Planning my Funeral: James, Daniel, Colvin, Julie, Joe, Lacey, Eric, Mom.

First off I don’t want anyone wearing black, unless they just feel super edgy and cool that way.

Secondly: get some flowers. Not roses or crazy arrangements. Just go to Trader Joes and pick some wild flowers and bring them to me. They were my favorite any way. Colie likes sunflowers. He’s good with flowers. Let him help.

Instead of reading passages please share one time I yelled at someone on your behalf. I’m sure I’ve yelled at someone for every person I love, this shouldn’t be a problem. If it’s not too much, express how that was good in some way. It’s great to share those things, I wish I could be there to hear them.

Don’t skimp on food. You can bury me in a pine box. You can get cheap flowers. You can come in flip flops, but please get some decent food. It’s one of the few constant pleasures we have, and also don’t forget nuggets for Colie.

If it’s not a big ask; play some music. So many of the people I love are amazing artists. Do something fun. Celebrate the things we shared.

Dont cry, and if you have to, do it because I left you with memories you cherish and wine that will leave you likely by force after the party.

Lastly. Take care of my kid. Don’t be petty. Love him as I have, as well as I’ve loved all of you.

For now a toast: crappy Apothic tonight. Drink something better for me. I loved you all more than my life could ever expect. I’m grateful for every moment. Every person. I need you to know, because life is short.


Reunited and it feels so good!

I left off a few years back, and admittedly a lot has changed in my special needs two person home.

Two years ago my son and I started homeschooling, and this seemingly small choice has led to a lot of momentum in our lives.

Not only is my son now thriving academically, he’s speaking in abundance. So much so that I’m beginning to empathize with the typical parenting gripe of wishing I had quiet once in a while. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade our progress for anything, but boy can that kid wear out a topic.

I also changed careers. I went back to school for graphic and web design to enable my son’s at home growth, and allow myself to work from home. I don’t know how I managed, but somehow while homeschooling, working, and attending college I managed to find myself the validictorian.

All of this progress has led to a lot of life changes for us both. Also, a lot of work for me!

You wouldn’t guess this, but the trials of the first part of my son’s life left me completely prepared to handle heavy burdens and make all if these changes possible.

Every day I’m thankful for all that my son and I have taught eachother. For once the the future is looking brighter. I’m excited to see how our family evolves, and what my son is capable of. I have a feeling for the first time since his diagnoses that maybe things will turn out ok.

I’m still adjusting to this newfound optimism, so if you see a little snark here and there just remember it’s been a long and twisted road to get here. We are growing and still far from perfect.

If my child is being a turd. A commentary on today’s education systems. 

Dear American school systems:

Where did you get the notion that well behaved children will become of ONLY using positive reinforcement in schools? Where did you get the tenacity to label giving my child consequences “negative reinforcement?” When did you get the nerve to overide my parenting?

I have news for you… Life is full of negative reinforcement.  Teaching children that only positive consequences occur is stiring the pot for the generations to come.

My son attends a school in which only positive outcomes occur.  This means that when my son hits people, he will still get some form of reward throughout the day.  He will also receive minimal consequence for his actions.  I have also been informed that I too must comply to these rules because speaking positively about things my son doesn’t like will ultimately change his view of things.

My son is 10, and it’s safe to say that he has his own views about what and who he likes.  If my positive thoughts were the divine power that could change his opinion, then he would have eaten a freaking vegetable by now!

I am take aback by these methods.  I am also deeply afraid that today’s youth will grow up, and be left behind by life’s expectations.  Not everyone gets a trophy in the real world, and achievements are not made by merely being well liked.

If my son hits another person as an adult, then he will go to jail.  At minimum we can expect legal trouble.

I am the kind of mom that gives consequences.  Don’t misunderstand: I’m not a spanking or yelling mom.  I teach my son that my belongings and my stuff do not belong to him.  If he acts out in public we will leave and sit in “time out.” I have thrown his stuff away because he doesn’t appreciate it, or has not put it away properly.  I will take him places that I want to go, and expect him to behave.

I want him to understand that our attitudes do not decide what we achieve, but that our actions ultimately determine everything.  I want him to learn that real life has real repercussions.  I want him to realize that if he wants things that he needs to earn them, and once he has earned them he is responsible for the upkeep.  I want him to see life as an investment, and not just effortless game in which he can receive all his heart desires just by participating.

What I want from the school system is simple: please stop rewarding my child’s bad behavior. You are teaching my child that these actions do not matter! His future is in both of our hands, and I am trusting you to share this responsibility.

If my child is being a turd, then please do not give him a cookie.

Inviting the Vampire….

As my son has grown he delights me with all of his unique qualities…. and as a hyperactive child with autisim, his eccentricities are abundant.  I love the way his mind works…. and how his room has enough random lighting to brighten the garage door through his window.  I love the way he likes to shout at the store about everything we are doing….

“Mommy going potty!!!!!”
“Mommy cooking!!!!”
It can be embarrassing, but it sure is fun.

Our latest endeavor includes filling for SSI, and IHSS- for those who aren’t familiar with the many acronyms  we have as disabled parents; I’m basically declaring his disability so that I can be availible to be his caregiver.
What this means to us is- a long line of invited strangers skulking through our home taking notes on everything that we need to change. 

I’m kind of used to it…..
It’s happened for 6 years now….

I wonder if there will be a time when I can be a mother without so much interference from the state.  I mean I’ve already given up everything,  my personal life, privacy, the right to my own schedule,  finishing college, and now it will be my job….

I’m prepared and happy to do these things….

…. but if they demand I remove his lights. … there will be a battle…..

My lovely boy,  you can trust me to preserve your happiness.  I hope one day I can tell you about all of the things we have accomplished and endured.   For now, I’m thankful to be able to be your mom. 

Poverty Christmas

My dear sweet boy,
Though we don’t have much, I hope you know how valuable this life is.

There is something you probably don’t understand yet…mommy is poor.

I know it doesn’t seem this way because all of the people who love you try to give you all of the things that mommy cannot.

Grandma is buying you a new tablet, because you broke yours again. Mommy got you a few small things at the dollar store, plus every Christmas light you could want.

Mommy asked her secret santa at work to get a toy for YOU! And uncle Daniel and aunt Julie are getting you a gift card so mommy can get you a few more things.

I know other kids will get a lot of toys for Christmas, and I know you’ll get very few. The money grandpa gave us for Christmas helped buy the tree, and some food for your lunches.

I’m sorry that some of the money went to buy you practical things like school clothes, it’s not fair.

Mommy is doing the best she can to give you all you need, but she can’t give you all you desire. I hope one day I can tell you all this and that you will underatand.

The best gift mommy could give you is all of herself. Because of your special needs, I need to be with you more often than at work. Mommy is lucky to have people she works for that underatand and allow her to be with you whenever you need help.

My sweet baby, you deserve so much more, but I want you to know how lucky you are to have so many people who love you.

Merry Christmas from Mom, and all of the people who let me be the mom I need to be.

I Deserve To Go To School Too

This year something unbearable happened. It’s the kind of nightmare that a parent should never have to face when trusting their child to the care of a teacher.

My son had gone from a happy child to an angry child when he began the Autism program at Kellogg Polytechnic Elementary. He began to hit aggressively and scream for every frustration. He protested his days at school by screaming when I dropped him off, and he clawed at the gate screaming to come home every day when I picked him up. Every day I spoke with his teacher about what could be affecting his behavior.

I continued to bring him, day after day, for a year. Hoping he would adjust. The problem, however, was not adjustment. The problem became clear on September 9th when he came home with scratches around his neck, bruising to his arms, and dirt all over his body. An adult sized hand print was formed from the broken capillaries in his little arm.

I pulled him out, I called the police, I took him to the doctor, I called DCFS, and I filed a lawsuit.

No one did anything.


My son has been out of school without placement. He has become extremely aggressive and I’m having a hard time keeping it all together. I work with a behaviorist to help modify his frustration, but it continues.

They took something from my son. I don’t know how long this continued in that school, but I made him go back every day…. and the guilt is overwhelming.

I miss the way he was before he enrolled at Kellogg. He was sweet. I wonder if we will ever have that kind of interaction again.

What makes me the most furious, is that these people continue to be allowed to interact with children who cannot speak and tell their parents how they are treated. My son can never tell me what happened to him. The only pieces to the story I have found suggest that his treatment there was ongoing. The aide “Tiffany” didn’t like him. When I found out, it took every ounce of me to refrain from …. Well lets just say it was a dark place….

My son is still home. No school will have him while he is hitting. I am sick with grief.

My son deserves the same quality of education that any other child deserves. Teachers who are responsible and caring. Equipment that is basic for fundamental learning. A safe environment to grow.

It should be no different because he is autistic.

I may find trouble I’m writing this, but it is the truth….

Baby Sleeps

He breathes,
My trusting angel,
Sleeping sweetly,
In my bed,

His face,
Like painted porcelain,
Neatly nestled,
His pillowed head,

His limbs,
Stretched in comfort,
Embracing blankets,
Warmed by threads,

He lay,
My darling baby,
Dreams diagonal,
And he has spread,

Sleepy mommy,
No room for you here,
Suffer the sofa,
Long night ahead.

Diagnosis- Re-written

When Colvin was three, my marriage ended. It was pretty nuclear, and far overdue. Without the help of my best friend, I don’t know how I would have endured the events that happened over the course of that year.

Colie and I shared a room at my friends house with her husband. At the time, it was becoming obvious that Colie was experiencing some strange social delays. He never spoke a word, he wasn’t very affectionate, and it took no less than the hand of god to force him to look at me for more than a few minutes. He has always been, however, very bright. From the moment he took apart the DVD player I saw his intelligence.

A newly single parent, I set out to rebuild my life, and in this journey I was determined to answer a few questions about Colie’s quirks.

I made an appointment to see the Alta Loma school district diagnostic team, and just like that we began the process.

We played with blocks, plates, talked, and three weeks later we met for our last interview.

I remember standing and holding Colie because at the time he was afraid to stand alone in new places. The diagnostician said in her happiest school teacher voice “we’re thinking Autism, with cognitive delays.”

Suddenly Colie’s 45 pounds felt so heavy in my arms. She had to repeat this about four times before I understood what she had told me.
When I finally took her words in, I dropped the contents of my purse all over the floor.

She handed me a pamphlet and sent me on my way, as if she hasn’t just delivered to me the most devastating news I’ve ever heard.

I drove back to my friends house in silence. The usual hum of the radio was clouded by a loud rushing sound in my ears.

Like any good mom, I pulled up to the house and ushered my son inside for some overdue chicken nuggets and milk. When he sat to eat, I walked to our temporary room and collapsed into the closet to cry.

I don’t know how long I sat there. It felt like hours, but it may have only been a short while. My fiend came home to find me in a hunch. She threw her arms around me and shared my hurt.

I showed her the packet. It was littered with terms and acronyms that I had never before seen. Somewhere in that mess was the answer to all of my questions.

Colvin cannot stack three blocks.
Colvin scratches when upset.
Colvin does not engage in imaginary play.
Colvin does not make eye contact.
Colvin does not respond to his name.
Colvin does not have friends.

Reading it made my stomach turn. I don’t know why, but I blamed myself.
What did I do to make him like this?
Why us?

It was as if all of the hopes I had for his future died with that diagnosis. I couldn’t help but linger on the thoughts that he may never go to college, have a girlfriend, drive a car, keep a job.

Most parents can predict that if they work hard, then their children will someday end up like everyone else. Another generation of breeders to have viable children who will, in turn, breed more viable children. For me, that was it. No more kids, possibly no grand kids. My line ends with Colvin.

I had no idea how Autism would impact out little family. Slowly but surely, we began to rebuild. That day, I had no idea how proud he would make me.

When Colie enrolled at Decker, he was the ONLY child who was potty trained. In the severe class, potty training was a huge deal.

Admittedly, this was no small task. Colie hated the toilet. He often hid to defecate in random areas of the house, or urinated in drawers to hide it. Sometimes in his lack of bodily awareness, he would just go- in the car, the store, the kitchen.

When he finally used the bathroom on his own, it was as if he had discovered radium. I was the envy of other ASRD moms, and praised for my ability to teach him. The truth was, it was all Colie.

Colie is brave, and he trusts me. Together we have accomplished many things based upon the union of these two strengths.

His fear of the vacuum that once sent him trembling and screaming into the bathroom was overcome last year. I’m currently one of the few mothers with whom I share this lifestyle that can clean the floor with only moderate irritation.

When Colie was diagnosed, I thought I had lost something. The truth was, I never had anything to lose. Colie has brought more richness and strength into my life then I ever thought I would have. He has taught me the value of patience, bravery in the face of judgement, and pride in small achievements.

In short, I look up to him. He’s already a stronger person than I have ever been. His determination to make mom proud is nothing short of inspirational.

Today Colie is approaching 6. He has one friend. He looks at me. He stacks blocks. He says a few words, and these things don’t matter too much. The value of my son runs so much deeper than can be determined from a packet of terms. At 6 years old, he is my teacher, a leader for positive choices, a reminder of unconditional love.

To the diagnosticians: put that in his IEP!

Single Mom

The title, “single mom,” defines a woman by two characteristics. The first being the fact that she is without a man to head the household. The second being the fact that she is in charge of someone else’s upbringing.

The term, “single mom,” implies responsibility and strength. However, this term is often misused to imply weakness, pity, the idea of being less.

Strong women, like myself, are categorized by our ability to be successfully loved by a man, while we tote the baggage of small children at our sides…Why is this?

Is the life of mom not difficult enough without the harsh label of “single”?

When we hear the word “single,” many of us envision the coffee sipping, heel wearing, free wheeling women in their twenties. To them, the term single brings the image of freedom, personal choice, and adventure.

Somehow this term single takes on another picture once once it meets the term mom. Suddenly, this woman of the world is chained to drooling, dirty, screeching children as she lifts an oily pony tail from her night gown in the afternoon!

If a single mom is fortunate enough to meet someone she is compatible with, we face terms like “instant family,” “blended,” and “step parent”….. Great…. The labels keep coming.

For myself, dating since my son has been an exhausting experience. There are so many details to consider when there are more people involved. I still have hope that maybe there more in store for our little two person family, but until then, I think I’ll keep my title of “single mother raising an autistic child.”
Society may read into this sequence of terms if they desire, but like any presumption, there’s always more behind these words than one can see.

This single mom loves her little guy, and if god sees fit, maybe one day we can brave the stereotype of blended family.

For now, we will enjoy this lazy holiday cuddling on the couch. Single mom and autistic child. Embracing our labels and each other. When I look at him I don’t see autism, I see Colie. I know that he sees only mom when he looks at me. At this moment, that’s all I need.

Completely Incomplete

Sometimes, when it’s late at night, and I’m all alone, it gets to me.

My son is at his fathers tonight, and here I am, completely incomplete.

I should be enjoying the solitude that comes with having my bed to myself, being able to finish my homework before class the next day, and having a meal without interruption.

But for some reason, those inconveniences bring more joy than discomfort.

When kiddo is at dad’s, I never know what to do with my time. I sway from periods of irresponsible laziness, to extreme productivity….. However, it’s all for the same reason….

That screaming, pinching, mess making, dog squishing, cat throwing, bratty kiddo- breathes life into my otherwise dreary life.

So here I sit, on a Friday night, and my tasks are all complete. Somehow, I am not, when he is away.

Miss you kiddo. See you Sunday.