Saturday, December 15, 2012

This Parent's thoughts...

As I sit down to write this blog, it is very hard for me not get emotional about things of late.It is gut wrenching to see and hear about the deaths of 20 kindergardners, gunned down. As a parent, I am heartbroken for the parents that had to get the news their children had died. No parent should have to bury their child. I can't even fathom the anguish.In fact, I can't even wrap my brain around the fact that these parents dropped their children off at school, either saying I love you or annoyed with them for taking too long to get their stuff packed up, that was the last time they saw their kids.

The events of yesterday has sparked many debates on certain things, Mental illness, Autism, and Gun control. I am not going to state anything concerning the Gun Control laws in this Country. People have their minds set on either one side or the other. So it would be pointless to start it and I really don't want a war of words to be started. It would not bring back the lives already taken. Mental Illness and Autism are two things that need to be talked about because those two things people are willing to talk about.

Yet again we are listening to the news stating that yet another shooter of a massacre is either on the Spectrum or mentally ill. I have always been a champion of the mentally ill. As it seems that they get the back burner when it comes down to healthcare. Mental Illness is unseen. You can't look at person and say they suffer from Schizophrenia or they are Bipolar. The problem is a lot of the mentally ill cannot afford their medication, they can't get access to help because they can't afford it or it just isn't there. And yet society is surprised when we have a situation that involves murder and the mentally ill. If medical insurance companies paid more attention to the raise in mental illness instead labeling everything pre disposed condition things might start to change. People that need to be on a steady medication schedule and monitored might be able to live a normal life. It does happen, when there is the support of a program that works for that person.

Now with the sheer mention that the shooter of yesterday's tragedy might have been on the Spectrum, has sent a wave of fear through the country, that Autism is the root of all evil. Its not. Here's why. For many of us that have children on the spectrum, we can tell you that there is a reason that the Puzzle piece is the symbol for Autism Awareness. 

1) Autism is such a vast thing when you think about it, Hello, Spectrum?.It is usually very hard to pin point how or why someone has it. Thus making it a puzzle to figure out. 

2)If you notice, there are never two puzzle pieces that are the same. Not one. Kind of like Snowflakes. So when you look at an autistic person, they are not going to be the same as the Autistic child you have met in the grocery store. Every person on the spectrum is different. Some have violent behaviors, some don't. Some excel in things like Math and some don't. You get my point. There is no, one person on the spectrum that are the same. They have some of the same characteristics, again like a puzzle piece. Odd Shape, they go to the same puzzle and they have the same colour scheme. People on the spectrum are like that.  

So when you have this fear that all the people that are on the Spectrum are going to get semi automatics and gun down children is generalization that shouldn't happen. 

This does not mean that people who do bad things should get a free pass, simply because they have a mental illness or are Autistic. There is right and wrong. I feel bad that many people have lost their lives due to the combination of Mental illness and firearms. And in some cases its not even firearms, but knives.

This was a way for me to put my thoughts down on the week's events. It is truly sad that children have been the victims. Children should never be at the end of a violent crime. I wish the people of Newtown, CT the peace they need to grieve and heal. They deserve that. And regardless on your stance on Gun Control, Mental illness or Autism, the thing to remember is that you can hug your children and feel blessed that you can do that. Parents of 20 children cannot take that comfort.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ignorance..At what point is it just stupidity?

Ok so here is the deal. I am a pretty laid back person and consider myself fairly open minded about a lot things that are happening in the world. But I have to get off  the "Let's be nice" bandwagon for a sec. In my 11 years of military marriage, I have never come across so much ignorance and bitterness as I have traveling the world. It would be naive of me to say that, hatred, ignorance, and the lack of compassion doesn't exist. I am not that soft. But it makes me wonder, what is wrong with people? In the age of information readily available, internet, libraries etc, why are there still people out there that don't want to educate themselves or even show a little compassion. It makes me wonder. Sometimes I feel that being a military spouse and a mother of two autistic children is a double whammy, when pitted against the Ignorant. Why should have I have to justify my choice in life, whether it be how I parent or why I married a Sailor to anyone? I shouldn't have to. That's the point. But when you try to inform the uninformed it gets thrown back at you. Well... I am trying here. I am trying to educate you on something you know nothing about so please listen. Clearly.It seems to me that the world is becoming more and more ignorant. There is no tolerance for the different. Clearly shown here in the United States, during this last election. Or the equality for Homosexuals. Now I am not asking for everyone to agree with me, just respect the fact that there are points of view. 

There is a post circling around that is "The Ten things you shouldn't say to Military Wife" I can't find it.. but I know its out there. It is great. And the number one thing is "You knew what you were getting into when you married him and he knew what he was getting into when he enlisted" I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that come out of people's mouths. Did you know what they were getting into when they married their spouse? No. Unless you can predict the future, no one knows what is in store for them down the road. Most people when they enlist do it for reasons that are personal to them. To see the world, Patriotic duty, learn new things, didn't have enough money to pay for college or just needed a job that pays and has job security. And for us spouses, well we just fell in love with them. The Person, not the job. That is the funny thing about love, it tends to masked all the cons about the relationship. Some people look beyond the cons and see the pros and some don't. Again it comes down the personal choice of the person. I will be the first person to answer questions about my lifestyle for anyone that is curious. But if you don't like the answers I give, then that is not my fault. There are tools out there to educate oneself with. Don't assume things. Assumption is a bad thing. There is no such thing as a stupid question. But respect the answer if you know this is coming from a person that has lived that lifestyle you are curious about. With ignorance comes judgement.

Dealing with the ignorance that follows in regards to Special Needs, is a totally different ball game.Why? Because it involves your children. We as parents will go Mama or Papa bear on someone if they are ignorant towards our children. Again in an age where, Autism is 1 in 88 and is considered an epidemic, where there are resources galore out there to educate, why are we still dealing with the ignorance and the judgement? I am beginning to think its because people just don't care. This, "I can say anything I want to, to a perfect stranger, I am never going to see them again" mentality. There is something wrong with that mentality. Because what happens when something happens to you and you are in need of the aid of a perfect stranger and no one gives a shit?It sucks. The last house we lived in, my neighbour was horrible to me during my husband's deployment.Called the landlord every time she hear a dog bark at night, thinking it was my two.Mine got kenneled when I went to bed, which for me was 8pm( I know I am light weight) Leaving me passive aggressive notes on my door. So instead of coming to talk to me, this is what she did. So what happened when her house flooded after we left, the new people didn't help her out.And the evil part of me laughed.

Last Thursday I stood in line at the post office, with the 20 other people there to mail off their Xmas packages and such. And in true post office fashion, they only had two people working. So it was a long and annoying wait. There was a mother, maybe 5 people behind me, waiting in this same line. Her child, who was maybe 3, was not having a good day. Which in turn, makes the Mother's day not great. He did not want to in line and wanted to run around. Now, we have all been there. We know the feeling. Just want to get the errand done and over with and move on to the next thing but our children who are still learning about the world do not understand the concept of waiting. The young ones especially. The older ones get it. Ok Back to my story. She was having a hard time trying to make him happy. She did everything she could to distracted this child. I can't fault her. She tried. Now I noticed the package she wanted to mail was going to a FPO address. That sticks out like Las Vegas lights. Either she is a military spouse, or has a relative or friend in the Service. At this point, the woman in front of this mother, just turns around and just stares at this young mother., doesn't say anything, just stares at her. The man behind me, is starting to whisper under his breath. I feel for this mother, because I have been there. Trying to get things done with children. I am horrified by the ignorance of these people.This woman was now crying.  When it is my turn to get up to the kiosk, I let the mother go in front of me.So she can her package mailed off and then tend to her child. The fellow behind me starts to get bent out of shape, because I let her go before me. . When she leaves the post office, I turn to everyone in the building and say...

"The whole lot of you who stood there and just stared at her, should be ashamed of yourselves. Because you all started out as children, and I bet none of you were angels for your parents every single day. She was trying to mail off something to a member of the Military. Whether it be her husband or a family member. Staring and her and whispering behind your hands didn't help. And if you all of want to get bent out shape because let in front me and did a kind thing, you all need to rethink what this season is all about."

Not one of them had anything to say to me. The post office worker couldn't look me in face when I was mailing off my stuff.

What is sad, is that this isn't the last time these past couple of days, where I have had to deal with ignorance like that. Trying to defend a friend, as someone who could not let an issue drop, even after her question got answered, she continued to bait. Senseless.

I guess I don't understand, why there is a need to behave like that. It seems that no matter what your choices in life are there are always going to be critics. As I always say, Open your Mind before you open your mouth. As you don't what kind of shoes the other person is walking in. And until you do, there is absolutely no room for the ignorance.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Do you ever think you know what you are getting into?

Military Spouses old and new. We are all out there. We come from pretty much everywhere.  Some of us have been married to the Military longer than others. Some of us have been in the Service before.Whether you are a Navy, Army, Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard spouse, we all have a common denominator. We are all in this special club of being married to a branch of the military. Sometimes it almost feels like a secret club, were we should have a password and a secret handshake. Why? We all know what its like to move every 3 years, We have dwelt with deployments, once in awhile we have to fill out the mother load of paperwork, we learn the lingo and we get used to military screwing up the best laid plans. We get good at being independent, even though our ID Card says Dependent. We are good at being planted anywhere, and getting to know the area with in a month.Most of all we are good at finding others who are rowing in the same boat as ourselves. Normally we start off the conversation like.. " Hey We were just stationed there." And with that some of the best friendships have been made..

Now I have been Married to the military for almost 11 years. And when I first married into it, I had no clue what I was getting into. Now I know there are spouses out there that know exactly what they are getting to, whether they have served themselves or have been a child of a military member. But there is a good percentage of us that have no clue. I was one of them. Now I was fortunate to have met a wonderful woman,who had been married to her Sailor since he enlisted. So here I was 11 years ago, a foreign National (I am Canadian), who fell in love with an American Sailor and living in England. This friend was my guiding light. She gave me the rundown on what it was like being married to the military.The Pro and Cons, the usage of Acronyms, the paper work and what it is like to have kids on military medical. And with all that said and done, I still married my sailor. Now the interesting thing about that was I thought I could handle all of this. Um no. The first deployment that I had to experience was a three weeker. You want to talk about a hot mess.. Yeah I was that gal. I have the "Holy Crap, how in the hell am I going survive without him for three weeks?!" mentality. Well I pulled up my socks, and did. And at the end of it, I thought.. "Ok, this isn't too bad.. "Hahahaha Life was indeed laughing at me.His next deployment after that was during September 11, 2001. You want to talk about Anxiety and a bitch slap of reality. It was one of the worst feelings. Not being able to reach him and yet here I am in a foreign country watching on the BBC the twin towers fall. It is times like these where friends are a godsend. My friend and I sat and watched everything on TV, feeling helpless, but also wondering what this meant for us. The attack on the US, meant our military was going to get called up to do the jobs they were trained to do. Who knew within the 11 years of my marriage, I would be saying goodbye too many times to my husband as he went off to fight the War on Terror.

I never imagined that I would have to deal with this. Neither did my friend. So who did I know would understand my fears and emotions about this? My grandmother. This woman married my grandfather right before he shipped off to the War in Europe. She knew exactly how I felt. But with the technology we have today, makes being a military spouse a cake walk compared to being a military spouse of yesterday. I can't even image being away from your spouse for 3 or more years, relying on hand written letters and the occasional phone call every couple of months. The not knowing if your loved one was still alive, barely alive and MIA. I can't even fathom that. So when this woman gave me advice, I damn well listened to her. 1) She is my Gram and 2) She has experience with dealing with the emotions of it all. I relied on the advice from my husband's Aunt who dwelt with her husband being gone during the Vietnam War. Again another woman who had experience. War never changes.

I guess what I am trying to say is whether you are a military spouse that is new to this way of life or you are weathered spouse that has seen it all. We can all learn from each other. We shouldn't take each other for granted. Whenever there is a new spouse on deck, that really doesn't know which end is up, help them out. We spouses need to help each other out, because in the end we are all rowing in the same boat. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Military+Special Needs=Chaos...

Ok so here is the deal. Our Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, Airman and Coasties, are definitely not issued a family when they are in boot camp. We not like a uniform issue. We aren't in the orders. We are those people that just show up, fall in love with a service member, and blindly marry into Military. Let's face it, we have no idea what is in store for us when we marry our military spouses. Now Military life itself is nuts, crazy and chaotic to put it mildly. If we the spouses, don't pick on the Military lingo( Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta), not get used to the moving every 3 years,  not get used to the military medical and their love of prescribing Motrin for everything and your spouse's Command, we are Foxtrot.Unifrom.Charlie.Kilo.Echo.Delta. No one can prepare you for your first deployment, whether it be for 3 weeks, 6 months or a year. Its hard stuff to say goodbye to a loved one. Nor asking for help when your spouse is deployed.Nor your first PCS to a different place, new command and new people.

 Now lets throw Children into the mix. Because they do happen. After that very long deployment, you are happy to see your spouse, forget the world, have a good time and biology happens :)So we have our military children to add to equation. They see our chaos differently and they don't always understand it. They have questions about certain aspects of the world, because their parent is involved with what is happening. Now its great that we have things like Fleet Family Support and other services to help our children understand military life, but what happens when your children are special needs?

Special Needs and Military life equals a good amount of chaos. Why? Because on top of everything else you have to deal with on the normal day to day, you have to worry about the services your child needs. Is the next duty station going to have the educational support this child needs? Is it going to have the medical support my child needs. What happens when my spouse does deploy? How am I going to explain this to my children, who sees and understands the world differently? Those questions are all valid questions. Having had to experience two major deployments and several moves since my children were born, these have been my thoughts, all while trying to get a house ready to move. Let me tell you this.. the last move, I am surprised I keep a full head of hair. But back on track here.. What do we do? We pull up our socks and we do what we can with what we got, We educate ourselves, We seek out others that have done it all before. That is one thing I can say about Military Spouses, we are resourceful! We have a knack for finding people with a common denominator. For example, when we moved from Hawaii to our current duty station,I knew Little Miss would not understand the moving process, in fact she was downright horrified when the movers packed up her bed. And I didn't even want to imagine what living in a Hotel was going to be like for this child, who was soooooo out of her element. So it was suggested to me to make sure all of her favorite things where set aside in a suitcase. So all the Toy Story stuff, her special blanket, her pillow and the quilt my mom made her for her bed( so when we were in the hotels, she could sleep with something familiar). These suggestion came from another Military Parent who had just done the whole moving house thing, and this worked for them and their child with special needs.

 Now deployments are different. How do you explain a deployment? Even to an everyday child, it seems overwhelming. My husband's last deployment was the first time our daughter could remember it.My eldest knew what it was, as he remembered the deployment before that. But My daughter had no memories of that one as she was a baby at the time.My daughter handles things with questions. The every hour on the hour, 20 question period. She could not understand why and where Daddy had gone. I showed her maps, trying to explain to her that he was away helping others. It did not sink in. She wasn't upset about it, but she just didn't understand. But this girl's way of coping was interesting to watch. Every art project they did in class, Daddy would be in it. I have a picture from last Thanksgiving, with hand turkeys and in the background, she drew her father.. this little stick figure frolicking with Turkeys. I have Christmas Penguins with Daddy in the background and so on. That is how she dwelt with her Dad not being there. She added him into everything she was doing. :)

So to wrap up, Life itself is nuts, crazy, and unpredictable at times. It takes you on a ride. Military life is like that roller coaster you see at Six Flags, that you look at and second guess yourself with.. Do I have the stomach enough to do that ride? But eventually you find the courage to get on it, buckle yourself in, fight the nerves and in the end you find out that you have enjoyed the ride and want to do it again. :)