autism,  motherhood

The last seven days

In the seven days after Christmas, we’ve had a blizzard, a trip, and some meeting and missing family. Here’s a quick recap:

I think this has been my favourite Christmas as a mom.

Before I had kids, I thought the Santa part would be the best part of putting on Christmas. I learned really quickly that it takes a few years for kids to figure that out, and even if they’re the “right age” for that to happen, it doesn’t mean it will happen. And even when they finally do, there are only a few short years of the Santa magic. J and W haven’t believed in Santa for a few years now, and I don’t know what it was about this year, but I have to say this was the best Christmas I’ve had as a mom. Maybe because we made it low key. Maybe because it wasn’t filled with a bunch of useless toys and junk just so they could open things. Maybe it was because W and I had some fun adventures dropping off Christmas cookies to her friends Christmas Eve. Maybe it was because this was the first year that J stuck around for the whole gift opening part. I’m not really sure. But it really was the best.

The first blizzard of the year.

The day after Boxing Day I was booked to fly out to visit my parents (who have retired in Fort Collins, Colorado) and sister (who had flown back from Saudi Arabia to visit my parents) for a few days. It had snowed 8 inches late Wednesday night and Thursday morning it wasn’t stopping. We barely got out of our neighbourhood (the streets hadn’t been plowed yet) and when I arrived at the airport, all the flights after mine were cancelled. I was standing in the jet bridge, ready to board when someone from the ground crew came running past me yelling at us to stop boarding. After a quick argument with the pilot, we boarded. After being told we had a 20 minute window before we couldn’t get off the ground, we were still boarding. An hour later after de-icing, we took off. We were the last flight out of Fargo. I think I’ve gotten to the point in my life now where I’ve realized that if things happen they happen, and if they don’t, they don’t, and if plans get disrupted, they get disrupted. I chalk that up to being an autism parent for the last 16 years. I’m used to disruption and scrapping plans. I’m really grateful that we made it out (because with my sister living in Saudi, I never know when the next time I’ll see her will be) and if I hadn’t I would have found a way to make the best of it. Because that’s just how life works.

Visiting family.

I finally got to meet my sister’s little baby E (born in Saudi this summer). All my nieces and nephews have grown up so much since I last saw them (over a year ago!) and as I visited with my sister, I realized how much our lives are moving and changing. If anyone knows me or my sister, you know we’re super close (we are, after all, each other’s only sibling) and we try to talk on facetime as much as possible (the time zone difference makes things tough) but during our visit I realized how much our parenting and lives have moved in such different directions. Parenting in Saudi Arabia is an adventure all in its own. So is parenting autism. I really wish we lived closer, but our lives are good and full and challenging in the ways they should be. It’s okay. None of us are on the same parenting track anyways. We all have our own versions on what that looks like.

Missing family.

While I was gone, Steve did an awesome job (as always) of keeping it together in Fargo as a single dad. We actually do this quite a few times a year and have gotten really good at it–either Steve will be gone for work or to visit family or I’ll be gone to visit a friend or family a few times a year. It’s a nice arrangement (because even though J is awesome at travelling) sometimes it’s just easier for one of us to get out for a while. Steve did all of the visual therapy and hung out with the kids (stuck in the house because of the blizzard) and did manage to get out one night to help out J and the XC team sell concessions. Apparently J did awesome–he was in charge of the Gatorade (perfect, right!?) and Steve just hung out at the tables and didn’t really have to hover around J at all. He’d send me pics of him and the kids making pancakes and doing the other things they did while I was gone, and as much fun I was having with my parents and sister, I did feel like I was missing out a little with my own family.

As I reflect back at all the things that have happened this week I realize that there’s this game we play. We like to pretend that we have control over our lives–and in some ways we do. We get to do things like choose holiday traditions and make plans with family. But in the end, the force of life is really in control and we just have to roll with it. Blizzards, foreign countries, and kids, we have no control over any of those things. We just make plans, make do with what happens, and see how things turn out. I am the boy–we are the boy–in Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game:”

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty 
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

And the seasons they go round and round 
And the painted ponies go up and down 
We’re captive on the carousel of time 
We can’t return we can only look 
Behind from where we came 
And go round and round and round 
In the circle game

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