Life Isn’t Over! It’s Only Just Begining

Sometimes we often think that once we have a child or inherit the responsibility of caring for a loved one, that life is over!  That is so not the truth.  Your life is actually just beginning.

Children and those with (dis)Abilities have a different view of life. They don't take everything seriously and they are transparent. We have diluted everything down as well as made everything stressful. We've stopped living and allowed the thoughts and perceptions of others to drive our lives.

The beauty of caring for children or someone with (dis)Abilities is seeing the world from a different perspective.  The perspective of love, peace, tranquility, harmony, and more importantly HUMANITY.  We are in a world that's built on microwave lifestyles and we forget about the human piece of life. We are popping pills to stay sane, driving ourselves crazy and blaming others for our own insanity.

We've ignored the beauty in what's around us. We argue over the difference in cultures and which is better than the other. We are focused on building lives on quicksand and not concrete.

We are so delusional about life. We don't respect what this life has to offer. We want things the way we want them no matter what.  We don't give things time to organically blossom.

Children and those who are (dis)Abled understand that it takes time to build something solid and organic. They enjoy each and every moment life has to offer. We are the ones that put the limits on life when certain situations arrive.

Make sure to live each day fearlessly. The more you submit to life the more you enjoy the experience. We only get one chance at this experience, make the best of it.

 

Self Love = Self Care

We often tend to associate letting ourselves go as good parenting. Well, get ready to be upset with me, HOWEVER, you are not a good parent if you have let yourself go to take care of others!!! Now, I can hear some of you clinching your pearls with this statement.

Let me clarify! You know when you're on an airplane and they go over the safety plan in case of an emergency! Well, you know that part when they say secure your oxygen mask before you secure anyone else's?! There is a reason they ask you to do that. You are no good assisting other's if you are suffocating.  Do you know how many people you can save by simply stopping and thinking about you 1st???

This is a struggle for women.  We have been taught that motherhood means to take on EVERYTHING. You're weak if you need assistance.  I was also taught that motherhood was hard and not blissful. Heavy burden, not easy living. I was taught to mistreat your children was ok. That, talking bad about your children in front of other's while they are witnessing it was ok. I learned these behaviors from my parents.

I watched my mother dedicate herself to a man (my father) who didn't value her. He was a great provider, however, he was a horrible husband.  I watched my parents self destruct. They treated each other like pure shit while each fell into deep depression masked with material things.

I brought all of this to my adult life. I was unequipped to be a parent and wife. I was taught that stress and fighting was the answer. So, guess what I did, stress and fight. I wasn't taught healthy behaviors that would aid in not only my wellbeing, yet the wellbeing of my children.

What I wasn't taught is the woman MUST take care of herself 1st and foremost before anyone gets her attention. This is so that she can feel her best which will allow her space to give not only her best but her genuine desire to see to it that everyone is ok.  We can only do this if we energize ourselves.

As women, we give out what we feel. If we feel our best we give our best and then some. If we feel horrible, then what we give will be horrible. YOU CAN NOT BE A GREAT MOM IF YOU NEGLECT YOURSELF.

Self-care is so important for women who care for others. Now, when I say self-care I am not saying you have to go spend money. I mean, yes a massage, spa treatments etc are lovely, HOWEVER, sitting still, reading a book, listening to music, writing in your journal, cooking, baking, whatever helps you relax is self-care. Getting back to things you love that made you feel whole is self-care.

Stop thinking that self + care = money. It really means giving yourself permission to enjoy life doing things you love to do that remind you that life is meant to be happy. We tend to let go of things we love because we feel like we have to. For some odd reason, somewhere along the way, we thought that becoming a caregiver of whatever magnitude meant, stop your life.

We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated into thinking that everything we do that feels good costs money. Feeling good has nothing to do with money, yet everything to do with your internal being. Once the material things are gone it's just you left. Once those who said they were your friends are gone because your "wealth" ran out it's just you.

SELFCARE HELP:

I am no one special. I am often told how I am the model parent for the special needs community. I juggle everything, fight, work, help others etc. The truth is, I just stopped making excuses and started doing. EVERY SINGLE DAY I did something to get that much closer to my vision. I made a choice and I adhered to it no matter what.

Self-care didn't come overnight for me, I had to undo years of bullshit so that I could be where I am at this very moment. Deciding to break the cycle and give my self-permission to be selfish all the time was the hardest yet most rewarding thing I could've ever done to save my life.  Each day is a challenge and I work hard to stabilize my mind so that I can push forward towards my desires.

I spent years watching my mother neglect herself for others. It has driven her so far into depression and it's painful to watch. I have watched my dad be fearful of life which causes him to live as a hermit and not see anything outside of a 30-mile radius and that's being generous.  I knew I didn't want what my parents had become. I wanted more and I was determined to sort through my mess to reach the side of life I yearned for.

The answer to everything I battled was already known, it took uncomfortable experiences to convince me.

If I can't stress anything else, PLEASE GIVE BACK TO YOU BY ALLOTTING TIME FOR SELF-CARE.

Balancing Parenthood

People always ask me, how do I do it?  How do I care for Jaylen and make time for his siblings? Of course, it isn’t balanced HOWEVER,  I make sure our girls know they are loved just as much as Jaylen. When I was pregnant with Jada, people wondered how I would care for Jaylen and another child? All I knew is that I was going to do it. There was no other option. At first, it was hard because Jaylen was in and out of the hospital often. I relied on my sister and Jada’s godmother to care for her while I cared for Jaylen. I was very thankful to have them but I also felt like a bad mother. I recall crying at times because I felt as though my baby wouldn’t even know I was her mother but at the same time, I knew she was in great hands.

Luckily hospital visits became less and Jaylen got better. Which helped my relationship with my daughter Jada and made us inseparable. Now the us today is amazing. My family is actually very tightly bonded because we’re always together.

My girls actually are very understanding of their brother needs and even helps out. When we go on outings they always ask if Jaylen will be able to participate. They genuinely enjoy spending time with their big brother. When we’re home it’s not just my husband and I keeping an eye on him it’s the girls too. They know when to redirect him when he’s doing something he has no business. They can tell by his screams what he want or needs. Jada can actually tell when he isn’t feeling good. I always say he has three mothers because the love they have for him and the affection they show him is the same as me.

Parents have asked me, ” how did I get my girls to interact with Jaylen the way that they do”? I’ve heard how some siblings don’t acknowledge their brother/sister that have special needs and that really breaks me. Those parents don’t realize that you can potentially cause a wedge between them. If you’re not spending time with your kids collectively and individually you aren’t able to show them how to include their sibling with special needs and to be there for them.  Hell even I’m guilty of that at times but when I catch it I correct it. If I’m cuddling and kissing on Jaylen I can do the same with my daughters.  Anything to let them know they are just as important as Jaylen is to us.I love my little family!

Part Time Job or Life Lesson?!

Recently I took a part-time job as a caregiver to earn a few extra dollars to clear up some debt. The case is an elderly woman with dementia. When I heard about the case I said, "this is easy".  When I arrived at the families home, I was struck by the feeling of my grandmother's home, just the ora of the home.

Prior to taking the job, I have been saying that I missed my grandmother a lot.  She has been on my mind heavy.

On the day that I accepted the job. I was in my room working on my budget for the month when my phone rings. The Caller ID didn't list anything accept a phone number.  I typically don't answer numbers I do not know, HOWEVER, my spirit led me to answer this call.

Fast Forward. Over the past several days that I have been caring for this lady, I have been getting all kinds of signals that this woman is carrying my grandmother's spirit. It's super clear.

It's been the most creepy yet beautiful experience I have ever been a part of.  Not too long ago I had mentioned to myself,  that I would love another opportunity to spend time with my grandmother and BOOM here it is. Caring for this lady is effortless. It feels like I am caring for my grandmother.

(Shit ya'll don't go get creeped out n shit, please!! lolol)

I am grateful God gave me the insight to be able to do what it is I do.  It's not easy, however, thanks to Anthony Jr. aka Moo, I was able to find myself and what I love to do.

The Diagnosis isn’t the End

Being a parent to a child with special needs sounds complicated. When someone on the outside looking in hears that, the 1st thing I get is "God Bless You". I laugh internally when I hear this because you are right GOD did bless me. He gave me a human that would challenge everything I thought I knew about myself.

Anthony Jr. was born December 15th, 2005 to Libra Smith and Anthony Hicks Sr. He had a very complicated birth which led to an emergency C-section which led to me being knocked out to repair my cervix which led to him being in the NICU for 3weeks.

When I brought my muffin home, I surely didn't know the rollercoaster I was getting on.  I brought him home to a house that was in the process of being foreclosed on and we had to move ASAP!

I went back to work 3 weeks after having Anthony because we needed money and I had to take care of my son.

During this process, we moved into an apartment I secured so we would have a roof.  Not the best area, however, it was home for my son and family.

When I found out Anthony who I affectionately call Moo, would have a difficult life I refused to believe it. I absolutely wouldn't accept that he wouldn't have typical functionality. You know you go to the hospital to have a baby thinking all would be well and that's not the case.

It was a very hard time to hear so many tell me something was wrong, I was struggling to process all of that. At the age of 25 years old I was still learning life and here I was being told shit wasn't right with my son, my 1st born. How is this even possible.

Fast forward to now, I am accepting and open to all diagnosis. I have learned that the diagnosis means nothing. It's what you make it, yes, there are challenges that come with the territory, HOWEVER, I would've never found myself had I not had my son. I wouldn't even know who Libra is. I went through the difficult periods just to get to the other side of pain.  It was grueling and sometimes I wanted to quit, however, when I looked at my son, who doesn't get to quit, I knew I had no right to insult him in that way. How dare I quit when he doesn't get to quit.

When we hear the diagnosis, we instantly have a funeral, mourning the fairytale we've created. We then implement the very things that come with the diagnosis. For instance, with my youngest son Lyric, he has Autism and because of the diagnosis, he will experience sensory challenges. This doesn't mean I need to handicap him by watching him like a hawk, what it means is be aware of it so you can help him through it. We stop the natural order of process, to protect our children. Let them fall and hurt themselves so they can learn.

Don't take away the human experience from your children with a special need. Treat them just like you would any other child as long as it's not causing harm or discomfort.

Allow your children the space to develop. When a baby learns to crawl they learn to stand then walk. Our special babies can do the same if you believe in them and allow them the space to do it. Otherwise, you are developing the diagnosis instead of correcting the symptoms of the diagnosis.

DIVA & LAVA

Making friends can be tough for our Diva.  She loves to touch and hug and pull on people.  This doesn’t always go over well with everyone.  Two years ago our family was given the opportunity to meet Lava, a Canine Companion who hasn’t left her side since day one.

Some of the programs that offer Service Canines are expensive and have extremely long waiting list.  Usually 5 or more years.   Some canines are specifically trained to detect seizures, low sugar, and self-injurious behaviors.  Each program is different and should be researched for individual needs.
Our family applied to www.CCI.org (Canine Companions for Independence). After two years of waiting we were blessed with our newest family member Miss Lava. 

Lava continues to amaze our family on how smart she is when it comes to our Diva.  When she initially came to our family she knew well over 80 commands.  Since arriving in our home, our non-verbal daughter now commands her to eat and drink in a language all her own. Watching these two will have you in stitches some days. Diva is always getting into trouble whether its with flour from the kitchen or unrolling tissue from the bathroom. Lava is always right beside her.

To our amazement and delight Lava will now find mom & dad if Diva is not safe. We didn’t teach Lava that she has developed this connection with our daughter over the years. During what I call “hospital 101” period in our lives. There was a year our family seem to always be at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Whether it was for tests, therapy, operations or an emergency admittance, Lava laid right beside our girl on the floor as she slept in her hospital bed. Any time Diva would move Lava would stand and check on her.

During our hospital stays the medical staff taking care of our daughter didn’t even realize Lava was in the room until she stood or moved. Which is exactly how a service canine should be. I love how these two are in sync with one another which melts my heart.

Lava participates in all things Diva. I do mean EVERYTHING. Halloween costumes (yes we put Lava in a ridiculous outfit), opening birthday presents, bath time, dinner time, Thanksgiving & Christmas. Our Diva expects her friend to be with her as soon as her eyes pop open in the morning . Lava expects to be with Diva. That type of love can’t be taught.

Lava relaxing by the pool as she waits for DIVA to finish therapy

When We’re Gone

As a parent, none of us want to outlive our children.  Well, as a parent of a child with special needs I worry more about how will our child live without me?  Who would care for my child the way I do?  Will a family member keep them?  Will they end up in a facility?  I can say what I want for Jaylen but, will they follow my wishes?  As crazy as this sounds this is our reality.

I recently read a story about a mom and her son who had special needs that passed away days behind each other. For some reason, the mother in me felt like that’s what she wanted.  It was just him and her his entire life. So most likely he would’ve ended up in a facility. We all know all facilities ain’t good. That’s a place I never want Jaylen to go.

One of my biggest fears is leaving him in this world for someone else to care for him. Now don’t get me wrong his Dad is amazing and I know that he would do everything he can to make sure Jaylen is well taken care of. However, I still have this fear of leaving him. What if his Dad whose also disabled needs someone to come and help with both him and Jaylen?  Whose to say whoever comes in to care for Jaylen wouldn’t hurt him when he isn’t looking?   I also have my girls, of course, Jada always say that she going to take care of him, however,  I wonder would he ever become a burden to her? Will she get tired and place him in a facility? All of this goes through my mind daily. I just don’t want Jaylen to live in this world without me and the proper care that he needs. What are your plans for your child?

You Can Still Find Love

After separating from Jaylen and Jada’s birth father, I’ve always thought it would be just us. I felt as though no one would accept that one of my children has with special needs. I also kinda didn’t want anyone to feel the need to take on the burdens I was carrying. What’s that says?” Love will come when you least expect ?”

In 2004 I lost contact with my high school sweetheart before graduating high school. In 2005 we reconnected through an unfortunate way. I found out he was in a bad accident which resulted in him losing one of his legs. We talked a lot while he was in the hospital.  During that time he was in a relationship and so was I.

During this time I was on to having my 2nd child.  Once I had Jada our phone conversations became more frequent. I even started picking Terence up to ride with me to take Jaylen to the doctor. He would even go with me to the hospital for emergencies. Terence was just there.  Him being there made a big difference. One day while coming from the doctor he asked if I could see us being more than just friends? As bad as I wanted to say “Yeah” that day, I, instead said maybe! Well, I guess he had other plans, because, before he got out the car he kissed me! I never told Terence this,  but that whole ride home I smiled internally lol. It felt just like it did when we dated in high school. I had butterflies all over again!

So you know that thing I said at the beginning about it just being me and my kids?! Terence became apart of the equation lol. Somehow I knew he would one day be my husband, however, I was still unsure of how he would do with my kids. When we went on outings I would watch how he interact with them.  Terence was scared to interact with the kids, and I honestly didn’t want him too. Sounds crazy right?! After awhile he got use to the kids and they got use to him.  Things seemed to be going pretty well.  It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen in a year, eventually started to bond.

In 2012 Terence and I got married  and in 2014 Terence adopted Jaylen and Jada. In 2016 his biological daughter came to live with us. We became a happy blended family. Just from looking at us, you wouldn’t be able to tell that we are a blended family. Terence and I laugh all the time when people say Jaylen looks like him. But they also say Terence look like my Daddy.

Love will definitely find you when you least expect it. I’m not saying to date every man you meet and introduce them to your child, however, what I am saying is let love find you. Terence is the best thing to happen to us even though I don’t tell him that lol. And I feel like when we lost touch in high school it was only to bring us back together to be even closer.

Eating Habits

While losing weight finding new ways to eat can be a challenge.  What I have found is staying away from "fad" diets works best for me. I started taking the pressure from myself by not putting pressure on scheduled meals etc.  I just make sure I keep options in my house so that I am forced to eat right no matter what I grab.

What I have also found is, keeping snacks such as cashews and protein bars helps me take the hunger away if I forget to eat so that I will not resort back to old habits.

Now, let me be honest, I have moments when I treat myself to some great unhealthy shit. I am not going to sit here and tell you all that I don't indulge. I INDULGE!!!! LOLOL!! I just make sure that after I allow myself a day of indulging, the next day I do not use that as an excuse to not get back on track.

I found that taking the pressure from the expectations of "fad" diets helps me do better. I know what I should eat, so I fill my fridge with those things so that no matter what I am choosing something healthy.

Do what works for you and what you are wanting to accomplish for your health. Everyone's goals and reasons will be different. Make sure you find what works for you and make it happen.

For me releasing the pressure, filling my home with healthy options and keeping snacks in my purse is what works best for me.