Thursday, November 5, 2009

I love birthdays!

I enjoy celebrating birthdays.... 

They are times to look back at what was, and to chart a course for what could  be.  I give myself a "Happy New Year!" buzz twice each year: once on January 1 and the other on my birthday.  I celebrate the children's birthdays by reflecting on how much my life has been enriched by our relationship and dreaming about the possibilities in the future.

Not so on Jaedon's last birthday.  On November 25, 2008, Jaedon was 10 years old and I was close to total collapse.  It was a roller coaster of an experience.  I just wasn't prepared for Jaedon having an age with 2 digits.  He was a pre-adolescent in age, yet still experiencing significant difficulties consistent with his diagnosis of autism.  I had been running what felt like a limping home based relationship program for about six years and I was exhausted.  My dream of a 40+ hour program weekly had never been actualized.  In fact, it was a struggle to get the program over 15 hours.  Let's be real: it was a struggle to get myself in the playroom!

So I judged myself brutally for not doing 'enough' to give Jay this full time program, for not being in the playroom, for not giving enough feedback, for choosing the 'wrong' people to work with him, for not fundraising enough to afford all his interventions, for not increasing my clientele in my home business so we could afford... Whew!  The load of my judgements became unbearable.

I decided to take some time to look why I was feeling so sad and burdened.  I realised that the program had given me a lot of hope, especially at our intensive in 2003.  I had set a time limit on Jay's development and had clear pictures of what he would be like as an older child.  The movie I had created of what he would look like at 10 years old hadn't yet happened. I had no new pictures and was losing hope. I was choosing to feel despondent, to focus on a future that I don't want, to judge myself for it, possibly as a way to motivate myself to 'do better'.  Maybe that strategy worked before (judge self, feel horrible, do anything to feel better) but long term, it is so energy sapping that there's no juice left to create any action that would result in feeling better.  Daily, my thoughts and beliefs let the air out of my own balloon.

I was depleted and had to get some air.  I decided to attend a program that gave me the opportunity to explore ME. One thing that was clear to me after the weekend, I really love and accept my son just as he is!  I love the warm, free feeling of loving, of enjoying what is, instead of needing and longing for, craving even, what I thought would be.  After returning from the program I stayed in touch with  teachers and other parents. In one of these wonderful conversations, I got a great tip: What about spending ten minutes every day thinking about who Jaedon is right now, and allowing myself to experience huge feelings of love and acceptance for him, right in the moment. It was a great idea! What a relief!  The load of sadness and self judgement shifted I started to feel good again.

I decided to go all out and let go of my need to run a program at all.  I shut everything down from mid November 2008 to early January 2009.  We resumed slowly, and gradually, I got back into recruiting, training, feedback, etc.  Now, Team Jaedon has four new people and is on the grow!  The most significant thing for me though has been the establishment of two new core beliefs:
  1. Jaedon does not need a 40+ hour program to be a wonderful, fascinating person that I love and enjoy thoroughly
  2. Jaedon is never too old for significant change and development.
That's a good segue into some significant change and development that I have seen in the past year of kinda, sorta, slightly running our program.
  1. Jaedon added some new words to his vocabulary - come, help, which he uses in dictatorial and insistent ways
  2. His spontaneous language has increased, especially around food
  3. He has become more mischievous and playful, almost like a tease, during interactions at home
  4. He said 'Daddy' spontaneously for the first time ever, while Dad was away for a business trip
  5. He let me cut his hair with the electric shear (a miracle to be described in another post, but trust me, very major!)
  6. He looks for his little brother to play with him
just to name a few....  Who knows how or why.... Maybe he was changing all along and I wasn't attuned because of my sadness.  Maybe, like the Chinese Bamboo Tree, growth of the roots developing under the ground isn't seen above ground until a significant root system has developed.  Does it matter, though?  For me, it's just more evidence to support my core belief #Two, and it's supporting mantra: Never, Ever Give Up Hope!

So, I've removed the yoke of the 'full-time' program, and in so doing, I've energized myself, so maybe I just might have that 40+ hours in the playroom.  On the other hand, maybe I am running a full time program.  I have a full time commitment to growing myself, and to providing a safe, supportive environment for Jaedon to live and grow in.  Maybe a full time program is full time happiness, love and acceptance, and allowing the actions that come from that to flow.

So, as I prepare for November 25, 2009, I'm really excited.  The sky is the limit for me, and all the kids, especially Jay.  I'm growing and changing every day and so is he.  This roller coaster is a thrill and I'm having the ride of my life!

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