The Lost Art of Living in the Moment…

I read a poignant blog post recently about holding onto memories of your child when they are long grown and treasuring them as a way to remember to how little they once were.

It brought a tear to my eye, but not in the same way as many other parents it would seem.

For me it was because hours earlier I’d been discussing with some friends who are also parents of children with ‘The A Word’ the perils of potty training when combined with additional needs.

You see Blue-eyed Boy is apparently fine with staying in pull ups until the ages of five, six, seven – who knows how long. But I’m not. I know I should be – I should take the relaxed point of view on things, I shouldn’t push it, I shouldn’t care. But I do.

Sometimes people who don’t have much experience of autism will say things about how nice it is that some kids with ASD take longer to grow up, because they need you for longer, you can keep them close to you like when they were very little for longer. And in a way that’s true, but in another it truly sucks.

When I think back now to all the things I took for granted with Mini-me, all the things I never fully appreciated because I don’t have the perspective I do now – that’s what really makes me cry.

I never appreciated how easy it was for Mini-me to learn to ride a scooter before autism came into my life.

I never realised the pride in teaching your child to look left and right before crossing the road before I had a little boy who simply runs out in front of traffic.

I simply took for granted the fact that life got a little easier day by day as she grew, as she slept more, as we needed less stuff in order to be able to leave the house before I had a son whose different brain activity means he has grown into sleeping like a newborn baby – and we have no idea if he will ever grow out of it.

I didn’t know that having my son eat a packet of raisins would become a huge cause of daily celebration because on some days simply getting him to eat at all is an achievement.

When I left my house I didn’t instinctively notice the level of traffic noise, the number of people, the smells and sounds that might trigger sensory issues for someone. And although I knew my little girl like the back of my hand I couldn’t always read every nervous twitch, every fearful glance the way I can with my Blue-eyed Boy.

I don’t shy away from the future for fear of my lovely boy growing up too quickly, I’m sometimes scared of looking too far ahead because I simply don’t know if he will grow and change in the same way as everyone else.

My greatest wish for him is to be independent, to have a job, to have a girlfriend – or boyfriend, to go to university if he wants, to enjoy the thrill of moving into his own place, to have a few drinks in the pub on a Friday night, to be accepted by his peers…

And that’s why, and I assume other parents of children with ‘additional needs’, try to be content with living in the moment. Because all we want some days is for our kids to untie those apron strings and fly…

To walk out into the world fearless and optimistic and full of hope – and not look back.





Phobias and Parenting

Rain aside, I love this time of year. When the air gradually starts to feel cooler, then crisper, the leaves start to change and you can sometimes smell the wood smoke from fires when you step outside.

There’s something about early autumn that makes me think of fresh starts, new possibilities, something really good being just around the corner, and not just Christmas.

But there’s one tiny, or increasingly big this year as it turns out, thing I really, REALLY hate about it – and that’s spiders.

I’ve always been terrified of the eight-legged scuttling hairy monsters, with their ability to leap out at you from nowhere scaring you ****less, the marathon speed at which they run, their horrible beady eyes on stalky antennas. Just describing them is making me feel anxious and my skin start to crawl!

And yes I’ve heard all those ‘helpful’ comments about how much bigger I am than them, how much more scared they are of me, blah blah etc – but quite frankly I just don’t buy it.

It’s the one thing I disagree over with one of my oldest and closest friends. She actually feels sorry for the spiders and, wait for it, scoops them up in her bare hands no matter how enormous the beast. It’s just not normal!

I used to get her to come round to my flat many years back, pre hubby, to dispose of them for me. Pathetic I know.

It’s not as bad as my other oldest and closest friend though. She once slept in the communal hallway outside her flat to avoid a huge spider specimen. She was also known to hoover them up at 3am which, as you can imagine, made her hugely popular with the other residents.

Anyway every year I hope (and pray) that I’ve gotten away with it, before they start migrating back in. But this year the menace has grown to unprecedented levels.

Firstly there’s millions more of the buggers, and secondly they all seem to be on spider steroids because they are bloody massive!

And I know it’s not just me because there have been various stories in the nationals about super-sized spiders on the rampage. How reassuring!

Thing is though, when it was just me to worry about I could choose to have a minor panic attack at the sight of one and lock myself in the bathroom until hubby got home. But now there’s Mini-me and Blue-eyed boy to consider.

Mini-me is actually a world champion ‘spider spotter’. She has a sixth sense for their malevolent lurking and will scream reports up the stairs until I come running armed with rubber gloves, pest spray and a super-sized saucepan.

Yes like her mum she isn’t a fan. Although she was fine until the day, several years back, when I had a screaming fit having found one of the fat little beasts crawling over her in her cot.

Yes I am to blame for her (apparently unhealthy) fear of them. Something which the other half hasn’t let me forget, and which I do feel very guilty about.

This is why I am now trying to employ new spider tactics – namely attempting to swallow any shrieks of terror, maintain a calm speaking voice and trying to rapidly and efficiently dispose of them. After all the last thing I want is for Blue-eyed boy to start being scared of spiders too.

It’s got me thinking about those everyday phobias most of us parents have – whether of heights, lifts or other enclosed spaces, wasps or even clowns – and how tricky it is to ensure we don’t pass them onto our offspring.

After all you don’t immediately shrug off every fear you’ve grown to have over a lifetime, no matter how ridiculous, just because you’ve started a family.

For me the facts are simple. I hate spiders, I will always hate spiders, and the best I can do is try to live with my irrational feelings while protecting my kids from developing the same.

And if I can trap the little sods under something, weigh it down with a couple of books and leave for hubby to get rid of when he gets home at night then hopefully I’m not doing too badly.