A magazine I read occasionally had a feature where they would ask celebrities to fill in the blank to the sentence “ I love my __________ life”. Every time I saw it I would try to fill in the blank myself. I love my complicated life? I love my awesome life? I love my dysfunctional/ fun/ in crisis/ unexpected/ @#$%&/ amazing life?
One thing I never put in the blank was the word typical. Now I do often wonder if there is anyone living a so-called typical life out there. But if they are, I surely am not. I am a mom. It is perhaps the thing that most defines me. I have a daughter. A beautiful, vivacious, horse riding, puzzle mastering, optimist. She is going into grade ten and has Autism and OCD. I also have a son. He is our resident poet, Shakespeare authority, singer, actor and university student. His complexities come with the labels OCD, ADHD and very mild Asperger’s. I am a wife to a busy man I have been with since I was fifteen, and if I were to own up to the age on my drivers license that’s a long time. On the surface we look like a pretty regular family, one mom, one dad, a boy and a girl and a cat. As well, to fill out the group, we have a grandmother and grandfather living above the garage. That is kind of where the regular stops. Well that’s not really true, the cat is the picture of stability. But our normal is a new kind of normal that includes the daily use of words like sensory seeking, dysregulation, meltdown, and stress tolerance. In my family’s “normal” our activities are carefully planned around therapy, health, and sensory overload as apposed to social schedules.
My main job is educating, advocating for, nurturing and loving this unique family of mine. But on the side I also get the privilege of looking after some other awesome families as well. I work with families as they navigate the world of having a child with complex needs. I get to become part of their family, meet their pets, and cuddle their children. I have an awesome job!
Some days my life is riding high, perhaps one of my children or one of my “work children” accomplishes something amazing. Some days my life is a little lower, a school meltdown or a funny look from a stranger. And many days my life feels wonderful because we had a pretty ordinary day, and in a special needs family those days are treasures. All in all I’ll take the lows with the highs and all the in between. So I guess I would have to say I love my WHOLE life, even if some days a piece of cake and a sugar rimmed martini is needed to give me the strength to live another day. Tell me about your life. How would you fill in the blank?
Well here I am, about to embark on a new adventure … blogging. This may be my first time writing a blog but it is not my first time thinking about it. I have sat many times, paralyzed by lack of confidence, writers block and mostly the fear that someone will say something mean to me. My hand is forced, however, by a space on my new website that is labeled blog and looks funny with no words in it. So here goes. Now don’t get me wrong I am no stranger to the Facebook status... and I can write a comment with out breaking a sweat. But this feels more personal and yet public at the same time. My children do brave, unfamiliar things all the time so I will learn from their example and take the plunge.
The first thing I needed to do was to choose a name. Again the paralysis sets in. What if the name is already being used, is too cute, is not cute enough? I thought of all kinds of variations using my last name, Moore Madness, Moore Memories, Muddled Moores. But those titles left me feeling Mooretified (sorry, sometimes I can’t be stopped). Besides if I was only going to focus on my own family I’d call it, “and this is why I drink” and be done with it.
So I reflected on my purpose for writing a blog, other than to fill up that space on my website. It will be a space, I hope, to share some ideas that I have tried with my children and my clients over the years. Ideas and programs I have tried in the areas of Autism, Asperger’s, OCD, ADHD, anxiety, and all kinds of challenging words that start with a vowel. Some of these ideas worked first go, many took lots of tweaking to get it right. Each idea had to be individualized for each new individual but they often gave me a place to start. Many times, just like this blog, I didn’t know where to start and had to take a leap of faith. Sometimes it is just a matter of trying something, and if that doesn’t work trying something else. So with that as my inspiration I decided to call my blog, “So then I tried …” . I hope my efforts help you as you generate your own ideas. If you too have found something that has worked feel free to share it. I might try it next.
Paulette Moore is a mother of two, wife of one, and autism consultant of many.