Grown

I am the proud mother of two sons. Both adults now – one a Senior in High School and the eldest, diagnosed on the autism spectrum so long ago that it really doesn’t matter.

The burdens of raising children in this day and age are quite remarkable. It has to be said with todays technology we can loose touch with each other in a home more often than keeping in touch with children being sucked into the vortex of social media. Never looking up from the dinner table is not my idea of time well spent.

Since retiring early from a sparkling career to care for my eldest, we’ve finally hit a time that we could come together as more of a family. With the sacrifices of raising a special needs child, i.e. the monetary outlay, abbreviated social life, appointments and therapies, it can be said that our earlier years were a blur and nothing to be envied.

So, now, when it’s actually legal for me to run away (oh ya, I won’t lie, it’s not a thought but a fantasy) we have pulled in and are actually enjoying each other. Call it upside-down and backwards – but we are now living forward.

I never got to (had to) drive either of my sons to a soccer game. I’ll leave that pleasure to other parents. Neither of my sons played sports, one couldn’t and the other wouldn’t. While we missed out on all the extra-curricular activities I hear other parents bitch about (no time to themselves, the expense, the coaches, the juggling of a calendar) its all good.

But hey. I can’t even describe how wonderful it is to be dragged out of bed way too early on a Saturday morning by my eldest, The Artist!, who wants to show off his newest graphic art work. Always a surprise – this man is going places. Need more coffee on those mornings.

Or, watching my youngest son, also technically an adult, gain success at school. He’s growing outward and finally enjoying unique activities that appeal to him. Ecentric, smart, shall I say dapper? We love going to thrift stores to score another vintage pair of jeans, or a Pendleton wool flannel to wear overseas when he visits Europe this spring.

Who else can claim that even though the new eclectic movie by Wes Anderson “The Grand Budapest Hotel” isn’t showing in our city, yet, still holds enough interest that we will be re-creating their signature confection this weekend. Why, that would be me – any my youngest! This little sumptuous ditty requires a trip to the farmers market for the best cream available plus a run to the local german import store for the finest chocolate from Bavaria. “Courtesan Au Chocolate” – on the menu. And no, I’m not sharing.

Tonight, we’ve already planned whats for dinner. I’ve gathered up some great nibbles and drinks to watch the next episode of “The Vikings”…one of our favorite historical shows – together. We four Fryes.

I am lucky. Twenty five years this July, married to the same great guy, two adult sons who are finding success in their own way….with some tasty treats along the way. And even though, deep in our hearts, we would have preferred a different outcome than being lifetime caregivers…..we are still miles ahead when it comes to appreciating family. And now, finally coming to a time when we feel a little more normal than not as a family. Our little, teeny tiny, family.

(Oh, I should add the tag-line about the two horrible little white dogs count around here too.)

Enjoy the day! ~ Wendy Frye

“Everybody thought I was a bit of an eccentric for wanting to be out there looking at the stars, but I still do.” ~ Brian May

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This article ran on wwww.ageofautism.com – complete with video!

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/01/take-time-to-dream-and-live.html

We were well into our parenting years the first time we took a real break from our “unique” routine. Our way of life, with autism in the home….well, lets just say it was a rarity to move in a group LET alone consider just WHAT it would take to achieve one of America’s finest family pastimes – taking a vacation.

Our eldest son, diagnosed on the autism spectrum at the age of 3 1/2 years old, was making measurable progress. He found his voice in his 8th year – and was being released from physical and occupational therapies at school. Now, I don’t think I need to detail the herculean efforts poured into this young man to get to this place – or feel bad about the $90,000 outlay. We took personal debt (aka credit cards) to a whole different level. But Man! Oh! Man! we had finally made it to a positive, measurable milestone. What a perfect time to pause, take a honeymoon from all the therapies per se, and quickly celebrate a little bit of progress.

It was our last purchase made on the last line of credit we had available – a trip for four to Disneyland. And was it ever worth every single penny PLUS interest, fees and the stamps to mail in payments! Well before Mickey Mouse got pissed and quit handing out VIP passes to families who could use the extra time and assistance, we were able to secure that very golden ticket to fast-tracking the park attractions. While I had to physically force my eldest son to stay with me on the first ride (yep, that was me manhandling my son – don’t judge unless you live the life, friend) soon after that, he was hooked. We finished 16 attractions that first day, going on to have a delightful dinner in the French Quarter of the park and ultimately enjoying the best vacation of our lives.

James, who turned 20 this January, went on to complete his education. And now, as with all things Autism, we’ve had to change up our family plans to assist him in his chosen career, as an artist. We are now knee deep in Special Needs Trusts, Business Plans, Vocational Rehab, Employment Support, Job Studies, and on and on…..

(Heavy sign here)

If there was one thing I regret out loud, it’s not remembering to look back and reflect more often. In the relentless pursuit of recovery, the sheer angst of being a parent helpless to ever understand what “normal” family life is, thats when and where we missed it. We simply missed stopping to turn back to GAZE at the amazing accomplishments of a young man who was working harder than anyone to plant his flag. So, take pictures, lots and LOTS of pictures! Stop, pause and reflect every once in awhile, and go ahead, do it! Take a jump off the listing carousel we know as life, and give the sword a pull from the stone ~ you’ll never pry it loose unless you try.

“The soul never thinks without a picture.”
~Aristotle

Decided

A decision made is only as good as the intention. Well, for this family, our priorities have shifted (again) to care and support our two children – one adult on the autism spectrum and his younger brother. Our younger son? Well, he’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Our intention, distilled and all whittled down to the nub, is to clinically de-stress. De-stress, with a capital “D”. Autism creates a level of unholy stress unlike many different disabilities. Seizures, tantrums, anger, anxiety, and all the suffering is just like an acute case of ‘roid-rage. Not fun, not pretty, and sadly not so uncommon anymore.

We’ve been asked too many times over long set of years if and when he will get a job, or if he will ever live on his own. Most well intentioned inquires, but some delivered via a nasty comments with a condescending voice. Again, all are good questions – for any parent with young teenagers. Our family, and parenting choices, seem to be running parallel with one major difference. The absolute minimum of stress. Our sons will chase their dreams, especially the eldest, without undue stress.

Since late last Fall, around the time of the full moon of September, major changes have happened in our home. We’ve pared down our lives to live more simply and with purpose. Retiring from a toxic and competitive work environment, weeding out relationships that just don’t work and simply living has made it clear, stress is unnecessary, and just plain stupid.

Our eldest son, he suffers with anxiety by just being in this world. What we do know? He doesn’t HAVE to get a college diploma to create his art. No. He. Doesn’t. He wants a part-time job now. We explained that it is a way to be more independent – and that appeals to him. Lesson here: no one wins if he has to be subjected to the battle for college entrance. We concur. The college can win, for now. Our courses have become direct, home-school college. It’s been awesome.

The youngest? He is concentrating on school. As a fourth year German student, we’ve made sure to budget for the class trip to Germany next year. The anticipation is killing him, and motivating him to further his educational goals. He’s the one to watch, Mr. Dark Horse is who he is.

My husband is measuring his career to retirement. While he wishes it was any day now, it’s not too far off. And now, we dare to dream. We dream of moving to a vibrant, culturally enriched metropolis to further feed our adult son with the things that motivate his creative desires. Even our youngest makes mention of being close by and growing our family with his relationships. Wow, that is one of the finest compliments of my life to date.

The bottom line? Well, as humans, were we really designed to handle so much unnatural stress on or bodies and brains? Did the maker see us in his minds eye toiling over numbers, sales and devices making ourselves sick? Was it decreed someplace, other than in our own minds, that we have to settle for “good enough” yet still be unfulfilled? Is it against the law to toss those things that stand in our way of happiness? Is it a flagrant foul to grow a pair and do what you like in this world? No. It is a matter of getting out of your own way.

In the end, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, you can keep your things, your bigger home, your rut in the rat race – go ahead, knock yourselves out. Because I cannot recall ever seeing a U-Haul van behind a funeral Hearse.

Breathe deep, live well and remain intact.~ Wendy Frye

“Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.” ~ Elvis Presley