Our Extra Special Valentine’s

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It never ceases to amaze me the moments that come around when navigating a new journey.  Especially experiencing all the emotions that come with it.  This week was one of those times where I felt like time just stood still and I was truly in the moment faced with another eye-opening and sobering experience.  Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, a holiday that I am not that fond of because to me, you should be expressing Love to your husband or wife everyday like it is Valentine’s Day.  This Valentine’s Day though changed my mind about what it means in my life and proved to be an extra special day for my husband and I.

Wyatt had his very first Valentine’s Day Party at his School and we were invited to join in!  Wyatt is in a Special Education classroom that has 2 special education aides and 1 special education teacher.  These ladies are a blessing and I can’t express how much I just love them and how they love my son on a daily basis.  The other children in Wyatt’s class are like him and have a diagnosis of Autism.  We were given the opportunity to not only partake in our son’s day, but in their day as well!  My husband and I were the only two parents that made it to the party.  Many parents are not as lucky as we are.  Many work during the day and probably don’t have as  much flexibility in their work schedules to take time off for special events like these.  It was all the more reason for us to take this experience in and just love on all these kiddos!  I felt really honored to be there.

During the party we sat with everyone during snack and got an inside look at therapy in action.  Wyatt and his peers receive a modified more flexible version of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapy which is a therapy that has proven to be the best for children with Autism.  During the day Wyatt and his peers are asked to request for what they want repetitively so that they develop speech and develop other areas of everyday functioning.  It is designed to help these amazing kiddos find their voice.

I became very emotional watching as Wyatt and his peers worked SO hard to sit through snack, request, and “interact.”  During the time we were there for his party I was amazed and just filled with pure love and joy watching these kids work hard and manage all the sensory input that was being thrown at them.  At times it became very overwhelming for some, while others, like Wyatt were oblivious and in their own world.  As a parent I experienced a variety of emotions watching this all unfold.  Sadness, heartbreak, joy, pride, but, most of all LOVE.

I can’t help but think about how much we as “typical” human beings take for granted in our everyday lives.  The ability to do everyday tasks at ease as well as just experience the world around us at ease.  Those with developmental and physical disabilities don’t experience that.  Everything is work for them.  Which makes them extra-ordinary and in my eyes the most amazing Human beings.

Valentine’s Day for me will never be the same again and this is why.  I had NO IDEA the plan God had for me when we were faced with the diagnosis of Autism with Wyatt.  I still have no clue what the full plan is, but it is slowly coming into formation.  My love and admiration for those with special needs is growing and it has started because of my son.  Every year on Valentine’s Day it is my goal to make these extra special kiddos feel extra special love, I am not sure what that will look like, but I am sure God has a plan for it.  My definition for Valentine’s  Day has changed in my mind.  Yes, it is for showing your significant other love on that day, but I think for me, it will be about having many extra special valentine’s not only just my son, but for his peers as well.

 

Live Wonderfully Made!

-Carolyn

Soldier On Momma…

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Sitting in a diner with my coffee refilled for the fifth time, (yes I drink that much), I am depleted to say the least with my eyes puffy from crying myself to sleep the night before.  This journey is not what I planned.  Another rough patch we are experiencing in our special needs parenting journey.  The pain, the anger, and lack of knowing what the right thing to do comes flooding back in and yet I keep soldiering on, because that is what us Momma’s do right?  We pick ourselves back up and keep walking through the messes.  We continue to go on with our day regardless of the fact that we haven’t showered, done our hair in days or did that workout that we told ourselves we were going to do the day before.  We get up and go to work during the day or at night and then come home to laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, meal planning, and the role of supportive wife on top of all that.

Someday’s I get it right and someday’s I don’t.  This week I did not.  Navigating the world my son lives in and how he experiences it still is an adjustment.  The increased withdrawing, meltdowns, and lack of connection this week has broken my heart.  I am continuing to learn daily what works for him and what doesn’t.   I am not even a year into his diagnosis so what do I expect?  Perfection?  NO!  Of Course I can’t.  I just have to keep going, keep learning, keep pushing, because that is what WE do as Momma’s!  We soldier on!

I know there is another Momma out there reading this who is feeling depleted.  Feeling like the weight of the world and her family is on her shoulder’s.  I say to you and myself, “Keep Soldiering on Momma!”  Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the fact that you just can’t seem to get it all right….know that you CAN make it!  We have to make it!  Being a soldiering Momma is not easy but it is definitely worth it!  You are enough, you are loved, I believe in you, and so does God!  Below I wanted to share some verses that I have leaned on this week to help push me through and keep soldiering on.  I hope that you can read these and feel the love of God empowering you to continue to be the best Momma to those littles just like you always have been!  I am calling these my “Soldier On Momma Verses”

 

Soldier On Momma Verses:

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”                   -James 1:12 NIV

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” -Philippians 4:13

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” – 1 Chronicles 16:11

 

Momma, Oh How Sweet The Sound…

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Being a Momma is something that when my husband and I decided to start trying to get pregnant was just an idea and dream in my mind.  I look back at that time and just remember having all these thoughts about what it would be about, how it would feel, and so many other things.  I think as an expectant first time momma, you never really can truly grasp the full impact that it will have on your life until it actually comes true!  No matter the stories other women would tell me or the explanation of how I could feel was shared with me, you don’t truly know until… it happens!

Then Wyatt came bounding into this world!  My first year as a Momma proved to be challenging because well let’s be honest there is a LOT to learn!  There is no manual!  I gave up my career and any sense of financial comfort to be home with him.  We decided this was the best for our family.  I have over the past 2 1/2 years, had various part-time jobs that worked around the schedule I needed and that has been a blessing.  Thank goodness for God’s opening of doors in that area.  As we made our way towards year number 2 in Wyatt’s life, my husband and I started to share the same concern that something wasn’t right with Wyatt.  He was…well…different.  From February 2016 to May 2016 we went thru the Early Intervention process, then in May of 2016 Wyatt was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder ( I hate the word disorder, because it isn’t a disorder, it is a way of life. But that is for a whole other blog post.)  The word momma took on a whole other meaning when that diagnosis entered our world.  A whole new set of responsibilities and struggles fell into our laps.  There is a weight that a special needs momma feels when navigating the special needs world.  There is this constant question in your mind that you keep asking, “Am I making the right choices?”  “Is this the best for my son?”  I mean it is CONSTANT!  My husband and I have been BLESSED with some amazing advocates, friends, therapists, doctors and County Workers to guide us in decision-making.  I find it truly amazing that thru this whole process God literally placed very specific people into our lives when we needed them.  I consider that a modern-day miracle.  The series of events and people who came into our lives at this difficult time were PERFECT!

The only word Wyatt said from about 18 months to about 24 months was “Dada.”  Now that melts my heart because my husband and Wyatt are two peas in a pod!  I mean they are best buddies!  I loved that he would say “Dada” even if he would literally use that word for everything.  Many other “words” or sounds that correlate with a meaning of a word have come thru with a lot of speech therapy.  Sign Language has become a beacon of hope in our home.  Sometimes this is the only form of communication that Wyatt will respond to or use.  So props to American Sign Language you are a life-saver!  With all of this progress, there has been one missing word that my heart just craved to hear.  That word was “Momma, Mommy, Mom”  ANYTHING of the sort!!!  I mean, I KNEW that Wyatt knew I am his “person…”  his mom, but to hear that word come from his mouth directed my way was something I have been praying and craving!   So I have waited.  I have to give so much credit to Wyatt’s speech therapist.  He has had 2 amazing speech therapists!  His first in-home speech therapist was my sanity, my sounding board, my friend really!  The day we decided to move Wyatt into programming and end in-home therapy was bittersweet because that meant we had to say goodbye to her and hello to someone new!  But, you know God…He just does his thing and provides someone PERFECT for Wyatt!  She has been working so hard to help Wyatt continue to find his voice!  There are some good sessions and some not so good.  They are currently working very hard on developing sounds into words, continuing the use of sign language and working on interaction.  One word they have worked on is “Momma”  it is easier to say than “Mommy” I am assuming and they have been using the sign for it as well.  I have heard his speech therapist say that he has said it….and he has even said it with a lot of prompting, but it has never just come out of his mouth directed towards me as an interaction.  Until….yesterday, January 12, 2017!  A day I will always remember!

Everyday I drive Wyatt 40 minutes to school, wait 2 1/2 hours in the area, then drive him home another 40 minutes home.  5 days a week…it is worth it because he is so connected to his teachers, therapists, and quite frankly this school is just AMAZING!   So when I go to pick up Wyatt, I wait outside the classroom door that I can’t see in.  Wyatt is in a special needs preschool classroom.  It is called ELA 1 room.  He is in a class of maximum 8 students just like him with Autism or other developmental disabilities as well as 1 special education teacher and 2 special education aides.  Everyday I wait outside his classroom the anticipation for me is huge!  I can’t wait to see his face!  I know it is only 2 1/2 hours but I miss the little guy!  So, yesterday the door opens and I walk in… sure enough Wyatt looks right at me and makes the sign for “Momma” and says….wait for it…”MOMMA!”   I held back the tears and just squeezed him!  Oh how sweet that sound was that came from that tiny little beautiful mouth!  This tiny voice…”Momma.”  As I sit here and type this I am feeling the pure joy all over again.  Now, he hasn’t said it since without a lot of prompting but darn it, it is in there!!

I share this story today not only because I am just so darn excited to share it but because it is a testimony to God’s goodness and his listening to my broken heart.  This year has been a challenge, I have cried, laughed, screamed to God many times about this circumstance, but I am slowly growing into this role as special needs momma.  It is such an important role.  It is the MOST important role that I will EVER have in my entire life.  The role is a piece to my Living Wonderfully Made.  It is a role that I will continue to grow into and learn.  I have some amazing special needs momma’s in my life that thank goodness I walk down this road with.

Today, my cup is filled to the brim.  Wyatt, called me “Momma.”

Live Wonderfully Made

-Carolyn xoxo