May 23, 2013

Field Trip

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , at 12:38 pm by autismmommytherapist

Easter 2013 013

Ed. Note:  Bear with me, today I’m just bragging.

This past Sunday morning, Zach and I took a trip to Washington, DC.

This sounds like a simple sentence, an unremarkable declaration. It would be, except this is the first overnight mini-vacation Zach has had in five years, (excluding Irene, which I consider a forced evacuation). Our last sojourn was actually to stay with the same friend we stayed with this time, back when she only had one child, just seven months older than mine. It was a wonderful few days, with the kids getting along spectacularly (as one-year-olds are wont to do), and I fully planned on returning a few months later for a follow-up.

Then autism struck. My usually garrulous toddler was rendered almost mute, stopped sleeping, and became plagued with on average a dozen bouts of diarrhea daily. He suffered terribly. Trips, and even the merest thought of one, were put on hold indefinitely.

I will admit it was with some trepidation that I committed to going, as Zach, although wonderful, can be extremely impulsive and “active”. It’s one thing when you view those behaviors at your own house. It’s another entirely when you’re staying in someone else’s home, with young and impressionable children.

Turns out, I need not have perseverated.

Although he loved visiting the Air and Space Museum, and seeing the masterful taxidermy at the Museum of Natural History, the best part of the break for my son was playing with his newfound friends. Of course there were cases of the “sillies”, and a few necessary time-outs. But my son, who normally is not the most flexible of individuals, handled everything with grace. Different rules at this house?  No problem. Time for bed even though you’re in the midst of an epic battle?  Not an issue. Post-dinner TV won’t feature your favorite show?  What’s to talk about?  Zach, who likes change about as much as I enjoy a bikini wax, handled it all beautifully.

I’m hoping this newfound spontaneity comes with us back to Jersey.

Even before I had kids I longed to travel with them (I was the crazy teacher who actually loved field trips), and although we take frequent excursions to the beach and have conquered Philadelphia several times, I had envisioned more outings. Therapy, my husband’s frequent travels, the demands of raising another child with severe autism, and yet more therapy have precluded the execution of this dream.

Now however life is calmer, and my son rocks this travel thing. The sky’s the limit (can’t wait for Disney!).

So this post is for you Zach. For bending to the rules of others. For the spontaneous hug bestowed upon a crying child. For playing so nicely with your new friends.

For being your fabulous self.

For Zach- I love you, and I’m just so darn proud.

November 4, 2011

Gratitude Attitude

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:59 pm by autismmommytherapist

This week’s Gratitude Attitude goes out to my mom, husband, and our favorite sitter, who collectively enabled me to “get out of Dodge” and spend a few days in DC with “the girls”. Can’t thank all of you enough for this annual opportunity!

 

October 31, 2011

Washington Revisited

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:22 am by autismmommytherapist

My annual “leave the husband and kids behind” trip back to Washington, DC transpired this past week, a ritual I plan never to abandon as long as I continue to draw breath. This tradition consists of three nights and three days of consuming the Indian and Thai food I can’t get in this part of Jersey; the palpable absence of potty training; and seeing old friends who knew me before I was old enough to rent a car. Through the grace of my husband and mother, each fall since we relocated to the Garden State I’ve been granted the temporary reprieve of being someone’s mommy, or someone’s wife. Amidst the backdrop of our splendid nation’s capital I had the pleasure of finishing complete sentences, recalling why I walked into a room, and simply reconnecting with myself.

As always, it was fabulous.

This was probably the first year I pulled out of my driveway without crushing guilt as a companion, and I have to say I quite prefer things this way. It’s not that I haven’t thought I deserved the time away, or had the right to preserve relationships I’d built over the course of the fifteen years I lived in DC. It’s just that in the past, the boys have been so difficult I’d hesitated to leave my working husband with an additional job. I’ve persisted in planning this trip however because I’ve always been of a mind that one of the best things we can do as parents is to take care of our own needs, not just those of our children. For me, that seems to include ethnic food and the chance to sleep past 5:30 AM a few days a year, if my body will permit. I’m a much better mother when I get my annual fix.

And according to my husband, much more pleasant to be around as well.

I’d originally had big plans of trying to cram in everyone I’d ever met during my youth into one seventy-two hour visit, a goal I’ve tried to attain every year, but in the past had been too exhausted from the travails of autism to bring to fruition. This time, with things being what I like to refer to as “as Disneyesque as it gets” chez McCafferty, I’d thought I’d expand upon my usual reunions, get ambitious, and try to visit with several people I’d not seen in years.

In Maryland and Virginia reside several school administrators from my teaching days, individuals I’d hoped to chat with about a project I’m developing for the public schools. There was a lovely girl from high school with whom I’ve developed a friendship on Facebook (which leads me to believe that while Ms. Betty White is correct about, well, almost everything, perhaps the social medium isn’t a TOTAL waste of time). I could have chosen to spend an afternoon with an educator friend, one who’d contracted pneumonia the week before and couldn’t make what I’ve long dubbed my annual “teacher dinner”. But two weeks before I left for the beltway I strolled into my allergist’s office to renew my inhaler scrip, and walked out for an unscheduled emergency visit to my GP with a blood pressure reading of 170/100.

I’ve decided that middle age sucketh.

This wasn’t a complete surprise, as my BP has been slightly elevated for years, an inherited gift from my mother (whom, since she gave me life, I’ve subsequently decided to forgive). I’m fond of saying “everything is cumulative”, and although our little family of four has shed so many of the daily pressures that plagued us for more than half a decade, I can feel that stress still, view it as a permanent resident within the confines of my physique. My heart working overtime is probably the reason I’ve continued to have those pesky, albeit now infrequent, dizzy spells. This is a condition I chalked up to the pinched nerves my neurologist discovered this summer through the miracle of MRI, unsettling events that were radically reduced when I stopped picking up my seventy-five pound child, and began hugging him with our four feet on the floor. I thought I’d been thorough in my medical approach, and figured I’d just have to live with reality, along with forgetting my children’s names and having to pee every five minutes. I didn’t continue to put my health first.

And the consequences could have been terrible.

There may not be many universal truths, but one that is incontrovertible is that I need to be on this earth as long as humanly possible for my boys. My goal remains to make it until Justin is seventy (which is a bit unrealistic as that would make me 106, but I can try), because unlike other offspring who will exchange dependence for independence with partners and spouses, he will always need help. I plan on remaining one of those people as long as I’m able, pushing him always to do for himself, to anticipate and execute his own needs.

And I need to remember to do the same for me.

So this trip, I kicked back and relaxed more than I am generally wont to do, and forced myself to slow down a bit. There was still quality time with dear friends, the kind whom you can interrupt mid-thought with a name from twenty-five years ago and they not only recognize it, but completely comprehend the segueway. I managed to infiltrate Georgetown Cupcake this year after the employees unceremoniously prevented our access to carbohydrate heaven last October (the fact that we arrived one minute past closing and I hailed from New Jersey apparently moved nobody). I even managed to pull off three glorious hours alone navigating the cobblestoned streets from Georgetown to Dupont, a languorous walk in which I managed not to think about children, or autism, or anything remotely important for the better part of an afternoon. I took it easy. I didn’t rush, and purposefully slowed my pace. For once, I simply lived in the moment, and that moment was fine.

And that, my friends, is “good times”.