The Opinion That I’m Entitled To Having

Today I was scrolling along Facebook and saw someone comment on a video about a fact checking experiment involving Planned Parenthood. The video involved a group of people anonymously calling the PP offices around the country and asking for the prenatal care that the company allegedly provides. They called 41 offices and only 5 offered prenatal care. This corporation that gets even the smallest amount of my paycheck every year, only five of those offices that were called offer what they claim those tax dollars are allocated for.

This video led to me agreeing with a comment that Abortions should not be used as a form of birth control. The agreement and my support for my argument about the expense of an abortion versus the expense of buying protection was called out for me to be more clear about why I felt my opinion on this subject mattered.

I had to excuse myself from the debate because the little girl I never got to hold was at the forefront of my mind and I refuse to use her as an argument resource against strangers. It felt wrong to do so. I had typed the message, had prepared to fight and then I realized the person with whom I was arguing doesn’t know.

They don’t know that I was so excited to be a mother when I thought I couldn’t be. They don’t know that I had outfits, diapers, bottles, a bassinet, a diaper bag and pacifiers already bought when I still had 28 weeks before I was going to get to hold my little one. They don’t know that I never got confirmation on her gender but Tim and I both just knew it was a girl. They don’t know that my husband ran around his workplace hooping and hollering that he was going to be a daddy, that we were adopting this kid. They don’t know that I broke down in my mother’s front yard when I got that phone call that said “Are you ready to be a mom?” They don’t know that when I got the message telling me to read a blog posted by the biological mother about the graphic details of my daughter being vacuumed out of her womb, I felt like all of the air had been sucked out of my lungs. They didn’t have to read about the medications used to make sure all the “parts” of my daughter were labored from her biological mother’s uterus safely. They don’t know how many nights I cried over the loss of a life I thought I was meant to mold and protect. They don’t know that when I think about the tax dollars that were put towards it, that I cry over the fact that maybe I funded that one. They don’t know that I can just look at my husband and know when we’re both wondering what our daughter would be like now, turning eight years old next month. They don’t know that I wonder what kind of party she would have had and what kind of cake I’d be stressing over making. They don’t know. They don’t know. They don’t know.

What I don’t know is, would telling them even help? Would they even care? Would they use it as a way to tell me I need to keep my opinions to myself because I’m personally biased against the idea of someone stopping a beating heart?

With all the hate being spread and slung around, I didn’t feel the need to add fuel to the fire and put my daughter’s name into the blaze.

I am a woman that didn’t agree with the reasons for the march a couple of weeks ago. I have the right to vote, I have the right to work, I have the right to stay home, I have the right to drive, to dress how I want, eat when I want, join the military, do construction, preach the word… I can do anything that I want. The “rights” the women were marching for… the rights to their own bodies… the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies.. I do understand that there are circumstances when termination is necessary. I am not so naive to think that it would never happen, but we also have the right to say ‘no’. We have the right to not have unprotected sex. We have the right to birth control. We have the right to spermicide. We have the right to diaphragms. We have the right to plan B. We have so many rights that would keep us out of abortion clinics, why were you marching for that? And if that isn’t what you were marching for, then the message wasn’t clear enough for me. Women held the world stage for that day and that was the message left behind in more minds than just mine. With the struggles women have earning respect, thinking we always have to prove ourselves…and women dressed in vagina costumes, carrying vulgar signs that they left littering the streets, and they demanded ‘my body my choice’. Women held the world stage, and that was the impression that was left behind.

I just… I saw those women marching and thought about the daughter I never got to hold. I thought about all the other women in the world who can’t have their own children and they were painted a picture of women who can reproduce and are so abundantly able to do it that they choose to go to clinics and “get rid of the mistake”. I’m also not so pigheaded or closed-minded to believe that every woman marching has that frame of mind to use abortion as birth control, but bare with me while I express what I need to express. I’m sure there was a number of women that were marching for so much more, for things we really needed the world to see, but it was drowned out by the things that are sticking out in people’s minds and in the media now.

I’m not arguing theology. I’m not beating people over the head with my religious beliefs. I’m stuck in this vicious loop of “My body, my choice.” Choose to be responsible. If you are responsible and end up in that small percentage of ineffective contraception, that is a completely different conversation, though I would be one to encourage other options to avoid abortion until I was blue in the face. Mostly, I’m sympathetic to the women who watched that march and their hearts broke.

Back in September, I had an online acquaintance that was forced to go on an all expenses paid trip around Europe for two weeks. I expected to get updates about how beautiful the Sistine Chapel was or what the food was like or how beautiful the weather was. Instead all she did was complain, about everything. The flight sucked, there was so much walking, everything was boring because she had seen it all before. She just wanted to go home and be in bed because this trip was awful.

I’ve never been out of the country and would love to see Paris, Rome, Venice, London… heck I’m excited about my trip to Canada in the spring. I can’t afford such a luxury trip and all she did was complain about one she didn’t even have to pay to enjoy. It felt insulting to have someone be so ungrateful for something they could just have when so many others would have been so happy to have taken her place. What made it worse was that she was complaining to two of those people who would have gladly gone to Europe while she stayed home and laid in bed.

I got that same feeling watching the women’s march when I thought about all of the women with empty arms because their bodies don’t work the way that they are supposed to. How heartbreaking it must’ve been for them to see people supporting the ending of little lives that they would’ve been happy to nurture?

If you agree that abortion should be a civil right, that is your opinion and you are very much entitled to it. I have heard several arguments for it and no matter how hard I argue against it, I fear there will never come a true truce on the matter. I just don’t agree with even a dime of my taxes paying for services that (for the most part) could be avoided with a little responsibility going a long way.



Today I woke up and saw that Donald J. Trump had won the presidential election and my heart sunk. It sunk the same way it would have had I woken up to see that Hillary Clinton had won.

I voted for neither of the two main parties.

I went to my district polls and got my little form. At the top of this form it said “Would you like a Republican Ballot, Democratic Ballot or Non-Partisan Ballot?” ….Why is this even an option? Why is this great United States of America already so divided that we have the  choice to opt out of even looking at the other candidates on the list? Why did I have to check a special box just so I would have the opportunity to see my third party option?

Voting in our country can literally be broken down to: “You’re not voting for Trump?!? But Hillary is a liar and a fraud!” “I don’t support Hillary.” “You’re not Voting for Hillary?!? But Trump is a racist bigot!” “I’m voting third party.” “WHY?? You might as well not even vote!” “I’m not voting.” “You HAVE to vote! Its your civic duty!”

No matter which way you go, you’re going to be told you’re wrong. Me and 4, 058, 499 other people voted third party and I bet ever single one of them got the same crap I did today.

“Why are you so upset?” “Did you think Hillary would do better?” “She wanted to legalize abortion.” “She would’ve just kept things the same and it would’ve gotten worse.” “Trump was the better option.” “Third party was never going to win, so why are you mad?” “Why did you waste your vote?” “Oh, its not going to be that way. You’re being irrational.”

I have watched every rally, every debate, done my fact checking, done my due diligence to make an informed decision when I went to the polls. Sadly, I went to the polls with more reason than many others in our country. How many people have I seen say “I’m voting for Hillary because she’s a woman.” “I’m voting for Trump because he’s not Hillary.” “I’m Republican and I’m voting red ticket.” “I’m democrat and I’m voting blue ticket.”

Do you want to know what is wrong with our country? All of that. Its Us. Its the people that shame third party voters. Its the people that vote because its ‘their party’. Its the people that say ‘Its just locker room talk’. Its the people that say ‘It was just a few emails’. Its the people yelling hateful things about people they do not even know. Its the people saying “Build a wall” “Send the immigrants back” “Tax the already too broke to feed themselves” “babies don’t have rights” “Don’t vote third party, its just wasting your vote”. Its the people burning flags, looting stores, shooting cops, shooting innocent people of all races. Its. Us. No single president has destroyed this country. We have.

We show so much hate and so little love.  We’re so quick to complain and so slow to be grateful.

And now… Me and 4,058,499 other people are sitting back and watching Trump Supporters bask in their victory and say things like “I can’t wait to see all these people leave the country.” I have friends of all races, religions and backgrounds. I teach my son not to see colors but to see people. I have friends that are homosexuals. I have friends that aren’t christians. I have friends that have legally become citizens by the book that fear they will be deported. I have friends that are half hispanic that were born here and they are afraid they will be lumped in with the rest. I have friends that were happily married when gay marriage was allowed that are fearful of their marriages being unrecognized. I have friends that have adopted children of different races, from different countries, and they are fearing for their children’s rights.

I’m a victim of sexual assault. At a young age I was molested and more was attempted. The man that did it? He’s got a wife and kids, living happily with his little family having never served any repercussions for doing those things to me. Now I have to live with the fact that almost half of the American people voted for a man that said “and when you’re a star, they’ll (women) will let you do anything. Anything you want. You can grab them by the *****. You can do anything.” It was chalked up to just ‘locker room’ talk by his supporters.

As someone who has been in the position of the one being grabbed… Its not okay. Its not excusable. ‘Locker Room’ talk that is allowed to be chalked up to that leads to men like Brock Turner and the man who put his hands on me.

No, I don’t think Hillary would’ve been any better, but I’m not faced with the reality of her being the president. I woke up this morning and Donald J. Trump had been elected.

And you know what? I have a right to be upset. Even if my candidate had a very, very slim chance of winning, he was the one for whom I cast my vote. He was the one that I felt was the best choice. He was the one whose stances I agreed with the most. He would’ve made a great president and everyone of my friends listed in the categories above wouldn’t have been so fearful for their rights or status in this country. I wouldn’t have been so nauseas knowing that someone who thinks making such derogatory comments about women is okay, is going to be our Commander in Chief.

You do not get to lecture me about what Hillary would’ve meant for this country because I didn’t support her either. You do not get to tell me all the ‘great’ things you think Trump is going to do. You do not get to tell me that I should overlook the things that he said. You do not get to change my mind about me being upset because had Trump lost, you would’ve been in exactly the same boat.

I’m allowed to express my upset because I have the exact same First Amendment right that you do that allows you to celebrate this “victory.”

Dear Mr. President,

I pray to God that my fears have no warrant. I pray that you consider your choices and actions. I pray that you change the way you see women. I pray you change the way you see legal citizens not from this country. I pray you see people and not color, gender, age, religion, or sexuality.  I pray that your Vice President is as Godly as I’ve read he represents himself to be. I pray he teaches you to be Christ Like and to have a less hateful heart.

My son. My godsons. My Niece. They have to grow up seeing the examples you set as the leader of our Country for the next four years. I pray that they see a positive side of you that I have yet to see. Something that makes them want to be president one day. I pray for patience, tolerance, love, an open mind and an open heart. I pray for the people who voted to support you and I pray for the people that didn’t. God, please bless America. We’re most certainly going to need it.


Six Years…


September 26, 2009 at 1:05am I gave birth to a 5lb 10.2oz little ET looking child that was so ugly that it made me cry. Six hours later, he was the most beautiful child I had ever seen in my entire life. The funny thing? I didn’t love him any more or any less than I did six hours prior. I’d have loved him unconditionally if he’d remained that little ET looking child until I took my last breath.


From the moment I saw two lines on that pregnancy test, I have loved this little boy. Then I head his heartbeat, then I saw his face, then I felt his kicks, then I learned he was my son, then I heard him cry, then I saw him flare his nose like his mama, and then I watched him sleep. Even my mother’s advice couldn’t prepare me for how much I would love this little person. For 37 weeks I carried him in my womb and when I finally got to hold him in my arms, all the pain and bed rest, all the hospital visits and hormonal weeping sessions were worth it. Less than six pounds of unequivocal joy was laid into my arms and I knew in that moment, no one in the world would ever love my son the way that I do.


These six years have been such an eye opening experience. Being a new mom is one of the scariest journeys I have ever taken, but I followed the example of an amazing woman who taught me everything about being a mother. I like to think I’m doing it right by my son. He’s happy, he’s healthy, and I go to whatever lengths I have to to make sure his life is full of love and hope.


Every single moment with him is a moment I cherish. Even with his diagnosis, there is nothing in this world I would ever change about my son. Yes, his meltdowns are taxing. Yes, his sensory overload is overwhelming for us both. Yes, I have days where I will sit in a corner and cry my eyes out because I feel like I’m doing everything wrong and I can’t make my son happy. There are also amazing moments when my son looks at me and gives me a full sentence without coaching. There are moments when he just wraps his little arms around me and tells me “Thank you, mama.” for the littlest things.  There are moments at night when he asks me to help him pray and sing Sunshine to him before he goes to bed. There are those amazing smiles and his infectious laugh. There is a way that my son sees the world and he was meant to see it that way. My son was given to me the way he is for a reason and I have no right in the world to change that or to wish to change it. Who am I to question the blessing God has given me? No matter what ‘flaws’ others might think he has, my son is absolutely perfect the way he was given to me.


I plan for him to be my one and only. While I had always dreamed of having a huge family, he is the child that I was meant to mother. He is why I couldn’t have Gracie because God was leaving room for a huge blessing that I didn’t see coming. This kid makes my world spin and he doesn’t even know it and for six years I have been so blessed to be his mother. I have such bad days when all I want is a break, but he is my driving force in everything that I do.


I fear for the day that he gets too old to hug his mother, when he’s too big to sit on my lap, when he no longer wants me to sing to him at night before bed. I know how fast that day is coming and for every minute in the day, I wish multiple times they wouldn’t pass by so fast. He’s growing into such an awesome kid who works through therapy, does great in school, is so smart it makes my head spin, and he adores his family. He’s everything I ever wanted in a child and so much more that I don’t know what I did to deserve such a perfect son.


Happy Birthday, my monkey man. You have brought so much joy to my life and I am thankful for every day I get to be your mama. You make me proud beyond words and there is nothing in this world I wouldn’t do to make sure you’re happy and healthy and full of joy. Thank you so much for being my son and teaching me something new every single day about love. You’re growing way too fast, but you are growing into a handsome, determined, awesome young man and I know one day you’re going to make me even more proud of the man you become. I love you so much, little man. Happy Sixth Birthday.

To my biological father…

For the first eighteen years of my life you seemed like a great father. I didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes until I moved away to college. Yes, my sisters and I could hear the fights through the bedroom door, but it was never done in front of us, thankfully. You always ask what it is that you did that “made us turn against you” we didn’t, but I’m going to lay it out for you.

I was just graduating high school and getting ready to go to college. Things had started to break down and show me where you stood as a parent. Me and mama had it out, bad. It was to the point she yelled at me to get out of your house, to pack my stuff and leave. When I turned to you, you wouldn’t even fight for me. You told me to just go and things would calm down. You told me to leave while my little sisters both went to face that angrier than satan woman (sorry mama, you remember that night. It was rough and those girls were brave for facing you down) without even blinking. They got yelled at and sent to their rooms because she was so mad, but they at least tried to fight for me. You sat in the living room, quiet and when I went to walk out the door you hugged me and said “We’ll try to find you a place for you to go tomorrow.” And let me walk out the door. My mother who was angry as hell at me for leaving when she told me to, drove and picked me up off the side of the road and took me to a friend’s house. Yes she drove off the moment my feet hit the gravel, but she was kicking me out and took me to a place where she knew I’d be safe because you wouldn’t even do that much for me. (Let me pause here for a moment. I love my mama, she will always fight for me and the next day she came and told me to come home so we could work things out. It was the worst fight we ever had and that woman is my best friend. Even when she was screaming at me to leave she made sure I was safe for the night while we had time apart to cool down. The next day we worked it out and I don’t know how I would live without my mama.)

I was in college, living in a dorm and you came to pick me up one night to talk. We talked about things I as your daughter had no business knowing. I didn’t need to know what you thought of your intimacy issues with my mother, I didn’t need to know about your addiction, I didn’t need to know about the other women you ran to for comfort. I really didn’t need you putting the blame on my mother when you told me about the divorce. If you really want someone to blame, you can blame me. My mom and I sat up talking one night about how the checkbook would never be balanced because you promised so many people money. We talked about how she was tired of fighting. We talked about how she just wasn’t happy with her life. I told her the same thing she’d told me all through high school. “If you aren’t happy, then change it.” A week later she called to tell me you two were separating.

You stayed at the house through the separation and then Papa passed away. You treated it like a way to get back together with mama instead of just being there to comfort your girls and your estranged wife who lost someone incredibly important to them. For years after you stalked our facebook pages and whenever we would say something about the amazing man our Papa was, you would leave comments about “I hope you feel this way about me when I die.” Everything had to be about you or it meant we didn’t love you.

You moved out. You only moved five minutes down the road, but you didn’t come to see us. You blamed it on the fact that our mother was there. You took us out to dinner on our birthdays, one I ended up paying for on my own because you waited until we were all done with dinner to tell me you didn’t have the money for it. We asked if we could spend time with you, and you claimed to never have the money. There are very few times I can remember just going to see you and being able to sit and talk about something other than you cutting down my mother, or you saying you were the victim in all of this.  You said that you wished you were “Daddy Warbucks” so you could give your girls everything they wanted. What we wanted was a relationship with our father than didn’t have a price tag on it. We made suggestions about what we could do that didn’t cost anything. In seven years you took us up on it maybe six times.

I came home and decided to live at home instead of being at that cult of a school I went to and went to another college. I was stressed because I didn’t have the money to pay for tuition on time because my financial aid was late. You took me to a high interest loan company and forced me to take out a loan in my name. You had told me I was just a co-signer because your credit wasn’t all that great. $1,500 dollars to pay for a little bit of one semester of school. You told me it was for my school and you would take care of it. You never made a payment and it was in my name without me knowing it. A year later I got married and my name couldn’t be put on anything that me and my new husband wanted because that little $1500 loan had accrued that high interest from you never doing what you promised. My husband and I spent the first year of our marriage paying off a debt I shouldn’t have owed, but it stood as a constant reminder of the promise you broke.

I had Little Man. I didn’t want you at the hospital because my entire pregnancy you played victim and talked about how you wouldn’t be a part of his life and it was back to you blaming mom saying she cut you down to us. Let me set the record straight, my mama never once talked down about you in front of us. She never once old us that you were a bad father. She never once told us that we should forget about you. All she ever did was tell us the truth about why you split up (because you were irresponsible and unfaithful and there was plenty evidence to support that) and encouraged us to look passed it because you were still our daddy. So we tried. We called, we asked if you wanted to go do something since you wouldn’t come see us at home, we asked if we could come visit you but you lived with your sister and we’d had reasons for not wanting to be around her. Your answer was always “I don’t have the money” we weren’t asking you to spend money, we were asking you to spend time with us. You always made it about money, it was never us. The only time we would ask if you were paying was when you called to invite us out to dinner for our birthday because I ended up paying for it on mine. After one year of that, you stopped.  I took Braiden to see you once, you never asked to see him after that. You would get upset that he didn’t know who you were when he did see you because you never even called to see how he was doing.

My wedding day, you said you were going to pay for me and the girls to get our hair done. Nana’s brother had covered the food, nana paid for my flowers, I paid for my dress, mama paid for the girls’ dresses and you were going to pay for our hair. We got to the shop and Mari was doing Katie’s hair. I said something about being hungry and you said you didn’t have money for food and hair. So I bought food for us. Then when it came time to pay for hair, you paid for Katie and Megan’s and told me you thought I was paying for myself. Mari told me it was a wedding gift and not to worry about it. Then you showed up at my wedding in a suit and when you came to hug me you whispered in my ear. “I wore it just in case you changed your mind.” You had no respect for my decision whatsoever. You had shown me where I stood as your offspring long before I got to my wedding day and you expected me to tell my sisters that had been through hell and back with me that I’d changed my mind? No. My sisters cried with me every time we tried to figure out what we had done so wrong to make you turn your back on us. My sisters fought for me when I was at odds with mama. My sisters sat in our room with me while we listened through a closed door and you and mama fought about one thing or another. My sisters gave me away because they fought beside me through the brunt of everything and they still do. Mama wasn’t hurt by my decision, she thought it was pretty awesome and she respected it.

The phone calls got farther and farther between. The only time you would call me was when you were upset and you had to vent about the divorce or about my sisters or you would play the victim. Over and over and over and over. That was the first time I told you to stop calling me. You never called to tell me you loved me. You never called to see how I was doing. You never called to find out how Braiden was doing. You always called me to tell me about your problems, to treat me like your therapist and not your daughter.

Then you wrote this nice long facebook email about how we needed to get over the fact you had a new family and they took priority over us. Everything took priority over us because we never came first. That’s one thing mama has always done that you never have. Give me one good example of when you put us first and I will take it back, but we have never been more important to you than everything else. Then your new wife would send us pictures of you with your new daughter. She would say “I wasn’t trying to upset you, I just thought you’d like to see your dad happy.” You would get upset that we got mad. You’d tell us how much that hurt you. It didn’t matter to you that it hurt us even more. There was the man we’d been fighting to have a relationship for years and he found a new daughter to love, to spend time with, to take to father daughter dances at school, to celebrate her birthday. And we couldn’t even get a phone call just to see how we were doing.

Then Megan got married and you started texting us about how you wanted to give her away because I didn’t let you give me away. You wanted to dance with her because I didn’t dance with you. Victim, victim, victim. At her wedding you caused drama. You upset her on her wedding day by complaining that you didn’t get to walk her down the aisle and she didn’t plan a father daughter dance. She had a money dance and you wouldn’t even give a dollar to dance with your daughter, instead you had to upset her on her wedding day because you didn’t get your moment in the spotlight on HER day. You showed up, I’ll give you credit for that, but it was just like at my wedding with you making comments about how “Katie’s your last hope of having your moment” You texted her after the wedding telling her she was your last hope to give one of your daughters away. Why would you even do that?

Texted messages came now, you didn’t even have the time to call us anymore. Those texted ‘I love you’ didn’t hold much water when you couldn’t meet us for a drink. (Water is free everywhere) Couldn’t go to the park to meet us while Braiden played on the slides. You couldn’t come visit us when we had our own houses. All three of us live away from Mama now and when we were still talking to you, you only came to visit me when you needed something or needed to get rid of something. You didn’t call to invite us to dinner but once and it was our idea.

Then Emma was born. You showed your butt to Megan about seeing her and tipped her over the edge after months of playing the victim still. Even after we’ve told you time and again what you’ve done to make us hurt so much. You “I’m sorry for whatever I did.” That’s not an apology, because you for some reason think we just hate you. We don’t. We love you and we cry more often than not that you so easily replaced us. I forgave you. I gave you a chance. I laid it out and told you what to do to have a relationship with us and you couldn’t even pick up the phone and call us once a week just to ask how we were doing. No you had to stalk our facebooks and write crap on our posts about mama with your jealous and woe is me crap. You know what I’ve learned about parenthood? Its NEVER about me anymore. Its always about my son. That’s a concept you never and probably never will grasp.

After the altercation with Emma, you were texting me and I told you not to text me about my sister that was between the two of you and I wasn’t getting into the middle of it. Then you spoke with a friend about killing yourself because you were already dead to us anyways. That friend called mama and mama called me. I called the police and reported it because I was scared my father was about to take his own life over something that wasn’t true. I cared enough to call someone that could get out there to you to let me know you were okay. I loved you enough to get help to you. You know what you did? You blamed me for embarrassing you by letting them know what you said and then claimed you never said it. You used it yet again to make yourself a victim and said I did it to cause drama, to make you look stupid. You can’t even see that I love you even through all the crap that you put me through that I don’t want you to take your own life. I don’t want you to die. I don’t hate you. None of us do.

After that I told you I was done. I told you to lose my number. I blocked you from facebook. I told you not to email me because my life was better without you in it. I forgave you for everything you put me through, but I can’t ever forget what type of poison you bring to my life. I tell you I need my father and I become your therapist. I try to look out for you and its me causing drama. Megan did the same and Katie, God bless her. She’s still trying to be your daughter and you just won’t let her. You have to send her emails about me and Megan, about how you don’t trust her with your phone number, only your email address. You have to break her down when she works so hard to keep herself standing. What kind of father does that to his daughter? What kind of father knows the pain he’s causing and he just keeps causing it because he refuses to admit he was wrong? What kind of father sends an attachment in an email showing the letter in his will to his wife to show that he doesn’t want his daughters to know when he dies? Do you think we want something from you? After everything you put us through, we at least deserve the opportunity to decide for ourselves if we’ll pay our final respects. You can say we’re heartless, cold, cruel, but the truth is you’re just looking into a mirror and we’re on the other side of it waiting for you to realize that’s your own reflection. I hope your new daughter never has to go through the things that we have and I hope and pray you just let Katie go, because she doesn’t deserve you tearing her down when all she’s ever tried to do is love you through every brick you throw in her face.

I love you, Robert. You may not be the father I needed, but you did make me, you are part of me and for that I will always love you. I forgive your every flaw, but I can’t let you into my life because I know the destruction that comes with it. While I want my father in my life, I’m a parent first, and I’ll protect my son from hat destruction until I take my last breath.

Knowing Doesn’t Make It Easier To Cope…

July 31, 2015 will be exactly one year since Braiden was diagnosed with Autism officially. A few months ago, Tim was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Our life was hard before either of those events took place. Braiden wasn’t potty training fast enough, he wouldn’t talk, he got frustrated over everything, he covered his ears when things weren’t really that loud, he gagged when I forced him to eat something he told me he couldn’t, he could bang his head on the concrete out of frustration and not feel it, but get a paper cut and think he was bleeding to death. He wouldn’t look me in the eyes, he wouldn’t play well with other kids, he liked to sit off in the corner by himself, he liked to line up his hot wheel and organize his legos and m&m’s by color. I took him to two doctors who told me that my son was just being a boy, but he did need speech therapy. I took him to speech therapy and God bless Miss Kayde because she found me a doctor who would take the time to let me know for sure if there was something off about my child. She suspected autism and she was right. The first two doctors spent a total of five minutes with Braiden and told me “No, he just has a speech impediment.” This doctor spent four hours in a room with little man before he sat me down and told me everything I just listed that was off about my baby.

Months later, Tim and I are realizing how alike he and Braiden are. They both get frustrated to the point of yelling or getting aggressive (no my husband has never hit me), they throw things, stomp around, cry, yell, get mean when routine is broken or interrupted. Tim used to bang his head on the concrete and was never good at social stuff. He still isn’t (anyone who knows us knows that I spend more time trying to censor Tim in conversations than I do enjoying being social). He doesn’t like to cuddle. Nope in seven years of marriage the number of times I’ve been held by my husband can be counted on my two hands. When I’m upset it takes me mapping out the problem step by step. When I cry he has no idea why I’m crying unless I flat out tell him. I can’t make hints, he doesn’t get them. He’s too hard on Braiden. He doesn’t understand how to comfort Braiden when he’s upset. He lines up hot wheels cars and his obsessed with guns, sunglasses and tattoos.

I used to think that my husband was just a real jerk and he’d been putting up a good cover or maybe I was just blinded by that honeymoon phase for the first few years that I didn’t see all of this. Coming out of that phase, I thought I didn’t even know the man that I married, the man I had a child with. I slipped into a serious depression over how I was going to spend the rest of my life, and yes at one point I even considered a divorce.

I love my husband. I love my son. But this… this is hard. Yes now I know why they are both the way that they are. I know that they can’t help but tell me that I’m not good at something or that I look horrible when I’m sick (or when I’m not). They can’t help that when they are around a lot of people they aren’t comfortable. They can’t help their lack of affection or their blatant disregard for my existence some days. They can’t help how alone I feel constantly in my house even if they’re both sitting right beside me. I have to ask for hugs, ask for kisses, ask for attention. Its rarely just given. I cherish those rare moments when Braiden just comes to me to give me love without me asking for it. I cherish the moment when my husband remembers that I wouldn’t mind a kiss goodbye. And those super rare moments, where I get to just have a loving embrace with my spouse without him making a joke, telling me something I already know and hate about myself, pointing out something not pertaining to the moment we’re having like how he wrote five citations at work that day. Those moments when I get to just be a normal wife or a normal mother.

I’m strong. Yes, I know that. God wouldn’t give me something I couldn’t handle. Does it make me weak that nights like tonight when I just want to be held and told I’m doing at least a decent job, and he faces away from me instead which leaves me crying and writing at 2AM wishing for some semblance of normal? I cried on the way to my grandmother’s house this afternoon because Braiden had a meltdown at the pizza place when he was outside playing and spilled bubbles on his pants. Its hard enough to get him to wear clothes so we can go out, but with them wet and sticking to him? Nope its over. So I stripped him down to his undies and put him in the car. Do my tears over that make me weak?

“Nothings changed from before you knew either of them were autistic. Why is it so hard now?” Because now I know neither one of them can help it. Now I know none of it can really be ‘fixed’. Now I know that no matter what I do as a wife and mother I’m always going to be holding it all together. I’m always going to be the one whose emotions aren’t understood by the two people living under this roof with me. I have to be the rock in my marriage and grow thicker skin. I have to be the good parent, the nurturing parent, and the fun parent all at once. I have to laugh at the jokes that aren’t funny. I have to pretend it doesn’t bother me at all that I’m not voluntarily shown affection. I have to coach through meltdowns, stand firm through anger and frustration, and then at the end of the day lay in bed and pray for a better tomorrow. The good days are amazing, and again I wouldn’t trade my boys for anything in this world. I just have to vent, get it out, cry the tears and take the breaths so I can move on and face tomorrow with a clear head.

God wouldn’t have given me both of them if He wasn’t going to help me survive them. People look at the happy updates, the little celebrations of stimming and motor skills and (rare) date nights or outings with my family. Honestly, this is so hard. I love them both so much, but it is so hard to keep it together all of the time.

There’s a Reason For Everything


Last summer, I was given a tough pill to swallow. After years of testing, therapy and being told my son was fine by professionals and autistic by his teachers and day care staff, I finally went to a highly recommended, pediatric psychologist. Four hours in a small room with a doctor and a team of different therapists and we were told that our son was high functioning autistic, PDD-NOS to be specific. He met all of the criteria for Asperger’s but he had a speech delay which doesn’t put him in the Asperger’s section of the spectrum, but he had a ton of social issues which didn’t align him with PDD. This put him into the PDD-NOS category (Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified.)

On the drive home from Atlanta, my husband and I cried. I called my mom who promised me nothing was different than when we left Macon that morning. I cried some more. I can’t count the number of times I’ve broken down after a bad day. Knowing the reason behind his meltdowns does help to prevent them but that’s not a sure fire way to keep them from happening. So I have my days where I sit there, crying, and asking God why would he put this on me? I don’t see myself as strong enough to raise a special needs child. I watched my Nana raise my uncle, I watched my mom take care of handicapped kids when I was young, but I never saw myself as being strong enough to deal with that kind of thing.

This past year, I proved myself wrong. I’ve learned how to cope, advocate, educate, and sometimes… just cry. I called my mom, I cried all night to my husband, I vented to my friends (I love you guys so much), and I wrote… a lot. I got this job that I loved so much. I was taking pictures, I was working with kids and I was having so much fun. I survived the Christmas season and then things began going downhill, not with what I was doing, but other drama that no one should have to deal with while they try to earn a living.

One day while taking pictures for a customer a woman noticed my autism bracelet. She asked how long ago my son was diagnosed and we started talking about him. This lady went on to tell me that her son had been diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was younger and she started a business for people who were receiving behavioral diagnoses. The lost people wondering what the next step was to getting their kids the help they needed. My jaw dropped. When Braiden was diagnosed they gave me a stack of pamphlets to places in Atlanta and Augusta but nothing near me. For two months I was on my own, researching, educating myself. For the first half of Braiden’s school year I didn’t even know what an IEP was. Now I do, and now he has one.

After an hour of talking to the woman she asked if I lived in Macon and asked if I was interested in working for a company like hers. She only hires people who are raising or have raised a child with a behavioral diagnosis. I went to a class in Atlanta and she helped me get everything I needed. Next week I start my job as a Family Support Partner, where I get to be that helping hand in a family’s life who receive their diagnosis. The best part? I work mostly from home. I get to be a part of my child’s life without worry. I get to spend time with my family and during the week I will go and visit my clients, work with them and get them the help they need. I cannot wait to get started and now I know… I have Braiden because he was preparing me for this job and in turn this job will help me be better for Braiden.

I could not be more excited to leave the drama behind and start this amazing journey!!!! God is good and is in control. I could not be happier right now. Everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t know what that reason is at the time. Without Braiden I wouldn’t have this opportunity and without Braiden I don’t know what my life would be like. Keep the faith. If you’re going to pray for rain, then prepare your field to receive it.

Mama Bear Rant

“He doesn’t LOOK autistic.”
“Oh, that’s every kid though.”
“What he needs is some discipline.”
“You know how to get him to eat? Make him.”
“You baby him too much. You shouldn’t hold him when he’s upset or hurt. Tell him to shake it off.”

Almost a year into our diagnosis and I still have so much trouble dealing with people saying things like this to me. “Well, that’s every kid.” No.. its not. Yes your kid might cry when you tell them that they can’t have chicken nuggets and french fries because they want what they want when they want it. When I tell mine he can’t have it? He thinks I’m starving him because its the only thing he will eat that has some form of sustenance to it.

“He doesn’t LOOK autistic.” That’s because he’s autistic, which is a neural disorder not a physical one. He doesn’t have Downs, MD, or a physically VISIBLE handicap. There’s something different about the way his brain is wired. He doesn’t look a single way. Other than freaking adorable because he’s mine and he’s the most handsome kid on the planet. You can take that to the bank.

“What he needs is some discipline.” Let’s put our kids in a room together. I bet if you snap your fingers your kids will keep doing whatever it is you want them to stop doing. Mine? He will stop, apologize and ask if he can do something else (in his own form of garbled english that only a few of us understand.) Wanna know why? Because I discipline him and he knows right from wrong, but kids are kids and they will do what they do until that guiding hand steps in. My son knows when I snap my fingers and say his name, there’s no more warnings, and we don’t play the time out game. He might be special needs, but he doesn’t get special treatment in the discipline department. There’s also a difference between disobedience and misunderstanding or miscommunication. I know what’s what when it comes to my child. Unless you do, I encourage you to refrain from making such comments about how I raise my child.

“You know how to get him to eat? Make him.” Um… no. You know how you have an aversion for soggy tomatoes on your burger? Well that’s him about everything else. If it doesn’t feel right, taste right, crunch right, or if it touched other food on his plate, he won’t eat it. If its green its not happening. If its vegetables cut up to look like candy, its not happening. I’ve sat at the kitchen table for hours trying to force my child to eat something new, its torture for him, its punishment for me and his father. If he wants to try a new food he will, and it does happen on rare occasion and you know what we do? We shut up and keep eating like its normal. After he’s back in his room where he can’t see us? We do some of the most embarrassing happy dances known to man. (Much like we do on the days when he’s speaking in understandable english with complete sentences and everything.) The thing about autism is that every little bit of progress is worth a celebration.

“You baby him too much. You shouldn’t hold him when he’s upset or hurt. Tell him to shake it off.” I’m not coddling my child, I’m relishing a moment. If you knew how often my child didn’t want me to hold or touch him you’d want me to hold him too. He can get hurt and think that my touch is only going to hurt it more. I can’t always kiss his booboos. Sometimes I have to kiss the air above it and he’ll run off so that I can’t hug him. Am I spoiling him? No. I’m savoring a moment. When he says “Mommy hold you?” I’m usually dog tired and just want a break, but for him I will pick him up and hold him. Yes there are days when I tell him no because I’m learning the difference between rare moments and “I’m using this to my advantage.” Because I know my child, I know his father, and I know their evil plans to work against me. When he’s hurt? That’s a whole new ball game of its own. Do you know pain is different for those on the spectrum? While he can bang his head against the concrete and not even whine about a headache, he can get a paper cut and you would think he sawed his whole arm off. Pain registers differently in his brain. Telling him to shake it off doesn’t work. He doesn’t understand the metaphor. Shaking the hurt away doesn’t make sense. Him coming to me to help calm him down does because he knows that I will get him through it. I talk to him, tell him its not that bad, we breathe and when he’s calm, he realizes he’s fine. There’s a process, it doesn’t involve the person telling me I should let him shake it off, so keep those comments to yourself.

“She didn’t care about all this advocacy before.” You didn’t either. I didn’t even know what autism was until Braiden got diagnosed and then my entire world made more sense. From every meltdown to why he stopped eating, to his speech problems, all the way to his need to cover his ears when things got just a little loud. I advocate for my child. Am I asking for a cure? No. I wouldn’t change what he is for anything. What I advocate for is understanding, education, and the ability to get him the tools he needs to reach his full potential because I have a brilliant child who can’t articulate the genius of his mind.

This blog is mainly to vent and rant because God knows I’d lose friends if I went off at every comment and “Piece of advice” I got from people who are viewing this situation from outside the box. What we need is support, love and understanding. I have no time for being undermined, dejected and judged. I’m raising a boy on the spectrum to be a brilliant young man on the spectrum who will support others, be kind to them, and look at every situation with an open mind and heart.

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