Clouds may come, but clouds must go, and they all have a silver lining. For behind each cloud you know, the sun, or moon, is shining.
This update has proven particularly difficult to write, as in essence I wanted to blog our way through the journey of Autism in an upbeat, effervescent and positive way-- with the thought that there's never 'too much of a good thing', but also to be a small beacon of hope to SN families who fear that life may never return to normal, that their lives are destined to be a never-ending struggle to find a place in the world where their child's star can shine. I was one of those parents in the beginning, and the overwhelming rush of emotions and the searching for like-minded souls to share the burden of our journey was so important to me... that we find our 'tribe'.
Since those early days, like any family we have our good moments and our not-so-good moments and just like any family the not-so-good moments are relegated to the back of my mind as a conscious effort to focus more on the positives, to surround my little with as much optimistic energy as possible, to become his biggest cheerleader and to rock our world with his brilliance! *I did say 'biggest cheerleader!*
What I've found the hardest is to relinquish my grip on my ideal of how motherhood would be. Not to be confused with the 'Brady Bunch', I had dreams of my little and I taking trips to museums, travelling, chalk drawing on the driveway together and reading stories before bedtime. Of course, we do all these things and more, but what I wasn't expecting was the level of planning and preparation that went into even the smallest of activities, sitting in a supermarket aisle calming my little after a meltdown, or the sheer levels of emotional and mental strength it took to not tear out my hair after a well-meaning but ignorantly informed comment from perfect strangers.
While it's vitally important to reach the worlds communities and spread our message of acceptance, understanding and tolerance, I've found it to be ultimately more important for me to be honest with myself and with my readers. Yes, our life is hard. It has its challenges and hiccoughs and what seems like an endless procession of therapy appointments BUT, and it's a big but (no pun intended of course!) I am eternally grateful for the gift I've been given. My eyes are now opened wider than they've ever been, my patience has grown, my tolerance increased tenfold and my compassion for others is all a result of loving my little.
In recognising and ultimately accepting the duality of parenting, particularly for a SN child, I take a big step forward in our journey and I'm blessed to have the chance to share the moment with all of you-- as well as with my ever growing laundry pile and dirty dishes from breakfast ;)
So the silver lining of my recent storm clouds has proven to be the most lustrous and glimmering silver lining of recent months. My sister, her partner and my gorgeously cheeky niece have finally arrived from their travels around Australia. We've been particularly looking forward to this visit as it's an extended stay-- they leave just after Christmas and as they're the only remaining family members that don't live within an hours drive of each other it's a special time indeed. Being all together again brings back the happiest memories of my younger years, and it's been an absolute joy to reminisce. As always, my cup overflows with love when I'm with family and this past week has been no exception. Sharing our favourite stretch of beach with my sister and niece has provided precious moments together, as has a simple day among the familiar comforts of our parents house.
It's been far too long since I've seen my niece and what a little darling she's growing up to be-- serious like her Daddy, but with the cheekiest shy-smile and feisty just like her mama... she's one independent little bunny! It took a few days for her to warm up to us which in itself was a beautiful reminder of how fragile our littles can be. She is incredibly photogenic and loves the camera-- when she realised that Aunt Stace had her Canon it was smiles and requests for 'photo?' until I happily obliged.
Waking up after a nap might not be the best time to bring out the camera but she was so darn adorable!
Our first reunion outing bought us to our favourite sandy paradise to dine on deliciously decadent fries with gravy. My little and niece were happily shuffled from lap to lap, enjoying the affections of indulgent aunts and further cemented their friendship by sharing their food which, considering my munchkins' appetite for beach treats, took everyone by surprise.
Forever wary of my munchkins' tendency to forget his 'gentle hands' I hovered like a mother bear around her cub when the cousins met each other after such a long time apart but to my delight Miss-Cousin was rather taken with Master-Cousin and vice versa, making for a heart smile that stretched for miles. Their mutual love of swingsets provided plenty of proud giggles from both sister-mamas.
Of course, no sisterly relationship can survive without a shared passion for wandering the shopping centres together in search of that elusive 'must-have' item that flatters and accentuates in all the right places. With children in tow our focus was taken from fashion to fun, and a visit to our local toystore (a favoured place of ours) was made even more enjoyable than usual as the littles delighted in discovering what wonders the store held for them.
Enjoy the silver linings of your own clouds, and never forget to live each moment.
It's been almost a week since I sat at this desk and planned to write my next update- something deeply moving and meaningful that shows just how grateful I am for the happiness that overwhelms us and overflows into the lives of our friends and family.
Instead I'll share a stream of consciousness that starts with the end of September bringing more than simply the close of another month on the calendar. I celebrated my 29th birthday on the 29th with a degree of enjoyment I can't even begin to describe. And continuing in the exultation of all things uniquely 'Stace', unlike the majority of people I know there were no qualms honouring the passing of another year- to me it's simply a number and whether it was my 29th or 39th birthday I'd feel the same. Life is meant to be lived, not spent consumed by something as arbitrary as how many candles are on the cake this year.
My birthday morning began with my typical wake-up call from my little... not-so-gentle nudges and the statement that 'sun's awake Mummy! Time to get up'. Happily, on this auspicious occasion, it was also accompanied by a flurry of kisses and an excited 'Happy Birthday!'.
Then it was up to me to take care of breakfast. Which I don't mind, because I got to make my favourite- pancakes *yum*
Someone REALLY likes my pancakes!
My loved ones proved once again that they know me inside-out and back-to-front if their gift selections were anything to go by, but what I really want to share (with all the excitement of a child on their first Christmas morning) are snapshots of souvenirs that relatives sent my little from their recent trip- I'm completely and utterly in awe of them! The vibrant colours and patterns, the musky aroma and the other-worldliness of the gifts slays me, absolutely. If I imagine hard enough, I can see myself in the dusty marketplace where the locals gather to sell their wares, feel the hot sun on my face, even taste the humidity in the air... this is how powerful the magic is.
I'm still hoping that the neighbours can forgive me for the shriek that this bird makes.
The end of the year is looming, and with it marks the end of littles 'preschooler' road. His next steps will be taken in school sneakers and so, in an effort to squeeze every last drop of life from the childhood tree, I fill our spare moments with mother-son activities planned to leave an indelible mark of Mama on his heart. Our latest project began with the simple premise of chalk, a clean cement patio and some gentle encouragement... it ended with a gloriously decorated backyard canvas to rival Jackson Pollock.
And what better way to end my post than with some of the recent sand through our family's hourglass
Like sands through the hourglass, so... are the Days of My Life ;)
As the week passes by in an incoherent wave of activity, our regular visits to Burleigh have provided a welcome sanctuary from the craziness. Nestled into the soft sand, taking in the scenes of the world around us we can't help but be transported through space to a time when the pace was slower. Close your eyes to the scenes of the modern-day and take yourself back to 1950 or further... life was lived with wide-eyed innocence and a sumptuous sense of leisure that's rarely afforded today.
The pace has certainly changed but for one constant. Family. I was privileged to bear witness to the blossoming of young love, when each moment without them seems to stretch for miles and just the sight of their smile brings a leap of joy to your heart. These two rock each others' world ♥
It may have been a change in the seasons, or a culmination of time and good old-fashioned hard work and effort (for selfish reasons I'll choose the latter!) but life on the homestead and in general has become smoother sailing for my little. Monumental improvements are taking subtle shape and form in our daily routines, and surprisingly the embargo on posing for mama's camera has lifted, much to my immense enjoyment. My cup is full.
I am now and forever more a Canon-ite!
School break is over now but what better way could that time have been spent but with loved ones. Regular trips were taken to the shopping mall with no real purpose in mind, it was enough just to be sharing a few hours with the family. Those are the best moments as far as we're concerned- no expectations, no plans, just being. Of course, no family outing is complete without the artistic stylings of my little- a Buddy Holly fan from way back, our dignity was thrown to the wind as we laughed as long and as hard as we could.
There's no greater feeling than revelling in the magic of my munchkin- without a doubt my life's lesson is to love hard, play well and laugh often :) Thanks Buddy for being the best teacher I could ever hope for ♥
He INSISTED on wearing them the entire time- and rocked them out!
Our adventure ended with a surprise visit to the local bowling alley. A long-time favourite activity of mine, it was littles first trip and I'm sure it won't be his last. I'll be looking forward to splitting the pins with him as he gets older, and I simply can't imagine any cuter sight than seeing those feet in the bowling shoes- who knew they made them so small?
Not being a competitive mama, I will admit to puffing out my chest proudly when without the lane bumpers up, there were more pins knocked down by my buddy than any one of us. What a moment when I sat back and watched as he took a ball from the carousel, and with the tiniest amount of help, bowled it down that lane way... completely ignoring the little slide that was provided (Mr Independent! *snap*) It took all my strength to stay put on that spectators platform and not rush to 'help'. Puffed-out-proud-chest moment there too.
As the end of the year draws closer, a huge milestone creeps nearer- my munchkin turns 5 years old and thus will be attending what we call 'Big Boy School'....eeek! Preliminary preparations have been made, with our local school selected months in advance for its reputation and availability of an S.E.U. An orientation morning is being held on the 13th and I plan to be there, a nervous, slightly neurotic first-timer among other nervous, slightly neurotic first-timers.
I have a good feeling, despite the sweaty palms and threatening tears when I realise that 5 years has passed by in a heartbeat. I look forward to the next 5 years with as much enthusiasm and ground-shaking-love as the first 5.
Sitting here at my desk, munching on the juiciest, most delicious apple I've pretty much ever tasted, I can easily draw parallels with how I approach life-- the softness of the apples' skin as I bite into it, savouring the sweet nectar as it fills my mouth and my eagerness for more, devouring each morsel with tastebuds sighing in ecstasy.
The past few days/weeks have been filled to the brim with family- and it's with excited anticipation that I wait for the days we spend together, whether it's out and about or simply relaxing at home enjoying each others' company, my cup runneth over in the presence of my loved ones and what makes these times extra special is seeing my little following in our footsteps. He adores nothing more than seeing his 'people', and our latest visit was no different. No matter what challenges the day held, despite any sensory overloads, seeing our people brings him home.
Relaxing in his Mumma's embrace can quieten any storm, especially when it's accompanied by his 'pipey' - strictly for at home therapeutic purposes of course.
Looking into those beautiful ocean-blue eyes truly does give me a glimpse into the sweet soul of my little, a direct line to his true self, free of the diagnosis ♥
We ventured again to our sandy slice of heaven for a day during the weekend- with a welcome break in the springtime showers, the shoreline was dotted with beach-goers, all drinking in the sunshine and humidity. My little was very pleased to be sharing our special place and wandered up and down the sand chatting to whomever smiled his way- the lifeguards were especially interesting to munchkin as he watched them go about their duties with the usual barrage of questions and curious looks.
It's amazing to think that less than 6 months ago we were living in the city surrounds, completely removed from the beach culture and indeed nature itself, ensconced in a concrete jungle. I'm still thankful that we were afforded the opportunity to make such a sea change, to take in a slower more simpler, earth-bound lifestyle.
Enjoying our environment in all its natural beauty is something that you can tend to take for granted and I try to tell myself each day that not everyone is as lucky as we are... and that serves as a reminder to never become complacent, to find the joy in the wonderful life we've created for ourselves.
My 'Baywatch' wanna-be
In these moments of bliss, I can't see our world shining any brighter.