Melly Was Here

wife, mother, teacher, runner, writer, lover, fighter

April Again.

April has come and gone.  It’s a weird month for me, try as I do to make that not so.

We said goodbye to my big brother 13 years ago in April. And then, two years ago, my dad.

It’s also Autism Awareness Month.  As someone who has stepped out of the Autism Wars, it brings up a lot of old stuff of when Sundance was first diagnosed. Sad stuff.

And, I turned 41 this month.  I love my birthday.  And so far, my  forties are my favorite.

April has been bittersweet.  And I find myself going back and forth from sadness to happiness, from remembering really shitty days to being thankful those days are in the past and we are all doing so much better.

And now it’s May.  The school year is wrapping up.  I have a mountain of paperwork and a classroom to close up. Field trips and Special Olympics, class parties and school concerts.

Life goes on.

We miss those we loved and said goodbye to.  Miss them so much.  We know that they would be happy for us.  They would be proud of what we have overcome and what we are looking forward to.

They wouldn’t want us to stop dreaming, they wouldn’t want us to stop fighting for health and happiness. Because they loved us as much as we loved them.

So, here goes: Summer is coming.  And it is going to be a good one.

Because life goes on.

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At Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg, Texas. My new happy place.

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My loves, being rebels. That sign is not the boss of them.

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The Path Ahead

Running is a head game. That’s one of the reasons I think it is so good for me. Why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I don’t think when I run. I just let my body do the work.  The sound of my music and my feet hitting the pavement is all I need some days.

Sometimes, I think.

I’ll start running and pick a point on the road up ahead. I’ll visualize something that I want to accomplish up on the path, impeding my way. For example, when Lance and I were trying to get out of debt, I would visualize the logo of a creditor. It would be a big glass block right in the middle of the path. I would look at it as I ran towards it. Then, when I reached it, I would crash through it, breaking it all to bits. Then, I would keep running, stomping on the pieces until they were gone. Then, I’d do it again. I’d choose the word, “depression,” and smash that all to bits. I’d choose, “anxiety,” or “sadness.” And I’d smash those too. You know what? Lance and I are out of debt and I am managing my depression and anxiety.

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These days, I don’t do so much smashing. These days, I do more lifting. I visualize running with people in my life who may be struggling. And, I visualize whatever it is they are dealing with – a word or a symbol – and we run toward that together. Then, I give them a boost so they can jump over it. Or, if it’s something that I am struggling with or wanting to accomplish, I jump over it.

I do still do some smashing. I picture a huge, “AU,” in my path.  “AU,” stands for, “autism.” It’s big and it’s thick and it’s in my way. Often my baby boy, Sundance, is running with me.  AU is in our damn way. And we run and we smash that son of a bitch all to pieces. It doesn’t go down easy, but we run and we stomp and we destroy it.

So, needless to say,  I cry when I run. Or I smile and laugh or yell and curse.  And, when I get home I always feel better than I did before.   Always.

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Setting My Goals by the Way I Define Myself – Fighter

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Seven years ago, my baby boy was diagnosed with autism.  I cried for three weeks.  And, then my husband -my smart kick ass husband sent me an article about autism being treated with biomedical interventions (diet and supplements). I read it and then threw away all the dairy in the house.  A week later, my three-year old son who had never spoken a sentence said to me, “You’re beautiful.”  It was the beginning of my amazing  little boy growing and learning and turning into the 10-year-old that he is now.  Of course, we still have a long way to go – but we have the fight in us.  I do.  My man does.  My boys do.  Autism can kiss my ass.

I manage anxiety and depression.  I think it started with the birth of my first son.  Post partum depression that was never treated.   Then, it was event after event – some that I didn’t choose or have control over – that just added onto the load I was carrying on my back.  A few years ago, I fell apart.  Of course, I worked with a few people at the time that kicked me when I was down and that didn’t help either.

I honestly don’t know how I got out of bed and went to work in the morning.

I started therapy and am now on anti anxiety meds.  But, there are times I can feel those old feelings bubbling up, right below the surface.  Times I get anxious about raising my boys right or times I get sad missing my brother or my dad.  Times I get overwhelmed or angry at the people I mentioned before.

But, I fight it.  With the help of my family and friends – and Lexapro – I fight it.

Those are my big two: Autism and Anxiety.  They are what I fight.  I will never stop fighting to  help  Sundance overcome his disability.  I don’t want to start a big debate, but I believe very strongly that autism can be treated.  It isn’t easy, but that’s what I believe.

I will never stop fighting my anxiety, because I cannot go back to how I lived back then.  I cannot put my family through that again.  Ever.

One of my goals that I think falls under this category is to be more informed about the world around me.  For a long time, I didn’t read or watch the news.  I just couldn’t handle other people’s bad news.  I was too sad.  But, now, I’m ok.  I can handle it.  I need to be more informed.  Because I am a fighter and some people need help with their fights.

There are good fights out there. There are things that are worth fighting for.  Health, beauty, goodness, justice.  And good fights need good people.

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Sensory Friendly Movies

When someone has special needs, there are some everyday experiences that can be very difficult or uncomfortable.  Going to the movies is one of those experiences for many people on the autism spectrum.  Sundance is one of those people.  It’s too loud for him.  For many years when we tried to take him to the latest kid movie, he’d make it through about half of it and then be retreating to the lobby.

Then, we learned about Sensory Friendly showings.  Sensory Friendly means a few things are modified:  There are no or fewer previews, the sound is much lower, the lights are a little brighter and most importantly, it’s an environment that is very accepting of everyone.   Everyone there (and not everyone has special needs) knows that there are some who need to flap or stim, yell or laugh really loud, or just do what they need to do.  And, that’s ok.  No judgment.  Because of Sensory Friendly showings, my family and I can enjoy movies together for the first time.  It seems like such a little thing, but it’s not.  It means a lot to families like mine.

AMC has partnered up with The Autism Society of America to bring us these showings.  If you live in San Antonio, it’s AMC Rivercenter.  They charge $5 and validate parking. They run about every six weeks or so.  The theater is small and always full, but a good time.  If you aren’t in San Antonio, you can find your city here. 

Here in San Antonio, Santikos Theaters and Eva’s (Longoria) Heroes also puts on a Sensory Friendly showing. The first and third Tuesday of every month at 6:00. They charge regular admission prices, but it’s a regular sized theater.  They show one or two previews.  You can see what they’ll be showing at the Santikos theaters here. 

This week, my family and I went to see Monster’s University at a Santikos theater.  A good time was had by all.  It means a great deal to Lance and me, to be able to take our kids to see a movie that everyone else is enjoying too.  So, thank you, AMC and Santikos.  Thank you very much.

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Thumbs up from Sundance!

PS, if you Google “sensory friendly movies,” and your city, chances are you’ll find a theater in your city that offers Sensory Friendly.  If not, stop by the theater and ask to see the manager.  Maybe they just never thought about it.

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The Loves of My Life (in order of appearance) – Sundance

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Once upon a time, there was a mother of an 18 month old. She felt things were going well, this motherhood gig wasn’t too hard, she was pretty good at it. So, she and her husband decided to have another. They prayed for God to give them another child, because you know, they were so good at parenting.

God decided to teach them they did not have it all figured out. God gave them their second son, another little blonde, with shiny brown eyes.

And, they soon realized that everything they thought they knew about parenting, about love, life, themselves and the world was incorrect. They didn’t have it all figured out, not even close.

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This little boy would change their world. He would complete their family and make them better people. He would teach them that even the curveballs that life throws you can be amazing.   He would teach them that even if life doesn’t end up the way you had planned, it can be better than you ever dreamed it could be. He would teach them to slow down and enjoy –  cherish – all those little things that you are too busy to cherish.  All those quick moments that could pass without you noticing, but are really what make up a life.  An amazing life. He would teach them not to accept the cards that you are dealt if they don’t feel right and to question.

Sundance is funny and smart, sweet and affectionate, brave and tenacious.   Sundance was diagnosed with autism at 3 1/2 years old.  Now, at 9 1/2  he has come so far, overcome so much, and made us all better people.  Everyone who knows Sundance loves him and thinks he is a pretty cool little dude.  And, they are right.

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I have a lot to say about autism and you can bet I will talk about it in later posts, but I’m not going to really talk about it in this post.  Because Sundance is so much more than his diagnosis.

He likes to swim and be outside.  But, he does NOT like to go on runs with me.   He is very competitive. He once woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that I did not beat him at a board game (even though I did).  He loves chocolate.  He loves to golf with his brother and daddy.  He loves to stay in hotels and eat at restaurants.

Sundance’s language is delayed.  We are just now able to have conversations with him.  He has so much to say and slowly but surely, the language is coming.  He isn’t able to answer questions about what he wants to be when he grows up and other things we tend to ask kids.  I think he will be an artist of some sort.  He sings and makes up songs.  We are looking into piano lessons for him.

Sundance is his own person.  He doesn’t seek approval from others.  He knows what he wants and what he likes.   He will compromise, but you have to earn it.

We have all the same dreams and hopes for our second born son that we do for his brother.  We have no reason to believe he can’t accomplish all the things in life that others accomplish.   He (we) might have to work harder to get there, but that’s ok.  He’s certainly willing to work hard (except at his math homework).  And with all he has given to us, it’s the least we can do.sundance4

I love you, Baby Boy.  I love  you. I love you for who you were, who you are and who you will be.  I thank God that I am your mommy.

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