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Tips for a great Spring Break!

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What to do With Your Kids During Spring Break?

It’s that time of year again, spring break! My son is on a birthday trip to L.A but my daughter Payton is staying at home with us.

What does your spring break look like? Are you a working parent? Are you a stay home parent? Are you taking care of your friend’s kids?

No matter what situation you are in (there are many out there), the overall consensus is that we want to make spring break fun! This is the time of year that nobody has to wake up extra early and rush to get ready and out of the house! Kids are getting sick of school so it is a time to be grateful for as it is our last break before summer!

Sometimes staying at home can be tricky for your kids if you are a working parent who also works from home (such as myself). This can be confusing for the kids as they think that you are always available to them when you really can’t be. Boundaries and the proverbial line in the sand start to become very gray so work with it and not against it.

This past summer when I was working on writing my Happy Family in 90 Days™ book, the lines got very blurred and my daughter was confused and wanted my attention.

How did I deal with it and stop from going crazy? The trick is to get your kids engaged in age appropriate ideas/activities that can be done inside the home (or nearby outside, in the yard etc.). They can ride their bikes or skateboards, play soccer, run with the dog etc.

If your child prefers to stay indoors, make sure they are AWAY from their electronics and limit all electronic time to 1 hour. If you have the free time to spend with your child, get them to help you with some spring cleaning of the closets, reorganizing of the kitchen etc. You can’t spend all your time and money at Chuckie Cheese, or camps! Playing music and making the chore fun turns it into a time of connection not just a boring chore.

Even if you are a working, time take that extra 15-20 minutes that you have available in the morning to talk/cuddle etc. with your child. It makes a difference!

Elise

Gotcha Day: What it is and how it changed my life

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Miriam Webster's Definition of Gotcha:   an unexpected usually disconcerting challenge, revelation, or catch.
 
Not sure if that is how I would describe the day my darling Payton was put into my arms for the first time 12 years ago.  For some reason, the slang term for the day you receive your child in Chinese adoption is called Gotcha Day. Either way, I got her and I have never looked back.
 
When the decision was made to adopt, it seemed like a smart, easy one.  After all, my oldest has autism, there is genetic component and we were unwilling to take any chances. We began the adoption process. Much like my experience with Spencer's therapies, I threw myself into the entire adoption process. I had to decide if we wanted domestic or international, which country and which agency.  Once those decisions were made, we needed homestudies, fingerprints, recommendations, passports, visas, immunizations.  The list seemed endless and so did the process.  But I was set on my Chinese baby girl. After all, I was told cognitively Chinese children were perfect.  Is there such a thing?  All I knew was that after all the therapies I had been through with Spencer I wanted and thought I deserved a “typical baby” I wanted to know what it felt like to parent a typical child. 
 
Three years after we started the process of the adoption, I got the call.  “Mrs. Montgomerie, please pull your car over.  We need to make sure you are in a safe place when we tell you.” I was so excited. I had finally been matched with a baby. I pulled the car over to park. “Ok, I’m safe, tell me about my baby.” “Your child Long Xan Man is waiting for you. Please make your travel arrangements for 6 weeks. We will send you all the paperwork you need.” I hung up, cried, cried and cried some more. Long Xan Man I’m coming to get you.
 
Gotcha Day was very surreal. It was cold and gray in Nanchang. We were told to meet in the ballroom of our hotel. We were told, “don’t come early, we don’t want you seeing the babies.” Walking down to the room, we saw the “nanny’s” bringing in the babies. I tried desperately to find Long Xan Man. We were sent 2 pictures. That’s it. From that I couldn’t seem to recognize her. As we arrived in the room, they told the parents to stand on one side of the room and the babies were on the other side. When your name was called, you were to come and meet your baby. It was like when you go grocery shopping and it is your turn at the deli counter only it is such a better gift. Then finally. “Montgomerie”. I ran and grabbed Long Xan Man and hugged her so tight. In that moment she became my Payton. Just like when Spencer was born, I had difficulty letting people hold her. Not because I was nervous. It was because it hurt too much to have my babies in anyone else’s arms.
 
We finally came home to be greeted by our family and friends. It was amazing. And just like that the 3 long years of my “adoption pregnancy” were over and my family was complete.
 
I have since learned there are no perfect kids. Like all kids, regardless of whether they were adopted or have autism, they all have their own set of issues. Payton is no different. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are so perfectly matched, it was as if the universe knew I needed to wait 3 years to get my Payton.
 
Payton Grace Montgomerie, I gotcha now and I’m never letting go. I kaklunk to Iabab. Thank you for giving me the privilege of being your mother.

Love,
Elise

Ultimate Gift Guide for Kids

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It is that time of year again when most of us are inundated with a long list of holiday errands, including buying gifts for our children. This can be a daunting task as our kids are constantly asking for different things and it becomes hard to keep track. Here are a list of tips that you can use to help you through the holiday season.
 
1.  Make your list, check it twice -  I suggest parents listen to what their kids mention they like throughout the year and jot it down. When I start to shop for presents I refer back to the note and use it as a guideline.

2.  Determine a theme - If you haven’t been able to jot down any ideas, think about their interests and come up with a theme. My daughter Payton, loves all things soft and fluffy so some of her gifts included: a new bath robe, stuffed animals, and socks. My son Spencer likes men’s fashion, so his gifts included: a sweater, a scarf, and a men’s shaving kit.
 
3.  Consider your child's needs, not just their wants - I consider what gift ideas on the list are a good fit for my child at the stage that they are currently in. For instance, if your child is having a difficult time adhering to screen time, don’t get them a new tablet or smart watch. My daughter who is almost 12 is obsessed with her screen time. This holiday season she asked for a smart watch. As much as I wanted to get it for her since it feels so good to give our children what they really want, I knew she was not mature enough to stay off of it. This was a gift that would distract her when she needed to spend time on more important things such as school work.
 
4.  Buy gifts with a purpose - Another approach to gift giving is to buy games which help with your child’s deficiencies. For example, if your child struggles socially, sign them up for a mother & child or kids yoga class. If your child struggles with fine motor skills, get them a puzzle or similar toy that helps refine these skills. One of my children struggled with reading so I got them books on topics I know they were really interested in.
 
5.  Don't forget to give back! - If you want to teach your children the gift of giving, I suggest going to a local charity event and have them volunteer with you. Teaching your children to help others and to give their time to those who are less fortunate is an invaluable skill.
 
6.  Money, money, money - Lastly, give yourself a budget and stick to it! My gift giving style is to buy one big present and a couple smaller ones but I make sure it is always within the budget I set in the beginning.
 
No matter your budget, or the number of gifts you buy, always remember the gift of love and time is what your kids want the most
 
Happy Holidays
Elise 

Are your kids stressed out or anxious? Maybe it is time for an electronic diet.

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Are your children stressed or depressed? It may be time to go on an electronic diet.

It seems like kids with iPads are getting younger and younger these days. I’ve even seen babies with them. My almost 18 year old son didn’t receive his first phone until he was 12 and it was only to motivate him to be come more social. He is autistic. The only thing it accomplished was that it gave him new ways to obsess and be inappropriate. There are no shortcuts. My 10 year old still doesn’t have a phone. However, we all know not having a phone doesn’t stop our kids from engaging in all types of inappropriate screen time antics. Most of us have computers and tablets at home to which our kids have access. So Stampylongnose will find his way into your homes somehow.

Other than becoming a zombie and not listening, what are the real concerns for our kids? According to research it affects focus, sleep and even our body composition. Parents complain that our children are addicted to electronics. Gaming releases so much dopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaine use. How scary is that? Would you give your children cocaine? I don’t think so. Getting our kids on an electronic diet might seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be.

Here a couple of steps to get our kids off of electronics?Let them know that the whole family is going on an electronic diet. We are all in. Remember that our kids are always watching us. So set an example of what you want them to do.Understand your children are going to need more input from you about how to have fun without a screen. Be ready and prepared for some suggestions. Bowling, ice skating, roller skating or playing outside to name a few.Sit back and watch the beautiful changes in your children.

Happy parenting!

Elise 

Parent or protector?

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As parents, we're programmed to protect our kids. But what happens when we want to continue protecting them as they get older? When is it appropriate to stop protecting and start teaching? I've broken this down to three stages.

Preschoolers: They need protection from a difficult teacher, bullying, or a dangerous situation. While you step in to help, take the opportunity to teach your child how to handle it. At this stage, they may not be able to generalize and take the lesson your are trying to teach and apply it across the board to other scenarios.  So, while they are young you will still need to be the protector but  you begin planting seeds so they develop the skills on their own.

In elementary and middle school: You want to make sure that when you are protecting your child, you are ALWAYS using the situations as a teaching opportunity because their language and ability to generalize information has improved. For example, if my daughter is having a problem with school work, I will ask if she can handle it herself with the teacher. If she is not comfortable doing that, I will take care of it. However, she needs to participate in the email or discussion with the teacher so that she can eventually handle these situations on her own.

In high school: Now the parent is the teacher first and the protector second. By now, your child probably has the skills necessary to take care of themselves in school, work and social situations. For example, if your child is having difficulty in a subject and refuses to see the teacher or guidance for help, they must suffer the consequences. This is when your child will learn many life lessons while still under your care.

Our parental instinct is to always be the protector. However, we must remember that as parents it is our obligation to give our children the skills necessary to handle life on their own.

Happy parenting!

Elise

Run your family like a CEO runs their business!

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The new year has come and gone. Resolutions are set and some are broken. I’m going to suggest something radical today:

Rather than promising to stop yelling at the kids, try thinking of someone in the business world you you really respect. Ever wonder how some businesses always seem to succeed while others don’t? Or why people love going to work and others don’t? Chances are, there is a leader guiding the company to greatness. 

Parents are essentially the CEO'S of their household, so lets learn how to help our children to perform their best. Here are a list of traits that great CEO'S exhibit:

Emotional Stability: We can't run our houses well until we are emotionally stable. When I go into homes, before we begin to even look at family dynamics, I always make sure the parents are stable. After that’s established, we can then move forward with any behavioral plans.  After all, it makes it a lot more challenging to tell your children to stop yelling when you are always yelling, right? 

Maturity: Please make sure you are not making fun of your children to your other children.  You set the tone for the level of kindness and compassion in the household. 

Empathy: Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is essential when leading. Empathy = connection. Once you learn to feel empathy for someone else they will feel valued and appreciated.

Respect: What does respect look like in a family? When someone says “the music is too loud in the car, please turn it down” or “that noise is really bothering me, can you please stop” or can you please keep the noise down, its getting late," you need to listen to them. If you don’t respect your child’s wishes and don't value their needs, they will have a much harder time respecting you or their siblings. Show them the same respect you want them to exude.  

Next time you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or frustrated with your family, pause and think "how would my favorite CEO handle this?"

To an amazingly successful year, 

Elise

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! 

As the new year approaches, we’re getting ready to make our New Years resolutions. “This year I am going to eat much healthier and I’m going to work out every day.” My resolution every year is to stop cursing. A couple hours into the day I say,” f**k that.”
 

So why do we set these resolutions if we know we’re going to break them? It seems like we are just setting ourselves up to fail, making us feel even worse than before.  So this year, lets make a decision together: to change ONLY when we are ready, and accept all the rest.  At this stage of my life, I have learned to accept my truck driver mouth and those around me have as well.  Lets try and not only accept but embrace our shortcomings. They serve some sort of purpose for us. As for the healthier lifestyle, there is no bad time to make that decision.  It could be in the middle of the day, in the middle of the month, in the middle of the year.  When you are ready to take massive actions, you know you will get massive results.  In the meantime, be kind to yourself and remember there is never a bad time to make a fresh start.  
 

Wishing everyone a beautiful happy and healthy new year!

 

Elise  

 

The lesson of the burnt toast

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If you’re anything like me, multitasking is your middle name. We seem to take great pride in doing more things at once.  I can work, talk on the phone and make lunch for the kids!” 
 

In a society that moves faster than the speed of light, it appears that we're not really moving that fast. We’re actually falling behind. Most parents work which renders us multitasking experts. After all, it’s a REQUIREMENT that we’re must be fantastic parents, friends, employees and still get to the gym, right?

 

Hm. Not so much. 

 

The other morning, I thought I would be in contention for mother of the year. I decided to make my daughter homemade French toast for breakfast.  But like any working mother, making just French toast was not enough for me to do.  I flipped open my computer and started working on the counter just next to where I was cooking.  Whenever I work I get fully immersed in what I’m doing, so that day was no exception. I was busy handling “work stuff” when I smelled the burnt toast.  As I looked back at the breakfast, I realized immediately it was not salvageable.

 

 It got me thinking, why was it so important that we do so many things at once?  Why do we feel that we’re not useful unless we are busy. Why do we brag about being stressed and overwhelmed? We have become so conditioned to multitask that often times,  we’re not even actually getting things done.. we just think we are.
 

When you’re on the phone while working, how great is your work really going to be?  How can you really be actively listening to your kids while working?  The way I see it, we are doing a whole lot of nothing.  
 

So this next week, let’s all try and hit the reset button. Be present: at work, home, exercise, family, friends, and LIFE!  Give 100% to one thing not 25% to four things.  Life will get much sweeter for yourself and all of those around you! Hit “reply” and let me know how you plan to be more present this week. Even better, when the end of the week rolls around, let me know how your week turned out! 


Elise 

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Hi Friends, 

This evening, I'm writing to you right after I put my little one to bed (she's not so little anymore... almost ten years old).  I was reminded of how precious time is. Time with our children, time with our spouse, time with our family. It sounds super cliche but it really does go by so fast.

So I want to ask you, are you present when you're with your kids? Are you really in the moment with them, even for just for 15 minutes a day? Sometimes we are "with" them all day but are we really present?  

This week, instead of getting annoyed when your children interrupt you, try actually listening. I get it... when we are busy with all of the other pressing responsibilities that go along with parenting, even 15 minutes seems like a lot; but find the place in your life where children are not a distraction, but rather a gift.

There will come a time in the not- so- distant future that you will be beggingthem to talk to you. So enjoy all this time now, it goes by so fast. Be in the moment.

If you're feeling inspired and want to connect with other like-minded parents, come on over to my Facebook group. We've really created a community over there and I feel so honored to be a part of it. This Thursday night, at 9 pm, I will be doing a Facebook live. So come with an open heart and lots of questions. I'll see you then!

Lots of love,

Elise 

Perspective is everything

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Perspective is everything. 

As my son was heading out to school this morning, he forgot his wallet. One of my “crazy” rules is that we don’t wear shoes inside. So he takes off his shoes, runs upstairs, grabs the wallet, puts his shoes back on, and then remembers that he left his keys upstairs. Once again, he bolts upstairs, grabs the keys, and then literally tumbles down the steps. He was so upset and angry when he hit the ground and starts telling me that my “no-shoes-in-the-house” rule is the reason he fell and is now late for school. I say, "Sweetie,  I cooked you a homemade breakfast and prepared your lunch today while you were chilling on the couch. I asked you if you have everything ready and you told me that you did.” He was still fuming so I definitely didn’t want him to drive to school in that state. When I told him he had to cool down before getting in the car, he became even angrier, worrying about being late to school. I could see him becoming more and more anxious about the repercussions of being late. So, I had to snap him out of it. 

I told him to take some deep breaths and tell me the worst possible result of being late. He said he would get in trouble. I assured him that the only person he needed to worry about getting into trouble with was me and he was free and safety is, by far, the most important thing. Then he said he was angry that he can't wear shoes in the house. I then asked Spencer to repeat after me: “If not being allowed to wear my beautiful shoes in my beautiful home where I had homemade French toast today is my worst problem, then I am a lucky person". I asked him to repeat it with me a few times. He humored me and then…he got it!  He understood that he is beyond lucky and was brought back to the moment.  His state immediately shifted. He might have been a bit late for school but he left calm and safe.  I’ll take a teachable moment over a perfect attendance record any day. 

Lots of love, 

Elise

Setting the tone for the year

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Is it really time to start buying school supplies?

In the blink of an eye summer seems to have come and gone. I hope you've taken the opportunity to recharge your battery to get ready for the upcoming school year.

Remember to embrace the new year! Your children are always watching you so if you are excited, they will be too. New school years are a symbol of new beginnings. This brings about chances to start fresh with friends, grades and study habits. Start the year with routines in place to encourage great study and homework habits. And if any of your kids are expressing anxiety about the upcoming school year, encourage them to talk through their fears.

 A strategy I use for this kind of anxiety is called "take it the worst possible place.” For example, if your child is nervous about the upcoming school year ask them why?  Perhaps, they will answer, "all of the homework." Take this to the worst possible place. Ask them what is the absolute worst thing that can happen to them if they do not finish their homework. Doing this exercise makes them realize whatever their anxieties are, it is not going to be the end of the world. Remind them of their blessings. 

As always, feel free to reply to this email with any questions or thoughts! I love hearing from you… 

Elise

"Are you really listening"

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"Mom (or dad) are you listening?"

How many times have our children been talking to us and we just nod our heads and say, “ yea, yea no problem". Then, later, we find out that we have absolutely no idea what our darling child just said!

 I am totally guilty of this. My daughter actually called me out on it this past week. She must have seen the glazed look in my eyes when she said to me, "mom are you listening?"  I instantly snapped out of my wandering thoughts and zeroed in on Paytons urgent monologue about her pet fish.  I realized in that moment that if I wanted my daughter to talk to me when she gets older, I needed to  be present and interested right now. So I immediately added to the banter with my own insight about the fish. I knew I had made the conscious decision to be present now so she would allow me to be present later. 

Today, I want you to really be present. Put down the phone for a bit and really listen to your kids, your spouse, and your friends. You’ll be amazed at how far a little mindfulness can go… 

Have a fantastic weekend,

Elise

Saying yes to the right things

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Do you ever feel like you say “yes” to the wrong things? 

A few days ago, I went to Target with Payton. While passing the toy aisle, she asked — yet again — for another box of Pokémon cards. Seriously, how many cards does one child need? Anyway, I explained that, in our house, we get presents for Chanukah and birthdays… not every time we go to Target.

The night before, as I was putting Payton to bed, she asked if we could work on one of our night time projects. Immediately, in my head, I was thinking "I really don't want to start this now," but instead I decided to say yes. We began our ritual of discussing new laws for our make believe city, Everything World. We write them down in a book and sign each new law into our constitution…very serious business. Payton is President and I am her VP. When she asked to work on the constitution, it was probably the last thing I felt like doing. What I really wanted was to lie down like a slug and have her read to me but my angel asked for my attention, so I obliged. 

The point of this story? Our instincts are to say yes to the easy, quick things (like buying the 100th box of Pokeman cards) and say no to the important things like being present for our children. The next time your children ask you to buy them something, resist the urge for the quick fix and opt for the meaningful one, the one's that are planting the seeds for your future relationship. Trust me, it'll be worth it. 

Love, 

Elise

Laugh all weekend long

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Is there anything better than a child's laugh?

My kids and I were sitting at the dinner table last week and I must have said something funny because both of them started hysterically laughing. So then I started to laugh uncontrollably; the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt. What better medicine, right? 

I looked at my kids and wanted to savor the moment. I wanted to savor their innocence and their ability to laugh anything. 

I thought back to the different ways I used to make my kids: talking in a goofy voice, making fun of myself, and — the most fun —  dancing around the kitchen with whisks as our microphones. We serenaded our pretend audiences to our favorite LIVE song.  

It's so important to have laughter and fun in the house. We get crazy running our kids around from activity to activity, making sure they are eating correctly and getting their homework finished. So often, we lose sight of just having a good laugh. I want my home to always be the place that brings my kids joy, comfort and laughter. 

So when things get just a bit too hectic in your house, step back and have a good laugh. It will work wonders. 

Till next time, 

Elise

Have you ever felt misunderstood?

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Have you ever been in an argument with your spouse, sibling, or a friend where you felt utterly misunderstood? 
 

Think about how you felt.


Frustrated, alone, confused? In most cases, these arguments are on an even playing field. We often yell until you are understood. We fight until our feelings becomes validated. 

Now think about how it feels to be a child and not feel understood. Think about how it feels to be punished for yelling and being disrespectful. They, too, have opinions, wants, and needs; but if it doesn't align with their parents', then often times they are dismissed. Think about how you would feel if your spouse dismissed your feelings? Your reaction may be to do something to get their attention to make your point.

Children feel the same way!


Next time your child starts acting out or "fighting back” to a request, just ask “why?”. Give them the validation they want through listening and making them feel respected and worthy. This automatically diffuses the situation and makes them feel less defensive. This opens up a discussion instead of an argument. Validating feelings doesn't mean you agree, it just means you hear them and are offering empathy. 

The next time you find yourself in an argument. Step back, listen to the other person, validate and then come together to come up with a plan. It will work wonders. 

Elise 

Are you resistant to change?

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I don't want my baby to grow up. 

Over the last year, I’ve been telling my youngest child, leading up to her tenth birthday, that she’s not allowed to get older. I want her to remain the same beautiful, innocent human that she is. She agreed for the entire year up until a couple of days ago. She proclaimed, “I'm ready to grow up.” After some resistance, I agreed that yes she could, indeed, turn double digits.  I then began thinking about why I didn’t want her to grow up?  Payton is kind, sweet, funny and loving. Why would anyone want that to change? The answer is: FEAR! It drives parents, friends, spouses and employees absolutely crazy. We’re scared of the unknown. In this case, I feared what this milestone would mean for my precious Payton. My job, as a mother, is to nurture and mold this tiny human into an incredible, independent adult that makes a difference in this world. And to do so, my angel will have to spread her wings, fall down and shed some tears. Rather than resist, I’ve decided to embrace it. So as I  celebrate her birthday I will no longer be sad, even though time seems to move way too fast. I will love every molecule of her being and appreciate every moment I have right now. I will honor her growth by being present and for the first time in my life I will embrace the unknown.  

Today, I encourage you to get curious about what you may be resisting. You may have gotten comfortable in a lack-luster relationship or a “just-okay” job. I want you to remember that your life can evolve into a much more exciting, fulfilling version when we just let fear take a backseat and get behind the wheel. You’re so much more capable than you know… 

Have a wonderful weekend, 

Elise
 

Enjoy the days of summer

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Summer is in full swing! 
 

Now is the time to soak in the joy of no homework or school projects. No deadlines or parent-teacher conferences. 

Take the opportunity to clean out closets and toys. Start with something small like a drawer or a shelf. You'd be amazed how fun cleaning can be when you blast fun music and relax a little. And what an awesome project to do with your kids. While cleaning, reminisce about all the fun times you had with a particular toy or a funny story about an experience with a certain outfit. Use this time to let your children know the importance of giving to those less fortunate than us. You can even turn it into a friendly competition: whoever has the biggest giveaway pile wins something fun. 

 

Enjoy the slower days of summer because before you know it, we will be back in the grind of alarm clocks and PTA meetings. 

 

Until then, soak up the sun and be present in the days you'll be day- dreaming about soon! 

Elise 

Elise's Story

By the time my son turned 3-months old, my maternal instincts kicked into high alert and had me questioning his behaviors.

Why didn’t he make eye contact with me? When he cried, why did he cry harder, louder and longer than any other child? Why was he not playing with toys that were in front of him? Why didn’t he care about toys and people? Why did he only like vents, fans, and wheels?

There were no answers.

Pediatricians told me to stop comparing him to other children and that he would be fine.

I knew differently.

One day when I was reading, I came across a checklist of traits for autism. If you answer yes to 9 out of the 14, your child is autistic. How could it be so simple to test? But I read the questions and answered yes to nearly all of them.

My heart sank and I was paralyzed.

The overwhelming sense of responsibility washed over me again. What do I do? How do I help my innocent and seemingly perfect child? I researched and found out that my state conducted free tests to determine reasons for which children do not hit milestones. I signed up and was put on a 4-month wait. Then the day finally came for our now 23-month old son to be evaluated.

It was like cheering for a losing team.

You watch and want them to be able to make the basket, score the touchdown, or make the goal but not one can be done. After a grueling 3 hours of watching my child not achieve any of the tasks asked of him, the therapist sat me down and explained that my little baby had PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder; it’s on the autism spectrum. The good news is that I was right. Mommies always know their child.

The bad news was I was right. My son was autistic.

I immediately went into SUPER MOM mode, calling anyone and everyone that could possibly help us. Not everyone has that reaction. Some ignore and hope it will go away but it doesn’t.

I had to help my son. He was my responsibility.

I hired a team of therapists with me as the quarterback. I sat in on every therapy session my son has ever had, even to this day. I can’t risk missing important information about my child. So I read every book, knew all the terminology and I sounded educated. The doctors and therapists listened to me because I made it my business to know their business. But this was exhausting. I started boxing as a means of coping. After 30 hours of therapy each week and a screaming child all the time because he was on sensory overload, hitting someone felt really good. 

But that wasn’t enough, I was falling apart.

I did everything in my power to try and understand how my son felt. I wanted to get into his world, so I could better help him get into ours. I suffered because no one was taking care of me and without me, the ship would sink.

I wish I had someone who would have told me I was going to be ok, regardless of how my son was doing. He was the sun, moon, and stars to me so I probably wouldn’t have believed it. I took him around the country for every therapy imaginable, but piece by piece, I was losing myself and losing my way.

How is it possible to find happiness and peace when your child suffers?

I medicated myself so that I became numb. I drank excessive amounts of alcohol and got divorced.  On top of everything else, I was now a single mother of two children.  I adopted my darling daughter from China to give me a chance at mothering a typical child. I became alone, sad, and scared that my children would not be ok. FEAR paralyzed me and “what ifs” consumed me. I was having a nervous breakdown. I never took care of myself. 

Everyone else had typical children so it was much easier for them to be happy. I believed that as a parent of a special needs child I would never really know true happiness and peace. This mentality all changed the day I went to a yoga class, my instructor said something that resonated with me and has since become my mantra.

We are happy, our natural state is happiness.  Anything that takes us away from our natural state is merely a disturbance or a distraction.” 

At first, I thought, that was easy for him to say since he didn’t have an autistic child. Nothing applied to me, I couldn’t control my happiness. How am I supposed to be happy when I am fighting with the school board and also advocating for my son?  It was then, while I was sobbing, that my instructor said to me,

“Elise, you can give yourself permission to cry and react for a couple minutes. Stomp your feet and say it sucks, it’s not fair, no one understands but then realize that you can get just as much, if not more, accomplished when you are calm and happy.” 

So I screamed and cried and complained for about 15 more minutes and then I got on the phone and happily kicked ass. I never again let anyone or anything, not even my children, take my happiness from me. I no longer let my son’s Autism define me.

I have arrived at my destination, it is peace.