Autism Awareness Month: Light It Up Blue!

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we will be lighting it up blue here at Wonderfully Made! Over the course of the month of April, we will have a series of posts about understanding autism, piece by piece.

Though autism presents many challenges, it also bears amazing joys. We want to be open and honest about our journey with a child on the spectrum, and hope to offer you information, understanding, and compassion to encourage you along your journey, as well.

In the coming weeks, we will share what we have learned about autism and how it has impacted our family, our marriage, and our faith. We also will have therapists, who have dedicated their passions and professions to celebrating children on the spectrum and helping them live successful, fulfilling lives, share their perspectives and insights as well. 

Thank you for joining us and God bless!

Light it up Blue 2 with Border

A love note to moms at the witching hour

A Love Note to Moms at the Witching Hour

4:00pm

“Mooom! The iPad isn’t working!? Mooom! What’s the code? MOM! Why isn’t it working!?” my six-year-old son yells. His shouts are followed shortly by my three-year-old, tutu-clad daughter’s cries resonating through the kitchen after bumping into the kitchen table while trying to jete in the air: “Mooom! I hurt my ear jumping! MOOOOM!”

To top off the cacophony of cries and shouts, my one-year-old son bursts into tears when he realizes I’m no longer sitting next to him because I have stretched myself between my shouting six-year-old and tear-filled three-year-old.

Every day, like clockwork, my children fall apart at 4:00pm.

I’m guessing they do at your house, too. And I’d wager you’ve made many a bargain with God across the weeks and months and years of witching hours: If You’ll just get them to {insert need here}, Lord, I promise I’ll {insert bargaining chip here}!

Sound familiar?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said those words, while simultaneously thinking Couldn’t I just curl up in my bed and call it a day?

But, as moms, we don’t get to clock out. So how do we keep going?

I’m learning that answering this question isn’t easy. As a mom of three young children – two of which have special and/or high needs – I can’t just pop out to the movies or take a walk on the beach or sit down and read a good book or hire the neighborhood babysitter to watch my kids for an afternoon. Self-care takes planning and planning relaxation time can be stressful, which leads me back to the question: how, as moms, do we fill up our self-care tanks on a daily basis without breaking the bank or ourselves? I am no expert, but these five things have brought me sanity in the most chaotic of moments and I’m hoping they might do the same for you!

Keep a journal. And by journal, I don’t mean a space intended for posterity, but rather a simple, open space where you can jot down your personal thoughts, ideas, feelings, frustrations, questions, and answers. By writing down the way you experience life, you give power to your inner-voice – something that often falls by the wayside when you become a mom. Tapping into our inner-selves unlocks the ruts we can get stuck in when life starts to feel like Groundhog Day.

Be honest. With yourself, your spouse, your friends, and your family. Too often, we try to hold it all together so we’ll look like we have it all together. But do we honestly gain anything from this? By hiding our struggles, we rob others of knowing our true selves and allow friendships that might have blossomed in truth run flat just for the sake of showing a brave face.

Embrace screen time. Yes, there are a million studies that tell you you will rot your child’s brain by planting them in front of the TV or iPad, but if you’re here, I’m assuming you don’t park your children in front of the TV for 12 hours a day every day. So, give yourself a break! There are some wonderful shows that teach great lessons to little ones – our current favorites are Puffin Rock, Winnie the Pooh, and Daniel Tiger – all available on Netflix. Also, anything by Pixar is a winner! Screen time can be a powerful tool if you use it wisely, and, IMHO, the witching hour is a wise time to use it!

Have open-ended toys, crafts, and activities on hand. Playdough, blocks, paper, markers, stickers, paint, puzzles, kinetic sand, books, puppets – anything your child can be creative with and enjoy without your input is an open-ended toy! Need ideas? Check out this post by Wildflower Ramblings and two of my favorite creative blogs: The Artful Parent and TinkerLab. They’re awesome.

Drink hot chocolate. Or tea or coffee – whatever floats your boat. But I find that hot chocolate (preferably with marshmallows) feels like a decadent treat around 4:00pm. It takes me back to when I was a kid and warms me from the inside out. It makes me less prickly around my children and reminds me that simple pleasures go a long way in the midst of chaos.

To the mom who is reading this at 4:00pm on a Thursday (or Wednesday or Friday or any day). Who is tired and cranky and just wants five minutes peace. Who needs a break and a cup of hot chocolate and a friend. Know you are not alone. Know you are prayed for. Know you are loved.

And if you need an extra boost of encouragement, join us on Facebook. Moms are meant to live in community – one step, one day, one 4:00pm at a time.

A letter to our baby boy on his first birthday

If you could write a letter to your little one, what would you say?

Dear Connor,

Today was your first birthday! You’ve cut four new teeth in the past couple of days, buddy – four! You crawl like Spiderman – it’s really adorable – and you even made your way up the stairs for the first time this weekend. You love to smile and laugh and growl and pounce. You are curious, so preciously curious about the world and people around you. This morning, I said your name and you laughed and laughed. That’s how I feel about your name, too. It makes me smile from deep in my heart.

Your sister and I baked a chocolate cake for you this morning. She was so happy to make it for you! And your brother made a birthday card for you at school. He’s so proud to have a baby brother! Both of them love to take care of you and teach you about the great big world.

Your daddy and I are doing our best to teach you what we can, too. There’s so much we want to tell you, but really the greatest thing we can teach you is this: You are beautiful exactly as you are from the inside out. So, laugh and love and grow and be freely as the soul God created you to be, which leads me to one more very important thing: God is love and He loves you. So, someday, buddy, when you come to a crossroads and you feel sad or afraid or lost, don’t worry, don’t be afraid, don’t hide your heart because it’s in those moments when God’s light shines brightest and He will always, always lead you home.

Thank you for blessing our family, little one. We love you today and always!

Love,

Mom and Dad

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