I Just Don’t Know

I am simply at a loss.

They’ve apprehended a suspect in the town we were last stationed in. The suspect worked at the commissary where we shopped for groceries.

I wrote about another senseless shooting and felt the same numbness, but as others have written; this feels personal. This time it was my state. My hometown. The town where my parents currently live. In a mall that was built when I was in the 7th grade. The mall where our senior prom was held. A store that I’ve shopped in more times than I can count.

Sadly, I’ve watched the coverage online and read comments. The vile, racist, ugly and unfounded speculations abound.

As usual, we seem to be left with more questions than answers.

When the shooting in Columbine happened, I remember sitting transfixed in front of the television, mouth gaping at the scene unfolding. “How is this happening? And at a school?!”

And now?

The shooting incidences seem to happen regularly. And like every other time-we will hold our vigils. We will say our prayers and promise to hug our loved ones a little tighter. We will shake our collective heads and remark about the sad state of our society. We will mourn.

And do nothing.

Just like last time.

And the time before that.

And the other one before it.

I just don’t know how it’s ever going to change. What possesses a person to inflict such carnage? Has a moral sense of right and wrong been eroded? I really just don’t know.

Fragile

Be careful with my heart.

I know how you look at me when I’m wth my children. I see you watching. I’m aware. I know what it looks like. I’m a fragile mom, yes, but a mom who is battle-tested and will no longer shy away from meeting your eyes. I will not be shamed. I will not let you tell me with your look and your eye roll and your mutterings under your breath that are just loud enough for me to hear that I am a bad mother.

I still feel the sting of your gaze.

Do I wish it was different? Sure. Do I wish life was easier for him to navigate? Without question. Would I change him if I could? Nope.

I used to think the Autism diagnosis would somehow be the worst possible thing ever about being a parent. I remember speaking with another expectant mom friend at the time, “Can you imagine? What if the baby has autism?” As if it is the worst possible fate.

It’s not.

It’s exhausting and challenging and rewarding – times that it sucks, and times that it takes your breath away with the amount of determination and persistence it takes to overcome challenges – that pride in the littlest of successes will be like nothing ever experienced before. But it’s not the worst possible thing to happen to a child.

I may have a fragile heart, but we are far from breaking.

Radical Honesty

Authenticity, radical honesty, and simply put in the author’s own word: brutiful – Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior is sitting with a bookmark half way through it’s pages, begging me to finish it.

Seriously.

It is SO raw and honest. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. Reading this feels like when you stare directly into the sun. It’s piercing honesty will force you to set it down, simply to digest it before picking back up again. Her response of “how was your day” with 3 children left me open-mouthed, marveling at how brave she is to bare it all. It’s against the rules to say this stuff out loud. We are supposed to “cherish every moment” while raising our kids. Aren’t we?

B.S.

Not every moment is Instagrammable. Some of them down right suck.

“It was the best of times and the worst of times. I was both lonely and never alone. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed. I was saturated with touch – desperate to get the baby off of me and the second I put her down I yearned to smell her sweet skin again. This day required more than I’m physically and emotionally capable of, while requiring nothing from my brain. I had thoughts today, ideas, important things to say and no one to hear them.

I felt manic all day, alternating between love and fury. at least once an hour I looked at their faces and thought I might not survive the tenderness of my love for them. The next moment I was furious. I felt like a dormant volcano, steady on the outside but ready to explode and spew hot lava at any moment. And then I noticed that Amma’s foot doesn’t fit into her Onsie anymore, and I started to panic at the reminder that this will be over soon, that it’s fleeting-that this hardest time of my life is supposed to be the best time of my life. That this brutal time is also the most beautiful time. Am I enjoying it enough? Am I missing the best time of my life? Am I too tired to be properly in love? That fear and shame felt like adding a heavy, itchy blanket on top of all the hard.

But I’m not complaining, so please don’t try to fix it. I wouldn’t have my day or my life any other way. I’m just saying – it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain – an entire day with lots of babies. If’s far too much and not even close to enough.

But I’m too tired to say any of this. I’m a windup doll that’s run out. So I just say, ‘Our day was fine.'”

-Glennon Doyle Melton, from Love Warrior

How often do we respond with, “I’m fine”? And how often are we not fine at all?

While not all the specific parts of her life are necessarily universal, most are symptoms masking the truths which are; shame, vulnerability, worthiness, etc.

I am a huge fan of Brene Brown. What she discusses in terms of shame and vulnerability in an academic way from the viewpoint of a researcher, Glennon “does her research in the field”. If you have read Brown’s work or seen her TedTalk, you need to know Glennon Doyle Melton.

I’m going to go finish my copy while you go purchase yours!

Greatness is Contagious

I was watching her – not only as a bootcamp participant, but as an instructor. Early on in my heart of hearts, I knew that I was watching and learning to become an instructor myself. Yes, I was getting my own fitness on track, but deep down I felt like this was something I would love to do. Concentrating on my form, sweat beads dropping from my hairline down my back and trying to eek out each rep, she hollered at us:

“Greatness is contagious! Don’t be that person that quits half way through! The person next to you is watching! You drop out, then she does. It is contagious! Don’t be the downfall of the people next to you! Be great! Catch the greatness!”

Needless to say, that when given that little gem – somehow you manage to find what little strength you have in the tank and give it your all. She was, and is, full of these fitness gems. (You can check out Christina and her other awesome Christina-isms at her website dumbellfitness.com.)

What she said was, and is, so very true. I see it as an instructor myself all the time. You may think that while you’re in your group class, stopping mid workout to check your phone that you are only affecting you, but you’re not. Everyone in the group feels that focus and that energy detract from the room. During indoor cycling class, I’ve threatened to bring in a basket “depository” for all electronics for the hour. I crack jokes in class to get the point across without singling anyone out – because a lot of the time I think it’s just become so customary. We have these screens attached to our fingertips all of the time that to set it down and (GASP!) actually turn them off seems to make us feel naked! For one hour – just one – take a break. Work on you. Leave all of your life at the door. Trust me – it will be there when you are finished. Fill your cup – then you can get back to filling others’. 

If you are coming to a group class, understand that you are a part of that group – even if it’s just for that workout. Your presence, your energy, and your focus is wanted and needed. It’s not about the instructor or ego or anything like that – it’s about your fellow participants. When you half-ass it, they see that and it is contagious. But so is greatness. If you are giving it everything you have, so will those around you. This isn’t to say you have to be perfect, or do every rep – it’s that you are doing YOUR best. Giving it your all.

In fitness, we don’t half-ass it. We use our whole ass. Why? Because greatness is contagious!

Stir Fry “Rice”

I am not a huge fan of making one food try to be another, but this time I’ll make an exception because these taste buds are so dang happy!

Even Hannah liked it!

IMG_3611

Stir Fry Cauliflower “Rice”

  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, processed to a rice-size
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1/2 tsp-1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2-4 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (0r mixed frozen veggies)
  • 1/ cup shredded cabbage

And by request, here’s the video how-to! Happy Cooking!

It’s Time

When I was pregnant with him, I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I read all the books, studied up on exactly how he was developing and growing. We dreamed about what this little baby would be like when we were able to finally meet him, like all parents-to-be surely do. When I held him for the first time I was on so many drugs from the c-section, but I distinctly remember the overwhelming and crushing tidal wave of love I had for this boy.

Watching your child grow and learn to crawl, and walk, and do all the miraculous everyday things they do is – in a word; incredible. Going through the sleepless nights, the endless days of diapers and feedings that feel like every day is groundhog day – all of it in hindsight seems to pale in comparison as we move into new phases of hard.

We’ve always known, really.

From the time he was two and half and cowering under a chair in the doctor’s office, when he still didn’t have any words at three, and stuck to the sign language and the mother/son way of communicating that we had developed, the way he speaks without consideration of volume and personal space, the rigidity of thought, and the extreme meltdowns when plans were not executed in the way they were supposed to be; we knew deep down. We’ve met with professionals, each reluctant to give us the official word for various reasons.

He’s not like other kids. He’s different.

He will eat the same 4 things every single day. For 5 years. Change to routine is hard. As a military family, moving is very challenging under the best of circumstances, it becomes chaos at times for us. Florescent lights in retail stores and the constant over-stimulation while shopping overwhelms him to the point of meltdown. Outsiders only see a bratty kid having a tantrum, because well, ‘he looks normal’. For the record, a meltdown is not a tantrum. While my heart is breaking trying to deal with his inability to deal with life, a stranger will mutter cruel and unwanted “advice” as they walk on by. This has happened more times than I can count.

It’s hard to watch your kid realize that he is different.

It’s hard to see him recognize that he doesn’t have many friends.

It’s hard to explain to him that to have friends, there has to be a give and take. He simply doesn’t have the social tools.

I cringe when people meet him for the first time and the wave of realization that he is different crosses their face.

I fluctuate between denial and harsh reality.

I’ve been living in the denial land of “he’s just a little different” and “maybe he will outgrow it”. We didn’t need a label before, but things are changing. Last night we met with his teacher at his new school. The first two weeks have been bumpy. He’s cried in class multiple times. He’s having a hard time adjusting. He is a quick learner and can do the work, but lacks the social skills for his age. He needs tools that a diagnosis will provide.

My heart breaks for his struggling little self.

It’s time now.

He’s different. He’s a kid who falls on the autism spectrum. And it’s okay.