Sunday, March 3, 2024

64. Our next chapter. Independence.

While I’ve talked a lot over the last 10 years about my plans for Parker, I’m not sure everyone realized I was serious. Recently I have a lot of people saying “You’re doing what?” and shocked by what is going on. Trust me, that is not your fault. I’ve been sporadic in talking about it, life is busy, and it always felt really far away. So while this will not answer every question, it will give you many of the answers you are looking for.

A little background in what led to this and why now.

A little bit into Parker’s diagnosis, I read an article about two brothers in their mid – late 60s. Both have an intellectual disability. They’ve spent their entire lives at home with their parents – who were now in their 80s. (This was originally my plan for Parker. He was going to live with me forever.) Life was great for them, they were happy, had their routine, and were living great lives. And then, their parents died. Within a couple months of each other. And the brother’s lives were turned upside down.

With no other siblings or family who could take on caring for the men, they were placed into a group home. Despite being placed together, the men fell apart. They became combative, they didn’t understand why their parents were not there, why there were living in this place, and had no idea who all of these people living there with them were.

It was a terrible situation that never did get better. It only got worse. The article absolutely shook me. I had Scott read it and we agreed that we would never put Parker into that situation.

My plan to keep Parker home with me forever was shattered.

As we talked a lot and agreed on a plan. While Scott doesn’t remember the age 25, it was burned into my memory. That may be a mom thing, I knew exactly how much time I had to fully embrace this plan and prepare myself for what would – no doubt – be a life changing event.

Despite our divorce and me being Parker’s guardian, I couldn’t break that promise to Scott. We chose 25 because we believed we would still be here to help him with this transition and more importantly, we would still be young enough to see him succeed in this new role without us and he would be able to see that he was ok without us while we were still here.

That was most important to us. That we all would be able to be here to help as needed and see him successfully independent, whatever that may look like. Because honestly, at age 5 – we had no idea what that would be.

After we divorced, I knew I had to start putting more thought into what we would do. I know that literally everyone felt the answer would be to put Parker in a group home. And, don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing group homes out there but this wasn’t going to work… mainly for me.

I lack trust in others. Especially when it comes to my kids. Parker can’t tell me if something happens to him. I would see a behavior change but I wouldn’t know if someone hurt him physically or sexually. And as much as you don’t want to think that would happen – the reality is, it happens to our loved ones every single day. They are easy targets, especially those with communication challenges. That wasn’t going to be an option. I needed to figure out something else.

And that’s when it hit me. It would be so much easier for me and A to move out of the house than for Parker. This is the only place he’s ever lived, he’s comfortable here. He’s safe. The neighbors would help look out for him. I immediately knew this was the route I would go for him. Not to mention, it gave me complete control over who would live and work with him. I  needed that.

The last several years since, I’ve been working bit by bit to get the house ready, making as many updates as I could. And I’m not done, I still have a deck to replace and a bathroom to refinish but I have to figure out where I’m magically getting money from for those projects first. Everything else is ready to go. And that’s a good thing because Parker turns 25 in May.

So, here is the plan – in a nutshell.

Mid May I am  moving out. We have our date, it is on Parker’s calendar there is no turning back. While originally I was going to buy a house here in Canton, I’ve realized over the past year – especially with A moving to the UK, that I couldn’t do that.

I’ve never lived alone. I’ve never been without my children. I already struggle from really bad depression and anxiety. When I had to leave A in the UK last October, I didn’t know how I was going to survive with A so far away. I wasn’t going to let A know that because I wanted A to succeed. But watching A’s taxi take them back to school while my taxi was waiting to take me to the train for the airport was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

The overwhelming pressure on my chest made it feel like I could not breathe. It took me several weeks to reach a point where I could get through the day without crying and learn how to breathe again. Some days I still struggle. But A is so incredibly happy, it makes it hard to be sad. And this is what I wanted for A – to find their place, to spread their wings and to really, truly follow their dreams. And A is. I’m beyond proud.

I know that leaving Parker is going to be even harder. A has always been very independent. Parker, however, depends on me for everything. He needs me to get through the day. And, let’s be honest, I need him.

So, I knew if I bought a house here now, I would ruin everything. I’d be like, “Hey Parker, do you want to come visit mom? Do you want to stay the night? Do you want to stay the weekend? Do you want to stay all week?” And eventually, he would be living there with me. Additionally, he knows he can play me. He would have me over here all the time. ALL the time. Everything I’ve worked and planned so hard on for the past several years would be ruined. And it would be my fault.

I couldn’t do that.

I decided to reach out and ask my parents if I could stay there. Just for 1 year. Long enough to put distance between Parker and I that I can’t be here at the drop of a hat. That he has to do this on his own because he can. So I don’t ruin this.

It puts an hour and a half between us. A full year of distance that is not horribly far away yet far enough that I can’t ruin this for him. One year. Then I’ll be back with a place of my own here, in a better mindset, ready to take on that part of my new life.

Asking my parents if I could return home at 50, with 4 cats and a dog, was rather entertaining but they know me well. They know I would ruin this too if I stayed local. And my mom is incredibly aware of how fragile my mental health is. The worry of my depression reaching a point that I cannot get out of bed, can’t leave the house, and the depression consuming me is very real. Very real.

My parents have the space. When they built their house, it was built with a walk out basement. The basement was set up for my sister who was still living at home at that time. So the entire basement was laid out to be a space for her. Living room, dining area, extra space for an office, a huge bedroom, and a full bathroom. I’m certain it is more square footage than a single floor in my current home. Plus, they live on 22 acres so Willow has room to run.

The best part, besides having my parents there to help me through this emotionally, is that I get time with my parents. I left home at 18. The day after I graduated high school. I’ve always regretted leaving so quickly. Time is something that slips by so fast. I can’t pass up this opportunity for time with them as unfortunately, we are all continuing to age.

While there is space downstairs for A to be with me when they are home for summer break, A wants to be upstairs with Grandma and Grandpa in the spare room. A cannot wait to be there with access to the horses every single day. We have plans for A to be with Parker at least 2 days a week, too.

That covers me and A. So how are we going to make this work for Parker? I’m gonna tell you!

Parker will have two roommates. His best friend since they were 3, William and his very good friend, Marriah. Each of them have a care taker already, this will transfer over. A caretaker that is specific to each of them.

They will rent the house from me. Their rent will cover pretty much everything plus provide fun and emergency fund money. There will be chores that they are expected to do, outings in the community because they need to leave home now and then. William and Parker will continue to keep their jobs. This is an independence that are all three ready for.

Everyone asks me about the pets. Especially knowing the attachment Parker has with Willow and Sweetie. And while I originally had planned on Willow staying, I can’t leave her here for many reasons. First, it isn’t fair that Parker gets to keep his dog but William can’t bring his. Second, Willow is extremely protective of Parker. Extremely. I do not want a situation to occur where Parker is messing around with his friends and Willow takes it wrong and jumps in to protect her boy. It is not a risk that I’m willing to take. So, yes. I am taking ALL of our animals.

We want this house to feel like it belongs to all 3 of them, not just that William and Marriah are staying at Parker’s house. We plan, after the kids settle in, to get them a house pet or two. Whether it be kittens or a dog is to be determined – by the kids. But they need a pet – or pets. They all three are leaving animals behind to live here, it is important that they have animals here with them,too.

I’ve given myself until the middle of April to get the house cleaned out. 26 years of stuff to go through and purge and pack and move to my parents. That will give the three families a month to paint and make the house feel like it belongs to everyone. A fresh new look inside.

In Mid-May, I’ll move out and the roommates will move in. It is rather surreal still.

Life has been challenging. Parker hates for me to clean and doesn’t want me out of his sight which makes packing a challenge, too. The house needs a good deep clean after my stuff is out. Right now, I’ve worked a little on 2 rooms and a huge closet. I’ve made a bigger mess in the process. I’m honestly overwhelmed by how much there is to do.

And I get stuck on the reality that I won’t have Parker by my side 24/7 as I have for the past almost 25 years. We are always together. We don’t separate often. It hit me hard tonight when I was tucking him into bed that I only have 64 more nights of goodnight kisses and tucking him in. Only 64 more nights of hearing him yell that he loves me before falling asleep. 64 more days of nonstop Paw Patrol and Blue’s Clues. 64 more days of starting our mornings together at the dog park with Willow and our dog park friends. 64 more days of keeping my emotions in check while I help him believe this is the best thing ever. Because it will be. He’s ready. I will never be but he is. He is going to soar.

And Scott, Jen, and I are all going to be around for many years to see how successful he is living as independently as possible and loving his new life.

It’s going to be good. One day my heart will see that, just like it has with A.

No one really prepares you for being an empty nester. And while I am sure it is hard for everyone, when you have a child that depends on you daily for everything from help in the bathroom to being sure they get fed – making that leap to separate is harder. I don’t know how to be me without Parker. I don’t even know who I am without Parker. But, it is time I figure that out.

I know, with time, we will all be ok. Better than ok, we will be great. I will have the ability to travel to see A or Melissa or finally make it to Alaska to see Sonja without figuring out 24/7 coverage for Parker and worrying about how he will do with all of the change. I will have the opportunity to have dinner with friends or shopping or just getting together. I’ll have time to finish my book.

We can do this. If I’ve ever done anything hard to prove how much I love my kids and how I would do anything for them… sending A off to the UK and making arrangements for Parker to live with roommates surely has to prove that. I’d like to believe that along the way, I have done something right for them both to be such amazing adults.

We can do this… and we will.

Last thing, several have asked how they can help and I’ve not really known how to answer that until this past week when I’ve felt my most overwhelmed. There will be things the kids need to get started. After the other parents and I meet and have a list, I’ll create an Amazon Wish list for them. And if you’d like to help with the bathroom renovations or cover the costs of the deck, I’m not going to turn that down either.

Most of all, when I’m living further away – and also when I’m not, please keep an eye on Parker and his friends. Please remain in his life and support him. Love him and remind him the community is here for him. I need to see that, too. Because one day (hopefully many, many, many years away) I won’t be here anymore and it would help significantly to know he’ll never be alone, he will always have a community here for him who loves him.


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Letting go

So many of my biggest life lessons have come from my children. This one is no exception.

It has been a wonderful month having A home from University. There are many moments from this trip that will replay in my mind and in my heart indefinitely. And so many reminders of how amazing, independent, and wise beyond their years A is.

It is often hard to know how much Parker feels or understands about what is going on in our family. When A left, no matter how much I tried – I knew that Parker didn’t fully understand how long A would be gone. When it was time for A to come back, that kid was bursting with excitement. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy. It was amazing.

He knows now that when A goes back, it will be for a while. I’m not sure if he realizes it will be even longer than before as I cannot afford to bring A back for spring break and then again at the start of summer break. Bringing A home for Christmas was everyone’s gift from me – not the easiest feat to pull off as a single mom. But, there are already plans in the making for my mom and my sister, Dawn, to go visit A in the spring – so that helps some for me – but I’m not sure it will help Parker.

Additionally, I’m trying to help him understand that not only will it be even long before A comes back – but A won’t be coming back to this house – or living with him again. Tonight is our last night as a family of 3 in the only home they’ve ever known. From now on, big changes will continue to be made that will impact us all, I believe in positive ways but they will be the hardest changes I’ve ever made.

I don’t know how much he understands but I think about it all the time. We talk a lot about his friends moving in this spring and mom moving out. We talk about how awesome it will be to have his friends here and how they will do great things. I just have no way of knowing how much of it he fully understands. He knows I’m moving and where I am moving to. But does he really understand this is forever, especially when my first move is temporary? I really don’t know.

Is he ready because this is the age I believed he would be ready at for this change? I don’t know but I’ll never know if we don’t move forward and find out. I believe he is ready.

I know he is more ready than I will ever be. He will always be more ready than I will ever be.

This is where life lessons from A during this trip home comes in this picture.

At night, I cover Parker up at least 4 times and while times 1 – 3 are super sweet, that 4th time drives me absolutely insane. A, however, covers Parker up 1 time and then tells him if he uncovers himself again he is on his own. And he’s fine with that.

If he wants his iPad plugged in he will ask me until I give up and plug it in. He will ask A once, A won’t do it, and he will get up and do it himself.

That boy has me wrapped around his finger.

A has him wrapped around theirs.

It was when they walked to the car together the other day, it was when my heart melted and broke all at once.

Parker is terrified of walking on the ice. He has had more than one fall on the ice over the years and insists on holding our hand any time he has to walk on it. As the biggest snowflakes fell the other day, A took Parker’s hand and brought him to the car. 

When they got to the side, A let go leaving Parker to finish his way to the door on his own.

He reached out for A with a bit of panic. I called out for A to rescue him. A took a couple of steps to him, saw he was fine, and turned to walk away forcing him to do this on his own. Something I do not do well at all.

Of course, Parker was fine. Neither he nor I was fully convinced of it until he was buckled in his seat belt but A knew he was fine. A would never leave him to fall. I know this but watching his panic made me want A to go back and hold his hand until he was sitting in the car. That is what I would have done. I would not have let go until he was sitting in the car, buckled in, ready for me to let go.

But A knows that he doesn’t always need A’s hand. That he is capable of so much more on his own than he will admit, or at least let me in on. And because of that, A pushes him harder than I do. I’m thankful for that.

A has reminded me that while my kids will always need me, they won’t always need their hands held. Even when I worry they may fall. They are capable of doing hard things and so am I. I’ll need that reminder a lot over the next few months.

As I watched back on the video of A and Parker walking to the car, this moment stood out to me. I think it holds so many of my fears of what Parker can’t express… and A’s reminder that they are both capable.


 I see this and I worry about how Parker views what is happening with A going back to school and with me moving out. Does he see this as us leaving him? As us walking away from him? Will he think that we are leaving him because of our struggles? Will he think that I am or we are walking away because I/we don’t love him?

Or will he see it as it is – that we are letting go because we know he can do this. We’ve checked the path, and we know that he can stand and walk without falling. Will he see that I am letting go so that he can grow, be independent, and shine on his own because he can do that without me by his side? Will he know that I’m doing this because I love him, not because I don’t want to be with him – because I’d stay with him every day forever if I thought it was best for him.

Or will he know, that I’m not looking back because I don’t want him to see my tears, I don’t want him to know how scared I am of every single step we are about to take because even the right steps can be really hard and scary ones.

As I get ready to let A go again, I keep flashing back to when I had to leave the UK without A last October. I knew the first few weeks would be hard. I knew that there was the tiniest of a sliver of chances that A would not be ready or not like being there. But I also knew I had to let go. I had to let A chase this dream and deep in my heart, I knew A was absolutely fine. And A was.

That helps with letting them go back tomorrow. I know A will continue to thrive at Essex. 

Deep in my heart, I know Parker will also thrive in his new setting. I’m never going to be ready. I was never going to be ready to let A go. But, I have to. Ready or not, I have to let A go back tomorrow, and come spring, ready or not, I have to move out and let Parker soar on his own, too.

And we will all 3 be ok. We really will. Even on the days, it doesn’t feel like it. If A has taught us anything, it is that we can do what others think is impossible every single day - and we will.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The beginning of the "lasts"

This would have been perfect for me to post on December 31 as we were ready to welcome in the New Year but… let’s be real. My life is not perfect so why should the timing of this blog be?

I wanted one thing for this Christmas, well two but world peace – unfortunately – didn’t seem realistic. Apparently, neither was the other thing.

I wanted my house to be clean and filled with every Christmas decoration that I owned. I wanted my Christmas comforter and pillows on my bed, the Christmas pillows on the couches, the Christmas shower curtain and towels up, every inch of garland, lights, and absolutely every sign and Christmas figurine/decoration I own out on display.

When A returned home from the UK, I wanted that magical Christmas home that smelled of freshly baked cookies (even though A would never eat them) and to be so clean you were almost afraid to sit on the furniture. Instead, A returned home to the same house of chaos that they left 2 ½ months earlier. A home that is lived in. A home filled with love… and anxiety and constant demands by Parker that I struggle more and more with each day to keep up with on top of all of my other responsibilities.

The tree was up and waiting to be decorated so I allowed myself to see that as a success. In my life, I really need to shoot for those inchstones over milestones, they are much more realistic for me to reach.

This month home with A has been incredibly bittersweet. There are a million and one reasons why letting them go back to the UK on Monday will be even harder than before. And one solid reason why I wanted this Christmas and this month together to be perfect.

This Christmas was our last Christmas together, in this home, as a family. This New Year, the last “New Year” as a family of 3 in this house. Everything we are doing until A leaves is a “last” for us. And that has hit me extremely hard.

No one is sick (thankfully) and yes, A will be back this summer. But, we won’t be here. The home I brought my children home from the hospital to, the only home they’ve known of ours will have a new purpose and new memories to be made. Parker will be here but I will be living elsewhere, as will A.

In the Spring, I’ll be moving out and Parker’s roommates will be moving in. Mid-summer, A will return from school and live with me until they start school again in October. Come spring, our lives will forever change. The changes are good. They are necessary and people keep saying it shows that I’ve done a great job raising my kids that they are both so independent – if I had realized the outcome of being a good parent was that your kids leave you and become happy functional adults on their own – I maybe would not have tried so hard to be a good parent because this doesn’t feel like a victory, it feels like my heart is never going to recover from being this broken.

This was the last Christmas morning the three of us woke up together in “our” home – where we all live. I do realize this is a pretty common thing for most parents. No one warns you about it. You realize your kids will grow up and, hopefully, be able to have independence but no one prepares you for how hard that is. No one.

I was so focused on preparing them to be successful, independent adults while still enjoying every minute, that I didn’t really realize that the next step for them required them to take it without me. Well, I “knew” it wouldn’t include me – that was the goal. I didn’t realize how much it would hurt to know that all of my purpose in life would be moving on and I would be left, lost, trying to find my purpose once again.

To complicate my feelings even more, Parker has realized that when A leaves to go back to University, that it means A is leaving for a long time. He has missed A so much and that has shown ever since A walked through the airport gates to his hugs. His behavior has become more challenging as we lead up to Monday. The first time A left, he didn’t fully grasp that it meant A was going to be gone for as long as they were. This next time, not only is A going to be away longer but when they come back home – A won’t be coming here to live with Parker. Despite our many talks about it, I’m not sure he fully understands that A won’t ever be living with him again.

And his behavior alone speaks volumes to how he feels about that. He can’t express in words how he feels or what he is thinking, it comes out in his behaviors. And right now, any time A (or “Cutie” as Parker calls A) is not home with him – he is struggling and asking when A will be back.

I know we will find our routine again after is is settled back into school but I think when A comes home at the end of June, it will be very confusing – even with Parker and his roommates established by then, for Parker to understand why A isn’t coming to live with him anymore.

It is hard to come to the end of a chapter, or maybe this is more like the end of a really good book where the end leaves you guessing, and you hate not knowing how it actually ended. I guess, the good thing is – I get to keep writing the next series in the book. It will definitely be a book of new beginnings, ongoing challenges, and finding purpose – not just for me but for all 3 of us. Just… on our own, in new independent but overlapping journeys.

As much as I’m not ready to put down this book, I could not be more proud of each page that we’ve written. In this home, 2 amazing kids have been raised. They’ve overcome so many challenges, had many laughs and adventures with friends, and filled it with enough pet fur to create our own fur monster. We’ve had a very good run the 3 of us in our little home. It really is time for this home to have its new purpose, to help Parker continue to grow his independence with the help of friends and caretakers and show the world that he has what it takes to do this.

They will make new memories, new traditions, and fill it with love and laughs. Together they will overcome challenges and celebrate triumphs as they grow older together. This is, after all, what I hoped and wished for – what I’ve worked so hard on for all of these years. For Parker to achieve this level of independence. We’ve almost reached that finish line.

And A… well, I think I’ve always known that A was going to spread those wings far. During our first trip to the UK and Europe, it was so easy to see that A belonged there. The confidence and happiness that radiated out of that kid was like something you see in the movies. And with their first trimester completed, accommodations already confirmed for next school year, and that incredible excitement to return to the UK and University – I know that what we saw wasn’t a fluke or vacation feelings, it was real. A has found the University that will help them change the world, while also finding themself, their independence, and making me the proudest mom on this earth.

Of course, if A said they wanted to come back home and live with me forever, I wouldn’t say no to that either πŸ˜‰ A won’t but A will help me see this amazing world and rack up those travel miles in this next phase which is going to be pretty amazing.

While Christmas didn’t vomit its decorations all over my house as I had hoped, the last month has been pretty amazing. It’s been extremely emotional and I know the next few weeks will be as well but, truly, in good ways. We’ve been able to see into Parker’s mind a bit to know how very much he loves A. We’ve always known they’ve been close and that they love each other as siblings do – but that connection is far deeper than many may have realized. The house didn’t have to be perfect for our “last” memories to be made here together, it just needed the 3 of us.


Monday, March 13, 2023

Change is a comin'.

 You know what we haven’t had in a while? A good cry, I’ve been keeping them to myself and it feels like time to share them. It’s good for us, right? Go get some Kleenex because at some point while reading this – you are going to want one.

We have some major life transitions happening soon in our little family of three. And to add salt to the transition wound, I have no choice but to accept that my parents are aging as fast as my children – which is completely unfair.

In my entire life, I’ve never been alone. I lived at home, then with Scott, then with Scott and our children, then with just our children. Never just with me. When Covid hit, without making it public at the time Scott, Jen, and I agreed that Parker and A would stay solely with me. We wouldn’t leave and we didn’t. We isolated ourselves so tightly in a bubble only letting people in through video calls at first, then outside visits, and eventually returning to our post covid routine. But those first 6 months, it was just the three of us, with the full knowledge that if I messed up, all three of our lives were on the line. Nothing throws you into compliance like the words “this will kill your child.”

It was a while longer before we started overnight visits with their dad, again. When we did, the kids being away had become much harder on me. I solved that by spending that time, as often as I could, with my parents.

Then, Willow had her leg injury, which stopped those trips as she wasn’t (and still isn’t) ready to run without further causing injury - post-surgery now. It was around the time of Willow’s surgery that A’s first college acceptance letter came. One followed by another… and another… and another. All four schools that A applied to for all 5 BA programs accepted A and made offers. It was an incredibly exciting time, as long as A was there to share their excitement with me.

But, when they’d leave to go to their dad’s, it would hit me. My youngest, my baby, will be moving across the ocean to another country. And it hit hard. A and I have always been incredibly close and there was no way I was going to stop A from chasing this dream and moving to a place where I know they will thrive, not even my shattering heart would get me to stop supporting this dream of theirs.

Every emotion hits when I let my mind go there. While the responsibility of raising Parker is mine, the quiet one on one time with A at the end of each day when they finally come out of their room is a time I cherish. It is my time to regroup. To laugh, to talk about current events, to share dreams, and frustrations, and, of course, for me to glance over A’s homework once in a while to reassure them that what they’ve written was as good as they hoped. It always is. A has an amazing gift for writing, especially poetry.  A is there when I need an extra hand and truly gets me through each day.

I cannot remember the last time I saw A this excited about something. I’m not worried, I know this is where A is meant to be. I know they will get to truly be themself, spread their wings, and fly – and, make this world a better place. I have every confidence this is the right move for A, even though I wish they just wanted to stay with me forever 😊

I’ve been mentally preparing myself for A’s departure. For every reason I am sad, I can give you more reasons why I am happy, including that it means I get to spend more time in the UK and Europe, too! Traveling is so good for my soul. As much as it will be hard on me not to have A here, I can talk with A pretty much anytime. I can even call daily, even though I doubt that they would answer me that often! So I’ve been settling into the reality that A has this amazing adventure coming soon and I am filled, again, with excitement for them.

Then, the other night, while tucking Parker into bed I reminded him that he is old enough to tuck his own covers in, especially his feet which he uncovers repeatedly throughout the night. I said, “it’s time for you to do this. You are 23.” He quickly interrupted me with “No, I’m 24.” I was like, “Wait, what? No! I am sure you are 23!” He argued with me until I gave up and left. I came upstairs where A and I were double-checking our math to be sure he was actually 23 right now like I thought. 

The sheer panic that hit me that he may have been 24 with his 25th birthday coming a year before I planned in my head took all of the wind from me. I am not ready, I can’t be ready in just a couple of months, there is so much to do. So, when we confirmed that *I* was right and he is only 23 still, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing my plan was still on track.

While my main focus is currently on A, scholarships, financial aid, student visas, and everything that comes with studying abroad internationally – the back of my mind keeps returning to … “7 months after A leaves for the UK, I’ll be starting the transition of moving me out of this house and moving roommates in.” And while I’ve been taking the “I’ll figure out where I’ll live when the time comes” approach, I knew I needed to start figuring out those options as everything takes time – and I need to prepare Parker for that as much as his roommates coming in.

As I started talking more about Parker living independently (with roommates and caretakers), I mentioned to my mom that I knew I’d have to give him a week or so to settle in before I came to visit. My mom quickly said, “Two weeks.” When she worked as a nurse for a CILA, they recommended two weeks. That was completely fine during the conversation. I would wait two weeks and then I would come to visit him weekly thereafter.

I was fine. I was slightly panicking but, was fine. I was so fine that I left my best friend a 20-minute voice message at 2 (or 3?) a.m. expressing all of my fears through my sobbing tears.

One of those fears is, “What will happen to me?” How do I do this? How do I survive this?

Parents become “empty nesters” all of the time. Some parents even look forward to it. Those parents are not still tucking their 23-year-old into bed every night. They are not giving them a goodnight kiss on the cheek, turning off the light, and waiting for that little voice to say “I love you.” before leaving the room knowing you’ll be back at least 3 more times to adjust covers before you, yourself go to bed and then on really good nights – you get to sleep all the way through but more realistically you are up at least once to put the covers back on the bed. Those parents are not still assisting their adult child in the bathroom, helping with self-care skills, being sure all of the shampoo is out of their hair and those stinky armpits are washed during showers. They are most likely not still financially responsible for every meal, piece of clothing, toy, or activity their 23-year-old is doing. They are not still helping put on socks or having “seat belt races” when you get into the car. If their adult child is living at home, odds are the child is able to help with chores, and not everything falls on the one single parent. Those people are possibly annoyed that their kid is out partying, staying out all night, working, or doing other things that I have no concept of because our life doesn’t work that way. It never has.

Most parents aren’t giving up their home to make it a safe home for their child and others to live and be cared for while finding a new living situation for themselves.

It is the 24/7 caregiving for over 23 years that makes letting go even harder. When I tucked Parker into bed last night after he had spent 2 nights at his dad’s house, I said, “I get to give you two extra kisses tonight! One for each night you were away!” Much to his giggling protest, he let me give him 3 kisses on the cheek before wiping them off and telling me he hates kisses.

That was the moment it hit me. When we make this move, I won’t be tucking him into bed anymore – except when he visits me. There will be no more nighttime routine, no more nighttime kisses on the cheek, no more waiting for that sweet voice to say “I love you.” back to me. There will be no making up kisses for nights we were apart, no re-covering of his feet, no more of him farting to try to get me to leave his room faster. No more yelling for a drink when he is done watching COPS, no more final tuck-in before drifting off to sleep, no more yelling for mom in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning when he needs help in the bathroom.

It will be silent. No one will be waiting for me to tuck them into bed and kiss them on the cheek goodnight.

No one will spend their day yelling at me, which – at the moment – is Parker’s favorite thing to do. No one else will be holding my phone, telling me where my keys are, or making me match up our schedules with what is on TV at the same time. No more making daily lists of what we will be doing from the time we wake up until the time we go back to sleep. It will all fall on someone else soon.

This brings me to the other point I brought up with Melissa… how will I survive this? How do I go from the 24/7 caretaker to one kid being in the UK and the other living with friends while I adjust to a new space? How am I, the person who struggles with anxiety and depression going to cope?  How am I going to handle the deafening silence that replaces the constant noise of today? I know I am not alone in worrying about how all of this will impact my mental health and how I will make it through. How do I decide where to go next? And how do I know what the right answer is?

Melissa replied with a 12-minute voice message with reassurance and advice only a best friend can give to calm your soul like M does mine. But perhaps the most important thing she said to me was that “we need to give up on the idea that there is a “right” answer to things and accept that “right” answer may not even exist.” And, as always, she is correct.

I’m not the first person who has raised a child with an intellectual disability and then transitioned them to different living arrangements. It happens all of the time, every single day. What I’ve seen and learned from others who have gone before me and most likely the reason I am forcing myself to stay on this timeline, is because their kids have thrived in the new settings. I have absolute faith that Parker will thrive in this new setting, as will his housemates. Who wouldn’t want to live with their best friends? It’s a pretty nice setup!

It’s the impact on the parents that is rarely talked about. Especially when it comes to single parents who have been the primary caretaker. I am sure we will need to increase my medications drastically – to the level of a horse tranquilizer to get me through each day until I can become at peace with the new lives we are living. Unlike A, I can’t call Parker whenever. I can but the conversation will be extremely limited – which is why this house is fully equipped with cameras and I don’t feel the need to do that to A’s dorm 😊 I know I can check on him anytime. And I will only allow people I trust with my life to be caretakers with him. But, it will be the biggest change I’ve made in my life.

The options I’m considering for myself are reflective of many things, and my mental health is top of that list. I don’t do well with putting myself first and I don’t intend to immediately after moving. I was meant to take care of others and I will need to continue to do so to make this transition, even if for the short term until I can see that I’ll be ok with the quiet.

And, I’ll do my best not to add to my domesticated zoo for company for a few years while I am at it.

This next year and a half are going to be challenging for me. I’m incredibly thankful for a job that I love that can distract me and offer plenty to keep me busy and occupied. I’m thankful for family and friends who are happy to be in my company, mostly… usually, anyway. And I’m going to need them.

For the first time, I’m going to likely need more support than I am able to give as I learn to live with an empty nest, putting one foot in front of the other to get through each day. I will lie through my teeth each time someone asks how I’m doing as I say “I’m good/fine/or ok” and hope that I can quickly exit the conversation before I start to cry. I will likely seclude myself for a bit while I figure out who I am when I am not Parker and A’s mom 24/7 and figure out who Holly really is on her own.

I’ll figure it out. I’ll find the Holly that is hiding behind the mom/caretaker faΓ§ade and she will be amazing, too. And I’m pretty sure that she will spend a lot of time writing and traveling, often found in Italy enjoying gelato and the best pizza in the world when she isn’t busy at work.

Part of me never thought we would make it here. Yet here we are and part of me has realized this is something I’ll never truly be ready for but understand the importance of doing it. It is what is best for Parker, just like going to the UK is best for A. And as a parent, doing what is best for my kids has always been the priority. In doing that, I’ve raised two pretty amazing young adults that I am incredibly proud of.

Now, if someone could please tell my parents to stop aging because I am not ok with that at all and it is a whole additional layer of grief that I am struggling through.

Sometimes it seems like everything in life happens all at once – that is where I am.

My parents are aging.
My children are growing up.

Somewhere in the middle, I guess I should accept that I am aging, too.

It just all happened so fast.

As sure as I am that I am not ready, I can’t think of a lot in life that I have ever actually been ready for. I’ll do my best to do as I always have and lay a new path where there hasn’t been one before, hope that it intersects with other paths that have been well worn before I reached them that I’m able to regroup and learn from, and looking for beautiful inchstones along the way.

A new journey awaits… and it is coming soon.



Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Dentist, part two. 23 years in the making.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared on Facebook that Parker had a successful trip to the dentist for x-rays. I plopped it into a blog to make it easier to read if you’d like to go back and read those details.

If you’d rather not but need to catch up, Parker had been complaining that his teeth hurt. We had prepared ourselves mentally that this would take sedation through general anesthesia in the hospital setting as it has in the past. To my surprise, he did – for the first time ever – the bite-wing x-rays and had an awesome visit (with only the tiniest hint of a possible cavity starting that the dentist would just like to watch for now.) We set up cleaning for today – and that’s where this starts.

Some history.

Taking Parker to the dentist has always ended up with someone (or multiple people) getting bit, hit, headbutted, or kicked. He’s been papoose strapped (literally a straight jacket) which traumatized him and me, held down by multiple people, and still – no one could successfully look in his mouth. He has a very sensitive gag reflex. The only way Parker ever had successful dental work was by complete sedation in the hospital. During that time the dentist got a full set of x-rays, filled a cavity or two, and sealed his teeth. Parker was young, this was easily 10 – 13 years ago.

We knew after multiple failed attempts that if anything went wrong with Parker’s teeth it would take sedation in a hospital setting again. While he did awesome with the x-rays a couple of weeks ago, the plan for today was a cleaning.

A cleaning.

Scraping his teeth with those pointy metal things, picking off build-up and tarter, is a completely unpleasant experience for most people – especially someone who hasn’t had their teeth cleaned in over a decade.

Parker was excited and had been showing everyone how big he opened his mouth at the previous visit and Rylee told him that she loves getting her teeth cleaned, which helped, too. He was ready for this appointment and talked about it daily. He clearly had no clue what he was in for.

Amber, our hygienist, had set aside 2 hours for Parker’s cleaning. The plan was she would do what she could, take lots of breaks, and we’d just go with whatever was working for Parker.

Parker happily went into the appointment, jumped into the chair, and was ready to get started. Amber gave him some glasses to put on to protect his eyes from the bright light. Following my advice from the last visit, she put the heavy apron that is used during x-rays onto him for the appointment.

Ready to rock this appointment!

At this point, I was praying for the best and fully anticipating the worst.

Amber started by lightly brushing Parker’s teeth. This is hard for him. It’s a sensory issue but he did awesomely. She talked him through how to use the suction and we were off to a great start. (I was so anxious each time they did the suction I didn't get a picture of that, even though he did awesome as she talked him through it!)

Then came out those metal scraper things. I cringed just seeing them. Amber talked to Parker as she got started. Parker did well but was struggling to keep his mouth open for so long so she showed him a bite guard and he gave it a try. It worked really well and a lot of progress was made. I took some pictures and short videos and was just beaming under my mask, smiling ear to ear so much my mouth was hurting.


No fidgeting. No complaining. No trying to leave. No trying to bite. It was like I was in the wrong room!

Amber would ask him how he was doing and he would flash her a thumbs up or reply “fine” or “good”. I just stared, taking it all in while completely in shock but also so incredibly proud.

At one point, Amber needed to remove the bite guard, when she went to put it back in it wasn’t placed quite right and he threw up. I leaped into action to catch what I could and keep as much as I could on his blue dental bib. I had Amber hand me paper towels as I cleaned him and around him up. I thought for sure that would be the end of our good dental run. However, after he was all cleaned up Parker piped up and said, “I ate too many goldfish!” and was ready to get back to the cleaning.

Over an hour and a half, slowly, while talking to Parker (and me) Amber managed to clean every single tooth. It was amazing. She was amazing. He was amazing. I’m still in shock. 

Thumbs Up!

The dentist popped in a couple of times to see how he was doing and after Amber was all done, he came in to take a better look at all of Parker’s teeth. He told him how very proud he was of what a great job he did.

Amber offered to polish his teeth today but Parker said “no thanks” he was all done. After such an amazing visit, we didn’t push it. We made an appointment for the end of November where we will do the polish and the x-rays of his front teeth.

Amber and I felt that having Parker return every 3 months instead of every 6 months, even if just for a quick check-up, will help keep him going with the flow that this is a good thing and become more comfortable with going. We will eventually back off to every 6 months and then yearly if that seems like the right path.

As I sat there watching my giant man-boy getting his teeth cleaned, I fought back tears. I hoped for this. I prayed for this. I wished for this. It was like he was a regular 23-year-old at the dentist. Nothing gave off the appearance of a 23-year-old with a disability. Nothing gave off a hint of how challenging our lives can be. It was just… a regular 23-year-old getting his teeth cleaned. 

He did not need me at all. This is the type of independence you wish for. I won't always be here, I need to know that we've set him up to be successful in all aspects of life before the day comes when he has to live each day without us. (*I have zero intentions of leaving this life anytime soon but the reality is no one knows when their last breath will be.) 

I NEVER thought I would see this day. Never. And here we were. It was such a surreal experience. A month ago when we made the first appointment, it was with the hope that we could get him into the office, literally just IN the door so we could get the referral we needed for the hospital sedation dentistry. THAT was our goal. πŸ˜”

Man did we sell that kid short.

23 years old. 23. And for the first time, had his teeth completely cleaned without issue. All these hours later, I am still speechless and asking myself if this really happened. It did. It really did and his teeth look spectacular now! *Thank you, Amber!!* He even gave her knucks on the way out. 

I am so incredibly proud. I took him to Wal-Mart for a new inflatable after. I told him all day, right up until I tucked him in at night how incredibly proud I was of him. I am just blown away.

If there is a life lesson in this, it is simply “never stop believing in your children.” I was so sure this would fail, I never even considered making it a goal for him, and yet – look at what he did! Awestruck. I am completely awestruck.

23 years old. No one holding him down. No one getting bit or hurt. Just one, very capable, a young man getting his teeth cleaned by a very patient and dedicated hygienist who believed in him, too. Thank you, Amber, we truly appreciate you.

If only you had witnessed the attempts over the years for this to happen, you'd understand why we were sure he would have to be sedated at the hospital and never made it a goal for him to succeed. Our kids love to surprise us and Parker certainly surprised us and proved to us that he is extremely capable of getting his teeth clean. It was worth the 23-year wait to see him succeed in the way he did.

Oh, and before we left because Parker was disappointed that I didn’t take any pictures of this last time, I took a picture of one of his x-rays 😊 He is fascinated with it.

And now you can enjoy this set of x-rays, too :-)

Do not give up. Never stop trying. Remember, they will surprise us when we least expect it.

Mommy is so incredibly proud of you, Parker! And thanks for being such a stinker that you wouldn't let me take a picture of your teeth after they were cleaned. πŸ˜’They look phenomenal!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Parker and the Dentist - Part 1.

Parker has been complaining of his teeth hurting a lot lately. I looked in his mouth and swore he had 2 back, bottom molars that were black. So, Scott and I started to get our ducks in a row knowing that dental work for Parker means full anesthesia. We needed to get him to his dentist first to attempt x-rays and get the referral.
Parker has a lot of sensory issues when it comes to his mouth and a very active gag reflex. We've never successfully been able to get bite x-rays without Parker being completely knocked out. We have been able to get the ones where the machine goes around his head but they are not as detailed as the bite ones.
Like most people, the dentist makes Parker nervous. We talked about how it was just a check-up, how to open his mouth, and that he needed to let people touch his teeth - and that the hygienist and the dentist were very nice people. His sister Grace had an orthodontist appointment yesterday which I told Parker was a dentist appointment and that she just did this the day before and how awesome she did. (Grace is Jen's daughter for people trying to figure that one out, lol, I am not hiding a child from you - we just don't do "step" in this family. Our children are siblings. ❤ )
I was braced for the worst when we arrived at his 8 am appointment as flashbacks of laying on him to hold him still, being bit, kicked, and hit from days gone by at appointments ran through my head.
I checked him in and while I filled out updated paperwork, he "read" a magazine. I wish I had taken a picture, it was really cute. He hesitated when Amber, the hygienist, called his name but did get up and go with me. He finally agreed to sit in the dentist's chair and was intrigued as Amber showed him pictures of past x-rays.
We started with trying to let Amber look at his teeth. He did ok, I told him that Grace let her look at her teeth, I think that helped some. I'm not sure she could see the back molars but she and I still praised him for the attempt. Then she did the x-rays that go around your head. He simply needed to stand still. The weighted apron they put on you always makes this easier as that heavy weight is our best friend. That went very well.
When we went back to the room. As Amber looked at the pictures and showed them to Parker she said he really needed to do the bite plate x-rays so we could get a better look at the teeth we were concerned about.
Always up for a challenge and always hoping to see Parker succeed at something new, I reminded her about his gag reflex and said "I'm in if you are up for it.". She was up for it. She explained to him what she was going to do, I told him that Grace did this yesterday and did great, he could do it, too.
We all 3 took a deep breath and went for attempt one. It was almost an instant gag for him. He didn't throw up though, so that was a positive. I reminded him to take a deep breath, Amber promised him it would be super quick. Attempt 2 went slightly better but had the same gagging results. But, it was progress that she and I could both see. So, I said, "Alright dude, we've got it this time! Deep breath, all you have to do is bite, as soon as she says "bit" you bite fast, ok!" Amber said, "Third time is a charm! We can do this!"
He successfully bit down on the bite plate and Amber scurried to get everything in place. Just as she stepped out of the door to push the button, the bite plate came out.
We told him how awesome he was and how close he was. He took several deep breaths. Another staff asked if it would help for her to push the button, which was awesome. We went in for attempt 4.
Amber asked if he was ready, he said, "yes" and we almost had it but his head wasn't turned enough, the bite plate was spit out as she moved his head. Sigh.
He was totally being a trooper though! So Amber asked him to turn his head to her, where she needed him to be positioned, then tried again. He bit down, the machine was lined up, the button was clicked and for the first time in 23 years, we had a bite x-ray without anesthesia or being restrained. You have no idea how much pride I was bursting with. Well, you probably do, but if you don't, it was a tremendous amount of pride!
Amber switched sides and after he adjusted to having something in his mouth, side 2 was completed and we had the x-rays we needed for today's visit!
All we had left was to see the dentist. I asked if she could leave the weighted apron on him, because I know how much of a difference that weight makes. She was totally fine with that, as was Parker.
The dentist came in, talked with Parker about his x-rays, and then went to look in his mouth. It took a little encouragement but Parker opened his mouth for the dentist to poke around a bit.
He said he was very pleased with how Parker's teeth look! He said there is a tiny start to a couple of cavities that he wants to watch but nothing that he feels needs any attention at this point. He thinks his wisdom teeth will not move anymore so he will watch them but if they do not move, we are not going to remove them as they are not causing trouble at this point.
He said he would like to have Parker attempt a cleaning and suggested we do it a little at a time. The dentist also happened to be a CUBS fan, which Parker appreciated.
We set up an appointment for a couple of weeks from now to try the rest of the bite x-rays so we have the full set and as much of a cleaning as he can tolerate. We both praised Parker for being so awesome and even said he did better than Grace πŸ˜‰ I let her know that anytime she has a patient with sensory issues or autism to ask if they'd like to wear the apron the entire visit. It makes such a big difference in helping reduce anxiety. She appreciated the advice. I've suggested this to everyone who has ever attempted to get near Parker's teeth and we've always had a positive response.
We were in and out super fast. Parker called his dad to tell him how great he did. He tried to call Grandpa John to tell him but I told him he needed to wait until Grandpa was home from his trip πŸ™‚ He's rather annoyed that I'm not letting him call Grandpa multiple times a day while he is away, lol.
So, for my Fragile X parents, my autism parents, my special need parents who are in our life... don't give up. I walked in completely expecting this to be a huge challenge with puking, hitting, and nothing good coming of it. I always hope for the best but brace myself for the worst. But, he surprised even me with how amazing he did. He was such a rock star, I'm seriously bursting! So, don't give up, keep forging ahead, they will surprise you. Just as they always do. ❤
A couple of things I want to point out that I really appreciated at the visit today - both the hygienist and the dentist, who were both meeting Parker for the first time, talked directly to him. Not at him. Not to me. But TO him. This was amazing and I know appreciated by Parker, too. They involved him, asking if he wanted to see his pictures of his x-rays, encouraging him to breathe, and just believing completely in him. I need to see more of these moments, they are the best for my momma heart.
I'm just over the moon. I'm so incredibly happy and proud of my guy. I rewarded him with a trip to WalMart for a new inflatable because - dang, he did amazing!!
As much as I know this success means to me, I can see in Parker how proud he is of himself. He is proud that he could do this, too, and that... that is everything!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Parker, My Mountain Mover (9-1-11)

**This piece was originally written on September 1, 2011. Before I started blogging, I'd write "notes" in Facebook (it was a thing way back when - not to age myself but a decade ago, it was really a thing). When this popped up in my memories today, I copied and pasted it into the blog. This is where it belongs. When more cross my memories (or if I find where Facebook has them hidden) I'll move more over to the blog.

Parker, My Mountain Mover
September 1, 2011

There is honestly not a single emotion I can think of that describes how I’m feeling right now.  Proud and amazed are what come to mind but they just don’t do this feeling justice. 
If you’ve known Parker a long time, and especially those who have worked with him – you might want to grab a Kleenex before reading any further. It’s ok… go get one, I’ll wait….. no really, go get one – I promise I’ll wait……………………  and fill in those who haven’t known Parker long on a bit about him.
I often get asked if Parker is high functioning.  I wish : )  Parker is moderately impaired by his Fragile X.  For the longest time he was very, very verbally limited.  His behavior was – well, let’s say “difficult” and know that’s being generous.  His sensory issues were significant, hyperarousal was part of our day, and his anxiety – was through the roof.  There was a time there were more bruises on my body from his meltdowns than not, aggression was his way of coping. I remember getting calls to the school where he had destroyed an entire classroom – literally, every single item off of every desk, shelf, and reachable place was thrown throughout the room.
We were extremely fortunate to have been able to bring together some of the most incredible people, locally and from afar, to be Parker’s team.  No matter the struggle, his team never gave up. Together we have watched him grow, watched him mature and after the addition of the STX209 to his other medications – we watched him come out of the box that Fragile X had put him in.
Outside of Special Olympics – getting Parker to do or go to anything school-related didn’t happen after kindergarten.  Kindergarten was the only school open house we attended together as a family – even then he spent most of the open house under the chair at his table.  From that point on, I attended them alone.
As you know, over the past 2 years since Parker started this drug trial, we’ve seen significant changes in him.  His speech has flourished, his behavior is significantly better, he’s more social, his workload at school has increased tremendously… just to name a few things.  As I’ve said many times, this drug opened the lid of the box he was put in by Fragile X and it’s been incredible to see how it’s brought him out of this box. As much as I credit the drug – I credit his team.  You never really “leave” Parker’s team just because you are no longer on the IEP invitation.  Almost everyone who has ever worked with him still cares, still helps and most of all still believes in him.  For each of you and each of his friends he’s made along the way who remain by his side – I thank you for making tonight happen.  Without your dedication to him and belief in him, he would never be where he is now, even with the STX209.  A drug can do only so much – but one’s belief in you and love for you moves the mountains.
And tonight – he moved a mountain.
Tonight was the open house at the Middle School where Parker attends. Having not attended one since Kindergarten, despite my love and belief that he can do anything – I had my doubts when he said he wanted to go tonight.  At our middle school, the open house takes you through every period (minus lunch) of the school day.  10 minutes in each room.  Since he wanted to go – my goal was to get him in the door.  That was all.  Inside the building, long enough to say he had been there.  (I know, I know but when you add my anxiety and a zillion other kids with their parents to the mix – he and I achieving that much would’ve made me proud!). 
Parker insisted all 4 of us go, Scott, A, Parker, and myself – so we all went. He was a little hesitant to go into the building (he got to go in the back door like he does every day and his para was waiting – our goal was to make this as “normal” as possible for him).  He made everyone else go in first – and then in he came.  He spent some time on the floor by his locker and outside of Mrs. Reavis (the Special Ed teacher)’s room and really didn’t want to go in there.  He listened from the hall as the principal said it was time to go to your first class of the day.  Parker looked at me and said, “let’s go”.  He called for Scott and A and off we went (without his para).  The hall was packed with kids and their parents, none of who I really “saw” even though I smiled and said “hi” because my focus was on Parker making it through the crowd without any problems.  He led us to Mr. Hardy’s room and after a brief hesitation outside the door, he came in and sat down.  Mr. Hardy we learned has a box of Gushers for Parker as an incentive in his closet.  He reached in and took one out of the box and handed it to me for me to use as I saw fit during the evening.  I handed them to Parker and for 10 minutes, we listened to Mr. Hardy talk.  He passed out a very generic schedule that we were to follow. 1st Hour said “PE/Encore” (or something like that) so when the tone sounded, I looked at Parker and said, “Ok, where do you go 1st?”  Parker said, “PE” and off he went into the crowded halls, confidently leading the way to the gym.  The gym presentation was in the all-purpose room, where parents and his classmates filled the bleachers.  Parker asked if he could sit on the floor by the wall and I said, “of course”.  For 10 minutes, we listened to the PE teachers go over their class and the new equipment.  When the tone went off, Parker jumped up and I said, “Where next?”  The paper said, “PE/Encore” – (and I think something else) Parker walked down the hall to the next classroom.  When we walked in his teacher looked at Parker then back in the room and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, someone is in his seat.” Without skipping a beat Parker grabbed my arm and said, “Come on” and led me to a round table where we all 4 sat while we heard about Study skills for the next 10 minutes.
I sat there watching him sitting and listening so intently.  I think, for the first time, I really stepped back and saw him as the 12-year-old that he is.  Independent, maturing, and really at a place that I had prayed he would get to but at times doubted as possible.  It was extremely hard for me not to take a picture – I wanted to share that moment but instead just really savored every second in complete awe that we were actually at the Middle School, in a classroom with him, and he was leading it all.  There was no making him do this, there was no pulling him down the hall, there were no reminders to be quiet or to keep his hands to himself.  Between each session, as we walked through the halls, more kids than I could count smiled and said “Hi Parker” as we walked amongst them.  Every greeting he replied to with a quiet “Hi”, only once with my prompting which ended up being over him saying “hi” so he repeated himself.
As we walked the halls with his peers – all typically developing 12-year-olds, after my anxiety had lessened, I was like – “this is what it’s like… this is what it’s like to be like everyone else, to walk with your child through the halls from class to class at open house… I’m good with this!
Parker was a little unsure after the Study Skills class where he was to go next – he walked us around the entire building pointing out things like the sun glowing on the doors which is exactly how it looked, and odds and ends.  We made our way back to Mrs. Reavis’ room to find out where exactly he was to be at that time and for the next period.  For the majority of the rest of the day, he would be in Mrs. Reavis’ room – Parker decided this would be a good time to go home.  I spent a few minutes with his teachers and para in that room, we all discussed how very proud we were of him.  Mrs. T – his para who was also his para in 2nd grade so she really understood the significance of this night – beamed with pride.  She said, “We always knew this was in him, some of us could see it, his humor, his independence, his want to learn – but it was only glimpses and it was only available to a handful of us… now, what we knew was in there all along is out for everyone to see and he couldn’t be more incredible!”
By going to this open house for an entire hour (it lasted an hour and a half) and making it class to class as much as he did, being social with his friends in the halls, sitting nicely and listening intently in each of the presentations he was part of…. He moved a mountain.  A mountain he couldn’t have moved without being let out of the box that held him in for so long.
Now, you understand why just being proud and amazed doesn’t do justice to tonight’s accomplishment.  There are no words to describe the feeling you have when your child truly moves a mountain.

Parker and his hamster, Blackie Poops A Lot.