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?
Paulette Moore is a mother of two, wife of one, and autism consultant of many.