Reasons I shouldn’t do housework

Reasons that I should not do housework today:

1) I know where everything is.
2) I may not like dust, but I’m comfortable with it not changing. It seems happy. Why disturb?
3) the vacuum is too loud.
4) the broom is too quiet.
5) I am sensitive to cleaning chemicals.
6) elbow grease is, well, a pretty yucky mental image for me.
7) once I start cleaning, I notice how much other stuff needs done.
8) I get distracted by the other stuff.
9) I get so distracted, I get overwhelmed.
10) I must stop and formulate a plan. Refocus.
11) plans are fun. Except cleaning plans. They’re not fun.
12) laundry makes me sneeze.
13) because I made this list.

Okay okay. I did my housework today anyways. I’m just pretending. Truthfully, I function best in a clean organized environment. I really drag my heels to get there, though. But it’s done. It’s done. My old farmhouse is pristine. If only it would stay like this…

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The gift of being an autistic parent

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I have autism. One of my sons is also autistic. He was diagnosed PDD-NOS when he was 3. He is now 12. I wasn’t told that I was on the spectrum until only a few months ago.

After reading miles upon miles of reasons why autistic parents don’t always make the best of parents, I spent a few days deep in thought over my parenting. Current and past.

I’ve decided that I rock. I’m doing okay. I have a brilliant, creative, confident, well-adjusted, honest and opinionated son.

I try to be more mindful now of how I relate and interact with people in general and my family in particular. I don’t want to be cold, indifferent, distant. I know I am none of those things.

When my son was born, I knew nothing about autism. When he was super-clingy to me, I allowed it. It felt right. I didn’t know why he seemed so sensitive to so many things, but I didn’t feel like it was my job to change that – I felt it was my job to give him what he needed. My husband was amazed at his normally somewhat-shy wife, who suddenly was bold as a lioness and fearless. The constant criticism of parents (you’re spoiling them, etc) can be overwhelming. It takes guts to be able to shake it off and do what you know is best for your kiddo. I took on learning about babies, then children, then speech delays, then autism, then food sensitivities, as I took on everything else – with a passion and a zest to become very knowledgable.

Here are three gifts that allowed me into my autistic son’s world, courtesy of my own autism. I don’t think they’re exclusive to autistic parents! Of course.

1) I could easily toss aside conventional wisdom and ritual. I got him. If he needed heavy blankets at night to sleep well, then so be it. I did too. If being around people tired him out, if he needed shielded from the news or newspapers, if he hated all clothing except the softest, if he refused to have help while eating…whatever it was, it was okay. He hated clothing tags – I cut them out. He didn’t talk for years – we communicated silently. He loved being read to – we read tons, and his dad started a ritual they continue to this day of a nightly reading. When he was 5 and still in diapers, I didn’t push him or punish – he had zero interest in it and he wasn’t ready. When he showed a genuine connection to animals – we facilitated this. He felt what he felt, thought what he thought. It was like he came into this world with a whole new game plan that no one knew about. I made it my focus to learn this new game plan.

2) I became an expert on my own child. I studied him, learned, paid attention to every detail. I allowed him to be himself, even if I didn’t always understand. I didn’t expect him to fit into some idea I had about how he should be or act. I took him as he was. I adored him as he was. I knew there were issues, but I also instinctively knew that trying to force him to act “right” wouldn’t help him – his “right” was just what he was doing. That became MY right. I worked like crazy to help him, but always from the basis of where he was. I was over-protective of his heart. Which brings me to my next one:

3) I didn’t try to make him fit into our world. Rather, I tried to join his. This may sound obvious, but when you have a child having an absolute meltdown at a store (or a meltdown anyplace), it usually isn’t their fault. Kids are dragged all over, in settings that can be very traumatic for them. It can be hard to cope. For them, I mean. Grocery stores – home to loud fluorescent lighting, tons of colors and boxes and foods and people, so much input coming at you…grocery stores can be difficult. Stuck into a hard metal seat on wheels, whisked around all the aisles and lights and commotion…it was too much for him. I got it – long before he had any diagnosis.

I really don’t know if this will actually help anyone, or not. It helped me, to think about it. I’m no expert on parenting – but I AM an expect on parenting my son. I’m still learning, and I know as we hit his teen years I will have much more to learn. Being a parent on the spectrum gives me an insight, a gift, a view into my son that I have always been thankful for even before it had a name.

If she knew what she wants…

“But she wants everything
(He can pretend to give her everything)
Or there’s nothing she wants
(She don’t want to sort it out)
He’s crazy for this girl
(But she don’t know what she’s looking for)
If she knew what she wants
He’d be giving it to her
Giving it to her”

I love numbers. I love order. I love planning and figuring. I thrive when I’m in control. I’m happiest when everyone does what I say. That shouldn’t be too much to ask, right? 😉 But anyways. Numbers. Figures. Plans. Oh and messes. Number messes. Challenges. I love those.

My husband knows all of this. Anyone who knows me, knows this. And I know this.

“I’d say her values are corrupted
But she’s open to change
Then one day she’s satisfied
And the next I’ll find her crying
And it’s nothing she can explain”

So I’ve decided to try something for the next couple months. I’m putting our grocery money on a budget. Not just any budget; but the mother of all budgets. Broken down into micro managed little virtual envelopes. Every single item I purchase. I grouped some – frozen veggies, or fresh produce – since those will depend on what’s available each week and what I’m planning to make. This also will require me to take weekly grocery trips – but that’s kinda a good thing I suppose. I love to cook, and I make most of our meals – so that is a lot of items. A few months ago, I would have not done this. No one “else” breaks a grocery budget into so many little parts. I would’ve talked myself out of it and then not done it. Because that’s just weird, I’d have scolded myself.

So it wouldn’t have gotten done, and I’d have been left with an uncomfortable unfinished feeling all day. I hate that feeling.

But I’m learning that so much of what I do isn’t as terrible as I had thought. Or, more rightly, so much of what I WANT to do. I guess I’m learning to be more gentle with myself. It’s nice. Regardless, I realized what I wanted to do, and instead of my normal self-criticism and self-denial, I just told myself OKAY. Sounds good. And I threw myself into it. I loved it. Love love loved. I planned and figured and calculated and wrote.

It chilled me out. Cheered me up. Gave me a bit of control – and I clearly function much better with that. I’d always thought that feeding my control freak only made it worse. What if I was always wrong? I feel like I’m constantly re-learning about myself. It’s been years and years since I saw my idiosyncrasies as gifts, as something special or positive.

One more thing. I was about to head into town the other day for a much-needed much-delayed shopping trip, but things came up and I didn’t go. I went today. What’s more? Is that I also make a trip to another town with my family, and enjoyed some time at a park. Got a bit too dizzy from the playground spinning roundabout. But still. It was nice. I really think I enjoyed myself so much because earlier I “fed” my control freak. What if I’ve been doing the wrong thing all along, and judging myself too quickly and harshly?

“Some have a style
That they work hard to refine
So they walk a crooked line
But she won’t understand
Why anyone would have to try
To walk a line when they could fly…”

~The Bangles, If She Knew What She Wants (86)

Two hours

Two hours. That’s how long it took me to remember to see things from someone else’s viewpoint. And not just any someone: my sweet husband. The one I should be thinking of, before I react. Before I speak. And definitely before TWO HOURS pass by.

So here is what happened.

We were to attend a big party this weekend. Dinner, etc. Hours and hours away. An event that I honestly was dreading. But we were going anyways. Background: my husband owns a business and does business-y things, and I try really hard to support him. He provides for us, and I can put on a pretty face and do whatever needs doing and smile and whatnot. This has included things such as hosting company parties, attending events all over with him, things like that. I always am exhausted afterwards, and he tells me that I’m useless for days afterwards. But by god I can do it! I can dress up and throw on pearls and tie on aprons and get to work. This one would be a large gathering, at places I’ve never been.

I just really dread things like this. Which is funny, because often times, I actually really enjoy myself. Particularly when I host events – I love accolades and compliments and control of the evening. I can wear the wings of a social butterfly quite naturally, I think. I’ve always been this way, for as long as I can remember. The high and then the hibernate. I enjoy it though…even though I pay a price. This was one of the “things” I used to “prove” that I wasn’t autistic a few months ago. Social butterfly! Makes eye contact! And everyone is tired after events…

But anyways. Back to this weekend. And two hours.

My mother in law was to watch our children for the weekend, so that we could travel and party.

She called this morning to let us know that she was ill with the flu and wouldn’t be able to do this.

Husband: She has the flu. We won’t be going this weekend.

Me: Okay.

I might have even said, yippee! And clapped.
I cannot hide my true feelings, like, ever.

I was relieved. Sorry she was sick, but TOTALLY relieved when my husband told me that we would be unable to attend. He was handling the notifications. I was ecstatic – there are so many things I want to do at home this weekend! No tight shoes, no pearls, no pretty face! Nope nope nope (I don’t complain about dresses anymore, since I’ve started to make my own retro-inspired dresses, and I adore them).

Two hours.

It took me two hours to realize that my husband would be very let down about this. He was really looking forward to the trip, the food, the fun, and some of the things him and I were going to do and see while there. I wish I would have thought about it sooner. I really really do. I hate how, regardless of what it is I’m feeling, I just expect others around me to share those feelings. If I’m happy, why aren’t you? If I’m sad, why aren’t you? Ugh.

Two hours.

This is better than it used to be, though. My husband keeps telling me I’ve improved over the years. It’s odd, since in my own view, I think I’ve gotten terribly worse. He says it is my awareness now, that makes me more cognizant of my own actions – and where I fit in my world.

So this is why, two hours later, I suddenly said I was sorry. And I am.

(But I’m still totally looking forward to staying home)

Labels and names

I’ve been called many things over my lifetime. Since I’m just now learning about autism – how it relates to ME, PERSONALLY…I’ve been struggling with figuring out who I am now. My mind knows I’m still the same person, just with a bit more knowledge now, and the beginnings of some self-understanding. My heart, however, feels lost and unsure. I still carry the words that I’ve been labeled with. I’m lucky though, most are positive.

I woke up thinking of all the names that have been thrown at me over time, and which ones of them I want to stick. Which ones of them I’m not proud of. Which ones are right, which ones are incorrect. Which ones crushed me, which ones made my day. I decided to write them all out here, for better or for worse. I will simply dump them all here so I can stop thinking about them, at least for a bit. Because I think it’s time for that.

Note: I am a grown woman, and many of these I haven’t heard in years. Some, I have heard all my life. They are in a loosely-organized chronological order.

Sweet
Stubborn
Demanding
Sharing
Kind
Daughter
Musical
Impulsive
Thoughtful
Pretty
Best friend
Cautious
Reader
Happy
Wise
Smart
Temperamental
Bean pole
Genius
Stuck-Up
Quiet
Snob
Honest
Spoiled
Optimistic
Friendly
Unapproachable
Attentive
Victim
Girlfriend
Diva
Leader
Sassy
Spunky
Generous
Bossy
Twirler
Messy
Book smart
Volunteer
Brilliant
Gifted
Beautiful
Old (when young)
Young (when old)
Moxie
Hard-headed
Talented
Determined
Barbie doll
Strong
Selfish
Goody-goody
Rambler
Intelligent
Princess
Flawed
Sad
Self-aware
Stupid
Sexy
Clumsy
In touch
Out of touch
Patient
Independent
Control freak
Clingy
Dancer
Open-minded
Closed-minded
Creative
Regimented
Runner
Bitchy
Tough
Impatient
Loner
Smart ass
Sarcastic
Impressionable
Hopeless Romantic
Delusional
Lovely
Graceful
Mother
Genius
Perfectionist
Vegetarian
Omnivore
Impossible
Innocent
Baker
Passionate
Cook
Hostess
Naive
Thinker
Artistic
Free spirit
Slow
Activist
Wife
Crafter
Student
Innovative
Rancher
Narcissist
Appreciative
Complicated
Precious
Searcher
Lazy
Alive
Fiery
Special Needs Mom
Protector
Fighter
Vicious
Brave
Terrified
Gardener
Scarred
Scared
Scary
Intimidating
Thankful
Bold
Loyal
Dead
Eccentric
Obsessive
Vocal
Demanding
Shy
Dreamer
Community-minded
Reclusive
Direct
Open
Improving
Autistic
Head-In-Sand
Blind
Aspergers
Avoiding
In denial
Aspergirl
Asperblogger
Lucky

I really don’t know why I wrote this all out. But I feel much lighter now. Clear-headed.

Yesterday I became very aware, as I read, liked, and followed many great blogs, that there is an entire community out there of people who “get it”. I felt a bit self-conscious of what I have written, but also excited that people took time and read, or commented on it. I’m very thankful.

This little list isn’t very entertaining or educational or informative, I’m afraid. But it’s what I felt I needed to say today. Can people do that? Lay down all the names and labels, and then perhaps possibly carefully choose which ones they’d like to pick back up again? And, whether it can be done or not…maybe that’s what I will do anyways. 🙂 Yeah. That is probably what I will do.

150 names/labels. And it is just the start.

Reasons that I am uncomfortable.

There are so many to choose from! Things that make me uncomfortable vary sometimes, but there are some things that will always do it.

For most of my life, I was unaware that I was autistic. Once I faced it, I found myself reevaluating my entire life, looking at my own experiences through a different lens. This was both positive and negative – positive being I could view events, upsets, and interactions with others much more clearly and with far greater understanding – it was like suddenly the light bulbs went on and I could SEE. Negative, being I could see where understanding and planning could have prevented or at least smoothed out many of my stumbling errors and mis-steps (on both my end and others’) and, again, the light bulbs went on and I could see with far greater clarity some of the worst events in my life. I don’t like thinking about those, yet I find myself pondering on them far too often. Ah, hindsight.

Okay. So. Here we are. Reasons I am uncomfortable. Right now, today.

1) I am talking about my autism. In a public space (hello, internet). Something only a teensy handful of people know about me. I am very shy about it. The day I see that someone other than my husband is reading this blog, I may freak out a little bit. I hope mean people don’t find this blog.

Thank goodness this public space is active, busy, and I am basically hiding in a safe quiet little corner all my own.

2) The tops of my cowboy boots are annoying my legs. The leather isn’t broken in yet, and soft supple buttery is what I want them to be, but they aren’t. Not yet. I put them on to go let the ladies out. The ladies are our chickens. They’re happy ladies. And spoiled, very spoiled. They have just started to lay eggs, pretty little pastel green orbs.

Anyways, this uncomfortableness is easily fixed. I can just take my boots off. I should have at the door. But, then my feet get cold. And being cold lately has been painful. Weird, huh? It is hard to explain, but it hurts. I know that. I don’t really like boots, or shoes. I’m glad summer is coming.

3) There is a noise in my house and I cannot locate it. This really bothers me. It’s low, but constant. Not the heater, I don’t think. Not the coffee maker. Something, something. I have all noise turned off in the house, trying to find the offender. I will find it, and fix it.

4) I may need to go to town today. Actually, I needed to go before today. I keep putting it off. Some days, I just really don’t want to see people. I will be nice and friendly and converse and transact and do what needs doing – but it actually takes some effort, and afterwards I will be tired. Plus, plans change. The places I need to go might be closed. Or my husband might want me to run his errands or bring him something. The grocer might be out of the items on my list.

NO BIG DEAL. All stuff that is really NO BIG DEAL AT ALL. And I realize this. It’s more the cumulative, unsure feeling I get about it all. I can handle this though. I can handle the unknown-but-sure-to-be-eventful trip into town.
If I go now, then I can swap my boots for some soft slip-ons. And, I can escape that annoying noise. See? It all works out. Okay. That is the new plan.

Plus, I can then end this little note of mine on this blog of mine about this autism of mine. I love writing, I love talking, I love autism. But sometimes that “love” really means “hate” – but only sometimes.