Love is Love is Love

IMG_0384 (1).JPGI do not make New Year’s Resolutions, I make hourly resolutions. I couldn’t possibly store up all of my potential improvements to force them out in a year end blast. My journey is iterative and I’m forever fine tuning the workload. At this point there is also a collision between resolutions and  bucket list items. Kind of what do I need to do vs. what do I want to do, etc. Good news is it’s my set of lists and I can manage it any way that fits. So although I do not make New Year’s Resolutions, I do try to take a pause to appreciate my life and the people in it at this time of year. So this  year I am going to focus on love. When I watched Lin-Manuel Miranda give his Tony speech right after the Orlando shooting, he said “love is love is love….” in reference to the respect for the people who are homosexual and were victimized by the gunman. It is a great reminder and his speech really touched me. It was a rough, emotion-filled speech/sonnet fueled by his need to acknowledge the Tony he was receiving  and yet his compulsion, his pure heart, that couldn’t pass up the forum to comment on the most recent tragedy. Something about his delivery, his body language really struck me; this man feels his words, he just doesn’t say them. It was almost as if he was holding back the words but they had to escape from his brain via his mouth. Do I have that much passion about anything? Hmm, kids maybe. I actually think my main passion at this point in my life is to try. I just want to try at being better at everything. The only way for me to achieve this is to work on what is most important, the priority, my love relationships; to which I am proud to say I have plenty. So here are some of the ones that are most precious to me and my recognition for their significance in my life and my desire to enhance them.

Sibling Love: If you have a sibling and you are lucky enough to love them and feel love in return, you get it. This person who shares the unique joint perspective of growing up in the same home and watching parents and family members influence your development, there is such a crazy bond that a quick glance over dinner can say it all. I am proud to say that the shitty relationship my sister and I had growing up, the constant fighting and comparisons have been left in our childhood home and the mutual respect and fun we share now makes up for it all. Sharing the burden of our aging parents has solidified the bond even more. Fortunately we understand our individual and collective roles in the process. My sister, luckily, like me, finds humor in the humorless. We could write a book with optional titles such as “laughing at your life when you should be crying”, “Things you never thought you would hear or should hear coming from one of your parent’s mouths”, and “Who am I and how did I get here?” As far as sibling love goes, I cannot even do justice to the sibling love between my boys. They adore each other; their relationship is very complicated, yet not. Bryan may be older by 2 years and 8 months, but chronology is not a significant player in their situation. Jason has always been a very caring and loving brother. Often other people remark about how good he is with Bryan, how helpful he is, etc.  To Jason, Bryan is just Bryan, his one and only sibling, and there since his birth. I would not say I take it for granted, because that would be untrue, but if you truly know Jason at all, it’s just who he is. His level of empathy and compassion for people, not just Bryan,  is just as much a signature trait of his, as autism is for Bryan. It’s hard coded in and that’s that. And like all sibling relationships there is ebb and flow in their bond and growing pains both literally and figuratively.

Parental Love: So you know the love I feel from my mom has changed dramatically over the last few years. I no longer have the ability to call her multiple times each day just to share something funny or get some advice. I no longer have that confidant who always had my back and thought I was the jammy jam. My mom was so reasonable and so thoughtful in her advice and she had many close long term friends who also feel the void. In later years she really helped me navigate tricky waters between my dad and my ex husband and ultimately was very supportive when I began to speak with her about my ailing marriage. She was a homemaker and not a career woman in any way and we talked about how different our lives  were and we agreed we each were programmed so differently that we could not walk each other’s path through life. My mother respected me as a woman, mother and business person. What propels me now when I see her is this need to be even better because I don’t have her to talk to. I want to show her, or really me, that I can be a “big girl” and handle things. In order for me to move forward I need to have personal goals; some very tangible and achievable and some more esoteric which manifest on the fly. Either way, I want my Mom’s legacy, for me, to be that I am that girl she loved and respected. I need to earn my way. With my Dad it’s become such an interesting change. I was always daddy’s girl and he looked at me with love and pride since childhood. Over the years there have been tons of bumps and bruises but now we are on a steady course, banded together over decisions for my mom  and forging ahead with his new and uncertain life.

Mommy love: Is there anything so great? Before you have a kid you hear about this gripping bond people feel for their children. You think it must be something special but you cannot truly conceive of it. The little angel appears and you think, “oh so this is what they were talking about!!!” Take my heart, melt it over and over again. And then when it was time for another, you think can I really love another one just as much? Yep you can and you do. My boys are my joy, my focus, my reason, my why. Their triumphs are mine and their challenges, well yep get those too. ‘Nuf said.

Bryan/Autism love: The kid knows how to work the fan club. He is a one man PR specialist for autism awareness. He loves to love and reaches out on a daily basis to friends, family, teachers, therapists, counselors, etc via facebook, facetime etc. I am truly fascinated and beyond appreciative of the warm reception he receives most of the time. Whenever talking to the recipient of these daily calls, etc. they feel special, as if contact from him is directed only at them. Who does not want to talk to someone who makes them feel special? Autism, however, is still so challenging, imagine having someone in your home who literally cannot stop talking or repeating and at the same time is so anxious the minute they sense you are not happy with them and what they are talking about. It’s the ultimate test for Jason and me on a daily basis. But somehow Bryan’s sweet goofiness, his silly inappropriate behavior more often than not forces a chuckle between us and we forge ahead. When meeting my cousins a few days ago for lunch,  I was so happy with the way they celebrated his silliness and made him feel just like he was “one of the kids”. We have tons of friends near and far that are cheering for him. No real words suffice.

Friend love: I am truly beyond lucky to have wonderful lifelong friends. My bestie  is a lifer and she is my touchstone for all things. My close inner circle of female friends are a combo of coaches, partners in crime and sisters from other misters. My close friends are not limited to women, however, I have some incomparable male friends that I adore. Some of my friends live nearby but often they are in NY, solidifying my need for quarterly visits up north. Over my years in Florida, I have made many new friends that have started out either as “autism parents” that morphed into real friends or “work colleagues” that have also become warm, true friends. What I value besides the loyalty and trustworthiness of my friends is the variety. Some friends are more advice givers, some are more just buddies for happy hour. Either way, I love observing human nature and understanding the different dynamics.  I am a very social person and I enjoy hearing other’s life stories. At this point in my life we have all lived a while and no one is without some sort of challenge, lesson, or funny anecdote which I find very captivating.

Cousins/extended family love: If you know me personally, you know my cousins are not cousins they are brothers/sisters, nephews and nieces. One of the main attractions for living in Florida was the proximity to this crazy clan and you just have to see my face when I’m with them. The depth of these relationships is personified through unending teasing, laughter and appreciation. If you go to one of our events and you left your thick skin home, well sorry Charlie, you are screwed. The need to laugh at yourself through the eyes of those you love is a great lesson. It is so freeing to know you can be yourself with a large group of people who will take you down and build you up inside of any group gathering. The link between us and our kids is one of the best parts of my life and although I tell them all of the time how much I love them, they know just by my body language displayed at any event.

Pet love: This one should be quick. Furry creatures make me happy. A curl up on the couch with a yummy dog or cat is therapeutic and warm. I love my animals, they are family and they make our lives better.

Romantic love: It is always a necessary part of life for me. I am a very affectionate person and I would like to say I have fallen in love since my divorce. I have not. I have fallen in like once or twice which is electrifying!  I have found some connections and have had fun along the way. I have learned that I am still capable of having great romantic feelings and that feels awesome. I believe real love is out there for me and I will not settle or fail to take risks to find it. No pain, no gain. Simple but true. I am totally willing to be in the game for the better of team me.

Happy 2017!

 

Product Placement

goldseesIt’s amazing to me how just the sight of a box can make me turn into mush. A few days ago at work I was talking to my work BFF and I saw the white See’s chocolate box. I took a good look at it and got so teary eyed. It reminded me of when I was a kid/young adult and we used to go out to Arizona. My family had a vacation home in Scottsdale and we had lots of fun out there. We used to go to the See’s store and pick out the chocolates individually. Not to be too corny but it was a sweet memory of fun times with my family and for some reason just “got” me. This morning driving to work I called my cousin Andy. He and I share so many great memories because we grew up much more like brother and sister than cousins. This morning he told me he was eating Product 19. My grandfather ate Product 19 and that just made me smile. When I see Vienna Fingers I am immediately brought back to my Nana’s fridge in the Bronx. I didn’t even like them that much, but those were the cookies she had, so I ate them. Now I eat them because they remind me of her and make me feel good. I see a Mallomar and feel all New Yorky. They don’t sell the down here in the summer. Jason has learned to appreciate the fine art of the Mallomar. It’s genetic!
My Dad loves Goldenberg’s candies. Even Jason knows that if you go into the candy store in the Boca mall you should look for those candies to buy for Grandpa, but Grandma might get mad at you!!! These little products can trigger all kinds of visceral responses that transport you to another time and place. Sometimes they are not always this pleasant, like the sight of a Kamikaze; reminds of when I puked in front of my law school boyfriend while he tried to open the door to my apartment.
Music of course does this too. My sister and I still chuckle at the time my grandfather asked us about the lyrics when we were in the car listening to Jefferson Starship singing “Miracles”. It’s a pretty risqué song, which I didn’t realize at the time since I was a little kid, but I’m fairly sure we were on the Major Deegan (not only will my sister tell me exactly where we were but she will also know where we were coming from or going to) and when my sister sang the lyrics for him, he thought it was hysterical. He was fun and naughty like that!
My first real boyfriend and I had a song. “Just What I Needed” by the Cars.This was from 1981 and I still think of him when I hear it. When our boys were babies I sang to them which will probably scar them for life due to my singing voice.But all kids love the sound of their mother’s voice or we tell ourselves that at the 4am feedings! What did I sing? “Close to You” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” because they were soft and melodic and I knew the words. We have been selecting music to go along with the video montage for Bryan’s Bar Mitzvah and for the candle lighting. Luckily Earl and I like the same music (mostly) so it has been fun. Doing this together has been one of those joyful tasks when you see the fruits of your marriage. You get to see the growth, the give and take, and the friendship. We laughed, we cried, we got each other and although the Bar Mitzvah will only be a few short hours this will definitely be one of the memories I will go to when I think about it in years to come.

A Chuckle and a Tear

Introspection….

I never really read blogs before I started blogging. From time to time an interesting autism one might catch my eye but truthfully I just wasn’t hooked into the whole blogosphere. Now I read a few blogs on a regular basis and I love to read people’s perspectives and observations, particularly on day-to-day life or autism parenting.

When people have asked me, what is the point or focus of your blog I am usually at a loss for words (shocking, I know). There is a purpose; to let me get out some of the stuff I have bottled up. No, it’s to memorialize some of the feelings I have so I can track progress of the family and me. No, it’s to let people who care about me see the realities of a family with autism. No, it’s to keep a diary of my life for my kids. Ok it’s about all of this stuff but really what’s best about it are the comments, subscribers etc. Who knew anyone really cared about this stuff? I have gotten some really supportive and wonderful emails, messages, etc from people near and far.

I am always so pleasantly surprised when I receive comments from someone who I do not regularly talk to or who may not know me well or at all. Sometimes I feel like they must think I’m nuts but I guess that’s the thing, if you open the door, stuff comes out and you can’t or don’t want to control it. The people connection is the thing that I guess I am after, after all. The support from other people, whether they can relate or not to my ramblings, propels me.

I have a terrific friend/colleague/confidante at work that helped get me set up with the blog. I had never even heard of wordpress before. She gave me a gentle nudge and is incredibly warm, true and loyal. She said when she reads the entries she always has a chuckle and a tear. WOW. That is powerful because I think that sums up who I am and what I’m doing. My life is a chuckle and a tear because laughter and crying are really my coping mechanisms