I’ll Sit With You In The Dark

It was 3 am. White noise screamed in my ears. Besides the small glaring red light of a baby monitor I was engulfed in darkness.

My body was so tired my bones ached. All this as I held onto a small tiny human praying for him to sleep.

The five hours before I had been in and out of 20 to 45 minute chunks of sleep, on the nursery floor, in the rocking chair, or my bed, always just long enough for it to be painful to wake to the cries and I would will my body to get up again. I’d just wonder why my 6 month old baby hated everything at night; sleep, his bed and possibly even me. 

I was on the edge. The days I would recoup, but when night came the dark crept in.

Five months old.

We were past the newborn stage, I had read so many sleep training books and had tried it all. Breastfeeding was a struggle so I couldn’t even rely on it.

I was six months into parenting and already failing. My only hope was that it wouldn’t last forever. I held onto everyone’s words “he will eventually sleep”.

I was so tired.

The thing is that the sleepless nights continued, for weeks, then months, and then years. Although, he always would sleep just enough that it wasn’t as much of a concern to others, but then other things were getting harder. There was lack of communication, meltdowns, harm, self harm, and silence. I was so lost.

Happy moments were in-between the hard. Beautiful and happy moments that I treasured and still do. He found his love for water, music and tickles. He was a sweet and amazing boy. Some days there were things I couldn’t understand; a slow progress and lack of adjustment to everything. 

The typical didn’t come. I had been around children my whole life, and cared for many. I would think “why am I such a bad mother, I should be good at this”. The nights continued to be a dark a lonely place. Even as my husband helped, I would sit in the next room and cry. 

The days home alone with my toddler were lonely too. I would lose my cool and than hate myself for it.

We couldn’t live the life I thought we’d live. We couldn’t go many places and when we did, all I could do was assess the differences between us and everyone else. No one really seemed to understand, which made it all the more lonely. 

Now time has passed and we’re in a much better place. Sleep is not perfect but much improved, communication has grown, and most importantly I understand and know why my child is the way he is. He takes in the world differently, he thinks differently than me, but my goodness it can still be really hard.

Now the progress and behaviors come in waves and many times I pray alone for calm and patience. 

Sitting outside a restaurant while everyone else eats.

The greatest resource I have now is other moms in my life who travel a similar path. This last year I’ve met amazing women. With them, I can just say we had a hard night or day and they automatically understand.

These are people I probably wouldn’t know or relate to in many other ways but are now my best friends, my hope, my shoulder to cry on.  I have friends who I know are a phone call away. Some whom I listen to chat away in my ear buds while I sit alone, in the dark, willing a six year old boy to fall asleep. 

If you’re a parent of a special needs child and you find yourself in the dark literally or figuratively, know I that I understand you. Know you can reach out. I’ll cry with you. I’ll listen to you. “I’ll sit with you in the dark.” If not me, find someone who will. It will save you.

You and Me, Kid

To my Johnny,

I can see it now; The chaos, the fear, the love, the moment you entered the world.

It was 10:31pm and the room was full. Nurses and staff running about, Dad, Grammy and your Aunt Shauna cheering with joy, machines beeping and a baby crying.

In a strangely unceremonious way you were laid down on my chest facing away from me, curled up in the only position you had ever known. I remember trying to ask if I could see your face and it going unheard. I felt like we were the center of attention but ignored all at the same time.

In a way you were a stranger to me, but also part of me. A bizarre feeling. I remember, more than anything, feeling for you and wanting to protect you but afraid of doing something wrong. You were so small and fragile, I almost wanted to panic.

I was now responsible for another life, for a whole human being. The previous worries about the right name, crib, location, etc all seemed silly and rightfully trivial. 

Almost exactly 24 hours later, late at night. You and I sat in a different hospital bed and dad was asleep on the other side of the small room. I had just finished nursing you and you were wide awake. This was the moment. You and I one on one for the first time, the moment I fell in love.

It sounds cheesy and made up, but I swear in that very moment while staring at each other it began to snow. I have always loved the snow, especially at night. As I turned my head and watched it gently fall past the parking lot lights, I felt the most beautiful feeling of peace and love. It sealed the deal that you were mine and I was yours, for the long haul. 

Now here we are at six. So much has changed. You are your own person and I am your person.  The element of autism has defined our life. It’s a part of you. It makes you beautifully unique, but also so much more complicated.

Some days I feel like it comes between us and other days it strengthens our bond. The thing about you being autistic is that it’s changed everything about what I thought parenting would be. It’s changed me for the better and more importantly you’ve made me better. 

We have meltdowns, speech barriers and delays. Our world has become evaluations, IEP meetings, explanations and appointments. So many appointments.

I constantly worry for you. Worry you will get hurt, lost, bullied or scared. I worry most about your future.

I’m so scared for what’s to come in your life. Some days I feel like we’ve walked through fire and I want to give up and scream “why?!”. There are times I actually do… but each time I learn. I learn more about you and how to help. I see you and how much harder life is for you than other kids. I know how hard you fight. 

I love you more than I ever knew I could. When you laid on my chest as a brand new baby, I felt unworthy. I couldn’t immediately connect and it wasn’t how I had imagined. It took a little bit of time just like everything else in our life.

All these years later, at the end of a meltdown, a hard day, a day full of no’s and can’ts, I know you and I can take it back to one. You and me kid.

I hold you in my arms and we look into each other’s eyes. Then I remember the promise I made that snowy day in a hospital bed to the one day old baby I just fell in love with. You are mine and I am yours, forever. 

I love you.

-Mom

Worry vs Wonder

Oh to wonder. I miss it.

It’s a little over a year since my six year old son, Johnny, was diagnosed with autism and I can’t even imagine wondering about his future.

From the beginning of pregnancy up until age two I wondered a lot. Who’d he be, where life would take, everything a parent does. At two, the word autism was first brought up in association with him and it stifled my ability to wonder about the future, and now I live in the realm of worry.

When diagnosis was official and I would open up to friends with typical children about my worries about Johnny with bullying, friendships, puberty, etc I would often hear something like “I worry about that for my child too”. They always said it with kind intentions, but it stung. Yes, they do have those worries, but they also get to wonder about so many things to come.

They get to wonder about who their child’s friends will be. I worry my child will never know true friendship.

They get to wonder about how they will discuss bullies with their child. I worry my child will never be able to tell he’s being bullied.

They get to wonder about handling puberty. I worry that puberty will break us.

They get to wonder about their child being old enough to drive. I worry my child will never get to do things like drive.

They get to wonder about their child dating and going to prom and other events. I worry my child will never find a partner in life.

They get to wonder about college and jobs. I worry everyday about what resources my son will have after high school.

They get to wonder about their child’s first home. I worry if something happens to me, mine will end up in a group home.

They get to wonder about grandchildren and what’s to come. I worry about finding a way to financially support my son for his entire life.

As we grow I know the wonder will come. It won’t be the same as parents with typical children, but we will get to wonder. For now I live in the present because the future is too much to bear. For now I’ll hope for wonder.

Football and Half an Apple

By Isaac J. Ramos

I love football. I don’t remember ever not loving football. I can’t tell you when that love started because it has always been part of my life.  Growing up, Sundays consisted of going to church, making a great Sunday dinner, getting together with family and watching the Denver Broncos. One of my favorite memories of my Dad is running back and forth throughout the house while he threw me passes.

  My love for football has grown and changed over the years. Like any dad, I hope that I can share my passions with my children. I pray that they may have some interest and engagement with the things I love. I’ve been lucky in that my children have engaged with some things I love, like star wars, pasta and giving my wife, Jaime, a hard time.  

Hollywood Studios 2019

Interest and engagement with Johnny is always at the extreme. There are times when he loves something and the next day he might have only a passing interest in it. I have tried playing catch, which he will do for a small period and time. We have played “tackle football” but it mostly just turns into him jumping on me instead of running with the ball.

Most Sundays, Johnny will attempt to watch TV with me, realize I’m watching football, and move on to other things he enjoys more. If I had to guess, I don’t think this experience would be different for any other kid in his age range.  However, there have been multiple times this year where he has actively watched a game with me. It tends to work best when combined with one of his passions…apples.

Alright, maybe passion is too strong of a word but this kid does love apples. He eats at least one a day and there are plenty of days where he will eat 3-4 if we let him.  However, there are a lot of times where all he eats is half an apple. I did not realize that one of the great “joys” of being Johnny’s dad would be discovering all the places where I might find half an apple.  Oh look, I just found a half-eaten apple in the couch, under the bed, and in my sock drawer? Sometimes I laugh and other times I just shake my head. The joys of parenting.

On a couple of occasions during football season, Johnny would come sit on my lap and eat his apple. I would hear the crunch of the apple as he began to dig in. He would watch the game as he munched away. He might laugh when there is a big hit or start running around the house after a big play. It is hard to tell if he is just stimming or if he is trying to mimic what he just saw. Either way, it doesn’t matter because for that brief moment I get to share my love of football with Johnny. Even if it means I have to pick up the half eaten apple he just dropped.

The Fix by Six?

Last night per usual Johnny had a hard time falling asleep. Calming his body into rest is not an easy task for him. Usually I try to deny his sweet requests for a million hugs and try to remind him it’s not the time to run, giggle, or sing. But on this cold January night, I gave in. I held him tight and rubbed his back. As I stroked his hair and kissed his forehead, I couldn’t help but think about how in three weeks time he will be turning six.

Six. Makes me a little sick to my stomach to say it. For me six represents a lot. Before we knew Johnny was autistic we knew he at least had a delay. We were told by many that we had to get early intervention before five or six to help him. We were told the brain develops 90% by age six. I felt so much external and internal pressure to get it all in by six. 

I felt if I didn’t throw every kind of therapy and resource at my child I was failing him. That once he turned six, that would be it. Our fate would be set in stone. 

I won’t lie. In the beginning, I believed I had to fix my son by age six and if I didn’t there was no hope. 

The problem was, getting your kids those resources is not easy. We also had so much back and forth on whether or not it was autism, a developmental delay, and/or just a speech delay. No one seemed sure. So I couldn’t be sure.

I began to hope. I hoped it would all just go away. That hope became a denial in some ways. I let other people feed into that denial. They would tell us how one magical day it just clicked for their child. I held on to the hope it would happen for Johnny. 

Year one preschool graduation.

We worked with him all the time. We put him into developmental preschool at three, and by four we were sure he was autistic. It took until almost five to get a medical diagnosis. This whole time I felt sick. That deadline from the very beginning was approaching and I thought I hadn’t done enough. I somehow missed out on that mother’s intuition I should of had.

Was early preschool with their speech and occupational therapy enough?

Should I have thrown hours upon hours of therapy at him every week?

Did I fail him?

At almost five and a half, Johnny started more therapy and because of covid we opted for it instead of school. It’s been good. He works so hard at it, but he is nowhere near a typical child nearing six years old. The ticking of that countdown is coming to an end and we never caught up.

Although laying in bed tonight with my son as tears rolled down my cheeks I said “you know what bud you’re perfect. Are you happy or sad?” he replied “I not sad, I happy.” and that was all I needed.

I put this damn number six on a pedestal and now that we’re almost there, I say oh well. 

In a few weeks I’ll have to walk into the doctor’s office with my kid. Circle “sometimes” and “never” on some damn milestone form over and over again. And it will sting, but oh well.

This fall I’ll have to walk my tall, almost seven year old, into kindergarten and watch as his smaller and younger peers sit and talk and work, while he struggles. And it will hurt, but oh well. 

Oh well, because my son is autistic and that’s who he is. I was never going to make that go away. I can’t fix autism I can only embrace it and help my son navigate the world.

My son will probably never have a typical life and part of me is really scared by that. We work harder than most and will probably never catch up, but oh well. I can do my best to make sure my guy is happy. Our life isn’t typical, but it is full of joy and happiness.

Two year old Johnny giggling at the bad fort we made.

Looking back I’m glad my son was not in therapy all day everyday. I’m glad he got to be a toddler. I’m so grateful we had resources like early developmental preschool; and for the amazing therapists and teachers who helped him. I am so happy he is learning so much in his therapy now. I honestly believe we did our best and what was right for us, and I’m so grateful he got to be a little boy.

Life has not always been easy for Johnny. He’s had to learn way more about how he ticks than most children his age. We’ve worked with him his whole life and he’s worked so hard, and today he is happy and progressing.

So yup my kid is turning six in three weeks, but that’s not the end. He’ll be six, he’ll be autistic, he’ll be different, but he’ll be happy, and I am so happy he is who he is.

The Sweetest Gift

This holiday season we have been touched with the spirit of Christmas by friends and complete strangers. 

Christmas is a little different for us. My son, Johnny, who is almost 6 and on the autism spectrum, doesn’t ask for toys or say what he wants. He lacks communication skills and understanding as to why. We can go to the store and he may look at and touch a couple things but never says he wants them or tries to take it with him. 

I’m sure that sounds amazing to many parents but for me it’s a little sad. He doesn’t understand that those things are to buy and that he could, if allowed, take them home and have them. 

It’s the same thing with presents. There is so much to receiving a gift many of us don’t think about. The expectation of the giver, the group of people watching you open, and the loud parties or events that are usually associated with them, are all very overwhelming for Johnny. So much so that it has made gift opening undesirable to him.

This means no asking for gifts on his birthday and no exciting Christmas mornings filled with anticipation. For me there is so much guessing as to what he might actual enjoy, play with, and care about. 

This last month an amazing thing happened. Johnny saw a toy on a YouTube video, pointed to it and said “Christmas” I was shocked. The week before I sat with him and his sister making lists. For him I had to name different types of toys and he’d said “yes” or “no” then I would write the yeses down. I wasn’t sure if he understood but this meant he did and was asking for a toy. Amazing!

Of course I immediately went to find the toy and everywhere was sold out. The video we saw it on was a couple years old. My heart sank. I told a few of my friends who have autistic kids. I knew they would understand. Without me even asking they all went to the task of hunting down the toy. 

My heart could have burst. They were searching their states and provinces, calling and emailing the company who made it and searching the internet, they were a force. 

My sweet friend Amanda from Jackson’s Journey, Jackson’s Voice posted about it on her Facebook page and momma from Canada found a used one online. This amazing mom, Danielle who also has an autistic child, understood the need and reached out to the seller. I cried when I heard it was found. 

A couple weeks later and package arrived from Canada. A sense of joy and relief filled me. For the first time ever my son asked for something he wanted for Christmas and is going to get it. The sweet lady, Joanne, who sent it could have asked me for a lot of money and I probably would have paid, but she didn’t. She sent it for free and Danielle covered the shipping. 

Joanne wrote the sweetest letter about this amazing “Christmas wish”, and I once again cried.

This may seem like a small and silly toy, and I know we are already so fortunate to be able to have Christmas gifts and be healthy and happy together, but I’m also so glad to see my son becoming more aware. We have worked so hard for him to have a voice. Have his own wants, opinions, and thoughts. I’m so excited he could understand and can now experience some of the same joys other kids his age do. 

I doubt there will be a big show of it this Christmas. He is a very logic boy. He’s been told you ask for a toy from Santa and it comes. So he asked for it and knows he will find it under the tree Christmas morning. If it wasn’t it would be very hard for him to understand. Actually he wouldn’t understand. This would likely cause a meltdown, weeks of explaining and probably still not understanding. This time it will be there though. He has been and will be disappointed many times in his life, but this time because of sweet angels he won’t. 

My heart is full and happy. I can’t wait to watch my son open his gift. I can’t wait to truly explain to him one day the the spirit of giving and how he was touched by it by many people when he was five.

Merry Christmas. 

Christmas Through Johnny’s Eyes

Christmas is so much. It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s joyful, it’s frustrating, it’s a lot. I love it though. I love it for religious reasons, I love being with family, I love yummy treats, and I love presents. I get so caught up in it. 

 I have so many deep seeded memories when it comes to Christmas that I want to recreate them for my kids. I want them to have it all and sometimes I forget to slow down.

My five year old son Johnny is on the autism spectrum and is a sensory seeker. This often slows us down. He wants to stop and touch everything. He touches the walls, grass, everything on the shelfs at the store, he’s been known to lay on the ground in public and rub his hand over whatever is below him. He appreciates the little things, he feels and sees the world through the smallest details. 

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I often get sad he doesn’t get excited about Christmas in the traditional ways. He likes it. He likes to say “Santa” and sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas, but when it comes to the actual day he’s not a big fan. 

Johnny doesn’t love hustle and bustle, he’s not big on people coming and going. It’s a loud day with too many expectations. He’s not big on Christmas morning because he knows he’ll have to sit through opening presents, one of his least favorite things.

This year, instead of pushing the things children usually enjoy on him I’ve been celebrating through him. Watching how he enjoys all the small things.

Johnny examines every branch on the tree. He touches and feels each ornament. He lays under the tree and takes it all in. His favorite thing to do is watch the toy train go around and around the tree. 

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He loves decorations. Especially the big tacky ones I can’t stand, he knows where all the inflatables are in the neighborhood. He stares out the window and looks at all the beautiful lights on people’s houses. He loves his grandmother’s little nativity set and listing all the major players. 

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He loves snow. When we get that first heavy snow with the big flakes he and I go stand outside and watch them fall. We stare up and watch as each one of them hits our faces. Johnny will jump for joy and then become completely relaxed. I have to limit him so we don’t freeze but he would stand there forever. It is his heaven on earth. 

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He may not like us loud but he loves his family being together. You can see he loves everyone else’s excitement. He’ll come to me to point out who’s there whether or not he dare ever greet them. He feels the spirit of family and friends.

So this year I am loving seeing the Christmas season through his eyes. Slowing down to take in every detail. I am finding a new way to celebrate and a new way to create memories. I can’t make him enjoy it the way I did and do, but I can join him in enjoying it in the way he does. 

Christmas Gifts for Johnny

As I set out to write this post I decided to gather pictures to remember Christmases past. Now I sit in tears.

One of the first memories I found was of Johnny’s first Christmas. He was almost 11 months old.

In the video, I’m out of frame messing with the phone, trying to record every moment as his dad helps him open gifts surrounded by my family. Johnny doesn’t really notice a gift my husband encourages him to unwrap. Instead he playing with an ornament and keeps clapping with a straight face, and the whole family in turn says “yay’’. The gift is opened by my husband. It’s pajamas, Johnny barely acknowledges. 

Upon Johnny’s next turn to open a gift the whole process repeats. More clapping and “yays”, the little sweet baby boy doesn’t even notice this gift. This time it was a toy, a truck. Nothing draws his attention to it. Not the pretty paper, not the unwrapping, not his dad encouraging him to look. I hear family members all saying things like “look” or “wow”. Looking for some reaction to the actual gift. He just claps.

At the time I of course would have loved for him to react. Loved for him to be excited, if not about the gift then about the process. At the same time, I didn’t think much of it. He was engaging by clapping, he was sitting with his dad, he was content. 

He was just a baby.

Little did I know that was how it would stay for the next five years.

Watching that video now is so conflicting. I can’t see past what I didn’t realize at the time. 

The next two years at almost two and three, the disinterest was still there and the expectation from others grew. As adults we put so much pressure on children to love our gifts. It’s of course meant in kindness and love. We want them to be happy. We want to see the joy on their faces when they open what we got them. 

Johnny just did not care. I sat there amongst a pile of gifts, doing everything I could to get him to sit and open them. In the end it was me opening his presents and shoving them in front of him saying “look!” “wow, isn’t this so cool”. As the giver looked on I felt pressured. They wanted to see him love it. 

Everytime nothing. Sometimes I would make excuses and try to explain, “he’ll play with them just not right now.” The look on their face always shows it. A look I’ve had many times. Disappointment. Some would even say things like “I guess he doesn’t care”. I felt awful. 

The next year, 2018, came around and little sister was in the picture now. I thought this was the year he’d care, and I thought I knew how to make it better. I stayed up way too late on Christmas Eve and decorated our little space. I put lights everywhere, he loved lights, and set out all the little stuffed animals he had. I put santa hats and lights on them too. 

I had a plan that we could open gifts as a little family first. Less people, less noise, less pressure. I could see the pity in my husband’s face that Christmas morning, as I had to beg Johnny to come into the room. I was pointing out every little detail. Looking for any sign of joy or excitement. He did slowly open a couple gifts that I had carefully picked out for him, being he had never asked for anything.

He opened them and did like them! He stared at them and examined them. After that he was done. That was all he was up for. 

The rest of the day was back to me opening his gifts and explaining he will eventually play with the toys and read the books. The first gift opened was what he would carry around and that was that.

At this time we knew autism was a possibility. The next year we were positive.  

So, at almost five not much changed for Johnny. He sat and opened more with help. My sister and I ended up opening a good amount of his gifts. I watched as my brother helped Johnny’s little sister, because I had to be with him to encourage him to stay and participate for a little bit. 

What did change was us. We now knew to give him space. We knew that not everything had to be opened at that time.

I finally accepted that gifts were not his thing. Which is insanely great and beautiful, but we also want him to try to join us and participate in our joy. There is give and take and we are learning.

We let him stare at the train under the tree for hours. We went searching for lights on houses. He watched us decorate and he enjoyed the cookies (well frosting) the rest of us made while he ran around. He loved to move around the pieces of nativity and point out “Baby Jesus”. 

Going into this year, he’s understanding more. He’s excited. Whenever it snows he says “Christmas day!” He knows who Santa is and that he brings presents. He actually pointed to a toy he saw online and said “Christmas”. 

I do think this year will be different, but if it’s too much for him we are ready to make it the best day for him in his way. 

On Christmas day, he’s going to get his present. If I have to unwrap it for him that’s okay. If he doesn’t play with it until everyone’s gone, also okay. If he opens it and does nothing else, that’s okay. Other things make him happy and I’m happy they do. 

My Belly

I use the word “obsessed” a lot, especially when it comes to my five year old autistic son, Johnny. He gets really into certain toys, songs, and shows.  It annoys my husband that I use the word so much. “He’s not obsessed, he just likes it”, and to his credit the interest comes and goes often even though he does fixate for a short time. 

The one thing not even my husband can deny is that Johnny is obsessed with my stomach. The kid loves it. It can drive me insane, but something about it fascinates and comforts him.  Sometimes it is in a silly, squishing my flab, way; other times it is him resting his usually restless head on it; or hiding his face in it when he is anxious or nervous in public.

I’m sure it stems from the hours of skin to skin as a baby, the comfort of laying on mommy as a toddler, and all the encouragement to touch and love on it when it held his little sister. 

The older he gets the more we work on the appropriateness of it. He’s still little, but attempting to lift up my shirt at home or grab my tummy in public isn’t going to work. He has to learn to respect my space and body. The moment I lie down when he’s around he goes straight for it. You will hear “no belly” often, in our home.

The thing is, sometimes I look at my belly in the mirror after the shower and think I feel ashamed of it. My 30’s belly is much different than the almost flat stomach from my 20’s. My workouts come and go, as do my healthy eating habits. I try but I’m also a tired and exhausted mom who has been through many ups and downs. 

So, I won’t lie, he’s not catching rock hard abs there, It’s surely a comfortable and soft pillow. 

The neat thing is he doesn’t see it as fat, or unhealthy, or shame, he simply sees it as mom, comfort and safety.

No judgment, just love. 

My son loves a part of me that I find hard to, and that changes the way I see it. Don’t worry I’m not using it as an excuse to stay unhealthy or out of shape, but it is a reminder of my son’s beautiful acceptance and love.

So when I stand in the mirror looking at that belly, I can say it’s the way it is because I carried two beautiful children in it, and because I’m a special needs mom who has had some really hard days. It’s not perfect because there is not time for perfection in my life right now, maybe there never will be. But I am doing my best and that’s okay. 

I’m loved and accepted no matter what, by my son.

Johnny is different. The amazing thing about him is that he does not judge. He doesn’t look for the flaws in others, or make fun of others, instead he seeks. Seeks what makes him happy, and what he loves. 

There is something undeniably beautiful in that and I’m grateful for that unconditional love and for someone who truly loves my flaws.

Thankful

Man it’s been a year.

I’m exhausted. 

Exactly one year ago we took Johnny in for his autism evaluation. It was nerve wrecking and intimidating. 

The next month, five days before Christmas, my husband and I went on date night to see Star Wars. On the drive home, we got a call that Johnny had jumped off the couch and broken his arm. 

One week after that we got the official diagnosis, Level Three Severe Autism. 

Then 2020 came. Covid. Toilet paper. BLM. Election. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, I have a hard time feeling the spirit of gratitude. Can I just skip to Christmas and eat sugar cookies and fudge?

Although, when I really take the time to think about it, I do have so much to be grateful for. 

I’m thankful that with an official diagnosis we have been able to get Johnny more help and resources this year. The evaluations, paperwork, and observations are hard and taxing but I’m grateful people and programs are there for my son. 

I’m thankful we survived our first, and hopefully only, broken bone this year. Johnny was a champ in the end. No surgery was required and we made it through.

I’m not thankful for Covid, but I am grateful that so far my family has been healthy and safe. That we have been able to lean on each other during this surreal time. 

It’s made me really grateful that we have a backyard and wifi.

While the toilet paper jokes get old, how lucky are we to live in a place where that was many people’s first concern? We always had food, water, shelter, and power. I am so grateful for those things.

I’m thankful for the opportunities to learn and grow this year, when it came to social justice. I have been disappointed by a lot of people this year but I’ve been taken aback by the love people have shown one another, as well.

I’m so thankful for my husband helping me through it all. Being there and holding my hand through all the uncertainty. I’m grateful he’s been able to work from home. I love having my best friend and partner around.  

I’m thankful for my Johnny. The kid has worked hard this year. He’s completing goal after goal. I’m thankful for his silly spirit and loving heart. I’m grateful that he has been able to adapt to our new world relatively well. 

I’m thankful for my daughter. The spunkiest two year old you will ever meet. This girl is so resilient. She loves her brother and already checks on him and makes sure he’s ok when he’s having a hard day. She gives the best hugs and also the best side eye. She’s my light. 

So, although this year has probably aged me several years, I can go into this next holiday week grateful for so much. If this year has taught us anything, it’s to be grateful that we are safe and surrounded by loved ones.

Happy Thanksgiving.