Life in a family of nine neurodiverse individuals: How we do it, why we do what we do, helping you do it too. "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters, compared to what lies within us." - Oliver Wendall Holmes
Friday, May 14, 2010
Kids Say The Darnedest Things / Daddy time
It's interesting to note what kids ask for, and of course there are the expensive items, the "not gonna happen" items, and then... there are the things that tug my heartstrings and fill my eyes with tears.
My husband and I have both made sacrifices for me to be a stay-at-home mom. We live on less than most people do, and we have more children than most people do. But we decided when we embarked on this journey that we would raise our children without daycare, since it was important to us that we pass on our values, not the daycare provider's. We decided that whoever had the greater earning potential would go out to work, and because my Registration status was grandfathered in, I lost my registration as a nurse when I needed extra time to recuperate from son 1's birth. So, by default, hubs was elected. He has been an amazing breadwinner, and spends time with the kids when he can. I take over a lot of the usual "man work" around the house, eg mowing the lawn, yard work, etc., so that when he has time off, he can spend it with the kids. Still, he's gone 9 hours a day, and the kids miss him.
When we asked son 3 this year what he wanted for his birthday, it was one of the heartstring tugging answers that we got. He wanted Dad to go with him on his field trip today. The field trip is to the local State Park, where they will be fishing, hiking, and having a fish-fry (to which I am invited). This is all he asked for. This is all he wants. Dad and he are both avid fishermen. Son 3 has won the "awesome angler award" 4 years running at camp. Eleven walleyes in one day. Of course, Dad was flattered, but wondered about taking the time off, since Fridays are down days at work, and he is the Maintenance Supervisor, if it's shut down, he should be there to oversee repairs and maintenance to equipment. I suggested he tell his boss straight up that son 3 had asked for time with dad today for his birthday present, and (not surprisingly) it tugged the boss's heartstrings, too.
Son 6 usually asks for a "Daddy Night" for his birthday. "Daddy Nights" are nights when Dad gets home from work and spends the evening with only one of our 6 kids at home. We've worked it out so that they take turns, but son 6 can't seem to get enough of them. They watch movies, play videogames, or watch TV, and have snacks, and talks. It's a good thing for them to get the male perspective, being males themselves. I can help with a lot of things, but not, say, asking girls out, or why girls don't eat on dates. (I was never one of those girls.)
Dad's heartstrings get tugged, too, when the kids ask for time with him. And they need it!! Studies show that kids with involved, active fathers not only get better grades and stay away from drugs, but also have healthier interpersonal relations. I think the fact that Dad has a few Aspie characteristics of his own helps him understand the boys better, as well. He has struggled with depression in the past, but has made it through, and become even more compassionate.
Our marriage has seen trials (diagnoses for our boys, son 3's traumatic entrance, the Flood of '97, the loss of our home, 8 moves in one summer, dad's hospitalization for depression), but we have come through it all. I am reminded of Job "When he has refined me, I shall come forth as gold". I know we're not gold yet, but I also know we're a lot more "refined" than we used to be. We've come to a place where we both see each other as imperfect human beings who are nonetheless lovable, and worthwhile. His strengths (mechanical giftedness, smalltalk, directness) complement my weaknesses (introversion, no brain for physics) and my strengths (words, tact, general knowledge, medical background) complement his weaknesses. We are growing closer year by year.
It's a good feeling that Hubs is with his boy now, this boy who can't do the mechanical work or the application of the physics they both love, doing something they both enjoy and can participate in as equals.
I'm a mother of seven, ages 22 to 6. They all have special needs of one variety or another, hence my interest in parent advocacy.
Despite special needs, every child has their own needs, and all children have some things in common. You will find here rants, raves, excitement, tears... things all parents go through. You will also find acronyms that special needs parents know, as do the professionals that work with our children. My hope and my goal is to provide experience, strength, and hope, as well to learn from comments and receive your experience strength and hope.
I don't have all the answers, but between us, we can find them!