Tag Archives: parenting

Sass Does Not Live Here

Sass does not live here…

“She’s a teenager” : “He’s hungry” No And NO. There is no excuse that you should take sass from your children. It is disrespectful, rude and selfish along with a ton of other adjectives.

I’ve mentioned before, it is your job as a single mom to raise up your kids Raise them up on the days where you’ve had enough, when you’re hangry and over-tired, when you want to lock yourself in the bathroom, the basement, the car. Yes…on those days. You’re to raise them up to be responsible adults who; move out rather than live at home till they’re 30, don’t quit their 7th job because they didn’t get their way, don’t talk back to their teacher, don’t bully other kids & don’t ignore their grandparents when they come to visit.

How? Is that what you’re saying? HOW? Consequences. YUP! Write up an ‘if this’; ‘then that’ list.

When my son got sassy with me, he lost extracurricular activities, bedtime became earlier and his chores increased. It’s up to you to talk about the consequences to their behavior and stick to it! It works.

Another thing that works well is to “act like they act”. When my son was a teenager, a few different times when I would ask him to do something for me and he said “NO”…I would act like him..I’d roll my eyes, cross my arms & storm off stomping my feet, acting as if it was the end of the world. Saying under my breath like he does “You’re so mean”. This behavior caught him off guard. He realized quickly I was mocking him & he did not like what he saw.

I would also, when he was a teenager,  “say what they say”. One day I asked him, “Hey bud, can you mow the yard for me today?” He said “I’ll mow it tomorrow, OK? I’m tired” I said okay, and let it go. Later that week he asked me to drive him to his friends house. I told him…. “I’ll take you tomorrow, OK? I’m tired.” “What!?,” he exclaimed, “I don’t want to go tomorrow, I want to go now.” I reminded him it was kinda like the other day when he was too tired to mow. That was the last time he told me no when I asked him to mow. LOL

Good luck girls.

xoxo

Your God-girl

Tracy

Oh, Pan”damn”ic!

Do you see what I did there?  Let’s be really real about this pandemic, maybe whine a little, then we will take a step back and talk some self care.  Being a single mom is a giant juggle when life is “normal”, but now here we are thrown this curve ball we could have never seen coming.  By now we have become absolute rock stars when it comes to dealing with the unexpected. Right? I am sure we don’t all have fantastic involved exes, super understanding bosses, flawless children, and unending support financially, and emotionally.  As single working mothers we put on our capes every morning (because like a bra we do not wear them to bed) and we take whatever the day throws at us with flexibility, strength, and probably a little bit of sarcasm.  

This pandemic reminds me of the first season of Stranger Things when Eleven makes her escape.  She doesn’t understand the rules to outside life and she is very awkward with people and how to act.  I feel ya girl, pandemic has me with so many questions. So we cant see our loved ones outside of our house?  Ok I definitely respect that-lets flatten this s$#t right out of here. We are staying home in our yard with just our humans and fur human, but of course I am taking a thousand pics or “it didn’t happen”.  I am almost frightened to post online because Susan might share me to the community page with some “oh my gawd” tagline. In this fake scenario I also have some snide response to Susan such as, “hey lady, you don’t have my 7 year old son who just drove two nails through my kitchen floor while I was on a work call.  I told him if he didn’t go outside and run in my fenced in backyard he would sleep on the deck”. But alas I work as a public figure and realize this can’t play out like this. Instead Aunt Bonnie in Florida can’t boost my self esteem with her likes online because I don’t post. I know what you are thinking, “just text her…”, ok fine, maybe I will.

Next, don’t you love how most people who are not single moms think their request is the only one on your plate?  Me too, it’s the comedy of life during the Rona. Juggling work expectations, while teaching your kids, and I am sure some of you moms are also taking classes, or have more than one job etc.  Mandatory 9am work zoom call, while my 9 year old needs to check in on zoom in order to not be marked absent on our one device? Sure, but now let’s also add the 7 year old having an epic tantrum over compound words and the dog just hurled her breakfast up.  By 4pm I would like to tag any other healthy human in for an hour so I can finally finish that client email I started at 8am before the work zoom call started. This is when the fenced in backyard comes into play and I can prep one of the 6 daily meals my kids now need to eat.  By the time it gets to working on my own studies I am passed out on the couch 5 minutes into some Channing Tatum movie I have seen a thousand times.

We also have to speak about these big emotions!  Holy hell, the tantrums, the crying, the snapping, the anger, and then right into happiness.  I am talking about me here. It happens to my kids too, but mostly me. Where do these big emotions come from?  Is it trauma leftover from previous relationships? Is it my need to control or have a plan for the future? Is it because before all of this I hated that stupid Groundhog movie and never wanted to live it?  My extrovert self doesn’t know how to be confined to 2 people, and a goofy Great Dane. My profession is helping others, all day long! Not to mention my peers at work and in class, and everyone who I can’t see everyday but reaches out via technology.  So much of my sarcasm and charm is going to waste due to the Rona. One thing is for sure this pandemic reminded me I am still human too, who needs self care.

I have been keeping a list of some 5 min (or more if you can swing it) self care items that have been helping me to push the reset button, check myself before I wreck myself kinda thing.  I know everyone has a different situation but take a peek and see if any of these will work for you.

 

  1. Headphones- pop those bad boys in and turn the music way up.  I like doing this while I make dinner, usually the witching hour gets to me, the whining ick.
  2. Shower- I find my shampoo bottles great counselors, my loofa knows all the things I should have said during that last argument.  My body wash has never told anyone how many times I have cried for a few min.
  3. Zoom- do not use the link you use for work.  But do make a wine/whine night with your friends.  Cards with Humanity is online and if you don’t mind things a little racey I highly recommend it.
  4. Get outside- Be smart about it ladies but nothing turns a frown upside down quite like some Vitamin D.  Take your allergy meds though so you don’t have a panic attack when you get a sniffle.
  5. Laugh- I know I made my kid sound like a pain in the ass up there, but truth be told he is hilarious with his one liners and use of sarcasm.  Good thing too. Find your “thing” to laugh about.
  6. Watch something besides paw patrol- Seriously Channing helps me, as does the Office.  Sometimes I am not even really watching it but it feels less lonely having the tv on.
  7. Stay in touch- Call your friends or facetime them.  Making those personal connections is so helpful. Don’t forget to ask your other single mom friends if they have eaten today.  
  8. Make plans- Even if they are down right ridiculous, having something to look forward to helps.  Whether it is fancy friday in your own house (while you wash all those pjs you’ve been living in), or the above mentioned zoom wine night this really helps stay focused through the nuances.  
  9. Do something safely selfish- I told my daughter to watch youtube and learn to bake cakes, because well, I like cake.  I am telling a half truth, she isnt the little red hen, I of course helped her.
  10. Seek support- if your feelings are in a scary place reach out.  Mental health counselors are doing teletherapy, and resources are safely available.  Your kid’s schools will probably have a community resource list if you are unsure where to start.  Reach out to their school counselor, they are fabulous people.

Hang in there ladies.  This is super new to everyone.  Even though the pandemic is very serious, if we are practicing safe healthy habits, I don’t see why a little sarcasm and grace can’t get us through. 

Go easy on yourself.  

Choose your battles with your kids, most days my son stays in his pjs all day, and my daughter spends a lot of time on facetime.  Safely reach out and stay connected and make time for self care.

 

~ @almostdrmompsyd

https://almostdrmompsyd.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/oh-pandamnic/

Teamwork Makes The Single Mom Dream Work

Being a single mom is undoubtedly hard.  It’s hard in a way you can’t really understand until you are in the throes of it.  Like when you were pregnant, and people told you that having a newborn would make you tired.  Remember that?  I recall thinking, yeah, I stay up way past midnight and still wake up and go to work tired, I’ll be fine.  Then the baby comes and your definition of tired is utterly reinvented.  Being a single mom is no different, you must experience it to really understand how difficult life becomes.

The hard parts are different for all of us.  Sometimes it’s financial, sometimes it’s juggling busy schedules, sometimes it’s chasing the impossible work/life balance.  For me, my biggest struggle was trying to be the nurturer and the disciplinarian – roles typically reserved for 2 parent households.  I did my damnedest, but with 2 very different kids I found myself performing a daily Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine.  One kid had a great day while the other got in trouble at school.  So, a smile and a high five to you, turn around a deliver a stern look and a consequence for him.  How confusing that must have been for my kids?  I was failing at both roles and leaving a gaping hole in my family.

One day, as I was really trying to figure it all out, I realized that I needed a teammate in all of this.  I was not dating, and fully aware of the complications of bringing another adult into the situation, so that was not the answer.  Instead, I asked myself what if instead of trying to react to and regulate every circumstance my kids encountered, I simply joined them on the playing field.  I decided to start addressing our family as a team. We all had roles to play on the team, and we all had a responsibility to the success of our team.  I sat my kids down and we spoke at length about our new family dynamic.

The truth is, nothing changed as far as my hierarchy in our family.  But instead of dividing and conquering my kids, I encouraged us to all weigh in on the good and bad parts of our days.  We talk so much more, and I yell so much less.  My kids have learned each other’s love languages – one son thrives on physical touch, while the other seeks out words of affirmation.  They have been empowered with the skills to comfort each other and even me on the tougher days.  When one of us has a win – we all win, we all celebrate.

By putting an end to my polar opposite parenting, I’ve lifted a weight off my own shoulders.  I’ve given my kids the gift of an engaged mom instead of an overlord.  I see them growing as better people through their understanding of empathy and teamwork.  We hold each other accountable and we lift each other up.  We are invested in each other’s successes, we cheer for each other louder than anyone else, and we’ve created a safe place to express our thoughts and feelings.

My kids and I are a team now, and there is no other team I’d rather play the game of life with than the people I love the most.

Colleen

Keeping The Drama Out Of Your Life

How do you keep the boundaries set that you have spent years putting into place?   How do you constantly not get pulled into the drama of someone’s life?  I have spent the last few years of my life, setting boundaries with my ex husband.  This has made my life much easier and less stressful. There have been less engaged discussions or one sided arguments due to the boundaries that I have created.  I have kept communication limited  to keep my life moving forward.  These boundaries were set to move forward with my life and children.

I feel that my life has flourished over the last 5 years.  Yes, I have had many ups and downs, but I have pushed through them.  I enjoy my life now and I have worked hard to get to this place.  My kids and I have experienced many challenges and somehow gotten through it.  We have created this comfortable and fun life for ourselves.

As I continue to move forward, I feel that others in my life are still stuck at times.  Yes, this is my interpretation, however I set many boundaries to keep all of the added conflict, drama, and arguments out of my life.  This has been a constant challenge. I feel like I’m just walking down my own path, trying new things, and learning about myself… and then all of a sudden I am constantly blindsided by something from my ex’s life.

Some parents have great co parenting relationships, but my ex and I  just don’t.  I have written about our co-parenting challenges and how it does not always work. So as I am moving forward,  I have to constantly ignore the drama from the other side.  This is a struggle.  There are so many times that I want to ask my kids what is going on at dads, but I have to remember that it will only lead to problems.  I do not need to hear about the fighting at dads, the finances, what they eat for dinner, or what he says about my life.

I have learned to not ask my kids about their time at dad’s house.  As kids they do love to volunteer the information freely, so I am constantly reminding myself that it is no concern of mine.  My kids are very comfortable with me, so unfortunately I usually hear everything.   I do not offer my advice to my ex on things that my kids tell me, so freely.  I do not ask questions about his life.  I also need to remember that the things I hear from my kids is their perception and it is not always as how it happened…

I am trying for us both to live as separate of lives as possible, but share 3 kids. In trying to stay out of the drama of his life, I have had to learn to say no to him.  I will help my ex with the kids as much as possible, until it interferes with my life.  I also have a life that is just as important.

In the past, I would have taken the kids at a drop of the hat, if something came up in his life.  I would have changed my work schedule to accommodate his schedule.  I would have backed out of plans with friends to help him, just because I thought it was for the kids.  I thought that was what good moms do… Saying yes did not make me a good mom.  Because in the end, I am the mom that would do anything for her kids, so this is really tough.

I am slowly realizing that he needs to figure this out.  Yes, I do help many times, but I can not always be available.  He will assume at times that I can help him out and I am learning to say no.  Over the years,  I have learned to find solutions to my own conflicts with my kids. I have found carpools and friends to help me out when I needed help.

Keeping the drama out of my life has let me move forward… I am not stuck in my old life.  I have a new life that I created and I continue to focus on that.  I let him figure out how to handle his life and situations.  I do not add my advice or input.  I just go along my own path learning to say no more often, keeping the boundaries, and ignoring the drama.

-Snarky

https://www.snarkydivorcedgirl.com/

Not A Perfect Mom, But I am Always There

I’m not a perfect mom by any means. I’m not the mom who will always hug and kiss my daughters. I’m not the mom who is going to sing them a lullaby to fall asleep or bake cookies with them on the weekends. I’m not the mom who cuddles them every time they fall down or rushes them to the doctor whenever they’re sick.

However, I am the mom who will ALWAYS have my daughters backs no matter what. I’m the mom who will hold my girls accountable when they do wrong but let them know it’s okay to make mistakes. I’m the mom who tells them to dust it off when they fall but will give them a hug and make sure they aren’t hurt. My daughters will know that no matter how old they are or how far away they may be, their momma loves them and will be there for them. I’m going to raise them to stand up for themselves, but I will be there to defend them whenever they need it. I may yell at them, be sarcastic with them, and cuss in front of them, but if there is anything I’m sure of, it’s that my daughters will always know I’m standing right beside them cheering them on.

You don’t have to be a perfect mom in order to be a loving one. We must teach our children that this world is not a fairytale while at the same time guiding them to be caring and softhearted towards others. Our children don’t need a mom who has it together 24/7; they need to know that it’s ok to fall apart as long as they get back up and finish what they started. I want my daughters to rise above anything I could have dreamed for myself, and to know it’s okay to scrape their knees along the way because they will always have me to give them a band-aid when they need it.

-Brooke Shea

Boundaries After A Divorce

Setting boundaries has made me go from pulling my hair out crazy to  finally having some peace. Boundaries are one of the most important things I have learned since my divorce.  I never thought about setting boundaries until my divorce. I was always a “yes” person.  Many times in my life I never really wanted to say “ yes” to things but I did.. I did it to not cause any conflict or I thought it was what was expected of me.

It took me a couple years into my divorce until I realized that I needed to set boundaries with my ex husband.  Because how I was living now was like having a mosquito constantly buzzing around your head as you are trying to sleep.. you try and try to swat at it but it never goes away.  That is what I was dealing with every day of my life.

There are many reasons for needing boundaries, but mostly I needed to set boundaries to have peace of mind and live my life.  As I mentioned in some of my previous blogs, my ex did not have much input in parenting of our children when we are married. I made most of the decisions regarding finances, parenting, and basically most decisions in our life.

Soon after our divorce, that changed.  I would receive numerous text messages or emails from him regarding my parenting decisions.  He would text and ask “why I would let our kids stay home from school when they were sick”.  Or texts on reminding me to have them shower or asking when they went to bed.  He would argue back and forth on why I made that decision.  Basically any decision that I made regarding the children, he would question.

For years, I engaged in his texts and emails.  I felt that since it involved the children that I needed to respond and explain my decision.  He never agreed with me nor did what I say every make a difference.  He made me feel like a failure as a parent and I also started to question my decisions.  (Let me remind you that I stayed home with our kids for 8 years and pretty much made all the parenting decisions for 3 kids, I am not exaggerating)

Then finally I realized that this was affecting myself and my children.  I was starting to change how I parented my children.   I  would not handle situations like I normally would, in fear of having to explain myself to him… I would start to think “ ohh I can’t do that because your dad will get mad”.  I would not let my kids do things in fear that I would receive a text from him. I know crazy right..  And then it finally hit me, like what the hell am I doing.. I have never questioned my parenting decisions in the past.  And I would cringe anytime I received any communication from him.. the worst part was that my kids could tell how It would affect me.  I would not say anything to them directly, but they would see how my moods and body language would change.  I would become instantly irritated by the text from him.

I finally decided to just not respond or engage.  Unless the text or email directly affected the schedule of the kids or their well being, I did not respond. I disregard any texts regarding discipline, sick days, what the kids wore to school, remembering to have the kids shower, remembering to have the kids bring their snow clothes… the list goes on.  I started to set boundaries in many areas that included him.

I would only respond to emails that required a response by direct input like schedules, shared finances, children’s activities, or school.  Anything that was communicated to me by text, I did not respond. I did not engage in any texts or emails that were worded with assumptions or belittling towards myself.  If the text to me was worded with “ I know you will do it anyways but..blah blah blah” I did not respond.  Anything that was not a direct fact, I avoided.  I avoided those texts because they were sent to get me to engage with him.

It did actually work, I received less text messages from him.   Sometimes I would receive 3 or 4 in a one night and I just learned to not respond. I did not let it bother me and I went about my business. Sometimes I would just turn my phone off.

I would not respond to any text that included an assumption on myself, children, or parenting.

I keep him on “do not disturb” in my phone so if he does text me I am not immediately

I keep all communication short and direct.

I tried to send all correspondence in an email during normal working hours.

I do not discuss anything involving the kids without them present so we are all involved and there is no he said/she said.

Setting these boundaries was the best thing I could have done for myself and my family.   They helped me gain confidence again on my decisions.  I did them for myself and to get past

There was no reason to have interaction with someone that made me question myself and my decisions.  And you eventually realize that as much as you explain things, some people will never hear what you are saying.

It took time to get to where I am today…  It takes a huge amount of self control.  I’m definitely not perfect with it and sometimes I have set backs with my reactions.  But,  I love my life with my kids and I really feel that limited communication with him is the best for myself and my family.   And that is the most important….

 

Thanks for reading!

-Snarky

 

https://www.snarkydivorcedgirl.com/blog

No Means No

When raising your children-No means just that.  When you say it, and stick to it, you are teaching your children that you mean what you say.  In that exact moment the answer is No. End of story. Not willing to  negotiation, listen to rebuttle or crying. Mamma said No.  

If they have a bad reaction to it and you cave in, let their stomping and crying and fits of upset change your mind, you are showing them that you do not mean what you say.  Period. You just said No, and now after their upset, you say something different -you say Fine, or Go Ahead or Whatever. Simply, you don’t mean what you say.  

When you tell them they are wonderful, amazing, beautiful, etc….and when you tell them you love them & will always be there for them……  

They won’t believe you.  

Because remember what happened when you said No.  

You didn’t mean what you said.  

They don’t know the difference, it doesn’t matter what the story is…they just know that  you don’t mean what you say.  They cannot count on you. They cannot depend on you. They cannot trust you.

When they throw a temper tantrum or roll their eyes at you, get mad & slam their bedroom door, say you’re the worst mom ever.  Stand firm. Be strong. And mean what you say.  

When my son was young I taught him at a very young age that if he had a reaction to my No, there was a consequence and he was grounded.  He learned very quickly that when mom said No, she meant it. Mom meant what she said, and he knows without a doubt that I love him.

xoxo

Your God Girl

Tracy

Some Day We Will Get To Go To The Zoo

Some Day We Will Get To Go To The Zoo…

My daughter is six. She is smart as a whip and sharp as a tack and all those other colloquialisms we like to use. She asked me a question that kind of stopped me dead in my tracks.

“Mommy, why are you always in your room?”

Insert bulging eyes emoji.

“Well… It’s nice in there. I like it.”

She responded, “In the other house, you were in your room a lot, too.”

“So, what you are saying is you want me to spend more time with you?”

She and her brother, age five, both nod. Brother responds with: “We miss you!”

There is no rule book on how to parent singly. I often have no clue. Granted, I wasn’t really sure how to do that WITH a husband, either, so I come by it honestly. But she had a point. I thought about it. I always feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with them or I work so much that I’m too exhausted and use any spare time to rest. There is no such thing as work/life balance for mothers and especially not single mothers.

Do you know that I have wanted to take my kids to the zoo for about three years now? But it never happens because it’s just not in the budget, no matter how creatively I work around things. I still have to account for fuel, food, appropriate clothing, etc. I would like to declare that 2020 is the year I finally get to take them to the zoo. I currently work three jobs. Surely this year I can take them to the zoo. I really need to show them the spider cages. And the snakes…

I explained to her that mommy has to work a lot. “Why?” She often tells me she does not want me to work so much. I have tried to have her understand, but she won’t truly understand until she’s an adult on her own. In the meantime, I attempt to make her aware that money buys things and getting money comes from work. Money means food, shelter. She’ll understand. Someday…

And someday, we’ll get to go to the zoo.

~ALG~

It’s Ok To Take A Time Out

I used to have my kids in every activity and was involved with so many volunteer projects….  and then I decided to take a time out.I would make sure we attended every school and church event.  I would volunteer for every activity or fundraiser that the school sponsored.   And then I do not know what happened, but my thinking changed. I was tired of doing all those things.. I was tired of running constantly.  I was just tired.

I was doing those things because I felt I had to…. That was what a good mom does, you run your ass off morning until night.. It was crazy because running my ass off does not make me a good mom.  It makes me a crazy crabby bitchy mom.  I  do not know when this started where you have to be involved in everything to be a good parent or to feel like you are, but it is insane.   I loved to volunteer in my kids classrooms, but I did not love baking cupcakes, or being on the PTA, or collecting box tops. And I hate selling coupon books for fundraisers.. (that’s a whole other topic)

Now…Don’t get me wrong, I do think kids need to be in activities and we all need to volunteer in some capacity for school, however you do not need to do it all.   I know this was my own fault, I signed my kids up for all these activities and I signed myself up for all volunteer shifts.    I wanted to sit and watch TV with my kids. I wanted to do nothing some nights.  I wanted to just enjoy being with them.  I wanted to not be a stressed out crazy lady from running from activity to activity.

So, I stopped signing them up for every activity.  I stopped volunteering for opportunities that I didn’t feel passionate about. And I stopped attending every fundraiser.  I started asking my kids what they wanted to do and what they enjoyed the most.  I would ask if they were ok if we skipped a fundraiser or a school event.  Might seem selfish, but it made our entire family a lot happier and less stressed.  My kids have now each found the one activity or sport that they as passionate about and that works.  I  did not want to spend their entire childhood years feeling rushed…

As a parent you feel overwhelmed at times with all the activities that you children can participate in now.  But the truth is you don’t have to feel pressure to do it all.   A couple weeks ago someone was talking about about constantly running from church, to soccer, to drama club one night and I said why don’t you just let them skip?   And she said, “ what you that teach them?” What would that teach them…haha.. I laughed and said, “that we are human and we can’t do it all and some days you just need to stop and say no”.  That if I am tired and wore out, then I am sure my kids are also.

It’s Monday morning and my teenager has a migraine and stomach ache..she is begging to stay home and I believe that kids need down time.  They need time to do nothing and be kids. I believe that my kids need days to stay home.  They need days to do nothing and to “veg” out.   They need that time to unwind just like adults do.  If adults can take time to binge watch a series on Netflix, then I am sure my kids do too.

So yes, I do let my 8th grader stay home if she needs a day to regroup.  Kids have an amazing amount of stress and expectations put on them these days.   From school academics, to fundraisers, to mission trips, to athletics, to volunteering, religion class, to babysitting…. they are trying to do it all and they are still just kids.

I let my son skip soccer if he is had a bad day at school.  I let my daughter take a night off from religion class if she needs to decompress from the middle school drama.  And I do not think twice about it.. I do not think by letting my kids take that time for themselves, that it sets a bad example.  I think it shows that at times, we all have days where we just need to recharge.  Or we just need a time out.

I so appreciate that my kids can come to me and tell me when they feel overloaded or stressed.. I think it is so important that they know when they need a break.  I appreciate that they can tell me when they do not want to do something and just want to stay home.  I so appreciate their honesty over anything else.

Snarky Divorced Gal

www.snarkydivorcedgal.com

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/