, as it happens in every household with children, James has gotten older and includes me less and less in his decisions and requires more and more freedom. Freedom in his decision making and freedom physically from home.

You should know, I grew up in and around Los Angeles county in California. I’ve been around shaky situations and sketchy characters my entire life. I got a very normal 80’s baby city kid upbringing. But as a parent, I work really hard to raise my kids in cities with low crime rates and good schools. My kids have had very little exposure to all the danger that awaits them in the world. So the idea of my somewhat naïve 18 year old navigating around the city with his friends shook/shakes me to my core.

I’ve always been really honest with James about my concerns. And he is been great about navigating his new freedom with care. But like a boomerang coming back to it’s owner it appears that some of the heartache I dished my parents is coming back to haunt me.

Recently, I’ve been forced to wake up and think about the “support” I’ve been giving James up to this point.

  • Was I helping him when I agreed to lesson my involvement with the local Autism resource groups?
  • Was I helping him by not forcing him to socialize with other people on the spectrum?
  • Have I been a helper to him by being in every nook and cranny of his life, so much so that he may have had to keep secrets to have privacy?
  • Have I been the best mother to him without the tools of other ASD parents who have traveled this road before me?
  • Have I given him too much control over how we will live as an ASD family?

I’ve lost a lot of sleep and consumed many a cocktail mulling over these questions in the last few weeks. I’ve searched the internet and reached out to support groups in other states and none of what I find seems to speak to where I am or the questions I have. James is capable of taking care of himself. But do I believe I’ll need to provide a moderate amount of support for possibly longer than most parents of newly launched young adults? Yes. I believe he’ll get to any place he wants to be in his timing. But I can’t help but feel like someone out there has launched a teen with HF ASD into adulthood and being able to pick their brain for a while would help me so much.

I’m going to start a new blog series on my page documenting this journey of launching James into adulthood. Maybe someone that is parenting a younger child similar to my James will find these entries and they’ll help them. Or maybe I’ll just write these entries to get all the concern running through my head out and on paper so I can sleep at night. I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

*Life Thief is a “real life” lifestyle blogger with a sassy mouth and real woman and mother sensibilities.

You can find her other blog posts at: https://thestolenlifechronicles.wordpress.com/