Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘mother

Wordless Wednesday 07 Aug 13

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20130807-154608.jpg

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Wordless Wednesday 15 May 13

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ImageOn the other side of the lens for once…

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Dancing Teapots

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I decided to take the kids out for an early dinner.  Today is one of those perfect Jozi spring days.  The Jacarandas are blossoming, but they’re not quite at their vibrant peak yet.  On a Friday afternoon sitting outdoors at a cafe in Sandton, you could be in Europe, only with better weather.  This is an unexpected treat for us all.  I was supposed to be having dental treatment, but the water was out- sometimes water and power outages are the only sign that this is still a developing country.  Developing being the right word, for all its economic slump, there is a lot of construction going on here, and sometimes the wrong pipe gets hit.

I sipped at my capuccino with cream, and enjoyed the moment of perfection, knowing it couldn’t last for long.

Pudding was content.  She’d had the Halloween Parade at school, which she’d loved.  She ordered herself a bacon and avocado sandwich and apple juice by herself.  Yes, it is the same thing she always ordered, but I’m pretty sure it is exactly what she feels like eating.  She isn’t just doing okay, she is doing really, really well lately.  She seems more comfortable in her own skin than I’ve ever seen.  The wind picked up and she turned her face to it, enjoying the caress to her skin.

Cubby was out of sorts.  I knew he hadn’t napped, and was too hungry and too tired to know what was wrong.  Normally very expressive, he was down to grunts and shouts.  He couldn’t decide what to eat, even if he wanted to eat.  A siren in the distance hurt his ears.  He was in and out of his chair.  Putting his hands in his drink and smearing it over the table.  Then he began playing with his spit when the drink was confiscated.  Finally he turned to tormenting his sister for entertainment.  The wind picked up, and he shrieked in pain as it whipped at his skin.

Watching the two of them was a study in contrasts.  Pudding, at peace; Cubby intent on disturbing it.  This was her two or three years ago.  This disorder and chaos.  Feeling something was wrong, and not knowing how to put it right.  How far she has come.

Then I let my mind wander further back.  I remember holding infant Pudding.  Apart from when she was nursing, (which I naturally did a LOT) she was screaming.  Arching her back, red-faced, furious at me for not fixing what was wrong.  And I’d go through everything I thought I knew about babies, wondering what I must have missed to make her thrash around like this.  She pulled at my hair in her rage.  The screaming made my head throb, and I wanted to run away from this tiny creature who put all her trust in me.  And though I wanted to shout and scream, I pulled her in closer, and kissed her downy head, and held her until we breathed together, just rocking and kissing, until the screaming was done.

I picked up Cubby and cradled him.  He resisted at first- pushed away, then caved in.  His floppy body curled into mine and I kissed his face.  “I’m a baby.”  He said, like he does so often.  I didn’t correct him this time.  I kissed his fingers and his arms.  He twirled his hands through my hair, just like his sister always had.  I kiss the soft nape, and when I close my eyes, I forget where I am, or when I am.  It doesn’t matter- I am mothering instinctively.

Three year-olds can only be held for so long, so I release him, and he dances for a while- trying to catch the eye of the waiting staff.  I turn back to Pudding, with her wry, contented smile.  I see what’s catching her eye: some paper teapots attached to the ceiling are fluttering in the breeze.  “Dancing teapots”, I say out loud.  “Dancing teapots”, she echoes.  We watch them together, and her hand creeps up into my hair, but in comfort, not in rage.

In that moment of calm, I feel all the many joys she has brought me.  All the dancing tea cups that I would otherwise have missed.  I know, if I have to, I can do it all over again.  Even if I still feel more rookie than veteran.  We’ll grow, and develop, and get there together.

Working Mother

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I went to work today, for the first time in seven years.  I’m now a working mother, or a mother working outside of the home for the first time.  I ate lunch today with my colleagues, and only when somebody asked for a napkin did I realize that I’d taken a pile of them, to deal with the inevitable spills that I invariably deal with.  But not any more, during the weekdays at least.

And when I went to the bathroom, I did so much enjoy going alone, yet I still forgot I could use the hand dryer with no Pudding and Cubby around.

But those were the only times I noticed a big change.  I’ve arranged my hours so that I collect the children at 3.  Aside from the fact that I’m wearing make-up and nicer clothes,the kids haven’t noticed a change in routine.  As transitions go, this has been effortless.  I told you I was prepared.

In fact, working as a mother feels so far like, well, working.  It helps that I’m only working 32 hours a week, and it helps that my supervisor is family-friendly.  It helps that I’ve already put trust in other people to take care of my kids.  But I don’t feel at war, with other mothers or with myself.  In fact, my views on the “Having It All” debate are largely unchanged.

I didn’t work for the early years of child-raising because I had the privilege of staying at home.  Yes, we made sacrifices.  We couldn’t afford to visit my family for three years, and things were tight, but having a parent stay at home was an option for us, at least in the short-term.  We were fortunate to have that privilege, I have never felt like I made a sacrifice.

And now, we’re fortunate enough to be in a position when I can return to work, and it can be my choice.  That choice is a privilege many women will never know.  I don’t feel like I’m making a sacrifice.  Maybe because I’ve seen both points of view, I didn’t feel like making a choice between family and work was the right focus…but having the ability to choose really is.

I want my daughter to have these same choices that most of us take for granted.  I don’t know how Pudding will progress.  Autism is a lifelong disability, or difference, or disorder.  Call it what you will, it makes it hard to predict the future.  I can’t say if Pudding will be able to work, or if she will have a family.  Maybe she’ll want both, or neither, or just one.  I only know that we will do everything we can to make sure she has those options, just like the choice was always there for me.  And making that choice available?  That is the real privilege for this working mother.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Jubilee

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Last week I was talking to another “foreign born spouse” as people like to call us, about how things are different for us.  When we move to a new country, our husbands go to work the next day, and essentially return to America.  They have all the structure, routine, and familiarity immediately in place.  Not so for us, who are immediately trying to find ourselves (again) in a foreign land.  We are the ones getting lost as we drive around trying to find new schools, and so on.

Now, likely all those married into the foreign service are nodding their heads at this point.  But things are different if you’re not US-born.  We get lost in a different way.  When homesickness creeps in, you know that it won’t be long until there is a Thanksgiving, or Independence Day celebration.  You know that when it is time for home leave, you’ll actually go home.

It is over three and a half years since I was in England.  My son has never been to the mother country.  I have nephews and a niece I’ve never even met in person.

The same day we had this conversation, we went into one of those fancy shops that make you forget which continent you’re one because everything is imported.  Lo and behold, there was an entire table of decorations and accessories for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee that had been imported from Blighty.

My husband often laughs at the way I’ve become so much more English since becoming American too.  He was particularly perplexed when I suggested demanded that we host a Jubilee celebration in honour of Her Majesty!

I’m the same person who, when living in England, was so disinterested in all things to do with the monarchy that I don’t even remember The Golden Jubilee taking place.

But then, am I the same person?  It isn’t just about being an expat now.  Since being married, my identity has changed so much.  First I was a wife, then a mother, then American, then a special needs mother.

Soon I’ll be a working mother too, and I’ll proudly serve my American community here, but at times I wonder if I’m losing every part of who I used to be, as I become identified only in relation to somebody else.  I’m Spectrummy Daddy’s wife when I go to the Consulate.  I’m Pudding’s or Cubby’s mum at their schools.  I’d say there are many people here who don’t even know my name, let alone who I am.

Later that evening, I tried to explain things to Spectrummy Daddy.  I turned to Cubby (my kids are also dual nationals) and asked him if her was American or English.

‘Merican.  I’m not English, I’m a ‘merican.

Spectrummy Daddy tried to rememdy things by asking him if he liked soccer, I mean,  football.

I like soccer!

Sigh.  With no further delay, I set to sending out invites, making the decorations, and creating a menu as British as could be for our very own Jubilee celebration.  Pudding only became involved when she saw what amounts of cream and sugar my people use.  But every royal kitchen needs an official taster, right?

The party was a great success, and it sated my inner Brit until we get to go to England in September.  We toasted Her Royal Highness, we read out loud the Duke of Edinburgh’s gaffes, we drank Pimm’s and ate coronation chicken, cucumber sandwiches, scones and trifle.

But all this was for me.

The kids ate, then disappeared.  Cubby was upstairs playing with his  American/Chinese-Australian friends, while Pudding played outdoors holding hands with our American/Australian neighbour.  Our community is nothing if not like a 1980s Benetton commercial.

Proving once again that my kids have figured out lessons I keep having to live through.  It isn’t about where you hail from, or what your passport says, or where you call home.  It is about being true to yourself and enjoying every moment life has to offer you, no matter where you happen to be.

I’m going to start right now- by enjoying a cup of tea and a biscuit.  I’m sure Her Majesty would approve.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

Something Blue

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It happened on this night.  After I was done crying, and Spectrummy Daddy had talked about ways we could make things easier on me, I went upstairs to bed.  Sitting on my bed was a small jewelry box, the kind that usually contains rings or earrings.

My first thought was that he’d had my wedding and engagement rings fixed after I’d had them cut off.  Which was odd, because my ring finger still bore a groove where the rings had become stuck.  It will actually take a few more weeks until they’re fully back to normal, though they aren’t as swollen as they were back then.

That meant it had to be a gift.  Very frequently, I’m aware that I don’t feel what I’m supposed to.  Perhaps something else I have in common with my girl.  I didn’t feel happy or grateful.  I was actually a little annoyed that he would think I could be bought from my sombre mood by a trinket.  I was also thinking of the many things we need over and above jewelry for me.  I thought about telling him to return it, we just couldn’t afford it.

For a while it sat there, unopened.  Then I let out a few more breaths, and decided not to turn a nice gesture into something that would hurt us both.  I opened the box.  Inside was a beautiful blue-violet tanzanite ring.  Now I knew we couldn’t afford it.  I tried it on the ring finger of my right hand, and it fit perfectly, like it was meant to be there.  Now there was no question of returning it- I didn’t even want to take it back off!

Spectrummy Daddy came upstairs and filled me in on the story.  While I’d been inside the jewelry shop having my rings cut off, he’d been trying to keep the children occupied outside.  Pudding had picked out this one, and Cubby concurred.  I have to say- those kids have got great taste!

It was supposed to be for my birthday and Mother’s Day, but Spectrummy Daddy told me he felt that I needed to see right then how much I meant to all of them.  I haven’t stopped wearing it since, though I remove it a few times a day for some of the grubbier tasks that come my way.

Rings, while expensive, can be replaced, or fixed, or new ones can be bought.  I’m the thing our family can’t afford to be without.  I’m just as precious to my family as they are to me, and right now I need to treat myself as something fragile and valuable.  Now I have something blue to remind me of that always.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Wordless Wednesday 07 Mar 2012

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ImageMy mother, my daughter.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Wordless Wednesday 07 Dec 11

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Photo Credit: mellychan

 

I often say that Pudding and I are two peas in a pod, from our looks to our mannerisms, and this photo taken right before she blew out the candles on her cake proves it!

Many thanks to my talented friend mellychan for taking this candid shot.  Next time I’ll wear make-up!

Happy Wordless Wednesday everyone!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 7, 2011 at 7:50 am

A Thank You Prayer

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National Day of Prayer

Image via Wikipedia

Dear God (I get that you go by different names to different people, but allow me the familiarity, or at least forgive me for it?),

It is Thanksgiving, so I want to offer up some thanks, as well as ask for a few things.  I think that is how this prayer thing goes.  It has been a long time….but then, you know that already, right?  Yeah you do.

Thank you for making me a mama.  I did think it was a little before I was ready, but in your omniscience (see, we have that in common!) you knew that the exhaustion I feel wouldn’t be any less as I got older.

Thank you for my girl.  Thank you for making her so…Pudding.  I’ve never met anyone so much like themself in my life.  I know you know what I mean by that.  There is no artifice, no pretense, just who she is.  But better than that- she likes who she is, at least at almost five she does.  Can you keep it that way when she is 15 and 50 too?  Can you make sure no one ever puts a cloud over her sunshine?  I know there has to be rain, but let her shine through it.  Let her see the rainbows, hell  let her make them.

Thank you for giving her language.  For being able to say no when she really means it.  It is a gift, I know, and I hope it is one she’ll always make use of.  I know we got very lucky when it comes to communication, so I don’t mind if it is a little jumbled right now.  I like that you made it so she becomes clearer when she is feeling very adamant about something (like requesting key lime pie), so I know that when I’m not around she’ll be able to put her point across.  Now God, could you just make sure everyone listens to her?  Can you make sure I do, at least?  I’ll try my best, but you know how we mortals are.

Thank you for those two times she asked why questions.  I treasure them.  Is she keeping the rest until I have better answers for her?

I very much appreciate it that you made her so loving, and she freely gives me kisses and hugs whenever she feels like it.  Now- and this is an awkward ask, God- can you have her do that for other people who love her very much, but not so much that she hugs random people in the street?  I know, big ask.

If you can’t do that, can you make it so those other people who love her don’t feel snubbed when she doesn’t feel like showing affection on their terms.  Let them know the reasons why, make them more patient, and less hurt.  Oh, and if you have any of that patience and hurt-balm going spare, put some aside for me.  I could always use more of that.  Yeah, I know you know.

Thank you for my boy.  Thank you for making him enough like his sister that they have things in common, and different enough that he is his own little man.  Thank you for making him like sports.  I know his Daddy appreciates that (not to say he wouldn’t have liked him to enjoy musical theatre either, if that comes up further down the line).  Thank you for making him impish and cheeky and naughty, and all those other things that both delight and exasperate all of us.  You did a good job with him too.

Thank you for my husband too.  If Pudding continues to like boys as much as she does now, can you send her one just like him?  Not one who looks like him, to be clear, that would just be creepy.  But send her someone who’ll stick around through hard times, and take her to places she never imagined.  Someone who loves her as she is.  If that is what she wants, of course.  If she doesn’t, let her know that that is okay too.  Oh, and she’ll be at least 25, right?  I can already tell I’m going to find it hard to let my babies go.  You-willing, I’ll do it when I have to, when they’re ready.

Thank you for special interests, for all of them, for every one of us.  In your infinite wisdom, can you please make sure Pudding never likes those Bratz dolls, or anything similar?  Oh, and that goes for Cubby too.  If he continues to like sports the way he does, can you make me a little more interested?  Autism mother I can be, or at least try to be, a soccer mom type is just not me.  Well, you made me this way, I suppose.

Can you make sure his pretty face never gets hurt?  And Pudding’s too.  And don’t let her realize how beautiful she is until she is ready for that kind of power.  And keep me from ever underestimating her like I did in that last sentence.

This is getting to be more asks than thank yous.  Sorry for that, God, is this the way we all are with you?   I wonder if it makes you mad and want to torment us?

While we’re talking….peanuts.  Peanuts!  Thank you God for allowing it to be my son and not my daughter who swallowed those two bites of peanut butter sandwich at school this week.  Thank you for making him okay, thank you so much.  But peanuts?  What is with that?!  A very allergic child, with an impulsive nature and difficulty communicating….I don’t know the mysterious ways in which you’re moving there.  I suppose I could use my ask to just keep her safe from anaphylaxis, but can’t you just uncreate (I know, not a word, but you could make it so) peanuts?  Sure, they’re delicious (heavenly, you might say) in chocolate, but is it worth all that risk?  I say it is not.

Thank you for our life as it is.  It isn’t the life I thought it would be, but again, you did well.  Better than I would have, that is for sure.  If it isn’t too greedy, God, can you make life a little better for those who are struggling?  I know, we have to do our bit down here, but sometimes it is hard to understand how things have to be so difficult for so many.  I suppose I’m not as omniscient as I thought I was.  But you knew that.  I’ll tell Spectrummy Daddy though, he’ll be pleased to hear it.

One last thing God: if you can’t make these things happen, and you can’t make me understand why, can you do one thing?  Can you make it so I never, ever die.  Or at least, I die a minute after I’m no longer needed.  I’d be okay with you sending me down there if you could just do that for me.

Thank you.  Thank you for, well, everything.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

November 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Mother’s Day

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Sunday was UK Mother’s Day.  Five years ago on UK Mother’s Day, I learned I was pregnant.  I called my mum that day to tell her she was going to be a grandmother, she was almost as surprised as I was.  Anyone who knows my mum knows that she can’t be called by that word.  She is all life and energy and there is nothing granny about her.  Pudding would call her Nanny.  That was our first Mother’s Day with Pudding.  Not that I knew she was Pudding then.  Not that I was really a mother then.  I had no idea what was in store.  I felt at the time that I’d never beat giving my mother that phone call that day.  I was wrong.

I’ve subsequently had a few Mother’s Days.  More than you’d think, actually.  I claimed the UK one, as that is the one I’ve always done.  I also got the American one, because the kids are…you know, Americans, and Luxembourg had a different one, and given that my kids were born there, it felt only right that I should get that one too.  This mothering is hard work, you know…you get a perk, you take it.  I took all three, wouldn’t you?  Spectrummy Daddy worked out that he still only got the one day, so when we left Luxembourg I had to give that one up.  I still keep two though.  I have Cubby, so I’m mothering twice as hard as I was before!

The one thing I haven’t managed in the last five years is to spend a Mother’s Day with my mum.  We have to make do with a call.  We usually do a skype video call so that she can see Pudding and Cubby.  Or at least so that she can see Cubby, because Pudding tends to canter out of the room as soon as she hears the dial tone.  The more we try to draw her close, the more she backs away.  She needs to be in just the right frame of mind to talk, but guessing when that is, and accommodating time zones is not the easiest.  Trying to create and maintain relationships with loved ones at a distance is a hard enough endeavour, you throw an ASD into the mix and it becomes impossible hopeless insurmountable a challenge.  I tried the tactic of calling while the kids ate lunch, in the hopes that she would stay in her chair and be seen in the background at least.

Instead, all the stars aligned in the sky.  She came up and crawled into my lap.  She gave her grandparents five minutes of social Pudding, the one who adores the limelight.  She had a conversation, blew kisses, she told her grandparents that she loved them, and then made up an impromptu song about Mother’s Day for her Nanny (to the tune of Happy Birthday).  It was everything I’d hoped for since Florida.  It was everything I’d hoped for since that phone call five years previously.  Later her other grandmother called- it was her birthday.  We couldn’t really hope for two such rare performances on the same day, but that was what she delivered.

In fact, the whole day she was just a golden child.  She was incredibly well-behaved, and a delight to be around.  It was a day when I could really see the beautiful fruits of my labour, and relish in the pleasure of motherhood.  A Mother’s Day.  A gift to her grandmothers, and a gift to me too.  I hoped it would last.

It didn’t.

Yesterday was a lousy one.  One day she was perfectly in sync, the next she was out of it again.  One day she was so incredibly present, the next distant.  One day she sought affection and connection, the next she was aggressive and withdrawn.  Nothing I did helped, I just had to let her be.  The contrast of one day to the next was sobering.  The real mothering happens when it isn’t so easy, trying to be close when I’m pushed away.  It doesn’t matter, I’ll still be here every day.  I’ll wait to be pulled back into her orbit, ready for that next magical alignment.

Even if it turns out I only get a day like that on Mother’s Day, at least I have another one to come this year.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 5, 2011 at 7:32 am