Sunday, May 31, 2009

The (sort of) Upside of Autism

Ever heard that saying, “if you don’t laugh, you’ll end up crying?”
Well, that’s sort of our family motto around here.

Such is the case with Monchichi’s Autism.
There is so much to mope about, so many tears that we have shed over the years.

There are endless questions and never enough answers. There are decisions to make and people and things to blame and at the end of the day we are just two parents trying to find our way through this infinate maze of information and anxiety. It can get pretty rough sometimes.

Then our son does something completely wonderful. Something super simple. Something that forces us to see the lighter side of life.

Take for instance the flashlight I found in the refrigerator last week. Mikey had been looking for it for at least the better part of a day, cursing semi-silently under his breath. At some point I had to get the cheese out and there it was, tucked in-between the sour cream and cilantro. It made perfect sense to monchichi. This is where the flashlight should go. Dude. You can’t help but laugh.

What about the missing fish food on Wednesday morning? The goldfish were starving, swimming violently back and forth in their tiny water cell and Superman couldn’t find the fish flakes. I remembered that the container was Monchichi’s favorite cylindrical shape and I began my search. I eventually found five pounds of smelly fish food near my bed, the container only a quarter full, but the boy had put the lid back on when he was done making a mess. Ten points Monchichi!

He takes bbq sauce bottles on the bus in the morning, because he loves them and because he can. He shouts “yaaaaay” in the middle of musicals, when the audience is quiet and the scene is a poignant plot twister. He haunts the house in the wee hours of the night, throwing on lights, rolling giant trucks down the hallway, bringing Costco-sized deli ham packs to bed because he wants a snack. He will only wear his socks for seconds at a time and he can imitate the sound of a carbonated bottle being opened perfectly. Over and over and over again. The mystery cans? Still going strong. Beans? Cranberries? You just never know and we have Monchichi to thank for that.

Even when he went up to some poor child at the park months ago and took his cookie right out from under him…….I held my breath and prepared myself for the onslaught of accusations from the little boy’s father and instead……..he laughed. Which ended up being contagious. Because then I began to laugh too.

Believe me when I tell you that usually my first instinct is to cry.
But our son is teaching us that laughter really is the best medicine.

Does it mean I break out into hysterical giggles when he has a seizure or his medical check up reaps poor results? Hell no. I sob and feel alternating pangs of guilt and fury.

But as soon as I see him heading straight for me with that awkward toothless grin that is so commonplace in seven year olds, holding some bbq sauce and his favorite book
du jour, I defy gravity and a giant grin makes it’s way across my face.

Because the truth is,

Sometimes even Autism

Can be funny.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Don't Know How To Tell You This........


I'm having an affair.

My husband is actually okay with it.

So are my kids.

Some of my friends that know are supportive as well; even proud you might say.


It's YOU I'm cheating on.


I am finally writing that book. The one that makes me an author, a writer, an artist experiencing elation, frustration, emotional breakdowns, and writer's block.

Every free second I have is spent adding, editing, replacing, cursing, praying...........

I Am a Writer.

This experience has proved it to me. The blog has proved it. Your words of encouragment have proved it. Seems the only one that needed to be convinced was me.

And now I am.

So that's why the few and far between posts lately. Not because I don't love you, or my blog. I do I do I do!

But I think I have a chance with this book.........and I gave myself a deadline. End of summer. So.....over 10,000 words into I still have a ways to go.

Be patient. I think it will be worth your while.

And pray.
For my sanity
My family

And a decent agent when the time is right.


Thursday, May 21, 2009


Freakin A

So I was going to compose this long, self-indulgent post about how Mikey got this fabulous new job last week after his first interview and that it was starting to rain puppies and rainbows over here and just as I was writing up my Target shopping list (not that I stick to the list anyway) he calls me this afternoon and says...

"I don't know honey....something's just not right. It feels like there's a lot of questions I'm not getting answered and I'm just sort of feeling.....sketchy about the whole thing."

"But TARGET!" I replied.

"I know babe, but they have me on the company bank accounts and if there's anything fishy going on and they go down, i'm gonna go down with them. I think i need to look for something"

"But.............Target," I whined.

"k....maybe you aren't hearing me correctly. Job. No Good. Boss. Crazy Liar. Need. To. Get. OUT. NOW.

"target" I whimpered.

So the husband comes home, looking mighty hot I might add in his new work clothes that he spent a well-deserved fortune on last weekend, and proceeds to Google the crap out of his current employer, only to find that the freakshow has had like ten aliases, been sued dozens of times, been taken to court by some pretty scary sounding government groups, and has had like ten failed businesses.

I get it now.

So back to the drawing board.

The husband is back on the market.

JOB market girls. JOB market.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Frustration Is...................

Having your seven year old son on an aggressive streak, pinching his brother, his mom and dad, his teachers and YOU if you get too close.

Having to punish above-mentioned seven year old, because it breaks your heart and because he has autism. Yep. Playing the autism card.

Wondering if your husband’s new job will have a decent healthcare plan put in place. New company. New Fears.

Waking up an hour later than you’re supposed to.

Seeing the scale climb up instead of go down.

Saying NO to the cupcakes at work, then coming home and eating your weight in taco salad.

Picking a fight over nothing with your husband.

Having to apologize for it.

A broken coffee maker.

Spilling what little coffee you could get said broken coffee maker to make all over your dining table.

Having a bad dream.

Catching the common cold.

Not knowing if your seven year old is sick, or hurting, or sad, because he can’t tell you.

Feeling guilty that you maybe aren’t doing enough for him.

Writer’s block.




Have I depressed you enough for one day?

Thanks for letting me get that out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happiness Is............

Opening your fridge and finding your son’s favorite book tucked inside, in-between the eggs and sour cream.

Asking someone how they’re doing, and really meaning it.

Starting a conga line.

Loving your job.

Being best friends with your husband.

Waking up to the smell of coffee. Made by above-mentioned best friend.

Laughing with your co-workers.

Turning to family and friends when things get a bit hairy.

Having hair.

Understanding a plot twist in an indie film.

Finding out, after your husband’s layoff, that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to be happy.

Giving someone else the better parking spot at Trader Joe’s, parking hell capitol of the world.

Teaching your son how to read.

Dancing your @#$ off for the first time in years.

Watching Desperate Housewives reruns on your DVR while folding fifty pounds of laundry.

Being vulnerable in exchange for acceptance and growth.

Owning up to your mistakes.

Air conditioning in your car.

A really good family portrait.

Writing that book you’ve always dreamed of writing.

Friday Nights.

Saturday Mornings.

Sunday Afternoons.

A good magazine article.

Unexpected gifts…………….giving them.

Keeping someone’s secret.

Really good iced tea on a hot day.

A scale that breaks and is always ten pounds less than your “real” weight.

Cold watermelon.

A clean car.

Girl talk.

Having your husband look at you as if it were your first date.


Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream.

Earl Grey Tea.

Progress……..not perfection.

Laughing until the incontinence you inherited from childbirth kicks in.

Ceiling fans.

Telling someone you love them.

Reconnecting with an old friend.

Not getting the swine flu, as previously feared.

Crisp sheets on the bed.

Paper plates.


A second chance.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Come a Little Closer......

I have a secret to tell you……………..

Motherhood is not easy.

There. It’s out.

Between you and me, sometimes I even feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. Like I’m just totally winging it.

Shhhh! Keep your voice down. I don’t want the children to hear! They feed on any signs of weakness. If they even sense I’m losing my footing, I’m done for.

I remember the first time I met Monchichi and Superman. They ripped my body apart coming into this world, and instead of being pissed at them and holding a grudge, I was instantly in love. I didn’t even care that I had just spent the better part of a day and a half wishing that someone would saw me from the waist down; I became a mom to these perfect little beings and that was all that mattered.

It’s sort of been that way ever since.

No matter what they have done (and granted, I am nowhere near the teenage years, so check back with me then) I still cannot wait to hold them, soothe their pain, forgive their mistakes, and calm their fears. Even after an entire day of Monchichi proving that autism does not get in the way of disobedience and Superman debating every point I happen to make, they fall asleep entwined in my arms and I wake up each morning ready to smother them with kisses. It’s God’s great design, this motherhood bit.

But I wish someone had been honest with me about a few things when I was pregnant. Especially with my first. Because I think we owe it to ourselves, to our community of mothers, to spill the beans and get real.

About everything.

*You will feel like you’ve lost all the pregnancy weight with that last push in the delivery room. Trust me. You haven’t. Don’t bring your size 6 jeans to the hospital in the hopes that you will prance out of there with them on. Buy a decent pair of non-maternity drawstring pants and be happy that you can see your feet again. I think postpartum depression begins the moment you realize that the baby was no where NEAR your entire pregnancy weight gain.

*Your boobs will no longer be your own. The nurses will see them. The doctors will see them. The baby will suck the life out of them. Your mother, MIL, sister, SIL, great-aunt Gertrude and her niece’s former hairdresser will see them. Your husband will even try to get in there once in a while. And forget trying to nurse in private. That may work the first few weeks, but trust me. The first time you’re in Target and the baby begins to howl and you start leaking like a broken Kohlr faucet, you're gonna whip those puppies out in the middle of the household cleaning supply aisle faster than a stripper with a $100 dollar bill coming at her. Not that I know.

*If you don’t breastfeed your baby, your child will not get into Harvard. Seriously? Come one. I know it’s good for them, but if your nipples are beginning to detach at the roots, you need to stop. It’s okay. No one really cares. Least of all your baby. You are so not a failure. You gave it a shot. Superman has never once come up to me and proclaimed that I am a bad mother because I quit breastfeeding weeks into it from all of the pain and boob trauma. We don’t even discuss it………anymore. He thinks he was born eating mac n cheese and I’m fine promoting that little white lie. And he’s one of my best kindergarten students, if I do say so myself.

*You are going to be exhausted. Stop looking at those perky, happy, awake models on the cover of mommy magazines. They are not real mommies. If they were, they would have bags under their eyes and thinning hairlines. We are tired. We will not sleep the same ever again. Forget about it. It’s over. Get a Costco membership and start purchasing coffee and chocolate in bulk. It’s the only way to survive.

*You will have panic attacks. Big ones when the doctor pauses and shakes her head during a routine exam, small ones when your child accidentally staples his left pointer finger and you know he’ll be okay but he doesn’t. You will hide your fears from them, but the minute you are alone your heart will pound and the world will suddenly feel too big and too fast for the little people God has entrusted you with. However, it’s a small price to pay for the kind of love that can't even be properly described by Shakespeare.

*Other mothers are too busy worrying that You are judging Their mothering skills to judge You on Your mothering skills. Stop the madness people! Let’s just make a deal. I won’t call CPS if you don’t, okay?

*Just when you think you love them as much as is humanly possible, they do or say something that makes your eyes well up with tears and your body and mind tingle with amazement. I like to call this the Mommy High, and trust me, nothing they’re selling on the streets of downtown LA is as good as this stuff. And, it’s totally legal.

*They don’t remember much the first four years anyway, so really, if you’re gonna make a boatload of mistakes, this is the prime time to do it. Get it together by their fifth birthday and you’re good to go. Because that's when they start talking trash. And as a teacher, I can assure you that they talk about everything.

Anyway…these are just a few tips that I wish I had gotten along with my “I’m Mommy’s Sweatheart” bibs and fleece Whinney the Pooh blankets. I say we pass them on to new mommies around the world. And we just keep adding to the list. Because we are a sisterhood and we need to stick together.

Unless you walked out of the maternity ward in your size 6 jeans.

Then you’re on your own, bitch.

*Seriously though...Happy Mother's Day! Now go find a mom whose kid is having a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store and buy her a latte. It's the least we can do for one another.*

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

If You Write It, They Will Panic

Hee hee hee…….

Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t see you there! I was too busy laughing my keister off at all of the people who have begun to exhibit some mild anxiety ever since they’ve found out I’m writing a book:

“So, um, are you going to use fake names?”

“Are you, ah, going to write about that one time, when we, you know, did that thing at that place, with those people?”

“You’re going to hyphenate your maiden and married name, right? Dad would kill you if you didn’t use our Polish last name.” (12 + 7 = 19 letters altogether.

While others want to make sure I know just how book-worthy they are:

“Can you write about our immigration to this country and how brave your father and I were and how we sacrificed it all for you and that thanks to us you had the opportunity to learn English and write your book so really our names should be on the cover of it anyway?” “Oh, and don’t forget that time I was five and we went to church and I noticed that the statue of Jesus was barefoot so I came back the next day and brought him my only pair of leather sandals so that his feet wouldn’t be cold and that’s just the kind of gal I am.”

“Somewhere…..over the rainbow……..way up high…….” (I really wanted to remind this person that it was a book….but I enjoyed the show).

And this is only two weeks in!

This is going to be more fun than I thought.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sometimes the Grass Is So Green It's Flourescent

Envy is a wicked animal. It tears apart friendships, corrodes self-esteem, forces lies out of otherwise truthful lips:

“You so deserve that promotion!”

“Ten pounds?! Wow! You look amazing!”

“I just loooooooove what you’ve done to your house! The new waterfall really completes the backyard. I don’t know how you’ve lived without it all these years!”

“A dozen red roses? And a candlelight dinner? You and your husband must be so in love. YAY!”

“REALLY? Money? Just falling from the sky? You are so BLESSED! I AM SO FREAKIN HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!”

It’s not hard to get caught up in other people’s joys and want to rip the bleached smiles right off their faces when you’re going through some personal setbacks yourself.

Jealousy. The gift that keeps on giving.
How’s that for a Hallmark card?

After my husband lost his job last week, my instant reaction, aside from the crying, hair pulling and catastrophic thinking, was a flood of jealousy towards anyone that was still gainfully employed (yep, that includes you).

You see, I have never had any trouble being envious of others. My gorgeous sister. My organized best friend. The girls who hung out in the quad in high school. Anyone not driving a Volvo.

But something has changed. Maybe it’s me.

See, the envy didn’t last very long this time.
Because I quickly realized that I have a pretty radical life.

A hot husband. Who I get to spend some much needed time with as he pursues a new direction in his career. A man who drove me to work this past week because my back went out and helped me chase down unruly kindergarteners. A man who greeted me with a red rose on my passenger seat on Wednesday morning, just because.

Kids that, despite driving me completely insane, own the deed to my heart. Sure, it means more mouths to feed during this economic crisis, but the husband and I agree that they are worth keeping. For now.

Nosy parents who care enough to ask tough questions like, “When will your floors stop being so filthy and how come you don’t raise your children the way we want you to?”

Friends. Like you. Who call, write notes, show concern, give unsolicited yet gladly received support. Who don’t brag about health insurance premiums under $700.00. Who ask for the husband’s resume so that they can pass it on in case someone is looking to hire a man whose job description sort of resembles Chandler on Friends (remember the Wenus?) Who pass on my blog and cheer me on when I say I’m writing a book because they believe in me and want to know me when I am famous and sitting on Oprah’s couch.

*A sister who is smart, loving, inspirational, a natural motivator; someone who never tires of reminding me how lucky I am to share her DNA.

It’s not like our life became great overnight. I was just too busy pitting it against other peoples’ to notice it much.

But I notice it now.

And I think I’m going to stay here for a while. On my own side of the fence.
Where the grass is the perfect shade of green.

And it’s mine.

*Edited portion of post, after said loving sister pointed out she was not exclusively mentioned in the "thank you" portion of this post.