Wednesday, March 26, 2014

the gifts are optional

I woke up today a blank slate. I yawned and stretched. With one eye open, I reached for my phone to tell me what to do and where to go. As usual, I read comments and messages on Facebook and the blog. It's like my morning pre-coffee. And you and I sit and wax about life, although we wrote words at different times we connect. You enlighten me. 

But this morning, someone pooped in my pre-coffee. Because I am SUPPOSED to think and speak and answer all things autism in a very specific way and apparently I did not do it right for this ONE PERSON. And after an initial stew, I finally realized- GOOD ON ME. I don't want to think and write and feel and be like everyone else. I want to be my very own ME. The real version- not watered down for public consumption. I'm not running for office, I'm sharing my heart. I'm not always PC. I give direct, honest and thought-filled answers. When in doubt I always choose kind. People who take the time to point out what others are doing or saying wrong- are also missing out on all the greatness life has to offer. It's impossible to be a pain in the ass and judgey and jumping with intense happiness and joy. At the end of the day when I ponder about who I want to be and what I want to do- I am at peace. 

We all have a choice. To censor and say what we think is the right thing so others don't take us the wrong way. Or to be our kind and honest selves, to tell the truth and let other people be responsible for how they take things. Their thoughts aren't our responsibility. That thought brings me peace. The potential reaction of their thoughts should not make you change you. For every one person who doesn't get you - there will be hundreds or even thousands that do, and they will appreciate it even more because they are getting to know the real you.

Parker's morning Behavior Therapy session was cancelled today, so I got permission to bring him to Grey's preschool to hang out in the younger kids classroom for a little while. 
The second we walked in God's personal angel helper kid made himself known, and I smiled. Sometimes God's ways are in your face and not at all mysterious.

 photo _MG_8118_zpsee394915.jpg
Oh this boy. Words can't describe the love for this boy in the world. We are crazy in love, I always tell him- because it's true.

It's strange to see Parker in direct comparison to a group of peers his own age. Today shocked me. It's different seeing it live versus knowing it from a text book. When I look in as an observer it's fascinating- it's just facts. If I had to guess I would say the other three year olds are most likely functioning at a 32-46 month old developmental level. When referring to developmental categories you are looking specifically at things like language, self-help, cognitive, sensory/organization, social, gross motor and fine motor skills. When you have a child with developmental delays you school yourself and become an honorary Rock Star on Childhood Development. 

What was smooth as an observer was sharp as a mom. It sucked concrete thoughts out of my head and left me empty and pretending to function and smile and talk. It's extremely easy to get engulfed in the pain of comparison. Not for the wrong reasons- like I want my boys to be the fastest or smartest or best for my own personal bragging rights. It's bigger and deeper and much more organic and maternal than that. It's one part irrational, one part fear. The Momma bear almost feels like she has to fight for her babies very survival.To see Parker's peers tracing their names and standing in line and sitting quietly on carpet squares and talking, socializing and functioning without an aid or parent. Despite the fact that he will be three next month, Parker is more like a 18 month old. And I had this moment, after one of the teachers asked a casual- How's it going? That I thought I was going to cry.

 photo _MG_8120_zps55639b86.jpg

I had to reach inside to pull myself out of that place in my head. And I realized right then- There are gifts, right here and right now in this room. But here's the catch- the gifts are optional. It depends on if you want them or not. You have to be willing to search and dig for them sometimes. So I focused on what was. I opened my eyes wider for the silver lining. 

 photo _MG_8121_zpsb5352b1b.jpg

It could be worse- I told me. He has awesome gross and fine motor skills. Some children with autism have to struggle and work on those things too. And although he doesn't seek out the other children, he is okay with being around them. He never tried to leave the room. There were many, many gifts when I stopped to think about it. I GET to be a stay at home mom and do everything I can for him. We get to spend much of our day together. I get to smother him with kisses whenever I want. And when I really thought about it- it was like Christmas with all these gifts lying around. I wonder if God is sitting up there all excited, just hoping like crazy we notice all the beautiful gifts he has laid out before us. And one of the greatest gifts of all- He was happy, friend. You should have seen his big blue eyes- they were so happy.

 photo _MG_8127_zps4a2ea3b7.jpg

 photo _MG_8125_zps9301c3ae.jpg

 photo _MG_8126_zpsf3238787.jpg
He loves to explore the world. How lucky am I to have a partner who loves to explore life as much as I do?

When you first are in a new situation, it's not always easy to find the gifts. I think at first there needs to be a process of pain and acceptance and processing and discovery. It's not typical for most of us to walk into a new and frightening situation with optimism. Yay! I have breast cancer. This is bound to be an enlightening experience! No, no, no. For most of us- we must hurt and ache for as long as we need to. We may need to scream and cry and be mad at God or turn to Him for strength. There is no one right way- just the way that works for you. But somewhere during the murky, you start to come to again. That doesn't mean everything is rainbows- but you can feel the tingle of life in your fingers and toes again. And before you realize exactly what happened- you look down and almost stumble over a little box with a sweet little bow with your name on it. 

It's funny- today I texted a friend a screen shot of the poop comment . She just happened to be in the area so we met at the mall and coffeed and shopped and tried on red lipstick- which heals all.  As we were leaving I realized that whole interaction probably wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the crap comment in the first place.

Turns out, maybe even that was a pretty little gift after all.

So much love,


Like Life with Greyson + Parker on Facebook. Help me change the world! 


  1. Good for you for finding the silver lining. I look forward to your beautiful words and photographs each day. You have opened my eyes to so much beauty. Thank you for being honest and raw. Much love to you!

  2. I love what you said here, " tell the truth and let other people be responsible for how they take things. Their thoughts aren't our responsibility." So true. It is exhausting to always be trying to think of every angle of what may be misconstrued or misinterpreted or not PC. You're right, it is not our responsibility or within our power to determine how people will respond or react. I wish I could squeeze those cute little cheeks. So cute!!

  3. I really want you to know that your truth telling is so inspiring to me. It makes me feel OK to have "real" feelings and you always remind me that there are silver linings. I appreciate your honesty and kindness!

  4. Thank goodness you found your gifts of writing, photography and shameless truth telling and that you have the courage to share it knowing someone is going to poop in your coffee!

    Thank goodness you found the ability to wade through the brutal to get to the beautiful! Some people are never able to do that and they make for some sad, sour people. You doing that in your life helps me get through mine in my life.

    Thank you for sharing your awesome children with us!

  5. I LOVE every word you write! As a grandmother to a special needs baby, I look to you for wisdom and guidance. You always help me when I step on shards <3

  6. Big hugs to you. I can totally relate to having your child around kids who are developing typically. It can be really difficult to watch at times. I am glad you have found the silver lining in this- and you inspired me to find mine : )

  7. Thank you.. for your words, for your reminders, for living your life for you and your family and not for everyone else. I feel like it is a gift to us that we are able to see a part of your world. I needed this reminder today
    Thank you

  8. this post came at exactly the right time for me. YES! it's IS up to people how they take things! YES! it IS up to use to find the gifts! YES! it IS possible to turn poop into lipstick. yes, all day, yes.

  9. I love your blog and your real and true writing is awesome. I read your blog every day and always find new ways to think about things in my life from reading your words. Don't ever change!

  10. LOVE this idea, "I wonder if God is sitting up there all excited, just hoping like crazy we notice all the beautiful gifts he has laid out before us."
    So much to this.
    Thank you for sharing your perspectives and pictures and life.

  11. I also have a son on the autism spectrum. He's 7 now and, though it's been 3 years since his diagnosis, I'm only now starting to see that just like no two children on the spectrum are the same, neither are the parents. There's this divisiveness when parents need to come together. I've come across other autism bloggers who only want see the awesomeness that comes with autism. They take offense when parents admit that it sometimes sucks. I don't know if you remember the whole controversy with Autism Speaks when the director implied that raising a child with autism can feel like a burden. People shamed her as if what she was saying were a lie. From one mom to another, don't ever apologize for expressing the truth in your own journey. When I read your blog it's like you're echoing what I felt a few years ago. Hang in there. It will get better.

  12. was the first impression I got from your writing and photos. This is your gift - please don't stop sharing it.

  13. My son was diagnosed with ASD last November at age 4. He is high functioning (and should ALSO be in a GAP ad with your boys! :) ) and I wrestle with what you've written about today all the time. We get so excited when he's making any sort of progress... and all it takes to bring us down is a little time spent with NT kids his age-- it seems impossible to not compare and feel discouraged. It's so hard to focus on the gifts at that time... thank you for your words and your wisdom. I will try harder to follow your wonderful example.

  14. Be yourself! Don't change! Keep sharing your gift of expression and creativity with us. Being a blogger at times may be like owning a restaurant: You could have served 100 happy customers who never tell you how happy you made them, but that one person who didn't like your service will be CERTAIN to share it.

  15. We love your real!! Please keep the sensor off and you heart open!

  16. This is a powerful article and this dad also blogs about his 3 boys with autism. Maybe you can work together to spread awareness.

  17. It is not always easy to see the gifts and any parent of a special needs child who claims they have never experienced profound sadness, fear, or despair when comparing their child to a typically developing one is probably lying. Your honesty is really refreshing and comforting. I have been on this journey for 17 years now; my oldest DD did not speak any sort of intelligible word until age 4 and could not participate normally in a conversation until around 11-years-old. When she was evaluated at age 9 we were told she would probably never have a friend and never achieve any degree of success in school. It was crushing. She tested at a kindergarten level in many subjects. Years were spent crying and worrying about her present and future until finally I reached a tipping point where I could not continue feeling that much pain and let go.

    Something magical happened around puberty where she slowly emerged from her shell. My DD has survived bullying and crippling anxiety and emerged an eloquent, confident and successful young lady. She is in the 11th grade and has a 5.3 GPA (A.P. classes) while holding two jobs. She has played varsity basketball and has a few close friends. Nobody meeting her ever suspects she has ASD but she is proud of her Autism journey and the special gifts she has as a result.

    We are now living the Autism puzzle all over again with her 5-year-old brother. It is a familiar yet altogether different struggle. People are much more educated about Autism nowadays, thanks in part to people like you who are brave enough to put it out there for all to see. There is also much more support in place and services available for our children - that's something to be very grateful for.

    Nobody can predict the future and part of this journey we're all on is about learning to let go and live in the now. With all I have experienced with my oldest child, you would think I'd be much wiser, more at peace and accepting but I continue to have my moments of anger and sadness and STILL fall into that comparison trap. It's hard sometimes. When I read blogs like this I cannot help but admire you for coping so much better than I have! Thank you for your open heart and for this blog. xx (Sorry for the novel.)