As I said in my last post: “There Is No Place Like Home“, we’ve moved back to Iceland at last. And although we do miss some dear people we met, we haven’t regretted the decision for a single second. This was absolutely the right thing to do. However, it’s been crazy crazy busy. And not just since we got back but also for a very long time before that. So very busy that there is this feeling of exhaustion hanging over me, not quite taking over but still lingering, threatening to do so if I’m not careful. And it’s my fault really, because I was optimistic enough to really think I could do it all. Well, I guess I overestimated my abilities!
There is nothing more exciting than summer vacation. For months you see it as a mirage, the light at the end of the tunnel, the reward for your hard work during the long dark winter – and you can’t wait for it to come. As it gets closer, you start counting the weeks, the days, the minutes, while dreaming about how you are going to lay in the sun, enjoy some piece and quite and just relax. Ah… relax! How amazing it will be. And then, at last, the first day of summer vacation is upon you. At last, some piece and quiet. And then your kids jump onto the bed.
Recently, I’ve started to notice more when people rant about other people and how they should live their lives – particularly when it has to do with parenting. Remarkably, everyone seems to believe that their own methods are superior to that of others. Even though this goes for both genders, we women seem to have a greater tendency for judging each other and what’s more, talk about it with other women, which is why I’ve decided to address this post to mothers in particular. It is so easy to point a finger at others, isn’t it, but can we afford it? Doesn’t it say in the Bible: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone”? I’m sure every religion has a similar line.
When asked “which do you want first, the good news or the bad news?” I always choose the bad news first. I guess I always want to get the worst part over with and then start focusing on the positives. Which is why I’ll start this post with the negatives of marriage, namely the divorce rates. When searching the internet for statistics I found that the general divorce rate in the US is approximately 50%. While these are striking numbers, I’m sure they’re not far from the statistics in most western countries. For years, rumors of even higher divorce rates of parents of autistic children have circulated where numbers as high as 80% have been frequently mentioned. Not an encouraging thought and I could not help but wonder: is this really true?
Today is a universal Mother’s Day, a day where people are reminded of the unselfish and often unappreciated deeds of their mothers. Many celebrate the day by spending it with their mother, showing their appreciation and love for the woman who has been caring for them since the day they were born. In that respect time is of no importance. A mother’s instinct to love and care for her children has nothing to do with age. The job of being a mother is for life.
In my last post I was still riding high after celebrating for the first time the World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) but that was just a short break from the not so cheerful days leading up to it and then taking over again. You see, my husband and I have both been sick for the past few weeks, nothing serious, just a persistent nasty little virus that has kept us feeling miserable for way too long. As you all know, when you are feeling sick, you are not exactly a burst of energy and as a parent, use up what little energy you have to make sure your children are okay. Well, when both parents are sick at the same time – especially during Easter vacation in the preschools – it is a recipe for disaster!
We have been struggling with V’s sleeping patterns for almost two years now. And he is only 2 years and 8 months old! As an infant, we did not notice anything different, he basically did what every infant does; he slept, ate, pooped, slept, ate, pooped, slept, ate… you get the picture! When he was about 9 months old we started teaching him to fall asleep alone. We used the same “super nanny” methods we had used on JA but they did not seem to work. He just jumped up and down in his crib – sometimes for hours – without falling asleep. We did not know what to do but as long as he was happily playing in his crib and eventually fell asleep on his own, we were not too concerned. The problems started for real when he turned two and became too big for his crib.
Almost a year ago, we heard the mention of autism in relation to our older son for the first time. It was merely one word in a long recitation of plausible things that a diagnosis process could lead to and out of those, autism was not at the top of our minds. It was also the first time since we moved to Denmark that our request for some extra support at the kindergarten was received positively. Soon after, an application for support was finalized and a few months later we got the news that JA had been granted 8 hours of support per week starting in August 2011. Although we had hoped for more support (the maximum support possible consists of 16 hours per week) we were glad that he would finally get some support. And what a difference it made!
After our older son got the autism diagnosis it pretty soon came to the point where we discussed whether and to what extent we should tell people about his condition. The very first concern that we had was that telling people about him being autistic would automatically put a label on him with unknown consequences. First and foremost, we were concerned with how it would affect our son but naturally, we discussed it also from our perspective as parents. We took to the internet where we read about how other parents of autistic children were addressing this fundamental question about how openly the child’s autism disorder should be discussed and found that it varies substantially between people. As a result, I have summarized a few plausible affects, both positive and negative, of opening up and telling people about the autism diagnosis.
I’d been feeling a lot better lately after the temporary depression that had consumed me when we realized, shortly after receiving the news about JA, that the likelihood of V also being autistic was substantial. During the past few weeks, I had slowly become more like myself, consciously eating healthier and exercising as a way to improve my mental state. It was working. I gradually started opening up and it became less difficult to talk about what had happened. The first stages of acceptance were taking over from the grieving process.