Hubz leaves for a business trip to China on Sunday. I’ll be on my own with the three boys for two full weeks, including a full weekend without any co-parent around. Gaaah!!! However, as I think about where we are today, versus where we were three years ago when he last had to do this craptastic trip, I count my lucky stars. We have come a LONG way, baby!!
Three years ago I was still grappling with grief. My mom had died just a month prior to his trip. I was an emotional mess, and I was trying to hold it all together. I’d be fine one minute and crying about not being able to call my mom the other. It was emotionally tough. Throw in the fact that I had a 16-month old who was still nursing twice a day, a first grader who was up for re-evaluation of his IEP (and was going to be getting more services), and a 4-year old who was autistic but not yet diagnosed, and yeah, I was a disaster. To be honest, I do not remember those two weeks. They were a blur. A complete blur.
Today, I am in a good place. Thanks to counseling and time, my grief has dissipated. I miss my mom, but it doesn’t rule my life. I am able to juggle the three kids..and their growing independence has allowed me to find my happy more and more. Also, because they are more independent, I don’t have SO DAMN MANY demands on me and my time. I have 2 and a half hours every day where I only have to answer to myself. And that feels good.
Three years ago, Jake was a first grader. A first grader who was a little lost. He had just lost his beloved Grandma. He had anxiety about losing his parents, especially me. He was reading significantly below grade level. He couldn’t get math. He stumbled around the classroom not sure of what to do. He struggled to attend and to have a conversation. He was shut down–a lot. He escaped by watching tv. And living in his tv world. And by looking at pictures in books..but not being able to read the words.
Today, Jake is in fourth grade. He has more self-confidence. He has coping skills to help him when he’s overwhelmed. Or scared. Or frustrated. He knows the school routine. He is reading *just* shy of grade level. He’s getting help with the math that is still a foreign language to him…but he’s slowly figuring it out. He has friends, and has conversations. He is very happy and has become such a big help at home.
Three years ago Tate was undiagnosed. I was in denial. I kept waiting for something to click and miraculously get him “to level”. I didn’t realize that his behavior was communication. Sometimes I thought he was being naughty. But he wasn’t. He was just so lost. And I was so lost as to how to help him get through all of the clutter. He was highly echolalic. He didn’t play, he stimmed. Constantly. He needed me to help him get dressed. He needed me to help him toilet. He still wasn’t trained at night, either. It was like having a second toddler in the house in many respects. I couldn’t leave him unsupervised for even a few minutes. We were so lost…both of us.
Today is a 180 from where we were back then. He communicates verbally, even if somewhat through echolalia. He advocates for himself. He has conversations. He plays with games and with his brothers. He still stims, but not incessantly. He likes to look at, and sometimes read, books. He LOVES math and numbers. He understands SO MANY MORE situations, explanations, and experiences. He asks questions when he DOESN’T know what’s going on. He gets dressed (with many prompts) on his own. He uses the bathroom independently. THANKS BE TO GOD. I know more how to help him and guide him. I have picked up on his behavior cues. I have gotten my masters in Tate-ology. It’s a never-ending study, but I learn more and more each day.
Three years ago, Cole was almost 16 months old. He was toddling and running all over the place. He was pointing to everything. He was INTO everything. No cabinet or cupboard was safe. He was starting to use words. It was fantastic..but he couldn’t verbally communicate much, yet. He was in diapers..and very dependent upon me for all of his major needs. He was my baby…in every sense of the word. He was amazingly patient as I dealt with his brothers’ needs, but he REALLY needed me. I had to plan activities, put out toys, pick up toys, pick up his messes, change his diapers, change his clothes, feed him, etc. It was WORK.
Today, Cole is a very self-sufficient four year old. He is, as I like to say, 4-going-on-10. He chooses his toys, and puts them away after some prompting from me. He keeps himself occupied for half hours at a time. He “reads” books. He can get himself a snack from the pantry. He can toilet himself. He can dress himself for the most part. He is a chatterbox. Quite literally, he never shuts his mouth..and I’m ok with that (mostly). He will sit through a tv show and play with his toys. He brushes his teeth. He is such a joy.
So, as I steel myself for the next two weeks without Hubz around, I am breathing easier. I’m less anxious. I know we can do this. I am not a puddle. If we made it through the two weeks back then, we most certainly can do it now that we are all in such a better place. Oh, yeah, we have come a long way.