Thursday, November 14, 2013

My life is more than Aspergers... really.

Looking at my past blogs, you'd think my life is consumed by Dex, Aspergers, doctors and catering to his quirks. Really, it's a small part of my daily life. It's just the part that people need to be updated on so it's what I've been writing about. I thought I'd give you a post on what IS consuming my day to day life.

First, we had a baby! Ok, I didn't have a baby. (THANK GOD!!) But Jenny, Jerry and Nora have moved here from Boston and I couldn't be more excited! Nora just turned one and as soon as Mom and Dad get jobs, Nora will be with me while they are at work. We've put up gates, moved small toys out of reach and gotten used to having a little one under foot again. My kids are thrilled to have her (especially Regan who wants to mother her to death and Dexter who seems to connect with her and enjoy having an opportunity to be a BIG "brother" for once.) The fact that my kids will grow up with my best friend's kids means more to me than I can put into words. Their move here has meant many sacrifices, especially for Jerry and his family and I know this transition will be tough for them. I can only hope that this move will mean good things for their family and that our family can be there to help ease the stress of this change. And east coasters... whenever you come to visit, please know that my house is open! The beds are free, the food is plentiful and the bedrooms have locks so you can even have some privacy. (Probably. Mostly.)

And the other big thing on my mind... CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!! I love the holiday season in a completely ridiculous way. (I'm blaming my Dad who is like the Grinch AFTER his heart grew three sizes... and then grew a few more.) Growing up Christmas wasn't just about the day... it was all the days leading up to it. It's the preparing, the anticipation, It's finding something so perfect for someone else you can't wait to see them open it! It's giving to others who have less and knowing you've created magic for them that they wouldn't have had. Christmas makes me feel humble and loved.

In the past few years, it's taken on a whole new meaning. Finding St. Martha's Episcopal Church has made Christmas even more special. Knowing I belong to a church that welcomes everyone, that celebrates the differences we all have, a church that allows me to celebrate with all of my friends (even my non Christian friends) has brought a new peace to this holiday for me. I like that we believe that Jesus was born and died for ALL people... straight or gay, any race, man or woman (even transgendered!) But mostly, I appreciate that the Episcopal church has worked so hard and taken so many steps towards religious acceptance. (I dislike the word tolerance. Tolerance to me means that I'll deal with the fact that you exist. I suppose tolerance is better than hatred but I'd rather accept and even celebrate. Off topic... my bad.) I know that this is controversial and that many of my friends and family will disagree, but personally, I appreciate that I belong to a church that will celebrate your faith with you and not look down on you for being Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist... a church that doesn't even consider you damned for not believing. I know this is a hard pill to swallow for most of my Christian friends, but for me, it's liberating. It's freeing. I don't have to go into the holiday season worrying about who I celebrate with or how. I can say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah and celebrate with every one of my friends, celebrating what they celebrate. Yes, the most important part of the season for me is the birth of Jesus. But if that's not what it is for you then I still want to celebrate the season of love and generosity. And I'm thankful to be a part of a church that embraces that.

And that's what the majority of my day to day life is. Although I probably won't have more posts on religion because I prefer not to argue about it as I find it's rarely productive, be prepared for a number of posts to come about our holiday celebrations! We've got some awesome things coming and I can't wait!!!

Just another day... with a diagnosis.

November 13, 2013... the day that the doctor confirmed our feelings. Dexter was diagnosed with Aspbergers. (Or level one Autism since the Aspergers diagnosis no longer exists as of last April.)

You'd think that this day would be difficult, that facing this reality would be harsh and painful. But sitting in that room with Shawn and watching Dex wander around the room carefully avoiding eye contact or getting too close to the doctor or his grad student intern, I felt nothing but relief and pride. 

Relief because now, when people think that he's being unreasonable about something that seems like no big deal (like needing the door to be re closed so he can open it or breaking down when someone is trying to hold or hug him) I can explain that his brain is wired differently and that he's honestly upset about it and not just being a brat. Relief because the school can now provide the IEP he needs to succeed more easily. Relief because I knew my son was different and the doctor confirmed it. Relief. Relief because I always said that I'd love him the same, not different in any way if he got the diagnosis. And I do. I love him fiercely and see him as a whole, unbroken child. I have no pity for him. I have no desire to NOT force him to eat foods he doesn't like because he's "special needs." I still expect him to do homework time, chores, have manners, apologize when he hurt someone's feelings... those things don't change. Yesterday he was Dexter. The day before he was. Tomorrow he will be. Nothing has changed.

And pride because I see how hard it is to be uncomfortable in all the situations that come along with life, especially life in a big family with an extroverted mother with lots of friends. He will have to work harder than most people do socially. That's a tall order for a 5 year old. One advantage he has though, is Shawn. He's introverted and understands Dex in a way that I probably never will. But in the almost 20 years I've been with Shawn, I've learned that this is not a trait that needs to be fixed, it's not a flaw. Because of Shawn, I'm better equipped to help Dex be the best HIM he can be. I don't want to "bring him out of his shell"... I just want his shell to be a happy place for him. 

I know that there will be struggles and days I feel frustrated and hopeless. I'm pretty sure that I'll have those days with all of my kids. This day was not one of those days. And I am glad.