Carry On

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It’s been awhile. A long while. So many things have changed, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the new year.

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“My family” by JI

January 5th, Poke and I were finally officially legally divorced. I could have thrown a party! It was the most wonderful day I’d had in a long time… until I had to take my van in to have the entire power steering system replaced, which cost me $270. Good thing there’s a Firestone credit card.

January 20th, a day that will live in infamy. I was so depressed all day, scared, worried, and had an overall feeling of doom about me. Politically, things have only gotten worse since then. I really don’t know what those people were thinking putting this monster in the White House, but apparently human rights, education, health care, clean air, clean water, etc etc etc mean absolutely nothing to them. Disgusting. I can only hope that he is impeached and indicted, because if he’s assassinated he’ll be lauded as a hero/martyr to the neo-Nazis that call themselves conservatives.

Next up, my birthday, which is at the beginning of February. I really don’t care about my birthday. This year I turned 3_, which is one step closer to 40. Per usual, my birthday sucked. I used to try and make it a good day, try not to get my hopes up, but every year I’d think “This will be the year that my mother doesn’t make a scene/cause problems/make15875187_10154922754774801_5804576778045474111_o me feel like shit” or “This will be the year that Poke actually remembers my birthday and gets me a card/gift/says happy birthday”, only to be disappointed in the end. It’s not like I need a lot of presents or anything, but having one day a year that is actually legitimately just for me would be nice. Unfortunately, this year was another bust. My mother was difficult at dinner, which was a huge disappointment even without her shit, and Squishy was so angry by the time we got home that he ended up going back to his place instead of sleeping over. I couldn’t blame him though, if I didn’t have the kids I’d have gone back to his place and gotten drunk as a skunk.

Luckily though, Squishy is an AMAZING boyfriend. We have been together for four months now, and things just keep getting better. He has been the most supportive, helpful, caring, kind, wonderful man I have ever dated. I don’t know what I did to get so lucky for once, but I am not going to question it. We are getting ready to move into our own place here in the next few weeks, which is the next exciting chapter in our life together. I can’t wait!

15418578_10154850814024801_4636622435768111892_oBoth my sons love Squishy, which makes me life a hell of a lot easier. Poke has gone from mediocre father to terrible father, refusing to pay child support, didn’t do anything for Squeaks’ birthday, doesn’t call them or answer JI’s calls, and so forth. If I could cut him out of their life completely, I would in a heartbeat. He’s a shitty person, and I really don’t want them around him. However, it’s not up to me. I don’t say negative stuff about him to the boys, unlike their father who talks shit about me constantly. My goal is to let them find out for themselves what a creep he is, and I will be there to pick up the pieces when they fall. The only reason JI wants to go there is because he knows he can play the tablet the whole time. I don’t think Squeaks really cares one way or the other – he used to yell “Daddy! Daddy!” when Poke came to get them, now he is just silent. He loves Squishy though, and calls him by his name and by Daddy, depending on his mood. Squishy has a son, KJ, who is twelve, so he’s been through all this before, which helps me out.

Also, for once in my life, I have amazing in-laws. Squishy’s mom and dad are the best. The treat me like I am their own child, and we always have a great time together. I usually spend every other weekend at their place, because Squishy lives right across the street. (Yeah, he lives with his 95 yr old grandmother and takes care of her – awesome man, right?!) My 1st husband’s parents/step father were always kinda blah about me, Poke’s mom hated my guts until I birthed her first two grandchildren, now she hates me again, and the parents of my various boyfriends were never really anything. I honestly can’t even remember meeting many, if any, more than once or twice. But because Squishy and I plan to be married sometime in the future, it is so comforting to know that I already have good people who love me. They love the boys and the boys love them as well, so that’s an added bonus!

16711987_10155038596234801_4013319259268139428_nIn mid-February, Squeaks turned two. He is a super crazy boy! I cannot believe how fast he is growing, both physically and mentally. Squeaks knows his colors, he can count to ten, he knows square, triangle, circle, and rectangle, and his vocabulary is off the charts. This kid is constantly talking. It is quite a different experience raising a neuro-typical child after having an autistic child. I remember JI being so chill, so easy, so “adult” and not needing much attention or supervision. Squeaks could not be more opposite! This child gets into everything. My bff, with whom we still reside, is pretty much at her breaking point with the two year old shenanigans. He’s a very busy boy.

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Squishy and Squeaks with the birthday cake

My new job is great. It’s a very easy job, but the pay is good for being part time. I’ve even gotten a raise! My supervisor made me the customer service champion, which means I’m 16711483_10155041066734801_4729882996231324363_nin charge of all the ways to make customers happier and make their time in our place easier/quicker. Since I’ve been there, our rating has gone up 2%, and I am really proud of myself. I used to hate dealing with people, but since I don’t have to deal with them more than 30 seconds to 2-3 minutes at once, it makes it a lot easier to be sincerely friendly and helpful. Plus I am working for a company that I had worked for years ago, and I absolutely love this place. Benefits are great, even though I’m not full time I get all kinds of perks, and the only thing I don’t get is health insurance.

Despite having a job, things have gotten beyond tight financially once again. With Poke refusing to pay child support, half my income is gone. I tried to get approved for government child care, but it was denied, so until I can get approved, I can only work 2-4 days a week. It is so rough. I am literally out of things to sell, having gotten rid of 95% of my furniture, baby clothes, and toys before/during the move, so I don’t know how else to make money. I am considering donating plasma, even though I usually vomit from getting blood drawn. It’s worth the risk of puking if it means I’ll have money for gasoline. All my money goes to16427354_10155001729529801_6741404559436206401_n bills, car gas, non-food groceries, and my roommate. I have absolutely nothing left. This doesn’t matter to my mother though, who constantly asks me for money. Yes, I do owe them some, but my dad makes almost $100K/year and I don’t even make $100/week right now. I told them I’d pay with my tax return, but that’s not good enough for her. She needs to harass me in the meantime. So, for now, I have cut off my parents. Once I send them the money I owe them, with instructions etc. regarding never asking me for money again, I will let them back into my life. But at this point in time I have way too many stressors to let their petty bullshit bring me down.

So I guess that brings me to present day. Tomorrow is the last day of February, a typically shitty month, and I’m glad it is over. Hopefully by the end of March things will have straightened out and I will be in a much better place.

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JI, Squeaks, and KJ

 

The Most “Wonderful” Time of the Year

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Bah Humbug.

I haven’t felt Christmas-y since 2013. In 2014 I was incredibly pregnant with Squeaks, in 2015 Poke and I had been split up for five months and I was dealing with JI’s behaviour, and this year we don’t have our own home and I don’t have any money to buy new presents for the boys or gifts for anyone else. It sucks. I’m so happy to not be homeless, and I am so happy that I have Squishy in our lives. I got a job and I’m only part time for now, but I am happy to be employed.  Overall, things are fine. Nothing is terrible.

I feel terrible though. JI keeps asking why we haven’t decorated, why there is no tree, why we have no lights. He wants to know if he is going to get a lot of boxes on Christmas morning. This is the second year he has been interested in Christmas, and I feel like I am going to fail him. I know that it is not all about the gifts, but when I have practically nothing to give but some old hand-me-down playsets, I feel like a bad mother.

In addition to feeling badly about not having enough things for the boys, I feel bad for just not being in holiday spirit. I have been trying very hard, but things have been rough around here lately, and I just don’t have it in me to be jolly. I am tired and stressed all the time. I have $40 to last me two weeks. I have no idea when my first paycheck will come. I feel like I am hovering over an abyss that could suck me in at any time. It’s so frustrating. This headache hasn’t gone away for almost a month.

But damn, as happy as I am for the things mentioned earlier, it would be really nice to get a break. I’ve been busting my ass for these kids and my family and our lifestyle for so long, and I have absolutely nothing to show for it. JI tells me that he loves Squishy more than me, and he wishes I would go away. Squeaks went from being a great sleeper to some kind of 3rd shift monster. Very little of the furniture and stuff in the house is mine; I’m simply existing in someone else’s world. It hurts.

There’s nothing to do but carry on, so carry on I shall. Keep smiling, keep being cheerful, fake it til I make it. Right?

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I’m Back

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It’s been a long time since I updated, thanks mostly to my chromebook keyboard suddenly ceasing to work properly. I don’t know what happened, it just stopped working one day. Then a few weeks later, half the keys worked but there was no real pattern to it. So I finally got a wireless USB keyboard and mouse from my dad, and now I can use my chromebook again! YAY!

ji2So anyway, kindergarten started off great. The first day was, in JI’s words, “Absolutely perfect”. I cried for about twenty minutes when he got home. Day two… shit hit the fan. My son JI was sent to the peak aka behaviour room. Day three, okay. Day four, his behaviour was so bad that I had to pick him up early and he was asked to not return. They wrote on the report that he assaulted a teacher. He’s five. He kicked her because she got too close. JI was off for the next week as we tried to find a spot in an ED classroom rather than the general SpEd/Autism room he was in the first week. We got a spot at a different school, and he attended half days at the original school for a week until the transportation was figured out.

He’s been at the new school for a full week, three days, plus Monday and Tuesday. Monday was his first rough day, but he got himself under control. Yesterday after lunch/recess, I guess he started melting down and couldn’t stop. The teacher called me at 2:45pm, and I could hear JI screaming. He said JI was throwing chairs, trying to bite/hit/kick, took off his socks and shoes and threw them, etc. He wouldn’t or couldn’t calm down. It wasn’t until they told him I wouldn’t be coming that he calmed down to get on line for the bus.

jiThe problem is that he doesn’t act like this at home. He doesn’t get violent or aggressive towards me or any other people – and to be clear, he wasn’t at school either, not towards any kids or adults until the adults attempted to get close to him. If he and I have a disagreement, I either remind him of his choices or I tell him the consequences of not doing what he’s told. I’m frustrated because I’m not the special education teacher, I’m not the expert, but they expect me to tell them what to do. I don’t know what to do because he does not do this around me! There was a short period of time when he did, but we suffered through it and moved on. I merely held my ground.

Is JI trying to feel them out? Is there something about school that changes a kid’s personality? Will this eventually pass, or is my high functioning, highly intelligent, super cute, loving autistic child doomed to end up in juvenile detention or some kind of home?! I know it’s the first incident but the way things went at the last school, I’m really nervous. We had a conversation last night and this morning about how he should act when he’s upset or angry, and I hope it sticks.

Parenting my Autistic Child

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I had planned to post a few times a week now that summer vacation has started, but then, as always, time got away from me. It’s good though, being busy. I lost three of my clients and gained two, but I only had a week off in between, so everything I planned to do with only three kids had to be altered to involve five kids – two of whom are autistic. I’ll manage though, because I have no other choice. I just keep working and saving my money for the inevitable day when the house gets taken away.

Today I want to talk about parenting an autistic child. As I mentioned in my last post, itwp-1465917157645.jpg amazes me how many levels/severities/etc of autism I’ve encountered. My friend has two autistic kids and they’re different from each other, JI is different from them, and kids I’ve met in therapy/meetings/classes are different from them and each other. For me, that is the most frustrating part of being an autism parent. Yes, our kids all share certain traits, but even those traits aren’t necessarily addressed in the same way from child to child. I think that is one of the reasons why this past school year was so difficult.

I know exactly how to parent JI. We went through our rough patches, horrific patches, sad and frustrating patches. Now I know what I’m doing, how to handle his meltdowns, tantrums, fears, etc. Obviously I can’t predict everything or solve every problem, but I am really REALLY wp-1465917063884.jpgfucking amazing when it comes to parenting my child. It is so upsetting and frustrating when teachers or family members want to do things that I know will cause problems. It is absolutely infuriating when they refuse to follow my suggestions or directions. I understand that the educators’ job is to push JI, to teach him how to behave in certain situations, and that they are the experts at their job. It hurts me when he gets in trouble at school just for being himself, for doing things he can’t yet control, like lashing out physically. They say it’s not true, but I know he was labelled “The Bad Kid” in his class last year. I could tell by the way they talked about him, the way they dealt with him, the punishments and discipline he received.

If JI doesn’t want to do something, there are consequences. I utilize the amazing and wonderful 1-2-3 Magic system, and it works if you are committed to it – not gonna lie, it fails if you fail at keeping strong! You must use the system the right way, every time. With JI, there is no negotiating, there are no “threats”, just warning and then consequence. If he does something absolutely deplorable, such as intentionally injure someone, then he does get a more severe consequence. Unlike school, however, he does have the option to earn his things back. I make sure to recognize when he’s done something great, so that he doesn’t feel like he’s being “bad” all the time. I have to admit though, I have lost my shit on him more than once, because I’m a human being. It gets to be a lot, caring for five or six kids for 10 hours a day, and rarely having a moment alone from children. JI and I had a blow up the other day where I just lost it and yelled “Why does everything have to be a fight with you?!” and proceeded to list all the things he fought with me about that day. Not my best parenting moment by far, but I think it actually made him realize that sometimes it is easier to just go with the flow rather than resist so much. A huge part of his diagnosis was the rigidity, and it is by far our biggest obstacle to typical childhood.

I am hoping that kindergarten will be a new fresh start. JI says he hates school because hewp-1465916954013.jpg hates friends and hates to learn. I reminded him that he is learning every day, by asking questions, watching videos, helping me do things around the house, etc. He said that I
should just teach him at home! Well, homeschooling would be amazing if I didn’t have four or five other kids here to deal with, and if I could actually find a way to get JI to socialize in groups of peers. I guess we’ll just keep praying that the kindergarten plan works out.

Imagine That.

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Poke stopped by to drop off my money today, and things are going swimmingly in his life – his car crapped out and needs a new engine, and he quit his job because $9.50/hr (with no college degree) is insulting. I could have fell over laughing, but it’s rude to do so in someone’s face. He says to me, “My life is falling apart!” Um… sorry dude, you have nobody to blame for that except yourself. You literally had everything that a man could want, and you threw it all away. I don’t feel sorry for you.

Found out too that his mom is upset that I don’t want her seeing the boys. Well, here’s the thing – if you come into my home, tell me that you don’t want my son because he’s “bad” and “uncontrollable” and your apartment is not “equipped to handle him”, you can fuck off and die. Her hurtful words ruined JI. He had been such a good boy after Poke left, and with one fell swoop she undid everything. Why? Why would you be such a cunt to a child?  Her excuses are weak, too. When we went to Akron to visit my bio family, I stayed by myself in a hotel room with both boys for three days and three nights. Alone. But for some reason the two of them can’t handle two nights/one and half days, or even ONE night. Poke says maybe they can take just Squeaks. No, you are not going to favor one child over the other. I mean really? Explains a lot about why Poke turned out the way he did! Shitty mothering, shitty grandmothering.

She’s never been a very present grandmother anyway. My parents love to take JI overnight, they shower him with love and hugs and kisses, and my kids are  their world. To Poke’s mom, it’s like they’re a burden, especially JI. But no worries, my bio mom is more than willing to step up. She already has! They’ll be loved by the people who actually want them instead of hurt by the people who don’t. I really don’t understand how she can be this way; my kids are the only grandchildren she has! Poke’s sister hasn’t had any yet and she’s getting up in years, and his brother doesn’t want kids. These boys might be her only grandchildren ever! Yet she chooses to talk shit. Whatever.

I’m not going to play games, I’m just going to act like she doesn’t exist. It’s been working out well for the past couple months. All these years she was on my side, especially when she saw Poke for the monster he could be, but now she hates me. I’m guessing it’s because she is pissed that I returned the faulty product! HA! She said once that she’s afraid for them being raised by me. Well, I guess if she thinks I’m going to be a single mother the way she was, I’d be scared too! Fortunately for my sons, I’m nothing like her.

The Single Life

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wpid-wp-1444259775007.jpegWow. Being a single mom is absolutely nothing like being a single childless person. It’s awesome, because I am fully in control and I don’t have to worry about Poke fucking things up anymore, don’t have to worry about co-parenting or who is doing which chores, or if he’s cheating on me again. I don’t have to clear things with him, ask for permission, or wonder what effect my actions will have on him or our relationship. SO, basically, I’m acting like he did the whole time we were together! Ba-da-bup! But seriously, it is amazing. I am still incredibly happy, though the “honeymoon” – or anti-honeymoon – phase has ended.

I am glad that Seanatello was around for the six weeks that he was, because it helped me get through the toughest part of leaving Poke. If he hadn’t been here, there’s a good chance that on those long nights and difficult days when I missed Poke, I would have asked him to come back. But, because I was distracted with Seanatello, I never even considered it, thank wpid-wp-1444259589791.jpeggod. That would have been a huge mistake. Now that Seanatello is gone, it sucks to be alone, but at least he left his dog. *rolls eyes*

Being a single mom is horrible. Everything is on my shoulders, and I have nobody to blame but myself, ever. I never get any kind of relief, I am literally with at least two children 24/7 – during the day, it’s four to six kids, all boys! – and I have very little adult interaction in real life. When I need a hug, I have to get it from JI. When I am horny, I have to take care of myself. Well, that’s typical anyway, but as a single person with no kids, I could just go out to the bar and take my pick! And, because Poke and his heartless, evil mother refuse to take the boys on weekends anymore, I literally, literally have zero time off. Yes, you read that right, he’s completely abandoned his children, with the guidance or support from his mother. It’s disgusting, because Poke grew up without a father, so he should know better. Apparently he doesn’t give a flying fuck about JI’s feelings. Squeaks is too little yet, and hopefully will have no memories of this traumatic time.

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Speaking of trauma, JI has been absolutely fucked up by this entire situation. After Bitch Mother in Law came to my house and said, in front of JI, that she doesn’t want him anymore and that he is too bad to come over, JI has been a completely different child. He has had one green day, one yellow day, and FIVE red days in 7 days of school. Prior to her tantrum, he’d had only ONE red day, which was because he’d only gotten two hours of sleep before school. JI was set to have an amazing wpid-wp-1444259884824.jpegyear, and now he’s back on the shit track. I can’t control his behaviour anymore; he’s either angry or crying, clinging to me or being a bully to the other kids. He even hit two kids at school! Poke doesn’t care either; when I text him and tell him what is happening, he only has something snarky to reply or he doesn’t reply at all. What a fucking loser. In the long run these boys will be better off without him in their lives, but right now JI isn’t emotionally mature enough to deal with it, and I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to get him into counseling as a start.

…that’s it for now. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, and so forth. Tomorrow I find out more information on JI’s autism (or not) diagnosis, so that’ll will hopefully be one less thing to worry about. Even if he does get an affirmative diagnosis, at least I’ll finally know.

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Update on Life

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I have been away for quite some time now, because there has been a lot going on. I was originally going to write a post about living with mental illness and mentally ill family members, but I didn’t get a chance to before the literal shit hit the fan.

Since November, Poke has been actively suicidal. It has truly taken its toll on our family. He has been hospitalized, in the ICU, and gone through several different mental health providers. Unfortunately, his attempts to get his mental health under control were too little too late, and our family and marriage were badly damaged.

There were times when I was terrified to leave him alone with the children, times when I had to banish him to the basement to “live” for a week because I could not bear to have him around them, times when I literally dropped him off at the crisis center and called his mom to deal with him afterwards. His behaviour was completely out of control, and I was afraid for myself and the kids. He is by no means abusive, however, he would have these episodes monthly, then semi monthly, then weekly until it was like living in a mine field and I didn’t know what would happen from day to day. He never laid a hand on any of us, but he became aggressive and violent and just so angry that I didn’t want to take the chance that he would someday become physical.

We have been in marriage counseling for almost two years, and it seemed to be working for our relationship, until one day it was blatantly obvious that it wasn’t working. I got to the point where I could not stand to be around him, I could not stand to look at him, talk to him, touch him, kiss him, etc. I didn’t want him anywhere near me. So, after his last outburst when he threw a tantrum at the local dog shelter and embarrassed JI and me in front of all the other customers, I decided a change had to be made. Little did I know that he was going to make it super easy for me by randomly quitting his job when he walked out of work and never went back. He had been talking about feeling burnt out and no longer enjoying his work, but I told him that he absolutely had to keep his job to support the family. I told him that if he quit before finding a new one, that would be it, and we would be done for. Apparently that didn’t matter to him at all because he went ahead and walked out. I told him to go to his mom’s house, and that was that.

We separated officially on July 27th, with an agreement on how and who would pay the bills. The separation is supposed to be a trial for three months. I am hoping that in these three months he will take the time to get himself mentally healthy and happy, however, if he chooses not to then it’s obvious what his real decision is. I believe he came into fatherhood and marriage with the best of intentions but perhaps these things really are not meant for him, and if that’s the case then I’d rather have him out than in, rather have a happy family on the weekends only rather than a miserable one 24/7.

He’s been gone a month now, and I have not been this happy in years. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted, like I no longer have to watch what I say in my own home, like I am an actual human being. JI’s behaviour has improved twenty fold. At our last counseling session, Poke says “I’m glad you’re having such a great time”, to which I replied, “We’re not having a great time. We’re doing life the way it should be done – with love and happiness.”