It Takes a Village

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They say it takes a village to raise a child, but that’s not true. It’s not just the child who needs a village, but all of us. It takes a village to raise a family.

No one is meant to be isolated. Generations ago, communities worked together for the good of the community, each member using their own strengths to help benefit the good of their community as a whole. Somewhere along the way to the present, we’ve lost that sense of community, and helping others has taken a back seat to helping only ourselves. We’ve grown isolated in our homes, living our lives separate from others.

I never knew I needed a village to raise my family. I moved far away from my hometown (and, thus, my family and all of my friends) when I got married. It was really hard to not have a physical support system, and grew even harder after having my first baby. Thanks to this wonderful think called the internet, I met a lot of other new moms, and soon began forming my own community. It didn’t take long for me to find my tribe, both online and locally, and blissfully, my village.

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My village is beautiful. My village is love. My village is mothers and babies leaning on one another for support. My village doesn’t judge messy houses, or store bought treats. My village is a variety of neurologies and personalities. My village is women with different skills and abilities helping one another. We are scientists, artists, teachers, mothers, sisters, friends. We are organized and chaotic, we are religious, and spiritual, and atheist and agnostic. We are each individual strands of one rope, stronger together than apart. This is my village; strong together.

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I have found, for myself and my nuclear family, that this tribe of women have held me and lifted me up when I was down. And that is what your village does. They meet you where you are, and help you get to where you need to be, no strings attached. With love, first and foremost, they reach out and give you a hand to hold on to when you feel like you are drowning. I know without a doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for these women. I wouldn’t be here at all without them. It takes a village to raise a mother.

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How lucky we are, too, to have communities of love and support at our fingertips. Among my village are my “internet friends”. I dislike the term “internet friends”, though, as it seems to diminish the value of an online friendship. In truth, the friends I’ve met, and who I continue to commune with online, are some of the best friends I have. It’s hard to be there for someone when you live far apart, but my friends manage to do it beautifully for me.

We all need a village. Even if you’re not raising kids. Even if your kids are grown and gone. We do better when we don’t have to go it alone. It takes a village to support a successful and happy individual. If you have found your village, hold on to them. Love them, support them. If you’re still looking, or thinking you can do it on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out. Your village is out there.  You’ll find it’s a lot easier to weather storms when you have other people helping to hold you down and keep you from getting knocked over.

Filling my space (an update)

 

This is my place in the universe. My own place where it is okay for me to take up space and write about the things I deem worthy of writing. I haven’t been filling this space, and I’ve missed it. I want to keep up with my blog, I love writing it. Admittedly, when it crashed a while back (like a year ago), and I lost ALL of my old blog posts, I was devastated. It was hard to come back. But I want to be back, and I want to continue owning my space here. Reaching out, and letting others reach in. For now, an update.

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Monkey Moo is FIVE now. His birthday was last Tuesday, and I can’t believe he’s FIVE. He’s in SK now (senior kindergarten), and is doing really really well. We just filled out IEP paperwork, which is kind of depressing because you have to focus a lot on the things your kid can’t do (yet), but he CAN do a lot of great things. This year he is making friends, and being creative and letting his classmates into his bubble. He is still passionate about subways and trains, and even made a kid-sized train in class by lining up a bunch of chairs, and pulling the puppet theatre to the front (because it has a window), and then he “drove” his classmates in his train! I’m really impressed with his teaching staff this year, and as always, am incredibly proud of my big kid. We are also learning more about him, and the things he struggles with, which makes it easier for us to prepare, or avoid triggers altogether. It’s still tough to know if what we’re doing as parents are the right things, but he’s a happy kid, and I think that is a pretty good yardstick.

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Little Bear is three now, which feels kind of surprising to me. He’s still my snuggly little baby, and I can hardly believe that he’s THREE, and that I will be registering him for JK (junior kindergarten) in a few short months. His third birthday was a bit tough on me, as I’d kind of hoped he would be talking by now. We took him for his developmental assessment a couple weeks ago, and it was as expected. His main diagnosis is Global Developmental Delay. I still don’t know a whole lot about it, but I will be doing a new post about it in the near future as I learn more. Basically, it’s an umbrella diagnosis of an intellectual disability marked by moderate to severe developmental delays (walking, speech, cognitive function, etc). He has a secondary diagnosis of ASD, though we will likely be going for a re-assessment in a couple years, because the ped that did the assessment said that the ASD diagnosis was based on family history, sensory sensitivities and inappropriate play (meaning playing with toys in a way that isn’t typical, or in a way that isn’t how the toy is designed to be played with). In any case, Bear has a dual diagnosis, and one that comes with challenges unique to him, and things we have no experience with. So while we have done the whole “special needs” thing, we’re dealing with a whole new kettle of fish here, and it’s proving to be a challenge. But Bear is such a little blessing, and our family feels complete with him.

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Time keeps going and going, and sometimes I feel like I can almost hold on to it for a moment, and then it slips right through my fingers again. My little boys are growing and growing and learning so much, and always changing. Their love for one another constantly moves me. The way they understand and support each other on a level that I don’t see from anyone else is amazing. They play together SO well, and fight like cats and dogs. They understand each other without using words, and they teach each other so many things. It can be hard, with such a neurodiverse family. Monkey likes vocal stims, and Bear likes quiet. This, in itself, is a huge challenge, as Monkey’s little (or BIG) noises are very triggering for Little Bear, and he screams in protest. Bear’s screams trigger Monkey’s screams, and it’s just a major scream fest over here most of the time.

IMG_8661As we head into the Christmas season, I find myself feeling so grateful for these boys. They make me crazy sometimes, but they bring me to my centre, too. They both have wild and wondrous energy that fills me up and wears me down all at once. The forced quiet schedule at this time of year is a blessing, as it encourages us to focus more on our own little family and the sweet sweet moments of pure joy we share. It’s not all easy, but it’s all worth it.

Beautiful changes

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So much of who I am has been in a state of metamorphosis lately. I feel it deep down, and have felt it for quite a while. I am not so self-absorbed to think that other people in my life have noticed, I doubt anyone pays that much attention to me. It is there, though, and as insignificant as they may be to those around me, these changes in me feel monumental.

I think a lot of times, life is about changing. We are not meant to be stagnant as humans. We are ever-evolving, learning and developing creatures. A lot of my life up to now has been spent trying to merge who I am at the core with who I felt directed to be based on societal norms and the rules and regulations set for me by a narrow minded society. I shaped my goals and dreams to fit the expectations of society with the dreams I held in my core. The very essence of who I am as a person was always bubbling there, beneath the surface, waiting for permission to consume me.

And that brings us to now… the me I have always been deep down, the me I have been a little bit afraid to fully unveil, is finally bubbling up to the surface, and I’m ready to embrace her and become her. Without fear of who will (or won’t) accept me for who I am at the core, I am ready to drop all pretenses, and discard the facades I have built up and worn like masks. I’m ready to reveal myself in all my fullness.

I’ve always said that I want to encourage my boys to be exactly who they are without feeling the need to change who they are to fit into someone else’s mold of who they need to be. I figure if I’m going to teach them to be true to themselves, I should start by being true to myself as well. Living by example and all.

Maybe much of who I truly am is the same as who I’ve always been, and maybe I’m the only one who notices a difference. But it is what it is. I am who I am, and I am no longer going to hide in fear of being too much.

Life is still a zoo, and I’m still going to be posting here about my family life, autism, parenting, and the things that I have always written about. But I will also be posting about my sacred adornments, my daily rituals, my nerdy and dorky interests/obsessions, my relationship with the world around me on a spiritual level, communion with angels, the energy and light that fills everything around me, and all of the little bits and pieces that make up my life and who I am.

Starting Over

SDC11932I don’t know what happened, and Doug can’t figure it out either. A few months ago I had issues logging into my blog, and it couldn’t be fixed. Doug ended up having to wipe out everything and start over. My wonderful husband feels terrible, though it isn’t his fault. He did the best he could. I was able to get the appearance (mostly) back to how I had it, and Doug did his best to save my content. But he couldn’t access my blog to get to the archives, and had to save it from the database. I don’t even know what all of that means. The content of my previous posts is a wall of text in a notepad document. There are years of posts that are fairly unrecognizable.

I have two options now. I can either sift through and backpost each posts (or just my favourites), and try to sort out the HTML to clean up each post; or I can start over. I haven’t officially decided to scrap the posts, but for now I am starting over. I liked to think this blog was here to help other people. I liked to think my words meant something to someone other than me, but I don’t know that it matters. My words mean something to me, and those years of blog posts that are sitting all jumbled up in a file I can’t make sense of kind of break my heart. But here is my blank slate, a chance to re-invent myself. Who do I want to be?  What do I want to make of myself? Truth be told, I’m pretty okay being myself.

So here I am, starting over. Most of you know my story already, but for anyone who is new to this corner of the internet, welcome. I’ll have the “about” pages completed soon, and you’ll be able to get up to speed. For now… check out the links to the right and find me on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

This is my zoo. I’m Shauna, the head zookeeper! My co-zookeeper is Doug, and our zoo consists of Monkey- our 4 year old autistic little dude; and Bear- our 2 year old snuggle bug. We are also joined by Fish- a two and a half year old betta fish, Ozzy- a seven and a half year old greyhound, and Delilah- a 9 year old calico cat. This zoo is wonderful, beautiful, loud, messy, snuggly, crazy, and mine.

I’m back!

After a long hiatus due, primarily, to technical difficulties and my inability to understand how these things work, I’m back!

My wonderful husband tried to fix my blog, leaving all the content there, but was unsuccessful. So, he reset the blog and I’m starting from scratch. He says he will show me how to put my past posts back up, so in the near future all my posts will be back in the blog where they belong.

For now, this is it. I have been sitting here for two hours getting my blog back up and running, and Monkey will be home from school soon, so I’ll have to come back with a general update later.

Until then, DFTBA.