Friday, March 15, 2013

All the other (good) stuff

Baking cookies with Ethan

You would think from what I've written about them lately (not at all) that I didn't still have kids, so consumed has my blog been with my mother's death.

But it's perhaps because I do still have kids (two, in fact) and I so strive to be present and cheerful with them in my daily life, that I come to this space (my own) to let all the heaviness leak out.

It is nearly two months since my mother has passed and time has not stopped, not even for a second.

Ethan is now in the final months of fifth grade.  Each time I bring him to or pick him up from school, I look at the tiny kindergarteners swirling past and marvel that he was once so small and that we looked upon the "big boys" back then and found it unimaginable that our sweet little five year old munchkins would ever become THAT.

He is worried about the future, about middle school - both getting into the one he wants (a unique New York City problem, I know) and about what it will be like when he is actually there next year, with new faces and routines and a whole higher order of academic pressure.

He is sad that his Saturday basketball league is about to come to an end. And that the Knicks really suck right now. And that his grandma is dead. (And probably about in that order.)

He grew a whole inch in the last two months.
We bake cookies together. A lot. I used to bake with my mother all the time. (Some of the recipes we use are hers.)

Jake & Belt at The Croods screening

Jake is a wonder.

I went into his recent parent teacher conference with trepidation, knowing he'd had a hard time adjusting earlier this year, and what I heard brought tears to my eyes. Happy tears.

They said that all the trouble at the beginning of the year seems to be behind them. They haven't needed the behavioral plan. He doesn't work just to earn iPad time at the end of his day. He is calm, engaged, participating, and if he starts to get out of line (throwing the word "stupid" into every sentence, perhaps, as he is wont to do) all they have to do is threaten to separate him from the group.

"I'm sorry. I'll stop." he says. AND HE DOES.

Furthermore, they all expressed their love for him so clearly. "Some days I just want to take him home with me, I haven't had enough Jacob time!" said his assistant teacher. That she already has a one year-old at home makes this doubly miraculous.

Jacob is having a burst of language and connection that is lovely to experience.

The other day he came into the room, uttering a very conversational "Mom, can I talk to you for a sec?" He stopped when he saw our cat lying upon me, purring. "Cocoa loves you!" he said.

SO much going on in those three simple words: being interested in and observing his environment, correctly interpreting what he saw, understanding the emotions involved, and commenting on it, in original language.

If you know anything about autism, you will know how beautiful this was, indeed.

He is also actively seeking to participate in situations, after observing others doing the same. (Again, awesome!)

Watching me, my friends and family sharing our memories at my mother's memorial service, he asked to go up to the podium himself, and then spoke a few very heartfelt, very appropriate words about his Grandma (more on that soon).

This past Monday I was invited to a mom-blogger family press screening of the new animated movie "The Croods" that Jake has been excited about since the ads and trailers for it stared popping up months ago.

We had a great time - it's a very enjoyable movie - and afterward there was a Q & A session with the  writer/directors Kirk De Micco & Chris Sanders, and Catherine Keener - the voice of the cave-mom. After answering The Moms' questions, they invited kids in the audience to come down and ask some of their own.

Jake and I were sitting near the back. He watched some kids ask questions about various aspects of the script or the production, he listened to the creators answer. And then he told me he wanted to go up and ask his own.

We made our way up to the front of the theater. Catherine Keener saw us standing by, and got up herself to hold the microphone for Jake as he asked: "How did you get the idea for Belt?"

(If you want to watch Jake yourself, it's the bottom video here at exactly 10 minutes in. It may look like I'm prompting him, but it IS the question he told me he wanted to ask as we were waiting our turn. He just suddenly forgot it when the mike was in his hand, and I had to whisper it in his ear.)

I was so proud of my (autistic) boy that day.

(And every day.)

Jacob, me & Catherine Keener at The Croods

So just in case you were worried that I had lost myself in grieving... I haven't.

I try to leave it here.

And in occasional tears on my pillow.

I haven't forgotten that I have two wonderful, alive, full of life boys.

And oh yes, a husband, too.

(Hi, honey.)

So expect me to be bouncing back and forth here between mourning my mother and telling tales from all the other myriad facets of my life.

I'll try to remember to throw in the good stuff as often as I can.

And ask you to forgive if the tears outweigh the laughs for just a little while longer.


  1. Oh, wonderful to hear about this part of your life, but please don't apologize! I always come here engaged in how your write and your beautiful take on the world and what you have been and continue to go through.

  2. I had no doubt that the blog was taking the grief so that you could function in the real world and be a good mum to your boys. Great to have you back though. xxx

  3. Oh, your boys sound lovely!

    Like you.

  4. I just found your blog and am captivated by the story of your mother. What a wonderful woman she was. You are so lucky to have hadnher for your mom.

  5. Thank you for trusting your readers with your sorrow and mourning. Thank you for sharing your joys and your boys. It is kind and wonderful!

  6. This is what a blog is about - expressing and finding out about ourselves, and you do it so well! I can't wait to read about Jake's words about his Grandma!

  7. Jacob! What a wonderful thing to have him comment about the cat, so casually, yet it is so meaningful. And the picture of you with him and Catherine Keener is priceless! How exciting to live in NYC - I dream of visiting there again.

    The mourning process lasts, and lasts. I still find myself wanting to give my mom a call - seven years after her death. But now, she is as close as a prayer.

  8. Such wonderful news about your son, Jake. Just terrific.


  9. I am honored to be able to read along through your pain and loss (and I still knew that you knew there is still life among you. I knew you'd tell us about it when you had the time.)

  10. It takes time to get over a loss like you've been through. My Mom passed away almost a year ago. Last week, I bought some breaded cauliflower and started crying before I'd even reached the checkout counter. It was a dish I remember my Mom making when we were kids.
    Know that you are a great Mom.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!