The Brutally Honest Christmas Letter

The 13 tiny lines of our family Christmas card wasn’t able to adequately provide you with all of the information I could have shared about our past year.

Eleanor

Poor little Eleanor gets picked on all the time for being so ‘terrible,’ but it’s all {er… mostly} in fun.  This child has no fear of heights, climbing to the top of the counters and INTO cupboards.  She has no interest in following any kind of rules or be contained in the slightest bit- a pew at church, a shopping cart, nothing.  If she ain’t free to do her own thing, she ain’t happy.

She started a new school this September where she broke my heart the handful of times I had to leave her crying for me.  She LOVES her teachers and new friends, so we are happy that we made the switch and she’s doing so well in a structured environment.  Eleanor continues to have Little Sister Syndrome in every way imaginable- always taking Lucy’s toys just to see her reaction, wanting to do everything Big Sister does, and blaming Lucy for all of her poor choices.  She’s insanely high maintenance, [where the hell did she get that??!} but her little voice makes me weak in the knees.  “I wanna snuggo, Mom,” is one of my all-time favorites.  She is SO beautiful and SO smart.  She is delightfully entertaining.  She is quite the addition to our family.

Eleanor’s 2015 highlights: Learning LOTS and LOTS of new words, new school, potty training (about 85% complete!)

Lucy

Lucy is… Lucy.  It’s really hard to compare her to anyone else.  And as far as Lucy goes, I believe this was our hardest year yet.  At five  years old, she’s beginning to “look” differently than other children her age and it’s becoming more and more apparent that she’s atypical.  Don’t get me wrong- I absolutely would never change her, I’d never trade her in for anything different. But I don’t believe that Autism is a gift.  It certainly makes her who she is, she is incredibly bright and hilarious.  Along with that comes violent outbursts, kicking, screaming, biting, and 50 minutes of trying to get her dressed before school.  Some days are certainly better than others, but it’s a constant struggle to meet her in a balance.  We have not quite learned exactly how to deal with some of her struggles, maybe we never will, considering she’s a constant spinning wheel that changes daily.

I’ve never felt so inadequate as a mother than when I am unable to calm her through a meltdown or control my anger when it is apparent that people are judging her in public.  Being her mother has made me… rougher?  Bitter? I’m not sure of the right word.  I have no tolerance for people’s disgusting attitude towards others that are different.  I have no patience for people who are not willing to understand our circumstance.  No time for people who aren’t going to be a positive impact in our life.  Fortunately, this usually only presents itself among strangers who have no business butting in, but I was hopeful I’d be the mother that kindly responds, “Yes, thank you.  I very much value your opinion.  However, my daughter has Autism and doesn’t function in the world like you and I.  Do you have a moment to discuss this?”

I won’t ever stop saying it- it’s hard to be an Autism parent.  It is challenging and frustrating and exhausting, but we get so much JOY out of this child.  Some of my favorite moments of my life have been with her- just the two of us- in our own little world we’ve created to be together in.  I’m so thankful that she lets me in.  I’m so proud of the things she’s done in her life, despite its difficulties.  I am proud of her for doing things she hates, things that are unbearable, things that are uncomfortable. Looking back at all of her proudest moments, knowing that most other parents don’t find these times as sweet as I do.  Precious moments that you may take for granted have been Lucy’s brightest.

I love being her mother.  She makes us all better.  She has taught us so many things about the world.

Lucy’s 2015 highlights: Last year of preschool, loved swimming (and swim lessons!), Attended another year of VBS and 1st year going to “summer camp”

Devin

Of course Devin remains the most boring of the family.  And by that I mean he’s the lowest maintenance.  But more importantly, he’s the consistent glue that holds us all together.  He remains calm in our Girl World and always gives us 100%. He cooks and cleans and lets me spend four hours at Applebee’s with a friend every once in a while.

Devin was ‘blessed’ with the opportunity to leave his previous job and accept a position at FUN.com that was basically created for him.  He is ecstatic about the work he’s doing and his new work environment.   To sum it up, it’s basically a bunch of super nerdy people that all like the same things, all in one place.  He misses his PTG work friends, but he’s having fun getting to know more (nerdy) people.

Devin continues to bless me in more ways than I can ever imagine.  He’s everything I want (and more!) as a husband and father.  He is so good at keeping me grounded and listening when I need to think out loud.  He is incredibly patient with Lucy.  I love to watch them interact as they’ve created such a unique and special bond together.  I’m hopeful that 2016 will give him more one-on-one time with Eleanor.  The two of them are the goofs of the family and they keep us laughing.

Devin’s 2015 highlights: New job!, Star Wars, being married to me (Just kidding).

Little ‘Ol Me

This was a whirlwind year of trying new medications, changing dosages, refusing medication, and finding a good balance.  In my trifecta of mental illnesses world, a world that is so pale and emotionless, I’ve found to be more confident and brave to speak up about things I haven’t been able to in the 2 1/2 years of PPD, anxiety and most recently, OCD.  Guilt has been washed away, light shines through and I can remember some of these feelings I’ve had before.  Really, any feeling is better than no feelings at all.

I find myself holding tightly onto moments this year, it’s been so special.  I fricken love my life.  I love my friends, my family is amazing.  We’ve been blessed to pay bills on time and put away a little money every now and then to be able to experience DisneyWorld together in February.  God revealed himself to me many times this year, but most memorably, when I sponsored a World Vision child from Zimbabwe.

My 2015 highlights: Becoming an aunt and being able to bond with my sister on a whole new level. Being a Mom, and getting to take small breaks once in a while 😉 Watching my friends be awesome- one on the verge of an engagement, some bringing babies in the world, one, whose husband has an amazing job opportunity, one who graduated with a 4.0 in her Master’s Program, a few that have turned 30… These are some of my favorite things!

To sum it up

Life is really shitty sometimes.  It’s not always beautiful.  We’ve had a handful of those moments this year.  But I can tell in the way that Devin and I look at each other sometimes that we’ve figured it out.  Maybe not everything, but we’ve figured out that even when life gets really shitty, we make it work.  We learn and grow and push ourselves.  It’s about what we do in our lives during the shitty parts that make us who we are.  We are responsible for our own happiness.  We are responsible for our actions, how we treat other people and how much love we give.  We have faith that God will provide and guide us.  We take opportunities and enhance them, we embrace change, we trust and we push the limits.  Most importantly, we love our kids.  We do the best we can.  And I think that’s pretty damn good.

 

Xoxo

 

*May God bless you and those you love this Christmas.  Have a happy, healthy and loving New Year.

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